Fusion

"The eclectic West Coast Hard Rock fusion band, Cosmosquad, have a smoking CD on their hands in their 4th release, Acid Test (Marmaduke Records). This rockin' CD is the icing on the cake that solidifies Cosmosquad as one of the foremost Prog Rock instrumental bands on the scene today.

$ 9.00
$ 15.00
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"Cosmosquad, led by guitarist Jeff Kollman, is one of the last remaining instrumental rock outfits tearing up the Los Angeles area with unabashedly virtuosic guitar, bass and drums, and this live album, recorded at the famous Baked Potato club, amply demonstrates why: the music is good.

$15.00
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"Second album of these Americans. “Squadrophenia” is the piece of work of three great musicians: Shane Galas on the drums (who previously played for Artension), Jeff Kollman on the guitars and Barry Sparks on the bass guitar.

$15.00
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"Excellent debut by US power trio. Even if formally this band is placed under "progressive metal" tag, their music is heavy fusion. Mixing many influences, they sound very fresh ,energetic and groovy.

$15.00
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New reissue of this classic 1975 fusion album from the Finnish guitar master.  This was Jukka Tolonen's fourth solo album.  The band is stocked with a killer lineup consisting of Pekka Poyry (saxes/flute), Esa Kotilainen (organ/Clavinet/synths), Heikki Virtanen (bass), Esko Rosnell (drums).

$21.00

The latest in Svart Records ongoing series of mining through the Finnish radio archives.  This is a previously unreleased radio broadcast from 1975.  It features the master guitarist running through a lethal set of his material accompanied by a who's who of Finnish jazz rock.

$21.00

Jukka Tolonen's music was always a bit of a hybrid of progressive rock and fusion, seamlessly dancing back and forth between genres.  This third solo album, The Hook, finds him moving squarely into fusion territory and the results are phenomenal.  Blazing stuff!  Highly recommended.

$21.00

Killer violin led fusion ensemble from Finland that were basically "one and done" apart from their appearance in the Jazz Liisa archival series.  Its not all about the violin.  Great energy from guitar and keys as well.  Recommended to fans of Return To Forever and Brand X.

$21.00

Previously unrelease live sessions from Finnish radio.  This set features two smoking hot guitarists: Jukka Hauru and Nono Soderberg.

$23.00
Category:
Fusion

Jazz Q is apparently still at it - this is a new 2016 studio recording.  If you are unfamiliar with the band, you should know that Jazz Q are one of th leading jazz rock ensembles from Czech Republic. The band has always been led by Martin Kratochvil.

