Machina Viva

SKU: SR3078
Label:
Sensory Records
Category:
Post Metal
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Since their first release in 1999, WOLVERINE has pushed outside the boundaries of metal and evolved through inventiveness and explorative ambition, now incorporating a wider spectrum of musical elements into their own progressive sound.

Machina Viva is a natural evolution from their last album Communication Lost, inviting the listener into the melodic yet dark and moody world of WOLVERINE.  It is the band’s most dynamic album to date; from the 14-minute epic and powerful “The Bedlam Overture” and the dark electronic landscapes of “Machina”, to the naked and organic nature of “Pile of Ash” and “Sheds”. This is the next step in WOLVERINE’s explorations in the progressive field.

Machina Viva was recorded and produced by WOLVERINE in Sweden during autumn and winter 2015/2016. The album was mixed at Spacelab Studio (Germany) by CHRISTIAN “MOSCHUS” MOOS (HAKEN, DELAIN), and mastered by Grammy Award winning audio engineer BOB KATZ.

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  • "There’s something to be said for the willingness to change. Some bands get stuck in the mud, developing a signature sound and then finding that they are unable to shake free of it. Iceland’s Momentum is not one of those bands. The band technically started in 2002 as a one-man black metal act called Afsprengi Satans. The first transformation came a year or two later as drummer Kristján Gudmundsson began to add musicians that could help play his music in a live setting. Those early sounds ranged from black metal to death metal, and the Momentum moniker arose out of the realization that this wasn’t the same band that Gudmundsson had started.As the band has progressed, from their first recorded demo Death to Christianity to their newest release The Freak is Alive, they have mutated into a three-piece progressive sludge/doom act. Kristján Gudmundsson is still playing drums, with bandmates Ingvar Sæmundsson and Hörður Ólafsson handling guitar and bass duties, respectively. With tinges of post-metal and deep clean vocals that are reminiscent of some kind of Gregorian chant, Momentum certainly does not rest on their laurels.he Freak is Alive is an album I picked up simply because I thought both the title and album artwork were a little ridiculous. I had no prior experience with Momentum, but I was immediately taken with Holaf’s vocal stylings. The album’s lead off track ‘Bury The Eyes Once Gold’ is one of my favorites, and demonstrates the range in Holaf’s voice. His howls are intense and full of emotion, while his clean singing is low and haunting. The track starts off heavy and sets the tone for the rest of the record. ‘Between Two Worlds’ has opens with a clean, melancholy guitar progression. Other standout tracks include ‘Gauntlet’, a six-minute journey that makes use of a sitar, and ‘Creator of Malignant Metaphors’ with its intricate guitar lead. The record has a gloomy, heavy feeling that is well represented in the first two tracks and carried through final seconds of sound. Whether the guitars are clean or distorted, whether the vocals are clean or howling, The Freak is Alive stays heavy and a little sad.Momentum makes good use of odd time signatures, strings and sitar, and melds progressive and post-metal with sludge in a really interesting way. My only issue with the album is that by the time I get to the final two tracks, ‘Undercover Imagination’ and ‘Depth of the Whole’, the melancholia is played out. The last two tracks don’t grab your attention the way the earlier songs do. It leaves the ending of the album weak. Overall though, I appreciate and enjoy what Momentum has done on this record. I’m very glad to have discovered this treasure from Iceland, and I certainly recommend you dive into their previous albums." - Echoes And Dust 
    $12.00
  • "With Post-black metal experiencing a kind of popular renaissance, the amount of bands either jumping on the genre bandwagon or being thrust into mainstream recognition is at an all time high, and to some the genre is reaching it’s saturation point. Writing Lotus Thief off as just another post-black metal band, however, would be a grave mistake. Elements of the genre certainly do exist on Rervm, their debut album, but serve as more of a creative launch point than a genre template or set of stylistic rules. This presents an album that’s as sprawling and varied as the story it tells, and one that seamlessly blends genres into a greater whole. The one constant are the ethereal, beautiful female vocals layered atop the varied instrumentation.As previously stated, post-black metal is just a starting point for Lotus Thief. The first three tracks contain everything from doom metal style slow crawls to classic Deep Purple style riffing. That the band weave all of this together so effortlessly on their debut album is proof of the band’s skill as musicians and bodes very well for future releases. Part of this genre hopping instrumental virtuosity is certainly due in part by Otrebor, the man behind the always incredible Botanist. The compositions here are as lush and expansive as his previous work, and further cement him as one of progressive metal’s unsung visionaries.However, Otrebor is joined by Bezaelith, who not only contributed the female vocals to the album but also wrote and composed the vast majority of the music. Otrebor focused mainly on drums, where