Tag Archives: progressive

Review: Empress AD’s Still Life Moving Fast

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It’s so good seeing young bands signed to Roadrunner Records again and Empress AD are a perfect fit for the label’s roster. The band deal with the sort of thunderous, proggy, groove metal that bands like Mastodon deal with but they sprinkle their sound with an earnest and very British-sounding layer of alt rock which reminds us of bands like Reuben.

Empress AD have been honing their craft for quite some time and it really shows on Still Life Moving Fast. This record has a seriously accomplished sound that dives effortlessly in and out of massive riffs and slower, more contemplative moments of restraint. Empress AD make the quiet/loud dynamic sing on this record. The more reserved moments give way to some absolutely Earth-shattering grooves and the contrast makes their impact all the more powerful.

An album highlight comes in the form of Deeper in Disguise which bursts out the gates with a blistering riff before slowing down for a sombre moment. It isn’t long before the track once again bludgeons you with its Glassjaw-esque, post hardcore craziness. It’s a beautiful lesson in heaviness.

Things even manage to move into doom metal territory for the crawling, bass-heavy dirge of On My Return. This is the sort of groove that would make Black Sabbath jealous but it’s juxtaposed with a beautiful vocal melody by Ollie Loring before it opens up into a more spacey, desert rock sound. Empress AD have really packed a surprising amount of influences into these songs.

The only downside to Still Life Moving Fast is that it does get a little bogged down in its prog rock leanings. Some of the quieter moments meander around doing very little for far too long and it unnecessarily bloats the album. Delve into the Retrospect suffers from moments like these and it often feels like the band have extended the run time of the song for the sake of self-indulgence.

Regardless, Empress AD manage to hit a larger amount of highs than they do lows on Still Life Moving Fast. This is a wonderful prog metal album that is stuffed with interesting song structures that are also bolstered by some of the best riffs heavy music has to offer. This is an impressive beginning to what I hope is one of the UK’s brightest metal discographies.

8/10

Empress AD’s Still Life Moving Fast is out now and available to buy from Roadrunner Records.

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Review: Alpha Male Tea Party’s Droids

Alpha Male Tea Party - Droids - cover

Alpha Male Tea Party sound like the sort of band who should be an absolute chore to listen to. Instrumental prog rock brings about images of extended guitar solos, freeform song structures that spend too long going nowhere and the lack of vocal melodies can be an instant turn-off for a lot of music fans. With the band’s sophomore album Droids, the band seek to trim all the fat that bloats progressive music to unnatural sizes and instead focus on massive riffs and songs that contain more manageable run-times.

What’s really quite clever about Droids is how the opening track Happy as Larry, Larry is Dead actually contains some sparse vocals. These short bursts of yelping suit the angular nature of the track but what really strikes you is the treacle-thick guitar riffs that stand loud and proud at the front of the mix.

When the next track You Eat Houmous, Of Course You Listen to Genesis rolls around (yes, all the track titles are this bizarre) you soon begin to appreciate how important the guitar melodies are to Alpha Male Tea Party’s sound. The whole track is driven by some seriously bouncy, chunky, chord-heavy guitar work and it’s also bolstered by some fantastic bass-lines that are just as groovy and twangy as the guitar riffs.

What doesn’t become apparent until you pay some serious attention to it is that the vocals don’t appear again on any of the following songs on Droids. This is a particularly clever move on Alpha Male Tea Party’s part as the focus is put directly on their music instead of their vocal delivery. It’s a true testament to the band’s song writing that Alpha Male Tea Party’s music is strong enough without vocals that you simply don’t notice when they completely vanish.

Despite the progressive nature of the band’s music, their ideas are condensed into songs that average 4 minutes in length and they always put their guitar and bass melodies directly at the front of the mix so you can really appreciate the band’s song writing. It’s a genius move by some extremely talented musicians.

We can’t finish without mentioning how wonderfully unique it all sounds. The album is generally quite positive in tone despite the heavy, riff-lead structure of the music and it leads to a sound that can only be described as Alpha Male Tea Party. It’s getting extremely more difficult to stand out in heavy music these days but Alpha Male Tea Party need to be applauded for creating a record that truly sounds like them and them alone.

