Citadel

SKU: SOM344D
Label:
Season Of Mist
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"The Seasons of Mist promo team must have collectively flipped their titties when the Sydney Conservatorium of Music announced they were to use Ne Obliviscaris‘s “And Plague Flowers The Kaleido” on their teaching syllabus. In a world of increasingly simple and commercial music, nothing screams musical credibility more than appreciation from a prestigious classical school. Mutual respect and musical coalition of the ‘complex’ and ‘respectable’ genres of classical, jazz and metal are commonly used by bands and fans for self-validation and in intellectual dick-waving contests. The one complaint I had about Ne Obliviscaris‘s début LP, Portal Of I, was that it was one of these exercises. It’s a fantastic, accomplished work of art and it was one of my favorites from 2012, but it lacked that feeling. It was a work of aesthetics without a tangible soul.

The same cannot be said of Citadel. Start to finish, there is a sense of cohesiveness and an underlying purpose to the record, beyond mere skill and pretentiousness (have you seen those song titles?). More, the Melbourne-based six-piece retains their unique brand of extreme metal combined with classical and jazz, improving on the already-stellar musical credibility which they crave so. Citadel is the complete package for the discerning prog fan and metalhead, and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Ne Obliviscaris Citadel 03It’s not easy to pigeon-hole No Obliviscaris into a single extreme genre. While Portal Of I could be broadly categorized as symphonic black metal, Citadel bears stronger death influences. Compare the intros of “Tapestry Of The Starless Abstract” with “Pyrrhic”: the latter from Citadel bears further down-tuned guitars, a thicker bass drum, and tasty chromatic chord progressions, whereas the former has a more typical tremolo-picked black metal melody. The extreme metal sections here are absolutely punishing, such as on the opening five minutes of “Pyrrhic” and “Devour Me, Colossus I: Blackholes.” The battering blast beats, and the thick, technical riffs, contribute to this effect.

But along with its heaviness, there are the undeniable classical sections. The introduction, “Painters Of The Tempest I: Wyrmholes,” and the conclusion, “Devour Me, Colossus II: Contortions,” enclose the record, slowly breaking you into the complex soundscapes and lifting you away again at the end. Tim Charles’s violin is exemplary, and more varied than on Portal Of I. He uses a greater range in pitch, as well as more minor and atonal notes on these two songs, with the result of a beautifully unsettling experience. The recurring piano keys on these two tracks are haunting and bring the record full circle, while establishing the theme of the record. Charles narrates the quiet, desolate wandering through the eponymous citadel, just as the heavy tracks narrate its eventual destruction.

The greatest asset of Citadel is undoubtedly its ability to surprise the listener. Just when you think the band is settling into a regular rhythm, they introduce a new sound, nail a unique transition or progress to a new phase of a song. “Pyrrhic” will undoubtedly go down as one of my favorite tracks from this year, featuring a jaw-dropper of a breakdown and transition. After blasting the listener with some of the most aggressive material on the record, the tempo slows to a near stop, with ambient noise and a simple drum-line. After building, the background unexpectedly cuts – the use of silence as a contrast floored me. Additionally, the interlude, “Painter Of The Tempest III: Reveries From The Stained Glass Wound” (Pretentiousness: unparalleled), bears a flamenco flavor, with dual melodies from the violin and an acoustic guitar. They even use some djent-y riffs towards the end of “Painters Of The Tempest II: Triptych Lux.” There’s a sophisticated and utterly compelling integration of many components and styles here.

If I have one gripe (and I do only have one) it’s the production. Rather than allowing the enamored listener – of which there are many where this hype train is concerned – to gradually unfurl the intricacies of the music on their own, everything is unsubtly shoveled to the fore. There are many layers and instruments going on at various points here, which requires clarity in mixing, but everything sounds far too pristine. Each instrument seems to have been produced to have equal weighting and the same effect – the violin should be more delicate to better contrast the guitars, for example. The kick drum is similarly over-produced, weakening the rhythm component.

