Presto (SACD)

SKU: AFZ182
Label:
Audio Fidelity
Category:
Progressive Rock
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Numbered limited edition hybrid SACD of this late 80s Rush title.  The key here is in the mastering.  Kevin Gray is at the controls and he does a consistently great job.  I would expect this to be the definitive digital edition.

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  • "SAUROM is a folk melodic metal band from Spain with sound influences of Iron Maiden, Helloween and Blind Guardian. SAUROM have a unique medieval sound and are well known for the strong Celtic feel to their music. Their music is compared with the popular Spanish band MAGO DE OZ with a heavier sound. Vida is their 6th album, full of melodic riffs, melodies, catchy choruses and medieval sounds."
    $13.00
  • "For his first solo release since 2009s House of Insanity, Trans Siberian Orchestra/Savatage guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Chris Caffery has enlisted the help of virtuoso drummer Brian Tichy (Whitesnake, Billy Idol, Ozzy Osbourne) and keyboard player/composer Lonnie Park to create Your Heaven is Real, a 13 song collection of blistering heavy metal that not only continues to display his stellar guitar chops but also his continued confident & improving vocal ability and strong songwriting skills. Your Heaven Is Real was recorded, mixed and produced by Caffery at Face The Music Studios in New York with additional recording done by Lonnie Park at Ultimate Sound in Groton, NY and Brian Tichy's Big Timers Studio in Canyon Country, CA. Instantly memorable and catchy, Your Heaven is Real is immediately more appealing and accessible than its predecessor, filled with some of his heaviest as well as most commercial sounding material to date.The opening title track, a tale of a very true frightening situation experienced by the guitarist, kicks in with sledgehammer riffs and snarling vocals, a true headbanger's delight and easily one of the must hear songs on the album. "Arm And a Leg" is another dark, menacing slice of heavy metal, complete with Caffery's venomous 'Jon Oliva-meets-Alice Cooper-meets-Sebastian Bach' vocal delivery, which is then followed up by the instantly catchy, hook laden metal anthem "Just Fine", one of the most upbeat, fun songs he's ever recorded, complete with a killer chorus and great guitar solo. Things take a turn for the poignant & melancholy on the Savatage sounding "Why", a fabulous song with a great lyrical message and emotional vocals (some of Chris' best ever) to go along with many guitar and keyboard textures. Without a doubt it's another highlight of Your Heaven is Real, and pushes past the 7-minute length as the one of the albums two epics. "Damned If You Do, Dead If You Don't" is an upbeat schizoid heavy metal gem, complete with complex riffs and some futuristic, almost prog-rock styled synths, while the blazing instrumental "Hot Wheelz" (dedicated to a special someone perhaps?) is chock full of manic drumming from Tichy and plenty of Caffery's blazing guitar licks. "I Never Knew" is more of an atmospheric rocker thick with keyboards and layers of lush guitar work, providing the framework for Caffery to inject some heartfelt, hook laden vocal passages. It's a nice change of pace, and I'd love to hear more in this style from him.The back end of the CD is equally as strong, kicking off with the energetic riff monger "Sick and Tired", and continuing on with the mid paced, grinding "Death By Design", a doom laden piece that will instantly appeal to fans of vintage Savatage as well as Black Sabbath. After the brief but lovely guitar instrumental "2-26-15", Caffery unleashes "Too Soon To Be Too Late", a rampaging, addicting example of metal guitar firepower packed with catchy vocal hooks and irresistible melodies. This is one of those songs that if it existed in 1987 would have been a huge hit with teenage hard rock & heavy metal fans. The second of Your Heaven is Real's lengthy songs is "Over and Over", an emotional ballad that slowly builds to a powerful climax, again showcasing Caffery's confident vocals and featuring a sizzling guitar solo. This leads to the gorgeous "Come Home", a short keyboard/guitar/vocal piece that takes the album out on a tranquil note, again displaying the huge amount of variety that Caffery has included on this fine new release.I've been saying for years that Chris Caffery has yet to top his best solo release, which was his first in Faces, but I think, now a decade later, he's finally done it with Your Heaven is Real. Well rounded and showing off much of what makes Chris Caffery 'click', Your Heaven is Real permeates with positive energy, power, and majesty, obviously a very personal album for the artist but ultimately his most revealing. Well done." - Sea Of Tranquility
    $15.00
  • "CRYSTAL VIPER are Poland s most promising Heavy Metal act. The band from Katowice has earned a fabulous reputation in the Metal underground with their previous releases and have recently played the Keep It True, Swordbrothers and many others major festivals. Singer Marta Gabriel is the centre point of the band, and implies a nice and charismatic appearance with a powerful Metal voice. Heavily influenced by the 80´s Metal of Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, early Manowar and the like, Crystal Viper draw immediate comparisons to the legendary WARLOCK (with Doro Pesch on vocals) but hold their own with their unique stylings. Crimen Excepta is their highly anticipated fourth album and features guest appearances by David Bower of Hell and Piotr Wiwczarek of Vader." Comes with 2 bonus tracks.
