Some might notice that the title of this podcast is a little different from what they’re used to. I’ve gone back to count the number of shows When Prog and Power Unite has had, and found out that last week was our 300th broadcast. With that in mind we’ll be moving away from dates in the future and going with episode numbers, starting today with episode #301!
Our featured album for this week comes from South America, and more specifically from the long running Brazilian band, Angra. Their new album, Secret Garden, is the first to feature Fabio Lione on vocals, and the opening of a new chapter of the band, with their previous two vocalists marking two distinctive eras in their career already. Our selection of tracks from the album give a look into the musical direction of the new album, a cover tune that many will recognize, and an important guest appearance on the title track.
I mentioned at the top of the show that Symphony X has a new album on the way July 24th called Underworld, and more information on that, and the supporting tour can be found here. I also talked about The Theater Equation, a Netherlands based theatrical reproduction of Ayreon‘s album The Human Equation. There are indeed some tickets left for that, and they can be found here.
Finally, I mentioned that Leprous has a new album coming out. The title of that is The Congregation, and it’s due out May 25th in Europe and June 2nd in the United States. The newest video from the album can be seen below.
When doing research for an interview, and especially when reading over promotional material, I can often prepare myself for what I can expect to hear from an artist. However, when I spoke to Jonas Reingold in July of 2011 I got a bit of first hand news that knocked me back a bit. Jonas sounded very hopeful that the Flower Kings hiatus would be coming to an end. That hope would turn into Banks of Eden in 2012, Desolation Rose in 2013, and accompanying tours.
The main focus of our interview was not the Flower Kings, but instead Jonas’ main creative outlet, Karmakanic. They were on the verge of releasing their fourth studio album, 1969. The band would go on to do some touring for that album, including an appearance at RoSfest 2012, where they would record Live in the US.
Along with those two primary bands, Jonas has kept busy helping on several other projects, including bass duties on the most recent release from The Tangent, A Spark in the Aether.
After a few months of new or nearly new featured albums, this week we hop in the time machine to travel to a time from eons ago. We reach back into the depths of our past, and into the unsightly and uncivilized year of 2014. It was in this time long ago that a British act, Synaesthesia, put out their debut self-titled album. The band recently had a fantastic reception at RoSfest 2015, and is currently working on their second album. You can check out the band here, and order their debut album from amazon.
Of course, being our first broadcast since RoSfest, there were quite a few bands making their debut on the program. We spun a solo track from Ted Leonard, known best for his work in Spock’s Beard and Enchant, a track from Little Atlas, a band discovered via RoSfest performers Strattman, a track from Sonus Umbra, and finally, from a sampler I picked up at the festival we played some 3RDegree. Want a full recap of the festival and the bands that played? Well, you’re in luck person I’ve made up to satisfy my need for this sentence, because we’ve got that right here!
There were several non-RoSfest related artists making their debut on the program as well, including the Von Hertzen Brothers, who have a new album out called New Day Rising. Next up is Nordic Giants, who have recently released A Seance of Dark Delusions. You can look for a review of that from Joe in the next few days. Speaking of Joe, he recently reviewed the new Gavin Harrison album, Cheating the Polygraph here!
I also mentioned that program favorites Haken had a big tour in Europe coming up later this year supporting Between the Buried and Me. You can see those dates below!
Lo-Fi Resistance – Isolation Tank
Synaesthesia – Good Riddance
Abel Ganz – Close Your Eyes
Haken – Shapeshifter
Von Hertzen Brothers – New Day Rising
The Tangent – Clearing the Attic
Ted Leonard – Submerged
Odin’s Court (A Song For) Dragons
MindMaze – Consequences of Choice
Xen – She Plays
Synaesthesia – Time, Tension & Intervention
Nordic Giants – Rapture
Arena – No Chance Encounter
Iris Divine – Mother’s Prayer
Gavin Harrison – What Happens Now?
