Hitchhiking To Byzantium

Now here is a beautiful slice of contemporary progressive rock.  Anubis is an underrated band from Australia - bands down under don't seem to get the attention they deserve.  Hitchhiking is their third full length album.  2011's A Tower Of Silence was a big hit around here and frankly when it arrived it came as a huge surprise.  This long awaited follow up reinforces that the prog rock world needs to take notice.  The music has a cinematic Floyd-like feel.  Vocals from Robert James Moulding are emotion driven and have plenty of impact.  This is not a band who's music is filled with tons of soloing but what's here is solid.  In other words this is not old school prog - its very forward thinking but with a modern sound.  Highly recommended.

"I have long dreamt of an Australian progressive rock album that would inspire me to click the repeat button, in order to drift through its world all over again, and I am happy to declare that Hitchhiking to Byzantium has been on constant rotation for weeks at this point. Bringing an enchanting blend of Floydian melancholy and the energy of Rush to the table, Anubis have come to stake their claim as heavyweights in the Oz scene with their third opus.

Whilst being equally impressed with their 2011 album A Tower of Silence (which I have only just heard recently also), I have found myself returning to Byzantium more to explore the subtle nuances contained within the album’s ten tracks. ‘Fadeout’ as an opening diddy is like riding a gentle breeze for just a short while before being swept up in all the drama and opulence of ‘A King with No Crown’, a reference quality track on every level, cinematic in scope and full of drama and tension and certainly an inspired choice as opening single for the album. ‘Dead Trees’ is a classic prog cut with all the bells and whistles sporting a vocal performance that harkens to a young James Labrie and a chorus that will have you by the balls from the first time you hear it.

I mentioned a notable influence from Floyd and Rush earlier, but if I was to be honest, I would love to ask them if they are fans of American prog band Tiles and those wonderful Brits Anathema, because both bands are called to mind on this album amongst others like Sweden’s Anekdoten. The title track is a sublime centrepiece and features a plaintive aura that is sent soaring when spine-tingling female backing vocals lace the chorus. It’s so hard to choose a favourite song when they are all so filled with creamy goodness, but any of these three  - ‘Blood is Thicker than Common Sense’ (a seductive groover), ‘Tightening of the Screws’ (a majestic slice of melancholia reminiscent of early The Pineapple Thief) or ‘Partitionists’ (a lyrical and musical marvel) - could easily take the title for this humble listener.

The final triptych features dark drama in ‘Crimson Stained Romance’, a song that reminded me most of a classic Floyd epic, the 15+ minute ‘A Room with a View’, which is nothing short of a sweeping symphony of moods and tones and the closing ‘Silent Wandering Ghosts’ sounds exactly like its title would suggest, haunting and transcendent with an outro to die for.

These seven talented lads are a gifted lot, with every performance of outstanding quality, enhanced by a jaw-dropping production that let’s every instrument tell its own little story and play its part in this emotionally resonant work that as the band state themselves: "I feel that there's more of us in there - the hurdles that life throws at us and the only way to feel true inner peace - by examining the love around you. It's certainly an introspective record - but it's real life. It's about you, it's about me, it's about all of us. Hitchhiking to Byzantium. That journey is life."

And somehow I believe them." - Loud Mag

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  • "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
  • Second album from Rush influenced band. New edition comes with four bonus tracks.
