The Human Contradiction (2CD Mediabook)

I'm going to get straight to the point.  If you are a fan of female fronted metal you must own this album.  The Human Contradiction is a complete triumph.  It finds the band returning a bit to their roots.  There are still poppy elements - that's part of their core sound - but there is a heaviness that will remind you of Lucidity.  Nightwish's Marco Hietala returns contributing on clean vocals. Also back is Orphanage vocalist George Oosthoek who is one of the best growlers in the metal scene.  Arch Enemy vocalist Alissa White-Gluz makes a guest appearance.

Timo Somers' guitar riffs are chunkier, Charlotte's voice is impeccable as always, and Martijn's keyboards are simply epic.  The album was recorded at Studio Fredman and sounds massive.  Weaving the whole album together is a sci-fi theme borrowed from the writings of Octavia Butler.

This is an album filled with a enough earworm hooks to drive you crazy but at the same time its heavy!  For my taste its a top 10 album for 2014.  BUY OR DIE!

Limited edition 2CD mediabook edition.  The bonus CD contains 2 additional new studio tracks as well as live tracks and two orchestral versions of tracks from The Human Contradiction.  Essential.

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    $9.00
  • Obsidian Kingdom is a fascinating band from Barcelona that released Mantiis in 2012 in a limited run of 500 copies.  It's now picked up for worldwide distribution via Season of Mist.  This is definitely progressive metal - real boundary pushing stuff.  The band is categorized as post-metal and that is just one of the guideposts they touch on.  I hear more of a musical connection to Leprous and Arcturus.  If you are inclined towards the more avant garde side of metal you need to hear this band.  With the right push they could become massive.  Highly recommended."Cutting right to the chase, Obsidian Kingdom‘s latest release, ‘Mantiis‘ could very well be the most equivocal album I have reviewed to date. What this five piece post-metal band from Barcelona has put together with their latest genre-crossing, boundary pushing release is something few other bands can lay claim to accomplishing. I can’t even began to describe the number of different genres represented throughout this 47 minute monstrosity of an album.“Not Yet Five” is the album’s opener and starts things off with looming bass, light distortion, piano work and sporadic beeps and buzzes that all blend together to create an eerie ambiance that sets the mood for things to come. From here the album progresses forward with “Oncoming Dark” and “Through the Glass” which start off which crisp clean vocals and electric-accoustic guitar work before evolving into a wanderlust of heaviness that borders between post-metal and progressive death metal. Keyboards play on in an evil manner and when combined with chugging guitars and persistent drumming a doomsday like atmosphere forms. As the album moves forward through the short tracks, it gains in intensity through it’s evolving layers. By the time the album reaches its fourth track, “Cinnamon Balls” it has already spiraled into a dark, twisted place filled with harsh demonic vocals and djent style guitar work.A short piano interlude leads into “Answering Revealing” which brings the album full circle as clean vocals emerge as does a short but sweet return to Obsidian Kindgom‘s softer side. “Last of the Light” is where the album completely goes off of the tracks. While the beginning and end of the track are highlighted by violent vocals and double bass action, bookended between it is a several minute long section that features a classical guitar and with a very bluesy saxophone solo. You heard me right. This is without question one of if not the most unique song I have heard in years and definitely one of the most unusual combinations of instruments. From here ‘Mantiis‘ takes a stark transition to “Genteel to Mention”, a short track that opens with piano and clean vocals  that only last for a short while before the album returns right back to its doom and gloom heavier ways with the intro to “Awake Until Dawn”. The track does come to a crawl as it progresses when piano work mixed with synths present yet another unheard element to the album.