Jazz

"Never bootlegged and known up until now only to a few faithful servants (and largely thought to have been lost for ever), these sessions offer a hitherto unrivalled look into the state of Finnish jazz and progressive rock between the years 1972-1977.

$23.00

"Svart Records is proud to reissue Olli Ahvenlahti's first three LPs. This is his third and most difficult to find album, Based on a Novel.

$21.00

"Svart Records is proud to reissue Olli Ahvenlahti's first three solo LPs on vinyl. This is his second and best known album The Poet.

$21.00

"1973 was an extremely prolific year for many a Finnish jazz musician.

$21.00

he Pop-Liisa and Jazz-Liisa broadcast session series presents previously unreleased and forgotten gems from the biggest names of Finnish prog and jazz of the 1970's

$23.00

The Pop-Liisa and Jazz-Liisa broadcast session series presents previously unreleased and forgotten gems from the biggest names of Finnish prog and jazz of the 1970's

$23.00

Previously unreleased studio session recorded for Finnish radio unearthed from the archives by Svart Records.

$23.00

Grey area live recording at a blow out price!

$7.00
Add to wishlist 

Grey area live recording at a blow out price.

$7.00
Add to wishlist 

"A particularly strong set by late-period Miles Davis, this LP is highlighted by a surprisingly straight-ahead performance titled "Mr.

