The Twenty Seven Club (CD/DVD)

Magenta's latest finds them returning to an overtly progressive rock sound and the music is all the better for it.  The Twenty Seven Club is a concept album based around famous rock stars that died at the age of 27 (Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Jimi Hedrix, Kurt Cobain, ao).  The core lineup is Rob Reed, Christina Booth, and Chris Fry.  For this album the band is rounded out by guest drummer Andy Edwards of IQ.  Reed's keyboard work is back in the fore and Fry's Howe-isms on guitar always bring a polish to the music (and grin on the face).  Christina Booth's voice is a real gift and she shines as always.  Overall the music makes some overt references to Yes and Genesis so you get that old school flavor that the band hasn't offered in many years.  The album arrives in a special edition with a bonus DVD.  You get the complete album in a 5.1 mix, documentary footage and a promo video for one of the tunes.  Highly recommended.

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  • "Four years in the making, Norway's Triosphere returns with their third album, The Heart of the Matter. It was worth the wait. While reviewed previously on this site by another reviewer, this is my first experience with the band.There's many things to like about Triosphere. Not the least of which, for a female-fronted band, is that vocalist and bassist Ida Haukland is a pure melodic metal singer, not swaying to the extremes of operatic or death vocals. Another significant element is simply their superb sense of songwriting. They have an arsenal of weapons to draw from whether an abundance of catchy riffs, a strong melody, vocal harmony, notable rock groove, or sizzling leads. I think, more than anything, the guitar structure, riffs and leads, are rather immense and attractive, propelling the album. You can't avoid the swell of riffs and leads within songs such as Steal Away The Light or As I Call, melodic and inspiring. But Triosphere wraps all these elements up in imaginative and entertaining arrangements, nearing progressive metal, that make for essential melodic metal listening.While the entire album is a rich tapestry of melodic metal, a few songs deserve some attention thanks to some interesting passages within. One is Breathless, a steady sturdy number that has this interesting breakdown after the half way point. The riffs collapse for this light guitar work, almost fusion, over equally slight drums. Another terrific song follows in Departure. It has its share of riffs and some staccato drums, but once more, it's the latter guitar segue that grabs you. More emotive and lighter leads over subtle bass and drums. A third song of interest is the later Remedy with a smooth melody and enormous vocal harmony. But the kicker, once more, is the guitar breakdown in the latter half. Different than the previous songs, it's sharper and heavier, riff based yet fiery, and propelled by some intricate drumming. Finally, the entire swail of riffage is abandoned at the end of the album for the acoustic and gentle ballad Virgin Ground. A respite perhaps? All in all, Triosphere, with The Heart of the Matter, has turned out a rather terrific and enjoyable album of melodic heavy metal. Easily recommended." - Dangerdog
    $16.00
  • Limited edition boxed set, celebrating the 40th anniversary of the classic King Crimson album Larks' Tongues in Aspic: 13CDs, 1DVD-A, 1Blu-Ray in 12” box with booklet and memorabilia. DVD-A featuring 5.1 new surround mix, original and new stereo mixes in hi-res stereo, a full album of alt mixes by Steven Wilson and more than 30 minutes of unseen footage of the band live in the studio. Blu-Ray content as per DVD-A with further hi-res stereo material – all presented in DTS Master audio, 4CDs of studio content including CD of session reels featuring the first recorded takes of all pieces on the album, 1CD live in the studio, 8CDs of live audio restored bootlegs and soundboard recordings plus a 36 page booklet with an extensive new interview with Robert Fripp, notes by King Crimson biographer Sid Smith, album sleeve print, concert ticket replica (with code for further concert download) and band photo postcards.
    $149.00
  • Devin Townsend continues to be a true cutting edge progressive artist. Synchestra straddles the prog rock world as well as that of his agressive metal band Strapping Young Lad. The music stops and turns on a dime going from quiet acoustic interludes to a firestorm of shred, acidic vocals and blast beat rhythms. Long time buddy Steve Vai appears, contributing a solo on one track. This one is a challenging listen which is what progressive music is supposed to be about.