$16.00
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  • 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
  • Deluxe mediabook edition with one bonus track."This autumn seems to become a sophisticated season when it comes to progressive metal music. There have been already some quite exciting records that have been published; like the new album from Gazpacho and now there are two German prog bands coming with new albums too. Next to Vanden Plas it is Subsignal that offers a new journey through the world of sound."The Beacons of Somewhere Sometime" is the cryptic title of the new long player which is the forth one of the the band that arose out of the ashes of Siege Even. Brain and soul behind the band are guitarist Markus Steffens and singer Arno Menses who started Subsignal as a project in 2007. Things developed very positively and what began as a project became a fix part of the German prog metal scene."The Beacons of Somewhere Sometime" isn't build on a conceptual storyline. But there is a red thread through the various tracks on this long player. The overarching theme is about loss and parting.When it comes to the music Subsignal became harder again. The predecessor "Paraiso" was in general a bit softer with some tracks that have been close to AOR. The new album brings back heavier riffs. "Tempest" is a first indicator for this, underlined by songs like "Everything is Lost".But in the end it's not about heavier or softer when it comes to Subsignal's music. It's the band's lambent way of composing great songs that come with big melodies merged with a lot of emotional depth and thoughtfulness. "The Beacons of Somewhere Sometime" is full of those attributes and it's the passion for details, that makes Subsignal's sound complex as well as approachable also for non-musicians.This long player is the soundtrack for an exciting journey through eleven new tracks from a band that combines technical capabilities with an outstanding sense for good songs. "The Beacons of Somewhere Sometime" belongs to the highlights of 2015 and I would be surprised not finding back the album in some of the 2015 polls." - Markus' Heavy Music Blog 
    $18.00
  • James LaBrie once again that there is life outside of Dream Theater.  His solo band features a stable lineup consisting of Matt Guillory (keyboards), Marco Sfogli (guitars), Ray Riendeau (bass), Peter Wildoer (drums, death vox).  Jens Bogren once again mixed. An interesting twist to the mix is the inclusion of Soilwork's Peter Wichers who contributes some guitarwork and also collaborated on songwriting with LaBrie.While the music is square on prog metal and all in all not too dissimilar to Dream Theater its different enough to have its own vibe.  Wildoer's coarse vocal approach offers an interesting counterbalance to LaBrie's upper midrange clean voice.  The limited digipak edition comes with two bonus tracks.  Highly recommended.
    $13.00
  • We have a special offer Tiles "Pretending2Run" t-shirt/2 CD bundle.  The shirt design is courtesy of the illustrious Hugh Syme.  The new Tiles album is a 2CD set in a digipak with a 28 page book.After an eight year absence, T I L E S returns with a vengeance by delivering the mesmerizing 2-CD magnum opus “Pretending to Run.”  Clocking in at over 96-minutes, “Pretending to Run” is an ambitious and richly crafted song cycle spinning the tale of a man blindsided and disillusioned by betrayal.Once again, T I L E S teamed up with producer Terry Brown – and with mastering by Grammy award winning engineer Peter Moore, “Pretending to Run” boasts a powerful and detailed sonic landscape.  Complementing the dramatic and multi-layered storyline is Hugh Syme’s striking and surreal imagery.  Featuring a lush 28-page full-color booklet, the design and packaging for “Pretending to Run” is an elaborate and stunning work of art.Lending their talents to “Pretending to Run” is an extraordinary collection of special guest musicians: Ian Anderson (Jethro Tull), Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater, Winery Dogs), Adam Holzman (Steven Wilson Band), Mike Stern (Miles Davis), Kim Mitchell (Max Webster), Colin Edwin (Porcupine Tree), Kevin Chown (Tarja Turunen, Chad Smith), Max Portnoy (Next to None), Matthew Parmenter (Discipline), Mark Mikel (Pillbugs), Joe Deninzon, and other notable guests from the Detroit area… Destined to be on the radar of Prog fans everywhere, “Pretending to Run” is a distinctive  presentation framed in the grand traditions of progressive rock.  Clearly and unmistakably T I L E S, but infused with a more expansive sound as the guest artists propel the band into new directions sure to please fans old and new.Special guest performances by:Ian Anderson (Jethro Tull)Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater, Winery Dogs)Adam Holzman (Miles Davis, Steven Wilson)Mike Stern (Miles Davis)Kim Mitchell (Max Webster)Colin Edwin (Porcupine Tree)Kevin Chown (Tarja Turunen, Chad Smith)Max Portnoy (Next To None)Matthew Parmenter (Discipline)Mark Mikel (Pillbugs)Joe Deninzon (Stratospheerius)  
    $25.00
