Metal/Hard Rock

"First of all, I've got to get it off my chest: I'm a SONATA ARCTICA fan. I've been following their work for many years however, before I am a musician, I'm an honest woman so I promise to give an honest opinion about “Stones Grow Her Name”.

$6.00
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"Reformed and rejuvenated may best describe Evergrey 2.0 and their eighth studio album Glorious Collision After dissolving the band in the Spring of 2010, founder, guitarist, and vocalist Tom Englund immediately began recreating Evergrey, writing several songs with remaining keyboard player Rika

$6.00
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Latest solo album from Dream Theater's vocalist finds him pushing the boundaries a bit. This is square on prog metal with keyboardist Matt Guillory and guitarist Marco Sfogli returning.

$7.00
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This is a new US 35th Anniversary remastered edition of the classic album from the Mk 3 lineup. Very strange to call it that since the album is 42 years old but I digress.

In addition to the remastered stereo version of the album you get:

$15.00
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"This man has no boundaries as far as music goes. From singing for Steve Vai at age 19, to the bastion of noise known as Strapping Young Lad, Devin Townsend has proven time and time again that he's a musical genius.

$7.00
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Eighth album from the Swedish masters of melancholy may well be their best. Katatonia's music is all about atmosphere and mystery - all served up with a bit of a moody and depressing feel.

$8.00
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Lots of gothic metal bands are fortunate to be fronted by an attractive female. Midnattsol has two knock outs! Nordlys (Northern Lights) is the second album from this Norwegian gothic metal band led by Carmen Elise Espenaes (the younger sister of Liv Kristine).

$4.00
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"Tolkien's The Children of Húrin, and in particular its tragic hero Túrin Turambar, are the inspiration behind BATTLELORE's latest album. "Doombound" is the Finn's very first concept album, giving Túrin's experiences and adventures new life.

$5.00
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Depending on your point of view of course, this German power metal band has gotten better with age. Somewhere along the line vocalist Hansi Kursch developed his voice and the band went for a more expansive - almost orchestral - sound. Still heavy as hell.

$7.00
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Tarot are finally getting the attention they deserve - most likely because of Marco Hietala's double duty in Nightwish. If melodic power metal is your thing then Tarot are your band.

$15.00
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  • Sound Of Contact is a new band put together by Simon Collins and session keyboardist Dave Kerzner.  Yeah - Simon is Phil's son.  The apple doesn't fall far from the tree - Simon plays drums and he also sings.  His voice is eerily like his dad.  At times virtually indistinguishable.  The music follows a similar path to Phil's work with Genesis and solo.  Parts of the album are pure prog - in fact the album closes with a killer 19 minute epic called "Mobius Slip".  Other parts of the album exhibit a poppier more commercial side.  I don't think of the album as a pop album - its a prog rock album.  Kerzner provides some very interesting keyboard work - lots of intricacies through out the album.  There is that commercial element that reminds me of Genesis in the 80s.  With his voice sounding so much like his father, Simon will always be cursed with being compared to Phil.  That's a fact.  Overall I think he's come up with an interesting album that fans of more contemporary progressive rock will enjoy.
    $12.00
  • "Approaching a review for a new Frost* album is incredibly daunting.  These are the guys that released what I consider a modern prog classic in “Milliontown”, an album that may possibly have changed progressive music for the new generation.  This is the band that we have been waiting to hear from for so long now: It’s been eight years since their last album!  This is the band that became a progressive giant in just one album.  So, what can be said about their new album “Falling Satellites”?Let’s get one thing out of the way: This album should not be compared with “Milliontown”, or even “Experiments in Mass Appeal”.  All three albums are very different in approach, though “Falling Satellites” does seem to fall somewhere between the other two.  This new album will also never be lauded as much as the debut, and that’s perfectly fine.  “Falling Satellites”, a quite different album, stands on its own with a deliberate attempt to reinvent prog once again.The old line-up is halfway back, as Jem Godfrey (keys, vocals) and John Mitchell (guitars, vocals) are back and honestly sound better than ever.  Newcomers Nathan King (bass) and Craig Blundell (drums) complete the band this time, forming what might be the best line-up of the three albums.  