Aardvark

SKU: ECLEC2286
Label:
Esoteric Recordings
Category:
Progressive Rock
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Aardvark was a one and done band that recorded for Deram/Nova in 1970. Originally a vehicle for Simon Kirk and Paul Kossoff before they split to form Free, Aardvark evolved into a guitarless quartet. Led by the organ led keyboards of Steve Milliner, the band bore similarities to Egg and The Nice. Milliner owed a bit more to Jon Lord than say Keith Emerson but when he put his organ through a fuzz box it definitely will remind you of Dave Stewart. This reissue has been given the usual gold standard treatment from Esoteric.

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  • "When Rush issued Vapor Trails in 2002, they revealed that -- even after Neil Peart's personal tragedies in the 1990s had cast the group's future in doubt -- they were back with a vengeance. The sound was hard-hitting, direct, and extremely focused. Lyrically, Peart went right after the subject matter he was dealing with -- and it was in the aftermath of 9/11 as well, which couldn't help but influence his lyric writing. In 2004 the band issued a covers EP that was in one way a toss-off, but in another a riotous act of freewheeling joy that offered a side of the band no one had heard for 30 years. There were a couple of live offerings and a 30th anniversary project as well that kept fans happy perhaps, but broke -- though Rush in Rio was the kind of live album every band hopes to record. Snakes & Arrows represents the band's 18th studio album. Produced by Nick Raskulinecz (Foo Fighters, Velvet Revolver, Superdrag), the record is another heavy guitar, bass, and drums...drums...and more drums record. The title came -- unconsciously according to Peart -- from a centuries-old Buddhist game of the same name about karma, and also from a play on the words of the children's game Chutes and Ladders. Its subject matter is heavy duty: faith and war. From the opening track (and first single), acoustic and electric guitars, bass hum, and Peart's crash-and-thrum urgency in the almighty riff are all present. When Geddy Lee opens his mouth, you know you are in for a ride: "Pariah dogs and wandering madmen/Barking at strangers and speaking in tongues/The ebb and flow of tidal fortune/Electrical charges are charging up the young/It's a far cry from the world we thought we'd inherit/It's a far cry from the way we thought we'd share it...." At the same time, inside the frame of the refrain, Lee refuses to be conquered in the face of chaos: "One day I feel like I'm ahead of the wheel/And the next it's rolling over me/I can get back on/I can get back on." Alex Lifeson's guitars swell and Peart's crash cymbals ride the riff and push Lee to sing above the wailing fray. Great beginning."Armor and Sword" contains an instrumental surprise. After an initial ride-cymbal clash, the guitar and bassline sound exactly like King Crimson playing something from Red or Larks' Tongues in Aspic. The theme is repeated on an acoustic guitar before Lee begins singing about the shadowy side of human nature brought on by the many times children are scarred in development. The boom and crackle of electric guitars and bass are all there, but so is that sense of melody that Rush have trademarked as Lee states, "...No one gets to their heaven without a fight/We hold beliefs as a consolation/A way to take us out of ourselves...." There is no screed for or against religion per se, but a stake in the claim of hope and faith as absolutely necessary to accomplish anything, hence the refrain. Peart beautifully articulates the dark side of life's undersurface; he has been writing the best lyrics of his entire career on the band's last two studio records -- only two in the last ten years. The dynamic works against the melody and Lifeson's brief but screaming solo is a fine cap on it. "Workin' Them Angels" blends the acoustic against the electrics gorgeously, and Lee sings counterpoint to the guitars. "The Larger Bowl" is one of those Rush tunes that builds and builds both lyrically and musically, beginning with only Lee's voice and Lifeson's acoustic guitar. Its shift-and-knot rhythms and spatial dynamics offer the impression -- as does the rest of the album -- that the bandmembers are playing in the same room at the same time (it happened to a lesser degree on Vapor Trails, but here the impression is constant). The sounds -- both hard and soft -- blend together wonderfully. The live feel of the record with its sonic washes and overdubbed guitars and vocals creates near chaos without loss of control. It's like teetering on the edge of an abyss with one eye on both sides of it. Song by song, the notions of tension build, taking the listener to a place where hope and faith are challenged continually, not only in the face of the entire world, but in one's personal relationships -- check "Spindrift." Echoes of T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land, Robert Frost, Matthew Arnold, and The Odyssey are glanced upon, as is The Dhammapada in the Buddhist scriptures -- with more of a thematic than referential purpose.Amid all this seriousness, there is a bit of humor. The instrumental track "Malignant Narcissism" references a line in the comedic film Team America: World Police from Matt Stone and Trey Parker of South Park fame. It comes from a line in the film that reveals how terrorists think. It's one of three absolutely stunning instrumentals; another is "The Main Monkey Business," which sounds like the closest Rush have gotten to jamming in the studio in over 20 years. Think of the intensity of 2112 with the