Kosmigroov

Blowout pricing on this phenomenal debut solo album from the great Finnish keyboardist.  Bandstand was released on Love Records in 1975.  It features Ahvenlahti exploring modal electric jazz.  You like Fender Rhodes?  Its all over this album and more.

$13.00

Before he became an RnB star in the second half of the 70s, Norman Connors had a formidible career as a drummer in the jazz/fusion world.  He played with some serious kats and also had a series of excellent solo albums.  Two of his best albums are Dance Of Magic and Dark Of Light.

$13.00
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This came out of nowhere and was one of the top archival releases of 2016...but it flew under everyone's radar.

$30.00

"Not funk music but a demanding, innovative piece of chamber music and psychedelic avant-garde jazz, Think-Tank-Funk is an unusually daring album to appear in 1973 in Finland. Half-impossible to find on vinyl, the Svart reissue comes added with a fresh interview with Helasvuo.

$21.00

5CD budget priced set collects 5 of Joe Farrell's best work for CTI and is a nice complement to the Moon Germs release.  During his time with CTI Farrell explored electric jazz and early jazz rock sounds.

$23.00
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Some of you may be familiar with sax/flautist Joe Farrell for his work with the original and last incarnation of Return To Forever or for his stint with Elvin Jones.   Farrell had an extensive career and recorded a good chunk of his discography for Creed Taylor's CTI label.

$11.00
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"The career of pianist and composer Heikki Sarmanto spans five decades and has seem him work with various genres from jazz and avantgarde to classical and even opera. His artistic roots lie, however, in the so-called new jazz music of the sixties.

$ 9.00
$ 15.00
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"The career of pianist and composer Heikki Sarmanto spans five decades and has seem him work with various genres from jazz and avantgarde to classical and even opera. His artistic roots lie, however, in the so-called new jazz music of the sixties.

$ 9.00
$ 15.00
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"The career of pianist and composer Heikki Sarmanto spans five decades and has seem him work with various genres from jazz and avantgarde to classical and even opera. His artistic roots lie, however, in the so-called new jazz music of the sixties.

$ 9.00
$ 15.00
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Essential third album from the Mwandishi band. A pure kosmigroov classic in which the ensemble touches on African based rhythms and electric fusion.