his genius can indeed be heard, but Bezaelith is due credit for her brilliant work on creating the evocative and bottomless soundscape which permeates the entire release.The album’s production strikes a balance between lo-fi warmth and modern depth, giving birth to lush soundscapes where guitars, drums and keys ebb and flow under the angelic vocals. Repetition is a key element to the album, but never to the point where anything becomes tiresome. Sections are repeated just enough for them to to feel familiar, and then the song moves on, very much akin to how Gojira will milk a riff for all it’s worth before switching things up for the listener. This is a very easy album to get lost in, and it seems to fly by all too quickly. Thankfully, there’s a good amount of subtle depth in the instrumentation, and combined with the vocal hooks you’ll be coming back for more in no time.Lotus Thief have crafted a fantastic debut that comes out of left field and leaves you wanting more, and that most other bands should envy. Time will tell if this project will bear as much fruit as Otrebor’s other work, but if it does, we’ll all be the better for it." - Heavy Blog Is Heavy
    $8.00
  • Since their first release in 1999, WOLVERINE has pushed outside the boundaries of metal and evolved through inventiveness and explorative ambition, now incorporating a wider spectrum of musical elements into their own progressive sound.Machina Viva is a natural evolution from their last album Communication Lost, inviting the listener into the melodic yet dark and moody world of WOLVERINE.  It is the band’s most dynamic album to date; from the 14-minute epic and powerful “The Bedlam Overture” and the dark electronic landscapes of “Machina”, to the naked and organic nature of “Pile of Ash” and “Sheds”. This is the next step in WOLVERINE’s explorations in the progressive field.Machina Viva was recorded and produced by WOLVERINE in Sweden during autumn and winter 2015/2016. The album was mixed at Spacelab Studio (Germany) by CHRISTIAN “MOSCHUS” MOOS (HAKEN, DELAIN), and mastered by Grammy Award winning audio engineer BOB KATZ.
    $13.00
  • Vinyl edition.  Please do not combine your preorder with a regular order as it will only delay processing.  Street date is set for June 30."If you look at Jim Matheos’ career, across his role at the helm of the pioneering progressive metallers Fates Warning, to his collaborations in OSI and Arch/Matheos, and his appearances with Gordian Knot and Memories of Machines as well as his own solo material, people might think they know what to expect from this guitarist. Tuesday The Sky, however, from the opening sounds of the debut album Drift, is set to expand those boundaries even further.The impetus for Tuesday The Sky came from a Fates Warning bonus track that Matheos felt didn’t fit: “I started the first song, probably about a year and a half ago, as an idea for a Fates Warning bonus track. But as we progressed with Theories of Flight I realized it might not fit in and we decided to go with the all-acoustic bonus disc. This left me with a song that I really liked but didn’t know what to do with. So I started thinking about writing a few more in this style to see where it might lead.”The resulting full-length album, Drift, came together in the downtime between Fates Warning finishing Theories of Flight and the beginning of the touring cycle, enabling Matheos to explore a type of atmospheric and instrumental music you might not expect of him. He comments: “With this kind of music, it’s a lot about creating a mood and letting that sink in and develop over long periods of time, as opposed to the more frenetic format of most prog music.” Taking cues from artists like Brian Eno, Boards Of Canada, Sigur Ros and Explosions In The Sky, he explores expansive textures and ambient electronica, as well as some of the most colossal riffs he has ever produced. The album also features the talents of God Is An Astronaut’s drummer Lloyd Hanney, who provides a rhythmic backbone that is at once punchy, precise and restrained when necessary. Other guests include long-time OSI collaborator and former Dream Theater member Kevin Moore who plays keys on two songs, and Anna-Lynne Williams (Trespassers William, Lotte Kestner) who provides ethereal vocals (of the non-verbal kind) on two other songs.Instrumental music often forces a different way of thinking when it comes to writing, and Tuesday The Sky is no different: “One of the things I did was to look at the writing from a sound design perspective. What I mean by that is I would start with interesting sounds that would (hopefully) lead to interesting parts, rather than the other way around.” Matheos continues: “So, I would start by experimenting with different guitar/amp/effects combinations, sometimes all analog, sometimes digital, often for days, until I came up with something that inspired me to play things I liked.” It’s an approach that has paid dividends and is reflected in the music, flowing freely and naturally across its 10-song duration.What the future of this project holds and whether it will be taken out on the road is yet to be seen. Matheos comments: “It would be a challenge to bring this project but it is an interesting idea and one I would at least consider if there seems to be enough interest.” What is sure though, is that Tuesday The Sky’s debut is a bold, brave, creative and ultimately successful album from one of rock’s most underrated of musicians."
