In an alternate universe where great music gets priority to work we would have featured Resolve, the third album from Pennsylvania based band MindMaze three weeks ago when it was timely. But we’re rolling with the punches and finally giving the album its time to shine now. Mason and I did a split review of the album which you can read or listen to here, so I won’t go into much further details about our thoughts on the album in this post. What I will tell you is that the band is currently on tour, so if you find a city near you on the list here I’d definitely go out and see them. As an added bonus you will witness something that I have not, despite being local to the band and seeing them many times. For this tour they’re joined by Jonah from Pyramaze to add some keyboards to their live show. I am truly jealous to all the people who are getting to witness it, and hope those that do put on the proper pressure to make live keyboards a future necessity! You can buy the new album here and check out the latest video below.
We also took a lot of time this show to talk about my recent trip to RoSfest, which is always an excellent experience in beautiful Gettysburg, PA. This year the festival featured Kyros, Moon Safari, The Aaron Clift Experiment, Unified Past, Unit-DB, The Neal Morse Band, The Fierce & the Dead, Evership, Edensong, and Anglagard. As always the theater staff was friendly, the sound was great, everything ran on time, and the after parties were killer! You really can’t ask for more from a land-based festival these days. You can check out the festival and keep up to date on next years announced bands here.
We also played some new artists on the program tonight, some of which have their albums up in full on bandcamp. Those would be Cobalt Blue (here) and The Black Light (here). You can also grab the newest album from Elysium Theory from CDBaby here.
And of course, as always, there is plenty of new music to get to. Big Big Train have just released Grimspound (here), and Ayreon has released The Source (here). Voyager has Ghost Mile (here) coming out in a few days, as does Rikard Sjoblom’s Gungfly with On Her Journey to the Sun (here). And of course there are videos from each below.
MindMaze – Drown Me
L’Anima – My Dying Cell
Cobalt Blue – Bereaved
Rikard Sjolbom’s Gungfly – On Her Journey to the Sun
Edge of Reality – Moldy Banana Bread
Kyros – Persistence of Vision
Moon Safari – The World’s Best Dreamers
Elysium Theory – Long Count
Ayreon – The Source Will Flow
MindMaze – Abandon
The Aaron Clift Experiment – Fragments of Sleep
Unified Past – Erasure Principle
Unitopia – Artificial World
The Neal Morse Band – The Man in the Iron Cage
Nova Collective – State of Flux
The Black Light – Lost to Another
The Black Light – Hurricane/All That Remains
MindMaze – One More Moment
The Dear Hunter – Gloria
Coheed & Cambria – The Writing Writer
The Fierce & the Dead – Part 2
Evership – Evermore
Edensong – In the Longest of Days
Voyager – Ghost Mile
In the Presence of Wolves – Storm in a Red Dress
Big Big Train – As the Crow Flies
MindMaze – The Path to Perseverance
Arjen Lucassen has been the genesis of many projects: The Gentle Storm, Star One, Stream of Passion, and Guilt Machine all started with Arjen, but no project comes with quite the fanfare of Ayreon. It was the project that made Arjen a household name in the progressive music community, and the one that continues to deliver all-star casts on every album. This of course holds true for The Source, due out April 28th on Mascot Label Group. James LaBrie (Dream Theater), Russell Allen (Symphony X), Hansi Kursch (Blind Guardian), and Tobias Sammet (Avantasia) account for only a third of the vocal talent on the album. It’s nearly unfair to other bands that can struggle to have one vocalist of that calibre, while The Source manages to have twelve amazing singers, as well as instrumentalists like Guthrie Govan (Steven Wilson) and Paul Gilbert (Mr. Big). This album has all the elements fans have come to expect, and the array of different musical styles and voices will make it easy to draw in new fans.
In our twenty minute interview Arjen discusses getting a new album out to people, the interaction he has with his fans, the way technology has allowed fans to better experience his music, and of course the upcoming Ayreon Universe live shows happening in the Netherlands this September. Arjen revealed that this effort to properly bring much of the Ayreon catalog to the stage for the first time will be the culmination of two years of preparation. And while the shows have already sold out, a live release has been promised to document the experience. So listen in and take a glimpse into the world of the rock-opera master!
