Within Progress – Inner

Inner Album Cover Art

Within Progress – Inner
Self-Released
Release Date: 21/10/21
Running Time: 01:04:38
Review by Simon Black
9/10

I have a soft spot for the Greek acts, being part Hellenic myself, but have only discovered the movement only fairly recently, having got back into this reviewing lark during the pandemic. I have been delighted to see that it’s as varied and diverse as the islands themselves, and it’s always a delight when something new comes a long and grabs my attention, as so few of these bands ever seem to make it to the UK.

But to be clear to all press officers out there, one thing that’s not going to help you further your artistes’ cause is making it really bloody difficult to actually listen to their music for our reviews. Unfortunately, this is not helped by the fact that a small minority of Metal fans are happy to peer share their music on the internet (something we here at Ever Metal fundamentally disapprove of). And so, the labels and bands jump through all sorts of technical hoops to try and stop this, including the dreaded cloud stream format, and worst of all, Windows .wav files, which are an inferior format that’s not going to do Progressive music any favours whatsoever, given it’s a sub-genre that revels in its technical and recording prowess. We don’t get paid for this, fitting in our reviews around work and family life, and when faced with more music than we can possibly review in time, it’s not unusual to try simply just opting for something else if physically playing the records becomes too much of a technical challenge! Now that I’ve got that out of my system, I have to say I am glad that I decided to get bloody-minded about this and spend half an hour converting the files into a usable format anyway (and that’s why these hoops are pointless, as the copyright thief is going to get past these measures faster than I could), as this Greek five piece have produced a thoroughly fascinating record.

With only an EP and single released to date, pre-pandemic, this first full-length release is an important one. This is fairly dark and moody Progressive Metal, with quite a mainstream allure, and a slightly Alternative edge that gives life, breath, and space for these songs to breathe. The album opens well using this subtle approach, with the energetic and radio friendly single ‘Absolute Circle’ wisely positioned as the second track. Although there are bursts of speed from time to time, this is more about tensely restrained energy, which creates an incredible atmosphere and sense of expectation. Vocalist Efthimis has a clear and distinctive voice, full of emotion and presence, but embedded as part of a cohesive overall band sound. To add to this, he is supported by some superb vocal harmonies from the rest of the band, that scream early 70’s Pink Floyd, despite the fact that this is a thoroughly modern sounding band. This is as much Rock as it is Metal and, although the down-tuning and heaviness is definitely there, so is a subtly well-crafted vein of commercial sentiment, that deserves this band a place in the burgeoning New Wave of Classic Rock movement. The instrumental work is truly stunning as well, and feels like a cohesive band, not a bunch of individuals trying to show their skills off, which is why this is such a strong album. As is so frequently the case in Prog music, the skill at the mixing desk matches that on the instruments, and is almost an instrument in itself, which supports these beautifully and well-crafted songs to perfection.

It’s not a hurried affair, but the hour and a bit does fly by surprisingly quickly, which is a sure sign of really strong song-writing skills. Having spent so much time getting to the point of playing these songs, I probably have not had the chance to give this sort of subtle and layered music the repeated listens it, and most Prog records, deserve! But that doesn’t matter, as I know I’m not done with this one yet.

TRACKLISTING:
1. Sky We Want, Sky We Love
2. Absolute Circle
3. Destructional
4. Reach for the Stars
5. Hidden Wound
6. Sunlight Whispers
7. Buridan’s Paradox
8. True Colours
9. Us, the Constellations
10. Absence of Judgement
11. Of a Ruminant
12. Pathos

LINE-UP:
Giorgos – Bass
Polydoros – Drums
Vangelis – Guitar
Efthimis – Vocals
Tasos – Piano / Guitar

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Simon Black and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Black Sites – Untrue

Untrue Album Cover Art

Black Sites – Untrue
Self-Released
Release Date: 08/10/2021
Running Time: 43:51
Review by Simon Black
7/10

Prog Metal is, probably, simultaneously the hardest and the most likely to benefit from the new remote recording models forced on the world’s musicians in the last eighteen months. On the one hand, you more often are talking about a cadre of musicians who are usually not short of some serious technical skills both with their instruments and the technology behind the recording process, – hence the reason so many self-produce. On the other hand, we are also talking about a sub-genre of the Metal world (or perhaps Empire would be more accurate a collective noun) where subtle interplay, shared musical shorthand and improvisational precision (what an oxymoron) are crucial in creating an end product that is both technically complex but a fluid living thing. The consequence of recent events has meant many Prog albums that have sounded clinically precise, but lack the emotion that comes from face to face writing and recording.

“Untrue” does utilise a producer, but is ninety percent remotely delivered. Oddly, it has an enormous element of freshness and groove that others in the genre have recently failed to capture. The presence of a producer helps, because you have a third party able to offer opinion and constructive criticism regarding arrangements and temper the technical flourishes to enable accessibility. In this instance the production has also delivered a really rough and ready garage feel to the sound mix, which means instead of the acoustically over-polished sound that often comes at the expense of energy, this whole thing actually feels like it was recorded in a rehearsal room environment or could be coming at you live. Once you adjust your head to that concept, then the album flies out of the speakers and steals you away.