    $20.00
  • With each successive release the question always is asked – How will the Tipton Brothers top their last album? The band’s fifth album, Dark Deceiver, is another jaw-dropping achievement of technical metal. The quartet of Jasun Tipton, Troy Tipton, Mike Guy, and Chris Salinas take their “chops from hell” attitude to a new level. In creating Zero Hour, the brothers envisioned a dark, heavy, emotional vibe, expressed through intricate arrangements, forceful vocals, and meaningful lyrics.2006 found the band in a curious situation. Although they were attracting attention and accolades around the world they were in need of a new vocalist. The problem was solved by the arrival of noted vocalist Chris Salinas, formerly of Power Of Omens. The resulting album “Specs Of Pictures Burnt Beyond” met with stellar reviews, a US tour and a headlining slot at the Headway Festival in Netherland. The year culminated in the band’s third appearance at ProgPower USA in Atlanta – the largest progressive metal festival in the world.For the recording of their new album the band once again collaborated with producer Dino Alden. Dark Deceiver finds the band experimenting with their already defined sound. The compositions are more technical than before. Alden took advantage of Salinas’ incredible vocal talents to apply some interesting and dramatic treatments, creating something very different from their previous recordings. This is without question the band’s crowning moment.
    $13.00
  • "Germany's Eden Circus is a band that has been together for a while but worked tirelessly on the songs that make up this, their debut album, "Marula." Much like the time they invested in the album and its songs, the listener should be just as committed to listening to the album and giving it the necessary time to plant its seeds and grow. When I first listened to "Marula," I thought it was just a good album with a fair amount of contrast in each song. But when you have those contrasts (i.e., quieter moments and heavier moments), it's important to pay closer attention to how they are used and what is going on. It's easy to think "Wow, that's so subtle" and not really listen to the vocal or the intricacies of the music underneath.The fact that vocalist Siegmar Pohl has a very quiet, raspy voice that tends to blend with the music just makes it more challenging. But the key to music that has a thick layer of complexity is to listen to it over and over, allowing it to reveal itself. You cannot force "Marula" to be something it isn't. It has elements of '90s alternative progressive metal like Tool, but don't expect them to attack you like Tool would. They have post-prog moments like Porcupine Tree, yet they never commit to sounding like them. Eden Circus is familiar but still a stranger. You think you know what will happen next but when it doesn't, you aren't sure why.The opener "Devoid of Purpose" starts off quietly before it works its way into heavier riffing. "Comfort" has quieter verses leading to a very angular riff that works as the chorus. Siegmar does have a harsh vocal in his arsenal but uses it quite sparingly, which makes those moments all the more powerful. A perfect example is "101" where he works his way to a growl.The majority of the songs are long, which allows them room to ebb and flow as needed. In addition to the aforementioned songs, my favorite tracks are the two closers, "Her Lovely Hands Upon the Black Earth" and "Playing You." Both are atmospheric, progressive and epic - full of dynamics.Eden Circus has figured out how to be melodic but not make it so obvious that you tire of them. "Marula" is a textbook "grower" of an album. If I were to give it a rating a month from now, it would probably be an even higher rating." - Power Of Metal
    $14.00