    $15.00
  • Riverside's latest takes a bit of a swerve from their traditional sound.  Parts of the album bears the imprint of Mariusz Duda's solo work - its more laid back, more refined.  Other aspects of the album carry on with the sound that Riverside has developed over recent albums - chunky organ, trippy keyboard soloing and interstellar guitarwork.  This one is a grower.  At first listen it might not hit you but the more you scrape away at it the more you realize its dug deeper under your skin."For the past decade or so, Polish progressive rock/metal quartet Riverside set itself apart from their stylstiic brethren by offering distinguishing tones, mesmerizing atmospheres, and most importantly, remarkable songwriting. Sure, the band also infuses much of its music with the intricacy genre enthusiasts expect, but their melancholic, yet beautiful and earnest melodies and lyrics (credited mostly to singer/songwriter/bassist Mariusz Duda) have always come first. Perhaps nowhere in its discography is this more apparent than on their newest opus, Love, Fear and the Time Machine.Although it features a few complex arrangements, the record is by far Riverside’s most straightforward and accessible collection to date, showcasing a proclivity for upfront compositions like never before. While this may disappoint fans who adore the group’s more tangential, frantic instrumentation, rest assured that the album’s stunning emotionality and breathtaking arrangements more than make up for it. Without a doubt, Love, Fear and the Time Machine features some of the most gorgeous, tragic, and ultimately inspiring pieces Riverside have ever recorded, making it another exceptional entry in an invaluable catalog.According to Duda, the effort is a return to the softer, more ambient nature of Riverside’s debut, 2004’s Out of Myself. In fact, the foursome intentionally composed it “to combine the ‘70s and the ‘80s…[the songs] have never been so concise and to the point before.” Because of this new approach, the disc actually evokes Duda’s other project, Lunatic Soul, in subtle but substantial ways at times. Like almost all of Riverside’s previous works, Love, Fear and the Time Machine is also a conceptual record; specifically, it “talk[s] about transformation. About making an important, perhaps life-changing decision everyone has to make at some point in their lives…on the one hand, we’re excited by the change…[but] on the other, we fear the unknown.” Ultimately, the lesson to be learned from it is that “if we sometimes get lost in life, it is to go through something and be found again on the other side, to be reborn as someone better and more valuable.”Fittingly, then, the sequence starts with “Lost (Why Should I Be Frightened by a Hat?)”, which is arguably its best track. Duda begins by reciting a philosophical recollection over a delicate ether of keyboards and bass and guitar notes. Afterward, he launches into a catchy and charming chorus: “Come follow me / We’ll go down / Where the river flows / One day / Just you and I will find a bridge / To another land”. Duda layers his voices too, making it even more gripping, and in-between his passages, guitarist Piotr Grudziński issues his signature soaring accompaniment as the composition evolves. Drummer Piotr Kozieradzki keeps things steady throughout, while keyboardist Michał Łapaj gets the spotlight during the final seconds. Ultimately, “Lost” exemplifies the magnificent succinctness that makes Love, Fear and the Time Machine distinctive in the Riverside canon.Later on, “#Addicted” truly feels like a progressive rock take on the Cure in several ways, such as its dominant bass lines, starry guitar lines, and wistful singing which finds Duda channeling a silky falsetto he’s never really attempted before. There’s also a brief acoustic guitar arpeggio at the end that’s very enjoyable. Lyrically, it serves as a commentary on how social media can transform people into egocentric users who base their self-worth on their digital populiarty. In this way, both its lyrics and music find Riverside stretching slightly beyond its comfort zone, but the result is undeniably, well, addictive.“Caterpillar and the Barbed Wire” feels more traditional, with Duda’s sorrowful confessions and counterpoints perfectly complemented by sharp guitar riffs, aching solos, enveloping percussion, and a moving layer of synthesized splendor. Honestly, it’s like a heartbreaking and somewhat more colorful missing track from Shine of New Generation Slaves, whereas “Saturate Me” contains the sleek yet eccentric tones and virtuosic yet blunt balance that made up the best moments on Rapid Eye Movement. Of course, its sad ponderings, such as “Am I Invisible? / Or alive? / I don’t want to feel like I’m no one anymore”, are archetypal Riverside sentiments, and the interlocking musical patterns (especially near the end) are equally touching.The most commercial segment on Love, Fear and the Time Machine is surely “Discard Your Fear”; however, despite