Another year, another retrospective. When it comes to music this year it’s easy to stew over what we lost. Iconic names like Prince, Lemmy, and David Bowie all left us over the course of the last twelve months. But, as with pretty much any year, there is much to look back fondly on, and so we reflect back on our favorites of 2016. Of all the albums heard this year only two of them made the top 10 lists of all three contributors to the program. The consensus runner up this year is Haken‘s fourth full length album, Affinity, which also spawned a wide range of individual awards. But, there can be only one album of the year, and so…
This year’s consensus choice as When Prog and Power Unite‘s album of the year is Theories of Flight from Fates Warning! This modern progressive metal masterpiece from one of the genre’s earliest applicants completely floored us, coming in at #1, #2, and #7 on our three lists. In addition the album spawned one nod to Jim Matheos for composer of the year, two nods to Ray Alder as vocalist of the year, and a nod to “The Light and Shade of Things” as epic of the year.
During the course of our the podcast you can listen as Nick explains all his picks in detail, and follow-up with an ill and congested Joe running through his top ten of the year. Additionally, if you wish to hear Mason‘s picks explained you can do so here. Be forewarned, due to some current technical limitations on his end the audio is somewhat muddy and choppy, but it’s still always good to hear his take!
A big thanks as always to everyone who tuned in during this past year, and we look forward to the new year in a big way as, on the first Wednesday of the year, January 4th, we kick off 2017 with our year-end wrap up spectacular. This show will be extended, as always, and will run from 4pm-10pm EST. That’s 9pm-3am UTC. As always we will be playing a lot of the music discussed here, as well as so much more. If you only tune in for one show next year, that’s the one you want!
Top 10 Albums of 2016
10. Avantasia – Ghostlights
9. Rikard Sjoblum – The Unbendable Sleep
8. Edge of Reality – Vicious Circle
7. The Neal Morse Band – The Similitude of a Dream
6. Thank You Scientist – Stranger Heads Prevail
5. Headspace – All That You Fear is Gone
4. Dream the Electric Sleep – Beneath the Dark Wide Sky
3. Big Big Train – Folklore
2. Haken – Affinity
1. Fates Warning – Theories of Flight
10. Hammers of Misfortune – Dead Revolution
9. Karmakanic – Dot
8. Anciients – Voice In The Void
7. Evergrey – The Storm Within
6. Haken – Affinity
5. Redemption – The Art of Loss
4. Devin Townsend Project – Transcendence
3. Dream the Electric Sleep – Beneath the Dark Wide Sky
2. Fates Warning – Theories of Flight
1. Avantasia – Ghostlights
10. Headspace – All That You Fear is Gone
9. Circus Maximus – Havoc
8. Iamthemorning – Lighthouse
7. Fates Warning – Theories of Flight
6. Anderson/Stolt – Invention of Knowledge
5. Haken – Affinity
4. Alcest – Kodama
3. Explosions in the Sky – The Wilderness
2. Devin Townsend Project – Transcendence
1. Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool
Songwriter/Composer of the Year
Nick: Jim Matheos (Fates Warning)
Mason: Matt Page (Dream The Electric Sleep)
Joe: Neige (Alcest)
Vocalist of the Year
Nick: Ray Alder (Fates Warning, Redemption)
Mason: Ray Alder (Fates Warning, Redemption)
Joe: Ross Jennings (Haken)
Guitarist of the Year
Nick: Eric Gillette (Neal Morse Band, Eric Gillette)
Mason: Nick Van Dyk (Redemption)
Joe: Devin Townsend (Devin Townsend Project)
Bassist of the Year
Nick: Connor Green (Haken, Eric Gillette)
Mason: Jonas Reingold (Karmakanic, The Fringe)
Joe: Anton Dang (O’Brother)
Keyboardist of the Year
Nick: Adam Wakeman (Headspace)
Mason: Sigurd Sheie (Hammers of Misfortune)
Joe: Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater)
Drummer of the Year
Nick: Ray Hearne (Haken)
Mason: Josh Mathis (Cyborg Octopus)
Joe: Ray Hearne (Haken)
Song of the Year (Song Under 10 Minutes)
Nick: The Lamb, The Badger & the Bee (Kyros)
Mason: Let The Light Flood In (Dream The Electric Sleep)