$24.00
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  • Prospekt are a British Progressive Metal band influenced by bands such as Dream Theater, Symphony X, Opeth and Circus Maximus, as well as film scores and fusion. Prospekt combine the fierce technicality of progressive metal with the symphonic elements of contemporary prog.From brutal riffs coupled with odd time-signatures, to majestic melodies, the principle of Prospekt’s music is to create an intelligent and atmospheric mix of melodic, modern progressive metal. Incorporating passionate higher ranged vocals, frenetic guitar work, haunting orchestration and solid grooves, every composition remains both interesting and original.The Colourless Sunrise was mixed by  Adam "Nolly" Getgood of Periphery and mastered by Jens Bogren at Fascination Street.
    $13.00
  • Withem is an up and coming Norwegian progressive metal band, inspired by the likes of Symphony X, Pagan’s Mind, Dream Theater and Circus Maximus.The band started to take shape in 2011 when Øyvind Voldmo Larsen (guitars) and Ketil Ronold (keyboards) met the gifted drummer Frank Nordeng Røe. Soon they were joined by the vocal talents of Ole Aleksander Wagenius and bass duties were taken care of by the special guest Andreas Blomqvist from Seventh Wonder.Withem’s debut offers varied sonic landscapes for the listener to explore, ranging from guilty-pleasure choruses permeated with memorable vocal hooks, to symphonic epic themes.  The unique vocal range of Ole Aleksander Wagenius gives the band a distinctive touch to tackle the overcrowded progressive metal scene.The passion and dedication put into the album is emphasized by the countless hours spent in studio perfecting each individual performance and making sure that the end result is a world class blend of progressive, symphonic and power metal.The Point Of You was mastered by Markus Teske (Vanden Plas, Saga, Spock's Beard)
    $13.00
  • "Progressive rock and boy-band pop seem like natural enemies at first. The former's fascination with ornate, elongated passages of finger-exhausting musicianship is in almost every way the opposite of the latter's emphasis on catchiness first; it's hard to imagine turn-of-the-millennium hits like "Bye Bye Bye" with extended guitar and keyboard solos. Yet ever since A Doorway to Summer, their 2005 debut, Moon Safari has put to rest the notion that progressive-minded songwriters can't make pop that's as hook-driven as it is ostentatious. Grandiloquent epics like "Other Half of the Sky," from the 2008 double album Blomljud, weave together widescreen arrangements with the band's signature five-part vocal harmony, a feature unmatched by few groups in any genre, anywhere. It's easy to isolate the audience with solipsistic soloing and obtuse orchestrations, but from day one Moon Safari has made prog that—assuming the layperson were more amenable to songs that run upwards of thirty minutes—could lead them to something like a pop crossover hit.But while the union of hook-heavy vocal interplay and '70's prog stylistics gives Moon Safari an unmistakable, unique sound, it also handicapped them in a significant way for their first two LPs. The group's accessibility on A Doorway to Summer and Blomljud, along with its technical prowess, is unassailable, but the high-fructose sweetness of its style leads to a diabetic rush when stretched out onto songs that span ten to thirty minutes. For example, "Other Half of the Sky," the titanic thirty minute showstopper off of Blomljud, has so many memorable hooks that by the time it's run its time out, it's hard to remember all of them. The classic problem of "too many voices leads to a noisy room" was the defining problem of Moon Safari's otherwise enjoyable sound for some time. All that changed, however, in 2010 with the release of Lover's End.It is no exaggeration—even as the decade remains young—to say that Lover's End is one of the finest progressive rock records of the '00's. Hell, it's not even crazy to say that it's one of the finest pop albums of the '00s; anyone, even those turned off by prog's eccentricities, can find something to love on this mellifluous collection of songs. From the a cappella charm of "Southern Belle" to the hook-loaded "New York City Summergirl," Lover's End is chock full of goodness from beginning to end. What explains its genius is that in contrast to A Doorway to Summer and Blomljud, the songs are given exactly the amount of space they need, and not a second more. Some songwriters may feel hamstrung by the verse/chorus structure, but it's a perfect fit for Moon Safari's joyous approach to music.With their newest studio outing, Himlabacken, Vol. 1, Moon Safari continue the refining of their sound, and while this isn't the breakthrough that Lover's End was, it nonetheless attests to the brilliance of this group. Whereas the latter was bound by a loose concept (love and heartbreak), Himlabacken Vol. 1 is less a lyrics album than its predecessor. The cost of this is that the music is less distinct in its cohesiveness, but there are no shortage of catchy passages and amped-up solos. "Mega Moon" comes off as a tribute to musical theatre, with "The Very Model of A Modern Major General" vocal delivery interweaving with Queen-esque bombast to an impressive effect. "Too Young to