LEPROUS Drummer BAARD KOLSTAD Talks “Pitfalls,” Band’s Position on the Scene, Rendezvous Point & More

LEPROUS Drummer BAARD KOLSTAD Talks “Pitfalls,” Band’s Position on the Scene, Rendezvous Point & More

Leprous and Rendezvous Point drummer Baard Kolstad did an interview before the Leprous show in Istanbul on February 13th where he talks about the group’s latest effort Pitfalls, the Prog scene, the upcoming edition of the Prognosis Festival in Eindhoven, and more. The full video interview, as well as a few excerpts, can be seen below.

Asked to comment about the new Leprous album being arguably the most dynamic release the band put out to date, Baard said: “We’ve always been suckers for dynamic and whatever is making the right vibe; it that’s to play soft or if it’s to have everything soft but the drums extremely hard. It’s difficult to point out exactly what’s going on when we make very variated album as that, but of course there were some barriers or not barriers, but it was like new Leprous kind of stuff happening. For instance from my point of view as a drummer, when I heard demos for ‘By My Throne’—it’s just like, ‘okay, that’s a new kind of Leprous, let’s make this sound like us and try to put that into the Leprous setting.’”

About whether or not Leprous defy progressive rock and metal conventions with Pitfalls, Kolstad commented: “When I’m searching new music I’m not going only for progressive bands, I’m going for all kinds of music. It doesn’t really matter what it is, but of course we have a background we love, like Opeth and Tool and Dream Theater—not the others but I love Dream Theater—bands like that, Meshuggah. But that’s tools again—not the band Tool—but tools for us to use in composition and musicianship. We don’t try to care much about expectations, but I guess like the way we write or like Einar writes, the way we play will naturally be for people that only play stoner rock. We will always be a prog band, but for the proggers we will probably not be a prog band. And for a pop group we will definitely be proggy or weird or something like that. We kind of don’t belong anywhere.

During the interview Baard also talks about the expectations fans usually have from bands in terms of the sound and musical direction, Leprous’ 20th anniversary next year, the current Rendezvous Point tour with Anathema, drum clinics, his tips for aspiring drummers, and more. Watch the full interview below.

Album Review: LUNAR – Eidolon

Originality is tough in music, and especially so in progressive metal. So many genres have cross-pollinated over the years that trying to put a unique spin on music usually ends up with going so far off the reservation that coherency can be lost. It’s a shame that “progressive” has become a kind of cliche-ridden sound of its own, hence my temptation is to call Eidolon — the second album by Sacramento’s Lunar — a progressive death metal album. Not in the sense that it uses “prog” tropes, but because it genuinely sounds like a forward step in terms of what can be done with death metal.

I’m not often a fan of likening bands to other bands, because I think unless it’s an intentional throwback or copycat it does a disservice, but the first thing that comes to mind is Opeth by way of Fates Warning and I do not say this lightly. Eidolon has an intensity to it that is organically broken up with occasional clean or melodic sections that never sound out of place; the group — brainchild of drummer and songwriter Alex Bosson — never comes across as hokey or gimmicky.

Alex_Bosson
Alex Bosson, founder of Lunar

All right, let’s dig in a bit. The musicianship is as tight as any metal release you’re likely to hear this year or any other year. Every member is on top of their game.  And speaking of members, the core of the group is comprised of singer Chandler Mogel, bassist Ryan Price, and guitarist Balmore Lemus, along with already mentioned Bosson on drums. Eidolon also features guest contributions from members of Haken, Leprous, Thank You Scientist, Fallujah, and more.

The guitars layer beautifully, with chunky riffs both alternating and occasionally layering beneath more melodic lines. The rhythm section pounds along, with a bass guitar that fleshes out instead of simply sitting at the root notes, even getting plenty of room to shine on its own (which I appreciate) and a drummer that can handle blistering double bass and blast beats right alongside jazzier sections. All the while we have a vocalist who manages to be perfectly understandable when he growls, by death metal standards anyway, without ever losing that sense of intensity and roughness.