$6.00
Add to wishlist 
VIEW MORE
Subscribe to RSS - Jazz
Laser Pic

customers also bought

SEE ALL
  • "Despite what the name might lead you to think, progressive metal is among the most static and boring of all heavy music genres. Half the bands that fall under the moniker exist merely as a vehicle to show off the skills of the players involved, which is fine in small doses, but rarely sustains a creative career. The other half of the bands stick rigidly to the blueprint of one of the fore-bearers of the genre, giving us music that sounds exactly like something we've already heard. Very little of progressive metal is actually interesting, because it is a genre that lacks people dedicated to the art of songwriting. Songs are what makes any band successful, no matter how much sheer musical skill they possess. Dream Theater didn't get to where they are just because they are amazing musicians, they also wrote a slew of great songs and albums. The number of progressive metal bands who have impressed me with their songwriting in recent years is miniscule, but I mention all of this because Ascendia is one of them.As “At The End Of It All” swells into focus with a tribal drum beat and chanted vocals, it's already obvious that this is not going to be prog-by-numbers. The song kicks into gear with a syncopated guitar riff, before the vocals soar over the top of everything, slapping a thick coat of melody atop the sound. There's a quiet section in the middle of the song that feels like a cousin of Killswitch Engage, which is a fresh sound to hear in this kind of music. When it opens back up into the chorus, the song is massive, and it's hard to believe all of that music was contained in five and a half minutes.The songs on the album are more bite-sized than typical progressive metal, but that plays into the band's strengths as songwriters. By keeping the songs lean and tight, they hit harder than if the instrumental sections had been extended by a minute here and there. There is interesting playing going on, but it's all done within the framework of the songs, and never put out front to dominate the spotlight. It's an approach that is smart not just because of how easy it is to get bogged down in instrumental pyrotechnics, but because an album of that sort would never be able to survive the Herculean vocal presence of singer Nick Sakal.With more than a little bit of similarity to the former singer of the aforementioned Killswitch Engage, Howard Jones, Sakal's vocals dominate the album, making you wonder where a voice like that could have come from. His baritone is warm, rich, and not at all what you would expect to hear in a band that isn't playing down-tuned hardcore.But what is most important are the songs, and that's where Ascendia proves themselves as standouts. Whether tackling more modern fare like “Remember Me”, or more traditionally melodic songs like “Moonchild”, there's a phenomenal blend of heavy riffing and soaring melody. I can't tell you how rare it is to hear a progressive metal band that is so in tune with melody, and can write songs that could stand up if they were stripped down to the chord structure and the vocals. We get an example of that with the duet ballad, “The Song That You Deserved”, a largely piano and voice song that is as beautiful as it is heart-breaking. Ascendia's ear for songs is excellent, and that is what makes “The Lion And The Jester” such an engaging listen. Song after song, there's a warm and inviting chorus waiting to wrap its arms around you after you've heard the heavy and intricate moments.This year has been off to a ridiculously great start, with at least half a dozen legitimately great records having already come my way. Add “The Lion And The Jester” to that list, because Ascendia is making progressive metal the way it was always supposed to be. Both challenging and gratifying, intense and cathartic, “The Lion And The Jester” is a phenomenal piece of work that reminds me of the very best progressive metal I've ever heard. This is an album you need to hear.Oh, and how awesome is that cover art? That is one album that will look as good as it sounds in a collection." - Bloody Good Horror
    $10.00
  • I can't remember a buzz on a band's debut since Circus Maximus.  Perhaps due to the album being released in Japan a year ago and its unavailability elsewhere, maybe because they are lined up to play ProgPowerUSA.  Whatever the reason the album finally gets a wide debut and it was worth the wait.  Damnation Angels is a British symphonic metal band fronted by a Norwegian singer.  He goes by the name PelleK and was a contestant on Norway's version of X Factor.  The band's stock in trade is epic sounding metal that pays a huge debt to Kamelot.  The instrumental passages take on the grandeur and scope of Nightwish.  PelleK does a sold job out front - he's obviously listened to a Khan quite a bit.  Highly recommended.