Quirky production aside however, Citadel is nigh-on masterful. Credibility permeates everything, from the complex song-writing and varied vocals to the superior riffing, violin-work and interesting drumming. A melancholic note overhangs the record, reflecting the theme of a destroyed society, which gives this record better direction than Portal Of I. I only hope Ne Obliviscaris continue along this path – self-indulgent dick-waving and all." - Angry Metal Guy blog

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  • "Assignment is another band releasing a new album on a new label after a short silence, five years to be correct. Inside Of The Machine, the progressive metal band's third work, finds them signed to Belgian's Mausoleum Records. It's also a quite ambitious work at that: a concept album with four different vocalist player character parts, and several guest guitarists.For the concept and vocalists, which include Robin Beck, Mats Leven, and Michael Bormann, and their parts you can check out the information following the review. Of three guest guitarist the most notable wizard is Bernie Versailles from Redemption offering some lead songs, though I don't know on which song(s).As for the music, this Assignment at their best, creating a progressive metal package by mixing elements of classic melodic hard rock, melodic and symphonic metal metal, power metal, and even a little rock fusion. That comes in the latter half of the instrumental Bug In The System, one of the best songs here. Some the best vocal songs are those with Bormann and Robin Beck (only because she's one of the best rock vocalists around), specifically Love Between Heaven & Hell and Ending Love. The latter one finds Beck's presence a bit stronger in front end which makes the song even more compelling. The antagonist in the story is obviously The Machine and it's introduction in I Am The Machine has a heavier darker feel. Alternatively, the concluding End Of The Machine has more melodic and brighter, yet still forceful, timbre to it. Throughout you get lots of ripping guitar leads often paired alternating synth solos. I'm guessing the full CD package comes with all the lyrics, otherwise, at times, the story is difficult to follow. Once more, Assignment's Inside Of The Machine is an ambitious and entertaining work of melodic progressive metal. Recommended." - Danger Dog
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  • Third album from this Tunisian metal band is their best. It marks the second album with Zaher Zorgatti on vocals. In my opinion Desert Call was a bit of a misstep. Zorgatti is a phenomenal singer but the band tried to mix Middle Eastern vocal stylings in with their power metal sound...and it was quite odd to these Western ears. Zorgatti is on vocals again and this time he sings in a bit more of a traditional sound. Tales Of The Sands reminds a bit more of Hope. The older Symphony X sound is here in spades but the Middle Eastern sounds blend in perfectly. In other words - on Desert Call the band took things a bit too far in the Tunisian direction where this sits just right. Mix a great vocalist with a familiar sound and add that special exotic twist and you come up with something unique and really involving. Pray these guys don't mess with the formula they have finally perfected. Highly recommended.
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  • "‘Idiosynchratically beautiful’. These are two words that have stuck with me for nearly 20 years and which I recall almost every time I hear or read the name Arcturus. These words were quoted on an advert for the Norwegian band’s 1997 release, ‘La Masquerade Infernale’ within an issue of either Terrorizer or Metal Hammer magazine; I can’t remember which. What I do remember was that I was deeply into a stage of black metal discovery at the time and this quote resonated with me for some reason. I took the punt and received the album as a Christmas present. It wasn’t love at first listen; instead it was a slow and steady slog that has ended in a lasting and deep love affair. It was the track ‘Ad Astra’ that was the catalyst for repeat listens. Full of drama, avant-garde vaudevillian oddness and a compelling crescendo, it impressed me and forced me to listen to the remainder of the album more than perhaps I might otherwise have done.It is arguable that in the intervening years, Arcturus have