Review: Korzo – Supremacy

Korzo

With the amount of records being released in the present era, ranging from the bedroom to high-class studio productions, it is quite a challenge to satisfy my hunger for music lately. Most of this has to do with the fact that the music being released today lacks sincerity. Maybe I am stuck badly to the old-school understanding of rock music, but even though I try so hard, it happens quite a lot that I cannot understand and enjoy the modern music.

Korzo from Ukraine could be described as a true progressive rock metal band with touches of metal here and there, offering well-thought melodies, interesting vocal arrangements, and passages that connect the dots that are quite enjoyable. DP, who is the key person for this project, is a singer and guitarist who absolutely shines on the band’s sophomore studio release Supremacy. Although his voice tells the story, DP does a great work with his guitar — backing up the vocal melody most of times.

Supremacy album art

The album opens with “Empty,” which after a short ambient intro shows that Supremacy has a lot to offer. With often changes, Korzo distances themselves from delivering just a pure, lifeless showcase of technical proficiency, something that these guys definitely have, but rather presents the work that is alive, dynamic and above all, interesting.

References to various stylistically different artists can be heard in Korzo’s music. Their explorations within Anathema’s or Porcupine Tree’s melancholia speak of that, but the band is not afraid to delve deeper and expand their horizons. As Supremacy flows by, a listener is taken to a sound-trip that gets more metal-esque. Each of the songs on the album has its own personality, and labelling this record under a single genre would do this band a lot of injustice.

To summarise, Supremacy is a record largely based on the progressive rock genre channelling many different elements. This is a true epic, specifically in the amount of quality material, which requires quite a few listens to get into it. How far Korzo are ready to go? Time will tell. But for now they are on the right path.

Like Korzo on Facebook.

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.

Review: Impera – Weightless

Impera band

Impera from Lisbon prefer to mix their metal with some groove and prog, albeit with the strong emphasis on the ‘metal’ part. The other bands of similar genre orientation place a premium on virtuoso musicianship and highly technical song structures, and while that also figures prominently into Impera’s music, these boys slather it all up in a special sauce that I like to refer to as ‘classic sauce.’ The group’s debut album “Weightless” sounds deliberately rustic and antiqued, like that milk-stained fake money you’d buy at the museum.

But production is not what prods Impera. What stimulates this band’s formidable corpus are five very talented musicians. It’s Daniel Chen, though, who takes home the MVP award on “Weightless”; if drummers are action figures, Chen carries both a rapid-fire uzi (the toms) and an erase-all, double-barreled bazooka (dual-bass drums). I guarantee, he will brutalize you.

Impera - Weightless

Like their metal peers, Impera sport some mathematics. But where Meshuggah get deep into calculus and Dillinger Escape Plan prefer(red)  trigonometry, these guys enjoy the more accessible stuff — we’re talking pre-algebra here. They drop in just enough to keep the arrangements flavourful, but not so much as to overload the vintage guitar riffs with Dream Theater-like complexity. And then they counterbalance it with some nice, old-fashioned, Sabbath-style metal attitude: guitars crunch, wail, and burn. The complete package sounds timeless, but in that unbelievable way that you’ve never heard before.

A great band whose raging, sodden hellfire now beckons you to warm yourself at its side throughout the impending winter months. A band whose crushing, odiferous, sodomizing blade dices like a Popeil cuisinart and runs you through with gruesome exactness. This band is Impera.

Treat yourself with “Weightless” here.

Interview: LUNAR

Alex Bosson

One album that I’m really looking forward to, although I do have a copy of it, is a full-length by Sacramento, California-based progressive metal project Lunar, titled “Theogony.” The project, with a core trio of drummer Alex Bosson, guitarist Ryan Erwin, and bassist Ryan Price, with singer Chandler Mogel, has completed an epic journey with “Theogony,” which is out on November 10th via Divebomb Records.

Alex Bosson spoke for Progarchy about the album, inspiration, and more.

Alright, first thing is first. Before we dive into all the music stuff, how’s life?

Life is wonderful! Really I love everything about my life these days. And music is a huge part of my life, obviously, so that makes things great since music stuff is going so well!  I’m really proud and excited about this album release.

What was it like working on the “Theogony” album?

There’s so many answers to that question… [laughs] In one form or another I have been working on this album for almost 3 years!! At times it was frustrating trying to coordinate with people all around the world for all the parts they played. I think by the end there’s over 20 or maybe 25 people that worked on “Theogony” in one form or another. So trying to match up everyone’s schedules and everything can be exhausting.  It sometimes was a full time job in itself. But it was totally worth it! Ultimately, working on this album was filled with fun, unforgettable experiences. The time spent in the studio with the musicians that contributed locally were always the most fun parts. I love being in the studio! And the other guest musicians around the world, when I would get emails from them with guest solos or something, my heart would just leap into my throat with excitement to hear what they had done. So although at times it was very difficult to make everything come together, working on this album was a fun, unique experience and I’m really proud of what I’ve accomplished!

