Classic Rock

"Eric Clapton's new millennium has largely been defined by collaborations with friends, beginning with a duet album with B.B. King following through with a Cream reunion and closing with tours with his former Blind Faith running mate, Steve Winwood.

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Classic Rock

"The full-blown rock opera about a deaf, dumb, and blind boy that launched the band to international superstardom, written almost entirely by Pete Townshend.

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"In late 1971, Rainbow Bridge premiered signature classics such as "Dolly Dagger" and further outlined the exciting new creative direction in which Hendrix had steered his music.

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"Fans of iconic rock band THE DOORS are in for something special. The group s final album--1971 s L.A. WOMAN, with the signature hits L.A. Woman, Love Her Madly and Riders On The Storm --is being celebrated with a special two-CD release from Rhino.

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"REO Speedwagon built their audience through constant touring. Often, their live shows were more exciting than their records, which is what makes You Get What You Play For, a live run-through of their greatest hits, one of their better records of the era." - Allmusic

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"As soon as REO Speedwagon's second album -- aptly titled T.W.O. -- kicks off with "Let Me Ride," it's clear that the band has made some significant strides in gaining a personality.

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"You Can Tune a Piano, But You Can't Tuna Fish was a breakthrough album for REO Speedwagon in a sense, gelling the guitar craft of Gary Richrath and the vocals of Kevin Cronin with songs that rambled and rolled and never stopped for air.

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"Many albums have scaled to the top of the American charts, many of them not so good, but few have been as widely forgotten and spurned as REO Speedwagon's Hi Infidelity. In a way, the group deserved this kind of success.

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"A year after Les Paul's death, Jeff Beck saluted the guitar pioneer by staging a rousing tribute show to the great man at Paul’s regular stomping ground, the Iridium Jazz Club.

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"Amigos is the first Santana album that doesn't attempt to break new ground. The several styles Carlos Santana has delved into over the past decade have been consolidated into a varied, multidimensional album.