never managed to hit the heights of ‘La Masquerade Infernale’. Neither 2002’s ‘The Sham Mirrors’ nor ‘Sideshow Symphonies’ spoke to me in the same way and despite containing some outstanding moments, I came away both times with feelings of slight disappointment. And that, as they say was that. In terms of original studio albums, nothing has been released since; indeed after the release of ‘Shipwrecked in Oslo’ in 2006, the band called it quits with the individual members going on to do different things. And so it has remained until now.Rumours were rife from around 2011 when various members made comments that alluded to a resurrection of the band and later that year the rumours were confirmed. However, for one reason or another it has taken until 2015 for a new original recording to see the light of day, a development that has been greeted with great euphoria amongst the loyal Arcturus following.Arcturus version 2015 is comprised of Steinar Sverd Johnsen (keys), Hellhammer (drums), Knut Magne Valle (guitar), Hugh ‘Skoll’ Mingay (bass) and ICS Vortex (vocals). Together, they have created an album very much worthy of their lofty status and one that I would argue just about manages to match the quality of ‘La Masquerade Infernale’. The only reason I hedge my bets and say ‘just about’ is because I’ve only had about three days with ‘Arcturian’ as opposed to the 18 years I’ve had to enjoy ‘La Masquerade Infernale’. That said, I’ve listened to ‘Arcturian’ more times than I care to mention in recent days and it gives me chills on each and every listen. It is complex, quirky, brilliantly composed and professionally executed. I have no doubt that with even more time and attention, it’ll delight and captivate me even more than it does already.The one thing that perhaps I wasn’t expecting was the sheer amount of melody and accessibility that ‘Arcturian’ displays. It’s no exaggeration to say that for all of the complexity and raw heaviness, almost every track on the album contains a melody, lead vocal or some kind of hook that makes me sit up and take real notice. When I listen to new music, I have a tendency to make an ‘oooh’ noise and smile broadly if something excites me. I suspect that there will be some of you out there who do something similar. On ‘Arcturian’, I admit to ‘ooh’-ing all over the place.One of main reasons why this album feels so melodic and accessible is, I believe down to vocalist ICS Vortex. Yes he is an acquired taste but so unique is his delivery and so impressive is his range that seemingly very little is off-limits. 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The sweeping synths are immediately reminiscent of the ‘La Masquerade Infernale’ era, as they are during my personal standout track, ‘Game Over’ with its addictive melodies and the way it builds and morphs so elegantly from one guise to another almost imperceptibly, ending in a crescendo of sorts that elicits another ‘ooh’ from my lips.‘Angst’ is a powerful and more extreme slab of metal, dominated by a blistering tempo, tortured screams atop another strong synth melody and the threat of a descent into chaos on more than one occasion. ‘Warp’ on the other hand introduces more electronic influences but has such an imposing and catchy melody that it’s impossible to ignore. ‘Demon’ has demonstrable Gothic synth pop overtones whereas ‘Pale’ delights with a marvellous driving central riff, a great chorus of sorts and some of the most varied and brilliant vocals on the entire record. 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Maybe therefore, the production is entirely deliberate, those naughty scamps.It’s almost impossible sum up ‘Arcturian’ in a concise manner and do it the justice it deserves, except to say that if you’re a fan of Arcturus at their most original, challenging, audacious and quirky, prepare to take ‘Arcturian’ straight to your heart." - Man Of Much Metal
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  • This release finds the band hooking up with Steven Wilson again but this time Andy Sneap did the mixing. This is the so-called "heavy" album with the mellower one to follow soon. No major surprises here - if you liked the direction the band moved in with Blackwater Park than you will definitely dig this. In my opinion the title track is a complete monster and will be hailed as a future classic. Now available at a budget price.