    $13.00
  • Third album from this New Jersey symphonic rock band.  All of the band's albums are conceptual pieces based around literary works.  In fact the band's name is derived from a Ray Bradbury story.  On A Dark And Stormy Night is based on Madeleine L'Engle's fantasy novel of the same name.  The album is a wet dream for any fan of symphonic prog.  As I make my way through the album I'm frequently reminded of some similarities to Glass Hammer.  This is very keyboard driven music with a healthy amount of guitar leads.  There are even some nice Mellotron sounds popping up now and then.  These guys dream big and hit the mark.  Highly recommended.
    $11.00
  • "A never before released full length concert album from one of the greatest undiscovered gems of 70s rock, Captain Beyond!Formed in 1971 by members of Deep Purple, Iron Butterfly & Johnny Winter s band, Captain Beyond is heavy, spacey and most definitely FAR OUT!This show was recorded just after the release of the band s second album, Sufficiently Breathless, during the their tour with King Crimson!Liner notes by noted rock historian Dave Thompson!"
    $15.00
  • "This is the second expanded edition of this 1968 paean to psychedelia to have appeared in just 28 months -- it was preceded by a "Deluxe Edition" two-disc hybrid SACD/CD edition from Polydor's European division in the late winter of 2006; apparently, those in charge of the label either didn't think the U.S. could support that high-priced package, or that the Super-Audio CD market is purely a European and Japanese phenomenon. Whatever the reason, this edition has shown up here with no multi-channel SACD layer, but with the remastered CD sound from that hybrid release. In Search of the Lost Chord was originally the most poorly-served of all the Moodies' original albums on CD, with a late-'80s edition from Polydor that literally had a crack in the sound on one song. Since then successive remasterings have made it one of the group's more satisfying CDs, as the nuances and layers are brought out -- the original album was done in a spirit of experimentation that was unusual for a pop album, with the members very consciously seeking out the richest, most outre sounds that they could generate in the studio, piling on one exotic instrument after another, along with many layers of voices; they would get better and bolder at this process over the next two albums (until they realized, in 1969, that they'd painted themselves into a corner as far as actually performing their new material on-stage); but beneath the psychedelic sensibilities on numbers like "Voices in the Sky," "The Best Way to Travel," "Legend of a Mind" etc., as one listens to the cleanest, crispest mix the record has yet had on CD (and one should state here that the multi-channel SACD mix on the European Deluxe Edition does outdo it), in the layers of finely nuanced playing, one does get a real sense of five musicians reveling in their own skills (and perhaps a recently ingested controlled substance or two) and the freedom to take them as far as the moment will carry them. That experimental nature has always resided just below the surface of what was otherwise a very pretty and smooth exercise in pop music mysticism ("Visions of Paradise" is still one of the most profoundly beautiful records this reviewer has ever heard from the psychedelic era) -- but here it's a little more up front, amid the enhanced clarity, and one would like to think it could help this album hold and renew its audience for another 40 years. The sound is so good that it's almost a shame that anything was put on here after "Om," the original album closer, but it was obligatory in these times that there be bonus tracks -- and as there was less room here than on the Disc Two of the Deluxe Edition, some decisions had to be made about removing some extras. The released Mike Pinder-sung version and the alternate Justin Hayward-sung take of "A Simple Game" are present, bookending the bonus tracks, whilst the rest includes the Mellotron track for "The Word," the lost Hayward song "What Am I Doing Here," two BBC performances ("Dr. Livingston, I Presume," "Thinking Is the Best Way to Travel"), and extended, unfaded versions of "Om" etc. They would be certain to delight serious fans, except that it's hard to imagine too many of the latter not having already bought them on the Deluxe Edition of this album over the preceding two years. Still, they may open the door to the group's sound a little further for the casually curious." - Allmusic
    $20.00
  • Dial is the new project put together by Kristoffer Gildenlow upon his departure from Pain Of Salvation. His partners are Liselotte Hegt and Rommert van der Meer, formerly of Dutch prog metal band Cirrha Niva. The music has a modern feel with emphasis on mood and textures. I'm reminded a bit of Kate Bush. Some nice male/female harmonies. The band is rounded out by Elegy drummer Dirk Bruinenberg with contributions on vocals by Devon Graves (Dead Soul Tribe). Certainly a bit different and nothing at all like PoS.
