Marbles (2CD Digibook)

SKU: SMACD972
Label:
Madfish
Category:
Progressive Rock
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"Marbles was originally released on the band's own Racket Records label and attracted a lot of attention when it was released as the album had been funded by donations from fans who had pre-ordered the album before they started recording in return for having their name printed within the album artwork (over 18,000 names). This new 2CD Madfish edition of the album is packed in a deluxe 36 page digibook re-worked by original designer Carl Glover. The book features unseen pictures not used in the original artwork. The tracks on the second disc have previously only been available through the band's own website."

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  • "Not many tunes delivered by bands from my southern neighbors, within the borders of Germany, are haunting my mind during these grim and frostbitten cold days of wintertime. Only melodies of Andy Kuntz & Co from prog metal act Vanden Plas, and one of last year’s best prog metal debuts “The Old Man and the Spirit” created by Beyond the Bridge are still able to cradle me to sleep. The question is then how the hell has prog rock/metal act Dante gone unnoticed by my eyes and ears so many years? That is still a mystery to me. I guess it’s time for some changes now. After watching the official trailer of the full album “November Red” describing it as “A New Masterpiece of Progressive Music” and getting my face slapped by words like Power, Passion, Epic, lyrical, Progressive and Breathtaking, I have packed my gear and ready for a great adventure into their musical universe. Will you follow me on my musical adventure? I’ll leave that up for you to decide, but if this has sparked your curiosity, then please keep on reading our fellow reader. You will not regret…Let us start from the beginning. Seven years ago guitarist & bassist Markus Berger, who sadly passed away early this year (R.I.P. metal brother), teamed up with his longtime friend Markus Maichler on keyboards & piano, and created prog rock & metal act Dante after playing around with some of their own musical ideas in Berger’s own studio. Two positions were still left open, so they recruited vocalist Alexander Góhs (former frontman of Berger’s previous act “Twelve”) and drum machine Christian Eichlinger to complete their crew of musicians in control of this new German prog machinery. With some fine tuning of this machine based in Berger’s recording studio, they unleashed after two years their self-produced & self-financed debut “The Inner Circle”, which was applauded and met with great respect by many metal reviewers all around our globe. Same year bassist Michael Neumeier was hooked up, and took over the bass duties of Berger, and then became a permanent member of the band. Two years later in 2010, and the sophomore album “Saturnine” saw the light of the day, released by their new label ProgRock Records, continuing the success of the band. The following year bassist Michael decided to leave Dante, and they welcomed guitarist Markus A. Bader on board their prog metal flagship instead, and Berger returned to his old role as the bass player of the troop.So finally here they are, welcoming 2013 with their long awaited third craftsmanship entitled “November Red”, ready to quench the thirst of many progheads out there…My great adventure through the challenging musical landscapes created by Dante has sudden come to an unexpected end after counting more than one hour of total playing time. It was a continuous bombardment of my ears with strange & complex rhythms, tempo changes, awkward time signatures, mellow passages, gorgeous 70’s styled keyboard sounds blended with heavy and crunchy guitar riffs and solos, all complemented with symphonic influences to make it an interesting and pleasant listening experience. Maybe they borrow some ideas from legendary prog titans Fates Warning and Dream Theater, but arresting them for being a copycat would not hold up in court. It’s a roller coast ride through the whole album, and each of the seven songs is molding our ear wax as different as night and day. The opener “Birds of Passage” is a soft and mellow introduction, whereas the following song “The Lone And Level Sands” is exploring the more heavier and aggressive sound of Dante. “Beautifully Broken” is walking on a total different path, and is the only ballad song included. It’s a melancholy song told with beautifully and mesmerizing piano melodies and by the voice of Alex singing with great control and emotion in his preferable low to mid range registers. Fourth song, and the star of the show is “The day That Bled” a tune delivering myriads of shades and musical colours for you prog enthusiasts to delve into. Next on the list is the song “Shores of Time” following in the footsteps of its predecessors, followed up by the softer and slower song “Allan”. The title song “November Red” is the final destination of our journey, and closing of with a big bang. It’s the epic of the album, delivering some of the most heavy and aggressive moments, broken up by mellow passages.Production-wise, this is wrapped into a high quality package, and the musicianship is first class, but it still suffers in the vocal department. Vocalist Alexander Góhs would not be my first choice in the front seat of a traditional prog band, because of his lacking range and dynamics in his vocal performance. He knows his weaknesses and strengths, and mostly stays in his comfort zone the low to mid range registers, and then actually becomes quite enjoyable. His voice definitely takes time to get used to, but is one of the band’s signature sounds for better and worse.So let’s cut to the chase. The latest creation “November Red” delivered by Dante is not a quantum leap forward for progressive music, but they still have a huge and very unique distinct sound of their own. It’s a moody and melodic progressive music experience, and if your ears find comfort in listening to the likes of Fates Warning and Dream Theater, then don’t let this release slip through your fingers. “November Red” takes time to grow on you, but stay open-minded, and it will bury itself deeper and deeper under your skin. It’s definitely one of those progressive bands I’ll keep my eyes and ears locked on too for many years to come." - Power Of Metal
    $15.00
  • IQ's 10th studio arrives and again with a slightly reconfigured lineup.  The exceptionally gifted Neil Durant, previously with Sphere3, is now handling keyboards.  Nothing dramatic changed.  If anything keyboards might even be a bit more prominent.  Paul Cook and Tim Esau, the original rhythm section, are now in tow. Peter Nicholls is his sombre self.  Guitars seem to be slightly heavier but all in all this sounds like prime IQ.  This is a band that has weathered personnel changes over the year but like a fine wine they've improved with age.  This is a BUY OR DIE release.  Top 10 for 2014. 