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  • THIS NORTHERN VIRGINIA BASED BAND is a three-piece at heart, musically rooted in the raw energy and rhythmic interplay of RUSH and KING’S X. Fans of dark, guitar-driven rock bands from ALICE IN CHAINS, DEFTONES to the contemporary metal riffing of LAMB OF GOD and PANTERA, will connect to the heavy core of IRIS DIVINE’s sound. Add to that progressive complexity and moody synths inspired by DREAM THEATER and PORCUPINE TREE, and a liberal dose of memorable hooks and melodies, to understand some elements of IRIS DIVINE’s sound. And yet, the band has a distinct identity, not quite sounding like any of the aforementioned bands, and with an emotional urgency that pulls subtly from alternative and other influences.KARMA SOWN IS A TRIUMPH OF A DEBUT ALBUM, immediate and memorable but revealing layers and depth upon repeated listens."Progressive metal is in a rough period right now. The old guard are either releasing sub-standard albums that only make it more obvious how far they have fallen, or they are drastically uncool with anyone who didn't become a fan when progressive metal was first being created. Progressive today tends to mean djent, a style that has sapped all the life and humanity out of music, turning metal into a math equation of time signatures, and not songs that anyone can actually remember. There was a time when progressive metal remembered the ultimate goal of music; to have listeners enjoy the songs so much they would return to them again and again. Today, progressive metal is mostly the sort of music that could pass for muzak, if you don't turn the volume up too loud.Iris Divine wants to change that. They set out with the mission of writing progressive metal that is intricate and challenging, but still produces the kind of songs that listeners who don't have an advanced degree can love and sing along to. It's a challenge, and it goes against the tide, but it's a desperately needed revolution if progressive metal is going to flourish anytime in the near future.I knew from hearing the pre-release track “A Suicide Aware” that Iris Divide was special, and the full album reinforces the point. “The Everlasting Sea” comes out of the gates with plenty of tricky riffing and unusual rhythms, but they lead into big melodies with strong hooks and vocals. Their progressive playing isn't meant for show, it's a tool used to set a tone that juxtaposes with the more melodic moments. Finding the proper balance between these elements is not easy, and many a band have failed miserably trying to do so, but Iris Divine doesn't. On their debut record, they show a skill some bands have spent their entire careers failing to learn.What I love most about the record is that it can be seen in many different lights. If you like straight-ahead metal, there is plenty of heavy riffing and pounding drumming here to keep you satisfied. If you like progressive music, these songs have twists and turns, and Rush-like keyboards, in enough quantity to match the djent crowd. And if you're a fan of old-school radio rock, the choruses in these songs will be music to your ears. Keeping all three of these in mind at the same time can be tricky, but it's worth the effort.For being a trio, “Karma Sown” is a massive sounding record. The production is flawless, big and clear, without ever sounding too polished. The heavy parts are heavy, the vocals are up front, and you would never believe this was a self-produced record that was crowd-funded. I can put it up against many, many of the big label releases, and it would win the fight.In fact, I can think of a dozen so-called progressive metal bands that should immediately hand over their label contracts to Iris Divine, because it's a crime that a band that is advancing progressive metal in the right direction doesn't have the backing of one of the labels. Not to name names, but this album would be bigger than half of the progressive metal released this year if it had the media push behind it.In case you haven't noticed, what I'm saying is that “Karma Sown” is a fantastic debut, and the future of progressive metal. Iris Divine isn't a Dream Theater clone, and they're not djent. What they have done is integrate all the strains of progressive metal into a singular sound, one that could set the standard moving forward. If every band sounded this good, progressive metal wouldn't need to be underground. “Karma Sown” is the best progressive metal album of the year, bar none." - Bloody Good Horror
    $13.00