‘Mantiis‘ moves forward with “Haunts of the Underworld” showcasing the best guitar work to be found on the album  and “Endless Wall”, which feels like the closest thing to a post-metal track found on the album despite the hints of more djent guitar work. Clean vocals amidst swirly ambiance make up “Fingers in Anguish” and demonic vocals and downtuned guitars return in “Ball-room”, both short tracks that barely cross over the five-minute mark combined. “Ball-Room” does a fantastic job setting the table for the closing track “And Then It Was”. Stark, aggressive drumming leads the way as everything the album has built itself up for comes to a head in this epic finale.One album I do think that compares particularly well to ‘Mantiis‘ is Crippled Black Phoenix‘s ‘Mankind, The Crafty Ape’. The two albums share many similarities in how they flow, how they use music as a journey to tell an album spanning story and also how they infuse many different genres into their sound while never delving down too far into a particular one. While CBF opted for a more psychedelic, bluesy infusion, Obsidian Kingdom chose a much darker, louder progressive death metal meets doom metal approach.While fantastic in its storytelling, the album isn’t without its shortcomings. I found myself wishing the album flowed a little bit better as some of the transitions seemed a bit awkward. There are also times where I wished the clean vocals would have had a stronger presence throughout the album as the band’s softer material is among their strongest work. Still, I can overlook these minor nuances as I continually find myself coming back to this album time and time again. ‘Mantiis‘ is one of the more captivating albums I’ve heard all year and is without question a breath of fresh air. " - PostRock Star 
    $12.00
  • White Willow's third album receives new treatment from Jacob Holm Lupo's Termo Records.  This remastered edition comes with new artwork and liner notes as well as 3 previously unreleased bonus tracks.White Willow is one of the most significant progressive groups of the current eraThe Billboard Guide To Progressive MusicWhite Willows third album "Sacrament" is a mystical blend of gothic atmospheres and intricate, classically influenced progressive music. Having firmly established themselves around the world as one of the premier progressive ensembles, "Sacrament" is one of 2000s most anticipated progressive rock releases.The Norwegian bands 1995 debut "Ignis Fatuus" is enshrined in the Top 100 releases of Billboards Guide To Progressive Music. This album launched the band into the world spotlight culminating in a highly acclaimed performance at Progfest 95 in Los Angeles. The 1998 follow up "Ex Tenebris" brought further attention to the group with its mystical blend of gothic, folk, and classical music within a progressive rock framework."Sacrament" shows the maturity of the band. Perhaps a bit heavier than before but with all their trademark ingredients in place, White Willow will easily once again capture the attention of progressive rock fans around the world. Imagine a blend of The Gathering, King Crimson, and vintage Jethro Tull and you have just scratched the surface of the intense sounds this band creates. Soaring female vocals, mondo-Crimsonoid guitar leads, and blistering flute work set against a backdrop of symphonic rock keyboards will effortless ignite the imagination of the dedicated progressive music listener.Also of note is the stunningly transparent and three dimensional audiophile sound.
    $16.00
  • "Andy Tillison, the mastermind behind The Tangent, isn’t a wet-behind-the-ears newbie when it comes to the world of prog rock. He knows he’s taken a risk with the band’s new album, Le Sacre Du Travail, but ten years of leading the band on its journey and seven albums to show for it have given him the strength and courage to present something decidedly different in today’s world of prog.Spurred on by the growing resurgence of progressive rock to do something unexpected that stands outside the box, he zeroed in on the idea of creating an orchestra suite in the spirit of artists like Camel and Deep Purple’s dearly departed Jon Lord. The naysayers might consider the new album to be too far afield from what’s considered prog rock these days, but The Tangent enjoys a broad international fanbase that respects the fact their heroes are bent on being as big and bold and as adventurous as the people who originally started the progressive rock movement off in the late ‘60s.“Big and bold” i this case doesn’t mean loud and in-your-face. On the contrary, Le Sacre Du Travail serves up everything from ‘70s rock to smoky blues to jazz to classical music. Given the conceptual nature of the record, Tillison sees it as a soundtrack without a film.