Fates Warning are a band that certainly evolved since their early days, and saw success past their initial mark as well. That said, many fans, especially the more metal oriented, have a special place in their hearts for the first three albums featuring the vocals of John Arch. Perhaps it’s the substantial difference in style between Arch and current vocalist Ray Alder, or simply the time that has passed since Awaken the Guardian was released in 1986, but the band hasn’t been keen on playing the earliest material in the past decade or two. With that in mind it’s no surprise the buzz that was caused when the band announced they’d be playing two very special festival shows playing Awaken in its entirety with the lineup from that album. ProgPower USA and Keep it True in Germany were the lucky spots for these historic performances, both of which have been captured for the upcoming release Awaken the Guardian Live.
In this 20 minute interview John and I discussed what it was like returning to the stage for these incredibly special shows, his working relationship with Jim Matheos, and the possibility of a new Arch/Matheos disc at some point in the future.
Let’s make no mistake about it, I’ve been pretty busy and as a result a little lax with the show as of late. That’s all going to hopefully turn around in April a little bit. As mentioned and teased in the show I recently conducted an interview with John Arch, original vocalist of Fates Warning, and that will be available to everyone later in the week. In addition we have an interview scheduled with the incredible Arjen Lucassen of Ayreon fame and that should be available next weekend.
Circling back to right now I’m happy to be featuring the fourth album from American progressive metal band Vangough, Warpaint. I still remember how I discovered the band with their debut album, Manikin Parade nearly a decade ago: I was engaging in a January tradition, looking at ProgArchives top 100 list from the previous year and trying to see what albums I may have missed that would warrant my attention. Everyone’s reviews on the album pointed to something I would enjoy, and I certainly was not disappointed that I decided to give them a shot. All these years later I think they have consistently improved and I think Warpaint is their best yet. You can check out a good chunk of the album in this podcast, buy the album here, and watch the video below.
As mentioned many times during the show Fates Warning has a live set coming out on April 28th called Awaken the Guardian Live, and you can grab that here and watch a performance from the release below.
Okay, now there is so much stuff covered in this show we’re going to go into the speed round…
Out April 10:
L’Anima – Departures (Buy)
Out April 21:
Labyrinth – The Architecture of a God (Buy)
Out June 9:
Anathema – The Optimist (Buy)
Kyros – Monster (Edit)
Vangough – Morphine
L’Anima – Path to Sirius
Fates Warning – Fata Morgana~
Labyrinth – A New Dream
Ayreon – Everybody Dies
MindMaze – Sign of Life
Vangough – The Suffering
Blackfield – Family Man
Nova Collective – Cascades
Lonely Robot – Everglow
Arch/Matheos – Neurotically Wired
Pyramaze – 20 Second Century
Big Big Train – Judas Unrepentant~
Pandora – Second Home by the Sea
The Pineapple Thief – No Man’s Land
Vangough – Till Nothing’s Left
Anathema – Springfield
The Neal Morse Band – So Far Gone
Tiles – Crossing Swords
Tiles – Facing Failure
Edensong – Chronos
Trusties – Outside of Place and Time
Vangough – Black Rabbit
Fates Warning – Apparition
Rush – Cygnus X-1
Available: April 28, 2017 via Inner Wound Recordings
Reviewer (Text): Mason
Reviewer (Audio): Nick
Five and a half years and a name change ago I pledged money on Kickstarter for the first MindMaze album, Mask of Lies, and honestly had no idea what to expect from an unsigned band that had what I thought was a modest funding goal. At worst I figured I would have a unique reminder of obscure metal history as this was my first ever backing on Kickstarter (feel free to follow me there, but be warned most of the projects I back are not music related). However, myself and the other backers were treated to an album that far exceeded expectations, and helped MindMaze attract enough attention from Inner Wound Recordings to sign them before the release of their second album Back From the Edge, which demonstrated growth as musicians, songwriters, and on the production front, as well as increasing the notoriety of the band as they were able to secure the guest services of Symphony X’s Mike LePond on bass. Heading into their third album, my expectations were high. Let’s see how it fares…
Resolve is the third album from Allentown based band, MindMaze. Unlike its predecessors, Resolve is a concept album and it is clear that the band’s message in this album comes from within and is more personal than their previous work.