One of the best things about (progressive) metal is that feeling of not knowing what to expect next. Sometimes it’s less enjoyable if it feels like the band doesn’t have a grip on what they’re doing and keep taking left turns to the mood, but once again Lunar succeeds by having each song feel like a distinct entity while never losing the tone of the album as a whole. After the two three “proper” songs (after the instrumental intro “Orbit”), the appropriately named “Comfort” comes in with a melodic and prog-rock/jazz inspired beginning, blossoming into a behemoth of a track that puts acoustic guitar and jazz drumming front and center forming a foundation and building to an explosion of a soothing guitar solo courtesy of Haken axeman Richard Henshall.

At this point you might think you’ve heard all of Lunar‘s arsenal, and you would be all wrong and a bag of chips. The very next track, “Potion,” is way more into the prog rock territory, with underlying acoustic guitar melody and jazz bassline carrying it.

The closing 12-minute epic “Your Long Awaited Void” is like a revue of all the best bits of the rest of the album: heavy riffs, clean vocals mixed with growls, acoustic bits, guitar soloing, in addition to cello-laden atmospherics,…

The word “classic” gets tossed around a lot, but I honestly can’t think of a better word for Eidolon. From front to back and top to bottom, this album is both firmly rooted in death metal with a progressive bend while standing alone atop the mountain. It’s equally headbang heavy and enthralling, music to get in the mosh pit and simply sit in awe of. This is required listening, because there’s nothing else quite like it.

Eidolon is out now and is available from Bandcamp. Check Lunar on Facebook and Instagram.

Album Review: Parliament Owls – A Span Is All That We Can Boast

Parliament Owls, a quintet from Canada, have quite a challenge as with any new band playing this stylistically demanding music. They either need to add something exciting and original to the genre, or be so bloody good at delivering captivating rock (that visits quite a few genres) in its conventional form that they stand head and shoulders above the oceans of ordinariness that surround them. While they will not win any awards for innovation, the debut full-length release “A Span Is All That We Can Boast” does in fact rise most convincingly from the latter category, and has enough variation in its six tracks to keep interest levels high.

A Span Is All That We Can Boast

Beginning with “Cocobolo,” Parliament Owls expertly marry the math rock histrionics of The Dillinger Escape Plan to the noise rock sensibilities of Melvins. The band doesn’t joke about with long intros, and like to get on with the business at hand, with only one track clocking at almost seven minutes. This makes for a more urgent and also provides a much more organic feel to the band’s playing.

In addition to The Dillinger Escape Plan and Melvins you can undoubtedly hear the massive influence of Cult of Luna, Mono, Mastodon, Between the Buried and Me, all the major names, but Parliament Owls somehow manage to put a unique stamp on this rather derivative framework.

Parliament Owls have risen far above the sum of their influences, and delivered a very fine rock album. Check it out!

Follow Parliament Owls on Facebook.

Review: Drummond – In Sand

In Sand

Bedroom composing and producing has been on the rise in recent years. Drummond, a young songwriter from NewYork, has just launched his second EP “In Sand” in June.

There’s a real sense of movement in each of the three tracks here. “Submerge” feeds the ear a lovely set of liquid guitar chords, tasty synths and irregular rhythms, while “Root” laces its main melody and harmonies with bustling, positive energy.

The closing title track features extensive lead guitar that complement a busy drum kit and the tracks build confidently rather than hurtling towards their crescendos.

It’s tough to ignore the incredible versatility, technical prowess and emotion in the lead guitar’s phrasings. Talented musicians often overload their music with impressive, yet characterless fretboard acrobatics. Thankfully, Drum does not subject his audience to the same ordeal. The solos are wholesome yet light, devastating yet controlled. His sound is smooth, well-rounded, and, at its core, brimming with delightful energy. The record puts listeners into motion—they can soar and eventually reach a celestial landscape, sweating from the trip and anticipating the next step in this young guitarist’s growth.

For more info about Drummond visit his website.

Premiere: Experimental Rockers KALIKA Launch “Data Religion” EP

Kalika

Maastricht, the Netherlands-based experimental rock quartet Kalika are releasing their sophomore EP “Data Religion” via Progarchy. Stream the EP in full below.

Named after the Hindu goddess Kali, on “Data Religion” Kalika tackle the theme of technology as a tool which can manipulate people pretty effectively. Singer and guitarist Prannay Sastry previously commented: “Today, personal data is freely available to the big data hoarders and is regularly misused. The EP examines a world in which things have gone wrong and there is a divide between the haves and have-nots of all this data. This divide is one of ownership – the data horders own the have-nots, leaving them powerless.