“Hopefully that's what I'm getting across with this music,” says Tillison. “I want to give the music the excitement I felt when I first started hearing classical music. That’s why I got into progressive rock music; hearing classical music as a child, I used to be off and away imagining pictures and scenes and telling myself stories to go along with it. What I wanted to do was tell those stories to somebody else with my own music.”Le Sacre Du Travail is, in brief, a story about 7 billion people that all have the same name; “You”. The Tangent wanted to put the listener into the picture, having decided that if they were going to present this story, it had to be something that absorbed everyone on a familiar level.Tillison: “We avoided the concept album idea for a really long time, and finally we’ve done one. Most of the lyrics came pretty easily; I never wrote them down, I just sang what I felt, lots and lots of different things. I had many takes and many ideas, so I had to go back and pick out the best ones, and eventually I got the idea of what I wanted to sing about. It came out very naturally.”Looking back on The Tangent’s catalogue, Tillison – who started his musical career writing punk songs and pays tribute to that era on a the bonus track ‘Hat (Live At Mexborough School 1979’ – admits that The Tangent’s evolution is something of a surprise. At the same time, given that he’s had a decade to refine his craft as a prog artist, “I knew this was coming.” Looking back on his roots, Tillison knows exactly what influenced the outcome of Le Sacre Du Travail“The obvious influence is one of the very first progressive rock albums ever made: The Days Of Future Past by The Moody Blues. They had the idea of breaking a day into pieces and running through it on the album. It must have been there in the back of my mind, although I must say I probably haven't listened to that album in 30 years. I never really thought about it while I was recording, but at some point I realized I was doing the history of a day with an orchestra and a rock band. Deep Purple’s Concerto For Group and Orchestra was a big influence, and at the same time Roger Waters' Amused To Death album is definitely in there.”“We know we’re taking a risk,” Tillison adds. “Some people will go ‘What the hell is this?’ because it’s a big piece of music to get into and you have to find your way around it. But that’s where I want to be; on the leading edge of progressive rock music.”"US jewel box edition with 3 bonus tracks. 
    $10.00
  • This is so much better than the band's first album it's ridiculous. First off they axed Elisa Martin, who's accent-laden vocals never cut it for me. She was replaced by Max Leclerqe who also sings for Magic Kingdom. The production is way better as well. Basically this is epic fantasy symphonic metal bearing strong similarities to Rhapsody. Wuthering Heights comes to mind at times but this has more of a larger than life feel and none of their folk influences. I'm not always partial to this style since it's been done so often but I found this to be a solid album beginning to end. Highly recommended.
    $12.00
  • This has been sitting in the can for quite some time and now Esoteric Antenna is bringing it to market.  This CD/DVD documents the live performance at NEARfest from the reformed Canadian prog/AOR trio.  Cameron Hawkins and Martin Deller and now joined by viola/mandolinist Claudio Vena.  Pretty nice selection of material dipping into the band's back catalog.
    $19.00
  • "I’ve only just got hold of this one, but it’s jumped to the top of my review list on the basis of being awesome. Being off ill at the start of the week, I had a significant pile of demos and promos to download at the weekend and I was ploughing through them. I always give a couple of tracks off each album a very quick listen just so I know what genre they are.Being a puerile child at heart, I obviously picked “Fuck You” out from the tracklist on Nightglow’s latest release and was immediately blown away. It’s a heavy song, full of groove and rhythm with harsh yet understandable lyrics.OK, so a lucky choice. Let’s pick… erm… “Scream”. That sound good. And it is. As was “On My Knees”, “Psychotropic” and every other song on Orpheus. What started as a quick check of the mp3s turned into two full listens to the album.Nightglow have been kicking around since 1998, but didn’t become Nightglow until 2003. Up until 2013 they were primarily a live band playing their own music, covers of songs by classic acts (Maiden, Priest and the like) and also enjoyed a stint as the official Italian Manowar tribute act!Metal credentials well and truly approved, the band finally released their first album, We Rise, in 2013. Obviously by now the band had a wealth of their own material so it only took another 18 months or so before the follow-up, Orpheus, was announced.This is a great album. Totally unpretentious, balls-out heavy metal. It doesn’t seem to take itself too seriously, remembering that metal is about having fun and being loud! Oh, and doing the stock power ballad (“Stay With Me”)." -  The Moshville Times
    $13.00
  • Special 2 CD collector's edition features an instrumental orchestral version of the album (DO I HEAR KARAOKE?) plus a bonus track.