The cornerstone of the band continues to be guitarist Jeff Teets and his sister, vocalist Sarah Teets. Jeff continues to showcase impressive solos and catchy riffs, and demonstrates a commitment to his craft, as this album is the most diverse musically for the band up to this point, exploring more subdued and softer tones as the story of the album requires. Sarah provides her talents again, and like Jeff continues to find new ground to explore, while sounding as powerful as ever and maintaining her unique qualities among female metal vocalists by rarely going to the soprano range where many of her female colleagues tend to reside. Rich Pasqualone returns as the bass player, resuming his duties from the first album. His talents are more evident this time around as the bass sound is more pronounced on this album than the debut album. The drumming is ably performed by a combination of new member Mark Bennett, as well as Jeff, and their work on the skins is a big reason the album comes together nicely.
While everyone individually performs well, this album is best described as gestalt, and is much greater than the sum of its parts. Where Resolve really separates itself from its predecessors is from the quality and sophistication of the production. Resolve is the richest, most polished sound the band has put out to this point. This album makes the most of layering tracks and creates the richest sound up to this point. The album sees have added notes of spice using production effects sparingly, but at appropriate times on Sarah’s vocals. Gang vocals are also used well for emphasis at times. Another strength of the album is that it is hard to pick standout tracks because the difference between my favorite track and least favorite track is quite small. The album engages the listener from start to finish, with no low point in to speak of in terms of overall enjoyment. As stated earlier, Resolve is also the most musically diverse and exploratory album; it features the band’s most notable ballad, the widest range of musical styles, and the most emotive lyrics the band has put forth to date.
The easy short review of this album is that is their best yet, and that’s not a small feat in of itself. If this album were released in any previous year, it would be a top five album for certain, and if it doesn’t end up in my top five this year then we will have experienced the greatest year of releases in recent memory. If you would have told me in 2011 that an unsigned band trying to release its first album would six years later be releasing an album on the same day as Ayreon, and legitimately be its equal, I would have been skeptical. After playing Resolve over 20 times, I would say Ayreon, along with several other bands, will be gunning to release an album this good on April 28th.
Mason’s grade: A
Disclaimer: Guitarist Jeff Teets of MindMaze is the former co-host of When Prog and Power Unite, however this review has not been influenced or altered due to this fact.
01. Reverie (Instrumental)
02. Fight the Future
03. In This Void (Instrumental)
04. Drown Me
05. Sign of Life
07. Sanity’s Collapse (Instrumental)
08. One More Moment
09. Twisted Dream
10. True Reflection
11. Shattered Self
13. The Path to Perseverance
It was November 2015 onboard the Norwegian Pearl that I first learned about the project that would become Nova Collective. Richard Henshall, guitarist and songwriter of progressive metal shooting stars Haken was telling me about an upcoming trip to America with ex-Haken keyboardist Pete Jones in order to work with Between the Buried and Me bassist Dan Briggs on an instrumental outing. Matt Lynch from Cynic would round out the quartet, and now more than a year after they got together The Further Side is finally available to fans.
Over fourteen minutes we discussed this exciting new project, as well as Richard‘s involvement in Mike Portnoy’s Shattered Fortress, as well as a brief look back and forward from the Haken camp. For those interesting in hearing more from Nova Collective you are free to peruse two tracks from the album below.
For those who may not know, Cruise to the Edge is one of several music festivals that has taken to the seas in recent years. Having now been on two of these Yes branded cruises, as well as Progressive Nation at Sea, I will continue to say that these water based festivals are the single best festival experiences you can have, along with also most likely being the most expensive. Through this episode we have music from many of the bands that performed, as well as commentary on the cruise and the individual shows. Information on the next Cruise to the Edge has already come out on Facebook, and it will expand to 5 days at sea through early February 2018. Keep an eye on their site here for more information in the future.