Kalika - Data Religion

Transferring a myriad of emotions through the six-track release, Kalika depicts the moments of darkness, happiness, as well as melancholy. About the EP’s flow, Sastry had to say the following:

We wanted to subvert the narrative arc that a lot of albums have by starting with the darker songs and ending on a lighter note. We carefully curated the order and the flow of the tracks so that the listener can go on their unique journey.

“Data Religion” is out today; stream it below. Follow Kalika on Facebook and Instagram.

Interview with LOOK TO WINDWARD’s Andrew McCully

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Andrew McCully

Look to Windward is a progressive rock/metal studio project by London-based musician Andrew McCully who has released two studio albums, two EP’s and a single since 2010. The latest release is this year’s full-length album entitled “In Fantasy.”

In an interview for Progarchy, McCully talks about his project, the scene, and more.

Let’s start from your early music beginnings. How did your musical career begin? When did you start playing? Which groups have been your favorites as a young man? Please tell us something more about your early life.

My earliest memories of performing music were learning the recorder and clarinet before receiving a birthday present of an electric guitar in my early teens. That started it all really. I was also singing in choirs throughout school. I grew up surrounded by music performance. Then around the age of 11 I connected with a close friend over mutual music tastes and we continued to share and listen to music together leading to writing and performing on our own in high school when we recruited a drummer from my jazz group, Jono Sawyer.

I have rather distinct memories of 4 albums from my youth that really started to define my interests and passion for rock music. The first was Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness by The Smashing Pumpkins (which was the first album I ever bought). I still regularly listen to this masterpiece. Then came Metallica’s Reload (a strange one to start with I know) and Ok Computer by Radiohead (which remains my favourite album). And then I can’t leave out first hearing Dream Theater’s Scenes from a Memory when I was 15. I don’t listen to them anymore really but it opened up an entire world of prog related music to me.

How did you go about starting Look To Windward?

LTW began as some basic riff experiments with my friend and collaborator Ben Morley, and we created our first track out of that (which I believe was Forest Is Moving from the first album Fortunes Haze). We were looking for a way of exploring all the epic prog-metal ideas we were talking about and without the ‘restrictions’ of having a band to play it live we went nuts. The first album grew over 2 years of messing around and I’m proud of what we made. There was a lot of self taught music production done along the way.

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In the beginning, did you have some “fixed” tempo in composing songs or everything was a product of jamming, improvising?

A bit of both I think. Sometimes I might tackle a song with a specific feel in mind or I might just be jamming with my guitar and find something I like. Then it’s a case of slowly building up the layers and melodies on top of this.

How would you describe the music from your new album “In Fantasy” on your own?

Progressive Rock with elements of Metal, Alternative Rock and Pop I think. I was trying to focus more of clarity and structure for this album, not to say I don’t value the unrestrained, layered intensity of my first 2 releases.

What was your approach to writing the album like?

Much like it has been in the past. Just lots of exploration. I would say that I threw out more ideas this time around though. Either because it was harder to generate ideas I was happy with or because I was being stricter in regards to my desired sound for the album.

LTW_IF

You pay attention to atmospheric and ambient elements in your music. How important it is for the structure of your songs?

Dynamic contrast is integral to Look To Windward’s sound. I love creating the flow between great intensity and ambient calm. I’d say the structure of the songs in this regard is what I pay attention too the most!

How do you see the prog rock/metal scene today?

I have mixed feelings about it. There are artists doing genuinely interesting things but a lot of what is called progressive is rather stagnant and derivative. Particularly in metal, where copying a certain sound has become quite widespread. I’m guilty of it myself. When the technique of locking your kick drum in with a de-tuned guitar chug works so effectively it’s hard not to dip into that well. When you look back at how far the genre came from the 80’s into the 90’s and early 2000’s you want to see that kind of innovation now. There are small pockets of innovation but it isn’t genre wide yet.

Do you consider yourself a part of any specific cultural movement, however peripheral?

I’m probably part of the movement of DIY musicians creating fully realised music at home. The tech allows 1 person to take on the role of a full band. That’s why it was important for me to get as many guest musicians performing on the album as I could. It elevates the music beyond what I could do myself. Devin Townsend is the model I aspire too here.

In Fantasy by Look To Windward

Are you also involved in any other projects or bands?