    $15.00
  • Its been a bit quiet on the prog metal front as of late but hopefully this new band from Norway will shake things up a bit. Dimension Act pretty much adheres to the Dream Theater formula although there is a healthy injection of prog rock as well. Plenty of keyboard solos to go around and killer guitar work. If you rachet down the complexity one notch you will be reminded a little bit of Spheric Universe Experience.
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  • Ryo Kawasaki is a legendary jazz/fusion guitarist still going strong. During the late 70s he developed an elaborate guitar synthesizer setup which was unique. It was during this period that he put together The Golden Dragon band which was an incendiary fusion ensemble. Kawasaki would create synthesized landscapes over which he would shred with the best of them. Lots of latin and far eastern influences are prominent. Fantastic stuff.
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  • New mini-lp sleeve reissue of the classic second album from this great Italian trio. Although keyboards play a vital part of their sound, the instrumentation is pretty well balanced. These guys were able to compete with the big guns - Banco and PFM - they were that good. Highly recommended.
    $20.00
  • "Riot has always been ahead of the curve, be it their powerful riff machine, or their unapologetic status as pioneers in the speed metal genre. I would like to take an opportunity to differ once again with the common viewpoint here, this is not “almost” Painkiller 2 years before; it is its doppelganger, at least in terms of kick ass aggressiveness and image. It is a more musical and complex answer to the thrash genre that it fathered; its spirit is that of a triumphant warrior cutting down its foes. While the heroic Painkiller soared through the sky putting fear into the hearts of his enemies, Thundersteel’s half-cyborg/half-tank body stood tall to face them on the ground.In 1988 metal was mostly known by its image, and if you judge these guys by that alone, they look like the bastard sons of Motley Crue and Judas Priest. But when Tony Moore blasts his high banshee voice into the microphone, he sounds like a crazed Viking Berserker ready to behead an army of frightened Romans. Mark Reale, the only remaining originator of this outfit, wields his guitar like a battle axe and challenges the likes of K.K. Downing, Dave Murray and Ross the Boss. Bobby Jarzombek, who is well known for his work with Rob Halford’s solo project, as well as several other bands, gives the performance of his life on here. Don Van Stavern keeps the bottom end solid and has a wicked bass intro in “Johnny’s Back”.There is never a dull moment on this album, from start to finish it grabs you by the throat and commands you to praise the Gods of Metal. Be it the fast as hell title track, which rivals anything Judas Priest has ever put out, or the more moderated Deep Purple riff monster “Sign of the Crimson Storm”, it screams metal. You’ve got an anthem of rebellion and non-conformity at warp speed like “Johnny’s Back” in the running, or the Manowar inspired heavy ballad “Bloodstreets”, which gives Heart of Steel a run for its money. “Fight or Fall” and “Flight of the Warrior” have memorable choruses and plenty of amazing lead work, all done by the original speed metal riff man Mark Reale, while “On Wings of Eagles” is a better produced version of something you might find on Kill Em’ All.We’ve got two highlights on this album, both of which are a good bit different than the lion’s share of speed driven songs on here. “Run for your life” is an upper mid-tempo crusher with tons of great lead guitar work, but it’s true charm is the chorus, which reminds me a bit of the high/low vocal interchanges that you hear on Dio’s early material. “Buried Alive (The Tell Tale Heart)” is actually a bit reminiscent of Crimson Glory’s work on Transcendence, which came out the same year that this did. You’ve got a rather odd spoken intro with a clean and somber guitar line, followed by some brilliant twin guitar soloing (all done by one guy, just the same way Tony Iommi did it). After 3 minutes of mind-blowing, we get a slow and evil sounding groove that grows into a brilliant homage to the NWOBHM, names like Iron Maiden and Angel Witch come to mind.In conclusion, this is a piece of metal history that demands to be listened to. If you are a power metal fan who lives for speed and melody, get your tight jeans wearing ass to the store right now. If you’re a holdover from the glory days of traditional metal and you don’t have it, get it now or risk having your credentials as a metal head questioned. If you love thrash with attitude, this gives the bands that carry that label a run for their money. Fans of Judas Priest, Manowar, Helloween, Running Wild, and Iron Maiden in particular will love this. There is a new power alive in the distance, carrying a fully charged plasma cannon, followed by an army of true metal warriors, and his name is “Thundersteel”." - Metal Archives