  • After a 10 year absence Enchant are back.  The band started in 1993 making them one of the earliest prog metal band.  Actually they are sort of an interesting band in that they seem to exist in both the prog rock and prog metal realms.  Some metal fans think of them as a bit lightweight and some prog rock fans think they are too heavy!  One thing is for sure they are wildly successful.  This is definitely prog but it never loses sight of the melody.  Fronted by the great Ted Leonard (who is now doing double duty with Spock's Beard) this one is a no-brainer - whether you are metal or prog head.  "irst impressions are the similarities to Spock’s Beard. Hardly surprising since Ted Leonard has been singing with them since 2011. He’s been with Enchant longer; their first CD came out in 1993. And familiarity doesn’t breed contempt here, fortunately.Bay area progressive rockers, they steer a straight course composing guitar-structured songs that they extemporise over. Guitarist Douglas A Ott is also the band’s main producer, with The Great Divide having been recorded at his own studio, but if in the past the band’s followed his direction they’re now more involved after a ten year gap working on other projects. Also, while integral, Ott doesn’t dominate Enchant’s sound but flows in and out adding a hard rock bias to their generic musical flavouring. Drummer/percussionist Sean Flanegan and bassist Ed Platt have the solidity of early Kansas and musically there are some pretty snazzy and often too brief keyboard solos from Bill Jenkins.A rolling cyclical bass line forms the basis of opening number ‘Circles’ with Leonard pondering life going round well, like a circle – while the lyrics aren’t profound they feel right and though this isn’t a concept album, despite the band stating otherwise, there are common themes concerning the human condition in a loosely existential manner. Mainly straight verse and choruses ‘Circles’ breaks out into more complicated time signatures before an acoustic comes to the fore, vocals return, an electric guitar take over and it concludes with a nicely warm keyboard solo. ‘Within An Inch’ follows with a steady rock backbeat over which Ott’s playing echoes Camel’s Andy Latimer interrupted briefly by some John Ellis punk-styled sirening. ‘The Great Divide’ follows suit in a more epic manner, the arrangement akin to Genesis in their golden period.Enchant don’t play with the fairies, despite what their name suggests. If anything they’re two steps removed from an AOR sound leaning in towards early Asia with some latter day Beatles thrown in, and a less grandiose take on Spock’s Beard. One might refer to them as technically proficient rather than emotionally overwrought, meaning there is a heartfelt flavour to their songs, and they tend to grow on you.The subdued opening to ‘Life In A Shadow’ throws a brief curveball echoing the Canterbury sound of Hatfield & The North before a heavy chorded chorus takes this into a rocking tune with soulful harmonies. ‘Deserve To Feel’ pours on the technical drumming and dribbling triplet bass figures with some flashy pyrotechnics predominantly on guitar but with keen keyboard flourishes, moving into a more intricate musical score as Jenkins and Ott trade inspired lines towards its conclusion. Likewise, ‘Here And Now’ builds reflectively moving towards emotional drama.Finely composed, played well, Enchant’s The Great Divide might not have you falling under its spell, but you may well be surprised how you find yourself being drawn to playing it." - The Midland Rocks
    $12.00
  • One of the great overlooked prog metal albums of the 90s made available again. This album with the odd name was only released in Japan by Toshiba-EMI in 1998. It was the debut album from this Swiss trio and featured the great Thomas Vikstrom on vocals. The music was keyboard driven, a bit off kilter and totally amazing. The band didn't release anything again until this year's Retrospective but the similarities are superficial. Retrospective is a great album but a bit more conventional. Cosmic Handball has a lot more personality. Its been remixed and remastered which can only help as the original production was a bit murky sounding. Highest recommendation.
    $5.00
  • The third album from Haken once again demonstrates why they are at the forefront of the progressive metal scene.  The first two albums Aquarius and Visions are quite different.  Aquarius is a much quirkier album - lots of twists and turns that kept you off balance through out.  It had more of a prog rock feel and some real oddball approaches that resulted in some reviewers referring to it as circus meteal.  Visions was quite different.  It was much more linear and clearly defined in terms of content.  It was a prog metal album and wonderful one at that.The Mountain is the first release for the band's new home at Inside Out.  The direction of the band takes a bit of a u-turn.  The music falls somewhere in between the first two.  There is a quirky, prog rock vibe but you get the heaviness and complexity of prog metal.  One particular track I keep going back to is "Cockroach King" which essentially pays homage to Gentle Giant's counterpoint vocals.  Regardless of which direction you preferred, The Mountain has enough diversity to go please everyone.If you want to keep track of where progressive metal is headed then climb the mountain - this is where its at.  Highly recommended.US jewel box edition with the same two bonus tracks included on the import digipak.
    $12.00