    $14.00
  • "The Elements Of King Crimson is a special limited edition 'tour box' created exclusively for sale at King Crimson's concerts and via the band's official online outlets.The set contains a 24 page tour booklet and two CDs containing extracts, elements from studio recordings, alternate takes, live tracks, rehearsals and finished recordings from 1969 - 2014 (much of it previously unreleased on CD)."CD I:1) Wind Extract (1969, London) (From ITCOCK recording sessions).2) I Talk To The Wind (23/07/1969, London) From ITCOCK recording sessions.3) Cadence and Cascade (03/02/1970, London, Greg Lake Vocals) From Poseidon recording sessions.4) Cirkus (guitar extract) (11/09/1970, London) From Lizard recording sessions. Previously unreleased on CD.5) Cirkus (10/08/1971, Live at the Marquee) From forthcoming release, Collectable KC Vol. 7.6) Hoodoo (extract) (May, 2014, Elstree band rehearsals) - Previously unreleased.7) Sailor's Tale (08/09/1971, London) From Islands recording sessions. Previously unreleased on CD.8) The Talking Drum (October, 1973, London) From LTIA recording sessions. SW alt mix.9) LTIA (extract) (May, 2014, Elstree band rehearsals) - Previously unreleased.10) LTIA (extract) [David/Jamie] (16/01/1973, London). From LTIA recording sessions.11) Fracture (23/11/1973, Amsterdam). SW 2014 mix.12) Fallen Angel (extract) [RF harmonics] (08/07/1974, London). From Red studio sessions - Previously unreleased on CD.13) Fallen Angel (July, 1974, London). From Red studio sessions.14) 21 Century Schizoid Man (30/06/1974, Providence). From USA live recordings.15) Starless (extract) [Mark] (08/07/1974, London). From Red studio sessions. Previously unreleased on CDCD 2:1) Discipline (1981, London). From Discipline recording sessions. Alt take.2) Three Headed Doom (part 1) (May, 2014, Elstree band rehearsals) - Previously unreleased.3) Manhattan (Neurotica) (23/11/1981, Live at The Roxy, LA). From forthcoming release, Beat 40th anniversary CD/DVD-A.4) Neal and Jack and Me (extract) (17/03/1982, London). From Beat recording sessions. Previously unreleased on CD.5) Sleepless (Bearsville) From TOAPP recording sessions (Steven Wilson mix). From forthcoming release, Three Of A Perfect Pair 40th anniversary CD/DVD-A.6) Sex, Sleep, Eat, Drink, Dream (rec session) (27/01/1994, Bath) - From THRAK recording sessions and on forthcoming release, THRAKBOXX.7) THRAK (30/06/1996, Live at Shepherd's Bush) - Previously unreleased on CD.8) Venturing Into Joy (edit) (May, 2014, Elstree band rehearsals) - Previously unreleased.9) The Deception Of The Thrush (1998, USA) From West Coast Live, The ProjeKcts box.10) Heaven & Earth (early edit) (14/05/2000, Nashville). ProjeKct X, TCOL recording sessions - Previously unreleased on CD.11) Level Five (07/08/2008, Chicago, Live at Park West) - Previously unreleased on CD.12) The Hell-Hounds of Krim (May, 2014, Elstree band rehearsals) - Previously unreleased.13) Separation (edit) (2010, Berkhamsted) Jakszyk, Fripp, Collins sessions - Previously unreleased.14) A Scarcity Of Miracles (2010, Berkhamsted) Jakszyk, Fripp, Collins sessions. Alt take.
    $27.00
  • Kaipa's second album didn't present anything radically different from the first album and that's a good thing.  Its simply beautiful symphonic rock in the tradition of Yes and Genesis.  The only negative is that keyboardist Hans Lundin sings in Swedish but his voice is strong so its not unpleasant.  I'm not quite sure why Decca didn't force them to sing in English. This 2015 remastered edition arrives with four bonus tracks.""Inget Nytt Under Solen" was KAIPA's 2nd release and is another wonderful release which must be heard. "Inget Nytt Under Solen" has all the elements you would want in a progressive rock band... beautiful captivating songs with superb musicianship. Ronie Stolt's (FLOWER KINGS) impregnates this album with his accurate and lively guitar work, Tomas Eriksson handles most of the vocals and adds some real solid punchy bass lines, Hans Lundin brings his analog keyboard wizardry while Ingemar Bergman delivers some solid percussion throughout. All the songs as very well constructed and are given lots of space the breathe and create some lovely atmospheres. This album opens with an epic 21 minute suite "Skenet Bedrar" which is simply brilliant (must be heard!!!). Vocals are in Swedish except for the bonus numbers which introduce the world to English lyrics in an attempt to attract the world to KAIPA's talents. Overall I love KAIPA's music and "Inget Nytt Under Solen" is a solid offering which fans of FLOWER KINGS, ANYONE'S DAUGHTER etc. will love and treasure..." - ProgArchives
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  • This was the first album with the revamped lineup of John McLaughlin, Jean Luc Ponty, Narada Michael Walden, Ralph Armstrong, and Gayle Moran. They didn't quite hit the heights the original lineup did but there are brilliant moments throughout.