  • Beautiful, haunting experimental metal from this Icelandic band.  Like some other extreme metal bands (think Ulver and Opeth) they have evolved into something very different.  If Sigur Ros recorded a black metal album it might sound like this.  If you like to be challenged by metal outside the norm this is highly recommended."I’m a prime example of being caught in a rat race, a cog too much a part of the corporate clockwork and maybe that’s why on some basic level I identify so strongly with the timeless concept behind Sólstafir‘s fifth and much anticipated release. Ótta comes three years after the release of Svartir Sandar, with the concept of the album staying close and personal to their Icelandic roots. So much so that that the album flows according to an old Icelandic form of time-keeping similar to the monastic hours or Eykt (one eighth of a solar day), And so, Ótta consists of eight tracks, beginning with a representation of midnight, moving through each Eyktir in the day, coming to a close in the period between 9 pm and midnight. Hardly a riveting concept on paper, but thought provoking nonetheless.Much like the post-metal genre being built on rising crescendos, so “Lágnætti,” “Ótta,” “Rismál” and “Dagmál” are the slow and steady climb before you reach the boiling point of “Middegi” and “Nón,” only to have their power stripped away quite dramatically with “Midaftann” and “Náttmál.” Now stop for a moment, close your eyes and feel “Lágnætti” (low night) wash over you. The intro rises up, uncoiling with slow deliberation, pure atmosphere at first, culminating in an isolated and memorable piano melody that along with frontman Aðalbjörn Tryggvason’s vocals, would fit right in on Coldplay‘s Viva La Vida. “Lágnætti” quickly settles in and gives you that familiar feeling that Ótta is indeed the next logical progression from Svartir Sandar. The album grabs hold of and builds on the very same subtleties and charm, the same enveloping moodiness and even the same delicate eccentricities of the earlier release, rather than following on with the bolder adolescence like Köld and Í Blóði og Anda (In Blood and Spirit).Aðalbjörn Tryggvason’s vocals have been perfectly matched to each track and at times it’s tough to imagine it’s the same vocalist. For much of the front-end of Ótta and then again towards the back-end, our intrepid frontman dabbles in the same instrumental, minimalistic style he used on Svartir Sandar. In “Lágnætti” and the title track, he could take the place of Chris Martin fronting Coldplay, and then in “Rismál” and “Midaftann” he creates a new and fantastical beast seemingly from leftover parts of Shining and Katatonia. Giving the release more time to soak in, you’ll find hints to the glory of the past, like his screamy shouts leftover from Köld‘s “Love is the Devil (and I am in Love)” and then in “Middegi” and “Nón” there are hints of the glory locked and loaded in Svartir Sandar‘s “Þín Orð.”Instrumentally Ótta feels like a swirling melting pot of flavours, colours and textures. The title track stands out, surely competing with Ulver‘s “Not Saved” as one of the most addictive pieces of music I’ve come across, all thanks to its bluegrass-like banjo frivolity playing with the violins. And while I have no idea whom to credit for the piano arrangements on “Lágnætti” and “Midaftann” and they don’t don’t hold quite the same dizzying quirk of Svartir Sandar‘s “Æra,” they’re beautiful, melodic, well played and hold just the right amount of tragedy and atmosphere. Aðalbjörn Tryggvason, Sæþór Maríus Sæþórsson and Guðmundur Óli Pálmason go minimalist on the guitars and drum lines, only playing what’s absolutely necessary. The guitars are delivered with a tasty distorted fuzz that takes away from the cleanliness of the album, and while solos are used sparingly, stand-out moments do filter through on “Nón” and “Miðdegi.”The production used on Ótta sounds largely like what worked so well on Svartir Sandar, and if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. There’s enough fuzzy warmth and focus of dynamics to keep the album an interesting and comfortable listen. What more can I say here, I’m unable to find fault with this album. It’s not one you’re going to skip around and listen to in bits and bites and needs to be experienced as a whole. Ótta is a serious piece of art and yes, it does indeed stop time!" - Angry Metal Guy 
    $12.00