Honestly, these guys have been working together since 2010, so the line-up isn’t exactly new.Let’s talk about the album before we go into the performances.  “Falling Satellites” is Frost*’s most pop-influenced album, without a doubt.  Tackling the heavy concept of the astounding impossibility of our existence and the resulting lessons that should be learned, the album addresses life with upbeat music that get progressively more serene with each track.  So, if you are looking for some sort of retro prog or maybe a heavier sound, they went in exactly the opposite direction.  Unswayed by the modern trends in progressive rock, Frost* have released an album that celebrates the missing progressive pop subgenre with sounds ranging from subtle to sweeping to dubstep.  Yes, dubstep (more on that in a bit).  This is an album that might shock the prog snob in all of us, as it presents us with razor sharp vocal hooks, upbeat melodies, and some songs that might not be progressive at all.  Yet, it also offers incredibly technical grooves, layers and layers of gorgeous sounds, progressive structures, and, of course, some of the best soloing you will ever hear on any album.The album has a little bit for everyone.  Bookended by an ethereal intro and outro, the album truly begins with “Numbers”, a song that could have been on “Experiments”, which means it’s fast-paced and catchy as hell.  Other similar songs are “Lights Out” (a pop song through and through), and the incredible track “Heartstrings”.  Other songs lean towards “Milliontown”, such as the big build of “Signs”, the subtle “Closer to the Sun”, or the complex labyrinth of “Nice Day for It”.  The album seems a bit all over the place at first, but comes together when you realize that the last six songs on the album are a suite called “Sunlight”.  In fact, you’ll hear the basic melodies of “Heartstrings” reoccur in “Nice Day for It”.  Once you understand the structure of the album, it really starts to makes sense, especially as the last half of the album surges and then hits a cooldown for the last two tracks.Perhaps my favorite track on the album, however, is “Towerblock”.  I like it so much that I want to devote a paragraph to it.  This track has achieved what bands likes Muse could not do: They have incorporated dubstep into a progressive album seamlessly.  “Towerblock” is a song of explosive vocals, winding instrumentals, and a dubstep section that feels right at home.  I especially love the way Jem’s keyboards break forward from the last dubstep beat.  “Falling Satellites” is full of sublime moments like that.I guess it’s time to talk about the performances now.  Jem and John are obviously the focus here.  Jem’s keys are inimitable, winding and streaming with a consciousness of their own.  Every time his keys sweep in, my heart races just a little more quickly, and his mastery of new instruments like The Chapman Railboard (played horizontally) is all the more impressive.  John, too, is at the top of his game.  After Lonely Robot’s offering last year, I was more excited to hear him play again, and he does not disappoint.  His guitar solos strike that emotionally perfect first note that few guitarists can achieve.  Nathan and Craig, however, may be the unsung heroes of the album.  Nathan’s bass is exceedingly important here, establishing the grooves around which the keys and guitars orbit.  Craig, a proven talent on the drums, lays down deceptively simple beats that you will find yourself trying to follow, but then you’ll realize that they are way more complicated than you thought.That kind of subtle complexity is a huge part of “Falling Satellites”.  Some will hear this album and proclaim it as a pop.  They’d be wrong, of course.  Yes, there is pop influence here that is undeniable (and I love it), but there is also an underlying technicality here that will blow your mind if you give it a chance, especially the second half.  In many ways, Frost* has once again redefined what we understand to be progressive music, and they’ve done it with gusto and pomp and a smile on their faces." - The Prog Mind
    $13.00
  • Since the release of 2013’s In Crescendo, Kingcrow toured North America in support of Pain Of Salvation, and headlined a European tour.  Kingcrow kept busy in 2014, touring Europe with Fates Warning and at the same time crafting the material that would become Eidos.“Eidos” is a new conceptual album about choices, consequences, dealing with regret and disillusion. Their earlier album Phlegethon dealt with childhood and In Crescendo about the end of youth.  Eidos can be considered the third part of a trilogy about the path of life. Musically it sees the band exploring new territories and pushing the extremes of its complex soundscape with a darker atmosphere and a more progressive attitude.Describing the band today is quite a difficult task, but one could state that the influence of such artists as Porcupine Tree, Riverside, Opeth, Anathema, Radiohead , King Crimson and Massive Attack are all present in the music of Kingcrow.With each release Kingcrow has taken a step further away from their original roots as a classic metal band and is now one of the most personal and exciting bands that Italy has to offer.