Say Goodbye" sees and matches the polyharmonic beauty of "Lover's End (Part One)." By sticking to concise song formats—the longest cut here runs nine and a half minutes—Moon Safari ensures that things never run out of steam, an essential quality to any good progressive rock band.If nothing else, Himlabacken, Vol. 1 proves that there's one thing Moon Safari can't be accused of: being unaware of themselves. Grand finale "Sugar Band" is as much a statement of identity as it is a slice of epic pop: "Sweet and saccharine are we," they declare, followed by "syrup's the blood in our veins." (Less successful is the clumsy Katy Perry innuendo of, "suck our big candy canes," which is thematically consistent but tonally off.) Both "Sugar Band" and "Little Man," one of the few Moon Safari songs to feature a solo vocal, are emblematic of the mushiness that might turn some prog fans away from their music. The latter, while obviously a touching document of a father's love for his son, does feel a bit out of place in how deeply personal it is; part of the strength of this group's sonic is the universality of its pop appeal, and the intimacy behind "My Little Man" makes listening to it an almost voyeuristic experience. "Mega Moon" and "Sugar Band" are better at capturing the convivial spirit of the band that's accessible to all.As with past outings, even those drawn to vocal harmonies might find it hard to stomach all of the sweetness of Himlabacken, Vol. 1. But what ultimately makes this LP successful is its unpretentious commitment to fun. Moon Safari are a rare collective that prove daunting musical chops aren't anathema to accessibility, and with Himlabacken, Vol. 1 they've made a recording that, while not the magnum opus that Lover's End was, is as true a capturing of their ethos as there could ever be. Sating a sweet tooth brings to mind the phrase "guilty pleasure," but there's no guilt involved with music as first-class as this. Who knew being in a boy band could sound so classy? " - Sea Of Tranquility
    $16.00
  • OH MY GOD!!! This Polish band sounds so much like Riverside that the album must have been written with tracing paper. No wonder - Riverside vocalist Mariusz Duda was an original member of Xanadu years ago. The band broke up but Xanadu's drummer put together a new version of the band in 2008.Not original in any way shape or form but if you want something to tide you over until the next Riverside disc arrives maybe this will scratch your itch. Its well done - just not one original idea here.  Probably the best of all the Riverside clones.
    $3.00
  • Excellent US neoprog that will appeal to fans of Marillion and Iluvatar.
    $3.00
  • Latest studio album from this outstanding band from Sweden.  The best thing about Beardfish is their ability to be contemporary but they blend in just enough old school sounds to appeal to the entrenched prog fan base.  The band never quite sounds retro yet they incorporate vintage keys and guitar sounds. Chalk this up to great songwriting. On their previous album, The Void, something went amiss and it didn't sit well with their fans.  The band had taken on a heavier edge touching on metal.  Well have no fear - the band has jettisoned all metal trappings and have returned to the sound of the earlier albums.  Swirls of organ and Mellotron are everywhere and the unmistakeable sound of the Rickenbacker bass will slam you in the gut.  Are you are fan of Anekdoten, Gentle Giant, King Crimson, or even The Flower Kings?  You need to hear this.With regards to the bizarre album title here is a clue from the band:“The comfort zone is the invisible protective suit of negative thinking, almost like an entity of itself. It’s been with you since birth: your parents and your teachers and your friends and your neighbours all teaching you the way the world works – this is how it is and will be and there’s nothing you can do about it. The negative vibe is like a voice living inside of you, a companion through life. With time you start to like that voice and the place it takes you to: your comfort zone. I’m so sick and tired of it and I want to address it and maybe in that way start to work my way out of it”+4626 Comfortzone comes with a bonus CD featuring 13 previously unreleased demo and outtake tracks spanning 2002-2008.BUY OR DIE!
    $12.00
  • This was formerly known as the Full Power release.At the moment Big Big Train are one of the best prog bands going.  This English crew take some of the best elements of old school Genesis and their ilk and marry it with something very contemporary and relevant.  The band was started years ago by Greg Spawton and Andy Poole.  There were a variety of iterations of the band and as the years went on they got better and better.  If you don't know, their vocalist Dave Longdon was a finalist to replaced Phil Collins in Genesis.  Rutherford and Banks obviously made the wrong choice, going with Ray Wilson instead.  Longdon's vocals remind very much of Gabriela and Collins making the Genesis connection quite easy.  Further on the band added Nick D'Virgilio on drums.  These guys totally grok prog.The band's most recent work was epic in nature.  English Electric was released about six months apart as two separate releases.  Further to this, there were 4 additional tracks which were left off and just released as the Make Some Noise EP."Originally released as two separate albums in 2012 and 2013, the English Electric CD's were subsequently brought together as a limited edition (and now out of print) double album called English Electric Full Power, a release which included four additional songs and a revised track listing from the separate album versions.This new double album version of the English Electric CD's retains the extended track listing of the Full Power release and has been remastered by Rob Aubrey to ensure the songs benefit from even greater dynamic range. It is presented in a softpack with a 40 page booklet."
