Dario | Jan 31, 2024 | 0
September 2023 crushes all previous records!
Releases of the Week 39/2023 with Feather, Obsidian Tide, The Hirsch Effekt, Wizards of Wiznan , Shan, Haunt the Woods, Mankind, The Sound of Things Fallen, Earupt, Blackbriar, Steven Wilson & Collapse Under The Empire
One more record breaking Release Week in September 2023 with a total of 85! Hinghlights include French Synthwave Prog with Feather, Israeli Progressive Death Metal with Obsidian Tide, German Artcore with The Hirsch Effekt, Atmospheric Sludge sounds from the Swiss Alps with the Wizards of Wiznan , a special Alternative triple with Norwegian Prog Pop five-piece Shan, Cornwall based quartet Haunt the Woods, Belgian collective Mankind, Chinese Instrumental solo project The Sound of Things Fallen, Belgian Groove Metal with Earupt’s “Nihilosophy”, a Dutch trip into the land of fairies and other haunting stories with Blackbriar’s “A Dark Euphony” as well as a dive into “The Harmony Codex”, Steven Wilson’s latest, highly awaited solo album and finally a pleasant post rock album from German duo Collapse Under The Empire.
Discover all of them now through the Bandcamp links in the list below or in our weekly updated Spotify playlist. Subscribe now: https://theprogspace.com/rotw-playlist
Feather - Eternal
France seems to be the unofficial headquarters of heavy ambient synthwave metal (without the metal rhythm guitars). Artists like Carpenter Brut and Volkor X are spearheading this very particular subgenre and Dijon-based composer and producer Anthony Stinson aka Feather is finally back, four years after the massive “Convalescence”, with equally expansive sounds on “Eternal”. The album features all four Feather singles since “Convalescence”, the oldest being the 9-minute masterpiece ‘M.I.R.O.R.S.’ that was first released in December 2020, yet didn’t lose a thing of its unrelenting urgency ever since. Dense and heavy in atmosphere, yet giving you the feeling of floating like in a zero gravity environment, Feather knows how to work extreme opposites and combine them to a coherent ‘Coalescence’ of sounds. Produced by Volkor X and with exuberant lead guitar guest spots by Liam McLaughlin, Sayasack Inthavong and Lucas de la Rosa (guitar solo of the year even if it was released almost 3 years ago already???), “Eternal” nourishes my Sci-Fi loving brain and soothes my soul as well as stimulating inspiration and excitement. Dario
Obsidian Tide - The Grand Crescendo
When we highlight an album that already got the full review treatment, you know it’s gotta be a good one. Our reviewer Bas took a deep dive into Obsidian Tide’s “The Grand Crescendo” and awarded it a 9/10 (read his review here: https://theprogspace.com/obsidian-tide-the-grand-crescendo/) and I can’t help but wholeheartedly agree with him! The Israeli trio took their Opeth-influences and in combination with their middle eastern heritage created an invigorating Progressive Metal sound all their own, alternating heavy and soft parts, harsh and clean vocals in an absolutely perfect balance. Personal highlights include Shachar Bieber’s absolutely gorgeous bass tone and the talented Danielle Sassi’s (Yossi Sassi & The Oriental Rock Orchestra, Storchi) guest parts on Flutes and Ney for that extra special flavour… Oh and the trumpeting elephant in the opening track ‘Clandestine Calamities’ gets me every time! Don’t miss out on their show at ProgPower Europe next weekend and the subsequent mini tour with Omnerod, it’s going to be Progressive Metal bliss!
The Hirsch Effekt - Urian
German post-hardcore band The Hirsch Effekt are back with probably their proggiest effort to date! “Urian” starts off with a fun and catchy series of tracks that could arguably get you to believe they went full-on prog rock/metal, but then from ‘2054’, the mathcore madness commences and does it ever go hard. And before you know it, by the song ‘Stegodon’, it goes into proggy post-rock territory. But wait, the closer is straight-up acoustic folk? The versatility of this record was the real surprise for me when jumping in, so it’s hard to put a single label on this. However, I think this is a good way to define what prog is all about; pushing boundaries and trying things you wouldn’t expect on a standard rock/metal album, and this is why I am highlighting this release from another massive week of endless records dropping left and right. If you want to try something a little different and are fine with occasional hardcore vocals, this album is highly recommended!