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  • Superb upbeat power metal drawing influences from Angra, Rhapsody, and even Queen! This is a new 8 piece band from Spain that features a fantastic singer in Nacho Ruiz that is one part Andre Matos and one part Freddie Mercury. The band isn't shy in their use of keyboards either which is always a plus for me. It seems obvious to me that this band is going to get a lot of recognition. This is the Japanese edition that features 3 bonus tracks. Highly recommended.
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  • First time on CD - now available as a mini-lp sleeve version as well. Luna was a quartet put together by Osanna guitarist Corrado Rustici after their breakup. Released in 1981 it didn't have much success. The music has progressive overtones and Rustici offers his usual great playing but overall I would put file this one under the melodic rock category and leave it for Italian prog completists only.
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  • Brilliant first album featuring Phil Collins, Robin Lumley, Morris Pert, John Goodsall, and Percy Jones. One of the greatest statements in the history of fusion!
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  • Limited edition embossed digipak with one bonus track."It was the friendly split heard round the world: two bands – same logo, same history….huh? Two Rhapsody’s? Would they sound the same? What does Rhapsody even sound like without Luca? All those questions are now about to be answered as Rhapsody of Fire (RoF) will finally present the response album to the overwhelmingly cinematic masterpiece spewed by Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody (LTR) in 2012. In the interim, there is a new record company (AFM), the first North American Tour and a Hess in….a Hess out. The split with the former HolyHell guitarist has left Roberto De Micheli as the lone guitarist, which turns out to be the best move of all. Meanwhile, Fabio Lione has been the busiest and a singer for hire – guest starring on a multitude of releases, including a long stint with Brazil giants Angra – and permanently joining Hollow Haze on top of Vision Divine. Fans wondered, when would that long awaited response album from Alex Staropoli be heard? The time is now and “Dark Wings of Eternity” is upon us. Right, right….you want the verdict! Well this album will definitely distinguish the band from LTR, but at the same time all of the key RoF qualities remain.Is it a win? Absolutely! Alex Staropoli takes RoF in a more organic and metallic direction, which on the first listen may come across sounding “under produced” when compared to the grandiose “overly produced” previous albums. Successive listens unveil the beauty of “Dark Wings of Steel,” an album that favors drama over theatric, proving there really is room for two Rhapsodys without picking sides.Luca’s vision of Rhapsody is the cinematic grandiose direction – a grand production of sight and sound, dazzling and spectacular. Alex Staropoli has side stepped and stripped down Rhapsody of Fire just a bit towards a purer “heavy metal” direction. Fans might take that statement as a step backward, but keep in mind, having two bands that are exactly the same would be silly and certainly wouldn’t help either. The guitar sound is more prominent, darker, and little less speedy as in the past (save for two of the album’s tracks). The choirs and choruses that fans have come to expect remain intact, as well as those building and sweeping melodies, written to perfectly balance the strengths of Fabio’s voice. Clearly, this is Staropoli’s band and he makes his presence known in a huge way (more on that later), and Roberto’s work is absolutely brilliant and cannot go unnoticed! His riffs are engaging and his solos are masterful, in many ways exceeding Luca’s own (which Turilli would freely admit). Many people do not realize that Roberto was actually in Thundercross in 1993, the band that would change its name to the famous Rhapsody in 1995 (though he did not play on the “Land of Immortals” demo of 1994).For any true fan of the band, approaching “Dark Wings” brings a certain level of both excitement and concern, especially considering Luca’s absence, the band’s back catalog and history, and LTR's post-split opening salvo that only raised the bar. It is nearly impossible for any fan of these bands to simply turn off the past and not instantly begin with comparisons. By giving “Dark Wings of Eternity” room to fly and breathe, I guarantee with each successive spin any concerns will quickly fade. In the end, you will find that RoF really