    $12.00
  • Now here is a beautiful slice of contemporary progressive rock.  Anubis is an underrated band from Australia - bands down under don't seem to get the attention they deserve.  Hitchhiking is their third full length album.  2011's A Tower Of Silence was a big hit around here and frankly when it arrived it came as a huge surprise.  This long awaited follow up reinforces that the prog rock world needs to take notice.  The music has a cinematic Floyd-like feel.  Vocals from Robert James Moulding are emotion driven and have plenty of impact.  This is not a band who's music is filled with tons of soloing but what's here is solid.  In other words this is not old school prog - its very forward thinking but with a modern sound.  Highly recommended."I have long dreamt of an Australian progressive rock album that would inspire me to click the repeat button, in order to drift through its world all over again, and I am happy to declare that Hitchhiking to Byzantium has been on constant rotation for weeks at this point. Bringing an enchanting blend of Floydian melancholy and the energy of Rush to the table, Anubis have come to stake their claim as heavyweights in the Oz scene with their third opus.Whilst being equally impressed with their 2011 album A Tower of Silence (which I have only just heard recently also), I have found myself returning to Byzantium more to explore the subtle nuances contained within the album’s ten tracks. ‘Fadeout’ as an opening diddy is like riding a gentle breeze for just a short while before being swept up in all the drama and opulence of ‘A King with No Crown’, a reference quality track on every level, cinematic in scope and full of drama and tension and certainly an inspired choice as opening single for the album. ‘Dead Trees’ is a classic prog cut with all the bells and whistles sporting a vocal performance that harkens to a young James Labrie and a chorus that will have you by the balls from the first time you hear it.I mentioned a notable influence from Floyd and Rush earlier, but if I was to be honest, I would love to ask them if they are fans of American prog band Tiles and those wonderful Brits Anathema, because both bands are called to mind on this album amongst others like Sweden’s Anekdoten. The title track is a sublime centrepiece and features a plaintive aura that is sent soaring when spine-tingling female backing vocals lace the chorus. It’s so hard to choose a favourite song when they are all so filled with creamy goodness, but any of these three  - ‘Blood is Thicker than Common Sense’ (a seductive groover), ‘Tightening of the Screws’ (a majestic slice of melancholia reminiscent of early The Pineapple Thief) or ‘Partitionists’ (a lyrical and musical marvel) - could easily take the title for this humble listener.The final triptych features dark drama in ‘Crimson Stained Romance’, a song that reminded me most of a classic Floyd epic, the 15+ minute ‘A Room with a View’, which is nothing short of a sweeping symphony of moods and tones and the closing ‘Silent Wandering Ghosts’ sounds exactly like its title would suggest, haunting and transcendent with an outro to die for.These seven talented lads are a gifted lot, with every performance of outstanding quality, enhanced by a jaw-dropping production that let’s every instrument tell its own little story and play its part in this emotionally resonant work that as the band state themselves: "I feel that there's more of us in there - the hurdles that life throws at us and the only way to feel true inner peace - by examining the love around you. It's certainly an introspective record - but it's real life. It's about you, it's about me, it's about all of us. Hitchhiking to Byzantium. That journey is life."And somehow I believe them." - Loud Mag
    $15.00
  • 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
  • I can't remember a buzz on a band's debut since Circus Maximus.  Perhaps due to the album being released in Japan a year ago and its unavailability elsewhere, maybe because they are lined up to play ProgPowerUSA.  Whatever the reason the album finally gets a wide debut and it was worth the wait.  Damnation Angels is a British symphonic metal band fronted by a Norwegian singer.  He goes by the name PelleK and was a contestant on Norway's version of X Factor.  The band's stock in trade is epic sounding metal that pays a huge debt to Kamelot.  The instrumental passages take on the grandeur and scope of Nightwish.  PelleK does a sold job out front - he's obviously listened to a Khan quite a bit.  Highly recommended.
    $14.00