  • Steven Wilson's solo career apart from Porcupine Tree, is for this listener, far more interesting.  Whereas PTree currently skirts the line between rock and metal, his solo work fits squarely in the progressive rock arena.  The Raven That Refused To Sing (and other stories) is easily his magnum opus.  The musicianship is stellar - he recorded with his touring band: Nick Beggs (Stick), Guthrie Govan (guitar), Adam Holzman (keys), Marco Minnemann (drums), and Theo Travis (flute, sax).  Mr. Wilson has also dug two things out of mothballs - King Crimson's Mellotron and Alan Parsons.  It was Steven Wilson's wish to one day work with Alan Parsons, who came on board as engineer.  I can't tell you who is responsibile for what but I can tell you that the production is impeccable.  The opening epic "Luminol" drips with the holy 'tron sounding like a cross-generation blend of King Crimson eras.  And so it goes through out the album.  Some utterly fierce playing on this album.  From beginning to end a stunning effort.  BUY OR DIE!
    $11.00
  • Edensong is a progressive rock quintet from New York City.  The band's self-released 2008 debut "The Fruit Fallen" was hailed as a "masterpiece" by critics, and helped to pave the way for live shows and notable festival appearances throughout North America.At over 70 minutes of new music, their 2016 followup, "Years in the Garden of Years" is even more ambitious than it's predecessor, and will be sure to appeal to fans of both classic progressive rock and metal.  The concept album features an extended song cycle on themes of time, each song a different scale and perspective.  The melodies are more memorable, the riffs more powerful, the flute playing more inventive and propulsive.  The songs prominently feature immersive new textures, from lush keyboard and orchestral arrangements to esoteric percussion from around the world, such as hang drum and Balinese gamelan.   "Years in the Garden of Years" is mastered with audiophile precision by Grammy winning engineer Bob Katz, and the CD release features stunning original cover art and booklet illustrations from beloved surrealist painter Dan May. 
    $13.00
  • "Clive Nolan and his Neo-hard rocking companions return for the eighth Arena album in twenty years, `The Unquiet Sky', taking inspiration from (without being a direct interpretation of) M.R James' short story `Casting the Runes'. It's easy to see why the ghostly tale of supernatural intrigue and occult mystery from 1911 would appeal to Mr Nolan, and the album reveals plenty of the sleek and heavy symphonic rock with poetic lyrics that the British band is known for. The previous disc `The Seventh Degree of Separation' was a divisive and somewhat controversial release for a new line-up of the group that now included vocalist Paul Manzi, a transitional album that saw them adopting a more streamlined hard rock/metal sound. But long-time fans of the group will be pleased to know that, while there are still similarities to that previous album here and there, the much-loved symphonic atmospheres the band was known for are given more focus again, meaning a better balance of these two qualities together to create a truly sublime Arena work.Some of the twelve tracks on offer still retain a hard-rock flavour, but everything an Arena fan could hope to discover is all present and accounted for here. After a more low-key performance on the previous album, virtuoso keyboardist/composer Clive Nolan is center stage again over the entire disc. Not only are his exquisite synths constant and upfront, but the artist has also implemented plenty of theatrical and orchestral symphonic textures into the group this time around, his recent work with the `Alchemy' musical being obvious right from the start, and these theatrical flourishes are a perfect fit for the group. Vocalist Manzi made a promising and reliable debut as singer for the group on `...Separation', but here he lifts his game considerably and offers endless more vocal variety. Better worked into the group, he is equally at home with heartfelt ballads, theatre flair and chest-beating rockers, and he has really become a perfect frontman for the band. Kylan Amos from Nolan's own `Alchemy' production replaces bass player and IQ member John Jowitt and makes an impressive debut here, ex-Marillion drummer perfectly drives the music forwards and It Bites/Kino/Lonely Robot guitarist John Mitchell delivers his usual tasteful and commanding guitar flair.Of several of the highlights, listen out for the gleefully wicked and wondrous orchestral pomp that opens the album that could easily be an outtake from Mr Nolan's `Alchemy' show, the infernal and overwhelming church organ intimidation of `The Demon Strikes' and especially the shimmering dark reggae (yes, really!) chimes and sleek electronics of the thrashing `No Chance Encounter', where Kylan's bass really glides. `The Bishop of Lufford' perfectly mixes ghostly gothic mystery with soaring symphonic prog and muscular hard rock (and wait for that hair-tearing heavy finale!). `Oblivious to the Night' is a fragile little piano interlude with whimsical synths and a thoughtful vocal, `Markings on a Parchment' is an eerie dream-like introspective instrumental, and Mitchell's extended guitar solo in the classy title track even brings to mind Nolan's other band Pendragon.Cascading classical piano spirals with snarling brooding guitars in `What Happened Before', and Clive delivers an overload of delirious synth soloing goodness on both `Time is Running Out' and `Returning the Curse' in the best Nolan tradition that his fans always love to hear! `Unexpected Dawn' is a strong ballad with warm Hammond organ and soothing acoustic guitar, and the ambitious seven minute closer `Traveller Beware' finds time for plenty of ghostly gothic tension, punchy plodding heavy riffs, creeping piano and a stirring repeated chorus with a dark lyric.But special mention has to go to glorious power balled entitled `How Did It Come To This?'