A Pleasant Shade of Gray (CD/DVD)

New German edition of APSOG arrives at a budget price plus a bonus live DVD (PAL Region 0) of APSOG performed live.

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  • "It seems these days that metal musicians collaborate with players from other bands quite a bit. Personally, I have mixed feelings when these collaborations happen. Sure, they can make some great music, but for some reason I tend to prefer what said players do with their main bands as opposed to their cross–band work. OSI is an exception to that.Started in 2002 by Fates Warning Guitarist Jim Matheos and former Dream Theater keyboardist Kevin Moore, OSI has remained a long–distance cooperative between the two. Several guest musicians have been brought in for each of their records, such as drummers Mike Portnoy and Gavin Harrison, bassists Sean Malone and Joey Vera, and vocalists Tim Bowness and Mikael Ã…kerfeldt. This most recent effort, their fourth, sees Gavin Harrison (Porcupine Tree) returning on drums, with Moore taking care of lyrics and main vocals. Matheos and Moore worked together on all other aspects of the music.As I said earlier, I typically listen to these kinds of albums once or twice and then return to their normal band’s material. But Fire Make Thunder isn’t an album to do that to; sure, it sounds very much like what you’d imagine this trio would create, but all three players are known for creating some great music on their own. And here, put together, they don’t disappoint.The opening track “Cold Call” and the follow–up “Guards” have a sort of sinister tone to it, but aren’t very aggressive tracks. “Indian Curse” is completely void of drums and percussion of any sort, and sounds rather bleak. It’s a good song, but don’t listen to it on a dark, rainy day in March. “Enemy Prayer” is much more metallic than its predecessors on the album, sounding a bit closer to what these two wrote in their main projects. It’s also an instrumental track, a key component of a prog metal record. “Big Chief II” continues the picked up the tempo a bit, and the guitars sound a bit angrier. But the vocals don’t really get that intense, lending a sense of control to the turmoil. “Invisible Men” clocks in at just under ten minutes long, so these two haven’t lost their touch when it comes to lengthy songs either.Thinking of something to compare this album to was difficult at first, but then it hit me. This album is like a horror movie that uses menace to scare, playing on the viewer’s mind, rather than excessive gore or monsters leaping suddenly out of nowhere. Granted, this music isn’t scary, but one can’t help but notice its dark tone. The ambience it captures is one of many things that make this album great. The album artwork is another–I like how the cover kind of reflects the primitive nature of the title, Fire Make Thunder.If the only kind of Prog Metal you’re into is twenty–minute songs with six trillion notes in them, this album won’t interest you in the slightest. None of these songs get even close to becoming exercises in technical wizardry. They are simply well written songs. Each one sounds unique enough that they don’t blend together. They’re short enough to keep just about any listener’s attention for the entire songs’ duration, and there’s enough creativity in each one to ensure that. Moore and Matheos have proved they can write material as well as any prog legend, without having to play more notes than God. This is an album both novices and prog experts will enjoy. Good job, OSI." - Muzikreviews.com
    $11.00
  • Sezione Frenante are not young guys.  Apparently they've been kicking around since the first half of the 70s but with no recorded output.  They opened for some of the Italian prog bands of the day and then went on hiatus...until now.  This is a concept album based on the life of poet Dante Alighieri and the material was conceived back in the early days of the band.  Sonically it doesn't have the 70s imprint that a lot of the retro bands go for but compositionally it fits squarely in the "Rock Italiano Progressivo" mold.  So we are talking about music composed in the 70s and recorded today.  To my ears the production is quite excellent - it almost has a live in the studio feel.  The closest comparison would be to Le Orme which is not surprising given the band's long friendship with Aldo Tagliapietra.  All of the musicians in the band are quite good and have plenty of room to solo.  The star for me is vocalist Francesco Nardo.  He has good range and fits neatly in with the music.  Nothing operatic - just right.  Highly recommended.