    $14.00
  • "Twelve years, eight studio albums, two live DVDs and tours that have taken them from Moscow to Quebec. Now one of the most enduring third wave progressive rock bands on the scene returns - a band that has never made an album using the same personnel as the previous album. In fact, the same lineup has (to date) never been used twice.But there are regulars. And some of the favorite regulars are back for the 8th album: Flower Kings bass legend Jonas Reingold; the ever-faithful and gifted Theo Travis, familiar to many from his work with the Steven Wilson band, Gong and Robert Fripp, with his arsenal of wind textures from saxophones to flutes; and the return to the fold of the amazingly talented Luke Machin, a guitar hero for a new generation who can even wow the old generations (and who also fronts his own band, Maschine). And of course there's band leader Andy Tillison (keyboards and vocals), the only member of the band to have played on all the records.This team is joined by Morgan Ågren, Swedish drumming phenomenon who can even count Frank Zappa among his previous jobs (others include, but not limited to, Kaipa, Devin Townsend, and his own acclaimed Mats/Morgan Band). Morgan introduces to The Tangent a real live energy full of inspiration and eccentricity.The band, who were only supposed to make one single album in 2003, are now back with their eighth! A Spark In the Aether is a joyous and uplifting romp that sees the band concentrating on their forté: delivering driving, melodic, thoughtful and inspired songs with a large grin on their faces as they do it."Using protest, sadness and negative images in music is a part of an artist's job" says Andy Tillison, "and it's something we have often done. But every so often I think we need to turn to the music itself and remember why it is we get so much from it. On this album I just wanted us to play - have fun, make music and mischief that can be enjoyed just for the sake of it"So, twelve years further down the line, after albums about dystopian societies, midlife crises, alienation, homelessness and communications - the Tangent return to the very beginning and once again celebrate The Music. You are invited to join in."
    $16.00
  • "Even though it has been a good forty years since the Swedish sextet Kaipa first appeared on the music scene, it was only back in 2012 and through exposure to their then latest studio album “Vittjar” that I was first introduced to their unique blend of melody-driven Progressive/Folk Rock.With that album having created such an impression, listening and reviewing the band’s latest material was something that I was more than keen on doing – perhaps in an attempt to discover whether founding keyboardist Hand Lundin & Co had managed to take full advantage of the positive press generated by the above-mentioned release.Soon the possibility to review “Sattyg” was presented to me and jumped at the opportunity. So, let’s see what Kaipa’s twelfth studio album has to offer.Similarly to its predecessor, “Sattyg” contains an interesting collection of thematically varied but pleasantly deceptive compositions, and, as you will soon find out, the word “deceptive” is complimentary.As I mentioned before, melody is an integral element in the band’s music, so what’s bound to initially and immediately attract your attention are various emotive vocal themes provided by the duet Patrik Lundström/Aleena Gibson, Per Nilsson’s flamboyant performances on the six string and/or Hand Lundin’s intelligently-crafted 70s themes keyboard parts.There is, however, a wealth of beautiful and cleverly hidden themes, mainly offered by the band’s dead-tight rhythm section, that only those of you willing to spend time on really listening to “Sattyg” will really profit from; these themes gradually reveal themselves to you every time you choose to revisit this beautiful album.Never the ones to shy away from a challenge, the members of Kaipa introduce their latest album with the epic-sounding “A Map Of Your Secret World” – what can only be described as fifteen minutes of pure musical joy!Opening with a stunning vocal melody by Aleena Gibson, the song works through a thematically challenging section that will make most Progressive Rock fans happy before evolving into a Folk tune whose memorable vocal lines are bound to stay with you for a while.Since joining Kaipa back in 2000, Aleena has helped shape the character of band’s second incarnation and no song demonstrates that better than “World Of The Void” – a composition filled with her strong and passionate performances.Dark vocal themes and jazzy rhythmical parts and clever bass lines characterise the appropriately-named “Screwd-upness” while the same-titled “Sattyr” find the band bring strong Kansas-influences to the surface in their attempt to indulge in their much-loved Folk Rock melodies.It should come as no surprise to anyone that the second