    $3.00
  • Stumbled across a reference to this Italian band on a forum and really enjoyed what I heard.  Bloody things cost a fortune and I was disappointed to discover that they are in fact CD-Rs.  Caveat Emptor.  At  least the music is great.Castle Fusion is a six piece ensemble.  The band has phenomenal chops and are not afraid to show it off.  The music also has a real sense of maturity.  I don't know anything about these guys but they sound like seasoned veterans.  The music definitely falls in the realm of "Rock Progressivo Italiano".  Vocals are predominantly in English although there are a couple of tunes with Italian vocals (and two instrumentals).  Its a really nice blend of symphonic keys, flute, sax, jazz-inflected guitar leads and a killer rhythm section.  These guys can really blow.  Fans of Banco, PFM, and Osanna should check them out.  Highly recommended.
    $16.00
  • So here's my personal confession...after Neal left I felt that Spock's Beard lost their way.  Nick is a fine vocalist but there was something quirky about Neal's writing that had a reverential old school quality that I found lacking.  The albums didn't grab me.  Nick left and Ted Leonard took over on vocals.  Whether it was Enchant or Thought Chamber, he's always stood out and he fits Spock's Beard quite well.  The new drummer Jimmy Keegan slipped into the blend with no dificulty.  The result is (to my mind) a resurgence from this band.  Ryo Okumoto always puts on a show - in particular his heavy reliance on Hammond organ reminds me quite a bit of Steve Walsh.  In fact the sound of the whole album has a Kansas vibe. Coincidentally David Ragsdale guests on one track.  I'm not sure I can remember the last time I said this about a Spock's Beard album - Highly recommended."Very few bands are so recognizable that you know who you are listening to within 2 seconds.  That is all it takes at the beginning of the first track on The Oblivion Particle to know you are listening to Spock’s Beard.  There is no slow buildup or keyboard swells, just straight BAMM!, here we go.  And if the opening notes don’t get you, the organ 5 seconds in will.  The band’s 12th studio album, this one the second with singer Ted Leonard and drummer Jimmy Keegan, is a culmination of years of perfecting a sound and identity, one that not even 2 major lineup changes could fracture. With this new album, Spock’s Beard up their game again and show that this lineup is here to stay.If there was a track that defined what Spock’s Beard are, it might be the opening track, “Tides of Time.”  There are certain checklist items that mark their sound and they are all in this track.  The organ, the harmonies, the acoustic breakdown, the rocking middle and the epic ending.  Each member finds their moments to shine on this one and it provides a jaw-dropping sound overload that could leave one satisfied at that moment; only there is another 60 minutes to go.The album zigs and zags through a few more experimental moments, mixing in some surprises with more traditional Prog elements.  The album’s second track and first single is “Minion”, is a perfect example.  The opening a cappella harmonies provide the sort of memorable chorus and harmonies we’ve come to expect from the group.  While, the following distorted keyboard section is also standard Spock’s Beard.  But the verse and middle of the song is much darker and takes us on a surprising journey.The most unique song the album is the brilliantly titled “Bennett Built a Time Machine”, which the album’s cover is based on.  Drummer Jimmy Keegan takes lead on the vocals here and sounds incredible.  His voice actually fits the track better than Leonard’s probably would have.  The song is one of the album highlights and helps keep the record from sounding redundant.  It is almost a pop song most of the way through until turning on the jets and shifting into Prog mode.There are some heavier moments such as “Hell’s Not Enough” and “Get Out While You Can”. “The Center Line”, however, might be the most similar to something you might have found on their group’s previous album “Brief Nocturnes…”  The track opens with an expansive piano recital piece, before turning into a combo Prog-Western bounce with acoustic guitars carrying the groove. Ted’s voice lifts the choruses flawlessly and creates an almost cinematic soundscape.Even with all of these great moments, it is the album’s closing track that is the best song on the album.  “Disappear” might be one of the best songs the band has recorded since Neal left the group.  “We could disappear, you and me, we could be, anyplace else not here” sings Ted in the chorus as he wonders what might be if we left with no one knowing what happened.  The song is really the closest thing to a ballad on the album, but it doesn’t stay that way for long.  2 minutes in, the song stirs into a frenzy just before a brief cameo by Kansas’ David Ragsdale, appearing with his violin.  Of course, the big epic orchestral ending takes us home as Alan Morse provides the finishing touches with his unique finger picking soloing excellence.Spock’s Beard are Prog rock’s most reliable unit.  They have yet to disappoint and always provide comfort to their faithful fans with music that is both inspiring and breathtaking.  And while The Oblivion Particle shows a harder edged Spock’s Beard, it also displays a group that shows no signs of slowing down and is ready to take on all comers." - The Prog Report 
    $12.00
  • Limited edition digipak with three bonus tracks."What can we say about Liv Kristine, a beautiful Scandinavian enchantress, who has been one of the most prominent figures of gothic metal for the past 20 years and was a part of pioneering the beauty and the beast vocal style of singing? We first got to know her more than unique, angelic soprano when we met her as one of the front figures in a legendary gothic metal band Theatre Of Tragedy, but meanwhile she also set herself a solo career in 1998, with her romantic and beautifully gloomy debut Deus Ex Machina. She continued in a bit lighter manner, with following three releases Enter My Religion, Skintight and Libertine being slightly goth influenced pop-rock records, full of upbeat and catchy tunes, in which she still managed to radiate a crestfallen feel and evolve more and more vocally with each and every release. Now she presents us with her 5th full length album, which carries its title after a potent herb, which is known as one of the greatest weaknesses of vampires: Vervain.With Vervain, Liv Kristine decided to return to her roots and take us on a beautiful journey through dark rock with so many various influences; ranging from gothic metal, doom metal and even pop. Her first single, "Love Decay", which features Michelle Darkness from End Of Green on vocals, is a wonderful drive down the memory lane, as their duet and dreamy keyboards - especially at the very ending of the song - nostalgically take us more than a decade in the past - in the era of Theatre of Tragedy's marvelous creation Aégis. Their voices couldn't fit together more perfectly, as they create an amazing, emotional and heartbreaking atmosphere just by singing. It's not a coincidence Liv Kristine has collaborated with so many musicians, since she knows just how to entwine two different voices and voice colours to exist in perfect symbiosis.  Another duet, this time with the legendary vocalist Doro Pesch, is presented in a song "Stronghold Of Angels" and the very beginning of the song goes even further in the past, as its slow and doom-esque intro reminds of Theatre Of Tragedy's earliest works - the eponymous debut and Velvet Darkness They Fear. And you can imagine, with two strong vocalists such as Liv Kristine and Doro nothing can go wrong and Doro's powerful and slightly raspy voice again creates the ambivalent feel alongside Liv's crystalline soprano. "My Wilderness", "Vervain" and "Elucidation" are at the same time gracious and strong, slightly harsher songs, which will please the fans of Leaves Eyes. Their dense and rich song structure, alongside Liv's fierce vocals and guitars, which are flirting with alternative metal, certainly bring an unique ambiance to it, being at the same time romantically frail and glamorously dark. While "Lotus" is the fragile ballad and "Creeper" the power ballad of the album, "Two And A Heart" and "Oblivious" again present the colours of early Theatre Of Tragedy; "Oblivious" with doom oriented guitars and "Two And A Heart" with Liv's more than perfect vocal performance and additional piano tune, creating a doleful and sombre sound.It's more than enjoyable to once again hear Liv Kristine peering into the depths of gothic metal and including the typical romantic, yet saddened ambient into the songs, subsequently creating - well - a small theatre of tragedy inside each and every track.  