Joe: Stormbending (Devin Townsend Project)
Epic of the Year (Song Over 10 Minutes)
Nick: The Light and Shade of Things (Fates Warning)
Mason: Let The Storm Descend Upon You (Avantasia)
Joe: Knowing (Anderson/Stolt)
Disappointment of the Year
Nick: The Astonishing (Dream Theater)
Mason: The Astonishing (Dream Theater)
Joe: Act V: Hymns With the Devil in Confessional (The Dear Hunter)
Comeback Album of the Year
Nick: The Prelude Implicit (Kansas)
Mason: Creatures Watching Over The Dead (Charred Walls of the Damned)
Joe: Kodama (Alcest)
Newcomer of the Year
Nick: Vicious Circle (Edge of Reality)
Mason: Learning To Breathe (Cyborg Octopus)
Joe: Stranger Heads Prevail (Thank You Scientist)
Album Cover/Artwork of the Year
Nick: The Seasons Turn (Lee Abraham)
Mason: Codex Atlanticus (Serenity)
Joe: Kodama (Alcest)
Top 3 Shows/Tours of the Year
3. Avantasia (New York City, NY)
2. ProgPowerUSA (Atlanta, GA)
1. Haken & Thank You Scientist (Various)
3. Epica (House of Blues Orlando, February show)
2. Weird Al Yankovic (Lakeland Center, Lakeland, FL)
1. Avantasia (PlayStation Theater, NYC)
3. Jesu & Sun Kil Moon (Theatre of Living Arts, Philadelphia, PA)
2. Explosions in the Sky (The Fillmore, Philadelphia, PA)
1. Sigur Ros (Academy of Music, Philadelphia, PA)
Top Concert Video of the Year
Nick: The Theater Equation (Ayreon)
Mason: Welcome to Atlanta Live (Seventh Wonder)
Most Anticipated Releases in 2017
Nick: Ayreon, Flying Colors, MindMaze
Mason: Ayreon, Byzantine, Enchant, Iris Divine, Jolly, MindMaze, Odin’s Court, Once Human, Pain of Salvation, Seventh Wonder
Joe: Sigur Ros, Pain of Salvation, Flying Colors, Anathema
Hello, is this thing on? It’s been awhile, and I apologize to any listeners who have been missing the show over the past few months. First, let me start with some good news; the best of 2016 lists and podcast should be available soon, so keep an eye out for that. In addition the year end wrap up show is scheduled for Wednesday, January 4th. The hours are yet to be determined, but as always it will exceed our usual 3 hour show, probably clocking in at 5-6 hours. It’s the one show a year I suggest people tune into more than any other, as we try best we can to cover all the great music released in 2016.
Speaking of which, one of the more recent 2016 releases was The Similitude of a Dream from The Neal Morse Band. This is the sophomore release under that specific moniker, though it of course closely resembles a normal Neal Morse release. I really do think the more diverse songwriting does come through in the “band” setting, and it is very refreshing, especially on a two disc release to have multiple singers on the album, most notably guitarist Eric Gillette. I love Neal‘s vocals, but he has released such a large amount of music in a relatively short time that it’s always refreshing to hear other voices. This album was a grower, and it you dedicate the time to give it a few listens I have no doubt you’ll be enjoying it as much as I have. You can order yourself the album here.
Unlike a normal show, where I do try to get a somewhat thorough grasp on all the big pieces of news that have happened in the past week, I’m not going to pretend to present everything that has gone on in the last few months, and am simply going to hit on a few highlights. There are several early 2017 releases we can look forward to starting with In the Passing Light of Day from Pain of Salvation due out on January 13th. You can preorder that album here and check out the lead single below.
Next up we have a couple of live releases to talk about. Already released is A Stone’s Throw From the Line by Big Big Train, and you can grab that here. Coming out January 21st is Scrape Across the Sky from IQ, and you can see a full release about that here. Also coming out sometime next year is the 2nd studio release from The Mute Gods, Tardigrades Will Inherit the Earth. Not much detail on that yet other than it’s expected in February. And now in parting I leave you with a fresh Blind Guardian track, “Children of the Smith”, enjoy!