. It's a glorious emotional tune with a sombre piano melody, delicate orchestration and dreamy lyrics, carried by a perfectly controlled yet soaring vocal from Manzi. A restrained unfolding guitar solo from Mitchell in the middle ensures it may be one of the truly most heartfelt pieces ever to appear on an Arena album, and it's certainly one of their most purely romantic musical statements to date.Along with typically fascinating and surreal proggy cover artwork and a lavish CD booklet (but what a shame there doesn't seem to be a vinyl version in the works so far), `The Unquiet Sky' is one of the most lavish, sophisticated and varied Arena albums to date, and certainly one of their most endlessly melodic. It's a fine return to form for the Neo prog institution, and it really shows what this latest line-up is capable of, so hopefully even more impressive music is to come from the mighty Arena!" - ProgArchives
    $16.00
  • "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
  • After spending some time battling (and winning) a life threatening disease, Andy Latimer has reactivated Camel.  The reassembled lineup consists of Andy Latimer (guitar, flute, keys), Colin Bass (bass), Guy LeBlanc (keyboards), and Denis Clement (drums).  Latimer recently took the band on a short European tour (it will be ongoing in 2014).  I'm not sure of the motivation to re-record The Snow Goose.  Perhaps it was so he had new merch to sell on the tour.  I honestly don't know but here it is.For the most part this new version is quite faithful to the original.  There are some new bits and pieces that integrate well and won't give you pause.  Of course each of the musicians add their own signature to the production.Good to see him back up and running full blast.
    $16.00
  • Superb return to form from these German masters of melodic progressive metal. Beyond Daylight exhibits many similarities to The God Thing and may well prove out to be their best effort yet.
    $15.00
  • Riverside's fifth studio album finds them in a continuing state of refinement of their sound.  While they continue to touch on the bands that were the original foundation of their sound (Porcupine Tree, Pink Floyd, Opeth) the music seems to take on a more atmospheric feel.  At the same time 70s style keyboards creep in more and more.  Michal Lapaj's use of Hammond organ lends a Lord-ian flair when the band ramps up the heaviness.  The spacey flavors of Eloy that appears on Out Of Myself reappear just at the right time.  It seems that Marius Duda's Lunatic Soul side project has cross polinated a bit with the mothership.  His emotion driven vocals once again prove why he is one of the best frontmen in the entire progressive music scene.  This is one of those albums that will take many spins to really allow it to divulge all its secrets.  The domestic edition arrives as a 2CD digipak.  The second bonus disc contains 2 extensive instrumental jams of total blissed out space.  What more to say?  Highest recommendation.
    $14.00
  • THE 4 DISC 40 PAGE HARDBOUND EDITION INCLUDES A CD WITH BONUS TRACKS, 5.1 SURROUND (24/96 DTS) AND HI-RES STEREO 24/96 LPCM) MIXES ON BOTH DVD AND DTS LOSSLESS BLU-RAY. "Nothing is more consistent in the world than change. In the realm of music, change either comes with the speed of an arthritic glacier, or so fast the music community is left breathless trying to keep up; there rarely seems to be any middle ground. As far as bands and their evolution go, they fall into two categories: bands who virtually never change their sound, and bands that do so frequently. Fans as a general rule seem hostile to bands changing their sound, “selling out” being the most common accusation. A key factor of successful change is that a band has to be able to do it well, and their new sound must stand up against other albums with such a sound.With that in mind, few bands have been so consistent, not only in changing but changing well as Liverpool’s Anathema. They started out as a slow and heavy doom metal band, and they were very good at it. Over time they left that far behind – indeed it is now all but a distant memory, with many newer fans being hardly familiar with those early albums. They evolved, adding alternative and progressive rock touches, but always sounding like themselves: dark, melancholy, and deeply emotional. They hit the peak of their progressive sound with 2012’s highly acclaimed ‘Weather Systems’ and followed it up with the stylistically similar ‘Distant Satellites’ in 2014, which I felt was rather underwhelming and derivative of the previous. Anathema, however, have changed themselves again with the upcoming ‘The Optimist.’  