This is the third full length release from the Chicago-based three piece and quite frankly it’s a doozy. It has a huge amount of energy to go with that fresh feel, but frustratingly takes a couple of tracks to get into its groove, picking up the pace and energy as it goes like a boulder on its way down a mountain. It does that with a guitar sound and groove that wouldn’t sound out of place in a Stoner setting, but technically varied enough to never get boring. That said, for a Prog album it does not outstay its welcome, with tracks around the five to six minute mark as standard, with all eight of them coming in under forty-five minutes of run time. ‘They Eat Their Young’ steals the show for me, with its belting pace energy, roaring rhythm riffs and galloping bass line, but with enough subtle fills and time complexities to get the musos nodding in approval, you can see this tearing up a live crowd balancing the technical with the accessible perfectly, which to be fair is a great summary of the whole album.

‘They Eat Their Young’ (Audio)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Sword Of Orion
02. Call It By Its Name
03. Lost Tribes
04. Echo Of A Lie
05. The Worst Of Us
06. Nocturne/Everything Went Black
07. They Eat Their Young
08. White Ashes

LINE-UP:
Mark Sugar – Vocals, Guitar
Ryan Bruchert – Guitar, Vocals
Garry Naples – Drums

LINKS:

Black Sites Promo Pic

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Simon Black and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

All Seeing Eyes – Reinventing Time

Reinventing Time Album Cover Art

All Seeing Eyes – Reinventing Time
Self-Released
Release Date: 16/08/2021
Running Time: 52:02
Review by Beth Jones
6/10

All seeing eye are a Progressive/Power Metal duo from Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire right here in good old Blighty. We don’t get many Eurometal style bands coming out of our little island for some reason, I think possibly our failure to embrace the more flamboyant side of Metal in case we don’t look ‘cool’ enough. Well, personally, I’ve never been one for looking cool, so I love it when some homegrown metal like this lands in my review pile.

This is only the band’s second album, despite having existed for nearly a decade. A hiatus put things on hold, but, after their original keyboard player left, they decided to carry on as a duo.

So, to the album in hand. There’s a lot of influences in it, definitely – from Classic Heavy Metal, with Euro Power vocals, modern guitar crunch, and even some late 90’s Grunge. It’s certainly a unique plethora of sounds mixed together. It varies from track to track, too, keeping it interesting.

Musically, the songs are great, and there are some moments of brilliance, Ben Colton’s vocals and the guitar solos being prime examples. But I’m struggling with the overall mixing of the album. There are some issues here, that kind of spoil things for me. They’ve recorded it in their home studio, and mixed it themselves, which they deserve credit for…but then, due to the situation we have found ourselves in, so have a lot of bands over the last 20 months. I think the track, ‘Perspicacity’ is probably the most successful on the album because everything is at roughly the same level. It’s a decent song, too. Lots of different elements, from 70’s Progressive to Thrashier sections. However, in other tracks, it can sometimes be difficult to pick out the vocal line, the keyboards are too full on, or the snare sounds like a tin can. It’s a big shame.

The final track, ‘A Sequence Of History’, is pretty impressive at over 15 minutes in length, and doesn’t suffer from too many production issues. This starts quite Iron Maiden like, with pacey rhythms and guitars. It then alternates between this, and sweeping sections that feel more Euro Prog Power. It’s an epic song, and I can see it being spectacular live.

If you like Power or Prog there will definitely be something on “Reinventing Time” for you, but it hasn’t connected with me in the way I had hoped. I don’t like being negative because music is life. But, at the moment we are being spoilt with real quality, in terms of production, from so many bands, and that turns us into music snobs.

‘This Is Cypher World’ (Official Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Welcome To Cypher World
02. Proselytized
03. Love Is Illusion
04. The Gift Of Madness
05. Perspicacity
06. Ghosts Of Yesterday
07. Angel Fires
08. A Sequence Of History

LINE-UP:
Ben Colton – Vocals/Lead Guitar
Kenny Fraser – Lead Guitar/Bass

LINKS:

All Seeing Eyes Promo Pic

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Beth Jones and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Leprous – Aphelion

Aphelion Album Cover Art

Leprous – Aphelion
Inside Out Music
Release Date: 27/08/2021
Running Time: 56:02
Review by Beth Jones
10/10

Certain areas of the world seem to have an outstanding ability to produce astonishing musicians, Norway being one of them. Maybe it’s the dark nights, rugged and vast scenery, or temperamental and often tempestuous weather that inspires the melodies out of their composers, maybe it’s the diet or way of life that feeds the creative mind or perhaps it’s purely coincidence, who knows. But the goodness of whatever it is, that brings forth such art, makes me an incredibly happy Beth indeed.

Leprous, one of Norway’s more recent, and arguably one of its finest, musical groups have been releasing music since 2009, and their most recent offering, “Aphelion” has just been released. Now, I’m a little behind with my reviewing, so bear with me, and nod in agreement, if you’ve already purchased this album. If you haven’t, please read on, and then go and purchase this album, because it is something very special.

You can tell from the first few bars of opener ‘Running Low’ that this album is going to be an expressive and emotive listen. Dark cinematic piano and sparse percussion set the opening, with the powerful but delicate vocals of Einar Solberg cutting through above anything else. Ebbing and flowing like the swelling of the incoming tide, this intriguing and masterfully written, and played, song lets the listener know that this album means serious business. It will challenge your mind, as well as your musical appreciation, with its intricacies.

And this is really how the whole album works. At the forefront, delicacy and intricate thought, coupled with immense skill and musical maturity, create a sound that really is stunning. I am in complete awe of Einar’s vocals. His voice is so unique, with a pure and crisp sound that he controls superbly well, so nothing is ever over or under-done. It is almost as if his singing is entirely controlled by his emotions, which in itself is paradoxical, as emotion is so uncontrollable. The inspiration for most of the compositions on this album have come from Einar’s own personal struggles with anxiety and depression, and every song does have a deep connection to feeling, whether it’s through the composition, instrumentation, or lyrics.