Finally, while I usually use album art or promotional photos with the episode, tonight I’m taking one from the cruise experience. Even though it’s not credited on the photo, I happen to know this one was taken by the awesome Joel Barrios of Norrsken photography. Chances are you’ve seen some of Joel‘s music related work at some point, and he did a fantastic job shooting on the cruise, so if you fancy please give his Facebook page a like here.
Dream Theater – The Glass Prison
John Wesley – Once a Warrior
John Lodge – 10,000 Light Years Ago
Flying Colors – Kayla
Transatlantic – We All Need Some Light
Haken – Celestial Elixir
Pain of Salvation – In the Passing Light of Day
District 97 – Death By a Thousand Cuts
The Neal Morse Band – Sloth
Bad Dreams – Closer
Spock’s Beard – On a Perfect Day
Yes – Into the Lens
Frost* – Numbers
Stick Men – Plutonium
Genesis – Firth of Fifth
Liquid Tension Experiment – Acid Rain
Dream Theater – The Shattered Fortress
Our first normal broadcast of 2017 brings with it a feature for the first major release of the year, In the Passing Light of Day from Pain of Salvation. I’m not going to spend too much time on the album, because Joe already graced the site with a very insightful review here. While I personally was not turned off by the band’s Road Salt albums, I know many fans were, and if you were one of those people I truly think the band will bring you back into the fold with this release. While my favorite songs may differ from what Joe had in his review, I certainly agree with his overall very strong “A” grade on the album. And what is extra exciting is that American fans may get to see a lot of this material on the road as the band will be doing a full tour! Here are the full dates:
Feb. 7-11 Tampa, FL – Mexico – Cruise to the Edge
Feb. 12 Tampa, FL, The Orpheum
Feb. 14 Houston,TX, The Scout bar
Feb. 15 Dallas, TX, Gas Money
Feb. 16 Kansas City, MO, The Riot Room
Feb. 18 Chicago, IL, Reggies
Feb. 19 Detroit, MI, The Token Lounge
Feb. 21 Toronto, ON, Mod Club
Feb. 22 Quebec, QC, Le Cercle
Feb. 23 Montreal, QC, Le Tulipe
Feb. 24 Buffalo, NY, Iron Works
Feb. 26 New York, NY, The Marlin Room
And finally, don’t forget to buy the album here, and in case you need more convincing, the video for “Reasons” is below for your viewing pleasure.
Next up is some huge news, included in this podcast only thanks to my tardiness. On the broadcast on Wednesday I informed everyone that a new Ayreon album was on the way and it was to be titled The Source. Normally I would post the podcast later in the evening and that’s all we would know, but a day later we’ve got a lot more info, and one of the coolest videos I’ve seen in recent years! The album is due out April 28th and the 12+ minute video of the first track features every single vocalist on the album. You can choose from a myriad of pre-order choices here, and check out the awesome video below.
Although I don’t have much other info, it’s worth noting that April 28th will also see the release of Grimspound from Big Big Train. In more immediate release news Blackfield has the album V arriving on February 10th and you can pre-order that here. Next up is Tim Bowness releasing Lost in the Ghost Light on February 17th (order here), and The Mute Gods releasing Tardigrades Will Inherit the Earth on February 24th (order here). You can check out a track from each of those releases below.
Finally comes the tour news. Iron Maiden and Ghost will be hitting the road together and you can get full info and dates here. And just announced Coheed and Cambria will be touring, playing From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness in its entirety. They will joined by The Dear Hunter, and you can get a full list of dates here.
Dream Theater – Outcry
Pain of Salvation – On a Tuesday
John Wesley – A Way You’ll Never Be
Ghost – He Is
Iron Maiden – Empire of the Clouds
The Mute Gods – We Can’t Carry On
Pandora – The Way You Are
Tim Bowness – You Wanted to be Seen
Big Big Train – London Plane
Pain of Salvation – Reasons
The Dear Hunter – Mustard Gas
Coheed and Cambria – From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness
Kansas – What’s On My Mind
Yes – Heart of the Sunrise
Pain of Salvation – Full Throttle Tribe
Ayreon – The Charm of the Seer
Threshold – Watchtower on the Moon
Stick Men – Mantra
Trusties – A Dream I Never Had
Blackfield – Oxygen
Symphony X – Wicked
Firewind – Insanity
Pain of Salvation – The Taming of a Beast
Another year in music has come to a close! As is customary we have put an end to 2016 with an extended six hour wrap-up show, hitting most of the albums discussed in our “Best of 2016” retrospective, and a ton of other material as well. As usual we used musical additions from contributors and listeners to help round out the show and paint a more complete picture of the year. Once again, congratulations to our album of the year, Theories of Flight from Fates Warning! For more, well, I said far too much in six hours, so I’m not going to bore you here, just take a listen and enjoy a share of the amazing music available to you from the past year!