most important composition of the album is also fairly long. Featuring stunning violin melodies, clever choral themes and a beautiful melody which is carrier by all instruments in clear succession, “A Sky Full Of Painters” is another impressive exercise in technical dexterity, while “Unique When We Fall” a great vocal duet by Lundström/ Gibson.Ever-changing rhythmical themes and a healthy parade of impressive melodies also characterise the nine and a half minute “Without Time – Beyond Time” – a song that offers a fitting, as well as a rewarding conclusion to this absolutely delightful album.It takes a very talented and pretty harmonious group of musicians in order to create an album as thematically challenging and approachable as “Sattyg”.There have been countless occasions, while listening to the seven compositions on offer, when I found myself lost in Jonas Reingold’s soulful bass themes, stunned by the flamboyant nature of Nilsson and Lundin’s melodies and/or captivated by the vocal contribution of both Lundström and Gibson, all of which convinced me that the album, the CD version of which I soon plan to add to my collection, is one that deserves every praise possible.Another great quality release by a band that’s clearly at the top of its game." - Get Ready To Rock
    $15.00
  • "Progressive rock and boy-band pop seem like natural enemies at first. The former's fascination with ornate, elongated passages of finger-exhausting musicianship is in almost every way the opposite of the latter's emphasis on catchiness first; it's hard to imagine turn-of-the-millennium hits like "Bye Bye Bye" with extended guitar and keyboard solos. Yet ever since A Doorway to Summer, their 2005 debut, Moon Safari has put to rest the notion that progressive-minded songwriters can't make pop that's as hook-driven as it is ostentatious. Grandiloquent epics like "Other Half of the Sky," from the 2008 double album Blomljud, weave together widescreen arrangements with the band's signature five-part vocal harmony, a feature unmatched by few groups in any genre, anywhere. It's easy to isolate the audience with solipsistic soloing and obtuse orchestrations, but from day one Moon Safari has made prog that—assuming the layperson were more amenable to songs that run upwards of thirty minutes—could lead them to something like a pop crossover hit.But while the union of hook-heavy vocal interplay and '70's prog stylistics gives Moon Safari an unmistakable, unique sound, it also handicapped them in a significant way for their first two LPs. The group's accessibility on A Doorway to Summer and Blomljud, along with its technical prowess, is unassailable, but the high-fructose sweetness of its style leads to a diabetic rush when stretched out onto songs that span ten to thirty minutes. For example, "Other Half of the Sky," the titanic thirty minute showstopper off of Blomljud, has so many memorable hooks that by the time it's run its time out, it's hard to remember all of them. The classic problem of "too many voices leads to a noisy room" was the defining problem of Moon Safari's otherwise enjoyable sound for some time. All that changed, however, in 2010 with the release of Lover's End.It is no exaggeration—even as the decade remains young—to say that Lover's End is one of the finest progressive rock records of the '00's. Hell, it's not even crazy to say that it's one of the finest pop albums of the '00s; anyone, even those turned off by prog's eccentricities, can find something to love on this mellifluous collection of songs. From the a cappella charm of "Southern Belle" to the hook-loaded "New York City Summergirl," Lover's End is chock full of goodness from beginning to end. What explains its genius is that in contrast to A Doorway to Summer and Blomljud, the songs are given exactly the amount of space they need, and not a second more. Some songwriters may feel hamstrung by the verse/chorus structure, but it's a perfect fit for Moon Safari's joyous approach to music.With their newest studio outing, Himlabacken, Vol. 1, Moon Safari continue the refining of their sound, and while this isn't the breakthrough that Lover's End was, it nonetheless attests to the brilliance of this group. Whereas the latter was bound by a loose concept (love and heartbreak), Himlabacken Vol. 1 is less a lyrics album than its predecessor. The cost of this is that the music is less distinct in its cohesiveness, but there are no shortage of catchy passages and amped-up solos. "Mega Moon" comes off as a tribute to musical theatre, with "The Very Model of A Modern Major General" vocal delivery interweaving with Queen-esque bombast to an impressive effect. "Too Young to Say Goodbye" sees and matches the polyharmonic beauty of "Lover's End (Part One)." By sticking to concise song formats—the longest cut here runs nine and a half minutes—Moon Safari ensures that things never run out of steam, an essential