  • "Even though it has been a good forty years since the Swedish sextet Kaipa first appeared on the music scene, it was only back in 2012 and through exposure to their then latest studio album “Vittjar” that I was first introduced to their unique blend of melody-driven Progressive/Folk Rock.With that album having created such an impression, listening and reviewing the band’s latest material was something that I was more than keen on doing – perhaps in an attempt to discover whether founding keyboardist Hand Lundin & Co had managed to take full advantage of the positive press generated by the above-mentioned release.Soon the possibility to review “Sattyg” was presented to me and jumped at the opportunity. So, let’s see what Kaipa’s twelfth studio album has to offer.Similarly to its predecessor, “Sattyg” contains an interesting collection of thematically varied but pleasantly deceptive compositions, and, as you will soon find out, the word “deceptive” is complimentary.As I mentioned before, melody is an integral element in the band’s music, so what’s bound to initially and immediately attract your attention are various emotive vocal themes provided by the duet Patrik Lundström/Aleena Gibson, Per Nilsson’s flamboyant performances on the six string and/or Hand Lundin’s intelligently-crafted 70s themes keyboard parts.There is, however, a wealth of beautiful and cleverly hidden themes, mainly offered by the band’s dead-tight rhythm section, that only those of you willing to spend time on really listening to “Sattyg” will really profit from; these themes gradually reveal themselves to you every time you choose to revisit this beautiful album.Never the ones to shy away from a challenge, the members of Kaipa introduce their latest album with the epic-sounding “A Map Of Your Secret World” – what can only be described as fifteen minutes of pure musical joy!Opening with a stunning vocal melody by Aleena Gibson, the song works through a thematically challenging section that will make most Progressive Rock fans happy before evolving into a Folk tune whose memorable vocal lines are bound to stay with you for a while.Since joining Kaipa back in 2000, Aleena has helped shape the character of band’s second incarnation and no song demonstrates that better than “World Of The Void” – a composition filled with her strong and passionate performances.Dark vocal themes and jazzy rhythmical parts and clever bass lines characterise the appropriately-named “Screwd-upness” while the same-titled “Sattyr” find the band bring strong Kansas-influences to the surface in their attempt to indulge in their much-loved Folk Rock melodies.It should come as no surprise to anyone that the second most important composition of the album is also fairly long. Featuring stunning violin melodies, clever choral themes and a beautiful melody which is carrier by all instruments in clear succession, “A Sky Full Of Painters” is another impressive exercise in technical dexterity, while “Unique When We Fall” a great vocal duet by Lundström/ Gibson.Ever-changing rhythmical themes and a healthy parade of impressive melodies also characterise the nine and a half minute “Without Time – Beyond Time” – a song that offers a fitting, as well as a rewarding conclusion to this absolutely delightful album.It takes a very talented and pretty harmonious group of musicians in order to create an album as thematically challenging and approachable as “Sattyg”.There have been countless occasions, while listening to the seven compositions on offer, when I found myself lost in Jonas Reingold’s soulful bass themes, stunned by the flamboyant nature of Nilsson and Lundin’s melodies and/or captivated by the vocal contribution of both Lundström and Gibson, all of which convinced me that the album, the CD version of which I soon plan to add to my collection, is one that deserves every praise possible.Another great quality release by a band that’s clearly at the top of its game." - Get Ready To Rock
    $15.00
  • "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
  • "Despite what the name might lead you to think, progressive metal is among the most static and boring of all heavy music genres. Half the bands that fall under the moniker exist merely as a vehicle to show off the skills of the players involved, which is fine in small doses, but rarely sustains a creative career. The other half of the bands stick rigidly to the blueprint of one of the fore-bearers of the genre, giving us music that sounds exactly like something we've already heard. Very little of progressive metal is actually interesting, because it is a genre that lacks people dedicated to the art of songwriting. Songs are what makes any band successful, no matter how much sheer musical skill they possess. Dream Theater didn't get to where they are just because they are amazing musicians, they also wrote a slew of great songs and albums. The number of progressive metal bands who have impressed me with their songwriting in recent years is miniscule, but I mention all of this because Ascendia is one of them.As “At The End Of It All” swells into focus with a tribal drum beat and chanted vocals, it's already obvious that this is not going to be prog-by-numbers. The song kicks into gear with a syncopated guitar riff, before the vocals soar over the top of everything, slapping a thick coat of melody atop the