    $13.00
  • "Neal Morse and Mike Portnoy represent two of the most prolific careers in the Prog mainstream over the last 20+ years. In that time, they have been a part of more albums than many bands’ entire catalogs combined, a considerable amount of them regarded as Prog classics; Neal on ‘The Light’ and ‘Snow’ with Spock’s Beard, Mike with Dream Theater on Scenes From A Memory’ and ‘Images and Words’ and of course together on ‘Bridge Across Forever’ and ‘The Whirlwind’ with Transatlantic, not to mention Neal’s solo albums and the dozens of other albums they released. So when Mike Portnoy says this latest album might be the best album of his career, that is certainly a statement not to take lightly.  It also places immense pressure on the album. Most albums do not live up to such praise and usually end up disappointing. However, after many listens, it is fair to say, that with ‘The Similitude of a Dream’ the hype is for real.The album is based on the book ‘The Pilgrim’s Progress from This World to That Which Is to Come; Delivered under the Similitude of a Dream’ written by John Bunyan.  The story, described as set in a dream, follows a lead character named Christian, who is tormented by spiritual anguish and told he must leave the City of Destruction to find salvation in the Celestial City.  There is much more to the story, of course, and the part of the story portrayed in this album represents just a small portion of the book.  Is it spiritual?  Yes.  But relative to prior Neal Morse releases, this album is absolutely accessible and, done in the guise of an allegory, does not come off preachy in the least.  In fact, for anyone paying attention to the last few Neal Morse outings, this has been the case for some time now.Morse has produced a fair share of concept albums, including 5 in a row from the time he made Snow with Spock’s Beard through his first 4 solo albums.  He had largely stepped away from concept albums with his more recent work, 2012’s ‘Momentum’ and 2015’s ‘The Grand Experiment’. While all of Neal’s solo albums have been recorded with Mike Portnoy and bassist Randy George, ‘The Grand Experiment’ was the first album released by the Neal Morse Band, with guitarist Eric Gillette and keyboardist Bill Hubauer on board as full-time members, not only as performers, but as songwriters.  The result of this new 5-piece added a boost to the songwriting and overall sound that Morse had become known for.  Gillette and Hubauer are, on top of being stellar musicians (each plays practically every instrument), both phenomenal singers and Morse was smart to have them showcase those talents on the last album.  With this new album, they all take everything up a notch and then some. This is now a band in the truest sense of the word.The flaw in most double or concept albums is that they usually can be and probably should be condensed into one great album’s worth of music.  There are always one minute interludes that can be skipped over, too long and unnecessary intros, and songs that are not as good as some others.  Neal and the band avoid those pitfalls here, which is part of why this album is enjoyable. It is just a straight 100 minutes of music with no filler, no waste of time, nothing that makes you want to skip.  While there are all the signature Neal Morse moments, there are loads of new elements and styles that make this album sound fresh and revitalized.  Additionally, the production, courtesy of the always reliable Rich Mouser, and the performances by each member are impeccable.  Now let’s get to the music.(Skip to the last paragraph to avoid any spoilers)The album opens calmly with strings and Neal singing the album’s main melody “Long Day” setting the stage like any proper rock opera, before the bombastic “Overture” kicks things into high-gear.  There is so much contained in the opening instrumental, it is hard to absorb it all in one listen.  Only after you listen to the entire album, does the “Overture” become clearer.  From there we meet the character Christian, as he describes “The Dream”.  This is all a build-up to the one of the main full songs and the single from the album “City of Destruction”, a hard-hitting tour de-force, that is unlike anything Neal and the band have written before.  There are a few motifs that are repeated throughout the album, this song being one of them.  Neal’s ability to revisit and reinvent themes is his ace in the hole.  Few of his contemporaries possess this songwriting skill at this exemplary level, which is why many fail at the epic song or concept album.  Done with such precision, as it is here, demands attention from the listener and creates a more immersive listening experience.What comes next, beginning with “We Have Got to Go” is the equivalent to side 2 of The Beatles’ Abbey Road, with partial songs segueing into each other, keyboard and guitar solos interjected seemingly at will.  “Makes No Sense” introduces another one of the album’s themes and is also where Eric and Bill add a soaring element to the song as they reach new heights with their voices. Mike takes his turn at vocals with the rocker “Draw the Line” which leads in to the instrumental “The Slough” before concluding this section of the album with “Back to the City.”One of the surprises on the album and true highlights is the Beatle-esque “The Ways of a Fool”, where Bill Hubauer takes lead vocals.  The song is sheer pop brilliance and adds a new element to this core’s musical repertoire.  Eric Gillette reprises much of Disc 1 in “So Far Gone” before Neal closes out the first disc with the gospel “Breath of Angels”, a pure, emotionally charged Morse number.  Bill proves again, on this album, his ability to do practically anything and Eric continues his ascension up the guitar royalty ladder with stupendous soloing and tremendous vocal ability.Disc 2 starts with the rockin “Slave To Your Mind”, an explosive track with the band cutting loose, shifting through numerous time changes and solo breaks.  Mike again shows the power and creativity to play any style and keep things interesting and exciting.  Throughout much of Disc 2 there are more surprises stylistically, like the folky “Shortcut to Salvation” the bluesy “The Man in the Iron Cage”, the country-twang of “Freedom Song” and The Who-inspired “I’m Running”, which features a monster bass solo by Randy George.  