Trans-Siberian Orchestra – Christmas Dreams
The Tea Club – The Magnet
Thank You Scientist – Rube Goldberg Variations
Blind Guardian – Children of the Smith
Pain of Salvation – Meaningless
The Dear Hunter – The Revival
The Neal Morse Band – Draw the Line
The Neal Morse Band – The Slough
The Neal Morse Band – Back to the City
No More Pain – Paging Mr. Spader
Jolly – Joy
Shadow Gallery – Christmas Day
Big Big Train – Wassail
IQ – The Road of Bones
Ayreon – Epilogue: The Memory Remains
Marillion – Slainte Mhath
The Mute Gods – Nightschool for Idiots
Voyager – A Beautiful Mistake
The Neal Morse Band – The Road Called Home
The Neal Morse Band – Sloth
The Neal Morse Band – Freedom Song
Coheed and Cambria – Domino the Destitute
Symphony X – The Accolade
David Gilmour – On an Island~
Moon Safari – The World’s Best Dreamer
Wisdom of Crowds – Radio Star
Helloween – I’m Alive
Bruce Dickinson – Darkside of Aquarius
Coheed and Cambria – Apollo II: The Telling Truth
As I had suspected shows have been few and far between, but that comes with a hidden benefit of lots of exciting goodness being packed into each episode. For one, tonight’s show featured the fantastic second album from Edge of Reality, Vicious Circle. This is a release for everyone who wants all the normal guitar driven prog goodness they can handle with the extra flavors of humor and eccentricity for good measure. You can check out more of the album and buy it from bandcamp here.
Then of course there is one of the reasons there have been so few shows recently. I spent the better part of one week following Haken and Thank You Scientist through Canada and the United States, and then the better part of another week experiencing my first ProgPower USA. I talk about my trip and the festival in brief during the podcast while playing music from many of the associated bands. Check out news on next year’s festival here or simply watch the roster video for days 3 and 4 below.
And no show would be complete without lots of new music. Let’s start with a pair of more recent releases, The Storm Within from Evergrey and The Dear Hunter‘s new album Act V: Hymns With the Devil in Confessional. Scratching itches in two separate areas of the music community both albums have been very well received thus far. You can buy the Evergrey here and The Dear Hunter here.
Now we’ll move onto a pair of upcoming releases. First up is The Prelude Implicit, a new album from Kansas following the departure of Steve Walsh. You can check out the new video below and preorder the album here.
Next is a double album from The Neal Morse Band due out November 11th called The Similitude of a Dream. Mike Portnoy has gone all-in declaring this one of the absolute greatest albums in his career, and we can only hope it lives up to the hype. You can watch the first single below and preorder here.
Swinging now to the dark side of things Ghost have released a new album called Popestar, and the lead single can be seen below. You can order the full album here.
Finally, Dream Theater have released a new version of their track “Our New World” featuring vocalist Lzzy Hale. Check it out!
Dream Theater – The Glass Prison
Edge of Reality – Cupcake
Evergrey – Someday
Ghost – Square Hammer
Lord – Redemption
Stream of Passion – Haunted
Spock’s Beard – Tides of Time
Thank You Scientist – The Amateur Arsonist’s Handbook
Haken – The Endless Knot
Dream Theater – Our New World feat. Lzzy Hale
Pyramaze – Disciples of the Sun
Circus Maximus – Abyss
Blind Guardian – And the Story Ends
The Neal Morse Band – Long Day/Overture
Kansas – Visability Zero
Edge of Reality – Moldy Banana Bread
Vanishing Point – Tyranny of Distance
The Gentle Storm – Shores of India (Storm)
Fates Warning – Valley of the Dolls
Serious Black – Mirror World
Green Carnation – Light of Day, Day of Darkness (Edit)
Devin Townsend – By Your Command
Edge of Reality – Into the Shadows
The Dear Hunter – Cascade
This week we turn to the American heartland for our featured album, the third album from Dream the Electric Sleep, Beneath the Dark Wide Sky. The trio has always excelled at pounding out powerful albums with soulful groove and energy, and continue that trend with the latest album. You can buy the new album here.