Every track on this album is simply perfection. Driven by piano and vocals – which are both hugely important to me – it explores heaviness in contrast with gentleness, pace in contrast with pauses, rhythm in contrast with freeform, and the full expanse of dynamics. It’s hugely cinematic, and symphonic, and would be fascinating to see performed live at some of the great opera houses around the world. I can only imagine how immersive it would sound in the likes of the Royal Albert Hall, or Sydney Opera House.

There are a couple of tracks that I’ll mention, even though this is an album of greatness in its entirity. ‘Have You Ever?’ is first. I love the low rumbling bass that sits in this track. It’s the sort of bass that makes your ribcage vibrate. This track also sits somewhere between Progressive Rock, Jazz, and James Bond theme music, which is just spectacularly bonkers, and very brave.

The other track that I want to mention is ‘On Hold’. Musically, it’s probably the most straightforward on the album. But its mastery is in the lyrics. A beautiful melancholy monologue about feeling stuck in desperation. A feeling that a lot of us can relate to, I think. I know I certainly can. It’s just so emotive… So breathtaking…

“Aphelion” is next level musical connection, and I’m completely blown away by it. Expect to see this album appearing in my top ten of the year… Thanks, Leprous, for creating music that provides solace. It is timeless, and genre-less, and reaches the next level of consciousness and healing. Slightly less thanks for making my job of picking an album of the year harder than it already was…But I’ll forgive you because this is sublime!

‘The Silent Revelation’ (Official Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Running Low
02. Out Of Here
03. Silhouette
04. All The Moments
05. Have You Ever?
06. The Silent Revelation
07. The Shadow Side
08. On Hold
09. Castaway Angels
10. Nighttime Disguise

LINE-UP:
Einar Solberg – Vocals, Keyboards
Tor Oddmund Suhrke – Guitars
Robin Ognedal – Guitars
Simen Børven – Bass
Baard Kolstad – Drums

LINKS:

Leprous Promo Pic

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Beth Jones and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Maitreya – Hyper Reels

Hyper Reels Album Cover Art

Maitreya – Hyper Reels
Self-Released
Release Date: 25/06/2021
Running Time: 48:55
Review by Beth Jones
8/10

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – there is some damn fine music coming out of Canada at the moment, and much of it leans on the Progressive side of things, which pleases me a lot. Today’s subject band are a Progressive Metalcore band from Oshawa, Canada, and their recent release, “Hyper Reels”.

The band started back in 2011, as an instrumental project, but didn’t kick into life as Maitreya until 2016, and this release is their sophomore album. And a pretty damn fine album it is too.

It blends melody with noise, synth with pure dirty riffs, harsh and clean vocals, and frantic rhythms, to create an exciting listening experience. According to their track-by-track breakdown, this album is ‘a collection of dialogues exploring parallels between human consciousness and technological advancement. The music peaks and valleys to the polarities of turbulent and serene emotions of the human psyche.’ And there are certainly a lot of polar opposites explored here.

The opening track, ‘Catalyst’ begins with a catchy, melody driven synth section that you can imagine playing out in a Trace/Ambience club. But that soon gives way to some almost 90’s grunge riffs, then full on metalcore with guttural vocals, before reintroducing the ambience into the mix, alongside some technical progressive sounds and rhythms. What a great way to start an album. Hellishly groovy and exploratory.

From here, the album gets progressively more Progressive, and Technical, revealing the true Metalcore that really drives Maitreya’s sound. The tone of some of the guitar sections are also pretty Industrial sounding, which I think as yet another dimension to the sound. It’s chaotic and frenetic, and sometimes feels like the wheels are going to come off, but it always resolves into something perfect, dramatic, and huge. A great example of this on the track ‘Summit’, which works its way through multiple sections, to create something that’s perfectly balanced on the edge of catastrophe! It’s like that fine line between genius and madness.

Track 5, ‘Invaders’ has to be one of my favourites on the album. It begins with 8-bit style video game music, before smashing you in the face with screams and thumping rhythms and giving way to a sweeping melodic section. Matt Curtrara’s vocals are really put to the test in this song. But he’s clearly up to the challenge, because his clean vocals are strong and crisp, and his dirty vocals range from Low, guttural growls, to blood-curdling screams. That being said, every musician in this band is hugely talented. Everything is so complex and technical, and simply wouldn’t work without the level of skill that these guys have clearly got.

This is an album that builds and builds, to an almost impossible to comprehend level of sound, and contrasting elements, with a few notable ebbs, ‘Pilgrim’ being an example of this. While it’s still heavy, and technical, it’s not quite as chaos driven as the previous tracks, providing an intermission of sorts, before we’re launched back into the beautiful cacophony of ‘Flesh Engine’, on our journey towards the end of the album.

This is a very bold album, which challenges the listening brain with its complexities, in so many ways. If you like Technical Progressive Metalcore, you are going to very much enjoy Maitreya.

