Exivious – Liminal

If you enjoy Cynic‘s beautiful & mind-boggling music, the instrumental work of Exivious just might be for you. With two of the band’s ex-guitarists playing in the group on their new album “Liminal“, you are guaranteed to get the exact sort of jazz\fusion wild melodic leads that you’ve come to expect, and more.

Although the obligatory reference to Cynic, do bear in mind that this is no death metal territory. To the contrary; Exivious are all about creating spacious, otherworldly soundscapes whose energy is never that of anger, the band continuously traveling through energetic momentums that carry them in a very organic manner through human emotions, unviolently.

I think this very “un-violence” matter is the key to interpreting the abstract listening experience you get on “Liminal“. While the chords and lead guitar are often distorted with high gain as with most rock\metal, it can be confusing to see phrasing and scales which are very “natural” in meaning, I. E expressing human emotion but not falling into emotional traps, not treating emotions as absolute truth. More bluntly put, the music might for example, trigger melancholic feelings in a certain person, but by itself, does not sound melancholic at all. How odd, right? and how interesting.

Even without going into any such philosophical depths at all, though, I think you’ll find this album to be a calming, enriching experience that will remind you what music can be. Each time I listen to groups like Cynic, Exist or Exivious, it makes a lot of what we call “the music scene” suddenly look pale in comparison, and even a bit obsolete. I don’t think it’s obsolete, I’m just glad groups like Exivious are here to give us such bright contrast and color, and must say these are hard to take your eyes off of (well, more like ears). A good release, no doubt about it. 8/10


Ayreon – The Theory of Everything

Ayreon’s 8th studio album “The Theory of Everything” might sound like a very “smart”, lyrically complex album, but the “Theory” issue is only a background plot device that gives vibe and drive to this very familiar story about a genius outcast mistreated by society; “Society”, in this story’s context represented by different characters: The Father, The Mother, The Psychiatrist, The Girl, The Rival. And although these characters differ, they all have the same main motif to their roles, which is misunderstanding the young genius (or “The Prodigy“), and treating him badly according to on their own interests:

-The Father totally disregards the emotions of his son, treating him only as a tool that functions\dysfunctions.
-The Psychiatrist is driven only by his education & research, and to promote the latter he is willing to put the prodigy’s life at risk.
-The Rival represents violent competition and manipulation.

Other characters like the girl or the teacher are more balanced, but almost everyone – except the mother – pushes or pulls at the prodigy, abusing him while falsely claiming to “help” him. If you take the “Theory..” issue out, this story feels common & very familiar. It could easily be the story of an intelligent kid with Asperger\ADD\etc, pick your favorite syndrome. I won’t spoil the entire thing for you, but the story is tragic, as most characters are oblivious to their doing, and even the mother, who can see the truth through her compassion, alone by herself cannot stop this collective abuse.

Regarding the music itself, although claimed to be “four long tracks divided into various segments”, I found the division into many mini-tracks makes it very hard to put the pieces together, mentally speaking. Almost each track has its own unique intro and outro – more like a rock opera or a theatric play\musical than “four long tracks”. Now add to that the huge musical variation this album features and you got an immeasurably segmented thing going on. Describing the different genres at hand would be futile, just know this is prog rock done the right way. Arjen Lucassen is one incredibly inspired guy and he makes DT‘s last album look awful. I mean, MORE awful.

However, in terms of musical coherence, the album loses me halfway. I really want my rock\metal to have something to hold onto, be it a repeating chorus or a kickass riff. Repetition is important, even in prog. Creating tension and breaking it is powerful, yes, but without some repetition in between, songs become a disorienting experience. I get that going “full-prog” or how’d you call it perhaps means the composer gives himself complete creative freedom. I respect that kind of art and my guess is listeners will immensely appreciate it. But you certainly will not be rocking to this CD in the traditional sense, unless you are a diehard fan of Lucassen, or are obsessed with musicals.


The Very Best Of Progstravaganza 13 – PART II

It’s time for part II of our lengthy journey to review Prog-sphere’s Progstravaganza 13 ! The tracks on this second installment are quite different, and heavier than those found in PART I. If like me, you like your prog heavier, this one’s for you !

Well then, while the first songs in this catalog were, for the most part, kinda light weight as you understand, two real heavy contenders finally enter the stage in the form of space rockers Temple Of The Smoke and sludge\stoner band Pike.

Temple Of The Smoke‘s “Moth Of Time” is a good instrumental piece where quiet and bright psychedelic patterns turn to heavy riffs and vice versa. The band reminds me at certain moments of My Sleeping Karma but are less about hypnotically circular phrasing, instead having a more freeform, unexpected experimental\progressive structure.

Pike‘s “Ned Land” is so doomy and sludgy, a slowly growing storm, angry and despairing, crushing you with a buzz that doesn’t let up. ‘definitely not an easy listen, this is an ambitious, massive song, with interesting vocals, and I would love to hear it re-mixed.

