Wild Light

SKU: 0506588
Label:
Superball Music
Category:
Post Progressive
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"Poverty, disease, environmental destruction, deep-rooted corruption – there’s a lot going on in the world to freak out about. 65daysofstatic are out to prove that that even what seems hopeless can be uplifting it catches the light the right way. Paul Wolinski, Joe Shrewsbury, Rob Jones and Simon Wright have been a band just long enough to see the tragic complexity of the new millennium unfold in real time. And what better way to keep tabs on the misfortunes and malaises of our world than to provide soundtracks for them?

As you might have surmised without listening, 65daysofstatic’s debut, The Fall of Math, was an album of guitar-driven post-rock. Each successive release has gradually nudged the Sheffield quartet closer to electronica, up to and including 2010’s We Were Exploding Anyway and 2011’s alternate soundtrack to the 1972 sci-fi film, Silent Running. Wild Light is their sixth studio release, and it’s most certainly their most computerized. Taking their body of work as one extensive artistic statement, it is also quite inarguably the zenith of their career.

Released in mid-September in the UK and due stateside at the end of the month, Wild Light a towering achievement of vision, ambition and imagination. These lumbering sonic skyscrapers readily substitute the ethereal for the palpable, the fear-inducing for the exalting, seamlessly collating the drivers behind 65daysofstatic’s development as a band. It has a tendency to remind you of other post-rock acts without actually sounding all that much like them. There’s the Promethean grandeur of Godspeed You! Black Emperor, the physicality of Battles, and the earthbound patience of Explosions in the Sky or Lanterna.

The imagery of Wild Light is nightmarish and audacious, but the thickly mantled compositions are often beautiful, surging towards some unobtainably lofty plane. Only a handful of tracks start out on modest terms. Listening to “Taipei” is like rewinding the tape on glowing embers and watching as they renew themselves into a massive bonfire; piano-focused “The Undertow” unfolds as an interlude, sequenced between two of Wild Light’s more intense offerings, “Prisms” and “Black Spots”.

The particulars of what 65daysofstatic try to achieve with their sound are so abundantly realized as to be self-evident. They address their hefty subject matter without uttering a single word, electing instead to express themselves through physical movement. Wild Light is a fully intact listening experience, peppered with sonic leitmotifs that fold back onto themselves once the final chords are drowned out by silence.

Along with cyclicality and recursion, 65daysofstatic seem fascinated with the (rather complimentary) concept of time. One of the more plausible theories for how our universe will die is that all of the energy that can be expended will be expended; we will reach maximum entropy and simply fade, which is a bit of a bummer. With its title in mind, the tireless grind of intro “Heat Death Infinity Splitter” illuminates the inevitability of our collective fate. The mechanistic synth lurches and doomed guitar bends that recall Swans track “Lunacy”, and it’s equally as dread-inducing.

But if this all sounds a little too morbid, its tempered by the obvious joy and care with which 65daysofstatic approach their art. There are nods to the their past, with tracks like “Blackspots” recalling some of the aggression of their earliest releases. Elsewhere, they’re as mild as they’ve ever been. Sendoff “Safe Passage” features nearly no percussion, instead opting for iridescent washes of noise. “Prisms” begins as an experiment in atonality, smash cutting from black hole drone to ecstatic synth bombast before a pair of plush tremolo guitars take control; one last rave tune before end times.