musicianship of Vapor Trails, and you begin to get a picture: screaming guitars, deep bass thrum, soaring keyboards, and all those pop-and-boom drums from Peart's massive kit. "The Way the Wind Blows" is Rush taking on the blues in massive metallic style, and it feels more like Cream in the intro. Lee's vocal drives deep inside the lyric -- it's tense, paranoid, yet revelatory. It's about the perverse magnetism of religion and war, and how both are seemingly designed to be cause and effect: fanatical religiosity leads to war. There are different theories on this, but Peart distills them well, as if he's read (but not necessarily completely understood) René Girard's seminal work Violence and the Sacred. The album changes pace a bit with the instrumental "Hope," a largely 12-string acoustic guitar piece played off a medieval theme by Lifeson. "Faithless" is anything but. It's one of those Rush tracks where counterpoint vocals against the guitars and basslines create that unique welling of sound that occurs when the band is at its peak on-stage. The set ends with "We Hold On," a track that expresses the sum total of all the struggles life offers and holds. Here Eliot the poet is quoted directly at the end of the third verse. It's anthemic, with backmasked guitars, Peart playing actual breaks, and Lee's bass holding the chaos together with a constant pulsing throb, guiding the various knotty musical changes back to the center of the verse and refrain, which is the place where the cut just explodes in sonic fury. Snakes & Arrows is one of the tightest conceptual records the band has ever released. Musically, it is as strong as their very best material, without a lapse in texture, composition, production, musicianship, or sheer rock intensity. There are real heart and fire in this album. It was well worth waiting for." - Allmusic Guide
    $8.00
  • This is the second album from Serge Bringolf's Strave ensemble.  This large scale ensemble has a mash up of influences.  The Magma imprint is all over the place but if you were to call Strave a jazz or fusion ensemble you wouldn't be wrong.  The album features some blistering guitar work from Alain Eckert - he tears it up.  A fierce rhythmic intensity is present through out.  Highly recommended.
    $15.00
  • "BLACKCUBE is a French Progressive Metal band. Amongst their main influences are Symphony X, Queen, Dream Theater and Deep Purple, but they take pride in building their own musical identity, which ranges from psychedelic and relaxing moments to sections of catchy heavy-prog. Exploring many changes in time signature and arrangement, the band strives to present different moods within single tracks while preserving its substance beyond the soulessness of mere technical exhibition.Formed in 2004, BlackCube was at first dedicated to covers and went through numerous changes in its line-up. It was not until the summer of 2008 that the sextet found its current line-up when a full-time singer joined the band. The band wrote four songs at that time and went on to record them, pressing with their own money their first EP.Quickly it appeared that it was not enough for them and they went on writing a full repertoire with the purpose of not having to play covers at their concerts anymore to fill in the gaps. They wanted an entirely original setlist.Within the writing process, each of the six members of BlackCube adds his two cents. The direction is simple yet demanding: the members badly want songs they take pleasure in playing and listening to. The lyrics revolve around many different themes, including cultural, poetical, and metaphysical subjects with an inclination towards a certain form of onirism."
    $14.00
  • How many of you remember Tritonus?  Back in 1995, there was a Norwegian sampler CD called simply "A Gathering of 8 Norwegian Progressive Metal Bands".  Besides Spiral Architect, Trivial Act, and Manitou there were other bands that managed to score record deals.  Most of them disappeared.  Tritonus was on the sampler.  Despite having some of the strongest material on the CD the band never signed with a label, and despite years of trying, never released any material.  Band leader/virtuoso guitarist Carl August Tidemann would time to time mention that Tritonus was working on its debut, but after almost 2 decades everyone pretty much took it with a grain of salt.  Well...better late than never!If you've been listening to prog metal for a long time you know that the sound has changed a bit over the years.  Tritonus' debut turns back the hands of time.  This is a stunning example of prog metal the way we used to know it.  Stunning musicianship with plenty of jolts of technicality.  At this point, the lineup has changed over the years.  In addition to Tidemann, Tritonus now consists of Rolf Kristensen (vocals), Ole Devold (drums) and Thor-Axel Eriksen (guitars).  Lots of guests contribute (my guess is many of these were past members).  Keyboards (courtesy of Circus Maximus' Lasse Finbraten) tend to be put to good use - you hear the occasional solo but mostly its there for texture - the twin guitars weave together with incredible proficiency and dominate.  I have to point out the vocals of Rolf Kristensen.  This guy is amazing!Its a shame that its taken so many years for Tritonus to release this.  Its quite a great album and in a way it makes me a bit sad.  Had it come out 15 years ago, they could have easily risen through the scene.  We are lucky we have it.  Is it closure for Tritonus or the opening of a new era?  Let's hope for the later.  They deserve a better fate and damn I'd want to hear more music from them.  BUY OR DIE!