All songs carry a very strong and dramatic structure; starting gently and building suspense to a peak of a story and then ending with a memorable crescendo, either by changing the tempo or adding more guitars; each and every track has a story of its own. While the rhythm section is gentler on Vervain, the guitars and keyboards alongside emotional, layered vocals create the core of the album. Ranging from upbeat and powerful melodies, through heartsore and gloomy tracks to fragile ballads, Vervain offers a wide array of highly captivating and intense sounds, evoking an extensive spectre of emotions and veils the whole album in a melancholic atmosphere, which will undoubtedly please the old and the new fans of Liv Kristine." - Terra Relicta
    $13.00
  • Tremendous pedigree follows this new Swedish band. Dionysus was put together by Johnny Ohlin, guitarist from the late lamented Nation, and drummer Ronny Milianowicz late of Sinergy. Fronting the quintet is Olaf Hayer who has sung on Luca Turilli's solo projects. The album was produced by Edguy's Tobias Sammet and mixed by Tommy Newton (Helloween and Ark). This is well crafted melodic power metal with touches of speed and neoclassical guitar. To my ears this sounds like Angra or perhaps a stripped down version of Rhapsody - it's more direct and less bombastic. I was a big fan of Nation so it's great to hear Johnny Ohlin playing again.
    $12.00
  • The Japanese jazz scene is finally getting the attention it deserves.  Long written off as just a scene filled with copycats of American and European artists, jazz fans around the world are now discovering that there was some amazing music being created there.  Some of the musicians like Terumasa Hino and Masabumi Kikuchi crossed over into the world jazz scene but for the most part many of the musicians there only gained popularity in Japan.  One of the most important Japanese jazz labels from the 70s was Three Blind Mice.  It was started in 1970 by producer Takeshi "Tee" Fuji.  The label adhered to strict audiophile standards and all of the releases on the label featured exemplary sonics.  The music of Three Blind Mice tended to fall into three facets of jazz (they would crossover from time to time).  Some of the artists play very traditional straight ahead jazz.  Frankly while this stuff appeals to audiophiles its not that appealing beyond the sonics.  There was also an experimental side to the label featuring a lot of free jazz blowing.  The third aspect, which to my ears is the most interesting, is the area where the label explored modal jazz, often with an electric element.  Very little of it would be hardly be called fusion, but a rock element would sometimes be present.  This falls into the realm that has been broadly tagged as "kosmigroov".The label only existed in the 70s and the rights to the catalog has now passed over to Sony Music.  Think Records in Japan has started a limited ediiton reissue campaign of the Three Blind Mice label.  They arrive in mini-LP sleeves and are manufactured using Sony's proprietary Blu-Spec process.  We are cherry picking titles we think should have your attention.  More will follow in the near future.I don't know what the back story is on this album but it has to be a funny one.  Easily by far the most out of place release to have come out on Three Blind Mice.  As far as I can tell its the only progressive rock album to have been released by the label.  The cover art would make you think of some weird Japanese pop band but it couldn't be further from that.  Jimmy, Yoko & Shin consists of Jimmy Shironaga (acoustic guitar, electric bass, and vocal), Yoko Sumiya (electric keyboards), and Shin Okabe (drums/percussion).  Apparently they won first prize in the Japanese Jazz Grand Prix.  Perhaps the prize was a record deal with TBM?The album consists of three tracks - one of which is only 3 minutes long.  Large parts of the album sound like outtakes from the first Emerson Lake & Palmer album with an injection of Canterbury.  Interspersed vocals are in Japanese and are based on 1000 year old Japanese literature (as if we would know the difference!).  The whole craziness is sewn together with the wonderful audiophile production that we expect from Three Blind Mice.  Highly recommended.
    $29.00
  • Deluxe digipak version comes with a bonus NTSC DVD featuring "The Making Of Trust".
    $15.00
  • Another winner from this fine Savatage offshoot.  
    $15.00