‘Summit’ (Official Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Catalyst
02. Departed
03. Radical
04. Summit
05. Invaders
06. Bloom
07. Pilgrim
08. Flesh Engine
09. Hyper Reels
10. Iswara

LINE-UP:
Matt McCabe – Guitar
Steve McMillan – Drums
Matt Cutrara – Vocals
Lyam Morrison – Bass
Mark Wylie – Guitar

LINKS:

Maitreya Promo Pic

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Beth Jones and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Aeon Zen – Transversal

Transversal Album Cover Art

Aeon Zen – Transversal
Layered Reality Productions
Release Date: 21/09/2021
Running Time: 30:03
Review by Beth Jones
10/10

I’ve always been one for being unfashionably late to the party – I take it way past fashionably late, and into the realms of looking like a bit of an arse! This was certainly the case with my transition from being spoon-fed Jazz and Classical music, to discovering the world of Rock and Metal for myself. I didn’t even discover Queen until just before Freddie’s passing, and have spent many days since berating my tendency to be a little slow on the uptake, thus missing out on seeing them in full flight.

The subject of today’s review unfortunately looks like it’s going to be another one of my unfashionably late occasions. Aeon Zen have been serenading the world of Progressive Metal since 2008, but up until this point, I have never heard their music. Yes…I am a damn fool. Especially as this new album, “Transversal”, is to be their final album, closing off the project forever…

They have designed this album as a way for them to go out with a bang, rather than just fade away, and oh how it does that. Structured as 10 movements of an overall piece, Aeon Zen have created a body of work that looks back and reflects on their career, and brings everything full circle (a nod to this theme is also given in the album cover artwork). And what a beautifully perfect circle it is.

Featuring ex Aeon Zen guitarist Matt Shepherd, and ex-DragonForce keyboard player Vadim Pruzhanov, this album is a masterclass in Progressive Metal, and indeed musical technique and composition in general. Full of soaring and catchy melodies, classical orchestration, and choral harmonies, it paints a decadent and emotive musical picture full of so many layers that nothing I have to say will do it even the remotest bit of justice…However, I will try my best.

Opening with the first movement, ‘I: Twilight’, the mode is set with atmospheric synth and strings, and beautifully harmonised vocals, all of which grow and swell to a climactic point featuring sumptuous guitar work, and insane cross rhythms. Then, dropping back, it prepares the stage for the dawning of ‘II: A New Day’. In stark contrast, this begins in a spikier fashion, with staccato strings and timpani featuring heavily, alongside more fantastic guitars in harmony. This movement is driven by classic elements, making it a very cinematic piece. Simply stunning.

‘III: Chase The Sunrise’ shows us the real technical prowess of all the musicians here. It is fantastically prog, but with catchy hooks, and huge riffs. This theme continues throughout the album, as it gathers pace, and becomes more frenetic and full-on.

‘V: Force Of Fire’ is a powerful movement, giving way to a tense and intense minute in ‘VI: Lines Redrawn’, which also features a quite frankly epically delicious bit of guitar work. This is then instantly outdone by the opening Guitar and synth work of ‘VII: Purgatory Rechristened’, which could have been written by Beethoven. And this blistering movement just keeps getting better and better, teasing and exciting all my synapses. Holy hell, this album is something else!! This is what all music should sound like! It should be the law.

‘IX: It Ends As It Began’ is the penultimate movement of this mesmeric work, and it does indeed begin to close the gap on the circle, drawing from the rest of the album, in pace, rhythm, and harmony.

Darkness falls on the album with the final movement ‘X: Forever’. Beginning with cyclical piano in a minor key, it maintains the pace, and expansiveness, but begins to bring things down. It goes without saying that it’s entirely beautiful, and perfectly formed. It draws heavily on classic influences again, and comes to a close with just piano and voice…

And now I’m exhausted, but in the best possible way ever. I’m not entirely sure if I breathed throughout any of that half hour of absolute musical ecstasy. One of the best works I have ever heard, without question. But this is very bittersweet. Tinged with sadness…I’ve only just found this miraculous band. Does this really have to be the end?

I: Twilight (Official Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. I: Twilight
02. II: A New Day
03. III: Chase The Sunrise
04. IV: 10.000 Eyes
05. V: Force Of Fire
06. VI: Lines Redrawn
07. VII: Purgatory Rechristened
08. VIII: Twilight Reprise
09. IX: It Ends As It Began
10. X: Forever

LINE-UP:
Rich Gray – Rhythm; Lead; Acoustic Guitars, Bass, Keyboards, Vocals
Andi Kravljaca – Lead Vocals
Alistair Bell – Lead Guitar
Steve Burton – Drums

Guest Solos:
Vadim Pruzhanov (ex-DragonForce, Solo) – Keyboard solo in ‘III: Chase The Sunrise’
Matt Shepherd (ex-Aeon Zen) – Guitar solo in ‘IX: It Ends As It Began’

Choir:
Alistair Bell, Clay Dean, Alyce Gray, Rich Gray, Iris Van ‘t Veer, Tom De Wit

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Beth Jones and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Acolyte – Entropy

Entropy Album Cover Art

Acolyte – Entropy
Wild Thing Records, Blood Blast Distribution
Release Date: 14/05/2021
Running Time: 56:50
Review By Beth Jones
10/10

Greetings all. I’m feeling philosophical for today’s review, so please bear with me, and indulge me for a moment, if you would be so kind…

Being a human is a complicated old business, right? When faced with seemingly endless detritus, life can be testing and draining quite a lot of the time. However, it can also be joyful, exhilarating, and exuberant, lifting you from the darkest pits, to touching the sky. But the thing that fascinates me about human existence is emotional connection. How something, or someone, can inspire a feeling that brings a sense of togetherness and knowing. That empathy is vital for me, and music often inspires it. I find myself constantly looking for the emotional inspirations that lie behind compositions, so I can empathise with the songwriter and feel what they felt. So, when emotions are layered and laid bare for all to see, throughout a body of work, it becomes something very special, going far beyond connection alone, and into the realms of embodiment.

