Tag Archives: Rock

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.


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True Widow – Circumambulation

I stumbled upon True Widow while browsing their label’s SoundCloud page and was just mesmerized by their sound which channels this amazing, offbeat, infatuation-inducing vibe. Their album, “Circumambulation”, can be defined as Rock/Stoner/Shoegaze, but is really more of an aura than a bunch of audio tracks in this or that genre; Call it a nameless calming atmosphere, an air of introspection – this honest expression embraces the listener with drugging quality that evokes in your mind the sad realistic and the sedatingly surreal. To some that will mean nostalgia, memories. To others, it’ll reflect the present, either way painting the complexity of life in film noir-like black, white and grey hues.

Sonically-speaking, True Widow achieve this abstract experience through such minimalist means it’s quiet a phenomena; It’s like the band stripped down a genre to its most basic elements – and this bared, naked place, is exactly where emotion can facilitate in its purest form. Not just through the notes played, but more so in the space between them notes – silence and echoes being an element in itself; and also repetition.

While the band’s sound & instrumentation don’t ever fully enter the psychedelic\stoner realm, the guys’ slow, repeating riffs do borrow the genres’ hypnotic gloom and occult-like vibe, which fits with their album name – “Circumambulation” – meaning the act of moving around a sacred object or idol, commonly found in most religions. Such a title represents well the meditative and nocturnal aura this release is all about. Though while many retro-esque bands nowadays choose to be exclusively occult and obscure, True Widow sets themselves apart by maintaining an ambiguous unique balance point between the past and present day culture, between dreams and reality, that has an undeniable universal charm to it.

Though I’ve described the music in very unspecific terms, the ethereal textures offered on the album actually own much of their subtle strength and staying aura to the sublime vocals of Dan Phillips and Nicole Estill, who do a great job when singing separately and when joining their voices together. My two definite favorite tracks here can help define this hard-to-label album, as they represent its two contrasting facets – these are the heavier “Trollstigen” and the quieter, more pop-oriented listen that is “Fourth Teeth“.
Hear the latter below and be sure to check the rest of this release at True Widow’s bandcamp page. This album gets a solid 7.5/10 from me.

Queen Elephantine – Scarab

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On “Scarab”, Queen Elephantine commence with quiet precussion, taking their time – moving with patience. Then menacing and dirty, join the bass and guitar, speaking wordlessly of endless despair, while band member Srinivas Reddy gives those a calm yet eerie background ambience using his tanpura(Indian instrument).

In this way the band creates an echo unique to them using only a few instruments. But even more interesting than this reverberating presence is their choice to musically, not “move” much. Instead of reaching for change, they dwell in the shadow they’ve created, looking for something, looking for nothing. Going out of hiding here and there, looking out and seeing reflecting and contrasting elements in the distance. But always returning, remaining in this dark place, in the back of your head, in a place with no light. And embracing what that means. How does that feel? Meditative? dark? sad? Listen below and you’ll have your answer.

The singing on “Veil“, which I almost forgot about since its very sparse, arrives sooner on track two, “Crone“. The praying-like wailing voices plays a role on the album, but the lyrics’ meaning elude me for the most part. One thing can be certain – they carry a certain mournfulness about them as the rest of “Scarab“, sounding like some abstract, associative eulogy. Clocking at 18 minutes, this second piece’s repetitive nature slowly turns from calming to torturous over time, making it very hard not to lose one’s mind – especially with the constantly present buzz of the indian instrument.

Track three, “Snake“, resembles doom metal the most so far in this experimental soundscape. Music-wise it is still unchanging and minimal, so dragging that it feels like time itself is being slowed down. Pretty mental stuff. Looking at the lyrics, these might confirm my guess at the textual concept. Here they are together with my interpretation:

Arms yearning, am I home again (yearning for home – to reach death\god)
Why lie on, won’t you make it out (“make it out” = make the soul exit the body)
And the saints have been here 
But in bliss and not in shame 
Bathed in wine, and not in sand 
Glimmering, glistening, suffering  (describing some kind of a funeral rite)

Simmering, glistening, suffering 
Dirt in my throat  (being buried, covered in earth..)
Drowned in my own (buried near his own – his own people – in a graveyard)
Drawn like a snake  (the dead body being dragged into the grave)
I will swallow it, swallow it (being covered in earth)
I am home again (…)

Scarab” is far, far from being a downright metal record, but is however beyond heavy in the context of its own atmosphere. Plodding, yes, it trudges on endlessly – which some will find tiring, but others might enjoy, and even – ‘not joking – worship, in a sort of cult-following manner. ‘Cause this is some dark art right here. 7/10

You can find the album and purchase it at:
http://queenelephantine.bandcamp.com/album/scarab

Now, Now – Threads

Now, Now are an Indie band from Minneapolis, USA. They play calm guitar-driven music that some would label as Shoegaze or dreamy pop rock, and if you are into these subgenres you should definitely check them out as they represent them well. Although I’m a huge fan of all things heavy, I find this music to be a pleasant & even necessary break from the noise generated in our life and in our minds.

Many of us drug ourselves that way or the other, or have an alternate reality that we reach out to in order to escape from a certain feeling, see things differently, etc – and some music can also achieve this effect. Such is the case with Now, Now‘s release, “Threads”, specifically the track “Wolf” – a song that induces both elation and melancholy in the listener. It’s been a while since I’ve enjoyed this type of music and I hope you’ll feel the same about the song.

The trio aren’t teens anymore but Now, Now‘s lyrics seem very adolescent in nature, possessing both the magic and confusion of early youth – a certain kind of awareness that you can call a blessing or an entrapment, where the bigger picture can’t really be seen for what it “really is” until you’re older(theoretically). In effect, The band’s words have a certain ambiguous simplicity to them that’s obviously crystal clear and meaningful to the writer – but when this meaning tries reaching out to the reader, it is mostly misunderstood..and isn’t that just what being a young person is all about? The lyrics give us only a glimpse into the world of the writer, who’s telling us just a tiny part of her story, and for that reason it is both flawed and enchanting.

Limited or not, the artistic expression on “Threads” is realized impressively, using a lot of organic-sounding creative honesty. We’re talkin’ mainly just guitar lines, drums and subtle keys that together drag the listener inside, into a daze of combined emotions. It’s like someone you just met takes your hand and leads you away, to where, you don’t know; It’s an invitation, a promise of sorts – of infatuation and pain, of excitement and melancholy, and the very thought of it is too addictive for you to ignore.

As you can hear on “Wolf” and the rest of the tracks here, the band’s formula works much due to Vocalist/Guitarist Cacie Dalager’s beautiful voice, which is accompanied at times by the rest of the trio. Music and even lyrics aside, in the end, it is her dreamy performance that makes this album what it is. Fittingly, I’ll close this post with her own words on this sweet, comforting record:

“It’s about balance, in a way. It’s not about literal(…) threads, but threads connecting things…and just, like, how fragile those feel, little tiny things connecting everything, and how easily that can just be..completely destroyed.”

To support the band, join them on Facebook                                                                                    

Lion Splicer – Holiday In Dystopia

Lion Splicer are a metal\punk rock NY group comprised of the “Splicer” brothers, Danny(drums) and Max(vocals\guitar). I remember getting an email from them earlier this year about the release of an EP, but must admit the musicianship on it felt too unpolished back then. However, Listening to “Holiday In Dystopia” it sounds like these two fellas have seriously upped their game!

The album starts with “Jezebel” and you can right away tell Lion Splicer’s metal isn’t so modern in style, leaning more towards the retro oldschool/punk side of the genre. This doesn’t mean the record isn’t heavy, but it often does concentrate more on being a fun, sing-along kind of listen. Audible bass? check! good vocals and the gang shouts add a lot – a cool track overall.

“Whip” is the second song on here and while its lyrics’ meaning evades me entirely, it’s still pretty awesome and right to the point clocking at no more than 3 minutes. There’s a solo section to this track with wah-wah flavored leads, giving it a lot of positive “retro” points.

The title track is pretty solid but I can’t say a lot more for its sake. The guitars aren’t doing a lot it here, which left me to concentrate on listening to Danny’s drumming and the guy does a good job. “Little Conquerers” & “Forgotten Cities” are two instrumentals, with the second being longer, actually showing significant progression in the riffs! interesting piece.

Among the different tracks, “Watchtower” is definitely my favorite. Following a King Diamond-esque frantic intro it hits you with a menacing black metal(!) riff, then slows down for a low-key chorus that’s totally horror punk in the vein of Samhain. Not a formula you commonly hear these days!

Near the end of the album we meet the third and probably the best instrumental here – “Utopia in Regalia“; a very easy-going & bluesy piece, with more wah-wah leads & good bass playin’ that periodically conjure a RHCP-meets-Hendrix vibe. A surprisingly serene piano part arrives just before the track ends in quite a progressive fashion. So glad to hear the guys experimenting a bit with the instrumentation – it works great each time they go for it.

Lion Splicer clearly wanted to make a kick-ass metal album here, and could have just come up with some cool riffs, but they did something a bit different by adding a good amount variation and creative freedom to “Holiday In Dystopia“. This easily saves the album from being mediocre, and lifts it up, making it a refreshing and enjoyable listen! To check out this release yourself simply head to the band’s Bandcamp page.

Lion Splicer’s Facebook Page