  • "Discovering new music is always a great feeling. Especially (at least to me) when you’re discovering a new band that not many people have heard yet. Back in early May my life took a change for the better when Voyager’s promoter Incendia Music sent me an email about this new band from New Haven, CA, called Earthside. I checked out the single, entitled “The Closest I’ve Come”, that was supplied with that email. I don’t think I have ever been more gobsmacked before ever. Within seconds my brain was literally strewn all across the floor. I don’t think I have recovered yet from that experience. You know when you hear a song that is so good that you’re wondering how you could have lived your life up until that point without having heard said song before? That’s how I was feeling.A Dream In Static is the title of Earthside’s debut album, and if I was blown away by the first single, it is nothing compared to what I’m feeling now. A second single, “Mob Mentality”, was released about a month ago, and it was then that I fully realised just how big this album would turn out to be. But let’s start with the basic stuff. The gentlemen in this band are Ben Shanbrom (drums), Frank Sacramone (keyboards), Jamie van Dyk (guitars) and Ryan Griffin (bass). I commend each and every one of these guys, the amount of musical brilliance on this album is through the roof. It’s like listening to a slightly more laid back version of Opeth.A Dream In Static kicks off with the first single. For many years I have struggled big time with instrumental tracks, and especially prog music in general. I have slowly gotten into the likes of Opeth and Dream Theater, but this is the song that finally won me over completely. The composition is one of total beauty, and the melody that kicks in at 1.30 is just too good for words. Mind-blowing, spine-tingling, mind-boggling, heck, whatever you want. Bring out your thesaurus, it still wouldn’t be enough. I could dedicate this entire review to the one track, but let’s move on!Next up is the second single, “Mob Mentality” features one of my favourite metal vocalists of all time, Lajon Witherspoon of Sevendust. He is the first of a handful of guest vocalists featured on this release. Lajon’s voice fits this song perfectly, I don’t know many other vocalists that can conjure up so much raw emotion, and in combination with the talent of Earthside, backed by The Moscow Studio Symphony Orchestra, this track is more like a roller-coaster ride than anything else. An intense sense of drama is seeping through every second of this 10 minute piece that also would serve as the perfect movie score. Metalsucks labeled the music video for Mob Mentality “the most impressive/insane music video of 2015”, make sure you check it out below!We move on into uncharted territories for the first time, where the title track greets us with an intro that I could swear was written by Mikael Åkerfeldt himself if I didn’t know better. Then, outta nowhere, TesseracT’s Daniel Tompkins steps in and completely dominates. I must admit that I have never listened to TesseracT before, but just because of this track I am strongly considering going to their show in Sydney next week. His soaring vocals are soul-wrenching and addictive at the same time. I would love to say that this is my favourite track on the album, but it’s simply not possible to single one out. For the first time in what feels like forever, I have encountered an album that pretty much is a definite 10/10. “A Dream In Static” makes a break towards a more djenty and groovy sound. It is a nice change of pace, and it also definitely highlights that no songs are alike on this album.Speaking of djent, there are times when such a label would be justified on this album I suppose, but at the same time the influences are so widespread, and I don’t think I could count the amount of genres on two hands. This is why Earthside remind me so much of Opeth in a way, they extract parts from the obvious ones, such as prog and melodeath, but also soul and jazz, amplify them, and make a sound that they well can call their own. I have never come across another band that sound anything like Earthside before.Next up is “Entering The Light”. Here guest Max ZT is a vital part of the sound, playing a hammered dulcimer. The melody created by this widely forgotten instrument, in combination with the MSSO, is absolutely enchanting. “Skyline” is probably the most basic/straightforward (well, everything is relative I guess) track on the album. Starting out as a full band metal jam it is a track that would work great live I’m sure. As the song progresses a beautiful piano melody takes over, just to be eradicated by the overpowering metal once again. It feels like this track is a battle between despair and hope.We’re getting closer to the end. Fellow Swede Björn Strid (Soilwork) is handling the vocal duties on “Crater”. It is really quite interesting because Björn is given the opportunity to use his softer/more melodic vocals, as well as his harsher style, which is what made him famous. The blend of vocal styles are absolutely fantastic, and I am not sure if Strid has ever produced a vocal performance like this in the past.Now, if magic mushrooms took the shape of a song, this would be it. “The Ungrounding”’s absolutely crazy underlying Infected Mushroom-esque sound is one of the most unexpected things I have heard in a while. And, just like everything else on this album, it just works. For some bizarre reason a prog metal version of Infected Mushroom makes all the sense in the world.The last track on the album, “Contemplation of the Beautiful”, is also the longest one, clocking in at 11.49. It feels very much like a cinematic intro, with some sampled sounds setting the mood. The song suddenly erupts into chaos, and Eric Zirlinger’s (Face The King) screams are absolutely earth shattering. Words simply cannot describe how massive this song is. There are twists and turns, light and darkness, and a jaw-dropping crescendo that concludes this journey that I will never forget.I am just left with two questions:  how is this a debut album? And where did this band come from? With some luck in this difficult business, I am sure that they can become one of the genre’s giants in the future. Mind = Blown." - Metal Obsession