All of these together, make as inventive a listen as one can remember with a Neal Morse album. Make no mistake, in between, there is still plenty of Moog and synth solos and Prog extravaganza to thrill the senses, but as you stick with this album, you begin to appreciate the incredible diversity contained in these 2 discs.The finale begins with “The Mask” which features a grand piano solo before changing into a dark, almost industrial reworking of “City of Destruction”. This precedes the track “Confrontation”, which is a climactic reprise of many other album themes and one of the best moments on the album.  The final instrumental “The Battle” is full-on Prog madness, with some of the group’s best soloing moments.  All this leads up to the epic final track, the quintessential Neal Morse ballad, “Broken Sky/Long Day (Reprise).  Not much to say here that will do justice to the ending, but kudos to Neal for allowing Eric to shine during the closeout moments on this track.  If you don’t get chills, you might need to check your pulse.  It all ends with Neal bringing it all home on a quiet note, just as the album began.All in all, this is quite an achievement by a group of musicians that didn’t need to improve upon already magnificent careers filled with incredible albums.  While its position atop any all-time lists will be up for debate, ‘The Similitude of a Dream’ does the impossible and exceeds all expectations.  It is absolutely a jaw-dropping release that will no doubt rank alongside the best albums by Neal Morse and Mike Portnoy, if not above them." - The Prog Report
    $18.00
  • Hardbound mediabook edition with one bonus track."I haven't had anything similar on my musical plate for a while, so Gazpacho's eighth album Demon was an interesting, beautifully surprising and absolutely brilliant variation. Again Gazpacho mixes progressive sounds with electronic elements and folk instrumentation with the addition of dynamic riffing and amazing vocals. The outcome is a unique sound that is quite inimitable and rare to find. How much you enjoy the new record will mainly depend on how you respond to this incredible mix and the singing style used by the vocalist. Anyway Gazpacho rules, especially at night.I'm a great fan of these guys and for those of you that still don't know who they are, Gazpacho is a band formed in Oslo, Norway in 1996 by childhood friends, Jon-Arne Vilbo and Thomas Andersen, along with Jan-Henrik Ohme - later joined by Mikael Krømer, Lars Erik Asp and Kristian Torp; they released their debut album Bravo in 2003.Demon, the upcoming record, is a concept album based on the true story of a manuscript found in an apartment in Prague where the writer, a previous resident, had detailed his chase of an evil, “The Demon”. Demon is for sure full of emotion and humanity and the way the Norwegian band reproduces in music the diabolical story and the psychosis of the protagonist is wonderful.The story is told in four parts and it starts with 'I've been walking – part 1' and it couldn't start in a better low-key fashion way. There’s something disarmingly powerful about loud vocals from Jahn Henrik Ohme that add incredible depth to a song. The intermittent piano notes are just perfect and the delicate violin sound is like a nice shade of color you don't notice on painting but that painting wouldn't be the same without it. A great bonus.The second part of 'I've been walking' – that is the third track of the album – starts exactly where the first movement of the piece ends but adding a dark shadow to the overall atmosphere. There are still vocals but now are slower and they mix perfectly with the other instruments. The bass is gorgeous and the way the song turns into a more ambient and atmospherical dimension is great. It's such a damn good track and together, 'I've been walking' parts I and II, might be the best tunes that Gazpacho has ever written.The mix of sounds of the opening track changes completely in 'The Wizard of Altai Mountain' becoming electronic in the first part of the track and turning into a sort of gipsy or Yiddish sound in the second half. We are all crossing lands pursuing the demon.The story ends with 'Death Room' and the motifs of the 'The Wizard of Altai Mountain' come back like creating a circle with that song. Oriental sound, progressive rock and folk are all mixed together and the resulting fusion sound is incredible. I rarely make direct comparison among artists but this time I cannot avoid to think of Radiohead's music mixed with folk elements to create an intricate yet beautifully original tone. Other times they make me think of the Scandinavian prog-rock band Airbag but again Gazpacho find their way to be definitely unique.The story ends here and Demon too, a captivating and intriguing album that is absolutely brilliant. I like the way it flows song by song and the variety of sounds blended in it. Such experimentalism is the proof that the Norwegian guys are really talented and they deserve to be considered one of the best progressive rock bands on the scene today.Demon is an album that requires time and patience to be understood and to gain the listener's estimation and it will reward open minded audience. Play it in the dark to fully experience its great music." - Echoes And Dust
    $13.00
  • The Custodian is a new British post-progressive rock band formed by Richard Thomson, vocalist for cinematic death metal band Xerath.  Unlike Xerath, The Custodian is an outlet for the more melodic, rock oriented writing from Thomson.While there are moments in the album that harken back to old school bands like Genesis and Yes, the music of The Custodian is contemporary in sound.  Necessary Wasted Time is an album full of dynamics - light and dark shadings balancing acoustic vs electric, heavy vs pastoral.  While atmospherics and tension are a strong component of the album, the band demonstrates their adept musicianship offering up long instrumental passages to complement the emotion filled vocals.  When needed the band unleashes some complex electric runs.The Custodian's debut should deeply resonate with fans of Steven Wilson, Riverside, Pineapple Thief, and Anathema.Necessary Wasted Time was mixed by noted engineer Jacob Hansen and give the full audiophile mastering treatment from Bob Katz. 