Everything reaches a breathless climax on “Unmake the Wild Light”. Its somber segments topple into one another, each a fluent extension of what came before it to create a magnificent collage of roving bass lines, Rorschach drum patterns and blurry power chords. Although to call it a climax is to downplay the impact found elsewhere. Every moment here is inspired. For anyone who can appreciate emotional breadth that music is capable of conveying, make Wild Light a part of your life. It may be the best instrumental album you hear this year." - Pretty Much Amazing

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  • The Japanese jazz scene is finally getting the attention it deserves.  Long written off as just a scene filled with copycats of American and European artists, jazz fans around the world are now discovering that there was some amazing music being created there.  Some of the musicians like Terumasa Hino and Masabumi Kikuchi crossed over into the world jazz scene but for the most part many of the musicians there only gained popularity in Japan.  One of the most important Japanese jazz labels from the 70s was Three Blind Mice.  It was started in 1970 by producer Takeshi "Tee" Fuji.  The label adhered to strict audiophile standards and all of the releases on the label featured exemplary sonics.  The music of Three Blind Mice tended to fall into three facets of jazz (they would crossover from time to time).  Some of the artists play very traditional straight ahead jazz.  Frankly while this stuff appeals to audiophiles its not that appealing beyond the sonics.  There was also an experimental side to the label featuring a lot of free jazz blowing.  The third aspect, which to my ears is the most interesting, is the area where the label explored modal jazz, often with an electric element.  Very little of it would be hard card fusion, but a rock element would sometimes be present.  This falls into the realm that has been broadly tagged as "kosmigroov".The label only existed in the 70s and the rights to the catalog has now passed over to Sony Music.  Think Records in Japan has started a limited ediiton reissue campaign of the Three Blind Mice label.  They arrive in mini-LP sleeves and are manufactured using Sony's proprietary Blu-Spec process.  We are cherry picking titles we think should have your attention.  More will follow in the near future.Unicorn is a hot set recorded by noted Japanese bassist Teruo Nakamura.  It features killer players like George Cables (electric piano), Steve Grossman (soprano sax), Lenny White and Alphonse Mouzon (drums) among others.  Recorded in 1973 in NYC, its a wonder example of "spiritual" or "soul" jazz."Unicorn was bassist Teruo Nakamura's first date as a leader. Recorded and issued in Japan on the legendary Three Blind Mice imprint in 1973, Nakamura had been working in New York since 1964. He'd done a lot of hardscrabble work before 1969 when he landed the gig as bassist in Roy Haynes' fine group of the time. During that year he formed a band with Steve Grossman and Lenny White, who both appear here. This is an interesting date because it is equally divided between very electric fusion tracks and more modal acoustic numbers. Grossman plays on all but one cut; White appears on three. Other players include Alphonse Mouzon on three cuts (instead of White), George Cables on Rhodes, John Miller on acoustic piano, a young percussionist named Ronald Jackson (born Ronald Shannon Jackson), pianist Hubert Eaves III (later of D Train fame), trumpeter Charles Sullivan, vocalist Sandy Hewitt (on Eaves' "Understanding" and "Umma Be Me"). Nakamura plays acoustic upright bass on four tracks and electric on two others. The music is very much of its time, and though it is a session players gig, with rotating lineups, there is plenty of fire here. Grossman had already done his stint with Miles Davis and is in fine form on soprano (especially on the opening title cut), and tenor on John Coltrane's "Some Other Blues." White and Mouzon are both outstanding, so the drum chair is killer throughout, no matter who's playing, and Cables' Rhodes work on the Trane cut and "Derrick's Dance," written by Miller, is stellar. Nakamura, for his part, is more than an able bassist; he leads by guiding the rhythm and not standing out as a soloist." - Allmusic Guide
    $29.00
  • 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
  • Limited release in a mini-LP from the "Deep Jazz Reality" reissue series.  This may in fact now be out of print as we didn't get a complete fill from our order.This is a hell of an obsure release from 1970 from Japanese shino flautist Suiha Tosha and a hell of a rarity.  The first side is all cover tunes but the album features a side long suite titled "Concerto For Shino Flute & Rock Band" written by organist Norio Maeda.  Included in the lineup is Kimio Mizutani on electric guitar, Takeshi Inomata on drums and Shunzo Ohno on trumpet - all of these musicians are stellar.  This is a full electric set featuring a large scale ensemble.  The music skirts the line between jazz and rock.  I'm sure jazz purists would be apalled by Mizutani's distorted guitar leads and rock guys will wince at the use of reeds.  Enough electric piano and Hammond organ to confuse everyone. This one is a real monster.  Highly recommended."Wonderfully tripped-out sounds from the Japanese scene at the start of the 70s – a mix of older folkloric elements and more electric fusion modes – coming together in a really unique sound! There's lots of flute at the front of the tracks – played with an airy, spacious quality that has it drifting nicely over the fuller rhythms at the back – a heady brew of electric bass and guitar, tight drums, and more – all swelling together to make the whole set groove! Yet it's the airiness of the flute that really makes things unique – quite different than some of the funky flute modes from the US or UK scene of the late 60s – with an ethereal charm that's almost timeless. Titles include the side-long "Concerto For Shino Flute & Rock Band" – plus "Across The Universe", "Teach Your Children", and "Celtic Rock"." 