  • “Let us begin where it all began...”Progressive rock band Big Big Train return with Folklore, their first full-length studio album since the award winning English Electric. Folklore contains nine new songs with a total running time of 68 minutes.Despite the album title, Folklore is by no means a collection of traditional-sounding folk music pieces. On Folklore, Big Big Train are reimagining and breathing new life into traditional themes, and also creating a few new ones along the way. The crafts of songwriting and storytelling beat strongly at the heart of the Big Big Train and inform every track on the new album.Folklore features the same line up (eight piece band and brass quintet) that performed three sell out shows at Kings Place in London last summer, with the addition of a string quartet. The experience of bringing this complex music to the concert stage has honed the band’s sound, making Folklore a focussed and exciting listening experience. All the hallmarks of the Big Big Train sound can be found here: powerful and emotional vocal delivery, and dramatic extended song arrangements which showcase the musical ability within the band.Big Big Train proudly present Folklore: an epic progressive rock tour de force.“Heigh-ho, so we go. We pass it on, we hand it down-o...”Folklore Ancient stories told by our ancestors around the camp re, being passed down from generation to generation. The passage of time sees the coming of written language and electronic communication, but still we tell our stories and pass them on.London Plane Once upon a time, a great tree took root on a river bank, and watched through the years as a city grew around it.Along The Ridgeway A journey along an ancient pathway, where legends are reborn.Salisbury Giant Big Big Train tell the true story of a medieval giant.The Transit Of Venus Across The Sun When the astronomer lost the love of his life, he set a course for the stars. Inspired by the much-loved British TV astronomer and educationalist, Patrick Moore.Wassail The old ways get a 21st century reboot in this pagan- inspired progressive-folk groove. The title track from Big Big Train’s Wassail EP, it was nominated in the “Anthem” category at the 2015 Progressive Music Awards.Winkie A ripping action adventure story about a true life war heroine, the  rst to receive the Dickin medal in honour of her achievement. To the best of our knowledge, this is the  rst prog epic about a pigeon...Brooklands John Cobb, racing driver, lived life at high speed on the racing line. Time passes, but the ageing driver yearns for one more adrenaline  lled lap of the track... Cobb died in 1952 while attempting the world water speed record at Loch Ness.Telling The Bees Traditionally, bees were told of births, deaths and marriages within the bee-keeper’s family, as it was believed that otherwise they would leave the hive. When his father is killed in the First World War, a young boy takes on this responsibility, grows up to become a man,  nds love and starts his own family. “The bees are told... and we carry on...”.-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Big Big Train: BackgroundDavid Longdon: vocals and  ute; Rachel Hall: violin; Dave Gregory: guitars; Rikard Sjöblom: guitars and keyboards; Danny Manners: keyboards; Andy Poole: guitars and keyboards; Greg Spawton: bass; Nick D’Virgilio: drumsFormed in Bournemouth, UK, in 1990 by Greg Spawton and Andy Poole, Big Big Train has charted an independent course through the British progressive rock scene, slowly developing a richly arranged blend of electric and acoustic instruments that mixes prog, rock, post-rock, folk and classical in uences. 2009’s The Underfall Yard was the band’s  rst album to feature the powerful vocals of David Longdon, alongside the guitar of Dave Gregory (XTC) and the drums of Nick D’Virgilio (Spock’s Beard), since when critical and public acclaim for the band has grown rapidly.The two-volume English Electric (2012-13) further developed Big Big Train’s favourite themes of English history, industry and landscape, and the band won the Prog magazine Breakthrough award in 2013. The following year, the Classic Rock Society awardedBig Big Train their Best Band and Best Track awards, while David Longdon won Best Male Vocalist, a feat he repeated this year.After 17 years as a studio-only outfit, Big Big Train returned to the stage in 2015 with three London performances which topped the Prog magazine Readers’ Poll for Best Event, with several band members also featuring in the instrument sections of the poll. The band has just released Stone & Steel, a Blu-ray featuring songs from the London gigs along with performances recorded in 2014 at Real World Studios. 