quality to any good progressive rock band.If nothing else, Himlabacken, Vol. 1 proves that there's one thing Moon Safari can't be accused of: being unaware of themselves. Grand finale "Sugar Band" is as much a statement of identity as it is a slice of epic pop: "Sweet and saccharine are we," they declare, followed by "syrup's the blood in our veins." (Less successful is the clumsy Katy Perry innuendo of, "suck our big candy canes," which is thematically consistent but tonally off.) Both "Sugar Band" and "Little Man," one of the few Moon Safari songs to feature a solo vocal, are emblematic of the mushiness that might turn some prog fans away from their music. The latter, while obviously a touching document of a father's love for his son, does feel a bit out of place in how deeply personal it is; part of the strength of this group's sonic is the universality of its pop appeal, and the intimacy behind "My Little Man" makes listening to it an almost voyeuristic experience. "Mega Moon" and "Sugar Band" are better at capturing the convivial spirit of the band that's accessible to all.As with past outings, even those drawn to vocal harmonies might find it hard to stomach all of the sweetness of Himlabacken, Vol. 1. But what ultimately makes this LP successful is its unpretentious commitment to fun. Moon Safari are a rare collective that prove daunting musical chops aren't anathema to accessibility, and with Himlabacken, Vol. 1 they've made a recording that, while not the magnum opus that Lover's End was, is as true a capturing of their ethos as there could ever be. Sating a sweet tooth brings to mind the phrase "guilty pleasure," but there's no guilt involved with music as first-class as this. Who knew being in a boy band could sound so classy? " - Sea Of Tranquility
    $16.00
  • Sound Of Contact is a new band put together by Simon Collins and session keyboardist Dave Kerzner.  Yeah - Simon is Phil's son.  The apple doesn't fall far from the tree - Simon plays drums and he also sings.  His voice is eerily like his dad.  At times virtually indistinguishable.  The music follows a similar path to Phil's work with Genesis and solo.  Parts of the album are pure prog - in fact the album closes with a killer 19 minute epic called "Mobius Slip".  Other parts of the album exhibit a poppier more commercial side.  I don't think of the album as a pop album - its a prog rock album.  Kerzner provides some very interesting keyboard work - lots of intricacies through out the album.  There is that commercial element that reminds me of Genesis in the 80s.  With his voice sounding so much like his father, Simon will always be cursed with being compared to Phil.  That's a fact.  Overall I think he's come up with an interesting album that fans of more contemporary progressive rock will enjoy.
    $12.00
  • Monumental album from Ritchie Blackmore/Ronnie James Dio. Worth it just for "Stargazer" alone. Remastered edition. Essential.
    $5.00
  • Cynthesis is a new band that reunites three of the original members of Zero Hour (Jasun and Troy Tipton, and Erik Rosvold) along with Enchant drummer Sean Flanagan.ReEvolution is the middle part of a dystopian trilogy begun with 2011’s DeEvolution. The central character, a shaman, is sent out to gather more slaves. He comes across a tribe and senses a light within them that triggers a distant memory of his past.  He realizes this is the original tribe he was taken from.  He brings them back to the city and encounters what was done to the population and sets them free.While Cynthesis maintains much of the Zero Hour tech metal influence, it also demonstrates the more melodic and atmospheric side of Jasun Tipton’s songwriting.  ReEvolution will appeal to fans of both progressive rock and metal.
    $13.00
  • The madcap French jazz metal trio return with their sixth album.  Morglbl consists of guitarist Christope Godin, bassist Ivan Rougny, and drummer  Aurelian Ouzoulias.  The band has toured extensively around the world – USA, Europe, Russia and even China!  They have shared the stage with Liquid Tension Experiment, Bumblefoot, and Umphrey’s McGee among others.These three virtuosos are also well endorsed clinicians and have developed a following individually but when they come together the fireworks really start.  Tea Time For Punks doesn’t deviate from the tried and true Morglbl formula.  Take equal parts fusion and crushing metal power chords, then inject a healthy dose of tongue in cheek humor and you’ve got the perfect Morglbl album. The band is often described as Primus meets Steve Vai and Allan Holdsworth, with flavors of Frank Zappa! 
    $13.00
  • MY BROTHER THE WIND is an improvisational cosmic rock collective consisting of members of widely known Swedish acts Makajodama, Magnolia, Animal Daydream and most notably Anekdoten, one of the more widely recognized names in the 1990s prog rock revival.Recorded live in the studio with no overdubs during a single day in January 2013, Once There Was A Time When Time And Space Were One captures the collective's progressive soundscape qualities with incredible analogue studio production. The band utilized 6 and 12 string acoustic and electric guitars, Mellotron, flute, bass, drums, congas and more to complete the task. Expect 45 minutes of the band's most succinct material to date, recorded deep in the snowy, forested, Swedish wilderness.In 2013, MBTW expanded into an even wider fanbase, having been invited to play the mighty Roadburn Festival in Tilburg, Holland, as well as at Duna Jam in Sardinia.  At the invitation of Opeth’s Mikael Okerfeldt, guitarist Nicklas Barker returned to Roadburn to perform an improv set with Dungen guitarist Reine Fiske.Those who frequent the works of Popol Vuh, Amon Duul, Sun Ra, Träd, Gräs Och Stenar, Albert Ayler, Ash Ra Tempel, Gong, Pink Floyd and other visionary, psychedelic rock artists are advised to investigate this act. "Lush and instrumental for its duration, My Brother the Wind‘s third full-length, Once There was a Time When Time and Space were One (released by Free Electric Sound/Laser’s Edge), rolls out of the speakers much easier than its title rolls off the tongue, though both title and the work itself satisfy rhythmically. The Swedish four-piece — they now seem to be a bass-less trio with Nicklas Barker (Anekdoten) and Mathias Danielsson (Makajodama) on electric/acoustic 12-strong guitar and Daniel Fridlund Brandt on drums, but Ronny Eriksson plays bass on the album — reportedly recorded live to two-inch tape on a vintage machine, and the passion they put in bleeds readily into the nine-song/45-minute outing, fleshed with liberal splashes of Mellotron courtesy of Barker to play up a ’70s prog feel in a piece like the 12-minute “Garden of Delights.” That’s hardly the only point at which those sensibilities emerge, but even more than that, the primary vibe here is one of gorgeous heavy psych exploration, the band adventuring and feeling their way through the material as they go.On peaceful moments like the title-track, which arrives as the penultimate movement before “Epilogue” leads the way back to reality — accordingly, “Prologue” brings us in at the start — that exploration is positively serene, the 12-string complemented by spacious electric tones spreading out across vast reaches, but Once There was a Time When Time and Space were One offers more than drone and psychedelic experiments. Subtly pushed forward by Brandt‘s drums, pieces like “Into the Cosmic Halo” and even “Epilogue” enact classic space rock thrust, and even “Song of Innocence Part 1,” the first part of the journey after the backward atmospherics of “Prologue” introduce, has some cosmic feel amid its echoing solos. Its subsequent complement, “Song of Innocence Part 2,” swells to life on an even more active roll, waves of amp noise up front while drums and bass groove out behind, waiting for the guitars to catch up, which they do in a suitably glorious payoff, relatively brief but masterfully engaging, setting a momentum that continues well into “Garden of Delights,” a focal point for more than its length.Because the songs flow so well one to the next, some directly bleeding, others giving a brief pause, and because later cuts like “Thomas Mera Gartz” — named in honor of the drummer for ’70s Swedish proggers Träd, Gräs och Stenar — and the title-track have a quieter take, it’s tempting to read some narrative into the shifts of Once There was a Time When Time and Space were One, but with the material not being premeditated, I’m not sure that’s the intention so much as a signal it’s well arranged. In any case, the album offers an immersive, resonant listen, with tonal richness to spare and the presence of mind to keep a sense of motion even in its stillest parts and a balance of organic elements — Danielsson‘s recorder and Brandt‘s percussion on “Misty Mountainside,” the 12-string, etc. — amid a wash of effects and swirling psychedelia. This attention to sonic detail makes Once There was a Time When Time and Space were One more than just a collection of jams, and adds further purpose to the already worthy cause of My Brother the Wind‘s thoughtful musings, wandering and not at all lost." - The Obelisk
    $13.00