    $12.00
  • "“Eye Of The Soundscape” features 13 experimental and highly atmospheric compositions, previously used as bonus material for the “Shrine Of New Generation Slaves” (2103) and “Love, Fear and the Time Machine" (2015) albums, alongside rare cuts (e.g. a new mix of “Rapid Eye Movement” and the single “Rainbow Trip”, so far only released in Poland) as well as 4 new songs (“Where The River Flows”, “Shine”, “Sleepwalkers” and “Eye Of The Soundscape”) into a massive +100 minutes 2CD/3LP package, which showcases RIVERSIDE’s ambient electronic side.RIVERSIDE’s Mariusz Duda explained and introduced this rather unorthodox and experimental release as follows:“I had a feeling that the sixth RIVERSIDE album might be the last chapter of a story. That the future releases might have a different sound, a different character... Unofficially, I called our latest three albums "the crowd trilogy". Each subsequent title was longer by one word – four, five, six. Six words were long enough as a title and I thought that was the one to finish it off with...Before we started a new chapter, perhaps a "new trilogy", I had an idea to release a complementary album. An album in between. An album we had always wanted to record. It wouldn't be just new music but in our case and in such configuration it would definitely be a new quality because we hadn't released such an album before.For years, we have accumulated a lot of material, a part of which was released on bonus discs. I know that some of our listeners still haven't heard those pieces and do not realise that Riverside, basically right from the start, have been experimenting with ambient and progressive electronic music. And that's always been a part of our music DNA.So I presented the idea to the rest of the band and the decision was unanimous. We decided to make a compilation of all our instrumental and ambient pieces, and release it this year as an independent album. Some of the songs would be re-mixed to make them sound better, but most of all, we'd add new compositions.At the beginning of the year, we locked ourselves in the studio and we started to compose. We even published a picture on our facebook page, in which Grudzien is holding a small keyboard as a joke. That was that recording session. We were working with smiles on our faces, genuinely excited, knowing that this time it wasn't just a bonus disc or an addition to something "bigger" but a fully fledged, independent release with that kind of music, full of space, trance, melodies and electronics. The day before I got a text message from Grudzien, "I really can't wait for this release, I have always had a dream for RIVERSIDE to release such an album."The release of “Eye Of The Soundscape” therefor also honours late RIVERSIDE guitarist Piotr Grudzinski, who tragically passed away of natural causes on February 21st, 2016.“Eye Of The Soundscape” is composed of material created between 2007-2016 and concieved in 2015/2016 at Serakos studio in Warsaw with Magda Srzednicka, Robert Srzednicki as well Mariusz Duda as producers, and the release comes packaged in artwork by RIVERSIDE’s longterm design partner Travis Smith (Opeth, Katatonia, Nevermore, etc.)."
    $12.00
  • Brilliant double live set clearly demonstrates that Mr. Hackett can still bring the thunder to the stage. The set was drawn from shows in Paris, London, and New York during the 2009/2010 tour. With a great line up and a set list that digss into his solo career as well as Genesis gems, this is impossible to pass up. Simply awesome!
    $12.00
  • The Yes Album is the second in a series of remixed and expanded Yes albums.Presented in a mini vinyl replica gatefold card sleeve (with protective inner sleeves) with booklet featuring new sleeve notes by Sid Smith, along with rare photos and archive material, the album has been mixed for 5.1 Surround Sound from the original studio masters by Steven Wilson and is fully approved by Yes.The CD features a new stereo album mix by Steven Wilson, the studio version of Clap and an extended version of A Venture.The blu-ray features:- 5.1 PCM Surround Sound and High Resolution Stereo mixes (24bit 96khz).- the original album mix in a hi-res flat transfer from the original stereo master tape source (24bit/192khz).- a complete alternate album running order drawn from live tracks, singles edits & an extended mix.- exclusive instrumental versions of all new mixes in DTS-HD Master Audio stereo (24bit/96khz).