    $12.00
  • "The allure of This Misery Garden might be found in their name. A garden is a place of beginnings and endings, of life and death, with the eternal element of hope also fixed upon it. Yet, misery can describe any of these appointments as well. On their debut work, Another Great Day on Earth, This Misery Garden explores both hope and despair with each swelling and rising within the progressive compositions. The title itself is also reflective of their musical and lyrical tone even as it bends in upon it's own cynicism. This Misery Garden's atmosphere and content is dark, deep, and often foreboding layers of melancholy with songs such as Swan Song, Rejection Song, the carefully betraying Instant Recoil and Dirty Playground being disturbing representatives. Between the eerie and introspective movements, This Misery Garden weaves thick threads of bleak chords over a dark rock resonance. If visions of Katatonia or Perfect Circle, possibly even Tool, invade your audio experience as you listen, then you will have a sense of Another Great Day on Earth foundations. For some, myself included, Another Great Day on Earth may be too despondent for an immediate repeat listen, but it does require significant and repeat attention to plumb the depths of its sophisticated portrait of hope and despair." - Dangerdog
    $3.00
  • THIS NORTHERN VIRGINIA BASED BAND is a three-piece at heart, musically rooted in the raw energy and rhythmic interplay of RUSH and KING’S X. Fans of dark, guitar-driven rock bands from ALICE IN CHAINS, DEFTONES to the contemporary metal riffing of LAMB OF GOD and PANTERA, will connect to the heavy core of IRIS DIVINE’s sound. Add to that progressive complexity and moody synths inspired by DREAM THEATER and PORCUPINE TREE, and a liberal dose of memorable hooks and melodies, to understand some elements of IRIS DIVINE’s sound. And yet, the band has a distinct identity, not quite sounding like any of the aforementioned bands, and with an emotional urgency that pulls subtly from alternative and other influences.KARMA SOWN IS A TRIUMPH OF A DEBUT ALBUM, immediate and memorable but revealing layers and depth upon repeated listens."Progressive metal is in a rough period right now. The old guard are either releasing sub-standard albums that only make it more obvious how far they have fallen, or they are drastically uncool with anyone who didn't become a fan when progressive metal was first being created. Progressive today tends to mean djent, a style that has sapped all the life and humanity out of music, turning metal into a math equation of time signatures, and not songs that anyone can actually remember. There was a time when progressive metal remembered the ultimate goal of music; to have listeners enjoy the songs so much they would return to them again and again. Today, progressive metal is mostly the sort of music that could pass for muzak, if you don't turn the volume up too loud.Iris Divine wants to change that. They set out with the mission of writing progressive metal that is intricate and challenging, but still produces the kind of songs that listeners who don't have an advanced degree can love and sing along to. It's a challenge, and it goes against the tide, but it's a desperately needed revolution if progressive metal is going to flourish anytime in the near future.I knew from hearing the pre-release track “A Suicide Aware” that Iris Divide was special, and the full album reinforces the point. “The Everlasting Sea” comes out of the gates with plenty of tricky riffing and unusual rhythms, but they lead into big melodies with strong hooks and vocals. Their progressive playing isn't meant for show, it's a tool used to set a tone that juxtaposes with the more melodic moments. Finding the proper balance between these elements is not easy, and many a band have failed miserably trying to do so, but Iris Divine doesn't. On their debut record, they show a skill some bands have spent their entire careers failing to learn.What I love most about the record is that it can be seen in many different lights. If you like straight-ahead metal, there is plenty of heavy riffing and pounding drumming here to keep you satisfied. If you like progressive music, these songs have twists and turns, and Rush-like keyboards, in enough quantity to match the djent crowd. And if you're a fan of old-school radio rock, the choruses in these songs will be music to your ears. Keeping all three of these in mind at the same time can be tricky, but it's worth the effort.For being a trio, “Karma Sown” is a massive sounding record. The production is flawless, big and clear, without ever sounding too polished. The heavy parts are heavy, the vocals are up front, and you would never believe this was a self-produced record that was crowd-funded. I can put it up against many, many of the big label releases, and it would win the fight.In fact, I can think of a dozen so-called progressive metal bands that should immediately hand over their label contracts to Iris Divine, because it's a crime that a band that is advancing progressive metal in the right direction doesn't have the backing of one of the labels. Not to name names, but this album would be bigger than half of the progressive metal released this year if it had the media push behind it.In case you haven't noticed, what I'm saying is that “Karma Sown” is a fantastic debut, and the future of progressive metal. Iris Divine isn't a Dream Theater clone, and they're not djent. What they have done is integrate all the strains of progressive metal into a singular sound, one that could set the standard moving forward. If every band sounded this good, progressive metal wouldn't need to be underground. “Karma Sown” is the best progressive metal album of the year, bar none." - Bloody Good Horror