isn’t all that far from where it already was! As soon as "Vis Divina" (intro) and opening track “Rising From Tragic Flames” begin you will notice the hallmarks – choirs, speedy riffs, Fabio – are all there, but the sound, especially the drums, is more natural. Staropoli’s keyboard play is much more modern and flamboyant juxtaposed to De Micheli’s neoclassical style. When that choir bridges you to Fabio’s first verse, you quickly realize this is classic RoF.For purposes of keeping this review from becoming more like a novel, lets group the tracks into “quicker” and “slower.” History has proven that Rhapsody of Fire is more often than not associated with quicker tunes, which are the ones that tend to be prominent among the fans. “Rising From Tragic Flames” is akin to classics like “Unholy Warcry” as the choir and speed is strikingly similar. “Silver Lake of Tears” presents a fierce and angry Fabio on the verses, which will be just what many fans have been hoping for (and no…we aren’t talking “Reign of Terror” angry). The title track is slightly more mid-paced with a De Micheli riff that is just as lethal as the speed. The song has one of the coolest guitar vs. keyboard solo battles, something that happens in multiple tracks on the album. “A Tale Of Magic” is an up-tempo half-speed with one of the most memorable choruses on the release. It’s a challenge to pick and outright favorite, but for now the pendulum swings in favor of “Tears of Pain,” with its simple, though highly fetching, riff that just draws more anger from Fabio’s voice.As for the “slower” side, which encompasses ballads and mid-paced tracks, the crop includes the building layers of “Fly to Crystal Skies” - galloping into the chorus along the bass pedals of Alex Holzwarth and the stunning ballad “Custode Di Pace”- a song like so many other greats from RoF and another pedestal for Fabio. “Angel of Light” showcases Fabio’s current strengths - the upper mid vibrato – matched in perfection only by Alessandro Conti. The song sports another one of the best choruses, as well as a slow Manowar type gallop as the song progresses. One of the real standouts in this category is “My Sacrifice,” which rises like a mountain, each level progressively heavier, ranging from near ballad from the onset, to mid-paced bass centric while pausing on the bridge with a uniquely Italian acoustic flair before cascading into the chorus.As mentioned earlier, a word about Alex Staropoli. For starters, I’ll admit that I had my concerns about his “flying solo” as a writer and those concerns were dispelled by “Dark Wings.” His play is much more flamboyant and modern than on previous releases, including a number of keyboard solos that battle back and forth with Roberto’s guitar. It’s an exciting element that really enhances the album. If I had one stylistic gripe, it would be that the keyboards are so prominent in the mix that they suffocate the guitar riffs at times (examples include the opening riff to the title track and “A Tale Of Magic.”). In those heavier tunes, the riffs could easily drive the melody alone.In summary, “Dark Wings of Steel” is a well written and fantastic effort. It demands attentive and successive listens before its true beauty is revealed. Changes are both bold and subtle, especially the more organic sound. The mix meter tilts with Staropoli, which throttles the riffs at times, but the quality of play is superb. The song writing is top notch, leaning more dramatic and less theatrical to distinguish the band from LTR, and Fabio shines not only with his voice, but also in his role as lyric writer. Enough cannot be said about Roberto, who has taken over and stepped up in the absence of Luca. For me, this album is a testament to his play. “Dark Wings of Steel” will not replace the classics, but it will find its place among them. The future is bright for one of heavy metal’s veteran acts." - Metal Underground
    $16.00
  • "The news of Angela Gossow stepping down as the front of ARCH ENEMY is still fresh as the band launches their latest album, "War Eternal". The new record features THE AGONIST's Alissa White-Gluz on the mike and former ARSIS guitarist Nick Cordle, who gets his first album representation following the 2012 departure of Christopher Amott.Change often sucks, but hardly in this case. The new blood in ARCH ENEMY has propagated a tremendous creative spark in Michael Amott. Simply put, "War Eternal" is the best ARCH ENEMY album in years. Though Angela Gossow held her post with honor, the songwriting under her tenure fell into a script that's observed on occasion here, but stepped well beyond."War Eternal" captures