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  • "Refreshing, powerful, and extremely melodic – the adjectives I’d use at a push to describe Teramaze‘s 5th album. I have to admit I pretty much consider this their sophomore release as I was not party to their releases throughout the 90′s, with my first introduction to the band with their 2012 powerhouse ‘Anhedonia’ which quite ironically generated feels of anything but anhedonia. There has been an undeniable buzz around this release and I have found it virtually impossible to escape the widespread word and hype around this album anywhere I look online; generally I wouldn’t necessarily see this as categorically positive as it can taint your expectations unintentionally. Thankfully for the most part, my expectations and hopes with this album have been realised to the point that I welcome any melodic, thrash, progressive or otherwise metallically inclined music fan to check this 79-ish minute thematic conceptual monster.The initial impressions I have when comparing this with ‘Anhedonia’ is a development away from the slightly more thrash-oriented direction that I suspected was the impact of the members growing up in the era where that particular sub-genre beared its greatest fruits. I use the term development as I believe it has very much naturally progressed as compared to what I would consider a departure. The addition of more progressive structures and more varied layering works exceptionally well in Teramaze‘s favour to create a soundscape of in your face riffs, contemplative and brooding moods, earworm choruses, and timeless unity across the entire album.Without doubt one of the things that will grab listeners’ attention is the astonishing fretboard wizardry of band leader and Dean Well’s who treats us to undeniably wondrous smorgasbord of head nodding animosity (special mention to the riff at 2:02 in ‘Line of Symmetry’ – that will get you nodding with the mania of Jack Black), and emotive, creative, delicious lead playing that is akin to guitar heroes aplenty (Petrucci, Sfogli, Skolnick – just to name a few). The balance of great lead playing and rhythm work is a pleasure with nothing inappropriately overstated like one can sometimes expect of the genre. As a special addition, the tones are simply incredible on this album and it is glued perfectly with the bass and bonded by the fairydust keyboards that emerge to keep the sonic palette interesting (courtesy of Circadian Pulse keyboardist Dave Holley).The production is another point of veritable quality with all the instruments presented in a crystal clear state whilst maintaining vibe and not losing out to sterility which is a sad by-product of the self-produced musical climate of 2014. The only complaint I really have is that the mastering is a little hot which is noticeable after the first track (which was mastered in my ideal sweet spot). It sits at DR6 across the whole album on average which is nothing out of the ordinary for this day and age but it occasionally gets fatiguing especially over such a long record. Thankfully moment of distortion are kept to a minimum, however there are some trace elements of weakened transients and the occasional buried vocal that loses intelligibility.Vocalist Brett Rerekura is a joy to listen to and I am appreciative of the fact although his voice pushes the aggressive edge to fit the setting of the music, it is rich in melody and characteristic timbre and is not sabotaged with growls. Long live the singer in a metal band, I say! I detect glimmers of Layne Staley, Sebastian Bach and the rhythmic phrasing of James Hetfield. My only beef is the occasional “Aussieisms” I hear in some inflections which I am hyper-sensitive too (even though I’m Australian myself), however this doesn’t detract too much from what is a splendid vocal performance across the board. There are moments of supreme delicacy especially in ‘Bodies of Betrayal’ which I would have liked to have heard more of as well as a bit more of that delicate side to the band overall to give this album the dynamic curve it deserved. This is of course only a minor criticism.The album’s concept, while not narrative based centres around the experiential nature of deception; especially by that of governing bodies and the powers that be. I think the title of ‘Esoteric Symbolism’ is perfectly apt as this is not the viewpoint or mindset of everyone and best kept as the worldview of a particular minority of people. I think for some the lyrical approach could border on conspiracy but I like the exploratory nature of them and what is truly the harm in questioning some of the taken-for-granted “truths” we hold in this ever-changing world. Kudos to Teramaze for honestly and whole-heartedly fusing their beliefs with such hard-hitting music in a way that I see as completely lacking pretence.For me the standout tracks are ‘Bodies of Betrayal’, ‘Esoteric Symbolism’ (6:53 in this gives me goosebumps), and ‘viii In Vitro’ as I believe they hold the most profound emotional connection with me due to the individual moods they build. I have to admit the only track that I am not particularly keen on is the one with the guest vocals as I feel as though it breaks the flow of the album in a way that was superfluous to requirements. It came across as guests for guests sake which is probably my most direct criticism of the record.This is an exceptional release that stands up to my extremely critical ear and was only let down by perhaps a slight lack of expression with regards to dynamics (mastering and songwriting) across such a long album. Its length to some may indeed be a bit hard to swallow in single listens, however this is par for the course for me as a fan of long form writing. For fans of Metallica, Dream Theater, Alice in Chains and anyone who wishes to have a boot up the bum and an electrode to the brain from an ambitious and highly satiating album." - Metal Obsession