    $18.00
  • "A new interpretation of a classic RPI title! This is quite an undertaking, but it comes off in an outstanding way, giving new life to old friends. In contrast to so many reworkings of old pieces that I've heard in recent years, this one does not leave me only wishing to listen to the original. Rather, the new work stands well on its own, not only helping me listen to the original with new ears, but also bringing new insights and experience.In 1972, Latte e Miele released their debut, an incredibly ambitious work based on the Passion of St. Matthew, "Passio Secundum Mattheum." This is one of the seminal titles of 1970s RPI and has rightfully stood the test of time. The band would never equal this album, although the subsequent title, "Papillon", came close. After that the band broke up for a time, until drummer Alfio Vitanza reformed the band, with new members including bassist Massimo Gori. Their only album, "Aquile e Scoiattoli", has its moments but is inferior to the first two, and the band disbanded a few years later after moving toward more commercial music.In 2008 the band reformed, including all three original members (Vitanza and songwriter/keyboardist Oliviero Lacagnina, as well as guitarist Marcello Giancarlo Dellacasa) and Massimo Gori, bassist from the second generation of the band. The quartet released "Live Tasting", an excellent live album that portended of the good to come. Their time together also produced a wonderful new album, "Marco Polo: Sogni e Viaggi" in 2009.Over the years, Lacagnina never stopped composing his masterpiece, his "Passio". Now the quartet has recorded anew their masterpiece, adding those "new" compositions into the narrative. For example, "Il Pane e il Sangue dell'Alleanza" has been inserted right after "Ultima Cena", and "Il Rinnegamento di Pietro" and "Il Prezzo del Sangue" between "Il Pianto" and "Giuda". Also, the ending has been fleshed out significantly, with four new songs, and the final song, "Come un Ruscello che..." includes the final themes previously entitled "Il Dono della Vita". Also of note, a solo organ piece entitled "Toccata per organo" is placed just before "Calvario"--this is special, as it is an original take from 1972!The instrumentation is true to the spirit of the 1972 piece, although with an updated sound. Ditto the choir, which sometimes on the 1972 version is muted and thin--here the choir parts are strong, lush, and vibrant. The majority of the pieces that were rerecorded for this edition also maintain their compositional structure, although there are a few changes inserted (notably in "I Falsi Testimoni", the new version of "I Testimoni" parts 1 and 2). There is nothing that violates that spirit of the original work, though it is impossible to duplicate its wonderful innocence.Another unique feature of this album is the presence of several prominent figures from RPI providing the spoken Evangelist parts. These include Alvaro Fella (Jumbo), Lino Vairetti (Osanna), Silvana Aliotta (Circus 2000), Paolo Carelli (Pholas Dactylus), Aldo de Scalzi (Picchio dal Pozzo), Sophya Baccini, Elisa Montaldo (Il Tempio delle Clessidre), Giorgio D'Adamo (New Trolls), Max Manfredi, Simonluca, and Paolo Griguolo (Picchio dal Pazzo). It's a nice touch that really rounds out the album.The CD comes in a jewel case with a lyric booklet. I'm told that the pending Japanese version will contain a newly recorded composition as a bonus track. But don't wait for that one--go out and grab this one. You won't be disappointed. Four plus stars (Gnosis 13/15).Edit: I can't stop listening to this! Though it's not quite as good as the original, it's very close. I'm bumping it up to Gnosis 14/15, which is five stars on PA." - ProgArchives
    $25.00
  • "Equinox produced Styx's first single with A&M, the highly spirited "Lorelei," which found its way to number 27 on the charts. Although it was the only song to chart from Equinox, the album itself is a benchmark in the band's career since it includes an instrumental nature reminiscent of their early progressive years, yet hints toward a more commercial-sounding future in its lyrics. "Light Up" is a brilliant display of keyboard bubbliness, with De Young's vocals in full bloom, while "Lonely Child" and "Suite Madame Blue" show tighter songwriting and a slight drift toward radio amicability. Still harboring their synthesizer-led dramatics alongside Dennis De Young's exaggerated vocal approach, the material on Equinox was a firm precursor of what was to come . After Equinox, guitarist John Curulewski parted ways with the band, replaced by Tommy Shaw, who debuted on 1976's Crystal Ball album." - Allmusic Guide
    $5.00
  • German edition (with Taiwanese OBI) of the band's latest album. Supreme symphonic gothic metal.
    $13.00
  • New 2CD live set recorded in North America 1998 and Japan 1999.