2017-01-04: 2016 Year End Wrap-Up Spectacular
Big Big Train – Folklore
The Dear Hunter – Cascade
Long Distance Calling – Getaway
Messenger – Calyx
Evergrey – Passing Through
Circus Maximus – Flames
Redemption – Slouching Towards Bethlehem
Evermind’s Guest Block
-Enbound – Feel My Flame
-Temperance – Change the Rhyme
-Sunburst – Remedy of my Heart
No More Pain – Paging Mr. Spader
Edge of Reality – Moldy Banana Bread
Eric Gillette – Aftermath
Frost* – Heartstrings
Airbag – Broken
Lee Abraham – Live For Today
Pain of Salvation – Chain Sling~
Karmakanic – Steer by the Stars
Anderson/Stolt – Knowing
Dr. DTVT’s Guest Block
-Charred Walls of the Damned – As I Catch My Breath
-Hammers of Misfortune – The Precipice (Waiting for the Crash)
Thank You Scientist – Mr. Invisible
Haken – 1985
Devin Townsend Project – Stormbending
Ayreon – Mystery
Arjen Lucassen – Daydream Believer^
Avantasia – Let the Storm Descend Upon You
Serious Black – Mirror World
Fates Warning – The Light and Shade of Things
Headspace – Kill You With Kindness
Tiles – Shelter in Place
IZZ – Burn (If You Let It)
Iamthemorning – Lighthouse
Kyros – The Lamb, the Badger, and the Bee
Kansas – Refugee
Dream Theater – Our New World
Jingle.Boy’s Guest Block
-Almanac – Self-Blinded Eyes
-Cloudscape – Thunders of Extreme
-Hemina – Moonlight Bride
-InnerWish – Tame the Seven Seas
-Theocracy – Ghost Ship
Dream the Electric Sleep – Let the Light Flood In
The Fringe – You
Paul Bremner – Warm
The Neal Morse Band – The Man in the Iron Cage
Knifeworld – High/Aflame
Rikard Sjoblom – Realm of You and Me
Dynazty – The Human Paradox
Mob Rules – Somerled
Primal Fear – Angels of Mercy
Marillion – Living in F.E.A.R.
Tilt – Against the Rain
The Mute Gods – Feed the Trolls
Serenity – Follow Me
Section A – Finding the One
Fates Warning – White Flag
Band: Pain of Salvation
Album: In the Passing Light of Day
Available: January 13th, 2017 via InsideOut
In the Passing Light of Day: A Surprising Masterpiece in the Wake of Changed Lives
In the Passing Light of Day is quite the milestone record, being the first new Pain of Salvation album in 6 years. It’s also the first proper album with the “new band” following major lineup changes through 2011 and 2012, the first album since Daniel Gildenlow‘s recovery from a near-fatal illness in 2014, and the first album in several offerings where – at least it seems – Daniel Gildenlow is not the primary songwriter on every track. What further cements its significance is the return to the stylistic parameters nearing “progressive metal” that we haven’t heard from the band since 2004’s Be (or, some might say 2002’s Remedy Lane). And, perhaps most importantly, this album is one of Pain of Salvation‘s finest offerings.
The first several songs are some of the most energetic, frenetic, and well composed songs in the Pain of Salvation discography. The album opens with “On a Tuesday”, a 10-minute juggernaut that hardly feels as long as it is. The track seems to deal heavily with Gildenlow‘s near death experience, and while dark subject matter has often occupied space in Pain of Salvation‘s discography, this time it stings with a biting honesty and authenticity. “I close my hands, not in prayer, not in prayer, but in fists,” Gildenlow whisper-sings, just before the song erupts in anger. Overall, “On a Tuesday” is a very well-balanced composition that hits a perfect balance between driven, energetic parts, and softer, more pensive sections.