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  • "It has been an eventful year or so in the world of Haken. In September 2013, the sextet released what can only be described as a masterpiece of progressive music in the form of their third album, the magnificent ‘The Mountain’. This album received almost universal critical acclaim upon its release and even led to interest from the likes of Mike Portnoy (Flying Colors, Transatlantic) and Dream Theater’s Jordan Rudess. In the case of the former, it led to an invitation to play the inaugural ‘Progressive Nation At Sea’, but thanks to both ringing endorsements, the door to the American market has opened more widely of late. And if that wasn’t enough, Haken recently received no less than three nominations in the Progressive Music Awards, quite an achievement for a band so relatively young.However, with the smooth, also comes the rough and almost immediately following the release of this ‘breakthrough’ album, bassist Tom MacLean announced his departure from Haken. An apparently amicable split, it was nevertheless a hurdle that had to be overcome at a point when the largest wave of the band’s career was about to be crested. An international audition invitation was extended and, following an extensive search, a young American by the name of Conner Green was assimilated into the Haken collective. Welcome sir!In many ways, ‘Restoration’ a three-track EP is as much a bedding-in of their new colleague as it is an opportunity to maintain the momentum created by ‘The Mountain’ whilst a new full-length album is brought to life. That said, to consider ‘Restoration’ a stop-gap is disingenuous in the extreme. It may only contain three tracks, but when the three tracks last well over half an hour and sound this good, who cares?The three compositions that make up this EP are very loosely based on tracks from the bands 2007/08 demo days, thoroughly re-envisioned, re-worked and re-produced in order to reflect the changing personnel and the experience gained since the demos were originally written. The result is, frankly, stunning.Whilst it took me a good many spins and many hours of effort to get fully submerged into the world of ‘The Mountain’, the music on ‘Restoration’ is much more immediate to these ears. No less complex and challenging of course, but for some reason, the music has ‘clicked’ much more quickly here.The EP opens up with ‘Darkest Light’, (Official video below) an energetic track that ably demonstrates the up-tempo and powerful side of Haken well. It’s an agile composition too that alters pace and timing signatures seemingly at will and pulls in influences from everyone from Dream Theater to Meshuggah. The latter is primarily due to the impressive combination of Ray Hearne’s powerful drumming, the chunky guitar tones courtesy of Charlie Griffiths and Richard Henshall and Green’s intricate bass work. Importantly however, the song is never derivative and contains everything you now expect from a band at the height of their powers. It’s a piece of music that oozes class but also offers that touch of playful cheekiness that has become synonymous with the Haken sound.‘Earthlings’ is a completely different proposition entirely. For my money, its closest reference point would be ‘Deathless’ from ‘Visions’ in so far as it is a much more introspective track with real atmosphere and a quiet, brooding intensity that is utterly beguiling. The melodies are much more immediate, much more pronounced and the whole thing builds beautifully and stubbornly towards a fulfilling climax that pushes all the right buttons.The undisputed star of the show however, is ‘Crystallised’. At over 19 minutes, it offers a return of the Haken ‘epic’, joining the likes of ‘Visions’ and ‘Celestial Elixir’ in an already formidable armoury. If anything, ‘Crystallised’ may be even better than the aforementioned, thereby easily taking its place among the very best that Haken has ever created.First and foremost, the sheer ambition is staggering. The composition begins unassumingly enough but quickly reveals a more grandiose underbelly thanks to some lush orchestral arrangements. From then on, the gloves well and truly come off and Haken take us on a wondrous journey full of twists and turns, light and shade, lengthy and dextrous instrumental segments and gorgeous melodies that stay with you long after the music has ended.There are echoes of those Gentle Giant influences and nods towards ‘Cockroach King’ et al in some of the a capella segments as well as hints of ‘Pareidolia’ at other times, thanks to that by now familiar delivery of vocalist Ross Jennings. Never once do the extended instrumental passages, led by the flamboyant keys of Diego Tejeida feel contrived or out of place; they are full of those classic progressive overindulgences, further reinforcing the importance of the likes of Yes, early Genesis and many others, but crucially, they fit in with the core of the composition and seamlessly segue from one to another perfectly.And then, everything comes together in what I can only describe as a stunningly epic finale, the kind where the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end and you find yourself grinning from ear to ear, enveloped in a musical utopia. The melodies are so uplifting and gorgeous that, coupled with the grandiose return of the orchestral embellishments, mere words find it hard to adequately express just how good it makes you feel.The bones of these songs may have been written many years ago in the band’s infancy. However, they have been brought back to life in the most brilliant way possible; taking everything that’s been good about the band in recent years and applying them to their early past to create something truly special. I only wish that ‘Restoration’ was six, seven or eight songs long. Mind you, if it were, I think I might have fainted from bliss before reaching the conclusion." - Man Of Much Metal blog
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  • One of my favorite albums from Threshold. Damian Wilson is a real standout and the music's subtle celtic underpinning give the album a distinct flavor. New edition comes with 3 bonus tracks.