Little Atlas – Apathy
Enchant: Live Again
-At Death’s Door
-What to Say
-Deserve to Feel
Synaesthesia – Technology Killed the Kids
3RDegree – What it Means to be Human
Sonus Umbra – Let it Rain
Styx – Queen of Spades
RPWL – Hide and Seek
Pain of Salvation – Rope Ends
Rush – Ghost Rider (Remixed)
Band: Gavin Harrison
Album: Cheating the Polygraph
Some tribute albums are genuine labors of love. Most feel more like quick cash-ins. Thankfully, Cheating the Polygraph is something different entirely; it’s not a tribute album as much as it is a challenging and imaginative recreation of its source material.
While Gavin Harrison is best known for his work with the indefinitely suspended Porcupine Tree, he’s contributed his talents to acts such as King Crimson, OSI, and a myriad of others in recent years. Harrison has also continued to enjoy acclaim from music critics and fellow drummers on the national scale, even after his day job disappeared to make room for Steven Wilson’s solo career.
Those who have followed Harrison’s post-Porcupine Tree career know to expect the unexpected, and Cheating the Polygraph is no exception. While I admit I was initially skeptical of the idea of turning Porcupine Tree into a big band, I now just feel guilty for ever fearing Harrison would put out something as thoughtless as a note-by-note recreation with jazz instrumentation. I can’t emphasize enough that Cheating the Polygraph is not a Porcupine Tree cover album. It’s a completely new perspective on Porcupine Tree. The melodies may be familiar, but Harrison and his band have painstakingly recreated these songs from scratch, often painting them on completely new emotional landscapes. In fact, if I hesitate to recommend this album to anyone at all, it would be out of concern that it is just too different from Porcupine Tree, and some fans will potentially struggle with the material.
I’m no jazz critic, and truth be told it’s difficult for me to say too much about this album knowing so little about the genre. What I can say, however, is that Cheating the Polygraph will offer Porcupine Tree fans the same level of challenge and reward that can be reaped from repeated and attentive listens of Steven Wilson’s new solo albums. As Wilson continues to move forward with his solo project, a Porcupine Tree reunion seems to grow more distant by the day. But, at the very least, Cheating the Polygraph is a statement that Wilson wasn’t the only musical genius in the band.
Joe’s Grade: A
Band(s): Rites of Spring Festival
Date: 2013-05-01 to 2013-05-03
Venue: The Majestic Theater
City, State: Gettysburg, PA
This review is quite a bit different than the norm. Instead of trying to write about over 15+ hours of music that was the RoSfest weekend, as well as the interactions between sets and at the after parties, I’ve decided to go ahead with an audio only review. You will hear a few thoughts on each set, and then for most bands a live song from their performance at RoSfest. Several acts will possibly be releasing their sets officially, and so studio tracks have been used in those instances. Below you can find links to the festival as well as all the bands. Sit back and re-live the weekend with me!
Spock’s Beard Website
Sonus Umbra Website
Abel Ganz Website
Lo-Fi Resistance Website
Glass Hammer Website
This week we’re showing our rebellious side and not having a featured album. Instead we’re having a featured festival! Between this broadcast and next I’ll be heading to beautiful Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and heading to the wonderful Majestic Theater to take in the amazing times that is RoSfest. This is the 12th year of the Rites of Spring festival, and this year it includes impressive headliners Spock’s Beard, Haken, and Enchant.
Speaking of Spock’s Beard, they have a new album on the way called The Oblivion Particle, and some European tour dates to support it. You can check those out here.
Not enough goodies for ya? How about the news about these two forthcoming albums?
And hey, let’s not forget that fancy new Muse video I talked about!