    $30.00
  • "Oh Italy, will you ever stop delivering kick ass metal? Now don’t get me wrong folks, I love the San Francisco Bay Area I’ve called home for the majority of my life, and am very pleased with the area’s contributions to heavy metal, namely the thrash era of the 1980’s, but at the present moment, no country has been consistently delivering like Italy has, especially when it comes to just buckling down and busting out some no holds barred, guitar crunching, drum smashing, vocal chord tearing heavy metal. And when it comes to metal that is blunt and to the point, Astra pretty much nails it on their album Broken Balance.Astra began their journey in Rome in 2001 as a four piece instrumental band, three of which are still in the band today, Andrea Casali (vocals and bass), Silvio D’Onorio De Meo (lead guitar), and Emanuele Casali (keyboard and rhythm guitar), and after a few changes, settled on drummer Filippo Berlini. According to their bio, they cut their chops on Dream Theater covers, and managed to win the first Italian Dream Theater Tribute Contest, leading them to a show with the Wizard Rudess himself for the Italian fan club’s 10 year party. From that point, they followed the tried and true path of releasing albums and touring. In 2005 they released About Me: Through Life and Beyond, and followed that with the 2007 release of From Within. Now, it’s time for that ever crucial third album, so let’s take a look at Broken Balance….Now, unlike a lot of the music I’ve been reviewing in recent days, there is no genre bending, no quirks or hidden aural agendas. From note one of the opening track, Losing Your Ego, Astra makes it crystal clear that they just want to rock the fuck out. The song, and the whole album for that matter, is a catchy riff fest with a strong hard rock/metal vibe. It’s the type of music that would have taken a very high place in the annals of late eighties metal, with the searing high vocals of Casali, the constant double bass of Berlini, and the relentless guitar riffs and solos. They do mix it up a bit, throwing in a few time changes here and there, some subdued moments, and a growl or two, just to add some flare and color to the overall product. Hole in the Silence picks up right where the opener drops off, without skipping a step. The third track, Sunrise to Sunset, has a slightly balladesque touch to it, with a soaring and catchy chorus that really showcases the vocals of Casali. Buried in the midst of the soaring vocal work is a brilliant instrumental section and a jaw dropping solo. It’s surely my favorite on the album, a song that will be listened to many times, me singing at the top of my severely under qualified lungs.From there they go right back to the metal. Song after song they are relentless, one of those albums that screams “LIVE SHOW PLEASE!!!!!!”.  Too Late has yet another catchy chorus, something of a standard throughout the album actually. The title track, Broken Balance, opens with a sultry tone, something else they are rather adept at, and delivers a fairly complex song afterwards, teasing at exploding out multiple times before restraining themselves, working the listener into a furious sense of expectation as to what’s going to come about. Then comes the instrumental, where they let loose in a fury of notes scattered around before the guitars take control. Six more tracks follow, delivering a good variety on their version of solid metal. Another ballad comes in the form of Mirror of Your Soul. Risk and Dare is a crushing and rather dark number on an album that is overall fairly uplifting. Three more rockers lead into the closing track, You Make Me Better. This one opens on the heavy notes, and then settles into ballad zone. It’s a love song of course, with all the requisite cheesiness lyrically and the solid climactic moments.Astra gives at the core of this album a polished sound for sure. Though there are very few mistakes on it, they also don’t break down any barriers. It is altogether a good, fun rocking album, the kind that is meant for cranking up and punishing your neck and your neighbors. Their tightness as a band is clear on every song, and the catchiness of the album should ensure a good deal of longevity for yet another addition to the growing pantheon of Italian metal." - Lady Obscure
    $15.00
  • Expanded reissue of the classic 1994 release arrives as a 2cd set with a bonus DVD. The original album is remastered. The bonus CD features a gig from Dusseldorf, Germany on 2/11/95 plus you get a load of demos and unreleased material. The bonus DVD is the Inside Out material performed at various gigs from 1993 all the way up to 2010 with the bulk of it from around the 1994 period.