This is an easy recommendation to make; you need Alpha Male Tea Party’s Droids in your life. This a wonderfully unique and riff-laden record that is loaded with catchy melodies. Despite the progressive nature of the band’s music, they manage to make it incredibly palatable and Droids is a considerable more enjoyable experience for it.

9/10

Alpha Male Tea Party’s Droids is out now via Superstar Destroyer Records. You can buy a copy by clicking here.


News: Basick Records Announce Vinyl Releases for SikTh and Circles Albums

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Basick Records will release SikTh’s ‘Death of a Dead Day’ and Circles’ ‘Infinitas’ on vinyl for the first time this Record Store Day. Both records are double LP releases with 3 tracks per side.

Record Store Day takes place on April 19th. A full list of participating stores can be found by clicking here.

SikTh return for their first live show since 2008 at Download Festival on the 14th of June where they headline the Red Bull stage.


Review: Rhoda May’s Sessions

Rhoda May are an instrumental progressive rock outfit from Surrey who have put together their début EP ‘Sessions’ in a rather intriguing way. The six songs featured on ‘Sessions’ are the product of two live sessions the band recorded for a series of live videos. This means the songs on ‘Sessions’ were all recorded in a single take.

Listening to ‘Sessions’ without this prior knowledge would lead you to think this was a highly polished and extremely well written slab of prog rock because the members of Rhoda May don’t put a foot wrong. Seriously, there isn’t a mistake to be heard and each of the three members of the band should be commended for such a tight performance.

So what about the music? As we’re dealing with instrumental music here the real question has to be, “is the music interesting enough for the band to warrant their lack of vocalist?” You’ll be happy to hear that the answer is a resounding “yes”. Rhoda May have carved a wonderful little niche as an instrumental version of Biffy Clyro mixed with In Case of Fire and a additional helping of Tool thrown in for good measure. The songs on ‘Sessions’ progress into huge sprawling behemoths and generally build from a memorable guitar hook into an almighty, Earth-shattering riff.

Guitarist Will Pain and bassist Andy Page have a brilliant musical relationship that keeps the trio sounding massive at all times. When Pain isn’t playing chords, Page does a wonderful job of keeping the melodies flowing and the band’s lack of rhythm guitarist doesn’t hurt their sound in the slightest. In fact, I’d go a step further and say that without a rhythm guitarist you are rewarded with an even greater impact when Pain shifts to chords and lets loose with some wonderfully chunky riffs.

The only real negative I can throw at Rhoda May is I think the way they’ve named their EP and the individual songs does them a disservice. The rather uninspiring record title is matched with rather bland song titles which are a series of random numbers. The first track is simply titled ‘#3’ for instance. This gives the EP a rather rushed and lazy presentation which is completely at odds with the amazing musicianship on display.

Otherwise, Rhoda May have done a wonderful job of making engaging, interesting and enormous sounding prog rock in the form of their début EP ‘Sessions’. The live nature of the release manages to showcase a supremely talented bunch of individuals with amazing song writing talent and an ear for no frills spectacle. ‘Sessions’ is a gargantuan début that only has us begging for more. God only knows how incredible Rhoda May will sound when they put forward a release recorded in more than two recording sessions.

8/10

Rhoda May’s ‘Sessions’ is released independently by the band on the 6th of January 2014.


News: The Safety Fire Reveal New Album Details and Release Date

Prog metallers The Safety Fire have revealed their sophomore album will be called Mouth of Swords and will release on September 2nd 2013 presumably through InsideOut Music.

In what has to be the best press release in the history of man, vocalist Sean McSweeney has said:

“Since our first album we’ve all concentrated more on having awesome haircuts and facial hair. Does that go some way to explaining why Mouth of Swords is shit hot? Some may suggest so. But all I know is I’m on it and that’s enough for most people. This album is pure gold, and will be priced accordingly.”