- exclusive needle-drop of an original UK vinyl A1/B1 pressing transferred in 24bit/96khz audio.The ultimate way to enjoy the album that helped establish Yes's reputation as a creative force to be reckoned with.CD - New Stereo Mixes:1. Yours Is No Disgrace2. Clap3. Starship Trooper: Life Seeker / Disillusion / Wurm4. I've Seen All Good People: Your Move / All Good People5. A Venture6. Perpetual ChangeAdditional Tracks:7. Clap (Studio Version)8. A Venture (Extended)Blu-Ray (Region 0, NTSC):Presented in DTS-HD Master Audio- Album mixed in 5.1 Surround- New Album mix- Original Album mix (flat transfer)- New Album mix (instrumental version)- Alternate version of The Yes Album drawn from live tracks, singles edits & an extended mixPlus further audio extras some exclusive to the Blu-Ray edition.NTSC, all regions, LPCM playable in all Blu-Ray players & Blu-Ray drivesBlu-Ray - Full Track Listing:New Stereo Mixes 24/96 MLP Lossless:1. Yours Is No Disgrace2. Clap3. Starship Trooper: Life Seeker / Disillusion / Wurm4. I've Seen All Good People: Your Move / All Good People5. A Venture6. Perpetual ChangeSurround Mixes (24/96 MLP Lossless):1. Yours Is No Disgrace2. Clap3. Starship Trooper: Life Seeker / Disillusion / Wurm4. I've Seen All Good People: Your Move / All Good People5. A Venture6. Perpetual ChangeOriginal Stereo Mixes (Flat Transfer from original master 24/96 MLP Lossless):1. Yours Is No Disgrace2. Clap3. Starship Trooper: Life Seeker / Disillusion / Wurm4. I've Seen All Good People: Your Move / All Good People5. A Venture6. Perpetual ChangeAdditional Material:The Alternate Album :1. Yours Is No Disgrace (Live, London 1971)2. Clap (Studio Version)3. Starship Trooper (single edit)Life seeker4. I've Seen All Good People (Live, London 1971)5. A Venture (extended mix)6. Perpetual Change (Live, New Haven 1971)Blu-Ray Exclusive:Single versions, edits & live:1. Your Move - single version, stereo2. Clap - single version, mono3. America - Live, London 19714. It's Love - Live, London 19715. Your Move - single version, monoNew Stereo Instrumental Mixes (24/96 LPCM):1. Yours Is No Disgrace2. Clap3. Starship Trooper: Life Seeker / Disillusion / Wurm4. I've Seen All Good People: Your Move / All Good People5. A Venture6. Perpetual ChangeNeedle-drop (A1/B1 UK vinyl transfer 24/96 LPCM):Original stereo, archived master transfer (Flat Transfer 24/96 LPCM):1. Yours Is No Disgrace2. Clap3. Starship Trooper: Life Seeker / Disillusion / Wurm4. I've Seen All Good People: Your Move / All Good People5. A Venture6. Perpetual Change 
    $25.00
  • "Beware! This is the first time that I have been able to review a full Haken album without any word limits or other punitive restrictions placed upon me. You have been warned…I’m going to lay my cards on the table right at the outset: Haken are one of my all-time favourite bands. Despite only being in existence for a relatively short period of time, right from their debut ‘Aquarius’ I have held them in high regard. It is a situation that has only strengthened over the years with each passing album and having had the chance to meet the band on several occasions, from interviewing the whole motley crew on their tour van at Progpower Europe in 2010 to friendly chats with various members at numerous gigs subsequently.Regardless of this however, Haken are the real deal. Yes, they are a cracking bunch of guys but crucially, they back it up with a superlative end product. Each member of Haken is a supremely talented individual with their chosen instrument(s) but together there is a real magic; an unquantifiable ‘x’ factor that leads to the creation of music that is almost peerless and jaw-droppingly good.And, on that note, let us delve into the world of ‘Affinity’.It took me quite a while to get into and appreciate ‘The Mountain’. It sounded different from what went before it; more grown-up and, ‘Cockroach King’ aside, more serious and introspective. However, in stark contrast to ‘The Mountain’, ‘Affinity’ captured my imagination right off the bat and has not failed to let go in the month or so that I’ve been listening to it. If anything, the more I listen, the better it gets.Weirdly enough, a small voice in my brain kept suggesting that it might be a good thing if ‘Affinity’ wasn’t as good an album. That way, I’d be able to tackle this review without the inevitable comments from readers about me being a fanboy and moaning that ‘you were always going to give it a high score’. But then I came to my senses.‘Affinity’ won’t be for everyone, that’s for sure. If you’re a fan of the first two albums and wanted a return to more of that sound and approach, you might be left slightly disappointed. If however, you’re open to listening to a band that refuses to tread the same path twice, a band that champions the true meaning of ‘progressive’ by trying new things whilst remaining loyal to their core principles, then ‘Affinity’ will probably have the same impact upon you as it has had on me.And what exactly is that impact? It is almost impossible to describe if I’m honest. ‘Affinity’ is an album that transcends the normal debates around whether it is good or not. Of course it is good, that almost goes without saying. I’m not a musician, so I am unable to dissect all of the technical intricacies that are present on this record. That’s not my style. Instead it’s the feelings that Haken evoke in their music that I feel the need to focus on as this is arguably the most powerful and intoxicating aspect of their incredible music.We all have them – bands that, as you listen, make you feel happy to be alive. Well, for me, Haken are one of the four or five bands on Earth that do just that.The album opens with the sampled sounds made by early computers atop a dark, cinematic soundscape that grows in intensity, building the sense of anticipation brilliantly and setting the foundations to the musical avenues to be explored within ‘Affinity’. Whilst ‘The Mountain’ was heavily influenced by the 1970s with the likes of Gentle Giant looming large within certain compositions, ‘Affinity’ takes its cue from the following decade. To be fair, this was fairly obvious after one look at the