sound. There's a quiet section in the middle of the song that feels like a cousin of Killswitch Engage, which is a fresh sound to hear in this kind of music. When it opens back up into the chorus, the song is massive, and it's hard to believe all of that music was contained in five and a half minutes.The songs on the album are more bite-sized than typical progressive metal, but that plays into the band's strengths as songwriters. By keeping the songs lean and tight, they hit harder than if the instrumental sections had been extended by a minute here and there. There is interesting playing going on, but it's all done within the framework of the songs, and never put out front to dominate the spotlight. It's an approach that is smart not just because of how easy it is to get bogged down in instrumental pyrotechnics, but because an album of that sort would never be able to survive the Herculean vocal presence of singer Nick Sakal.With more than a little bit of similarity to the former singer of the aforementioned Killswitch Engage, Howard Jones, Sakal's vocals dominate the album, making you wonder where a voice like that could have come from. His baritone is warm, rich, and not at all what you would expect to hear in a band that isn't playing down-tuned hardcore.But what is most important are the songs, and that's where Ascendia proves themselves as standouts. Whether tackling more modern fare like “Remember Me”, or more traditionally melodic songs like “Moonchild”, there's a phenomenal blend of heavy riffing and soaring melody. I can't tell you how rare it is to hear a progressive metal band that is so in tune with melody, and can write songs that could stand up if they were stripped down to the chord structure and the vocals. We get an example of that with the duet ballad, “The Song That You Deserved”, a largely piano and voice song that is as beautiful as it is heart-breaking. Ascendia's ear for songs is excellent, and that is what makes “The Lion And The Jester” such an engaging listen. Song after song, there's a warm and inviting chorus waiting to wrap its arms around you after you've heard the heavy and intricate moments.This year has been off to a ridiculously great start, with at least half a dozen legitimately great records having already come my way. Add “The Lion And The Jester” to that list, because Ascendia is making progressive metal the way it was always supposed to be. Both challenging and gratifying, intense and cathartic, “The Lion And The Jester” is a phenomenal piece of work that reminds me of the very best progressive metal I've ever heard. This is an album you need to hear.Oh, and how awesome is that cover art? That is one album that will look as good as it sounds in a collection." - Bloody Good Horror
    $10.00
  • "You have to give it to them… Vanden Plas certainly have a sense for the dramatic, grandiose, the literary, the overblown, the theatrical… and then some!As its title suggests, ‘Chronicles Of The Immortals - Netherworld II’ is the second part of a symbiosis the Teutonic progsters have formed with collaboration with the multi-million selling German author Wolfgang Hohlbein, whose duotych of novels of the same name Vanden Plas frontman Andy Kuntz helped to bring to musical life in a series of sold-out theatrical performances during the 2012 and 2013 seasons. Subsequently, Kuntz led his band on the ambitious journey of bringing the novels to a wider musical audience with two thematic CDs.Now, I’m going to be brutally honest here and admit that I’m familiar with neither the novels in question, or the first part of their musical accompaniment… from what I can gather, however both left the hero of the story - the immortal Andrej Delãny – facing up to the perfidious plans of the dark “Godmaker”, while the second half of the story sees its hero delivered into a further darkness from which his own sense of self-awareness sees him eventually emerge into the light of his own salvation… or something like that!Unfamiliarity with the literary and lyrical background to this album (as well its musical predecessor) initially made this a difficult listen, as I struggled to comprehend the underlying thematic in each regard. However, as it progresses, it possesses a dark and dreamy entrancement, which grabs you in its poetic embrace and caresses you with its strange, extremely enigmatic charm, leading you deep into an opus of truly epic proportions.Kuntz’ vocal is outstanding. His depth and warmth possesses a dark soulfulness which enchants and hypnotizes, drawing the listener into the layers of the musical interpretations of his lyrics. Günter Werno’s keyboards soar and swell, while at the same time dropping diplomatically into the background to make way for Stephan Lill’s sublime guitar work, which crunches and grinds on the album’s denser moments as much as it seers its layered harmonics, which build the layers of each song to their logical conclusion.‘Chronicles…’ drives its story forward with the quality and zest of a good novel. A knowledge of the latter work on which it is based perhaps would aid a better understanding of its inherent message and motive, but the lack of same does not denigrate from the quality of the listening experience, which is an ultimately rewarding and satisfying one." - Uber Rock
    $15.00