Keeping those thoughts in mind, I would like to tell you a little about Australian Cinematic Progressive Metal band, Acolyte, and their recently released concept album, “Entropy”. The concept behind the album is the early stages of loss, and the emotions connected to it. This is a connection that every one of us can make. I was also interested to read that lead vocalist Morgan-Leigh Brown suffers from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Having Fibro and hEDS myself, I can connect with her struggles straight off the bat, too. And Acolyte say the music features authentic choir arrangements, extensive analogue synth labs, percussion labs, and a full hoard of Melbourne’s very best classical performers”,which is again a special area that holds a lot of emotive memories of my early years performing in choirs and orchestras.

When you feel connected to music straight away, there’s always slight trepidation about your first listen; the desire and need for it to live up to what you imagine it will sound like. But it became apparent very quickly that “Entropy” would not only meet my expectations, but surpass them. The level of musical thinking is brilliant, and the technical ability of each player matches completely with the passion and feeling that this album required.

After a short prelude, the album launches into the title track, ‘Entropy’. I think a lot of us feel connected to an overbearing sense of entropy at the moment, so it is indeed a most fitting title. It’s a dark and menacing opening to this superb album, full of powerful vocals, orchestrated harmonies, classic synth, and complex riffs, all held together by a rhythmic pulse from the bass and percussion. It’s proggy, with a beautiful instrumental section driven by synth halfway through, but it’s not overbearing, and sets the tone for the rest of the album. Lyrically, this song paints a desolate but relatable picture. I implore everyone to read the lyrics for this album. They are a masterstroke in themselves.

The album continues to track those powerful early emotions of loss with ‘Resentment’, an angrier and punchier track, that’s full of heavy riffs, doesn’t hang around long. From there, it moves into ‘Clarity’, which is a calmer track, and full of 70’s prog rock sounds. The opening reminds me very much of The Enid’s ‘Judgement’. Superb harmonies and cinematic orchestration swell and grow throughout. Again, this track holds some beautifully pertinent lyrics, one of which spoke loudly to me; “The hardest thing in life is to know yourself”.

Now, much as I would like to, I’m not going to give you a track-by-track account here, because, let’s face it, you don’t really want to read my exuberant gushing for any longer than is necessary! But take it from me that the rest of the album is as breathtaking as the first few tracks. It’s pure cinematic orchestral prog, written and performed to perfection, with a depth of feeling that is very, very impressive.

It’s also worth noting that the classical instrumentation in this album is all real, not sampled. It’s performed by some of Melbourne’s most noted classical musicians, and perfectly complements the compositions. A brilliant example of this is found in my favourite track, ‘Idiosyncrasy’. This starts with a clarinet solo, which adds to the haunting eeriness of realisation on the album. At a little over 11 minutes long, it’s the longest piece, moving through slower instrumental areas, into sections where rhythm is the leader, with powerful vocals, intricate synth, and chunky riffs. I’ve run out of fancy words to describe stuff now, so I’ll just say that it’s a bit bloody good. And by that, of course, I mean it’s damn amazing.

The album takes an instrumental twist towards the end, in ‘Solitude’, and ‘Recovery’, which provides a moment to assess and regroup, taking stock of every emotion that has been laid bare so far, to reach a point of acceptance. And perfectly, the final track is entitled ‘Acceptance’.

And now I’m going to stop chewing your ears off. It’s not often that an album like this comes along, but when it does, it’s magical. Without question one of the finest albums you will hear this year. Mind blown.

‘Entropy’ (Official Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Prelude
02. Entropy
03. Resentment
04. Clarity
05. Resilience
06. Idiosyncrasy
07. Solitude
08. Recovery
09. Acceptance

LINE-UP:
Morgan-Leigh Brown – Vocals
David Van Pelt – Keys and Synths
Jason Grondman – Bass
Chris Cameron – Drums
Brandon Valentine – Guitars

LINKS:

Acolyte Promo Pic (Credit Electrum Photography)
Photo by Electrum Photography

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Beth Jones and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

One Hundred Thousand – Zodiac

Zodiac Album Cover Art

One Hundred Thousand – Zodiac
Self-Released
Release Date: 09/04/2021
Running Time: 72:00
Review by Beth Jones
9/10

By nature, Progressive Rock/Metal is an expansive and exploratory genre. Possibly why I love it so much. So, as always, I jump at the chance of exploring further when a new name lands in my review pile.

One Hundred Thousand are a progressive outfit from New Jersey, USA. They have been active since 2017, and recently released their sophomore album, “Zodiac”. As exploratory goes, this one is a smorgasbord. It’s a concept album, with every song exploring traits of a particular sign of the zodiac. Lyrically, it follows a protagonist over the course of a year, from a place of ‘devastating personal loss, through the illusion of hope, to an enigmatic finale’. The way the band released this album is also intriguing. They started with ‘Aries’, the first track, back in March 2020, as the pandemic hit, and continued releasing one track a month, to correlate with the star signs, finishing with ‘Pisces’, which was released in February this year.

The first thing that hits you about this album is precision. Its intricate and heavy melodies, riffs, and rhythms are oozing with detail. There isn’t a single note or beat that isn’t there for a reason. This makes it expansive and immersive, but also delicate. Sweeping areas of ambience are demolished by gritty guitars, thumping percussion, and down tuned rumbling bass, only to rise again with sumptuous solos and soaring clean vocals, which give way to raw vocals, Modern Metal style. And if you listen carefully, there are some extra details added low down in the mix, which fill out this already massive sound even more.

