I don’t quite remember who told me about Lee Abraham, but I remember finding out about him in 2014 around the time of his last release, Distant Days. I would certainly qualify him as one of those under the radar artists, who have quietly released several albums with many notable names involved. It was once again word of mouth from another fan that brought the new album, The Seasons Turn, to my attention. I think the three songs we played in this episode should give more than enough reason to support this largely one-man operation, but just in case, we are offering another option. All you have to do is comment on this episode and you will be entered for a chance to win a copy of the new CD. However, if you don’t win, you can learn more about the band and buy the album here.
Next up is a band that nearly got lost in the pile of digital promos that hit my inbox. The band is Dynazty, and they released Titanic Mass back in April. You can learn more about the band here, and pick up the new album here.
Next, and I realize I may be beating a dead horse for some, is Haken. I honestly thought the major announcements were done with last week when I featured the album, but then they went ahead and released another video from Affinity. You can check out “Earthrise” below, and buy the album here.
Want some more cool news about Haken? Well, I have some, kinda. Conner Green and Diego Tejeida are appearing on the new solo album from Eric Gillette called The Great Unknown. You might ask yourself where you know the Gillette name, and it’s not because he’s the best a man can get. And he’s married, so I don’t think you can even “get” him that way. It’s because he’s an amazing part of the Neal Morse Band, and a fantastic multi-instrumentalist. You can pre-order the new album, and learn more about him here, and check out the teaser video here.
While we’re discussing newer artists, why don’t we talk about the New Jersey based No More Pain? They made their debut on tonight’s episode, and they have a new album coming out called The Spader EP. You can listen to a bunch of the band’s music, and grab their albums here.
Next up is a trio of European based released to look forward to. The first comes from the Jonas Reingold led outfit Karmakanic, who have announced details for their new album DOT. You can read about that album, due out July 22nd, here, and we’ll of course mention it down the line when pre-orders become available.
Keeping within that same musical family we’ve also got a new trailer for the upcoming Anderson/Stolt album, Invention of Knowledge. you can check that out below and pre-order here. It’s due out June 24th.
Finally, we have a new trailer for the forthcoming live release from Ayreon, The Theater Equation. More info on ordering the release, which is due out June 17th, will be available on May 20th.
Magic Pie – Trick of the Trade
Lee Abraham – Live For Today
Haken – Bound By Gravity
Dynazty – I Want to Live Forever
Eric Gillette – Bring You Down
Karmakanic – Bite the Grit
Dream Theater – Scarred
The Flower Kings – Rising the Imperial
Lee Abraham – the Seasons Turn
No More Pain – IV: Wake Up, Mr. Spader
Ayreon – Space Oddity^
Ambeon – Sweet Little Brother
Planet P Project – The New Frontier
Knifeworld – Deathless
Beardfish – Year of the Knife
Three Trapped Tigers – Strebek
Long Distance Calling – Trauma
Porcupine Tree – Slave Called Shiver
Firewind – Destination Forever
Stratovarius – Eternity
Lee Abraham – Say Your Name Aloud
There are some albums I discover because I do this show, and others that I’m glad I have this show for. Being able to continue to support Haken in their endeavors is a huge pleasure many years later, and having an album as good as Affinity makes it easy. If you missed it, you can check out my review of the album here, and listen to my discussion with Diego here. With those items aside, there isn’t much more I can say about the album than please buy it! You can grab yourself a copy here.
I mentioned during the show that Pain of Salvation are working hard on releasing a new version of Remedy Lane, paired with the full performance of the album last year. You can get more info straight from the band here, as well as some info on their next studio album.
Long Distance Calling have released their new album Trips, and you can grab yourself a copy of that here.
Finally, the first song from the new Frost* album, Falling Satellites, is finally here! Check out the video below and pre-order the album here.
Thank You Scientist – Feed the Horses
Haken – 1985
Frost* – Heartstrings
Lee Abraham – The Unknown
Messenger – Nocturne
Long Distance Calling – Rewind
Haken – Red Giant
Pyramaze – Forsaken Kingdom
Iron Maiden – The Clairvoyant
Black Sabbath – Fairies Wear Boots
Pain of Salvation – Rope Ends
Morglbl – Brutal Romance
Leprous – Restless
Haken – The Architect
Borealis – Black Rose
Persephone’s Dream – Android Dreams
Pendragon – Guardian of My Soul
Haken – Earthrise
Like so many prog bands of the last few decades, Messenger hails from England, and continue their infusion of folk and psychedelic into the genre on their sophomore album, Threnodies. Tonight’s show will showcase their sound, as it features four songs from that album. You can check out of the band online here, and order the new album here.
I also mentioned that the new album from Knifeworld is now out, and you can grab Bottled Out of Eden here.
Another new release comes courtesy of Lee Abraham, and you can order The Seasons Turn directly from Lee here.
Next up is exciting news from Fates Warning, who have announced a July 1st release of their new album Theories of Flight! You can read more about the album here.
Also upcoming is new material from The Jelly Jam! You can watch the new video from Profit below!
Finally, IZZ guitarist Paul Bremner has a new solo album out called The Witness. You can order that here and check out the teaser below.
Fates Warning – One Thousand Fires
Messenger – Calyx
Knifeworld – I Am Lost
Iamthemorning – Post Scriptum
Lee Abraham – Distant Days
IZZ – Words and Miracles
Avantasia – Lucifer
Messenger – Oracles of War
The Jelly Jam – Stain on the Sun
Dream Theater – A Savior in the Square
Magnitude 9 – Into the Sun
Psycho Motel – World’s on Fire
Poverty’s No Crime – All Minds in One
Messenger – Pareidolia
Porcupine Tree – Up the Downstair
Silent Force – Live for the Day
Spiritual Beggars – What Doesn’t Kill You
Paatos – Hynotique
Devin Townsend – Earth Day
Messenger – Crown of Ashes
This week we head into the seldom explored Russia for our featured album, Lighthouse, from Iamthemorning. The band boasts only two members, but have managed strong support to help round out their recent albums. On this release that includes Mariusz Duda, Colin Edwin, and Gavin Harrison. The show will give a nice representation of their soft and delicate sound. If you’d like to learn more you can visit them here, and buy the album here.
We also had a pair of bands making their debut on the program tonight: Paatos you can visit here, and Poverty’s No Crime you can learn about here. The latter has a new album, Spiral of Fear, due out April 29th in Europe.
Next up, June 17th has been announced as the release date of Ayreon‘s The Theater Equation! Here is what Arjen had to say about it:
Good news! ‘The Theater Equation’ will be available June 17th as a deluxe artbook version including blu-ray, 2DVD’s & 2CD’s, as well as a special edition 2CD & DVD digipak, standalone blu-ray & digital download. We’ll keep you updated about the pre-sales!
Finally, Haken, as we’ve somewhat conservatively documented, has a new album called Affinity coming out on April 29th. Go ahead and wow yourself with their newest lyric video below, and then pre-order it here!
Frost* – No Me No You
Iamthemorning – Too Many Years
Paatos – Sensor
Poverty’s No Crime – Walk Into Nowhere
Haken – The Endless Knot
Ayreon – Isolation
Tiles – Midwinter
Electrocution 250 – Funky Lizard
Iamthemorning – Sleeping Pills
Blind Guardian – Precious Jerusalem
Thought Chamber – Sacred Treasure
Avantasia – Death is Just a Feeling
Iamthemorning – Lighthouse
Royal Hunt – Legion of the Damned
Royal Hunt – Silent Scream~
Marillions – Sounds That Can’t Be Made
Camel – Song Within a Song
Ian Anderson – Banker Bets, Banker Wins
Amorphis – Mermaid
Iamthemorning – Harmony
If it takes a long time you might as well deliver a big album. That seems to be the approach that Tiles have taken with their newest effort, Pretending 2 Run. Their previous album, Fly Paper, came out in 2008, and featured names such as Alex Lifeson and Kim Mitchell. Kim returns on this album, and is joined by Mike Portnoy, Adam Holzman, Colin Edwin, and some strings to make this a very involved album. It’s also two discs in length, offering plenty of music to makeup for the extra long wait. For a full review of the album I would direct your attention to the wonderful work of Mason found here. If you’d like to purchase the album, and you should, you can pre-order is for an April 15th release here.
Next up, on Friday, April 8th the new album from Three Trapped Tigers will be released. It’s some excellent instrumental work out of England, and is called Silent Earthlings. You can grab that here, and check out the lead video below.
Next up, out of Russia, is another band with a slew of guest appearances. Iamthemorning released Lighthouse earlier this month, and if features Mariusz Duda, Colin Edwin, and Gavin Harrison. You can buy it here, and check out a song below.
And to finish things off, take a trip to the old West with this fun little tune.
The Flower Kings – Different People
Tiles – Drops of Rain
Spock’s Beard – Go the Way You Go
Iamthemorning – Chalk & Coal
Three Trapped Tigers – Silent Earthlings
Arjen Lucassen and Friends – El Paso^
Circus Maximus – Chivalry
Kingcrow – Eidos
Tiles – Taken By Surprise
Heliopolis – Elegy
Jon Anderson – Big Buddha Song
Leprous – Forced Entry
Mob Rules – Dust of Vengeance
Fates Warning – Anarchy Divine
Dream Theater – Another Day
O.S.I. – Hello, Helicopter!
Marillion – Berlin
Tiles – Other Arrangements
Tiles – The Disappearing Floor
Albums: Pretending 2 Run
Available: April 15th, 2016 via Laser’s Edge
Tiles has always seemed to be one band where the expression “your mileage may vary” seems to apply. Those of you that follow the show know that I’ve always been a huge fan of the band, and they are one the first bands I will suggest to someone when they are ready to look beyond the established names – particularly if they show an interest in Rush. Their sound can be very Rush like at times, and they’ve got some other contributing factors as well. We’ve seen Alex Lifeson throwing down a guest spot on Fly Paper, Hugh Syme doing the cover art for the fourth straight album, and having Terry Brown producing his third straight Tiles album. But there is enough differentiation from Rush for Tiles for them carve out their own piece of the prog pie.
If you are already familiar with Tiles and like them, then Pretending 2 Run is likely going to be a welcome addition to your collection, as their signature style is all over the album, with a few new welcome additions. If you’re not familiar with them, and my word isn’t good enough for you, I will name-drop a list of musicians who have agreed to lend their talents to this album: Ian Anderson, Mike Portnoy, Colin Edwin, Adam Holzman, Kim Mitchell, Matthew Parmenter, and Mike Stern – and if that last name doesn’t mean much to you now, I’ll explain later.
Pretending 2 Run is Tiles first album of original material since 2008, and given the amount of time that has passed since Fly Paper was released, they generated enough material to release a double album. If you’ve never listened to a Tiles album before, here is what you can expect – well controlled higher pitched vocals that possess a satisfying smoothness by Paul Rarick; catchy guitar riffs provided by Chris Herin; and a rhythm section that has crunchy bass and some well-timed keyboard work provided by Jeff Whittle, and solid work on the skins by Mike Evans. Another hallmark of the Tiles formula is the large number of instrumental tracks compared to other bands that have a vocalist. While those all hold true for Pretending 2 Run, the band has done some tinkering with the formula for this album, including some jazz instrumental sections, utilizing guests such as Mike Stern, who was Miles Davis’s guitarist. The band also used a string section on many songs, providing another new dimension not previously found in their sound.
Pretending 2 Run is a nice new extension in the Tiles catalog. It brings back a familiar sound to those who waited eight long years like I have, and it has the potential to get a neophyte to explore their back catalog. My biggest kudo is that this is the most diverse sounding and most exploratory album by the band yet, without losing sight of their signature sound. My biggest complaint is probably an obvious one, and that is the length. While I would have a hard time pinpointing as individual song as a weak spot, I have found that my interest wanes on disc 2 when listened back to back, yet if I start at disc 2, it is a much more enjoyable listen. I’m sure I could make some cuts to the track list without a huge loss, but seeing as the price is the same as a single album, I don’t think complaining about the extra material is fair. A second nitpick is that while I don’t think the album has any weak points, with 21 tracks total, there are only 3 that really shine, those being “Shelter In Place”, “Drops of Rain”, and stashed away in the middle of disc 2, “The Disappearing Floor”.
While I’m pleased with this album and have already preordered it, I’m also quite aware of where is stands in both their catalog and my catalog as a whole. It’s a nice, solid offering that is enjoyable, but probably isn’t going to send anyone over the moon.
Mason’s Grade: B
This week we head to Germany to explore a source of regular output on the metal scene there, Mob Rules. Their new album is Tales From Beyond, and will be a welcome addition to the collection of any Iron Maiden fan. You can order the new album here.
Next up is some exciting news involving Roine Stole and Jon Anderson. Here is what they had to say about Invention of Knowledge out on June 24th.
Legendary Yes vocalist & singer / songwriter, and prog veteran Roine Stolt (The Flower Kings) have joined forces for the Anderson / Stolt album ‘Invention Of Knowledge’ out 24th June 2016.
Jon Anderson had this to say: “…..Music is always the driving force in my life…working with such a wonderful musician as Roine Stolt made the creation of this album very unique,we are very excited with the release of ‘Invention of Knowledge’.“
Roine Stolt adds: “It is not aiming at being new Yes music; just new music, modern and classical, rock and ethno, tribal and orchestrated, grooving and floating. Hopefully in the true spirit of “progressive” – leaning forward, surprising and also comforting with familiar run-arounds.
We’ve been “inventing” as we go along – Jon is an endless source of new ideas. We’ve been bouncing ideas back and forth for months and as a result there are probably dozens of versions of these songs. It’s been a very interesting and rewarding time and the result is just insanely detailed.
We’ll of course have music and order details as soon as they are available.
Up next is the new single from Haken, which compliments the review of Affinity and interview with Diego posted in the last week or so. Check it out below, then pre-order the album here.
Long Distance Calling also has a single out off of the forthcoming Trips album, and you can view that, and then pre-order the album here.
Finally, Spiritual Beggars have an album called Sunrise to Sundown coming out on Friday. Pre-order it here and check out the track below.
Transatlantic – And You and I^
Mob Rules – Dykemaster’s Tale
Long Distance Calling – Lines
Spiritual Beggars – Diamond Under Pressure
Haken – Initiate
The Dear Hunter – The Lake and the River
Sieges Even – Iconic
Tetrafusion – Impetus
Sylvan – Strange Emotion
Stream of Passion – Wherever You Are
Mob Rules – A Tale From Beyond
Kansas – Nobody’s Home
Anglagard – Langtans Klocka
Haken – Shapeshifter
Circus Maximus – Highest Bitter
Strattman – A Candle in the Sun
Eumeria – Dreaming of Death
Yes – Close to the Edge
Mob Rules – Somerled
Diego Tejeida has been working the ivory for Haken from nearly the beginning, and has seen his sound evolve with the band. As we discussed in this 25-minute interview, that’s no easy task. We talked about his process for developing the tones you hear on each record, which goes well beyond picking from the usual pre-packaged sounds. We of course talked a lot about Haken‘s forthcoming album, Affinity, which is due out on April 29th. I mentioned in my review of the album all the new styles and sounds seen on this record, and now have a much deeper appreciation for them than I already did.
We also spoke about the evolution of the songwriting in the band, the addition of Conner Green on bass, and playing live, including some discussion of Haken‘s upcoming European and North American dates. Not one to be accused of using clickbait, let me say, no, there are no set American dates, yet, but they will come! And, as we discussed in the interview, you can watch the first track, “Initiate”, below!
This year the show’s including tribute’s are becoming a far too regular occurrence. We’ve lost Lemmy, Bowie, Grudzinski, Martin, and now Keith Emerson. Keith was never a musician that had much direct impact on me, and yet few people could have possibly had a greater influence. I never took to ELP as much as I did bands like Rush, Yes, Genesis, or Kansas, but it’s impossible to deny the number of musicians I love that learned from his playing and innovation. The tragedy of his death shows how closely the art and the artist are connected, and that for great players, the expectations of the crowd are often second only to their own expectations of themselves.
This week, along with plenty of ELP, we also featured the latest album from Serenity, Codex Atlanticus, which was released back in January. The band has decided to continue forward without a full-time female vocalist, somewhat shifting the dynamics of the band, but this had little effect on the music. The bombastic and symphonic nature of the band is still very much present, and any current fans will likely make this transition rather easily. If you haven’t gotten this album yet, firstly, what’s wrong with you? Secondly, get it here!
I mentioned that I have a review of the new Haken album, Affinity, and if you haven’t read/listened to it, you should absolutely do so! It can be found here.
Finally, we’ve got a pair of nice releases coming out this Friday, March 18th. The first is Tales From Beyond from the German band Mob Rules. You can check out the first single below and buy the album here.
Next up is the new live album from Royal Hunt called Cargo. Check out a song from that below and grab the album here.
Emerson, Lake & Palmer – Lucky Man
Serenity – Follow Me
Royal Hunt – Half Past Loneliness~
Mob Rules – On the Edge
Redemption – The Center of the Fire
Section A – Bleeding Chains
Serenity – Iniquity
Planet P Project – Join the Parade
Emerson, Lake & Palmer – Karn Evil 9
Haken – Celestial Elixir
Emerson, Lake & Palmer – Trilogy
Unified Past – Smile (In the Face of Adversity)
Headspace – Borders and Days
Dream Theater – Hymn of a Thousand Voices
Serenity – Reason
Serenity – My Final Chapter
Threshold – Turn On, Tune In
Iron Maiden – To Tame a Land
Emerson, Lake & Palmer – Fanfare For the Common Man
Pineapple Thief – The One You Left to Die
Fish – Sunsets on Empire
Yes – Shoot High, Aim Low
Serenity – Caught in a Myth
Rush – Bravado
Emerson, Lake & Palmer – Tarkus
Available: April 29th via InsideOut Music
It doesn’t seem that long ago that a close friend from across the pond sent me the demo of his brother’s band, Haken. Pete Jones would leave the band before they released their debut album, but it was due to his brother that I became aware of an amazing young band. I continued to promote Haken through the release of Aquarius in 2010, and was thrilled when they won the album of the year poll amongst our listeners. In the six years since, the band has seen a meteoric rise in popularity amongst progressive metal listeners, going from obscurity to festival headliners in only a few albums.
The band’s greatest success came with the release of The Mountain in 2013, and given what it did for the band I would have found it difficult to blame them for sticking close to that style when working on their newest album, Affinity. It took only one listen to discover that the band had no interest in playing things safe. Although you might not find any songs as eccentric as “Cockroach King” on this album, as a whole it is brighter and more upbeat than its predecessor. Once the appropriately titled intro track, “Affinity.exe” wraps up, “Initiate” kicks into gear and immediately sets the tone for the album. It’s heavy, but also atmospheric, and serves as a statement that Haken won’t be repeating themselves, no matter the intensity level of the music. The current tone of the band is strongly set by the first song.
“1985” is, understandably, the biggest nod to the 80’s music that inspired parts of this record. Although Diego Tejeida’s keyboards certainly play close to that era throughout the record, it is definitely most notable during this track. In nine minutes you meander through a Yes opening, some rockier verses, some instrumental parts, and finally a more typical anthemic Haken chorus. And then there is what can only be called… that part. That glorious moment in the song that sounds like the mix of music from a 1980’s montage scene sprinkled with sounds from the 1990’s video game adaptation of that same movie. Make no mistake, you’ll know when you get to it. The next track, “Lapse” offers a strong vocal performance and guitar solo, but doesn’t rise to quite the same heights as the rest of the album.
On my first listen to Affinity, I had turned my attention away from my computer screens for a while, and heard an ominous intro, and thought, “this has to be the big one”. Sure enough, a quick check told me I had moved onto the 15+ minutes of “The Architect”. Haken have thrown a longer song onto every studio album, including the Restoration EP, and so this song will naturally draw comparisons to its contemporaries. It is probably both more reserved and yet more experimental than the other epics. Chorus aside, it does lack the bigger hooks of some of the other long songs, but it hits on genres and styles outside of what we’ve seen with Haken to date. This genre push, though usually minor in its use, includes post-rock, dubstep, electronica, and some corners of metal the band has never before explored. Einar Solberg from Leprous has a short guest appearance in the song, providing expertly performed harsh vocals, but much like the rougher vocals on Aquarius, I found them to be an unnecessary addition. The band’s full time vocalist, Ross Jennings gives one of his best performances on this track. Through this song, and on the album as a whole he sounds fantastic, but on some tracks he’s pushed to a style with such a high tone that enunciation can become an issue. When it’s all said and done “The Architect” promises to be just as rewarding as its peers, even if I think it’ll take people a few extra listens to come to that conclusion.
After the length and density of “The Architect” it seems we are treated to an intentionally placed, and short poppy track in “Earthrise”. Given its ease of listen, and the fact it’s one of the shorter tracks, I’d be shocked if it isn’t used to help promote the album. But do not fret when I use the words short and poppy, as this is a great track, showcasing a lot of what this latest offering is all about in a compact wrapper. The opening verse features guitar parts from Richard Henshall and Charlie Griffiths have a clean and joyful electric tone to them that were a treat to hear added to the Haken sound. Speaking of the axe wielding duo, their contributions to the album can best be described as well blended. The incredible leads are there, but often lowered in the mix by Jens Bogren, given the compositions a beautiful wholeness. While there are not too many solos or 6-to-7 string acrobatics screaming for attention, but thoughtfully crafted songs certainly do not fail to draw your attention.
“Red Giant” takes a break from the bulk of the albums 80’s look-back approach and infuses many of the genre-expanding influences I mentioned earlier. While it is six minutes of the most experimental music on the album, it can get lost amongst the catchiness of the previous track, and the stellar next track, “The Endless Knot”, which is one of the best songs on the album. ”The Endless Knot” begins with a guitar and keyboard led intro, and then drummer Ray Hearne takes things over, offering a tom and bass driven bounce that sets the tone for the rest of the track. About midway through the song we are treated to a dubstep-adjacent section that manages to keep the groove wonderfully, and then exits into a fantastic bit of guitar work. “The Endless Knot” clocks in at 6 minutes, and is one favorite Haken songs to date.
The final track, “Bound By Gravity”, is a touching outro to the album, and perhaps the track that most closely resembles the softer sections of Affinity’s full-length predecessor. The vocals are soft and soothing throughout, as is the music for the most part. Light chimes (or at least their keyboard counterpart) aid the calm early on, and when the music picks up in the latter portion of the track, they change to tubular bells, making an epic ending to the song and the album.
This album has songs that stand apart from one another, and from their past works, propelling the band into the next chapter of their career. While Affinity may have very slight lulls in “Lapse” and “Red Giant”, every other song is memorable and top of the line, forming a great album. The stylistic changes are refreshing and brilliantly executed.
Through all of this I’ve failed to mention the newcomer and sole American in the band, bassist Conner Green. Affinity was his first chance to appear on brand new Haken material, and the results were similar to the Restoration EP. A tone that is warm, clear, and mixed incredibly well, while his playing glues the songs together. While it may not pop out at you at instantly, anyone who pays attention to his playing will have plenty to be excited about for Haken’s low-end future. As good as he was, however, the standout star on this album is clearly Diego Tejeida, who took the demands of the 80’s style, as well as the more experimental new styles and brought amazing tones and play to each challenge. Whether the keyboards are aggressive or atmospheric, they are always impressive throughout this album, and help make it a fantastic part of Haken’s discography. I don’t know if it quite climbs to The Mountain top as my favorite album, but Affinity comes very close.
Nick’s Grade: A