    $16.00
  • "They re back at it! Flying Colors launched in 2012 following a formation that began with a simple idea: virtuoso musicians and a pop singer joining together to make new-fashioned music the old fashioned way. Refreshing, classic, old and new, the recordings are saturated with the many styles, tones and hues of the players who in becoming a band delivered a unique fusion of vintage craftsmanship and contemporary music. Flying Colors is Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater), Dave LaRue (Joe Satriani) Neal Morse (Spock s Beard), Casey McPherson (Alpha Rev), and Steve Morse (Deep Purple).Live In Europe captures the quintet in Tilberg, Holland performing at 013 on September 20, 2012.  The show presents the entire studio album along with popular favorites by individual members."
    $15.00
  • Budget priced slip case set featuring Judgement, A Fine Day To Exit, and A Natural Disaster.
    $18.00
  • "Get All You Deserve is a high-definition 4 disc audio-visual set from Steven Wilson.Directed by long-time visual collaborator Lasse Hoile, Get All You Deserve was filmed in Mexico City during the recent Grace For Drowning Tour. The set captures the spectacular live experience that Wilson and Hoile created for the tour on Blu-ray, DVD and 2CD.Following the release of Grace For Drowning, Steven embarked on his first ever solo tour, assembling a virtuoso band, featuring Marco Minnemann (drums), Nick Beggs (bass), Theo Travis (flute and sax), Adam Holzman (keys) and Niko Tsonev (guitars), to accompany him. For the shows he worked extensively with Lasse to create a show unlike anything else he had attempted with his other bands, Porcupine Tree, Blackfield, No-Man or Bass Communion.The shows immersed fans in a rich sensory experience: rear speakers provide surround-sound effects, giant screens show off Lasse's films made specifically to accompany these songs, and cutting-edge lighting designs giving texture to each song.Get All You Deserve captures one of the key shows from the tour. Recorded at a sold-out Teatro Metropolitan in Mexico City, the gig features tracks from both Wilson's solo albums along with the new, as yet unreleased, track Luminol. " 
    $31.00
  • Ambient/prog reworking of Dead End Kings arrives in a limited edition 2 disc digibook.  You get the CD version as well as a DVD featuring a 5.1 and 24 bit hi-resolution stereo mix."After last year’s successful release of their 9th full-length Dead End Kings, Katatonia have returned with a special release entitled Dethroned and Uncrowned. This album is special for two reasons. Firstly, it was brought to life with the help of the so-called ‘Katatoniacs’; that is, the fans were the ones who financed this project through a pledge campaign the band had set up where fans could pledge for various album formats and other items such as drumsticks, lyric sheets, posters, backdrops and even one of Anders’s old guitars. Needless to say, the pledge campaign was highly successful and reached its goal in four days. Secondly, the album is special music-wise, as it contains the same tracks that were found on Dead End Kings, but all of them have undergone a major makeover. As Katatonia wrote on their website: ‘the drums will be dethroned and the distorted rhythm guitars will be uncrowned’. What they have basically done is that they have kept the vocal lines intact but have experimented with the rest of the music, creating stripped-down, semi-acoustic versions of the songs with the focus on ambience and atmosphere, showcasing the band’s progressive song-writing talent. Katatonia have masterfully and rather elegantly transformed the songs into totally different entities and have given themselves as well as the listeners the opportunity to discover different aspects of each track, by adding little interesting details or emphasizing some parts that were not as noticeable as in the previous version, like the Jan Johansson-esque piano touches in ‘Leech’, or the 70s prog vibe in ‘Dead Letters’. All in all, Katatonia have managed yet again to create a beautiful, melancholic and touching piece of work that will certainly fulfill the expectations of the majority of their fans. Those who were not very keen on Dead End Kings (if such people exist), might enjoy some of the songs in their new versions, and, who knows, they might even appreciate that album a bit more after listening to this." - Metal Recusants
    $9.00