‘Gemini’ is one of a few stand-out track for me. It starts with acapella voices in harmony, with a whole bag of reverb on, which makes it dark and mysterious. But then it moves into guitars, vocals, and a fiendishly complex rhythm. It’s got the tone of 90’s Indie Rock, but a hefty injection of proginess, too. But, and yes here comes my gripe, FOR THE LOVE OF MUSIC, PLEASE STOP FADING TRACKS OUT! It has always been, and will always be my biggest, nails down a blackboard bugbear. I appreciate this is only my opinion, and there are probably many others who wouldn’t agree, but I want every song to come to a close, not disappear into the distance ad infinitum.

When it comes to hard and heavy tracks, ‘Scorpio’ wins the prize. It has the essence of a modern metal track in terms of tone, and harsher vocals, but it still remains firmly in prog territory. It has a frenetic middle section, and even double kick drum going on, which definitely move it into a heavier territory than the rest of the album up to that point.

Now, I’m not huge on star signs, but I do know that mine is Sagittarius, so I was keen to listen to that track. It’s a very interesting track – quite 70’s vocal harmonies, and very experimental. But, again, every detail is superbly executed. The modern metal sounds come into this song too, adding extra flavour as the album begins to move towards its climactic end. That’s followed by ‘Capricorn’, which hands down wins for expansiveness. There’s so much in this track. It’s like a five-course meal all in one song, exploring a variety of different musical sounds and styles. Love it.

‘Pisces’, the final track, although slow in tempo, is pretty brutal, and see the sound work through various different experimental elements again. It’s an interesting way to close out an album, although I don’t find it as strong as some of the other tracks. That said, apart from my one little gripe about the fades, this is a wonderfully intriguing body of work, and if you like anything progressive and huge, then you’ll enjoy this.

TRACKLISTING:
01. Aries
02. Taurus
03. Gemini
04. Cancer
05. Leo
06. Virgo
07. Libra
08. Scorpio
09. Sagittarius
10. Capricorn
11. Aquarius
12. Pisces

LINE-UP:
Alex Goldenthal – Guitar
Andrew Magnotta – Bass
Rich Matos – Vocals
Gregg Sgar – Guitar
Kurt Wübbenhorst – Drummer

LINKS:

One Hundred Thousand Promo Pic

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Beth Jones and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

EMQ’s with DISCONNECTED SOULS

Disconnected Souls Logo

EMQ’s with DISCONNECTED SOULS

Hi everyone! Welcome to our new EMQ’s interview, with Chester, UK based Modern Progressive Metal project, Disconnected Souls. Huge thanks to them for taking part.

What is your name, what do you play and can you tell us a little bit about the history of the band?

Good morning friends! My name is Fletch and I am a member of the musical project Disconnected Souls. Given our focus on writing, we don’t really have a defined line-up in terms of instruments and all do a bit of everything. I’ll probably go with the title of Composer in Chief though as I focus on bringing together the range of different ideas we have into cohesive songs (or at least trying!)

Originally, I conceptualised Disconnected Souls around 2014 as being a side project to focus on individual writing in different styles/genres outside of my main band at the time, Curse Of Dawn, where writing duties were split between a few members. I didn’t start actively working on this though until 2017. At this time Curse Of Dawn were on hiatus and two of my friends Tim and Patrick had started getting into music themselves, specifically keys and vocals. After a few jams ended up with some new material, we decided to formalise this into a specific project. Given the diversity of members interests and the music produced, I realised that this was fulfilling the vision I originally had for DS, and so I promptly engulfed them into it. In early 2018 we discovered that our friend Holly was an incredibly talented vocalist, guitarist and composer and thus became the band we know today.

How did you come up with your band name?

Like many bands the exact moment and circumstances of the name remain shrouded in mystery! I was trying to convey some sort of imagery and description for the world; we are all human and yet if you look at the news and history, there often is not much evidence of us fulfilling the incredible characteristics and potential that we have. We’re all alive, unique, and individual beings, and often as a species, we don’t do a good job of looking after ourselves or the wider ecosystem. Fundamentally, most people are good, but it is the lack of a shared conscious and understanding that allows us to cause pain to one another – hence, Disconnected Souls.

If that makes any sort of sense to anyone, then great, you receive a voucher for one hug with no expiry date!

What Country/Region are you from and what is the Metal/Rock scene like there?

We’re based in the Northwest of the UK. I personally feel that the music scene up here is excellent in all genres and there are no shortage of talented musicians, bands and venues. Most importantly there’s a great community of fans keeping the industry alive! Our hometown of Chester has two great venues, The Saddle and The Live Rooms. Liverpool and Manchester aren’t far away though and these are both cities known for their thriving music scene.

What is your latest release? (Album, EP, Single, Video)

Our last release was our Christmas cover of Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s ‘The Power Of Love’.

We’re delighted that our debut EP “Warring Elements” is about to be re-released on the 10th September 2021, which you can pre-order here:

www.disconnectedsouls.bandcamp.com/releases

Who have been your greatest influences?