While retaining hints of their progressive flavor, it is heavily electronic in nature – one could say moody, dark electric pop. And, unsurprisingly, given their track record, they have delivered another excellent and engaging album.The genesis of the new album lies in their 2001 album ‘A Fine Day To Exit,’ an album which tells the story of a man and his attempt to escape from his life, its problems, and possibly start anew. The story was unresolved, and his fate unknown, and so the narrative of this new album is meant to answer the question of his fate. The album starts with the brief “32.63n 117.14w” which are the coordinates of Silver Strand beach in San Diego, the character’s last known location and the beach where the cover for ‘Fine Day’ was taken.  The album begins with the sound of crashing waves and a man walking through sand panting for breath before entering his car and flipping through radio stations until a steady electronic beat begins. It flows directly into “Leaving it Behind” where the first guitar picking of Vincent and Daniel Cavanagh begins and the album launches into one of the few true rockers of the album. The track is classic Anathema of recent years; Daniel’s rich voice soars over strongly melodic yet driving prog-tinged rock driven by the crisp drumming and percussion work of Daniel Cardoso and John Douglas. This song will make a perfect opening number for upcoming shows and will leave any fan of the band pleased and looking forward to more.The album continues with the string and electronic dominant “Endless Waves” which is sung by the band’s other lead singer, the lovely, crystal-voiced Lee Douglas, who officially joined the band in 2010. It has become common over the last few albums for Daniel and Lee to trade off the lead vocal duties on the first and second tracks and then mix it up through the rest of the album, and ‘The Optimist’ follows that pattern. The tracks continue the character’s journey quite literally with the instrumental “San Francisco” and then “Springfield,” which continues his quest to either disappear completely, or find himself and come to grips with his life. The piano and electronic aspects are especially highlighted through here, and the keyboard work of the two brothers is never flashy but just enough to capture the emotion. The rise and fall of the music and is handled with finesse quite beautifully.As with much of their previous work, the atmosphere of the album is as important as the individual songs. With the addition of so much electronic key work, the result is an almost urban feeling that hovers over the whole album. In that way, it is not dissimilar to Ulver’s excellent ‘Perdition City’ with its overall feeling of isolation in the midst of millions of people. And by often commenting on the electronic feel of the album, I do not mean to imply that it is an electronic album in the way that the previously mentioned Ulver album is. There are plenty of guitars and rock moments along the way, only the electronics hover over the album in a way they have not done on earlier albums. This mix of old and new blends in a manner which makes it familiar while still being unexpected, fresh, and unmistakably, Anathema.The band does go into a very different direction from anything they have done on the Douglas sung “Close Your Eyes,” which can accurately be called a lounge jazz number. Mostly piano driven with moody horn work and light jazzy drumming, one can imagine the character sitting in a dim, smoky jazz club sipping a drink while Lee is on stage singing to a small crowd. It was an unexpected twist, but works very well. Daniel picks up the vocal duties again on the much more familiar sounding and sparsely sung “Wildfires.” It finds the character questioning who he is before a climactic building of pounding drums and crunchy guitars largely overwhelm the floating vocals which end with the repeating line, “it’s too late” before quieting back down and moving into the final song “Back to the Start.”Fittingly with such a title, the album closes as it began with the sound of crashing and classic-sounding Anathema. The lyrics sum much of the theme of the album (if not their whole career) up as Vincent sings, “They don’t understand ‘cos they don’t talk for me/There ain’t no master plan/ I came in to make peace/ the more we’re made to suffer the more we’re made to care”. The song builds powerfully with both vocalists sharing duties and perhaps being the two characters of the drama which comes back to the start. The band deliberately leaves the fate up to the listener, whether he returns to his old life or escapes and leaves to a new one. Which ending you prefer is likely up to your personality; the romantic (in the classic sense) in me would like to believe he returned and resolved things, but the opposite is just as probable and satisfying in its own way. Regardless, it is a perfect closing to the album.With ‘The Optimist’, Anathema have crafted an entirely new, yet familiar-sounding album that requires the listener to not only give it multiple spins to come to grips with it, but richly rewards them for doing so. As a sequel to ‘A Fine Day to Exit,’ it succeeds in bringing closure to the story, and the decision to leave the conclusion up to the listener is skillfully and intelligently done. While I wouldn’t recommend this as the first album for a new Anathema listener, anyone who has been following the band in recent years should be very pleased with it. Highly recommended." - Metal Wani
    $49.00
  • "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
  • 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
  • "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
  • Virtuoso keyboardist Vivien Lalu has created a new progressive metal epic featuring an all star cast:Band [A-Z]---Martin LeMar (Mekong Delta) - VocalsMike LePond (SymphonyX) - BassSimone Mularoni (DGM) - GuitarsVirgil Donati (PlanetX)- DrumsVivien Lalu (Shadrane) - KeyboardsGuests [A-Z]---Jens Johansson (Stratovarius)Joop Wolters (Shadrane)Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater)Marco Sfogli (James LaBrie)Mike Andersson (Cloudscape, Fullforce)Peter Wildoer (Darkane, James LaBrie)Born of Noelle and Michel Lalu, musicians from the ‘70s French progressive act Polene, Vivien Lalu has released a surplus of recordings through an array of different bands and projects since 1997, as the keyboard player for underground black/doom band Time For A Change. At the turn of the millennium Lalu played keys for two underground progressive metal bands from Paris, Sad Warden and then Mind’s Orchard, and in 2002 was hired by Hubi Meisel (ex-Dreamscape vocalist) to compose and record the keys for his solo album EmOcean, the following year doing the same for Meisel’s sophomore album Kailash, both of which were released by Lion Music.It was at this time Vivien Lalu begins recruiting his own associates from major prog and metal bands — some of which he shares time composing music alongside in progressive metal act Shadrane — and forms his own solo project, LALU. The first full-length Oniric Metal was released on Lion Music in 2005 and began an entirely new chapter for this composer and his insatiable need to create mind-expanding, cinematic music.These accomplishments helped Lalu to begin securing score and soundtrack work for film and television; over the last few years he’s written many cues for the orchestral soundtrack for the Warner Bros movie Seuls Two, for the show Science X made in association with Lucasfilm Ltd. Additionally he joined the production team behind Laszlo Jones in order to assist the recordings and production of Banana Nation (Universal Music Group). He’s composed many soundtracks for French television, music and sound effects for Neko Entertainment, worked as a sound designer for Ubisoft Entertainment and much more.After collaborating with Shadow Gallery for a song on their Digital Ghosts album, and working with Canadian drummer Chris Nalbandian for his Paralysis of Analysis solo album — recording all keys and sharing solos with Derek Sherinian and Alex Argento — Vivien finally settled in and began work on the second LALU opus. Handling all composition and songwriting duties, as well as all keyboards on the massive production, Vivien weaved the cloth of the new album with vocalist Martin LeMar (Mekong Delta), bassist Mike LePond (SymphonyX), guitarist Simone Mularoni (DGM), drummer Virgil Donati (PlanetX), the album’s parts recorded in several countries including the United States (Los Angeles and New York), Germany and Italy, produced by Lalu in his own studio, and mixed at Boumbox Studio in Paris by Yan Memmi (Dio’s Lock Up The Wolves, Marcus Miller’s The Sun Don’t Lie, etc.). Additional contributions from Jens Johansson (Stratovarius), Joop Wolters (Shadrane), Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater), Marco Sfogli (James LaBrie), Mike Andersson (Cloudscape) and Peter Wildoer (James LaBrie) were also carefully built into the album, the final product boasting over fifty minutes of exceptional, massive  cinematic, atmospheric metal Lalu has dubbed, Atomic Ark. 
    $13.00
  • Excellent debut from this Venezuelan band. Echoes skirts the edge between progressive rock and metal. Clearly Dream Theater (and Rush to some degree) are an influence but the music isn't as heavy as most progressive metal bands. There are some great atmospheric parts that have more of a prog rock vibe. There are a number of guest vocalists that contribute to the album and they are all quite good. I'm surprised there isn't more of a latin influence going on - these guys could pass for a US band. I can see this easily appealing to fans of both prog rock and prog metal. Highly recommended.
    $3.00