    $14.00
  • Excellent US neoprog that will appeal to fans of Marillion and Iluvatar.
    $3.00
  • The madcap French jazz metal trio return with their sixth album.  Morglbl consists of guitarist Christope Godin, bassist Ivan Rougny, and drummer  Aurelian Ouzoulias.  The band has toured extensively around the world – USA, Europe, Russia and even China!  They have shared the stage with Liquid Tension Experiment, Bumblefoot, and Umphrey’s McGee among others.These three virtuosos are also well endorsed clinicians and have developed a following individually but when they come together the fireworks really start.  Tea Time For Punks doesn’t deviate from the tried and true Morglbl formula.  Take equal parts fusion and crushing metal power chords, then inject a healthy dose of tongue in cheek humor and you’ve got the perfect Morglbl album. The band is often described as Primus meets Steve Vai and Allan Holdsworth, with flavors of Frank Zappa! 
    $13.00
  • MY BROTHER THE WIND is an improvisational cosmic rock collective consisting of members of widely known Swedish acts Makajodama, Magnolia, Animal Daydream and most notably Anekdoten, one of the more widely recognized names in the 1990s prog rock revival.Recorded live in the studio with no overdubs during a single day in January 2013, Once There Was A Time When Time And Space Were One captures the collective's progressive soundscape qualities with incredible analogue studio production. The band utilized 6 and 12 string acoustic and electric guitars, Mellotron, flute, bass, drums, congas and more to complete the task. Expect 45 minutes of the band's most succinct material to date, recorded deep in the snowy, forested, Swedish wilderness.In 2013, MBTW expanded into an even wider fanbase, having been invited to play the mighty Roadburn Festival in Tilburg, Holland, as well as at Duna Jam in Sardinia.  At the invitation of Opeth’s Mikael Okerfeldt, guitarist Nicklas Barker returned to Roadburn to perform an improv set with Dungen guitarist Reine Fiske.Those who frequent the works of Popol Vuh, Amon Duul, Sun Ra, Träd, Gräs Och Stenar, Albert Ayler, Ash Ra Tempel, Gong, Pink Floyd and other visionary, psychedelic rock artists are advised to investigate this act. "Lush and instrumental for its duration, My Brother the Wind‘s third full-length, Once There was a Time When Time and Space were One (released by Free Electric Sound/Laser’s Edge), rolls out of the speakers much easier than its title rolls off the tongue, though both title and the work itself satisfy rhythmically. The Swedish four-piece — they now seem to be a bass-less trio with Nicklas Barker (Anekdoten) and Mathias Danielsson (Makajodama) on electric/acoustic 12-strong guitar and Daniel Fridlund Brandt on drums, but Ronny Eriksson plays bass on the album — reportedly recorded live to two-inch tape on a vintage machine, and the passion they put in bleeds readily into the nine-song/45-minute outing, fleshed with liberal splashes of Mellotron courtesy of Barker to play up a ’70s prog feel in a piece like the 12-minute “Garden of Delights.” That’s hardly the only point at which those sensibilities emerge, but even more than that, the primary vibe here is one of gorgeous heavy psych exploration, the band adventuring and feeling their way through the material as they go.On peaceful moments like the title-track, which arrives as the penultimate movement before “Epilogue” leads the way back to reality — accordingly, “Prologue” brings us in at the start — that exploration is positively serene, the 12-string complemented by spacious electric tones spreading out across vast reaches, but Once There was a Time When Time and Space were One offers more than drone and psychedelic experiments. Subtly pushed forward by Brandt‘s drums, pieces like “Into the Cosmic Halo” and even “Epilogue” enact classic space rock thrust, and even “Song of Innocence Part 1,” the first part of the journey after the backward atmospherics of “Prologue” introduce, has some cosmic feel amid its echoing solos. Its subsequent complement, “Song of Innocence Part 2,” swells to life on an even more active roll, waves of amp noise up front while drums and bass groove out behind, waiting for the guitars to catch up, which they do in a suitably glorious payoff, relatively brief but masterfully engaging, setting a momentum that continues well into “Garden of Delights,” a focal point for more than its length.Because the songs flow so well one to the next, some directly bleeding, others giving a brief pause, and because later cuts like “Thomas Mera Gartz” — named in honor of the drummer for ’70s Swedish proggers Träd, Gräs och Stenar — and the title-track have a quieter take, it’s tempting to read some narrative into the shifts of Once There was a Time When Time and Space were One, but with the material not being premeditated, I’m not sure that’s the intention so much as a signal it’s well arranged. In any case, the album offers an immersive, resonant listen, with tonal richness to spare and the presence of mind to keep a sense of motion even in its stillest parts and a balance of organic elements — Danielsson‘s recorder and Brandt‘s percussion on “Misty Mountainside,” the 12-string, etc. — amid a wash of effects and swirling psychedelia. This attention to sonic detail makes Once There was a Time When Time and Space were One more than just a collection of jams, and adds further purpose to the already worthy cause of My Brother the Wind‘s thoughtful musings, wandering and not at all lost." - The Obelisk