This is something that we find exceedingly difficult to list as we’re always trying to keep ourselves exposed to lots of varied and emerging artists. Here is our attempt at keeping to a few each or we’ll be here for a long time 😊

Fletch: Nightwish, Shadow of Intent, The Birthday Massacre, Rachmaninoff
Patrick: I See Stars, Annisokay, Make The Suffer, Veil Of Maya
Tim: Vola, Leprous, Chvrches, Exist Immortal
Holly: Delain, Lacuna Coil, Muse, Ghost

Feel free to checkout our Spotify playlist that we keep updated with our favourites/recommendations!

www.open.spotify.com/playlist/4P4OWsvFUsl2ehGFM3mYBA

What first got you into music?

Fletch: I don’t remember consciously choosing to go into music. I’ve grown up around musical instruments with grandparents and father playing the piano/keyboard and mum playing the guitar. At some point I realised that I could express myself on these in a way that I otherwise couldn’t and began to have lessons in recorder and keyboard.

Tim: There wasn’t really a specific time that I can remember choosing to do music, I’ve just always had an interest in it. One of the main things was hanging around with Fletch and Patrick which gave more opportunities to regularly jam.

Patrick: I’ve always enjoyed singing but at some point, I was like, “I want to sing my own songs”. I also set out to improve myself as a vocalist.

Holly: I grew up surrounded by rock and metal music from my Dad, and classical music from my grandparents. From the age of 6 I began piano lessons and by the age of 8 I had started learning to play the guitar. I’m not sure what it is exactly, but I have a deep affinity with music; there’s a connection with it that I haven’t found anywhere else.

If you could collaborate with a current band or musician, who would it be?

We love collaborating with other artists. The track Shatter from our EP features our “Choir of Lost Souls”, which was comprised of a few our talented friends from other musical projects! We’re absolutely intending to do a lot more with this and to recruit more people into it – feel free to get in touch with us if you’d like to be a part of it 😊

We do actually have a mini-database list of more well-known people within the classical, electronic and metal communities who we’d love to work with if they’ll agree to it! For example, Tina Guo (Cellist), Armin Van Buuren (DJ/producer) and Ben Duerr (Shadow Of Intent).

If you could play any festival in the world, which would you choose and why?

I don’t really have any strong feelings on this one – any event that I can perform my music and connect with people on a spiritual level is wonderful, whether that be an internationally recognised event or a smaller pub event.

Having said that in terms of venues, I would love to perform at Wembley or the Royal Albert Hall, especially the latter with a full orchestral line-up (starts having a lovely daydream).

What’s the weirdest gift you have ever received from a fan?

I can’t think of anything amusing for this one sorry! People have been very kind and receptive to our music for which we are extremely grateful.

If you had one message for your fans, what would it be?

“Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.”

If you could bring one rock star back from the dead, who would it be?

Assuming that they consented to coming back from the dead to talk to me (as they might be enjoying whatever does or does not come next and not find equal enjoyment in the conversation!), it would be enjoyable to bring back a classical composer such as Mozart to understand how they produced the volume of work that he did. This may not be what we commonly associate with the term “rock star” today, but it’s interesting that many of these people did have that level of prestige and status within the time periods.

What do you enjoy the most about being a musician? And what do you hate?

Having a creative outlet to express myself in ways that I cannot with mere words; to be able to share that with others and connect to them on a deep spiritual level through that mutual experience, whether that be playing together or them listening to it and understanding.

Hate is a concept that I largely try and avoid within my life! If we’re talking about what I enjoy less though it’s probably navigating one’s own mind that can be keen to procrastinate, be self-critical and/or feeling like one hasn’t achieved their goals, often simultaneously!

I’m in a mostly happy place today and have strategies for coping with them as best as I can, but I think most creatives will know and share in the pain of these…as will probably most of the world’s population.

If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?

I think the music industry has a large volume of elitism and corruption unfortunately still, although great progress is being made in some areas. For me personally (recognising my privilege as a white male), the metal community has mostly been pretty welcoming, but I’ve had my eyes opened to both the lack of diversity and opportunity for people within minority groups and this is absolutely something that we need to work towards as a community to be more welcoming and inclusive.

Name one of your all-time favourite albums?

Nightwish – “Oceanborn”.

What’s best? Vinyl, Cassettes, CD’s or Downloads?

Equally good, different mediums are useful for different occasions. I personally use a mixture and I’m just happy to get music in the hands of the person who will benefit from consuming it!

What’s the best gig that you have played to date?

Disconnected Souls hasn’t played any gigs as we’re more a studio project, although we do have plans to play a few one-off shows as and when we can.

My favourite gig that I’ve played was probably a Christmas gig for The Nottingjam Orchestra (an eclectic band who improvise all music on stage and have a changing line-up). There was just something particularly electric about the atmosphere that night with a packed venue and the chemistry of the band was simply perfect. I was also told by a friend that a solo I did was insane and one of the best things he’d ever heard, so perhaps I’m slightly biased there 😊.

If you weren’t a musician, what else would you be doing?

I work as an IT manager full time, so music has always been my creative outlet to keep me sane and I’m fortunately not reliant on it as a source of income (BUT PLEASE STILL BUY OUR MUSIC AS IT’S VERY EXPENSIVE TO MAKE!).

I don’t feel like I could ever have not done music as I just have so many emotions and stories to tell through song. I guess it’s possible though that if I didn’t have exposure to instruments at a young age maybe I’d have focussed on another expressive medium, such as poetry, writing, sculpture or interpretive dance…?

Which five people would you invite to a dinner party?

Probably the other members of Disconnected Souls and two other musical friends, given that these are the people I’m closest to and it means we can partake in writing new material whilst there. The best days are those that are productive as well as being in good company! As tempting as it would be to pick some other famous inspirations, we might find we didn’t connect.

What’s next for the band?