Wizards of Wiznan - No Light Has No Shadow
Switzerland might not be the first country that comes to mind when thinking about atmospheric blackened sludge metal, but with Wizards of Wiznan, the alpine country has a strong representative in this niche. Founded in 2019, the five-piece now unleash their first album, “No Light Has No Shadow”, which is a misanthropic exploration of the human condition, dealing with loss, illness and death. The atmospheric opener ‘Seed of Light’ gives me strong King Buffalo vibes first, but soon they go further by laying a moaning guitar over it before the relentless growls take over. They let the album grow by building up mighty, distorted soundscapes with a slow heaviness that intensifies the gloomy mood, but also come along with some surprising changes in tempo or amazing guitar solos in between. There’s something wilful into Wizards of Wiznan’s music, making me feel the wild gorges and forests of their home country, and introducing them in an impressive way.
Shan - Omen
As hinted at in the little introductory text for this Release Week, there’s three special albums in this week’s Highlights that dip their toes into Prog by way of a more alternative pop/rock approach. The first one of those is an album called “Omen” from Norwegian Prog Pop five-piece Shan. I first stumbled over their singles leading up to the album release since their keyboarder Johan J. Bakken is also a member of The Progspace Online Festival alumni Arkentype. And I remember my initial reaction to the music contained therein was simply something like “nice, very relaxing”. Little was I prepared for the whole album ride. The opening double ‘Okoye’/’Up and Over’ just keeps on giving with deep synth cuts and absolutely gorgeous chord changes. The closing title track is of a similar caliber. What hit me most though, was ‘The Path’, sitting dead center in the middle of the ten tracks, an emotional arrow piercing my heart and soul like no other song this year so far. Reduced to the bare essentials, only Emilie Bjørnstad’s emotional vocal rendition atop a relatively simple acoustic guitar with the occasional subtle choir vocal harmony providing slow-burning emotional climaxes. There’s a rare chance you’ll find such a carefully crafted ‘simple’ song on a Prog record. So in essence: all those who fell madly in love with Meer’s music ever since their “Playing House” masterpiece should embrace and lap up these 10 essential Norwegian Prog Pop songs just as eagerly as anything new from the house of Meer.
Haunt the Woods - Ubiquity
Next up in our diverse Alternative triple we have Haunt the Woods from Cornwall in the UK with their new album “Ubiquity”. Now I haven’t kept that close an eye on the roster of the Finnish Spinefarm label, but I always thought it to be a Metal label. Apparently they are expanding and diversifying their roster palette significantly, as Haunt the Woods’ style is indeed very much Alternative Rock, yet with many folky and some proggy flourishes, so I don’t think they would stand out too much in a line-up with the likes of Von Hertzen Brothers for example. The strength of “Ubiquity” lies in the songwriting, delicate arrangements as well as heartfelt lead vocals. And with these strengths combined, Haunt the Woods delivers 50 minutes of excellent music, with guaranteed goosebump moments, no matter the genre-tag you put on them.
Mankind - Last of Us
Tapping into more of the darker parts of Alternative music, with distinctive hints to Post Rock/Metal/Core is the Belgian collective Mankind with their debut album “Last of Us”. Originally conceived as cathartic outlet of Kristof Du Jardin (ex-Set Things Right) and James Falck (BEAR, Cobra the Impaler), with the addition of drummer Simon Janssen and bassist Lieven Casters, Mankind grew into a true entity with a single artistic vision, despite, or rather because of the members’ different influences. And every time they are just about to run the risk of losing my interest through too much “Alternative” style melodies, they go on a tangent with a breakdown (‘Retreat’) or another clever idea that doesn’t come across as forced though, on the contrary, fits into the songs seamlessly. Compressing deep feelings and thoughts authentically into music that can appeal to a broader audience is no easy feat, but the Belgian quartet has definitely mastered this art already with their debut album already.
The Sound of Things Fallen - Sceneries II
Sometimes I have the feeling, no Release Week is complete without a one man/one musician sort of bedroom project, especially when it comes to Modern Instrumental Prog Metal. Instead of focusing on the similarities between them and discarding them as all the same, I’d rather have a look at what makes their sound unique. In the case of The Sound of Things Falling, it is definitely the extensive use of acoustic guitar and some delicate piano moments that make “Sceneries II” stand out. The permeating, slightly Opeth-esque atmospheres, or should I say sceneries, are definitely convincing enough for me that I want to go ahead and check out the first installment of this solo project of Xiyu. Recorded between Pennsylvania and China, “Sceneries II” knows all the tricks but doesn’t apply them for the trick’s sake, but in favor of the compositions. So this comes very much recommended to everyone who enjoys Instrumental Prog Metal.