Lunar - Theogony

Are there any touring plans in support to “Theogony”?

Unfortunately, no, there are no plans for touring. LUNAR has actually never had a live performance. I tried for a long time to turn the band into a full lineup so that we could tour and play live, but, so far, it hasn’t been able to happen. Ryan Erwin, Ryan Price and I all live in Northern California, but still hours apart. And Chandler Mogel (the vocalist on “Theogony”) lives in New York. And all the lead guitar duties were divided up between numerous guest musicians. So I hope someday I will have a lineup that I’m able to tour with, but for now, this is just a studio project. I did it that way because I didn’t want to delay getting the music out there any more than I already had.

While we are on the subject of touring, what countries would you love to tour?

Personally, I haven’t had the opportunity to tour nearly as much as I would like. So I would love to tour anywhere really! But I feel that progressive rock and metal has a much better reception in Europe so I would love to do a European tour someday. In terms of specific countries, I’ve always wanted to visit Sweden, Norway, Germany and the U.K., so I’d love to hit those places on a tour!

Who and what inspires you the most?

Well as cliche as it may sound in a music interview, nothing inspires me more than music. Like most musicians I think, it just has this chemical affect on my brain when I hear incredible music that can’t be matched by anything else in this world. So whether it’s from the feeling it gives me, the incredible musicianship of the players, or some lyrics that speak to me, that’s what inspires me to create the music that I do. It’s an important part of everything I do music related. Even while I sit here doing this interview I’m listening to “Nil Recurring” by Porcupine Tree. In terms of the musicians / bands that inspire me the most, being a fan of progressive rock and metal, I love the bands that are the most diverse, but still catchy. Ones that are incredibly talented and when someone who’s never heard them asks you to describe them, you can’t, because there’s nothing else out there to compare them to. So these days my personal biggest influences musically are acts like Opeth, Steven Wilson, Haken and Ayreon. And I’m sure you’ll hear tons of influence from those acts in “Theogony.”

What other genres of music do you listen to? Have any of the other genres you listen to had any impact on your playing?

Honestly I don’t often seek out other genres of music to listen to, but I don’t believe in the restriction of genre, so I will listen to just about anything that someone puts on to show me and I’ll try to find something that I can draw some kind of influence or appreciation for in it. That being said, prog is such a broad category of music that you can listen to a few different bands that are all considered prog and find so much range of sound and influence. Spending a day listening to Steven Wilson, Ayreon, Radiohead and Ihsahn spans so many different sounds, but they can all be considered progressive bands. For my personal playing, I try to watch individual drum videos as often as I can to learn new things in my playing style and ability, and with that I find myself watching drummers from different genres. I feel that it’s important to not pigeonhole yourself in your playing, especially if you’re into progressive music. And while I love watching rock and metal drummers play, I often find I’ll learn more and open myself up to new ideas watching jazz drummers or gospel drummers.

I really appreciate you giving us your time today. Is there anything else you would like to tell us and the fans before we wrap things up?

I guess I just want to say thank you to you guys at Progarchy for taking the time to interview me and thanks to all the fans that read this and check out “Theogony!” The album will be out November 10th. I’m really excited for it and I really hope everyone enjoys it!!!

 

“Theogony” is out on November 10th; pre-order it from Bandcamp here. Follow Lunar on Facebook.

Interview: CIVORTEP

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.

Interview: PERIHELION SHIP

Perihelion Ship band

It can be said that a Finnish progressive death metal act Perihelion Ship offer an rollercoaster ride through Prog with their sophomore full-length release “To Paint a Bird of Fire.” Indeed, it feels as an album that has everything specific for the Prog genres since its inception in the late ’60s until today.

Mastermind Andreas Hammer walks us through the creative process for the new album.

Alright, first thing is first. Before we dive into all the music stuff, how’s life?

All is well. Trying to balance work, music and free time.

Speaking of new music, you have an album. What can people expect from “To Paint a Bird of Fire”?

“To Paint a Bird of Fire” is a little more straightforward than the debut, but the instrumentation is pretty much the same: a lot of Mellotron and Hammond Organ over heavy guitar riffs. The idea was to create a single 40-43 minute record to fit into one 12″ vinyl, like classic prog records. It ended up being a kind of a concept album, which is very evident in the lyrics.

There are two longs songs, two semi-long songs and two short songs, each displaying a variety of style in playing and composition, but still flowing nicely together.

To Paint a Bird of Fire

What was it like working on the album?