Following numerous cheesy, tedious and puzzling tracks, we stumble upon a real surprise in this catalog – “Requiem Aeternam”, by the band Eyevory. Now, this 10 minutes track isn’t perfect, at first sounding even amateur, and it somewhat is, but you just can’t ignore the crazy endeavour these guys quickly get themselves into. It’s one the most lively, original instrumental sections I’ve heard in a while, commanded by non other than a flute! Eyevory‘s creative sense of melody is just a joy to listen to, free from inhibitions and unafraid, going places and genres you’d never expect. It’ll put a smile on your face.

At 32#, “Dark Symphony” by “Le Reverie” is the total opposite of experimentation, doing the “modern metal” thing by the numbers. The group executes this style very well compared to other similar bands on this tracklist. They have good female vocals, catchy hooks that keep you interested, and a bit of a southern US sound to’em too.

This concludes part II of this series. Stay tuned for part III !

The Very Best Of Progstravaganza 13 – PART I

Today’s post will be quite a different one – Instead of covering one album, we’ll be taking a look at a very interesting promotional catalog of songs by different artists published by prog-sphere.com – entitled: Progstravaganza 13 !

Yes, “interesting” will be a fittingly objective word to describe this prog-ish catalog which contains such musical broad range both in terms of its quality(ranging from amazing to downright ridiculous) – and the numerous sub-genres. Anyway, since reviewing all 76 songs makes for a ridiculous task, a better idea would be to tell you only about the very best of this tracklist. Let’s get to it!

This very, VERY long listening experience starts with couple of cringe-worthy cheesy openers, but quickly enough, we arrive at few notably creative groups like Omb, Ornithos, El Trio and Telergy.

Israel’s Omb are an impressively frantic band instrumentally and vocally, immediately reviving this list with a vibrant wild & colorful composing style that includes almost zero repetition. You’ll ever love it hate it, Here’s “An Ordinary Caveman Sings Ode to Obsession“:

Next up at number six we have Ornithos who play quite quirky & surprising heavy music, their unorthodox approach bringing together female vocals, a saxophone and a flute. They do so without losing their metallic edge, and the result is just a lot of fun, grabbing your attention, and also not overstaying its welcome, which is good since the vocals are a tad overbearing.

Less heavy n’ all straightforward, at number eight we got El Trio introducing to us a more playful jazzy style . These guys do a good job balancing their experimental and jammin’ side sound with a coherent song structure on “Descontectar“.

At ninth we have the coolest song so far, by the band Telergy. This instrumental’s intro is such a slow, long buildup its funny, but the wait is well worth it, finally concluding in a brilliant entrance of raw riffage and powerful orchestration. This one literally pulls out the inner prog metal nerd outta ya! A Killer song, solid and diverse, and it’s well mixed too. Here’s “Rumors”:

Follower “Once More With Feeling” by Traffic Experiment may come across as something you’ve heard already, and yeah I’ll agree it’s more retro than original, but the song grows on you, and channeling the classics, it serves as a soothing prog rock break. This might also be a good place to take a break ourselves! ‘Hope you enjoyed Part I of The Very Best Of Progstravaganza 13.

Wolves In The Throne Room – Two Hunters

Released in 2007, many would agree that “Two Hunters” put Wolves In The Throne Room at the forefront of the black metal scene – and for good reasons. This record does something very interesting by managing to both be “-post” in the sense of offering a departure from raw violent BM, but at the same time, it actually delves in deeper into the heart of the genre.

The sound of this CD, especially on the vinyl version of it, brings to mind the sound of wind. strong, but airy, hard-hitting but ever-flowing. Like this force of nature, echoing with ambiance, the album’s melodies and rhythms can be heard crossing the soundscape as if from afar, through forests and mountains, telling their tale; “Behold The Vastness And Sorrow Of This Empty Land“.

Behold..” sure is good, but having said that, I do prefer the second half of this 4-tracks album. It is on “Cleansing” and “I Will Lay Down My Bones Among The Rocks and Roots” where these throne room-dwelling wolves find new depths filled to the brim with an ambiance you just wanna get lost in; A very strong atmosphere that isn’t just “dark” or “melancholic”, instead having a more open to interpretation intention that, if you read the lyrics, can be actually seen as positive.

The story laid down here is abstractedly descriptive, and does not say anything directly against religion, but it does describe a “dark and fell rider” whose rule of new religion brings sorrow to the land, the narrator finding his only sanctuary in the heart of the woods, where he and the others can continue their ancient rituals and way of life; A pagan believer faced with the threat of christianity, perhaps? Seems probable.

The closing piece brings this tale to an ambivalent, realistic, but hopeful closure: Although(and because) the evildoer’s work has been completed, there is no need to escape any longer. The forest’s now a permanent sanctuary to its inhabitants, giving them a safe haven to unite and even flourish in, strengthening their belief that one day things will change; that “the world will be born a new“. 7/10