Guitarist Dez Nagle adds:

“I must have said “there is no topping Winger’s 1988 classic ‘Winger'” on a daily basis during the recording process. I’ve never been wrong about anything in my whole life, so it was a rather humbling experience to realise that what we were creating was in fact better than Winger’s 1988 classic, ‘Winger’. I felt like a bozo deluxe. After a while I came to accept …that we had created the best album of all time, ever, in the history of known time. The burden of holding such musical gold was too much for us to handle and the band agreed to release it through InsideOut Music, on September 2nd. I’d like to think the music can speak for itself, but music can’t speak, so I’ll speak on its behalf. Hello. I hope you enjoy me.”

The full track-list is below:

1. Mouth Of Swords
2. Glass Crush
3. Yellowism
4. Beware The Leopard (Jagwar) feat. Tommy Rogers
5. Red Hatchet
6. Wise Hands
7. The Ghosts That Wait For Spring
8. I Am Time, The Destroyer
9. Old Souls


News: Stream TesseracT’s Altered State in Full

TesseracT’s sophomore album Altered State is now available to stream in its’ entirety from Century Media’s YouTube Channel. Check it out:

Altered State is released through Century Media on May 27th. It will be TesseracT’s first record with Ashe O’Hara on vocal duties and the band’s first album of completely new material.


Review: Anacondas’ Sub Contra Blues

Anacondas are a bizarre little project. Stuart and James Hunter are ex members of metalcore legends Johnny Truant, but this fact is pretty irrelevant when you hear what Anacondas sound like. With the addition of drummer Timothy Newman, the band have created an intriguing blend of doom and grunge that is lead with some pleasant, almost shoegazey singing that only occasionally becomes a yell.

Sub Contra Blues is the band’s debut album and it clocks in at a solid 38 minutes with enough riff worship to satisfy your average headbanger. As mentioned before, the band’s sound is a pretty unique blend of doom and grunge that fans of Cave In and even Mastodon will find things to latch onto.

“Now hold on”, I hear you say; “didn’t you say Anacondas sounded doomy?” Well yes, in the sense that a lot of their riffs are massive, down-tuned affairs that are given plenty of room to ring out. But when the band are given an opportunity to showcase their technical abilities they turn out some enormous riffs like the one featured at the beginning of High Horse. It’s these moments that really set Anacondas’ music apart from the rest. Not only are they blending genres like a pro, but they’re also finding opportunities to add lovely little prog flourishes to their music that add a very unique layer to the overall package.

The main issue with the album is that these moments are few and far between. The whole release meanders along at the same tempo and the down-tuned guitars are so bottom heavy that you rarely get to appreciate a melody. When the music moves up the fretboard even the slightest, Anacondas’ music really benefits from the added clarity.

Also, the shared vocals between all 3 members means the album has a problem with consistency. We generally enjoyed Anacondas better when the vocalists were shouting as it worked with the sludgy grooves far better than the alt-rock crooning.

You can’t deny that Anacondas are a band with a tonne of great ideas, but Sub Contra Blues proves that maybe they don’t all work that well together. There are moments of pure brilliance locked away in this record and with some added focus they could be the driving factor in a future Anacondas release. Is this album a failure? Maybe. But it’s certainly an admirable one at that and one that’s massively intriguing which can’t be said about a lot of bands’ music.

6/10

Anacondas’ Sub Contra Blues is available to download now.


Music Video: Palm Reader’s Noble Host

Palm Reader are hyping the release of their debut album Bad Weather with the release of free single Noble Host. You can check out the music video below:

You can download the song for free via iTunes or direct from the band’s Band Camp page. Palm Reader’s Bad Weather is released on May 6th via Small Town Records.


News: TesseracT’s Altered State Releases on May 27th

Prog metallers TesseracT return with their 2nd album Altered State which releases on Century Media May 27th. You can apparently pre-order the thing at www.tesseractband.co.uk but the site is down at the time of writing. In the mean time you can check out the album trailer below:

Altered State is the first release with Ashe O’Hara on vocals who replaces Elliot Coleman.