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  • Pro-shot NTSC Region 0 DVD live performance from this amazingly insane (and brilliant at the same time) jazz-metal band from Germany.  If you are a fan of Morglbl there is a good chance you will love Panzerballett."The Live-DVD of the latest tour and studio-album "Tank Goodness". Filmed at Theatron-Open Air/Munich in August 2013."Content: Concert “Live At Theatron Munich 2013” (filmed at 5th Aug 2013)Bonus material: Concert Backstage Munich (26th Oct 2012), “Vulgar Display of Sauerkraut” (12th Oct 2012 Berlin), Interview Mattias IA Eklundh, Film “Panzerballett on US-Tour”Digipack, Dolby Digital 2.0 StereoTracklist:01. Mustafari Likes Di Carnival02. Some Skunk Funk03. Zehrfunk04. Time Of My Life05. Der Saxdiktator06. Vulgar Display Of Sauerkraut07. Donnerwetter08. Friede, Freude, Fußball 
    $16.00
  • Swedish melodic prog metal band Cullooden is the latest band to emerge from the Roastinghouse management stable.  Their debut, Silent Scream, sits nicely besides bands like Circus Maximus, Withem, and Seventh Wonder.  Strong anthem-like vocal harmonies permeate the album.  Plenty of nice soloing throughout the album.  Keys are featured but the real star of the show is the guitar work.  Highly recommended."If I have to put on a specific metal sticker on this debut album, it has to be something like this: Modern, melodic metal with big jagged shards of prog metal/rock. This Swedish trio in Cullooden is giving us a disc, which is very technical and at the same time it's a very melodic album. 'Silent Scream' is a metallic gold bar. It contains adult, progressive metal tracks played with ultra strong harmonies and Cullooden is fronted by one of the strongest and widest new rock voices I've heard in a long time.Fredrik Joakimsson owns the talented voice, and he handles the highest tones just as perfect as in the harsher and darker tunes. I hear musical influences that reminds me of Dream Theather or maybe even more from their compatriots in the magnificent progressive metal band Seventh Wonder and the Norwegians in Circus Maximus.Cullooden is not another beginner's project, which has released a 'quick shot' album, nope they knew what they were going to record on 'Silent Scream' and the songs are so overwhelmingly worked through both musically and lyrically. The album is also extremely well produced. I have to stick my neck out and say that it is perfectly produced, there is absolutely nothing to complaint about.What attracts my interest a little more than normally is the elegant flirts with the melodic hard rock, like in 'Our Only Desire' and in 'An Interesting Fact', which are some of my favorite tracks on this album. The heavy bass rhythms are pressing in the background, but it's easy listening and melodic nonetheless. The quality rhythmic metal that has been mixed with the progressive tones becomes an insanely congenial overall impression. Every track has it's own personality and I've used much of my time to sort this album in and out and my final conclusion is this: A new shining progressive metal star is appearing on the metal heaven and it's called Cullooden!'Silent Scream' will most likely be played over and over again for a long, long time to come when I want life-inspiration or just want to hear at succulent melodic metal or world-class quality prog metal. I love it!The album is recommended for most metal fans, although the melodic/progressive metal fans will most likely worship this masterful album release!" - Power Of Metal
    $16.00