    $15.00
  • Realm Of Shadows is the third album from the Dutch masters of symphonic rock. Knight Area creates harder edged progressive rock in the vein of Arena, Marillion, and Dream Theater. This latest effort is a conceptual work about a metaphysical journey that finds their music and themes taking a decidedly darker turn. Knight Area was founded in 2004 after Gerben Klazinga recorded the first album The Sun Also Rises. This album was a project of Gerben, who wrote all the music, with many musicians participating in the recordings of the album. It was a worldwide success and as a consequence Gerben formed a band to play live. Their second album, Under A New Sign, was released in 2007 after the band successfully played European and American stages including a performance at Nearfest. The album was a real band effort receiving superb reviews worldwide. A subsequent tour found the band performing in the UK, Germany, and Canada. The band will support the release of Realm Of Shadows with a European tour including appearances at ProgPower Europe, Prockfest, and the Classic Rock Society Octoberfest.
    $14.00
  • " Once audiences got a chance to hear Primus' instantly recognizable sound, driven by Les Claypool's bizarrely virtuosic bass riffs, their audience grew by leaps and bounds. It was enough to make their second major-label album, Pork Soda, one of the strangest records ever to debut in the Top Ten. Stylistically, it isn't much different from Sailing the Seas of Cheese, though the band does stretch out and jam more often. This can result in some overly repetitive sections, since Claypool's riffs are the basis for most of the compositions, but it also showcases the band's ever-increasing level of musicianship. Their ensemble interplay continues to grow in complexity and musicality, and that's really what fans want from a Primus record anyway. The material isn't quite as consistent as Seas of Cheese, though there are numerous high points; among them are "My Name Is Mud," on which Claypool plays his instrument like percussion, and "Mr. Krinkle," where he switches to a bowed upright bass. There are hints of lyrical darkness stripped of the band's usual goofiness (especially in the suicide lament "Bob"), but for the most part, the humor is again split between eccentric character sketches, cheery paranoia, and annoying novelties (with a slightly higher percentage of the latter than before). Still, despite occasional flaws, what makes Pork Soda a success is that the band keeps finding novel variations on their signature sound, even if they never step out of it." - All Music Guide
    $5.00
  • This version is not getting a US release.  It will only be available as an import (Yes we know its expensive).  Hardbound mediabook with 28 page booklet and a bonus 4 track EP.Killer UK spacerock/post-progressive hybrid."Less than three years after their magnum o(ctop)us, Amplifier return with an altered line-up (former Oceansize guitarist Steve Durose is now a permanent fixture) and another hefty dose of spaced-out space rock. After the longest fade-in history (beyond even the intro to the first Psychedelic Furs album), a heavily chorused guitar starts the gently meandering ‘Matmos’. Then, around seven minutes in, it all explodes with a shredding guitar and you know that Amplifier are once again firing on all cylinders. With just eight tracks and a running time of 61 minutes, they’ve produced a work that’s much more succinct than its predecessor. That isn’t to say ‘Echo Street’ is any less ambitious or epic than the sprawling ‘Octopus’. ‘Between Yesterday’ is the shortest track at 5:18: the 12-minute ‘Extra Vehicular’ is a prog rock monster of monumental proportions and is not so much a song as a journey through time and space. The title track is a high-octane slice of swirling space rock, and as a whole, ‘Echo Street’ is expansive and cinematic and, in short, classic Amplifier." - Shout4Music
    $20.00
  • This sadly marked the end of the band's progressive era. The songs are a bit shorter than before but Di Giacomo's vocals are as brilliant as ever. Like Garafano Rosso a second tier effort from the band. Not a bad one but not a great one. 