Frost* – No Me No You
Heliopolis – Elegy
Strattman – Detonation
Glass Hammer – Haunted
Forgotten Suns – Somewhere in the Darkness
Iris Divine – A Suicide Aware
Arena – Traveller Beware
Lo-Fi Resistance – The Age of Entitlement
Haken – Pareidolia
Ghost Ship Octavius – Silence
Soul Secret – Traces on the Seaside
IZZ – Like a Straight Line
Enchant – Prognosticator
Odin’s Court – Insomnia
Spock’s Beard – I Know Your Secret
Muse – Dead Inside
Stratovarius – Eternity
Exovox – Daylight (Silent Key)
MindMaze – Dreamwalker
Subsignal – Echoes in Eternity
Marillion – White Russian
Rush – The Anarchist
Roswell Six – The Sinking of the Luminara
Dream the Electric Sleep – Roots and Fear
Kansas – Song For America
Perhaps there is no better follow up to our retrospective interview with Neal Morse a few weeks back than with Jon Anderson today. Although very active through most of his career, aside from a few live shows he was been mostly dormant since we spoke with him in June of 2011. At that time he was promoting his new solo CD, Survival and Other Stories.
He did however participate in what could be viewed as a highlight in prog for several years to come. On the Progressive Nation 2014 cruise he performed an hours worth of brilliantly delivered Yes music with Transatlantic and a few other guests. On a cruise already beaming with amazing moments, it’s something I still see many of the sea goers talking about today.
It’s not every week that a Swedish prog outfit puts out a new album, it can just seem that way sometimes! This time around the prolific band in question is The Tangent, and our featured album this week is their brand new offering, A Spark in the Aether. You can learn more about the band at their website here, and buy the album from Amazon.
There were also a lot of debuts on the show this week. New albums have been released by Gavin Harrison, Soul Secret, Parzival’s Eye. Although there is no new album to report, Lo-Fi Resistance also had their debut on the show.
I also learned this past week that Riverside will be performing shows outside of ProgPower USA. One of these shows will be at the Crossroads Theater in New Brunswick, NJ, and will be hosted by the NJ Proghouse. That same outfit and theater hosted Riverside during their first ever North American headlining appearance in 2008.
Firewind – Mercenary Man
IZZ – Sincerest Life
Lo-Fi Resistance – Chalk Lines
The Tangent – A Spark in the Aether
Exovex – Dead Reckoning
Kansas – Miracles Out of Nowhere
Steven Wilson – 3 Years Older (Demo)
Gavin Harrison – Sound of Muzak/So Called Friend^
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra – Thick as a Brick^
The Gentle Storm – Comatose^
The Gentle Storm – Mad World^
The Tangent – Aftereugene
Devin Townsend – Earth Day
Soul Secret – Our Horizon*
Parzival’s Eye – Liar*
Karnataka – Fairytale Lies
Riverside – Feel Like Falling
Glass Hammer – Sand
Enchant – Within an Inch
Shadow Gallery – Room V
Steve Hackett – The Wheel’s Turning
The Tangent – A spark in the Aether, Part 2
Album: Everlasting Instant
Let me start with a confession. Two IZZ releases have come and gone with people suggesting I check them out, and both times I let their albums slip through the cracks. This changed with their newest release, Everlasting Instant. From the very start of the album I enjoyed the lack of denseness in the music. Too often bands seemingly play all their instruments, all the time, creating walls of sound that get packed into the music. Clear keyboard or guitar melodies often lead the way, without a plethora of other instrumental gymnastics fighting for ear space in the background. Where you will probably notice more immediately is that IZZ features four vocalists, two women and two men, who split the lead vocals and complement each other very well.
It took me a few listens to truly notice, but the bass parts on the album truly shine through when the tempo and groove pick up. The bass work throughout the album is top notch, but when it takes lead, such as the instrumental section on the song “Keep Away”, it certainly stands out. Intentional or not, that track also happens to have the only bit of musical déjà vu on the album, with a guitar part in the middle being strikingly similar to a part of Queensrÿche’s Operation: Mindcrime. Now get that album out of your mind, as overall they are absolutely nothing alike! A much fairer comparison of overall sound, at times, might be ELO.
To me, the biggest knock against the album is its slow start. I know that others may certainly disagree, but I find it isn’t till halfway through the album, at the title track, that songs really start to grab my attention. Don’t misunderstand, I find everything up to that point enjoyable, but I tend to recall the closing tracks when I think about the album, and not the opening tracks. In a rarity for a release of any genre, particularly an album that isn’t a concept album, I actually find the final three tracks, “Illuminata”, “Sincerest Life”, and “Like a Straight Line” to be the albums strongest. One reason for this is that in the latter half of the album I find a greater abundance of quality keyboard parts in more prominent roles.