    $13.00
  • " "The cold war's gone, but those bastards'll find us another one/They're here to protect you, don't you know?/So get used to it - Get used to it!.../The sense that it's useless, and the fear to try/Not believing the leaders, the media that feed us/Living with the big lie." ("Living With the Big Lie," from Brave)In the 27 years since Steve Hogarth took over as lead vocalist for Marillion, the band has had only one bona fide concept album: the aurally and emotionally stunning Brave (1994). Using as a starting point the (true) news story of a young woman found roaming around an area of England -- who did not know who she was, or where she had come from, and even refused to speak to the police or the media -- the band created a fictional "back story" for her, which included some fairly "dark" elements, including re politics, socio-culture, media -- and fear. The above quotation is a good example -- and very relevant to their new album, as the new album offers a look at how the "big lie" has become even bigger. However, the overall effect of Brave was more "melancholic" than grim, more sad than "judgmental" (of the society they describe).Twenty-two years later, the same (or worse) "darkness" exists in many of the same ways, but even more ominously now -- and this time the band is at the center of the story -- and they are ANGRY. Indeed, the overall effect of the album is one of barely checked (and occasionally unbridled) anger, and a deep frustration and concern both for England (whom they are directly addressing) and beyond (including the U.S., for whom some of the issues are the same). One might say (borrowing another phrase from Brave) that the band is no longer "hollow men," but has become both worldly-wise and world-weary, both "informed" and disillusioned, even (to a degree) cynical.The album consists of three suites, separated by two other compositions, one of which relates directly to the suites, the other of which seems a tad out of place (though, as we will see, its inclusion does make some sense). The three suites -- "El Dorado," "The Leavers," and "The New Kings" -- and the related composition ("Living in FEAR") are all, in one form or another, observations on fear: how it is created (fear-mongering), how it is controlled (via politics and media), how it affects people. The other composition ("White Paper") is mostly a meditation on love -- in this case, "dying" love -- though it seems that the love is dying at least in part as the result of the prevailing atmos-fear. Thus, while it is a tad more "jarring" in this context then the similar inclusion of love on Brave, there is no question that love is also a victim of fear.The album opens with "El Dorado," a five-part composition that describes the plight of immigrants, and the roadblocks (both figurative and literal) that they often encounter, particularly including xenophobia:"The roads are traveled by many, like promises of peace./And some choose not to go -- the fear looks like bravado./I see them waiting, smiling, on the borders in dawn's mist,/Or lost to the world in their upturned boats"/"I see myself in them, the people at the borders/Denied our so-called golden streets,/Running from demolished lives into walls."It doesn't get much more concise, and understandably cynical, than that. In fact, this suite makes an interesting companion piece to "Gaza" (from their previous album, Sounds That Can't Be Made): where the latter (a 17-minute epic) is specific to a certain group, the former (another 17-minute epic) deals with a broader scope. It is also interesting to note that this album was written and recorded well before the Brexit vote, and could be seen as somewhat prescient in that regard."Living in FEAR" is a more generalized look at fear, and particularly the responses it creates, not least including a variety of "walls" (again, both literal and figurative). Noting specific walls and "lines not to be crossed" (the Great Wall of China, the Maginot Line, the Berlin Wall -- all of which are called "a waste of time"), it also speaks to the "walls" that people themselves put up when they are afraid.That observation is made against a hopeful call for some sort of normalcy:"The key left in the outside of the unlocked door isn't forgetfulness --/It's a challenge to change your heart./The apple pie cooling on the windowsill is such a welcome change/From living in fear -- year after year after year./There's a price to pay, living in fear is so very dear./Can you really afford it?"There is also a call to "put down our arms" ("We've decided to risk melting our guns -- as a show of strength").Although least "political," the second suite ("The Leavers") puts the band in the center of the story -- after all, touring allows for a degree of observation of the world that is perhaps only shared by true "world travelers." The band sees itself as "Leavers" -- "parties that travel" -- who show up for a day or two and then move on. They arrive "before dawn," and "slip in from ring- roads," bringing their "boxes of noises, boxes of light": "We will make a show and then we'll go." They juxtapose themselves against the "Remainers": those who "remain in their homely places" (i.e., lead normal lives), and sometimes "try to persuade us, and tame us, and train us and save us and keep us home as we try to fit in with the family life." But once in a while, the Remainers "leave their homely places with excited faces -- preparing their minds for a break from the sensible life" (i.e., a rock concert)..."