Arjen Anthony Lucassen recently (re)released an album he did years ago, but is now finally taking proper credit for, Strange Hobby. It’s a collection of older psychedelic tunes for your listening pleasure. It can be gotten here.
Next up is Karmakanic who have just released their fifth album, DOT. You can check out that album’s longest track in this week’s show, and then buy the album here.
Tilt is a band we saw debut on the program a few weeks ago, and they have since released a new video from their new album Hinterland. You can check that out below and then buy it here.
Evergrey – Distance
Dream the Electric Sleep – Let the Light Flood In
Arjen Anthony Lucassen – I Want You^
Thank You Scientist – A Wolf in Cheap Clothing
Karmakanic – God, the Universe, and Everything Else No One Cares About, Pt. 1
Magic Pie – According to Plan
Dream the Electric Sleep – Flight
Airbag – Returned
Tilt – Bloodline
Thank You Scientist – Cavern
Tesla – Save the Goodness
Von Hertzen Brothers – Trouble
Vanden Plas – Rainmaker
The Gentle Storm – The Greatest Love (Storm)
Blind Guardian – Into the Storm
Pyramaze – Ancient Words Within
Dream the Electric Sleep – Culling the Herd
Shadow Gallery – Pain
Riverside – Artificial Smile
Supertramp – School
Phideaux – Thank You For the Evil
Moon Safari – Mega Moon
Labyrinth – Crossroads
Dream the Electric Sleep – The Last Psalm to Silence
Dream the Electric Sleep – All Good Things
Whenever notable musicians come together, from simple duos to larger supergroups, I’m inevitably struck by two questions: Will the style of this music be a merging of sounds I’m already accustomed to? And will the quality be worth it to pull these guys away from their normal musical endeavors? In the case of The Invention of Knowledge from Anderson/Stolt the answer to both questions is yes. For better or worse there is no Asia here, no bold new direction carved out when the pieces added up to the sum. If you asked someone to imagine Roine Stolt‘s guitar playing on a classic Jon Anderson era Yes album, they’d probably come close to what was done here, and would likely be just as pleased as well. To say something is as you’d imagine is probably a bit boring, but also makes it a safe bet for your enjoyment, so go ahead and grab the album here.
While that album may have been expected, the next bit of news certainly was not. It seems that the Swedish sensation known as Beardfish have decided to call it a day. They were truly one of the first bands of their Scandinavian eclectic prog style that I followed, even before the much more well known The Flower Kings, and their regular output has been a constant source of enjoyment over the years. Seeing them live was always a blast, and I think the joy and purity they brought to the stage will be sorely missed by the prog community. Check out the full release below.
After a longer hiatus and some disagreements and various difficulties within the band we have decided to call it quits. This was not an easy choice to make. Beardfish has always been our main musical outlet – a proper garage band – the kind that meet up in the rehearsal studio and try out new material together for long, massive sessions at a time. Some of the best times of our lives have been spent together on the road, in the studio and just hanging out.
Growing up, having families and all that has made that particular way of working very difficult, leading to long periods where we haven’t been able to rehearse.. And we LIKE to play.
We’ve had a very good run though; eight albums in fifteen years, nine if you include “The early years” (ten if you count “The Sane Day” double album as two!). We’ve toured with some great bands. We’ve met amazing people and found friends in places we’d never been before.We want to thank everyone who has supported us throughout the years, you guys are fantastic and the prog community is a very special place to be a part of.
We spent our youth and our early adulthood as Beardfish and we grew up within the band.. Individually we will now venture out into other musical projects. No matter what, Beardfish has been very special and we will all hold it close to our hearts, but right now it’s time for new adventures.
“So real, it’s surreal”
A Love Story – The Sane Day (2005)
Rikard, David, Robert & Magnus
The last bit of news comes from our friends in Edge of Reality, who have announced August 30th as the release date of their second album, Vicious Circle. Here is what the band had to say:
Ladies and gentlemen, the day has arrived. We are proud to announce the release date of our second album! We shall unleash Vicious Circle upon the earth August 30th. Pre orders are available now on bandcamp here.