  • Michael Romeo doesn't work quickly.  The man takes his time and a new Symphony X album is ready when its been honed to perfection.  Underworld is the first new album in four years.  To get to the point its ridiculously great.  Up through V, the band were the modern agents of neoclassical/symphonic metal.  With The Odyssey the band took a left turn with Russell Allen's vocals being more agressive and a pervasive overall crunchiness, heaviness to the sound.  Perhaps a bit less symphonic sounding.  With Underworld fans of the "old style" will smile once again.  The band has found a way to balance both sides of their sound.  Its heavy but extremely melodic.  Russell's vocals are spot on and Mr. Romeo's solos have an organic flow that will sweep you through the tune.  Its a beautiful marriage of styles - not too much of either direction that the band has exhibited in the past.  Toss in a theme built around Dante's Inferno and you've totally sucked me back in to the fold.  BUY OR DIE!"A lot has happened with New Jersey-based progressive metal band SYMPHONY X since the Iconoclast album was released four years ago. Singer ‘Sir’ Russell Allen recorded and toured behind several releases with ADRENALINE MOB, toured with TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA and recorded the album The Great Divide with ALLEN-LANDE. Bassist Mike Lepond toured with HELSTAR and released his excellent solo album under the name SILENT ASSASSINS. Keyboardist Michael Pinnella released a solo album and guitarist Michael Romeo made guest appearances on some albums. Drummer Jason Rullo battled and successfully recovered from heart failure in 2013.Four years later, SYMPHONY X delivers another fantastic album, the band sounding just as powerful as Iconoclast, and amazingly never missing a beat. Titled Underworld, it is sort of a concept album, loosely based on Dante’s epic poem Inferno. Dante’s Inferno is not a totally original topic in the metal world; ICED EARTH featured an epic song based on it on their 1995 album Burnt Offerings and SEPULTURA wrote a concept album based on it with 2006’s Dante XXI, while SYMPHONY X themselves included references to it on their 1997 album The Divine Wings Of Tragedy. Several other metal bands have also been influenced by the poem.SYMPHONY X do not follow the tale word for word, but use it more as an inspiration. Michael Romeo is quoted as saying that the album has a theme of “going to hell and back for something or someone you care about.” He also said that this album is more about “the song” instead of the album as a whole, allowing it to flow better from song to song. This doesn’t mean every song is an attempt at a single. Romeo’s intent when writing songs for Underworld was for people to be able to take in the whole album in one listening. (The total album length is just over an hour, compared to Iconoclast’s two discs that were around 83 minutes).To be honest, the last two SYMPHONY X albums, 2007’s Paradise Lost and 2011’s Iconoclast were my favorite albums released by the band so far. I refer to them as the “angry” SYMPHONY X, mainly due to Russell Allen’s vocal delivery and the aggressive music on those particular albums. So, I waited to see if we would get a third album in this same vein from SYMPHONY X. The songs on Underworld seem to alternate between prog and aggression, but for the most part, the album is not as “angry” as Iconoclast. The album strikes a perfect balance between prog and power. Some songs are aggressive without being “angry”. There are definitely more classic SYMPHONY X elements here than on recent releases.The album is much more accessible than previous albums. The songs overall are shorter (most clocking in at around the 5-6 minute mark), and more to the point than on previous albums. For example, “Kiss Of Fire” is one of the best tracks I’ve ever heard by SYMPHONY X. It immediately became a favorite of mine on this album, with the verse, “Bring down the hammer, with serious anger – It’s me against the world!” section and the chorus becoming some of my favorite moments. This song probably represents the album to me more than any other, but the album is filled with classics, such as opener “Nevermore”, a ferocious track that is aggressive in the verses, while the chorus is more melody-driven. The title track follows, with many twists, turns and speed sections. “Without You” is a standout track. With its guarded delivery by