Earupt - Nihilosophy
Most metal band names with a supposedly clever play on words or abbreviated compound words evoke a feeling of cringe or silliness for me, I have to admit. That is definitely not the case with Belgian groove steamrollers of Earupt, as for once the band name works and doesn’t create some cognitive dissonance between a silly band name and some serious metal fare. For Earupt really mean business on their third album, aptly titled “Nihilosophy”, another play on words that magically works for me somehow. Musically, we have some heavily thrash influenced groove metal on display with some slight progressive overtones here and there, that’s equally capable of simply blowing out the dust between your ears, or you can raise your fist in unison to the socially conscious philosophical (or should I say Nihilosophical) questions they raise. Especially the last third of the album really goes hard, perfectly counterbalancing the several alternative pop/prog albums this week in heaviness without resorting to extreme metal measures. Power- and thoughtful.
Blackbriar - A Dark Euphony
Even though my musical tastes seemed to move further and further away from those classic Symphonic Metal sounds in the last 10, 15 years, there’s always some special bands that remind me of the awesomeness this specific subgenre is still able to produce. In order to manage to convince me of that, there’s got to be something special about the band though. Blackbriar from the Netherlands definitely brings some special ingredients in spades, be it through the mystical atmospheres they are exploring, telling spellbinding stories of spirits, fairies, dark romance and more, or the involvement of some of my favorite musicians. Dark Horse White Horse keyboard master Ruben Wijga already joined the band before the release of their debut album “The Cause of Shipwreck” in 2021 and DHWH/Sordid Pink bass prodigy Siebe Sol Sijpkens joined them shortly after. Add to that Zora Cock’s enchanting vocal performance, and last but not least Ayreon’s right hand Joost Van Den Broek’s impeccable production and orchestration, and you’ve got yourself a wonderful sophomore Blackbriar album with “A Dark Euphony”. Going from unsigned/DIY to being signed to one of the world’s biggest Metal labels (Nuclear Blast) is a testament to both their hard work and immense talent on display. Also, Blackbriar are still on tour with Ad Infinitum and Phantom Elite in Europe, check the remaining tour dates of The Euphonic Downfall tour right here: http://www.blackbriarmusic.com/.
Steven Wilson - The Harmony Codex
Resident Steven Wilson fanboy here to give my completely unbiased review of his newest solo album, “The Harmony Codex”. Last week my review of “Luminescence” by Bruce Soord was featured as a highlight in the Releases of the Week, and in that review I went on record saying that I think “Luminescence” will be better than “The Harmony Codex”. That statement was made before the release of “The Harmony Codex”, so after hearing both, what’s the verdict? Well, this may be a boring answer, but in truth and to my surprise, the two albums are completely different from each other and hard to compare as a result. Soord’s album is very personal and intimate, whereas this feels much more musically experimental. Fans of Wilson’s older solo records should be very happy with this release. There’s a heavy use of instrumental jazz arrangements as used in older tracks such as ‘Luminol’, ‘Ancestral’, ‘Don’t Hate Me’ and ‘Sky Moves Sideways’, but with more of a focus on electronic hip hop style arrangements. Coupled with Wilson’s signature Radiohead-esque vocal style, the result is a genuinely really unique listening experience with some fantasticly refreshing themes and ideas. Of course, not everything is new, and it wouldn’t be a real Wilson solo album without a guest appearance from Ninet Tayeb, who smashes it as always on the track ‘Rock Bottom’, which is probably my favourite collaboration of theirs after ‘Routine’ (which is fair enough really). Overall, this is a positive step forward for Wilson and feels like a fresh recap of all his old and new styles expertly crafted together in one brilliant record.
Collapse Under The Empire - Recurring
This week marked a release of the new album by Collapse Under the Empire, a household name for a post-rock fan. The German duo has been around since 2008, released 8 studio albums, and their previous record was released back in 2020.
“Recurring” is a very melodic post-rock album, it has given an impression of a more mellow and piano-focused record, compared to “Everything We WIll Leave Beyond Us” (2020), also having a lot of electronic music elements, which I quite enjoyed.
This album can definitely be a great soundtrack to your day, as it’s a very pleasant listen, but I felt it lacked that bit of a kick to be anything more than that. It’s a very competent work by a talented band, however, and a definite recommendation for all you post-rock nerds, or if you like melodic instrumental music, but it is unlikely to completely blow your mind in any way.