  • “Known/Learned’ is the third album from this thought provoking progressive band from Brisbane, Australia.  It’s a sprawling 2CD collection of themes and moments, captured between recurring characters. While never explicitly told in the traditional vein of the ‘concept album’, the imagery of Known/Learned depicts fragmented moments in the lives of a father and his daughter, their loss, their love, their journey. A bittersweet love song for life.Occupying a unique place in the Australian progressive music scene, Arcane’s transcendental live performances and 2009’s critically acclaimed, dark and enigmatic concept album 'Chronicles Of The Waking Dream' have earned them a inimitable reputation as one of Australia’s premier progressive rock bands.Sharing stages with artists as diverse as Anathema (UK), Soilwork (Swe), Queensryche (USA), Dead Letter Circus, Ne Obliviscaris and hundreds more, Arcane's live show, often accompanied by a backdrop of staggering visualizations, is a vast sensory experience.Arcane's immersive sound, and the vocals of Jim Grey quickly found favor throughout Australia, headlining the annual Progfest tour, providing touring support for Ne Obliviscaris, and performing to capacity crowds at Sonic Forge Festival in Melbourne. A crowd funding campaign in July, 2013 heralded the 2015 release of 'Known/Learned' a 16 track conceptual double album. Arcane blends the technicality of progressive metal with the atmospheric intensity of bands like Tool, Riverside and Anathema.  The world is about to discover what their Australian fan base already knows – that Arcane is a rising star in the world of progressive music.
    $14.00
  • Withem is an up and coming Norwegian progressive metal band, inspired by the likes of Symphony X, Pagan’s Mind, Dream Theater and Circus Maximus.The band started to take shape in 2011 when Øyvind Voldmo Larsen (guitars) and Ketil Ronold (keyboards) met the gifted drummer Frank Nordeng Røe. Soon they were joined by the vocal talents of Ole Aleksander Wagenius and bass duties were taken care of by the special guest Andreas Blomqvist from Seventh Wonder.Withem’s debut offers varied sonic landscapes for the listener to explore, ranging from guilty-pleasure choruses permeated with memorable vocal hooks, to symphonic epic themes.  The unique vocal range of Ole Aleksander Wagenius gives the band a distinctive touch to tackle the overcrowded progressive metal scene.The passion and dedication put into the album is emphasized by the countless hours spent in studio perfecting each individual performance and making sure that the end result is a world class blend of progressive, symphonic and power metal.The Point Of You was mastered by Markus Teske (Vanden Plas, Saga, Spock's Beard)
    $13.00
  • "Once they hit their first stride early in the mid Nineties with `Perelandra', American progressive rock band Glass Hammer have delivered a consistently strong series of symphonic-prog albums, earning the well-deserved reputation as one of the premier modern bands playing in that style along the way. Two of their albums in particular, first 2002's `Lex Rex' and the epic double-set `The Inconsolable Secret' three years later are often considered modern symphonic classics (and fans of the group will happily argue back and forth amongst each-other about which of their numerous other releases over the years can join those two!), but 2016 finally brings not only the undisputed next album to join that duo, but one that is likely to become the defining Glass Hammer album of their entire career to date.`Valkyrie', a lyrically rich concept work telling the tale of a loving couple separated by war and a soldier's eventual emotional and mental struggle upon returning home is ripe for a lyrically and musically dramatic interpretation, and the group completely convey the trauma and turmoil with great sincerity and empathy - certainly a grounded story a world away from the fantastical elements so often found on progressive rock albums! But while fans and progressive music listeners only aware of the type of style Glass Hammer play in would be right to expect another grand symphonic work to match the story, what will likely surprise everyone is just how modern sounding this `retro prog' band is throughout the disc. It's still instantly recognisable as the Glass Hammer their fans know and love, but this is hardly some mere vintage prog re-enactment. `Valkyrie' sees the band experimenting with little traces of elegant cinematic grandness, Post Rock, jazz-fusion, psych-pop, electronica and even hints of heavier rock, making for a work with a rejuvenating, eclectic and contemporary edge that has all the musicians sounding completely refreshed and determined to impress.With previous singer Carl Groves away from the group again for now, the time is perfect for three of the most important contributors to the Glass Hammer sound to reclaim their throne. Taking the well-deserved leading lady spotlight once again and delivering a career best performance is Susie Bogdanowicz, and far from being just a lovely singer with a pretty vocal, as always she brings true spirit, powerful conviction and a dramatic heart that puts most of her fellow contemporary prog ladies in check. It's also a delight to discover GH founding members, bass player Steve Babb and keyboardist Fred Schendel, taking equally as many of the lead vocals again too (especially the latter). They might not quite have the bigger vocal ranges that past singers such as Groves, Jon