    $15.00
  • Third collaboration from Steven Wilson and Aviv Geffen. Mr. Geffen wrote all of the material except for one track. Musically speaking its a very different animal than Porcupine Tree. Its much more laid back with a heavy emphasis on orchestration. I'm reminded a bit of later Pink Floyd and also Roger Water's solo works. Not a lot of pyrotechnics and really not much in the way of heaviness. Its almost as if Mr. Wilson has taken a supporting role as opposed to equal stature to Mr. Geffen. If you are looking for Porcupine Tree's quasi psychedelic metal look elsewhere. Blackfield presents you with (well recorded) art rock that targets your emotions rather than your thought process.
    $20.00
  • Trillium is the new project from Amanda Somerville. You may not be overtly familiar with her but you've heard her work. In addition to the Aina album, she has collaborated with Avantasia, Kamelot, and Epica among others. In fact she filled in for Simone Simons on one of Epica's US tours. In addition to being a songwriter she is a prominent vocal coach.Trillium is a collaboration with Sander Gommans (ex-After Forever) and noted metal producer/musician Sascha Paeth. Musicians from the Paeth universe are featured through out. Most notable are duets with Jorn Lande (!) and Matt Sinner. The music is an amalgam of hard rock, symphonic metal, and perhaps even a smidgen of gothic metal. Ms. Somerville is a great singer and is adaptable to all the styles she presents. Shockingly good!
    $7.00
  • "Following their independent leap from the music industry in 1980, the band's audience continued to grow with the release of 'Something Wicked This Way Comes' which far outsold it's predecessors. For the first time in Enid history some of the tracks are vocal lead, producing anthems still chanted by fans today."
    $16.00
  • "Another album---another vocalist. I feel badly for bands that just cannot seem to retain a lead vocalist. Italy's Soul Secret started out with a guest singer, progressed to Fabio Manda's amazing voice on their sophomore album, and now have turned to Lino Di Pietrantonio to lead them. This choice, much like the album, is a solid one, though flawed in some ways.Soul Secret's third album is called "4", and, yes, that is confusing as hell. It represents a slight change in sound for Soul Secret, due not only to the change of singer, but also to the maturity of these guys as musicians. Indeed, I hear stylistic changes across the board. Soul Secret, if you are not familiar, are definitely a progressive metal band in the vein of Dream Theater, though I'm sure that's a shadow they don't want. Either way, though, it is the truth, as they rely on strong guitars from Antonio Vittozzi, sizzling keys from Luca Di Gennaro, foundational bass from Claudio Casaburi, and the ever present structure of Antonio Mocerino's drums.Their styles have changed somewhat, though. I am a huge fan of their previous album "Closer to Daylight", and the band as a whole has moved on from shorter, more structured tracks to longer and more varied concepts. This is both good and bad, as you won't really find much to sing along to here, but you will certainly find incredible instrumentals to admire (something Soul Secret has always done well). In fact, it seems like each and every track has a noteworthy instrumental, and some, like "Traces on the Seaside", "On the Ledge", and "Our Horizon", have multiple sections that are incredibly sublime. This is partially due to the new sounds for this band, especially Luca's wonderful keys. He has moved on from the standard atmospherics so often found in prog metal to new heights of solos, even leading the music many times. Needless to say, I'm very impressed with the large range of key tones used, too. Besides this, I sense a change for Mocerino's drums, too, as he has opted for a more delicate touch than his blast beating past. In addition, Vittozzi's guitars seem much more deliberate and inspired in composition.Thus far, we have a great third album called "4" that features some notable changes in sound. This is where my slight issues with the album appear. First of all, I do feel that it is a bit long. At 72+ minutes long, I feel like some of the incredible effectiveness of the first half of the album wears off by the end. Indeed, I feel like they realize it, too, as most of the really amazing rhythms are found in the first half. This is not to say that the latter half is bad. It's actually great, especially songs like the instrumental "Silence" or the addictive ending to "My Lighthouse". Heck, "Downfall" might be my favorite song on the album! The first few tracks, however, just gel so well that you barely notice the time pass.My other issue with this album is the Dream Theater sound. This is primarily because of Lino's vocal performance. Indeed, I think the band actively tries to avoid the DT sound by including plenty of small oddities, like harsh vox, crazy synth, and a notable lack of overpowering guitar. Lino's voice, however, sounds SO much like Labrie's vox on "Images & Words". This isn't a bad thing, as I don't think Labrie has ever sounded better. Lino does avoid the pretentious wailing (thank God), but there are definitely a few times where I could have imagined that I was listening to DT.Overall, though, this is another solid album from Soul Secret, and they really show their instrumental chops. Indeed, the ending epic "The White Stairs" opens with a fantastic groove that always makes me stop everything else I'm doing. For progressive metal fans, then, I don't think there has been a better offering so far this year. Be sure to get your hands on this album!" - ProgArchives
    $14.00
  • Already dubbed "Toddrÿche" by their fans, Queensryche turn back the clock with their new eponymous titled album.  With Geoff Tate given the boot, the band sounds revitalized with the addition of former Crimson Glory vocalist Todd La Torre.  While its not going to supplant Operation: Mindcrime, the sound harkens back to the band's roots.  La Torre was previously a member of a Queensryche cover band so he does a pretty damn fine approximation of Geoff Tate's glory days.  For years fans have been hoping the band would return to their progressive roots and it took this youth injection to get it done.Please note that this is the standard edition.  It comes with a patch and a slipcase.  There will be a deluxe version forthcoming.