Allen and acoustic guitar flowing in the background, it is probably the mellowest moment on Underworld, but that’s not a bad thing. The chorus is the focus of the track, with Allen performing some of his best work. The song probably has the most potential as a single. Another solid track, “Charon”, named for the ferry boatman of the underworld, follows. This track has a middle-eastern flavor to it.The longest track on the album (9:24 in length) follows, the excellent “To Hell And Back”. This song has so many great parts, it’s hard to pick a particular favorite, possibly Allen’s soaring vocal on the chorus or the “on and on and on / no quarter asked, no quarter given” section. “In My Darkest Hour” follows and is another favorite of mine, featuring speed riffing parts, mixed with a melodic chorus. Allen really shines on this song. “Run With The Devil” is even more up-tempo and another one of the more accessible songs due to the chorus. “Swan Song” finds keyboardist Pinnella taking the bulk of the spotlight with his piano flourishes. The album closes with the excellent “Legend”. Allen’s aggressive pre-chorus vocals and melodic chorus vocals make this an instant classic.I believe the playing on Underworld is at another level for the band. Lepond’s bass work is spectacular throughout and Jason Rullo makes a real statement with his drum performance. Fantastic work from keyboardist Michael Pinnella and of course guitarist Michael Romeo’s amazing riffs and solos are worth the price alone. But you get more, don’t you? You get one of the best singers in metal, Sir Russell Allen, making yet another classic album even better with his voice.The album’s exquisite cover artwork (once again by illustrator Warren Flanagan) features the return of the SYMPHONY X masks, around which are eight symbols that represent the circles of hell: limbo, lust, gluttony, greed, anger, heresy, violence, and fraud. The symbol for treachery, the ninth circle, is underneath the masks, and hopefully will be revealed in full inside the album packaging.Underworld is a great album, which grew on me the more I listened to it. SYMPHONY X are masters of American prog metal, and have been for quite some time. Underworld further cements that reputation, and will undoubtedly please fans of all eras of the band." - KNAC.com 
    $14.00
  • "The first thing that came to my mind when I put on the new release Smorgasbord by Norway's The Brimstone Solar Radiation Band was just how much good music is out there that most people never get to hear. In a perfect world these guys would be massive and deserve to have their music heard. Smorgasbord is the band's third full length album. They also have an EP that is no longer available.Consisting of R. Edwards (vocals, guitar), Erling Halsne Juvik (guitar), Thomas Grønner (drums), Øyvind Grønner (keyboards) and Biff (bass), The Brimstone Solar Radiation Band make music that is sometimes hard to pigeonhole into a specific category. You will hear progressive moments to be sure and so many infectious melodies you will probably begin to lose track. If there is such a thing as ear candy this is it, however, this disc contains so much more than that.Musically the band has roots in the sixties and seventies but also employs a modern sound that prevents this from becoming a rehash of the past. These are all very talented musicians but special mention should be given to Thomas Grønner's drum work. His ability to change speed and tempo really form the backbone of these twelve songs.From the opening notes of the quirky pop/rock of "Medic" where an irresistible guitar melody in the form of choppy rhythms playfully mix with organ sounds having a distinct Doors feel, one just knows there is something special here. Folk music can be heard in the beautiful acoustic ballad "Godspeed Mother Earth" a pleading lament to our planet that really pulls on the heartstrings. The saxophone solo combined with lovely background vocals is a real treat. One of the highlights among many has to be the sheer pop delight of "Happy" and that is exactly how I feel after listening to this song. There is a subtle jazz influence heard amongst the light splashes of piano, but the main melody is pure pop with a heavy nod towards XTC, especially in the harmony vocals. The feel good pop/rock of "The Great Yeah" with its killer vocal harmonies and Beatlesque guitar work is another winner that also features a tasty organ solo.There are also unexpected surprises like "Animal Riot Hill" where heavier riffs of organ and guitar come together only to morph into the slow burn of saxophone and jazzy drum work making this one of the CDs defining progressive moments. Beatle's fans will have a real appreciation for the melodic "Strings To The Bow" featuring strings and lovely harmonies. The album's last song is the melancholic "A Hill Of Beans" where lovely acoustic guitar and strings create a breath of fresh air ending the CD in fine style.Smorgasbord will surely make my 'best of' list at the end of this year. With its eclectic mix of prog, pop and psychedelic inflected rock, The Brimstone Solar Radiation Band are a force to be reckoned with. Highly recommended!" - Sea Of Tranquility
    $6.00
  • Submarine Silence is a side project from Moongarden's Cristiano Roversi.  The bands first album was released 12 years ago on Mellow Records.  It was an instrumental album that paid a huge debt to early Genesis.  This low awaited follow up album is cut from a similar cloth but it does feature vocals.  Most of the band is fleshed out with other members of Moongarden and Mangala Vallis.  Vocals are sung by Mirko Ravenoldi, who frankly I'm not familiar with.  He sings in English and truth be told he's a much better guitarist than singer.  Luckily the album features long swathes of instrumental passages - all cut from the Genesis cloth.  Roversi's keyboard arsenal is chock full of all the old favorites - Mellotron, Hammond organ, Arp and Moog synths, etc.  Lots of similarities to Tony Bank's set up and I believe that is the whole point.  Not very Italian sounding at all.  If you long for the old school sounds of Nursery Cryme and Foxtrot check this one out.
    $18.00
  • New CD only edition arrives in a digipak.Remember when the latest album we bought was more than just a click of a mouse?Remember when music meant something - the excitement and anticipation as the needle came down...not knowing what we were about to hear...?Nothing else mattered at that moment...Our undivided attention was given to the music - music which would become the soundtrack of our lives...THOSE DAYS ARE NOT OVERBeneath The Waves melds the talents of over two dozen artists and ensembles into an astonishing album of rare depth, emotion and intensity.  Held together by a vocal performance of spine tingling power from Steve Balsamo (Jesus Christ Superstar) and co-ordinated by celebrated producer / composer Rob Reed (Magenta, ChimpanA) , the album features a jaw-dropping array of musical talent including:Steve Hackett (Genesis) - Nylon Guitar; Gavin Harrison (Porcupine Tree) - Drums; Nick Beggs (Steve Hackett Band, Kajagoogoo) – Chapman Stick; Troy Donockley (Nightwish, Bad Shepherds)  Uilleann Pipes, Whistles; Nick Barrett (Pendragon) - Guitar, Neil Taylor (Tears for Fears, Robbie Williams) - Guitar; Jakko Jackzyk (20th Century Schizoid Band) - Guitar; Francis Dunnery (ex It Bites) - Guitar, John Mitchell (It Bites, Frost*) - Guitar, Mel Collins (King Crimson, Camel) - Sax, BJ Cole (Elton John, David Gilmour) - Pedal Steel Guitar, Chris Fry (Magenta) - Guitar and Christina Booth (Magenta) - Backing Vocals  - and introducing the vocal talents of Angharad Bryn in the role of Lily.Adding to the epic quality of the album are celebrated vocal ensemble Synergy, The English Chamber Choir conducted by Guy Protheroe, the London Session Orchestra conducted by Dave Stewart plus renowned opera singers Rhys Meirion and Shan Cothi.The album also features lyrics by Steve Reed (Magenta) and artwork by Geoff Taylor (War of the Worlds).This stunning concept album by Kompendium is in the spirit of all those great albums from the 70s without sounding like any of them. 
    $15.00
  • Grails is a US instrumental "post-metal" band (whatever that means). I would be hard pressed to call this metal. Its very dark and doomy and has a strong 70s feel. There is a weighted heaviness to the music that evokes the first Black Sabbath album but they use keyboards for added textures, and flute and violin for the weird factor. Some of it gets trippy in a Pink Floyd - Echoes direction. I guess if Dario Argento had commissioned Black Sabbath to compose a soundtrack to one of his early films it might sound like this. I find it highly addictive and something that any prog fan would enjoy. If this was released in 1972 it would now sell for $750 on Ebay. Case closed.
    $15.00