As I mentioned earlier, the album features four vocalists, and as a general rule I’d say if you have people who can sing well, use them, and IZZ certainly does. While neither keyboardist/vocalist Tom Galgano, nor bassist/vocalist John Galgano has a strong enough voice to be winning American Idol anytime soon, they are very good at using their talent and weaving it into the musical tapestry, which helps IZZ carve their own musical niche. Having two male and two female singers gives the band greater flexibility in writing the vocals and not relying on guest musicians, and having that many capable voices allows them to create nice vocal harmonies, as well as giving different songs or passages different tones simply by changing the vocalist. I would argue that Anmarie Byrnes and Laura Meade might be classified as the stronger vocalists on the album, but I certainly wouldn’t have them replace any of the parts sung by the Galgano brothers. As I said, everyone has a nice comfortable spot on the album.
I am certainly impressed with the band’s ability to restrain themselves and keep their focus on the song, and not exploring musical tangents unnecessarily. There are prog bands with three of four members who would jam three times the notes into the same amount of time this seven piece outfit did on Everlasting Instant. The foundation on the album is strong, and had some of the early tracks had better staying power this would definitely be a letter grade higher. I am certainly intrigued, and will soon be rectifying my mistake of not checking out their earlier work.
Nick’s Grade: B
Our featured album this comes from American composer Dale Simmons, whose band Exovex is releasing the album Radio Silence. The album features several notable names, including Richard Barbieri and Gavin Harrison of Porcupine Tree. You can get information on the album and order it directly from the artist here.
Making their debut on the show this week was Virginia based prog-metallers Iris Divine. Earlier this year they released their second album, Karma Sown, and later this year they will be doing a small tour with former When Prog and Power Unite co-host Jeff Teets and the rest of MindMaze. You can check Iris Divine out on Facebook here, and the tour dates below.
Next up some news. I mentioned during the program that Arena has a new album coming out, The Unquiet Sky, and you can buy that directly from Arena here.
IZZ will be having a CD release party for Everlasting Instant in New Jersey on Sunday, April 19th, and you can get some info on that here. The show is hosted by the NJ ProgHouse, and they are a fantastic outfit. If you live in the Northeast US, you should check them out in the future, even if you can’t make this particular show.
Evergrey will be touring America again! You can get info on those shows, along with their dates worldwide here.
Coheed and Cambria are also touring! Live somewhere that no one ever comes to? Well, they are specifically hitting some of those places, so Dewey Beach, Delaware, be ready! Check out the full dates here.
Next up, a band I’ve long been a fan of, Secret Sphere, has re-recorded and is re-releasing their early album, A Time Never Come. You can get it through Amazon here.
That’s all for now, but keep your eyes and ears tuned, as I hope to have my review of the aforementioned IZZ album online this Friday.
Threshold – Fragmentation
Exovex – Metamorph
Arena – The Unquiet Sky
Karnataka – Forbidden Dreams
Iris Divine – Fire of the Unknown
MindMaze – Fading Skies
Exovex – Seeker’s Prayer
IZZ – Illuminata
Evergrey – Barricades
Coheed and Cambria – The Crowing
Secret Sphere – Under the Flag of Mary Read
Exovex – The Last Orbit
Hasse Froberg & Musical Companions – The Warmth of the Evening
Glass Hammer – Bandwagon
The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra – Roundabout^
Fish – Openwater
Arcane – Hunter, Heart & Home
Art of Illusion – For Her
Gungfly – White Light
Subsignal – Echoes in Eternity
Steve Hackett – Love Song to a Vampire
Not a Good Sign – Pleasure of Drowning
Rush – Spindrift
Kansas – Lightning’s Hand
Pink Floyd – Wearing the Inside Out
Rush – Natural Science