    $12.00
  • "I’ve been waiting for the release of “Endgame” for some time now, this is honestly the first time I have been excited about a Megadeth album in years and this is due partially to the hiring of the incredible Chris Broderick, but mainly due to Dave Mustaine’s change of attitude toward the writing process with the album. Dave has been quite open during the recording process regularly updating his fans on the Megadeth forums and his latest venture TheLiveLine where he has been posting audio messages. I’m not sure if this was a conscious effort to restore some respect but it seems to have worked, there has been a lot of praise for Mustaine and the new Megadeth lineup over the last few months and has helped elevate not only Megadeth’s public profile but apparently Dave Mustaine’s songwriting abilities back to a level we haven’t experienced for some time. Before I go any further I want to point out that I have managed to avoid reading any reviews of this album as I wanted to approach Endgame without any kind of outside influence before writing about it.Dave Mustaine has always made good choices when it comes to hiring new talent and although he is probably sick of hearing it the appointment of Chris Broderick was the most exciting news since Marty Friedman joined the band. Don’t get me wrong though, Chris certainly won’t be taking all the glory, Dave’s brutal rhythm playing is as crisp and perfectly timed as ever. There is a lot of texture on this album such as the excellent “44 Minutes” with its machine gun verse riffs and layered guitar melodies over the chorus and trademark Megadeth solo trading. The outro on this track has some jaw droppingly terrifying playing from Chris Broderick.The first track on Endgame is an instrumental which I was surprised about but it is almost like Dave is saying, check out how awesome my band are! It is a great double-bass pedal thumping track with solos galore, a nice way to introduce Chris as the new Mega-Shredder™.“1,320” is another classic sounding Megadeth song, the lyrics are a bit cheesy (is it about drag racing?) but the riffs are brutal, the solos are harmonised, Dave sounds angry and the ending is double-time, always a winner!Other highlights including the chugging rhythms of “Bodies“, the fierce audio assualt that is “Head Crusher” which was released as a teaser track a while back. This was a great marketing idea to get people interested because it is probably the most “Thrash” sounding track on the album with “Holy Wars…” kind of punch you in the face riff except with much bigger and better sounding production.The production on this album is up there with United Abominations (which takes some beating) for quality. Everything has a lot more space compared to United Abominations, although I did like the in-your-face dry guitar sounds on that album, the reverb on Endgame does push the solos into the background a little more.The only part of this album that I don’t like is the ballad “The hardest part of letting go – sealed with a kiss“… ballads on a Megadeth album? Dave singing a love song really sounds wrong to me, especially the whispered “goodbye” toward the end of the track. The only thing that saves this song is that after 1:40 the acoustic love song turns into a galloping metal riff for 1 1/2 minutes where the song is much more Megadeth and less Def Leppard, then it returns back to the power ballad. A small blemish on an otherwise brilliant album.If you are an old school Megadeth fan you are going to love this album, I actually finished listening to it the first time wanting more tracks. If you are new to Megadeth you couldn’t have discovered them at a better time, Dave Mustaine has firmly taken hold of the reigns in order to re-establish Megadeth as one of the greatest Metal bands in history with an album that will be talked about for years to come." - Guitar Noize
    $10.00