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  • Out of print limited edition mediabook comes with 2 bonus tracks."Doro has long been the reigning queen of metal, and with her 12th solo studio album, Raise Your Fist, she continues to reinforce that notion. Her new album has a thicker feel than her previous release, Fear No Evil (2009). Packed with her trademark anthems and velvet ballads, Raise Your Fist is Doro at the top of her game.Sure Doro has a weakness for the occasional Velveeta lyrical theme, but it is her passion for metal, her fans, and the music that keep her among heroes of the genre. On Raise Your Fist, Doro brings the traditional bang your head, throw up your horns metal, with memorable sing along choruses. The album’s opening track, “Raise Your Fist in the Air”, is a perfect example. A lyrical theme all metalheads can get behind, with air-guitar worthy riffage and an anthemic chorus.Motörhead mainman, Lemmy Kilmister drops by to show a surprisingly tender side on the ballad, “It Still Hurts”, and guitar icon Gus G (Ozzy Osbourne, Firewind) makes an appearance on the track “Grab the Bull (Last Man Standing)”, giving it some extra swagger.On the song, “Freiheit” she tackles the issue of human rights. She noted that this particular song is very close to her heart. Tracks like “Rock Till Death”, “Take No Prisoners”,  and “Revenge” are some of Doro’s meatier sonic assaults, and remind us that heavy metal need not be void of melody.Doro also pays homage to her dear friend, Ronnie James Dio on the album closer, “Hero”. The song was the first one written for the record, and hits home with serious emotional impact. Doro’s vocals are poignant and emotive, filled with admiration, loss, and angst.Raise Your Fist is a confident, well crafted, classic metal album, which offers a slab of horn-throwing anthems, with just the right amount of sentiment. Doro heads into a new decade with another load of rock and roll ammunition in her arsenal." - Metallic
    $6.00
  • "And straight out of left field…One thing you really don’t expect to hear these days is proper gothic/symphonic metal in the classic late 90’s-mid 00’s tradition.While a few bands have recently begun making overtures towards a return to form if not revitalization of a genre that’s been effectively moribund since 2008, many of them are veterans going back to the sound that made them famous in the first place.  Leaves Eyes come immediately to mind, as does a recent surprising move to the operatic frontlines from longstanding (if previously somewhat boring) second stringers Xandria, who proved that sometimes losing a few founding members can be the best thing that ever happened to a band*.*for another glaring example of this principle, see also Theatres des Vampires, who only became a truly notable venture under the ostensible leadership of the lovely Sonya Scarlet…But what happens when we’re not talking classic acts undergoing some measure of renewal?  Moreover, when we’re not only talking a brand spanking new outfit, but one that (get this) doesn’t even hail from European climes.  Say what the hell?But here you go, a self-released gem right out of that busy musical hotspot of Minnesota (of all places…and we’re not even talking a Prince related project here!).  While not as bombastic as, say, Phantom Agony/Consign to Oblivion era Epica, Leaves Eyes or Mother Earth/Silent Force era Within Temptation, keyboardist/guitarist Damien Villarreal and vocalist Chelsea Knaack have come together to make what may be the first actual gothic/symphonic metal offering to come out of the United States.Sure, we’ve had a gothic/death metal crossover act (Echoes of Eternity, though they’re at least part Canadian) and a few lower rung gothic cum pop radio acts (remember that lone album where anyone cared about Evanescence?  Good move breaking up with Ben Moody, there, Amy…), but actual symphonic metal with operatic vocals?  This is total bizarro world stuff over here, in a nation still (sadly) dominated by aggro acts, hip hop and tuneless, emotionless math metal and prog wannabes.So once you manage to get over the shock factor engendered by their domestic origin, how does the music rate?  