    $6.00
  • Peculiar but interesting band from Belgium. Oceans Of Sadness mix progressive, death and doom metal influences freely and even incorporate some 70s flavors as well. The music is a bit off-kilter in the same way that Pain Of Salvation used to be. Vocals are a mix of clean and coarse. The odd use of Hammond organ in places is a weird stylistic choice that just helps to set these guys apart from the norm. If you like your prog metal to the left of center check these guys out.
    $8.00
  • Gorgeous remastered edition features two bonus tracks from their early singles.
    $14.00
  • Complete gig from March 1997 at Billboard Live in Hollywood. Almost 2 1/2 hours long including bonus footage of the band rehearsing. Great set list stretching all the way back to the beginning and up through Harbour Of Tears.
    $24.00
  • High quality Japanese SHM-CD in a mini-LP sleeve."Sucessfully experimental album ahead of it's time.Influenced by the cutting edge musical experiments that abounded in late '70s New York Daevid radically changed direction from his previous acoustic troubadour style. Utilising the then embryonic sampling and video technology he radically cut-up, re-mixed and over dubbed the New York Gong LP 'About Time' to produce 'Playbax 80'. It resulted in this stunning and at times assaulting set, and it's still way out there."
    $14.00
  • "Think of the new Megadeth album like this: take Endgame and add a large dose of Youthanasia and Countdown to Extinction, then mix it all in a blender and you’ll get a good idea of how it sounds. For die-hard Megadeth fans (like me), the album is a catchy, solid slice of good metal. Much like Endgame and United Abominations, Th1rt3en has a few weak spots, but is generally a decent album. Far from just generic recycling however, it has some fantastic highlights.The three opening tracks easily fit with some of Megadeth’s classic material, as Dave Mustaine has lost none of his talent for catchy melodies and thrash-metal attitude. Well produced and composed, the album flows much better than Endgame and more consistently than United. Dave’s voice retains much of its character but is not what it once was. He has wisely chosen to stay in his lower range, perhaps in order to avoid having to use his falsetto (…case in point). A curious thing about this album is its inclusion of earlier Megadeth material from past sessions. One of my favorites has to be Black Swan, from the United Abominations-era. As it happens, Dave’s voice was still in good condition in 2007, and it shows. Lyrically, Dave sticks to standard Megadeth-themes: the apocalypse, personal demons, ect. Some of the lyrics here are very compelling and well-written, but his pedantic musings on the “New World Order” have become a little obnoxious. Dave’s lyrics on political paranoia and deception worked very well with cold-war topics like those on Rust in Peace, but nowadays I can only cringe when he mouths off about The Illuminati and a “one world currency”.  That and, for obvious reasons, I would advise some caution when writing lyrics that denounce “A book written by man, use to control and demand” (from New World Order), when you espouse a similar book in your private life. I won’t even start with the lyrics on Fast Lane (you’d think Dave would have learned from Moto Psycho, ugh). Anyway, I should say that the guitar playing from Dave Mustaine and Chris Broderick is absolutely mind-blowing and it’s great to have Dave Ellefson back in the rhythm section as well. Aside from some of the things I've moaned about here, I found Th1rt3en to be a very satisfying Megadeth album." - Metal Injection
    $10.00
  • 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
  • Embossed limited edition box set comes with:Special Edition of the album1x vinyl size picture book, 60-pages1x t-shirt1x two-sided poster1x photo collage poster1x download code for "Into The Sun", "Deliverance (Instrumental)" & "Medusa (Tarja Solo Version)""Imagine this - you're thrust into the metal world and, as a classical singer, it's pretty alien. But you do your job, sing your songs and the money comes in. And your name gets bigger. And the band become enormous and before you know it - you're literally singing for your supper. Your ultimate passion becomes your job. But is the world of metal really a place for a classical singer? Many thought that, once ousted by Nightwish, Tarja Turunen would soon return to her classical roots. Not quite. She began producing symphonic tinged material that, dare we say it, took the same path as the band that brought her success.The cynics are always going to be around, and I admit, I had the tendency to be one of them - Tarja is clearly only sticking with the guitars because it pays the bills, right? If it was up to her, she'd be singing 'Ave Maria' until the cows came home, right? Some of you