[I]n one sacred ritual, we all come together -- We're all one tonight."As noted, although "White Paper" is something of an "outlier" here, it nevertheless provides a look at how fear can affect love -- and vice-versa."The New Kings" is the angriest and most sardonic of the three suites. It addresses money and media, plutocrats and oligarchs. Re money, it is decidedly less than kind:"We are the new Kings, buying up London from Monaco./We do as we please, while you do as you're told./Our world orbits yours and enjoys the view,//From this height we don't see the slums and the bums on the street./Oceans of money high in the clouds/But if you hang around, more often than not it will trickle down./We're too big to fall, we're too big to fail."Even Gordon Gekko gets a shout-out ("Greed is good").With respect to the media, the following plaint by a confused citizen pretty much nails the cynicism of many people (including conspiracy theorists):"We saw the crash on the news today/It changed our lives -- but did it really happen?.../I don't know if I can believe the news/They can do anything with computers these days."As an aside, it is interesting to consider "The New Kings" in light of the following from Brave's "Paper Lies":"Are we living only for today?/It's a sign of the times --/We believe anything and nothing./When you look into the money/Do you see a face you hardly recognize?/When you get behind the news of the world/Do the things you find begin to bend your mind?/Paper lies."As noted, after 22 years, not only has nothing changed, but it seems to have gotten worse.But the band leaves its bitterest anger at the "approaching storm" (which may well already be here) for last:"Remember a time when you thought that you mattered/Believed in the school song, die for your country/A country that cared for you -- all in it together?/A national anthem you could sing without feeling used or ashamed./If it ever was more than a lie, or some naïve romantic notion/Well, it's all shattered now./Why is nothing ever true?.../On your knees, peasant. You're living for the New King."Although Marillion (and particularly Mr. Hogarth) has always dabbled in socio-politics, it has become increasingly present -- and the band increasingly concerned -- of late. In this regard, F.E.A.R. is a shamelessly -- and understandably -- angry set of observations, and brings their socio-politics to a fine (rapier-like) point.Musically, if Marillion's three strongest musical influences are (as I have always felt) Genesis, Pink Floyd and the Moody Blues, this album is strongly (and superbly) Floydian, with nice touches of the Moodies, and only occasional Genesis influence. (Indeed, the electric piano figure in "The Gold," and some other keyboard figures, could have been lifted from PF's Animals. And much of the guitar work throughout has a wonderfully Gilmour-ish sensibility.) This is actually not surprising (and is meant as a compliment), given that PF are the masters of the kind of "dystopian" rock that F.E.A.R. represents. And although everyone in the band is superb -- and there is a deceptively brilliant cohesion that approaches a sort of uber-gestalt -- this album is largely Mark Kelly's (with a more-than-able assist from guitarist Steve Rothery): although Mr. Hogarth undoubtedly plays some piano parts, it is Mr. Kelly's piano and keyboards (along with the atmospheres and effects created in the studio) that undergird nearly the entire album. And this, too, is not surprising, since this is true of almost every great concept album in prog.As suggested above, there are also quite a few allusions (subconscious or not), both lyrical and musical, to Brave. In fact, after you have had a chance to truly take this album in, I invite you to go back and read the lyrics to Brave, and then listen to Brave again. And this is not in any way a criticism of F.E.A.R.: if anything, it is another compliment. Indeed, the only reason I am rating this album 4.5 instead of five stars is that I gave five stars to Brave; and while this album is superb in every way -- and harks back to that masterpiece -- it does not quite reach the frightening brilliance of its predecessor.Finally, there is an aspect of this album that I have not found with any other concept album in memory. [N.B. This is where even curious readers who are reading this before listening may want to stop and listen to the album first. I am quite serious. I'll give you a little time to think about it. (Tick-tock-tick-tock?)]What I have discovered is that the five pieces are strangely "inter-changeable." What I mean by this is that the song order can be changed, not only without changing the overall concept, but, in at least one case (and I admit this is hopelessly presumptive) possibly strengthening it.This thought first occurred when I received the album as a download, with the song "Tomorrow's New Country" closing the album, even though it appeared on the lyric sheet as the sixth ("vi") part of "The Leavers." When I contacted Marillion to make sure this was the correct placement, I