More releases for 29 September, 2023
- Mari Boine & Bugge Wesseltoft - Amame (By Norse) Bandcamp
- The Cryptex - Nimbus (Phonotraxx/Broken Silence) Bandcamp
- Omnivortex - Circulate (Inverse Records) Bandcamp
- Bear - Vanta (Pelagic Records) Bandcamp
- Tatotopia - Glitch Bandcamp
- Kambodsja - Resilient (Mas-Kina Records) Bandcamp
- Kryour - Creatures Dwell My Room EP
- PsychoYogi - Brand New Face Bandcamp
- THSL - Dystopian Future Inside Utopian Past (Oct. 01) Bandcamp
- Nova Cascade - The Navigator Bandcamp
- Jelusick - Follow the Blind Man
- Karambolage - Prås (Sept. 28, Moment of Horseplay) Bandcamp
- Harms Way - Common Suffering (Metal Blade Records) Bandcamp
- CMDR RIKR - A FUTURE IMPERFEKT Bandcamp
- Blodet - Death Mother Bandcamp
- Besra - Transitions (Suicide Records) Bandcamp
- Novere - Nothing Stays Hidden in Daylight (Oct. 01, Trepanation Recordings) Bandcamp
- Superlynx - 4 10 (Argonauta Records) Bandcamp
- Friendship Commander - MASS Bandcamp
- I Am Low - Úma (Majestic Mountain Records) Bandcamp
- Emile - Spirit (Heavy Psych Records) Bandcamp
- Wolves In The Throne Room - Crypt of Ancestral Knowledge (Century Media Records) Bandcamp
- Primordial - How It Ends (Metal Blade Records) Bandcamp
- Iron Altar - Promethean (Trepanation Recordings) Bandcamp
- Sacrifire - The Art of Decay (Apostasy Records) Bandcamp
- Wells Valley - Achamoth Bandcamp
- Ὁπλίτης - Ἀντιτιμωρουμένη (Oct. 01) Bandcamp
- Gangar - Stubb (Hello Records) Bandcamp
- Pulses - It Wasn't Supposed to Be Like This Bandcamp
- Sister May - Undecided Behaviour Bandcamp
- Atena - Subway Anthem (Indie Recordings) Bandcamp
- Caged - From Roving About the Earth (Translation Loss Records) Bandcamp
- Helve - To Be Forgotten Bandcamp
- Dwaal - Never Enough (Dark Essence Records) Bandcamp
- Columbarium - The Morbidious One (Argonauta Records) Bandcamp
- Ceased Sunfire - The Divide Bandcamp
- Kotiomkin - Le Casalingue – The Satanic Rites of Cobram Bandcamp
- Sacred Dawn - Dismal Swamp (No Dust Records)
- Dismal Aura - Imperial Mortalia (Avantgarde Music) Bandcamp
- SEVEN)SUNS - One of Us Is the Killer (Silent Pendulum Records) Bandcamp
- Rorcal - Silence (Hummus Records) Bandcamp
- Ashbringer - We Came Here To Grieve (Nothingspace Records) Bandcamp
- Nature Morte - Oddity Bandcamp
- Iskandr - Spiritus Sylvestris (Eisenwald) Bandcamp
- Woe - Legacies of Frailty Bandcamp
- Waldgeflüster - Unter bronzenen Kronen (AOP Records) Bandcamp
- Moonlight Sorcery - Horned Lord of the Thorned Castle (Avantgarde Music) Bandcamp
- Dark the Suns - Raven and the Nightsky (Inverse Records) Bandcamp
- Dyecrest - Once I Had A Heart (Rockshots Records)
- Beyond Shadows - Beyond Shadows
- Ciraxis - The Act and the Aftermath
- Svartkonst - May the Night Fall Bandcamp
- Illuminated Void - The Vesper Serpent (Altrucent Grace Media) Bandcamp
- Falling Giants - Whirlwind Hymns (Sept. 30) Bandcamp
- Sol Negate - On The Verge of Dreaming Again Bandcamp
- Luggage - Hand Is Bad (Amish Records) Bandcamp
- Maggot Heart - Hunger (Rapid Eye Records) Bandcamp
- Fearing - Destroyer (Profound Lore Records) Bandcamp
- Blonde Redhead - Sit Down for Dinner Bandcamp
- Code Orange - The Above
- Nervosa - Jailbreak (Napalm Records)
- Semprus - A Fractured Reality EP
- Shiva - The Cycle EP
- 100 Guitares Sur Un Bateau Ivre - Bateau Ivre (Daaganda Records)
- Graveyard - 6 (Nuclear Blast)
- C.K. Baker Band - Find Your Way
- Animal Collective - Isn't It Now? Bandcamp
- Mac Gollehon & The Hispanic Mechanics - Bite Of The Street (Nefarious Industries) Bandcamp
- Ghost Train Orchestra & Kronos Quartet - Songs and Symphonies: The Music of Moondog (Cantaloupe Music) Bandcamp
- Inhalo - Live at Wisseloord Studios (Construction Records)
- Wishbone Ash - Live Dates Live (Steamhammer/SPV)
- Sublimerent - The Pantheist (Instrumental) EP
- Grails - The Burden of Hope (Remastered) Bandcamp