retro cover artwork and the most excellent teaser trailers released a few weeks ago. Again, the imagery might not appeal to everyone, but I really like the boldness and simplicity of the artwork that deliberately and unashamedly harks back to the analogue days of cassette tapes and vinyl.The opening instrumental segues seamlessly into ‘Initiate’, the first ‘proper’ track on the album and a barnstormer at that, a deceptively complex piece of music that acts as a real showcase for everything great about Haken in 2016. And as I listen, almost immediately, several things become clear. Firstly, ‘Affinity’ is blessed by a production and a mix courtesy of Jens Bogren (Fascination Street Studios) that is right out of the top drawer. The music sounds powerful yet with a clarity that allows every instrument to shine. Nothing is lost or overlooked and the results are simply stunning.Secondly, Ross Jennings’ vocals have taken another huge leap in the right direction. I was always one of those that took a lot of convincing over his delivery on the debut record particularly. However, he has pushed himself to the point that he is, without doubt a highly talented and accomplished vocalist with a unique, passionate delivery.Thirdly, the increase in atmospherics, of electronic sounds and textures courtesy of Diego Tejeida is also very pronounced from the outset. Not only does he create a very interesting sonic palette that weaves in and out of each composition, he injects a surprising amount of warmth to the music that could so easily have sounded cold and inaccessible.This in turn links to my final observation, that ‘Affinity’ manages to deftly and expertly merge the sounds of the past with the sounds of the future. In spite of the 1980s sheen, all nine compositions on ‘Affinity’ come across to me as fresh and exciting, with accents of djent, post-rock, ambient and all manner of other sounds bursting forth at whim.Having said all that, ‘1985’ is almost entirely immersed in the 80s. In the same way as ‘Cockroach King’ was Haken’s ‘all-out’ track on ‘The Mountain’, ‘1985’ is the song on ‘Affinity’ that throws a little caution to the wind and shows Haken at their most audacious in many respects. Synth drums, overt retro sounds and an occasional dive headlong into 80s movie soundtrack territory all take place within this ambitious composition. However, it works, retaining a homogenous feel throughout. It is made all the more special thanks to a really rousing, hooky chorus that is nothing short of addictive.The elegant ‘Lapse’ features some of Jennings’ most accomplished vocal work on this record, and indeed throughout the entire back catalogue. The vocal chords are stretched in directions that must have been really challenging but the result is gripping, full of sincerity and emotion in places.‘The Architect’ is Haken’s monster epic. At 15 minutes long, it allows the band the time to explore a number of ideas without ever feeling cluttered or disjointed. The track starts off in grand, cinematic style before exploding in a barely-controlled prog metal assault. It is here that Haken most clearly reference their earlier output as the music flits between the over-the-top excesses of the debut and the grandiose tones of ‘Visions’.I’m then reminded vaguely of Tool in the more refrained guitar work and rhythms that follow, before another memorable chorus of sorts grabs the attention. And then, the song plunges into a music abyss where everything falls away to eventually and gradually rebuild over time. The foreboding yet ambient synth sounds lay the early groundwork as the bass guitar of relative newbie Conner Green joins the fray with some exceptionally expressive, deft and highly musical work. Ray Hearne’s drumming is subtle but inspired, and the resulting guitar interplay between Richard Henshall and Charlie Griffiths is inventive, melodious and ear-catching.If that wasn’t enough, as the song ascends from the depths, the band are joined by Leprous’ Einar Solberg who adds his unique gruff vocals atop some heavy djent-like riffing before a return to the chorus and an epic lead guitar solo that rivals that of ‘Aquarium’ for spine tingling majesty.‘Earthrise’ is possibly my favourite track on the album right now. I adore the quiet and melodic opening because it fills me with a warm glow and the feeling that the world can’t be an entirely awful place if such beautiful music can be written. It develops into a composition that is bright and breezy, complimented by lyrics that have a distinctly positive vibe to them.By contrast, ‘Red Giant’ explores entirely different terrain. It is the most modern and post-rock that Haken have ever sounded and is also one of their most brooding and quietly intense compositions. The keys and rhythm section take the lead on this track, which is arguably the biggest and most consistent grower on the entire record.‘The Endless Knot’ features some delicious drum fills from Mr Hearne and more killer melodies. It also affords Diego the opportunity to go a little crazy with more zany and out-there sounds. It also allows some six-string indulgence in the shape of one of the most intricate and dextrous guitar leads at around the mid-point. The song constantly shifts direction throughout its relatively modest life, but is held together by those strong melodies which return time and again to my great delight.