Well, for one thing, Knaack taps into similar vocal range and dynamics to earlier Simone Simons, albeit with a bit more stiffness that calls Carmen Schaeffer of Coronatus to mind (though I’m betting she was aiming more for earlier Floor Janssen if not Tarja Turunen stylistically).The guitars are somewhere in the middle, managing to keep Villarreal’s fingers a whole hell of a lot busier than the standard chunka-chunka single note stutter rhythms that tend to be a genre standby.  This is a good thing, as is his ability to hold down a reasonably melodic solo or harmony lead fill on occasion; these certainly enhance the sound to an unusual degree and keep the listener more on their toes than fans of the genre are accustomed to.But is he a virtuoso guitar hero on any level?  Not in the least.  Consider him a rather competent, melodically oriented craftsman with light prog leanings (you can pick out the Fates Warning by way of Dream Theater aspirations in a few of the rhythmic choices and modulations, not to mention the mostly inobtrusive but omnipresent keyboards which he also provides).Rounding out the trio is drummer Jordan Ames, who offers equally competent drumming, which appropriately for the style is never very flashy or notable, but filled with enough stuttering polyrhythms, cymbal work and a dash of double bass-inflected kit runs to show the guy to be quietly accomplished (much like what I’m trying to get across about Villarreal).  Coming from the Shrapnel school back in the day, I prefer a lot more flash in my players, but there’s nobody here who’s less than superlative in their musical competencies.The one major failing, and one I find with far too many acts these days, irrespective of genre, age or nation of origin is a noticeable lack of soul.  Like comparing Jimmy Page to Carlos Santana or the guys in Queensryche to Randy Rhoads, while in the right general ballpark, there’s something central and essential that just isn’t there.While more effusive and warm than several likeminded European acts (as befits a trio of blustery, heart on the sleeve wearing Americans), there’s a certain unexpected coldness to the sound and lack of bombast that baffles somewhat.  More of a note of constructive criticism, much akin to chiding a favored student for the mistakes that kept him from getting an A+ instead of a B, but worth noting nonetheless.All told, if you’re a fan of gothic symphonic metal in the days before that scene became overcrowded with no-talents and pop radio leanings and have some measure of respect for progressive leanings in your metal (think Ray Alder-era Fates Warning far more than Jason McMaster-era Watchtower and you’ll get a clearer picture), you really don’t want to miss out on this one.The first US overture into the gothic symphonic revival delivers a very credible and respectable showing, and gets themselves some high marks in the bargain.  Good stuff." - Third Eye Cinema
    $12.00
  • Gowy is an undiscovered French band but that won't be for long... This is a new quartet assembled by guitarist Gregory Francois. We were contacted by Greg due to his friendship with Christophe Godin of Morglbl. He thought it might be up our alley and he is spot on. The music on Gowy's debut is primarily instrumental although there are some tunes with French vocals. Musically speaking Freak Kitchen frequently comes to mind with more than a bit of Vai, Zappa and Morglbl tossed in as well. The keyboards, bass and drums all play a supporting role for Greg's extraordinary guitar excursions into outer space. This is much more clever than the typical chops-from-hell disc. Is Essential Tracks really essential? Well I know its essentially clear that a buzz will develop soon. Highly recommended. Check 'em out: Gowy's MySpace Page
    $14.00
  • Here's one I never thought I would see... "The Battle" is marketed under the name Allen/Lande...those being Russell Allen (Symphony X) and Jorn Lande (Ark, Masterplan). In actuality, the mastermind behind the project is Magnus Karlsson, the guitarist of Last Tribe and Starbreaker. He uses the singers individually and combined to interesting effect. Essentially an album of melodic metal it occassionally strays into the upper echelons due to the participation of these magnificent frontmen.
    $14.00
  • The beauty and the beast wars are over and Epica has won. Until Floor Jansen comes through with her new project we have to consider Simone Simons the last woman standing. This is the band's fifth studio album and probably their most bombastic. Stunning female vocals mixed with death growls and a wall of synthesized orchestrations and power chords. You all know the drill by now. These guys are the masters of the genre.