It was fun at first: I recorded the backing tracks for drum recordings with guitars and virtual instruments after the songs were written last year.

The drum recordings went very smoothly and we had much better environment recording drums than last time and the sound ended up fantastic.

After the final bass and guitar tracks were recorded and re-amped, things started to get slow and frustrating.

Jani (keyboards) had a lot of work in his hands and had to really push to get the keyboards done in his free time.

I recorded the vocals at home during spring and mixed them as well. This was the most frustrating part, as the songs did not end up sounding the way I had envisioned them at first. Even though Kris McCormick (production, engineering) had the skills to put everything together nicely in the end, the negative effect of these events started to show a bit on the practice room during spring. Due to the growing pressure, Jani and Jouko (bass) decided to quit the band during Summer. Thankfully we found replacements: Pirkka Maksimainen (keyboards) and Mikael Aalto (bass) have joined us. Both are very capable players.

Are there any touring plans in support to “To Paint a Bird of Fire”?

No not touring in the traditional sense; we are an independent act and don’t have the resources or time to tour. But we will play as many shows we can through the winter and next spring with the new lineup.

While we are on the subject of touring, what countries would you love to tour?

US definitely, cause that’s where most of our fans reside and I haven’t personally been there yet. I’d like to see the nature and smaller, more inner-cities as well as the west coastline.

In Europe, I personally enjoy Germany and Italy and their neighboring countries. And maybe visit the dear Sweden next door sometime.

Perihelion Ship

Who and what inspires you the most?

Inspiring art, nature and scientific advancements. For me, artworks have to have some kind of personal and emotional touch with them that shines through, and purely technical achievements do not really interest me (usually). This year, the new Pain of Salvation record as well as the new Bell Witch record are great examples of such art.

What other genres of music do you listen to? Have any of the other genres you listen to had any impact on your playing?

I still try to find great prog rock bands, but mostly I listen to underground metal and avant-garde. I do like synth/retrowave (you should check out Nightstop and their album “Streetwalker”) as well as classical piano music.

The fourth track from the new album; ‘River’s Three’, is inspired by classical guitar piece ‘Asturias’ by Isaac Albeniz, as well as the original Diablo -video game “Tristram theme” OST. Jani really nailed the Mellotron orchestrations in this song.

I really appreciate you giving us your time today. Is there anything else you would like to tell us and the fans before we wrap things up?

Thank you for the opportunity of being here. As most of our fans reside outside of Finland, it would be cool to record a live set and/or playthrough videos of our songs. You can find us on Facebook or www.perihelionship.fi

https://bandcamp.com/EmbeddedPlayer/album=935251725/size=large/bgcol=ffffff/linkcol=0687f5/tracklist=false/artwork=small/transparent=true/

Arktis

Emperor ceased to exist, but Ihsahn continued to pursue that trajectory. While musically more ambitious, his work is still firmly grounded in that very bedrock of symphonic black metal. Arktis, like his other records, explore diverse genres/themes and prods a range of emotions.

Staying clear of progressive metal clichés, Ihsahn crafts splendidly heavy and sublime melodies. Even the fiercely romantic “My heart is of the north” involves thick riffs, and a jarring keyboard reminiscent of 70s Emerson Lake and Palmer. Making that brief mellow moment — “And should my spirit soften like snow in early spring, or waver in the sultry haze, that soothing summers brings“ — quite exceptional.

Fascinating how whispering vocals – “Static, Dogmatic, Death cult, Fanatic” – can be this threatening with electronica. Transition into some grinding industrial metal — “I’d rather live a life in sin. And take the devil’s fall” — cannot be more elegant. With a measure of painfully moving vocals – “What kind of promises could justify the sacrifice you make? “ – Ihsahn paints a vivid landscape. But eventually ends with his signature, absolutely devoid of all sentiments, grating vocals.

Exhibiting those exquisite symphonic prog aesthetics, like 70s Genesis or Gentle Giant, Arktis is poignant, layered, and at times emotionally distressing – “Longing for the hopeless. Losing all to own the end”.

Melancholic solos when accompanied by keyboards — layered over measured strumming and painful clean vocals – “You chose a life at war. Now choose a worthy enemy. You know, it doesn’t always have to be yourself” – blazes a grim road. Musically and lyrically, Ihsahn teleports the listener straight into vaults of emotional desolation.

In spite of prominent extreme metal elements, long time Rush listeners should be immediately taken with that very familiar background keyboards in ‘Until I Too Dissolve’. But we are still skimming the surface, influences are multitude and diverse. Ihsahn traverses a progressive metal territory decked with stunning jazz to bleak black metal. Intense and sublime, Arktis, in Ihsahn’s own lyrical terms is a masterful “conjurer of sorrow”.

By Jonas Rogowski (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons