Tag Archives: Instrumental

Circle of Illusion – Jeremia’s Foreshadow of Forgotten Realms

Circle-of-Illusion-Jeremias-cover-1000px
Jeremia’s Foreshadow of Forgotten Realms” is one hell of a prog rock\metal gem, both its strength and weakness stemming from its theatrical style. It uses motifs that instantly proclaim it a rock opera, like the classic-esque arrangements and the dual operatic vocals, where the two heroes of our story share an unfolding dialogue. The band’s music at first brings to mind bands like DT and Haken, but the great focus on dialogue you hear from beginning to end on this album sets Circle of Illusion apart from other modern prog acts.

Beside the obviously needed and well-placed instrumental breaks, the music seems to be always following the lyrics – by either preparing for them, accentuating words to convey what feelings are being expressed, or complimenting them in the next arriving melody; As I said, a rock opera. Personally, I found following the lyrics was a bit tiring, Maybe since it’s not a very straight-forward story and the lyrics are way too vague at times. So if I were to recommend this album to a friend, I’d ditch the story part and emphasize the great, great musicianship featured in this releaseespecially on tracks like “The Beginning“, “The Memory Returns“, or “New Age“.

– We’re talkin’ beautiful, often symphonic arrangements using many classic instruments as well as modern synth pads and metal guitar tones that set the groove just right. Using this wide diversity of sound together with those perfect female vocals by singer Elga Shafran gives the songs an element of surprise. It’s such a refreshing listen – the most memorable moments for me being probably the Disco sections. Not kidding, there are a few Sections of proggy disco parts and they work really well, reminding you immediately of ABBA with their infectious phrases and hooks. Have a listen below:

As you can hear, the band fuses together many genres – and travels through many moods, doing so in such a charming way it feels very organic, never forced. The only flaw this album has in my opinion, is that by deciding to stick to the theatrical, it is bound to be somewhat formulaic. Don’t get me wrong – there is a lot of creative freedom here. The guys are exceptional musicians, among the best you’ll find in prog really. I’m merely suggesting that the band’s (obviously conscious) intention was clearly the creation of a rock opera, and they do not deviate from that idea, for good or bad. (Mostly for good, but if you know me – I just gotta have a bit of chaos and destruction in my playlist!).

Putting my tendency for critique aside though, I’d take this record over the countless power-prog copycats out there any day. Forget’em! Circle of Illusion offers you a whole different wonderful thing, an album with so much thought and effort put into it it’s impressive, and if you’re a fan of progressive music, this record of theirs should be in your collection, no doubt about it! Don’t miss out and give it a listen on their Bandcamp page!

9/10

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Raz Ben Ari – Augmented Reality

Raz Ben Ari is a guitar player mostly known for his popular 2010 YouTube video, “Ten Genres of Metal in 3 Minutes”. With approximately 2 million views, you can tell the guy has struck a chord(pun intended) with fans of metal music and guitar enthusiasts worldwide. However, today we are not going to talk about the video, but about Raz’s new 2013 instrumental EP, “Augmented Reality”.

It’s never bad to have a few million people around who already know your name, but that also creates greater expectations regarding this release, I guess. Regardless of those, making a successful album is always hard work, and it’s time to check out what Raz has in store for us!

Augmented Reality” begins with a straightforward and fun opening track titled “Spasm” that is really hard to dislike, showcasing Raz’s melodic heavy metal style and sound. It’s a catchy piece, short and sweet, with a very nice lead guitar tone that reminds me of the Italian Marco Sfogli. Check it out ya’ll:

At number 2# we have the title track slowing things down a bit for an “epic” effect perhaps. It’s a varied track but I actually don’t think it’s the best here, and while you could say next song “Beneath the Skin” is also on the slower side, the latter has a more natural flow to it. It’s chill build-up leads to an excellent climax with tasteful soloing. No nonsense shred here!

Fireworks” begins with a nostalgic synth intro taken straight from old video games, preparing the stage for some highly melodic content. Yes, this one’s a truly riff-tastic lead-fest, and perhaps my favorite on the album. It will definitely remind you of some classic video game tunes, but certainly has its own memorable personality.

Sink or Swim” is a lightweight but rocking instrumental with a real american vibe to it, which can be heard in phrasing of the leads and in those open chords. I bet Joe Satriani would like this piece. The sixth and final song on “Augmented Reality” is “A Night Among The Wolves“. ‘Downright the best song title I’ve seen in a while, “A night..” has it’s guitars backed up by a brilliant piano and generally has quite the Neo-Classical\Prog feel to it, brought to a conclusion with an awesome solo. It’s the most epic, lengthy track here and probably the best on the album together with “Spasm” and “Fireworks“.