‘Bound By Gravity’ then closes out the album in an impossibly perfect manner. It is arguably one of the softest songs that Haken have ever penned but it is also one of the most beautiful. Acoustic guitars and more warm and inviting keys, vaguely reminiscent of Sigur Ros envelop the listener in a soothing, comforting embrace. Jennings’ soft and gentle delivery adds an almost ethereal quality to the track as it floats along on a warm current of magical melody that is both uplifting and almost heart breaking. Such is its understated and subtle beauty, I find myself smiling broadly and wiping tears from my eyes almost simultaneously.How do I sum up an album like this? I could have mentioned a million bands throughout this review, from Textures to King Crimson and beyond as indeed there are reference points all over the place if you’re of a mind to count them. However, Haken are Haken and the bottom line is that they have developed into a modern prog band that is truly unique. ‘Affinity’ is one of the best progressive albums I have ever had the pleasure to listen to but more than that, it truly moves me and I connect to it on an emotional level; it makes me smile, it makes me cry and it makes me feel alive." - The Blog Of Much Metal
    $14.00
  • The release of 2012's critically acclaimed Trouble With Machines ushered in an exciting era for Chicago-based Progressive Rock band District 97. In 2013, the band toured both Europe and the US with legendary bassist and vocalist John Wetton (King Crimson/UK/Asia), which was documented on 2014's live release, One More Red Night: Live in Chicago. 2013 also saw the band nominated for a Limelight Award by Prog Magazine. Rather than rest on their laurels, District 97 took to the studio in 2014 to record the new material they'd been honing at home and on the road. The resulting album, In Vaults, continues and accelerates the upward trajectory of great songwriting and incredible musicianship that's been evident since the band's 2010 debut, Hybrid Child. One listen perfectly illustrates why John Wetton says, “I've said it before, and I maintain that D97 is the best young progressive band around right now. Gifted players, great material, and a brilliant, charismatic singer in Leslie Hunt."In addition to its evocative and powerful songwriting and performances, In Vaults features the immaculate mixing of Rich Mouser (Spock's Beard, Transatlantic), mastering by Grammy winning engineer Bob Katz and the stunning imagery of Björn Gooßes of Killustraitions. 
    $13.00
  • Its been quite a long time since we've heard from Magic Pie.  They went through lots of trials and tribulations getting this album finished but now its finally arrived.  If you are not familiar with this band here's the deal: Magic Pie are a Norwegian band with a retro 70s sound.  The music is a bit of a high wire act balancing the neo-prog sounds of The Flower Kings with the heavier elements of classic Uriah Heep.  They also seem to be the darlings of Rosfest having played there multiple times."It's hard to believe it's been 10 years since these proggers from Norway released their promising debut "Motions of Desire". At that time, their music struck me as an enthusiastic combination of classic prog and classic hard rock. (Think Deep Purple for the hard rock side of that equation.) At their best, they offered memorable passages and pieces that sounded like they very well could have been long lost recordings from many years ago. At their worst, they sometimes fell short of filling the big shoes of the legendary bands whose music they strove to emulate. That's actually not bad for a debut album from a new prog band. I found much to like and looked forward to hearing from them again in the future.Checking back in on them a decade later, I must say that I am very impressed with how they have developed and matured. No longer do I get the feeling that certain sections of songs are direct homages to any particular band from any one particular decade of prog's illustrious history. Their influences, while still very present and valid, are now more varied, including a greater percentage of modern reference points. More importantly, their influences are just that--merely influences rather than templates or even primary reference points.The sound quality on "King for a Day" is superb thanks in large part to the enlistment of sonic genius Rich Mouser (whose resume includes similar work for prominent contemporaries like Spock's Beard, Transatlantic and Dream Theater).Keyboardist Erling Hananger is an excellent addition to Magic Pie's recipe. His keyboard parts are expressive, dynamic and integral to the music. When appropriate, his leads seamlessly blend, harmonize, and work synergistically with electric guitar.The lyrics have a melodramatic and somewhat tragic flair this time around, but this is prog so you should be accustomed to the musical ride including a few tragic tales from time to time by now, right?OK ' so it's time for the "magic" question... A decade after their debut album, how has my impression of Magic Pie changed?On "King for a Day", I now hear a band which has found "its own voice", one that resonates confidently in the space somewhere between classic arena rock of yesteryear (on prog-steroids of course) and modern melodic prog of the 21st Century (like Spock's Beard and The Flower Kings). Add a few dashes of modern prog-metal to taste and you, my friend, have baked up a very nice confection indeed... MAGIC PIE!If you love modern prog anthems with big harmonies and 'sing along' choruses, give "King for a Day" a listen! I'm glad I did!" - ProgArchives
    $15.00