stubborn lot will never shift from that point of view, no matter how many metal albums she releases, but it has become clearer than ever whilst listening to 'Colours In The Dark', that Tarja has found the beauty of orchestral metal just as captivating as Nightwish fans and her conviction is growing ever more powerful - if you don't believe it, check out the Romanticide-styled outro of 'Never Enough'. There's plenty more headbangs left in those raven locks - know that!'Victim Of Ritual' highlights the way Tarja commands a song vocally and suits it's position as opening track. The rolling 'R' in the title refrain and the silence she will inevitably conjure during live renditions of the accapella bridge stand to prove why she is such a beloved vocalist. Musically, the track deals in 'Phantom Agony'-era Epica, orchestra-lite and guitar heavy. It also has the most addictive refrains on the album, so it's position as single is proven correct. Likewise 'Never Enough' is instantly enjoyable - the chorus still sounds as vibrant and exciting as when it premiered. The real standout, surprisingly, is the Peter Gabriel cover though. 'Darkness' is not half as pop-ready as her take on 'Poison' and much more Tarja-friendly than 'Still Of The Night' - it shows just how successfully she can transform a cover and make it into her own. The thick strings and swooping instrumental wrap around her versatile vocals as Tarja switches between sinister and emotional at the drop of a hat.It can be a little taboo to mention the language problems, but the purity in which Tarja approaches her English lyrics is both a positive and a negative. Whilst there are the odd cringe-worthy blips throughout ('A conquest of fear, lonesomeness and dislike'), there is a richness to the lyrics of songs like '500 Letters' that simply tell a story, without killing it with too many pretence-laden metaphors. Tarja's infamous pronunciation also serves in her favour on the record - as minor as it may seem, her slightly peculiar delivery brings an unfamiliar flavour to the songs and possesses the ability to coat any banal lyrics with seductive and intriguing overtones just with a twist of a syllable.The record does have plenty of moments to excite you, as I mentioned, but it's not an entirely smooth ride. Too often, the songs feel a little lengthier than they should. I noted in my review of 'Never Enough' that the closing guitar riff went on for too long and a lot of the songs have a similiar fate. None of the tracks are skippable and every single one has it's merits, but it feels as if their strengths may be washed aside by a niggling thought in the back of your head, pondering whether you can bother to venture into a seven minute song for three minutes of beauty. 'Lucid Dreamer' is one such track that would have benefited from a little chopping. 'Mystique Voyage', too, could have seen a shorter track length further highlight the triumphant classical influence on the chorus.Though I exaggerate her operatic past, Tarja has spent most of her vocalist talent and career amongst metal music and it has really shown. What is both frustrating and rewarding, though, is that she is learning as much as the fans are. The music she has produced so far has been on a huge upward curve. The saccharine tendencies of 'My Winter Storm' pale in comparison to 'What Lies Beneath' and it's fantastic manipulation of orchestra, ambiance and metal. 'Colours In The Dark' comes as the next step up - slightly better than it's predecessor but, and this is where the frustration might set in, not quite as brilliant as you predict the next release will be. Editing the tracks a little more and emphasizing the true moments of beauty that linger within the songs is the next mission for team Tarja to take on.Watching an artist grow into the music that gave her the career she has  is not something you see everyday and Tarja is truly and deeply passionate, something many musicians don't retain after many years of the same old record-and-touring routine. She has eager ears and versatile lungs that want to explore. They want to learn and they want to become better. Listen to that aforementioned discography and you'll see how much Tarja has grown and become a force to be reckoned with in metal. 'Colours In The Dark' is nowhere near perfect but it's another chapter in the increasingly refined career of a woman that is, quite rightly, sticking her middle finger up at those who have written her off much too soon." - The Sonic Reverie
    $45.00
  • Fifth album from this young Dutch trio.  The band seems to be rising in popularity in Europe and Australia.  The band recorded this album in Georgia with producer Mark Neill (Black Keys).  The overall sound is intact - Hammond organ still is the focus - but there is a bluesy Southern vibe injected that reminds a bit to The Black Crowes.
    $24.00