“Tongue of God” follows with the fake-out. What initially postures as a soft piano ballad i.e., Road Salt, morphs into one of the band’s most potent short anthems; something that takes the Remedy Lane sound and infuses it with the grunge, dirt, and gravel of the Road Salt albums. That formula turns out to be where the album is most effective – it’s not a rehash of Pain of Salvation‘s early days as much as it’s a natural evolution of everything the band have done before. This development continues with next track, “Meaningless”, which is another haunting rocker that manages to carry on this aesthetic despite being a reworked version of a song from guitarist Ragnar Zolberg‘s previous band, Sign.
We get a break from what amounts to 20 minutes of grungy metal via “Silent Gold”, a piano-driven ballad that features very well-performed and emotive vocals from Gildenlow. But the calm doesn’t last long, as the energy level ramps back up with “Full Throttle Tribe”, another long epic.
Fans will immediately recognize “Full Throttle Tribes’” Remedy Lane type rhythm and feel, and the callbacks to The Perfect Element style rapping vocals. Unlike the first long song thus far, “On a Tuesday”, “Full Throttle Tribe” does overstay its welcome by a few minutes. The vocals and instrumental feel a bit disjointed, and the song lacks the glue that would otherwise help keep other songs on the album cohesive. But the chorus is solid, featuring an infectious melody and vocals layered sweetly in a way that Gildenlow pulls off so well.
Subsequently, “Reasons” kicks in with one of the heaviest riffs on the album, though it is ironically one of the album’s more progressive and theatrical tracks. Once again, we hear Gildenlow‘s rap-vocals over odd time signatures and heavy riffs, but this time more reminiscent of Be. It’s an intense track, and as uncomfortable as the unwanted epiphany that the lyrics describe.
The pace and general feel of the album changes somewhat here, as the songs become softer for the remainder of the album. “Angels of Broken Things” is a more somber, down-tempo, and haunting number, but its atmosphere slowly builds and coalesces into one of Pain of Salvation‘s most impressive guitar solos yet. “The Taming of a Beast” is overall a livelier track, but akin to Road Salt in terms of an arrangement, with fuzzed out guitars and a vintage-sounding electric piano driving the song. Gildenlow vocally channels Leonard Cohen here, and it works, as should be no surprise to anyone who has heard Pain of Salvation’s cover of “Hallelujah” on Ending Themes. The next song “If This is the End”, is an acoustic ballad that eventually builds into an incredibly concentrated outburst of violence, but it feels somewhat like a prelude to the album’s closer, “The Passing Light of Day”.
Once again, the album takes a turn back to the subject of mortality and Gildenlow‘s illness. A large portion of the song is dominated by a low, soft singing over a minimalist, clean guitar. The mood is nostalgic and remorseful, rather than angsty or angry, and change of pace fits perfectly. “Some candles last an hour/and others one full day/but I want to be like the sun/that steady flame that burns all along”, Gildenlow muses. As the simultaneous admission of ego and one’s own mortality brings the album thematically full circle, the guitars swell into a burst. What follows is almost reminiscent of Devin Townsend Project; Gildenlow‘s voice sores as he delivers lines expounding on the lessons learned from overcoming great personal adversity; a wall of driven guitars scream underneath.
In the Passing Light of Day may have been billed as a return to Pain of Salvation‘s progressive metal roots – and it is – but the album is more of an evolutionary jump forward. The elements that made up albums such as Be, Scarsick and Road Salt are still present, but this time woven back into a more traditional Pain of Salvation format. Additionally, the trauma Gildenlow underwent with his illness is inevitably on full display; changing the music and lyrical themes just as it undeniably changed Gildenlow‘s life. This combo of factors is why In the Passing Light of Day is such a rewarding listen. It manages to push Pain of Salvation forward into new unexplored territory, but fans will be relieved to hear that the music is recognizably Pain of Salvation.
Joe’s Grade: A