At the moment I’m not. Look To Windward fully scratches that itch for me. That being said I’d like to collaborate more on the songwriting for the next album, too add some new flavours to the palette.

So, what comes next for you?

I’m taking a break from writing and recording for a while, but I already have some ideas brewing for the next release.

“In Fatnasy” is out now and is available from Bandcamp. Follow Look to Windward on Facebook.

Interview: Steve Deaton of WHITESIDE’s DAUGHTER Talks Upcoming Concept Album “The Life You Save”

Whiteside's Daughter

You may think, “here’s another prog rock concept album; nothing new here,” but Whiteside’s Daughter from Jackson in Mississippi are set to launch their full-lenght “The Life You Save” this June, a record “about James, the gay son of an Alabama Pentecostal preacher, who in high school rebels and falls in with John, his ex-Baptist atheist classmate and guitarist for a high school death metal band called Village Witch.” Putting together progressive rock and proto-metal makes things even more bizarre, but that’s what we love about prog, anyways.

Read an interview with multi-instrumentalist Steve Deaton.

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

All is well. Busy, but good.

Speaking of new music, you have an upcoming album. What can people expect from “The Life You Save”?

Well, it is a concept album, so I hope they can expect a compelling story set to some adventurous music. It is a dark story about religious indoctrination, guilt, depression, and suicidal thoughts. But in the midst of all that, too, is a joyous celebration of teenage rebellion.  So the music has many moods, and therefore many styles—from minor key prog rock and prog metal, to major key power pop, and a bunch of stuff in between. It has elements of the Southern Gothic literary tradition which explores the dark, taboo, grotesque elements in traditional Southern culture—in this case, hellfire preaching, suppressed sexuality, casting out demons—basic “snake handling” sort of stuff.  But it is set somewhere in 80’s or 90’s. Anyone, especially rock and metal fans, who lived through the “Satanic Panic” in the U.S., predominantly in the South, will certainly get that vibe.

What was it like working on the album?

All in all, it was fun. I’ve known and worked with Brian, the drummer, and Poff, the vocalist, for years, so we always seem to be on similar wavelengths and the creative process goes pretty smoothly.  The only thing that made the process long and difficult is that this was a long distance collaboration—I live in Mississippi, and the two of them now live in Alabama—Brian in Birmingham and Poff in Montgomery. So a lot of file sharing and hashing things out in a Dropbox folder.

Whiteside's Daughter - The Life You Save

Are there any touring plans in support to “The Life You Save”?

Not touring so much, but we are working up a live performance of the concept, and we plan to stage it periodically, more like a theatrical performance than a club show. Plus, we all have other pursuits that make sustained touring impossible.

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

It would be awesome to stage the show in the UK or Scandinavia. Mainly because so much of the music that I like comes from that part of the world, but also because our social media seems to get a lot of traffic from there—it seems there is a devoted audience for progressive music all concentrated in a small geographic space. We have a lot of prog heads in the US, but we are scattered all over a vast expanse.

Who and what inspires you the most?

Any artist or musician who isn’t afraid to explore and do something that may not be popular—even though if they do it well, they often DO become popular, even if it’s with a smaller niche of fans. So my heroes are diverse—David Bowie, Rush, King Crimson, Black Sabbath, Fishbone, even Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson.

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

So, as I alluded to, I listen to a lot of music. Though I’ve always gravitated toward rock and metal, I love classic country (Hank Sr., Willie, Waylon, Buck Owens, Johnny Cash), psychedelic So Cal country like the Flying Burrito Brothers, and great pop or folk music—I love the Mamas and Papas for instance and Simon and Garfunkel, too. But a lot of Southern influences creep into this prog rock project—especially Southern rock like Molly Hatchet or even the Allman Brothers. I’ve played in alt-country bands and even some that do straight up honky tonk. So I guess that can’t help but influence what I write and play. 

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?

Well, we obviously really hope you dig the concept and the music when the full album comes out in June. If you really dig it, we are always more than grateful to those who spread the word. That’s how independent music has always made the rounds. Our local rock stations here in Jackson, Mississippi, aren’t going to play a prog rock concept album about the gay son of a Pentecostal preacher. Ha!

You can preview the Act I of “The Life You Save” on Bandcamp. Follow Whiteside’s Daughter on Facebook and Instagram.