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.

Gandals Fist – Universal Wanderings revisited

frontcover-wanderer-reissue

Well, not content with upping the ante last year with their triple disc magnum opus The Clockwork Fable (which to be honest is one of the finest albums ever made) and triumphantly headlining their own Fistival, the boys are giving us a bonus remastered Fisting with their remaster and re-tooling of their 2013 album A Day in the Life of a Universal Wanderer.

However, the Fist being the Fist never do things by half, so this see’s the album remastered, parts re-recorded, new linking narratives from Paddington’s Santa, Mark Benton (who also played a memorable part in The Clockwork Fable – oh, and Doctor Who) and the new track The Stowaway and the Fable, which according to the band, brings this release in line with the sonic template of 2014’s A Forest of Fey, and 2016’s a Clockwork Fable.

Now, for some artists chucking out a quick sneaky remaster of an album, scant years after it’s initial release could be seen as lazy, however having seen the care and attention the ‘Fist boys put into their work, this is more a case of taking that classic old car that’s been off the road for a year or two, putting in the hard yards and getting it race ready again.

The main difference between the original release (which I’ve not heard) and this new vision, is that since this was released drummer Stefan Hepe and bassist Chris Ewen were recruited to join the nucleus of the band Dean Marsh (guitars/keys/vocals) and Luke Severn (vocals/keys) and made their recorded debuts on the phenomenal A Forest of Fey (which was my first fisting).

It seems appropriate then to have the drum parts for Universal Wanderer re-recorded, with Stefan adding a his teutonic precision, giving it that mighty full Fist band sound that makes their latest releases so epic.

With Mark Benton providing linking narration, this pulls it right into the Fist family, and the mix of harder edged rock, full on epic space ballads, powerful epics, and tight coherent narrative this has all the hallmarks of a Fist classic.

Listening to the music here, and the plotting and way the songs lead the narrative, this could almost have been a dry run for The Clockwork Fable (and I have no doubt that somewhere in the fertile imagination of those Fist boys, this ties in somewhere with that and Forest of Fey).

They do like their harder edged sounds and epic tracks like the Nine Billion Names of God, and the new epic that has snuck it’s way here, or indeed like a pigeon found it’s way home ‘The Stowaway and the Endless Night, features some of their heavier sounds, impressive guitar riffing and a fab hard edge.

This subtle blend of light and dark works with tracks like Orphans of the Sky, and long term Fist associate Melissa Hollick provides superb vocals on here and forms part of that mighty Fist sound.

The concept here is around The Universal Wanderer a 26th Century mythical figure who has wandered the Universe since the dawn of time, I wonder if he’s ever bumped into someone similar who happens to fly round in a blue Police Box, I bet they have plenty of things to chat about at the Restaurant at the End of the Universe.

And having wandered the Universe the Fist have certainly got plenty of diverse musical sounds that they weave together to create a coherent whole, the wonderful Battle for Tannhauser Gate with William Stewarts violin duelling with the guitars, is a fab slice of folk rock prog, with another superb duet and pulls more strands of the story together.

In fact the album is as much as rich musical tapestry with the diverse genres and sounds, pulled together like a well made jumper, bringing the strands together to create a coherent whole, and one that is worth losing yourself in for an afternoon.

The closing The Wanderer Goes is the stitch that pulls those threads together, reprising the opening Nine Billion names of God, with a fantastically epic closing section, worthy of the name, bringing the album back full circle.

If you’ve never heard of Gandalfs Fist then it’s time you got fisted, and if you are familiar with them, and think you already have this album, according to the guys this is as different from the original as could be, reworked, retooled, remastered and reissued to give it a bigger place in the Universe.

Whatever you think of the bands name (and it has been described in certain quarters as a maarmite name, and  I like it) Gandalfs Fist certainly are some of the most ambitious musicians when it comes for big concept albums and mighty sounds, and what is gratifying is that they have the musical chops and storytelling nous to pull it off with style and aplomb.

I look forward to where their fertile imagination plans on taking us next musically, whilst they ponder that in their secret Fist bunker where plots are plotted and albums are hatched, let us enjoy this story of a Universal wanderer and see where he takes us.

A day in the Life of a Universal Wanderer (Special Edition) is available now from

https://www.gandalfsfist.com/store

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/

THE VOID: Working on the Second Birzer Bandana Album

image1As some of you might remember, fellow progarchist Dave Bandanna (of the English prog band, Salander) graciously asked me a year ago to write lyrics for a new band/project, called Birzer Bandana.  We released that album, BECOMING ONE, earlier this year.

I’ve now written the lyrics for the second album–a concept album revolving around the mystery of a man trapped somewhere and in some way on a starship heading into a black hole. As with the first album, this new one explores existential questions of life, love, loss, and hope. For better or worse, these are themes I, personally, can’t escape, and, frankly, it’s really healthy for me to write them down in lyric form.

Dave just sent me a working version of the 14-minute track, “The Void.” To my mind, this is Dave’s best craftsmanship as a composer.

To write “I’m excited” would be the grand understatement of the day. Dave’s work is nothing short of brilliant.  I’ll be equally excited to share it with everyone someday. . . .

UNTOLD TALES: Glass Hammer’s Tolkienian Prog

untold tales
The latest from Glass Hammer and Sound Resources.

Pensive, deep, and resonating strings eagerly invite listeners to immerse themselves utterly, fully, and completely in the album.  From there, keyboards swirl in anthemic Emerson-esque majesty until the entire orchestra begins what is nothing less than an all-encompassing and fetching fanfare.

We the listener feel not the abstraction of the music, but its tangibility.  We might very well be able to touch it.  We are not “fans” witnessing a spectacle from afar, hoping to catch a mere glimpse from our balcony seats the smiles that pass between Susie and Fred, the nods between Aaron and Steve, or which guitar Alan is using on this or that tune. No, nothing like any of this. With UNTOLD TALES, we the listeners are members of the artistic endeavor as a whole, as much a part of the band as those on stage, and just as fundamental to the artistic success of it all.

Continue reading “UNTOLD TALES: Glass Hammer’s Tolkienian Prog”

Glass Hammer News: UNTOLD TALES 1

Delights forthcoming from Glass Hammer.  As Steve Babb writes: “PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED TRACKS AND MORE UNTOLD TALES begins with songs from 1993 and concludes with a live recording from 2017.”

Knowing Glass Hammer, this album will serve as the equivalent of one of Tolkien’s appendices in THE LORD OF THE RINGS.  And, I couldn’t be happier!