asked, if it was, whether it was deliberate: i.e., an attempt to "soften the blow" at the end of "The New Kings." The response was, yes, it was meant as an "antidote" (their word), and was deliberately moved from "The Leavers" to the end of the album (though the lyric sheet still reflected its original place).So -- I decided to see what the album would sound like putting "Tomorrow's New Country" back in its "proper" place. And the effect was remarkable. Not better or worse, just -- different, in a surprising (and even conceptually relevant) way. (Once you have heard the album in its given order a few times, I highly recommend programming it to do this -- just for fun, if nothing else.) Then, feeling as I do about "White Paper," I decided to test a theory, and played the five pieces in a couple of different orders entirely (while keeping the three suites in order). The order that surprised me most (in a positive, eyebrow-raising way) with respect to expressing the overall concept (and also working together "musically" from one track to another) was starting with "White Paper," playing the three suites in their present order one after the other, and ending with "Living in FEAR." Again, I am not suggesting that the order chosen by the band is "wrong" in any way. After all, the band's "vision" is the one that counts, and there are reasons (good ones!) that they chose the song order that they did. I am simply suggesting that, unlike most (maybe any) concept albums you've heard, there is an interesting ability to "play around" with the placement of the two non-suites, and maintain both conceptual and musical integrity.Ultimately, F.E.A.R. is a superb album (and, like all great albums, gets better with each listen), and a welcome addition not only to Marillion's oeuvre, but to the prog concept album canon. Kudos to one of the few bands that keeps neo-prog not simply alive, but thriving and -- progressing. And a band that has genuine care and concern for the world around them and the people who live in it." - ProgArchives
    $23.00
  • Karmakanic has become more than just a Flower Kings offshoot.  While Roine Stolt seems to have mothballed the kings for the time being, uber-bassist Jonas Reingold has continued to release some beautiful prog albums under the Karmakanic banner.  This is definitely not to take away respect for his band mates because frankly its a hell of a line up.  Goran Edman is one of the most underrated vocalists in prog rock.  He made his bones in the metal world but he just sounds more comfortable with material like this.  Lalle Larsson is a virtuoso keyboardist - great composer and chops from hell.  Drummer Morgan Agren doesn't need much commentary - if you can stand on stage with Frank Zappa you've got everyone's respect.  So yeah Karmakanic is one of the premiere prog rock bands going these days.  There is definitely more than a tip of the cap to the neoprog sound but unlike most of those bands this isn't streamlined radio friendly music. Its melodic as hell but the sheer instrumental prowess coming from these guys is overwhelming.  This set comes with a bonus DVD which features live footage from Rosfest 2012, interviews, and a "making of" video.Karmakanic always seems to push the right buttons for me and this one is no exception.  Highly recommended.
    $16.00
  • "With 'Home', for the first time since their critically acclaimed 'Posthumous Silence' of 2006, Sylvan have taken the chance to create another full-on concept album. Even though the Hamburg natives attach great importance to creating contextually comprehensive pieces of art with any of their albums, this time around Sylvan have upped their ambition another notch and taken on the mammoth task of building an overall concept around the never ending quest of the human condition for 'home' - that very special place that can provide a feeling of complete safety."This is the deluxe mediabook edition.  Same track listing as the jewel box but in much nicer packaging.
    $17.00
  • Its been six years since the last release from this Louisiana band.  Years ago I mentioned how much they sound like Porcupine Tree.  Well not a lot has changed in this respect.  If you are a fan of Steven Wilson and Porcupine Tree you'll find that Abigail's Ghost drinks from the same well.  In fact, of all the bands that bear the musicial DNA of Mr. Wilson, I would say that Abigail's Ghost do it the best.  So getting this out of the way I'm pleased to say that Black Plastic Sun is the band's best work.  Its what contemporary progressive music should be.  Melodic through out with room for stunning solos.  Overall the album is very dynamic - a nice contrast of heavy guitar driven music and heartfelt balladry.  This is not your father's prog.  BUY OR DIE!
    $12.00
  • I'm going to cut to the chase: if you are a fan of Fish-era Marillion...if Peter Gabriel's voice makes you spooge...then you need to own this disc.A Time Of Shadows is the second album from this Irish neo-prog band heavily influenced by vintage Marillion. Vocalist Liam Campbell is excellent and clearly from the Fish/Gabriel school. Good long tracks filled with melodies but still plenty of intricacies. Beautiful artwork from Ted Naismith rounds out a superb package. If the words "clutching-at-straws" gives you goosebumps you are a click away from musical nirvana. Highly recommended.
    $3.00