immediate attention with an overture opening featuring harpsichord and choral lines, "Tempore Nihil Sanat (Prelude in F Minor)" before ripping straight into "Never Forgive, Never Forget". The latter yields the same structuring as most ARCH ENEMY songs during the Gossow years with bombastic thrash-grind lines melded with modified slowdowns. Overall, the song is a scorcher and it comes with guitar solos that are dealt at a zillion notes they're worth backing up.Afterwards, the title track jumps in with an excellent shredded intro and retains a harmonious curve all the way through its mid-tempo stamp. This and the gloriously anthemic "You Will Know My Name" are the closest "War Eternal" get to accessible and the strident focus of the band puts these songs at peaks of near-perfection, once again bringing active, detailed solo sections full of jerked strings and fret dances. The solo on "War Eternal" needs to be shaved by about ten seconds, but otherwise, that track is one of the most affecting tunes ARCH ENEMY's written in some time."As the Pages Burn" is completely savage on the verses, but the stepped-back choruses that make an attempt at neoclassical-based melody does the headstrong thrash a slight disservice. Still, the song's a cooker. Speaking of neoclassical, Michael Amott and Nick Cordle lead and fill the steady crusher "No More Regrets" with scales galore and the fret garnishments assume a stately flair beyond the song's gruesome double hammer and fierce breakdown. By this point, it's evident Michael Amott and ARCH ENEMY mean to outdo themselves on this album.The brief guitar interlude, "Graveyard of Dreams", is a nice set-up for the heavy thrust of "Stolen Life", which the shredding lines and Alissa White-Gluz's spit-flung delivery keep the energy level of the album from faltering. The lullaby opening to the massive "Time is Black" is the perfect opener as the song rolls through a symbiosis of classical lines and progression that jack up in both intensity and elegance.Suffice it to say, the concentration upon Bach and Mozart behind Michael Amott, Nick Cordle and Sharlee D'Angelo's intricate lines becomes a theme on "War Eternal" and the method elevates the band beyond their powers. Once more incorporating harpsichord and symphonic strings for the intro and the fills of the headbanging groove on "Avalanche", the opportunity for auxiliary grace is capitalized intuitively.The band's tireless performance on "War Eternal" is comparable to a veteran baseball team with a powerful batting lineup giving a new pitcher a seven run lead to break in with. Blue-coiffed Alissa White-Gluz can rip esophagi with them best of them and she's a natural fit for ARCH ENEMY. She possesses excellent pentameter even in ralphing mode and she sounds like a demoniac on "As the Pages Burn". It doesn't hurt to have her predecessor looming in the background as the band's new manager. Gossow must be feeling proud, if bittersweet that ARCH ENEMY hits a higher level of craft on "War Eternal" than they have in a long time. There are transitional moments in a band, but this is a veritable catharsis." - Blabbermouth.net
    $12.00
  • There is no denying that Nemo's JP Louveton is one hell of a guitarist. His staunch commitment to having French lyrics with Nemo's music has stiffled the band's exposure within much of the progressive rock community. Wolfspring is a new project he has put together - but with English vocals. The music isn't particularly symphonic like Nemo. Instead he goes for a contemporary guitar driven sound that rocks hard. Nemo keyboardist Guillaume Fontaine is also a member of the band but he definitely takes a supporting role. Louveton's guitar takes center spotlight through out.
    $3.00
  • "Released at the height of ‘flower power’ in 1967, We Are Ever So Clean is widely considered to be the finest popsike album ever recorded. Produced by Giorgio Gomelsky (discoverer of the Rolling Stones and the Yardbirds), it’s a fascinating amalgam of whimsical pop, music hall humour and acid rock. Much-bootlegged over the years, this is its first official reissue, timed to coincide with its 40th anniversary. Produced with the band’s full involvement, it’s presented with no fewer than ten bonus tracks, encompassing non-LP singles, demos, out-takes and live performances, and comes complete with a full-colour 12-page booklet incorporating many rare photographs and a comprehensive band history, as well as an introduction from the band’s leader, Brian Godding."
    $18.00
  • Mega-rare US late 60's flower power psych/pop band with some subtle prog tendencies. Features lots of unreleased versions.
    $24.00