that typically negative connotation, the song’s approachability doesn’t get in the way of its worth. Rather, it’s uplifting message and relatively simple and familiar construction could earn Riverside an entirely new camp of fans. It’s actually quite cathartic, as is the dreamy and tasteful “Toward the Blue Horizon”, which begins and ends as a luscious ode (with lovely piano chords) while transforming into a progressive metal workout in the middle.Both of the record’s final two pieces—“Time Travellers” and “Found (The Unexpected Flaw of Searching)”—are wonderful. The former is an exquisite acoustic ballad about past possibilities and the unforeseen future. Its winding melodies and spaciousness are the standout features, as the rest of the band lets Duda’s voice lead the way, resulting in a simple but commanding experience. In contrast, the latter is more elaborate, impactful, and conclusive, with a strong sense of closure and acceptance, as the speaker realizes the importance of his or her experiences, uncertainties, and decisions. The music builds with great pacing, adding more beautiful layers as the chorus (“It’s a lovely life / You have gone so far / Don’t give it up / Oh, it’s a lovely life / Gotta go with what you think is right”) repeats with sleek harmonies. By the end, listeners are left in awe, reevaluating their own sense of purpose and optimism.Love, Fear and the Time Machine is likely the most polarizing record Riverside has made, as it could be considered both the band’s strongest and weakest full-length effort. Fans hoping for virtuosic jams and unexpected sounds won’t really find them here, while fans looking for more of Riverside’s token elegant instrumentation, affective melodies, and poetic, rich singing will be satisfied beyond measure. Either way, Love, Fear and the Time Machine definitely finds its creators reaching for new, if marginally different, heights, which is commendable in and of itself. Roughly ten years on, Riverside remains as special as ever, and Love, Fear and the Time Machine is, in several ways, its truest work of art." - Pop Matters
    $12.00
  • Luxembourg is not exactly a hotbed for prog rock bands but they have at least one in TNNE.  The band was originally known as No Name but went through an upheaval in their lineup.  No named The No Name Experience, the band still features original keyboardiste Alex Rukavina and vocalist Patrick Kiefer.  These guys revel in the neo-prog sound.  If you are a Pendragon or IQ fan you will eat this stuff up!
    $15.00
  • 2LP 180 gram vinyl in gatefold sleeve.  Magenta's latest finds them returning to an overtly progressive rock sound and the music is all the better for it.  The Twenty Seven Club is a concept album based around famous rock stars that died at the age of 27 (Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Jimi Hedrix, Kurt Cobain, ao).  The core lineup is Rob Reed, Christina Booth, and Chris Fry.  For this album the band is rounded out by guest drummer Andy Edwards of IQ.  Reed's keyboard work is back in the fore and Fry's Howe-isms on guitar always bring a polish to the music (and grin on the face).  Christina Booth's voice is a real gift and she shines as always.  Overall the music makes some overt references to Yes and Genesis so you get that old school flavor that the band hasn't offered in many years.
    $39.00
  • "A very special semi-acoustic live set from this seminal gothic metal band. The album captures their favourite songs specially rearranged for this event, while also including reworked cover versions of songs by Slayer and Nick Cave, the latter featuring guest vocals from Tiamat's Johan Edlund."
    $2.00
  • Remastered edition of the band's classic 4th album with two bonus tracks.  Its a concept album that literally defined classical rock.  Sure its pop oriented but the overarching progressive elements are prominent through out.  Highly recommended and at 5 bucks a steal.
    $5.00
  • New studio album from Roye Albrighton and Ron Howden carrying on with the Nektar name.  Since the band reformed last decade, their studio output hasn't lived up to the reputation of the classic 70s era.  This album appears to stop the skid.  Keyboardist Klaus Henatsch has been with the band for some time now.  His keyboard arsenal has that old school sound utilizing Hammond organ at every turn.  Fill-in bassist to the stars Billy Sherwood rounds out the quartet and he also handled production.  While no two Nektar albums sounded exactly alike there was an overriding sound - once you heard a song you immediately were able to identify it as Nektar.  A lot of that had to do with Albrighton's vocals and guitar work.  Time Machine is just that - a trip back in time to the sound of Nektar in the early 70s.  I'm not going to tell you that is will supplant Remember The Future as their magnum opus, but I have to say that this isn't half bad at all and pretty closely approximates the Nektar sound that we all know and loved.  Surprising and satisfying.