    $13.00
  • ""It is a rare thing these days for a post-metal band to break the mold. So many bands play sludgy, lurching, epic metal that it can be hard to tell what band is trying to sound like Isis this time. This brings me to the breath of fresh air that is Secrets of the Sky.The Oakland based sextet takes what is a great but tired genre and adds a dash of black metal and a bit of prog. Imagine if you tossed Neurosis, more recent Immortal, and Porcupine Tree into a blender. Sounds like a fucked up mix, right? It's an awesome fucked up mix though.The Sail Black Waters consists of 4 tracks that are rooted in sludge, that manage to take twists and turns throughout it's all-too-short forty-one minute run-time. There are moments of dreamy soundscapes, harmonized clean vocals, and crescendos aplenty.A band they bring to mind is the Australian black-metal-with-a-violin band Ne Obliviscaris. They don't necessarily sound alike, especially because Secrets of the Skysimple aren't playing as fast, but their progressions are quite similar. Also, Secrets happen to employ a violin as one of the several talents of vocalist Garett Gazay. Their use of it is much more subtle than Ne Obliviscaris to the point where it becomes a game listening for it.In short, a phenomenal debut." - Metal Injection
    $14.00
  • "Even though John Peel raved about Circle years before the release of Meronia, their first indie EPs stayed underground. And even though this is a harsh, 75-minute heavy load of Krautrock, it brings Circle more toward popularity. And when thinking about the content of the album, they sure have earned it. Krautrock and hypnotism are old genres, but Circle has brought it to a whole new level. Their punkish past shows easily through, so that gains another new level which can be heard as heavy guitar walls and complex basslines. Also, the simplified drum sound and the patiently used keyboards add something to Circle's sound that is raw, but yet quite hard to copy. If you ignore the two noise rock tracks here ("Merid" and "Wherever Particular People Congregate"), the base line of Circle's music is clear: one guitar riff, which is played with only slight changes during the whole song. And believe it or not, it works. Lehtisalo's Gregorian singing and moaning guitars make Meronia a really moving album. And luckily the music of Circle doesn't concentrate to a one player; the band as a whole depends on the each other member. Sure, you can call some lacks in dynamic playing and the whole sound, but, after all, losses make albums more individualistic. Meronia is an outstanding debut album, but even more it is an unvaluated indie rock milestone." - Allmusic
    $27.00
  • They don't come as often as we'd like but a new Vanden Plas album is almost a guaranteed success.  Chronicles Of The Immortals may well be their best effort yet.  It sounds like Vanden Plas that we know and love but scaled up.  The band collaborated with noted German author Wolfgang Holbein to create a rock opera.  After a series of live performances the band hit the studio and shaped it into the first half of a duology.  Highly recommended."Four years after the release of The Seraphic Clockwork, German progressive metallers Vanden Plas are back with their seventh full-length Chronicles of the Immortals – Netherworld. Known for creating highly detailed conceptual albums, in 2012 the band teamed up with Germany’s one of the biggest selling authors Wolfgang Hohlbein to create a rock opera for the stage based on his The Chronicle of the Immortals series of novels. The resulting rock musical named Bloodnight ended up having 25 sold-our performances during the 2012 and 2013 seasons.The next challenge for Andy Kuntz and Vanden Plas was to adapt the theatre musical to the Vanden Plas standards and produce an album comprised of the first act of Bloodnight. Chronicles of the Immortals – Netherworld – Path 1 is a full title of the record that includes ten songs. The release of Path 2, the final part of the story will be released early in 2015.Musically speaking, since the release of their debut Colour Temple Vanden Plas continued to mature and improve – eventually hitting the top with 2006′s Christ 0. However, Netherworld proves to be the band’s most demanding release. In most cases, the problem with conceptual albums is that the music suffers the lack of quality on behalf of the actual story or opposite, but Vanden Plas relying on experience forged a record that possibly may serve as a light of hope for progressive metal in 2014.One of the biggest differences between this one and the previous Vanden Plas efforts lies exactly in the theatrical atmosphere Netherworld brings. Although it can be said that the visual factor is on par with music on almost every Vanden Plas album, it’s Netherworld that stands out for the balance between the two. Heavily rooted in the progressive metal genre with plenty of melodic lines on top of it, the whole story is dependant to Kuntz‘s interpretation and singing.The album flows as a single song, although it’s divided into ten songs (visions) what ultimately brings to mind that these ten titles are there just to separate the distinctive parts or moods of the whole story. These parts are pretty well balanced, the story dynamic follows the music. And what is perhaps most important for a progressive metal album today – it incorporates a number of different elements.Three crucial segments for a Vanden Plas album are strong melodic side, progressive metal and conceptual story. And these three segments are present on Chronicles of the Immortals – Netherworld. In which measure, time will be the best judge." - Prog-sphere.com