    $19.00
  • The latest from this superb US melodic metal band. This fits as a logical progression from Ten More Tales. Lots of prog moves balanced by some AOR moments - which is basically the Balance of Power formula. So you get intricacy and melody all wrapped together in one cool package.
    $14.00
  • A great album perhaps beaten to death by radio airplay of "Spirit Of The Radio" and "Freewill".  Remastered edition.
    $5.00
  • "One word to describe Universal Totem Orchestra would be unique. This Italian band, formed in 1998 by Uto G. Golin (drums) and Dauno Buttiglione (bass), who has since left the band, is anything but boring. The Magus is their second album, the first being Rituale Alieno. There is so much going on here, so many layers to peel back, that this music is extremely difficult to describe. For a record based in the Zeuhl genre there are a surprising number of melodic moments that find their way to the surface. Subtle guitar phrasings here, a beautiful piano melody there, well you get the idea. Do not get me wrong though, this is not what I would call easy music to digest. It is another one of those albums that will probably take a little time to fully grasp and appreciate, especially if you are unfamiliar with esoteric progressive music.Musically, the band combines a number of styles under the Zeuhl umbrella, such as jazz, classical, symphonic, opera and metal. Probably the most unique attribute of this band are the vocals performed by Ana Torres Fraile and various male performers. You will hear choirs, operatic (tenor and soprano) and traditional vocals all done very well. There is so much happening instrumentally that the listener really needs to pay attention. This would not be good background music as it is one of those albums that demands your full attention. Odd time signatures and sudden stops and starts allowing for different movements to take place is the norm not the exception. It is clear these musicians know how to play and a tremendous amount of work has gone into this piece of music. After all, there are not many albums just short of 80 minutes long so you know you are getting your money's worth. Sometimes with albums this long, the music gets tiresome and boredom starts to set in prematurely but that is not the case here. I never got the sense they made a long album just for the sake of it. All of the pieces fit the musical puzzle and nothing seems excessive or irrelevant. What makes this even more rewarding are some of the nice melodies provided by piano, guitar and saxophone."De Astrologia" gets things rolling with some electronic sounds before delving into some power chords and chanting vocals and a really cool, although short lived, synth solo. An angular lead guitar solo follows and that is just in the first 4 minutes. We also get to hear rollicking piano, some lovely melodies, a variety of singers, and dynamic tempo changes There is a marching rhythm underlying much of the song allowing us to use our imagination as to what the song is about. There is just a lot happening musically, it really is something that you need to hear for yourself, and I can say that for the entire album.One of the shorter songs on the album, "Les Plantes Magiques", begins with a lovely piano melody and great female vocals. This is the most delicate song on the album although the song does have some passionate moments especially in the vocals and drumming. This one has a lot in common with classical music and how movements are allowed to gradually build up in intensity. Sax provides the melody in "Ato Piradime" with nice playing throughout. Electric piano, sax and the voice of Fraile gradually intertwine creating some wonderfully listenable moments.Universal Totem Orchestra must be commended for making an album of such magnitude and scope. While this will not appeal to everyone, those of you who like to take musical adventures outside of the norm, would do well do give this a shot. I found this to be a fascinating and enjoyable listen. Highly recommended." - Sea of Tranquilty
    $16.00
  • Their last album for a major label, Azure D'Or finds the band still creating their unique brand of classically influenced progressive rock. Unfortunately, perhaps because of changing tastes, record company pressure, or even their own success...the music is a bit more produced and the songs are more concise. Still a track like The Flood At Lyon captures all their magic. A conditional recommendation.
    $15.00