All in all, although a short release, “Augmented Reality” is definitely a solid one. To listen to the whole EP head to http://razbenari.bandcamp.com/, and let know what you think. I certainly enjoyed this album and would love to hear more new material from Raz Ben Ari in the future. Long Live Heavy Metal!

8/10

Spontaneous Maximus – This Is Spomax

The lead work washing over you like sea waves shining in the sun, in this surreal, dream of a track entitled “Attack of the Giant Noodle”. It’s the start of an album called “This Is Spomax”, by the instrumental group Spontaneous Maximus; a release so “post-” and experimental it makes today’s heavy music sound like an echo of a long lost civilization. These guys can be described as progressive rock\metal, but the interesting thing is they actually go far and away from modern prog formulas, describing themselves as: ”An instrumental journey through metal, jazz, flamenco, Samurai movies, video games, space, forests, tears, silence, trains, fear, anger, contention, honor, bliss, sadness, silliness, optimism, and finally landing on the sandy shores of the unknown.”

Reaching these foreign shores you reach into yourself, entering a self-observation or introspection mode in an attempt to figure out the abstract energy propelled at you and the kind of feelings it invokes. You are then..well, initially weirded out to be honest, if not inclined to alienate yourself from the sight, like diverting your gaze from the blinding sun; because the more you look, the deeper seems the depth of the colliding meanings, clashing together right in front of you. Is it to much to take?

Be ready, ’cause there’s a huge amount of reverberating, enigmatic, complex instrumentation especially on tracks like “The Golden Monocule” and “Party Chips”. Luckily, the band also takes a break from time to time,  for example on the calming, sublime “Traince De Journalier”. It’s a wonderfully peaceful piece that stands on its own, conjuring the image of sitting by a campfire at night, at least ’till “This Is Spomax” kicks back into gear, entering heavier regions of music once again with riffs that resemble a storm on “San Miguel”.

While the band’s musical experimentation may sound a bit off-putting or overbearing to the listener at first, there’s a certain uniform, beautiful color to “This is Spomax” that makes its chaos make sense, so that by the end of it all you feel less disoriented, and actually fascinated. The album closes with a quiet piano outro(“Water”), accompanied by the cries of seagulls – We are again at sea, fittingly returning from which we came from..but now that we are free to leave shore, we suddenly find ourselves appreciating this place, this work of art, and feeling elated by this realization – by our discovery.

Alain Caron can slam that bass!

If you read this blog a bit, you should know I dig a lot of offbeat, intricate music, especially when its spiced up with catchy grooves – and that is a pretty approximate description for bassist Alain Caron‘s music. What I love about this guy and his band, is that they make their complex musical efforts sound light and fun..well, at least to some degree. “Slam The Clown” for example, is a very jazzy and funky piece with a circus-like chorus which just grabs you. A lot of improvisation on this track, and just when you think its all over, the real absurdly long bass part begins. A pro or a con? Have a listen below and decide for yourselves!

Honestly, at some point I was feeling something along “please make this end”, but by then I was far in too deep, drawn by the immense tension this endless jam slowly picks up! And when the Sax solo arrives, the built up energy is released in a very climatic ending, making it all worthwhile.. well, at least for those patient listeners!

A more lightweight instrumental which you check below, is “1-4-U“,  off alain’s “Sep7entrion” album. If you have a clue how the guy arrives at these mysterious titles, let me know! (;  Anyway, this is more rock-oriented piece, making it easier on the ears – though it does contain the same amount of cheesy synth hits as in the previous track, which I find to be both awesome and ridiculous. I really like the guitar leads on here and how they interact side by side with the bass lines.

While I don’t love every composition by Alain, I really respect his skill, art, and hope you enjoyed these tunes as I certainly did. Better keep this short, ’cause frankly, me speakin’ about jazz is similar to a fish’s opinion on flying!

Mytra – Space Metal

Mytra are a talented hungarian instrumental group that combines progressive influences with straightforward, powerful riffs & melodies. They also possess a quite original, well thought concept, which is sometimes represented by electronic sounds.

Most bands who try, fail to combine electronic and metal elements in a meaningful way, but these guys know exactly what they’re doing. The electronic notes and subtle layers don’t take over or harshly clash with the traditional instruments. They come and go, complementing the music and creating an obscure and unearthly effect, which brings to mind everything from astronomy to UFOs and alien technology. Listen(and see) for yourself:

Damn, this stuff could be an excellent soundtrack for a sci-fi video game or movie – though soaring solos and all, I think the coolest thing about the above clip is the drummer’s shades (-8. Check out the track below(“Seraph”), and you’ll find Mytra have far more than one trick up their sleeve – really powerful and interesting material!

If you enjoyed these tracks as I have, you can actually check out the band’s entire music on their official site. From what I’ve heard so far, both their EP’s(“Ecotone”and “Sagittarius”) are top notch, unique instrumental releases!