Davison and others had, but they've been singing on Glass Hammer discs since the beginning, and their voices have always been full of personality and character, making this something of a `homecoming' vocally for them, and a real joy to hear for long-time Glass Hammer fans. The two other players are now long established in the group and must be well on the way to be part of what can be considered the `definitive' Glass Hammer line-up - Aaron Raulston's drums rumble with such variety, depth and purpose, solidifying him as the best and most complex drummer to ever be a part of the band, and gifted guitarist Kamran Alan Shikoh once again finds way to delivering equally ravishing and subdued performances, reaching in some surprising directions here we've never heard of on previous Hammer discs.Launching right from the start into delirious proggy excess balls-and-all (or as politely as prog can do `balls-and-all!'), `The Fields We Know' bombards the listener with plenty of what Glass Hammer do so well - up-tempo and lively colourful instrumental flashes racing in all directions alongside catchy vocal passages with the perfect mix of whimsy, warmth and drama. It makes for an energetic opener that instantly calls to mind their `Lex Rex' album, with moments of dreaminess and little playful call-outs to Genesis, all backed to Steve's rumbling bass leaping about loud and proud - is there seriously a better bass player active today performing this type of prog music who always sounds this good?! Next up, `Golden Days' is sprightly and warm to match the wistful lyric, full of Fred's always sublime zippy keyboard solos and embracing Susie and Fred vocals with glorious multi-part group harmonies, but a Pink Floyd-flavoured electric-piano come-down and grinding brooding guitars to end on hint of approaching darkness. `No Man's Land' is mostly comprised of several lengthy instrumental passages, including a booming synth introduction, manic jazz-fusion twists, loopy percussion twitches and seamless bursts up and down in tempo, an unsettling edge to an eerie droning spoken-word-like interlude and a distortion-heavy stormy climax the final destination.But even when the band isn't charging headfirst into a dozen different proggy directions there's still wonderful things to discover. Instrumental `Nexus Girl' bristles with slinking electronics, programmed beats and Post Rock-flavoured chiming guitars behind the whirring synths, and the simpler Steve-sung title track `Valkyrie' is dreamy and drowsy psychedelic pop that eventually rises in power. Alan's chugging heavier guitars and Steve's mud-thick menacing bass make `Fog of War' rumble with a toughness, and the track holds one of the most joyful and unashamedly poppy choruses the band have ever delivered with a strong crossover appeal (well, if the rest of the track wasn't Prog dialled up to 11!).`Dead and Gone' effortlessly moves between melancholic, hopeful and mischievous! Sad piano and a treated haunting vocal from Susie cry ethereally from beyond throughout, but creaky Mellotron-slices, humming organ and life-affirming guitars lift the track in hope and victory, but still with a looming tension. It's a nice showcase for Kamran too, who's guitars offer everything from weeping strains, infernal snarling bites and cutting jazz-fusion fire all in under ten minutes - and just dig that darkly grooving finale from the fellas!The pristine `Eucatastrophe' is a heart-breaking Susie-led ballad, the chiming classical guitars throughout reminding of the final moments of Genesis' `Dancing with the Moonlit Knight', and it's one of the most precious and sobering moments on the disc before the piece dashes into tougher E.L.P-flavoured keyboard flare. The opening acoustic guitar reflection and pin-drop still piano of final track `Rapturo' show just how well the band deliver quieter, sedate moments, the rest of the carefully focused piece going on to soar with Anathema-like reaching guitar shimmers and a dignified powerful vocal send-off from Susie that makes for an album closer unlike any to appear on a Glass Hammer before.A widescreen masterclass example of current progressive music that perfectly fuses vintage and modern sounds with an equally on-point balance of subtlety and bombast, Glass Hammer have completely set the symphonic-prog standard of the year with `Valkyrie', their most ambitious, mature, grandiose, vocally exquisite and instrumentally rich work to date. Long-time fans will absolutely adore it but also likely be very surprised as well, and newcomers to the group could not pick a better place to start exploring their wondrous music. Crackling with warmth, variety, inspiration and overall progressive music excellence, it is very possibly the greatest musical statement of Glass Hammer's near 25-year career so far, but indisputably one of the finest and most essential prog discs of 2016." - ProgArchives
    $12.00