    $13.00
  • "Alcest, the pioneering post-metal/blackgaze band from France is back with ‘Kodama’ (translates from Japanese as “tree spirit” or “echo”) after a brief two year absence. I was quite excited to hear that they had a new album coming out, and more excited still when I learned that Neige (vocals, guitars, bass, and keys) was returning to his more black metal infused roots. I mention Neige specifically as even though Winterhalter (drums) is an official member, Alcest is Neige’s own unique creation, and one he has been at work on since the tender age of fourteen. He writes the music, lyrics, and forms the concept –historically his expression of visions from his youth contacting a far off country or Fairy Land. Together they (along with live members for shows) have crafted a rich and beautiful discography of music that is part shoegaze, part post-metal, with a healthy dose of black metal as well. Since gaining in popularity, the scene has seen many rip-offs, but none do it as well as Alcest have over the past decade.Which brings us back to ‘Kodama’. I’ll say quickly that I found 2014’s ‘Shelter’ to be quite disappointing. That album focused solidly on the shoegaze element of their sound; it was a very light album, almost poppy in nature. I think it was actually rather boring, truth be told. With ‘Kodama’ however Neige deliberately wanted to go in a heavier and darker direction. The artwork hinted at this even before any music was released. The album is also a concept album, dealing with the relationships between mankind and nature, and was inspired by Japanese culture, and specifically Hayao Miyazaki’s film ‘Princess Mononoke.’ Of course unless you speak French far better than I do, you have to interpret all this by the music and vocals alone. Thankfully Neige’s music and vocal work is very expressive, and the music this time even more so than on some previous albums.The album starts with the title track, and the listener is immediately greeted by Alcest’s signature sound, it’s full, melodic, heavy, and as always very beautiful.  And typical of shoegaze, the elements blur and bend together into a wall of sound. The result is very expressive, and very spiritual. Neige’s guitar work is very recognizable, as is his composition style, and the balance between the light and dreamy elements and the heavier elements are once again perfectly balanced and walked between. The second track, “Éclosion,” starts similarly to the previous, but soon we’re treated to the heavier, more aggressive black metal style and screams which Alcest is so well regarded for. The difference between the screaming style of Neige and other vocalists who use black metal screams is that even while the screams are aggressive and wild, they are never negative, Alcest is deliberately a positive and uplifting band, and Neige has spoken in past interviews over his disappointment that people take his screams as anger or negativity when in reality they’re most often an expression of ecstasy. In other words trve kvlt black metal fans will do well to steer clear of their music, and good riddance.‘Kodama’ continues with this pattern through the rest of the short (42 minute) album. The mix of the two styles, and the wonderful juxtaposition of them that was so painfully missing from ‘Shelter’ run through several other songs as well, perhaps highlighted best by “Oiseaux de proie” the second to last track, which was also the first single from the album. I know I wasn’t the only fan to smile when I first heard it and be pleased to see the light and heavy balance be brought back in such a satisfying way.The only small complaint I have after repeated listens is that while it’s great to hear Alcest return to a balance of their signature sound (rather than the one side we got with their last album) is they don’t really give the listener anything they haven’t already heard on earlier albums such as ‘Écailles de Lune’ or ‘Les Voyages de l’Âme.’  I would have liked to have heard them take more risks and try or add something new to their already well established sound. But perhaps I’m simply being unnecessarily critical. Not every band has to, or even should, change their basic sound and approach, particularly when they set the bar for how it should sound. Neige has been remarkably consistent with his vision and the quality of it for a long time now, and I listen to Alcest to hear his vision of the world, not mine.To reiterate, ‘Kodama’ is a welcome and triumphant return to the sounds and style that Alcest fans have come to love and expect. And it takes the listener on a journey out of themselves to places they perhaps never knew existed, a place of beauty and healing. Any fan of the band should be very pleased with this release, and it’s as good as any of their early releases as an introduction to their sound. Neige and Winterhalter have joined together and put out a beautiful and solid release. And one that deserves repeated listens." - Metal Wani
    $12.00