If you want the physical copy in your hands a week early, come get it right from us at our release show at Mercy Lounge Thursday, August 25th!
We can’t wait for you to hear it!
And here is a teaser video for you!
Finally, as I mentioned during the show, we may soon be experiencing a higher than normal amount of show cancellations and/or a temporary hiatus. We hope you stick with us through the troubles and join us on the other side!
Beardfish – The Gooberville Ballroom Dancer
Anderson/Stolt – Invention
Edge of Reality – Aggressive Tip-Toeing
Pink Floyd – In the Flesh
Rush – Something For Nothing
Shadow Gallery – The Archer of Ben Salem
Rikard Sjoblom – The Realm of You and Me
Beardfish – South of the Border
Big Big Train – Brooklands
Fates Warning – Another Perfect Day
Anderson/Stolt – Everybody Heals
Marillion – Hotel Hobbies
Marillion – Warm Wet Circles
Marillion – That Time of the Night
Beardfish – The Platform
Karnataka – Road to Cairo
Pyramaze – The Birth
Lo-Fi Resistance – Program
James LaBrie – Invisible
Beardfish – Hold On
Anderson/Stolt – Know…
Over thirty years into the game and yet Fates Warning are continuing to show why they deserve to keep the moniker of progressive metal pioneers. Their new album is Theories of Flight, and I’ve seen more than one longtime fan of the band praise it as their best yet, topping such classics as Parallels and A Pleasant Shade of Gray. From a personal perspective I can safely say it will be a very strong contender for album of the year, and Jim Matheos will put himself in competition for the guitarist and songwriter of the year. His compositions over the last decade with a variety of projects have been nothing short of stellar, making him an icon of the last century as well as this one. If you are a prog-metal fan I guarantee this is going to be one of the album you need to hear this year. You can buy the new album here, and keep up with Fates Warning here. You can also enjoy a video of “White Flag” below.
While Jim may have the guitar covered, our next bit of big news features three individuals who are all masters of their various domains as well. Tony Levin has taken bass and other low-end instrument duties with an almost endless list of individuals, but his best known longtime collaboration is with Peter Gabriel. Marco Minnemann is a highly sought after drummer, and one who has added his distinct touch to most of Steven Wilson‘s solo catalog. Lastly, Jordan Rudess is the man who has been playing keyboards and any other instrument he can find or invent with Dream Theater for over 15 years.
Together those individuals make up Levin Minnemann Rudess, and on July 15th the trio is set to release From the Law Offices of Levin Minnemann Rudess. This is their second album together, and this episode features a world premier of some music from the album. Listen to the podcast for your very first chance to hear “Back to the Machine”. Then you can head on over here to pre-order the album, or watch below for a little more info from the band.
Making their debut on the program tonight was Tilt, who are composed of members from Fish‘s solo band. Their new album Hinterland is available now from their bandcamp here, and you can check out the album there before you buy it!
On the news front, we have some info on a new Flying Colors record. Here is what Mike Portnoy had to say in a recent interview with One on One.
We’re pencilled in to reconvene in December and begin writing, so that’s the plan. We’ll start writing at the end of this year, we’ll possibly have something out by 2017. We’ll see how the process goes when we get under way in December.
In other Mike Portnoy news, he has announced that he’ll be performing Dream Theater‘s 12 Step Suite for the first time in its entirety on board Cruise to the Edge 2017. You can read more about that here.
Fates Warning – Seven Stars
Dream Theater – These Walls
Peter Gabriel – Shock the Monkey
Steven Wilson – Happy Returns/Ascendant Here On
Levin Minnemann Rudess – Back to the Machine (World Premier)
Flying Colors – The Storm
Anderson/Stolt – Knowledge
Fates Warning – The Light and Shade of Things
Ayreon – Trauma~
Tilt – Hinterland
Wisdom of Crowds – Radio Star
Haken – Darkest Light
Coheed and Cambria – In Keep Secrets of Silent Earth: 3
Queensryche – Eye9
Fates Warning – White Flag
Porcupine Tree – Piano Lessons
Levin Minnemann Rudess – The Blizzard
Spock’s Beard – I’m the Guy
Kyros – The Lamb, The Badger and the Bee
Beardfish – The Hunter
Helloween – Keeper of the Seven Keys
Airbag – Broken
3rDegree – Incoherent Ramblings
Fates Warning – The Ghosts of Home
When I first saw Eric Gillette perform live, it should have come as no surprise, given the other members of the Neal Morse Band, that he wasn’t a one trick pony. That show saw him perform flawlessly on several instruments, as well as deliver backing vocals, showcasing I think a very under-recognized voice in prog. I was so impressed with his performance I named him my guitarist for the year in 2015, and of course quickly picked up his first solo CD, Afterthought. Now he’s brought in some guests and is showing off his songwriting chops on his sophomore release, The Great Unknown. He brought everything one might expect, and more, namely Conner Green, Diego Tejeda, and Thomas Lang. You can check him out and purchase his music here.
Next on the agenda is a tour for the ages. Especially if that age is younger prog fans. A bill that showcases a transatlantic pairing of the best of the UK and America is hitting the United States in August and September. Haken and Thank You Scientist together! A full list of dates can be seen below!
Next up on the docket are some items we’ve talked about a good bit. Ayreon‘s The Theater Equation is out in some areas, and you can grab that here, while Anderson/Stolt‘s Invention of Knowledge can be grabbed here.
Now let’s move onto some important kickstarters and pre-orders, starting with the bands and people who are more likely to be eating ramen without your help. First up is Iris Divine, who are funding their second album The Static and the Noise. This is a follow up to one of the great metal debut’s the US has seen recently, and has very little chance to disappoint. You can help them here.
Finally, we have Levin Minnemann Rudess, and their sophomore release, From the Law Office of Levin Minnemann Rudess. You can pledge towards that here.
Finally, in general news, we have a pair of big names making waves. First up, Steven Wilson returns to America to continue touring. You can check out his updated dates here.
And then there is the end of a 16 year studio hiatus for Kansas, as they’ve announced they will be releasing The Prelude Implicit on September 23rd. You can read the full release on that here.
Peter Gabriel – Red Rain
Eric Gillette – The Aftermath
Thank You Scientist – Absentee
Haken – Portals
Anderson/Stolt – Invention
Ayreon – Pain~
Ayreon – Mystery~
Iris Divine – Fire of the Unknown
Levin Minnemann Rudess – Marcopolis
The Dear Hunter – Gloria
Eric Gillette – Escape
Anderson/Stolt – We Are Truth
Big Big Train – Telling the Bees
Kansas – Lightning’s Hand
Steven Wilson – My Book of Regrets
Eric Gillette – Damage is Done
Transatlantic – Duel With the Devil
Rush – A Farewell to Kings
Sylvan – Strange Emotion
Dredg – Sanzen
Eric Gillette – All I Am
Big Big Train is a band that I probably should have checked out sooner, but it wasn’t until the addition of Rikard Sjoblom in 2014 that I really started paying any attention to them. It said a lot to me that the lead player in Beardfish would join as a comparatively small part in a growing octet. Their first EP with Rikard, Wassail certainly confirmed my suspicion that there was something good happening, and the new album, Folklore shows a large and robust band following on all cylinders. The opening and title track, which also happens to be the lead single is so powerful it immediately enters in the competition for song of the year. The mixture of styles and the numerous voices of the band comes across fabulously, and the mix brings the many sounds of the band out well. As I mentioned during the show, I have given the station owners and hosts of Music in Widescreen a lot of crap over the years for their cult-like promotion of this band, but I have to say this album is a must buy. You can check out the single below, visit the band at their site here, and buy the album here.
Another fantastic recent release belongs to Eric Gillette, who joined forces with Thomas Lang, Conner Green, and Diego Tejeda to release his second solo album, The Great Unknown. You can buy the album directly from Eric here.
Next up is an album that I can’t wait for you all to hear, and thankfully it won’t take us nearly a decade to hear it this time. Fates Warning are primed to follow up Darkness in a Different Light with an even better offering, Theories of Flight, on July 1st. Mason is working on a full review, but it’s safe to say it will have a hefty endorsement from the both of us. Check out the lead single below and pre-order here.
Finally, the long wait to experience The Theater Equation is nearly over, and Ayreon‘s masterpiece, brought to life on stage, will be available for (some) customers on June 24th. It seems things have been delayed in North America and we might not get this until the end of July unfortunately. You can check out a video of “Love” below, and pre-order here.
Big Big Train – Folklore
Eric Gillette – The Great Unknown
Haken – Eternal Rain
Ayreon – Love~
Fates Warning – From the Rooftops
O.S.I. – Indian Curse
Arch/Matheos – Midnight Serenade
Big Big Train – Along the Ridgeway
Moraz Album Project – The Drums Also Solo
Phideaux – Hive Mind
Redemption – Desperation, Pt. 1
Steel Prophet – When Six Was Nine
Dynazty – Keys to Paradise
Frost* – Numbers
Xen – Psycho Pilots
Lonely Robot – Lonely Robot
Vision Divine – 1st Day of a Never-Ending Day
Symphony X – Accolade II
Queensryche – Roads to Madness
Big Big Train – Salisbury Giant
Starsabout – Every Single Minute
Days Between Stations – How to Seduce a Ghost
Art of Illusion – Instinct
Dream Theater – Wait for Sleep
Dream Theater – Learning to Live
Metallica – The Call of Ktulu
Big Big Train – The Transit of Venus Across the Sun
First off, apologies for the unexpected weeks off between broadcasts. I had to cancel the show two weeks ago due to work commitments, and last week the station went dark only a few hours prior to our scheduled broadcast due to an error outside of anyone’s control.
But we’re back this week and happy to take a good hard look at the new offering from IZZ guitarist Paul Bremner, The Witness. For those already familiar with IZZ, many of the voices will sound familiar, but the music should not. Though there are many people crossing over from the main band to this solo album you can very easily hear that the primary songwriting responsibilities have shifted. And as expected the guitars take on an overall more important role on the album. If you enjoyed the tracks you heard on this program, and I certainly hope you did, you can order The Witness here. You can also check IZZ out here.
We were finally able to giveaway the new Lee Abraham CD tonight, and the lucky winner of The Seasons Turn was Oscar Quintero! Thanks to everyone that entered, and congrats Oscar!
There were a bunch of albums that saw their release while we were away, so let’s cover those now. First up is Frost*, who released their long awaited third album Falling Satellites. You can check out Mason’s review of the album here, and pick yourself up a copy here.
Next up Big Big Train released their new album Folklore, and you can hear a track below and order the album here.
Also released was The Spader EP from No More Pain. You can hear the entire album before purchasing it here.
While we’re on the subject of great music available for your ear holes, let’s talk about Starsabout, who made their program debut tonight. You can listen to, and hopefully purchase their debut album Halflight here.
Finally, there are a ton of new releases that have been announced since the last broadcast. Let’s go in chronological order and start with Epic at the Majestic, the live release that covers Heliopolis and their performance at RoSfest 2015. You can pre-order that here for a June 24th release.
Next up is a band that played the after party at this year’s RoSfest, 3rDegree, who will be releasing Hello World! Live in Europe & America on June 28th. You can pre-order directly from the band here.
Zoom ahead a few weeks to July 22nd and Dream the Electric Sheep will be releasing their 3rd album, Beneath the Dark Wide Sky. You can check out the trailer below and pre-order the album here.
Lastly, we have a pair of releases on July 29th. The first comes from Thank You Scientist, and it’s their highly anticipated 2nd album Stranger Heads Prevail. You can pre-order that here. The other comes from Aisles, and is an ambitious double album entitled Hawaii. You can grab that here. Singles from both albums can be heard below.
Paul Bremner – From Here I Can See the Horizon
3rDegree – The Gravity
IZZ – Solid Ground
District 97 – Open Your Eyes
Tiles – Shelter in Place
Pinnacle – Some Just Sleep
Starsabout – Halflight
Paul Bremner – Pilot Fish
Thank You Scientist – Blue Automatic
Big Big Train – London Plane
Dream the Electric Sheep – Elizabeth
Paul Bremner – The Witness
No More Pain – Paging Mr. Spader
Frost* – Signs
Aisles – Club Hawaii
Heliopolis – New Frontier
Paul Bremner – Lost in a Memory
Dynazty – Titanic Mass
Starsabout – Black Rain Love
Wisdom of Crowds – The Centre of Gravity
Coheed and Cambria – No World for Tomorrow
Paul Bremner – No Remorse
O.S.I. – False Start
Album: Falling Satellites
Genre: Progressive Rock
There are few bands that have developed such a devoted fan base on the basis of their first two albums as Frost* has. Their debut album, Milliontown, is frequently recommended to progressive music neophytes, and deservedly so. It has been ten years since its release, and myself and others consider it a classic. Fans have been on edge waiting for this third studio album from Jem Godfrey and company for eight years, with the promise of third album starting back in 2011. The wait has been accompanied by many alternating statements such as, “The band is no more” and “I’m working on the third album” via social media; leading many, including myself to adopt the mindset of I’ll believe it when I have the album in my hands. I don’t believe many bands could survive this “will he or won’t he” game for as long as Frost* has if it weren’t for the simple fact that there is not a suitable replacement for what Frost* does musically.
Jem and longtime friend and collaborator/guitarist/vocalist John Mitchell have developed a great chemistry in creating a guitar and synthesizer based sound with their feet planted in both progressive rock and pop music backgrounds. The rhythm section sees the return of Nathan King on bass from the previous album Experiments in Mass Appeal, as well as a new drummer, Craig Blundell, who is a certainly game for the job, as he was the touring drummer for Steven Wilson’s US tour last year. Seeing that this is Jem’s baby though, it should not come to anyone’s surprise the heaviness of the keyboards and synthesizers on the album. Jem really puts the various keyboard leads high in the mix, which has always been of importance to the signature Frost* soundscape. The rest of the band complements the keyboards admirably in a supporting role. Musically, the sound is closer to Milliontown than EIMA, and the song lengths and structures are closer to EIMA than their debut, providing a balance between the two while still providing something that is familiar, but not too familiar. John Mitchell has retaken the vocalist position for this album after singing on Milliontown and yielding that position to Dec Burke on EIMA, and while I enjoy Dec in his other bands and solo work, I think John’s naturally deeper voice is a much better fit for the sound of Frost* because it contrasts more with the often bright tones of the music. When needed, those high vocals are still there when appropriate, like in the song “Numbers”. The other area where I think John’s strengths as a vocalist are utilized is that he is capable of delivering different styles within one song, which helps goes a long way in helping the album not sound homogenous.
Where I feel Falling Satellites really shines, particularly in comparison to their previous output, is in the lyric department. This is the first time I felt like I really connected with the lyrics and song meanings, particularly “Signs” and “Heartstrings”. “Signs” will end up among my favorite songs by the band, in large part because I see parallels in the subject matter of the song and just the brutal honesty of the song, and I applaud Jem for writing it, even though I privately hope no one else relates to the song’s lyrics. “Signs” camouflages the sad nature of the lyrics by juxtaposing it with an upbeat tempo, a major key signature, and bright shiny instrumentation in the chorus.
Falling Satellites is going to scratch that itch that Frost* fans have had for the past eight years waiting for their third album. I was originally just lukewarm on the album, as I quickly connected with “Signs” and “Heartstrings” and not much else. It was only after several listens that I started appreciating some of the other songs a little more. Overall, I like the return to the musical style of Milliontown, and I think that this is easily their strongest album lyrically to date. Furthermore, I found subsequent listens more enjoyable, which means there I’m finding more each listen. My biggest complaint of this album is the same one that I have with EIMA, which is that outside of the two tracks I mentioned, not much else on the album grabs my attention. The last six tracks make up a suite, but I really don’t feel the connections between the tracks, and again nothing is drawing me in after “Heartstrings”. All in all, Falling Satellites is a solid effort, and one that fans will surely be happy to have. It will harken back to their fabulous debut album at times musically and in one of the song titles, but whereas the debut had five excellent tracks out of six (the last being good), this album just has two. Hopefully the bonus tracks I have yet to hear can help that percentage, as well as having the lyrics to read as I listen if they are included in the physical copy.
Mason’s grade: B