    $16.00
  • "When Jethro Tull released Benefit in 1970, it signaled a new, more progressive musical direction for the English band. It also became one of the best-known albums of their career, which is going strong more 60 million records and 40 years later. The Grammy winning group is revisiting that pivotal album with a 2-CD/DVD-Audio collector s edition.The 2-CD/DVD collection comes loaded with a massive amount of music recorded by the band, which at the time featured: multi-instrumentalist frontman Ian Anderson, guitarist Martin Barre, drummer Clive Bunker, pianist John Evan, and bassist Glenn Cornick.The first disc contains the album s 10 original tracks, plus five bonus tracks that include both the U.K. and U.S. stereo versions of "Teacher. " All the songs are newly mixed by Steven Wilson and approved by Ian Anderson. The second disc includes newly remastered versions of rare tracks and singles recorded around the same time as Benefit, such as "Sweet Dream" in both stereo and mono.The audio-only DVD, which is available exclusively with this version, is packed with 58 tracks, including the album and bonus tracks in 5.1 surround sound. It also contains the U.K and U.S. versions of the album. The American version was sequenced differently and replaced the U.K. track "Alive and Well and Living In" with "Teacher. " In addition, the set also comes with a handsome booklet filled with rare photographs, an essay by Martin Webb, and interviews with band members."
    $28.00
  • "West German rock band Grobschnitt will see a very limited 17CD super deluxe box set of all 14 of their albums released later this month that comes with almost seven hours of bonus material.The box set is titled 79:10 and covers the entire output of the band from 1972 to 1989. Everything has been newly remastered and in total there is over 22 hours of material for fans to enjoy. The reason for ’79:10′ is that each of the 17 CDs has 79 minutes and 10 secs of audio, so they are packed with content!This box set has been put together with the help band founders Lupo (Gerd Otto Kühn) and Eroc (Joachim Ehrig) who have dug into the archive for pictures, press releases, lyrics and personal stories to create new booklets for each album in this collection – much of it unseen. The CDs are all ‘mintpack’ digipacks.In addition to the CD booklets, there is also a large format (12″x12″) 92-page booklet (with German and English text) with more rare photos and new liner notes.These box sets are rather special because each set comes with a SIGNED ART PRINT of the image that adorned the inside of the gatefold 1977 album Rockpommel’s Land. The three founding members, Lupo, Eroc and Willi Wildschwein, have hand-signed each single art print individually. The print is approximately 13″ x 26″ in size." 
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  • When you think about it, Keith Emerson doesn't really have a lot of solo albums out (well at least compared to Rick Wakeman).  Apart from his soundtrack work which was a bit up and down, the albums he put out under his proper name have actually been quite good.  Changing States is one of them.  It was released in 1995 and was a musical forerunner to the band's reunion in 1998 as some of this material got reworked.  Its been out of print for years so its nice to be able to revisit it again.
    $17.00
  • 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
  • One of the best Quebecois prog albums.  Originally released in 1972 by Columbia its become a serious rarity - one of the top in the Canadian prog genre.  All the reviews will tell you the same basic story.  Dervieux was dying of cancer.  He assembled a group of musicians that would ultimately carry on after his death as Contraction.  The album is very keyboard intensive having a bit of a classical feel - kind of ELP-ish in spots.  Quite a beautiful album and essential."Franck Dervieux manned the keyboards on some of Jean-Pierre Ferland's earlier works, but by 1972 the gifted pianist had decided to strike out on his own. For Dimension M, Dervieux assembled some of the cream of the early Quebec prog scene, including bassist Yves Laferriere, Michel Robidoux on acoustic guitar, drummer Christian St. Roch and on several tracks singer Christiane Robichaud, all of whom would go on to form the sought-after prog band Contraction. Dervieux was suffering from late-stage cancer at the time and dedicated the record to his team of doctors in Sherbrooke, who he claims "preserved" him for the making of this record.What makes Dimension M such a joy is the way it straddles - remember this is just 1972 - the worlds of psychedelia and prog. Dervieux delivers plenty of classically-themed piano and virtuosic organ solos a la ELP, but elsewhere, on the blithe intro to side-one closer 'Hyperboree' (an adaptation of a work by obscure French composer Gabriel Govrez) he fuses some bluesy organ with Robichaud's fetching aria. Even better is the haunting build-up of drums, keyboard and voice on his own 'Concerto Pour Les Mondes Perdus' or the spacy workout 'Present Du Futur' over on side two. Fans of Soft Machine, Kingdom Come or Van der Graaf Generator should find plenty to salivate over on these tracks.Alas, though the Lord may giveth, he also taketh away, and one of the true originators of Quebecois progressive rock died not long after the release of Dimension M. The original vinyl came in a gatefold sleeve with a four-page insert, but it can be devilishly hard to find despite coming out on Columbia Canada. For those of us who want more immediate gratification, the dedicated folks over at ProgQuebec recently issued Dimension M on CD, carefully mastered from a vinyl source, with photos and bilingual liner notes to boot." - Canukistan Music 
    $18.00