    $14.00
  • "When one thinks of countries that are a hotbed of prog metal bands, places such as Norway, Sweden, and Finland come to mind. However the Land Down Undah’ otherwise known as Australia has been churning out amazing prog metal bands for the past decade. Bands such as Hemina, Voyager, Lord, Carnivool, Caligula’s Horse, Teramaze and Melbourne’s Vanishing Point have been wowing the prog metal scene for the past decade. It’s been seven long years since the release of Vanishing Point’s The Fourth Season, but the melodic metal quintet consisting of Silvio Massaro (Vocals), Chris Porcianko and James Maier (Guitars), Simon Best (Bass), and Christian Nativo (Drums) have finally returned with their fifth studio album Distant Is The Sun on AFM Records. The band has stayed true to their unique blend of progressive, power, AOR metal and have secured the talents of Sebastian “Seeb” Levermann of Ordan Ogen for mixing duites on Distant Is The Sun. Picking up right where The Fourth Season left off, the musicianship and songwriting on Distant Is The Sun is exceptional.The album kicks off with the short instrumental track Beyond Redemption and powers right into the first song King of Empty Promises. The double bass drum attack from Nativo and melodic keyboards lead the way and the harmonious soaring vocals during the chorus are a perfect way to officially start the album.The title track is next and begins with a heavy groove and transforms into a light piano tinged verses with Massaro’s impressive vocals leading to a catchy and melodic chorus. The twin guitar harmony lead attack from Porcianko and Maier is a thing of beauty during the solo section.Symphonic keys signify the start of When Truth Lies, an epic slab of energetic melodic progressive metal with a driving headbanging beat. Sonata Arctica frontman Tony Kaako lends his melodic pipes to the fast and furious power metal of Circle of Fire. Kaako and Massaro’s vocals compliment each other extremely well and create an amazing metal duet.The keyboard prominence on Denied Deliverance is pronounced in the mix but never overshadows the heaviness of the track, it just adds to the overall melody of the song. A blazing guitar solo section highlights the middle portion of another stellar song. Let the River Run has an impeccable acappella vocal harmony section that begins this mid tempo metal gem. The beautiful vocals during the chorus will be stuck in your head for days after listening.The album slows down for the piano based Story of Misery but don’t be fooled into thinking this is a traditional power ballad. The emphasis is on POWER with a emotive vocal performance from Massaro. Era Zero speeds things right back up with a frenzied double kick attack with plenty of soaring melodic vocals throughout and a shredding guitar solo from the tandem of Porcianko/Maier and culminates in a symphonic ending and bursts right into Pillars of Sand which keeps the hard and fast metal flowing.The eerie keyboard intro of As December Fades melds into a Maiden-esque guitar harmony and a glorious AOR sounding chorus with a symphonic element that is reminiscent of Within Temptation. A bright piano melody signals the beginning of Handful of Hope. Once again Massaro gets his chance to shine with an impressive vocal performance filled with passion and emotion. The bands penchant for writing catchy power metal is on display on Walls of Silence. The brilliant symphonic melodies and heavy guitar compliment each other perfectly. The album closes with the acoustic guitar tinged instrument titled April, an understated yet effective piece of music with a keyboard accompaniment underneath in the mix. It is a curious choice to end the album, but well done nonetheless.After a seven-year absence, the world of melodic prog welcomes back Vanishing Point with open arms and hopefully Distant Is The Sun will shoot the band to the next level of popularity outside their native Australia. This goes to show that like a fine wine, Vanishing Point only improves with age!" - Lady Obscure
    $15.00
  • Gnô is a French power trio whose style is often described as Pantera meets The Beatles. After releasing Trash Deluxe (Janvier records) in 2002, Gnô is back with a new opus entitled Cannibal Tango, even more brutal though more melodic as well. The three piece combo play heavy rock with a good balance between metal riffs and catchy melodies. Their stock in trade is daredevil chops highlighted by insane stunt guitar. The rhythm section, powered by the roaring bass of Gaby Vegh and thunderous drumming by Peter Puke, provides an ideal foundation for the wizardry of Christophe Godin (Morglbl), considered one of the finest guitar players today! Not one, but three lead singers is another characteristic of the band, and they pay great attention to vocal harmonies à la Beatles or Kings X. While the musicianship will leave you shaking your head in disbelief, the humorous lyrics will have you laughing out loud. These three French maniacs revolve around the same planet as their musical brethren Freak Kitchen. If Frank Zappa had made a metal album it would sound something like this.
    $13.00