We’re working on a rather ambitious project which we’re hoping to complete within the next two years. It will involve a lot of new music if we’re successful! And if we’re not it will still involve some new music, so win-win?

What Social Media/Website links do you use to get your music out to people?

www.facebook.com/disconnectedsouls
www.instagram.com/disconnected_souls/
www.disconnectedsouls.bandcamp.com
www.twitter.com/DSbandUK
www.soundcloud.com/disconnectedsouls

Jaffa Cakes? Are they a cake or a biscuit?

Following the ruling of Potter (QC) in the case of United Biscuits (UK) Ltd (No. 2). [1991] BVC 818, this band agree to abide by the judgement that Jaffa Cakes be recognised as a cake.

From a philosophical perspective I would suggest that the terms “cakes” and “biscuits” are simply abstract concepts, which are not in themselves a true definition or reflection of the entities that we may be attempting to describe and that in fact no words could sufficiently describe their true nature. Furthermore, any debate on this matter suggests an attachment to form based thinking, which is actually the root of human suffering.

I hope that helps clarify the matter 😊

Thank you for your time. Is there anything else that you would like to add?

I just wanted to say thank you for the opportunity to talk to you and the work that you are doing to support and keep alive the music community; we all really appreciate it so much love to you! <3

Disconnected Souls Promo Pic (Credit Blue Moon Photography)
Blue Moon Photography

Disclaimer: This interview is solely the property of Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this interview, unless you have the strict permission of said party. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Opeth – Blackwater Park 20th Anniversary Edition

Blackwater Park (20th Anniversary Edition) Album Cover Art

Opeth – Blackwater Park 20th Anniversary Edition
Music For Nations
Release Date: 16/07/2021
Running Time: 76:43
Review by Dawn Smith
9/10

When I asked the good people at Ever Metal if I could return to the family as a reviewer, much to my relief, they welcomed me back with open arms. My first job was to look through the album list and pick an album that I wanted to review. One jumped out of the screen straight away!

I had never really given Opeth much thought in the past, only having a copy of “Blackwater Park”, which I had probably listened to three times (at most!) and nothing of the other stuff they had done. Progressive music didn’t really feature on my radar and the album sat at the bottom of the CD pile, gathering dust.

Now, twenty years later, my musical tastes having become a little more diverse, so I felt ready to give the album the attention it deserved and what better way than with the 20th Anniversary Edition?

But first, a little history!

Opeth were formed in Stockholm, Sweden in 1989, originally, as a death metal band, and over the years have changed their sound to consistently include elements of progressive, folk, blues, classical and jazz as well as death metal and the death metal growls from the early years. Cleaner vocals have appeared on later albums to the point that their last album “In Cauda Venenum”, released in 2019, featured no growls at all.

The band has had several personnel changes over the years, including the replacement of every single original member and Mikael Akerfeldt, lead vocalist, guitarist and songwriter has been the main driving force behind the band since the departure of original singer, David Isberg in 1992.

Speaking of the band’s changing sound Akerfeldt has been quoted as saying “I don’t see the point of playing in a band and going just one way when you can do everything. It would be impossible for us to play just death metal – that is our roots, but we are now a mishmash of everything, and not purists to any form of music. It’s impossible for us to do that, and quite frankly, I would think of it as boring to be in a band that plays just metal music. We’re not afraid to experiment, or to be caught with our pants down, so to speak. That’s what keeps us going.”

In 2001 the metal word was in a post-grunge state, but Opeth were forging a unique creative path and after four albums of imaginative and immersive heavy metal, the first being “Orchid” released in 1995, the band were ready for a career- defining statement and that came in the form of “Blackwater Park”.

Originally released on March 12th, 2001, “Blackwater Park” was the band’s fifth album, and soon become their magnum opus, their flagship album. It became known as the “thinking metal fan’s album” and was something to challenge the listener. It opened the band up to a much wider audience, including the metal underground and the progressive rock world inclusive! To quote the band’s own notes to the album, it “saw the Swedish metallers kick open prog’s ornate doors, fed death metal through the cosmic kaleidoscope and introduced a generation of music nerds to a world of limitless musical possibilities.”

The album was produced by Steve Wilson, a move that was to be the start of a lifelong friendship and Mikael Akerfeldt says that “Blackwater Park was the stepping stone in professionalism for us!”

The album can be summed up as a mix of melodic moments, spine-tingling atmospherics and crushing heaviness, or just simply musical perfection. With the bonus live version of ‘The Leper Affinity’ and several songs over ten minutes long, the album’s popularity has proved that music fans, and metalheads in particular, are more open-minded than they are given credit for, and that metal music can have depth, subtlety, sophistication, and imagination.

With thirteen studio albums under their belt, along with live albums and DVD’s, the band have proven they are now one of the most consistently extraordinary live bands on the planet, and one I need to see…soon!

TRACKLISTING:
01. The Leper Affinity
02. Bleak
03. Harvest
04. The Drapery Falls
05. Dirge For November
06. The Funeral Portrait
07. Patterns In The Ivy
08. Blackwater Park
09. The Leper Affinity (Live)

“BLACKWATER PARK” LINE-UP:
Mikael Åkerfeldt – Lead Vocals, Guitars
Peter Lindgren – Guitars
Martín Méndez – Bass
Martin Lopez – Drums
Steven Wilson – Backing Vocals, Keyboards, Mellotron, Guitars
Markus Lindberg – Percussion

LINKS:

Blackwater Park 20th Anniversary vinyl versions

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Dawn Smith and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.