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The Progspace Awards 2020

Debuts, electro prog, strings, weirdos from Oz & a French circus!

Releases of the Week 41/2021 with Athemon, Shwesmo, Luo, Hippotraktor, Twelve Foot Ninja & Altesia
Debuts, electro prog, strings, weirdos from Oz &  a French circus!

Autumn release frenzy seems to be in full swing, and out of the 47 releases that we collected this week, we picked 6 to highlight with mini reviews! Kicking things off in a dark fashion on Monday was the self-titled debut release from Athemon, a new project featuring the bass and production talents of none other than Tom MacLean (ex-Haken/To-Mera/Psion). On Wednesday, Distorted Harmony guitarist Yoel Genin finally went full length with his electronic project Shwesmo and the “Trail to Now”. The second electronic highlight of the week comes from the UK via eclectic Australian label Art As Catharsis in the form of Luo‘s new EP “Convoluted Mess Machine”. Belgian post metal newcomers Hippotraktor present us a stunning debut album called “Meridian”. Aussie YouTube weirdos of Twelve Foot Ninja are finally back with a “Vengeance”. And finally, tomorrow Altesia‘s “Embryo” will see the light of day! What’s your favourite release of this week?

Athemon - Athemon

11 October, 2021 | self-released
Athemon_CoverArtwork

Some four years after the masterpiece that was the first Psion EP, we finally get new music from ex-Haken/To-Mera bassist/guitarist Tom MacLean. Athemon is the name of his new project and it’s a collaboration with brazilian vocalist/guitarist Adriano Ribeiro. They forged their self-titled debut album sending files back and forth across the oceans without having met in the flesh as of yet, and self-released the result last Monday. Compared to Psion, the music they created together is rawer, less bombastic and orchestral, but a similar darkness permeates every note on it. Adriano’s voice has a nice doomy deep timbre and Tom’s bass is matching Adriano’s guitar tone perfectly, with a super solid drum performance by guest Gledson Gonçalves laying the rhythmic backbone. It’s an intoxicating raw darkness the two internet friends have created together with Athemon, and they are off to a great start with their first release. They have even put it out on Bandcamp with the ‘name your price’ option, so there’s really no excuse why you shouldn’t listen to it. Dario

https://youtu.be/XWypkGHZPwE

Shwesmo - Trail to Now

13 October, 2021 | self-released
Shwesmo_TrailToNow

The name Yoel Genin might ring a bell in prog circles as guitarist of israeli melodic prog metal heroes Distorted Harmony, but lately he has gained notoriety mostly with his electronic project Shwesmo, putting out a few singles and one EP over the last two years. Particularly, he has specialized in odd meter electronic beats, and his first album “Trail to Now” is featuring a diverse array of experimental electronic songs with various guest features in both the instrumental and the vocal department. The moods vary vastly from groovy, dancy to the ethereal, vulnerable beauty of ‘Only Me’ (feat. Erez Aviram & Angie Petty) or the abrasive hip hop of ‘Self Reflection’ (feat. Khaos Light). Or you’ll get everything at once with the jaw dropping first single ‘Entwined’ (feat. Sharon Renold), that sounds like a euphoric Bent Knee on acid. Rarely a ‘traditional’ instrument in sight here (and not the only mostly electronic release of today that has made our Highlights), but still most progressive. A true gem with lots to discover! Dario

Luo - Convoluted Mess Machine

15 October, 2021 | Art As Catharsis
Luo_ConvolutedMessMachine

Luo is a duo of british producers whose music can be best described as electronic fusion prog, or something like that. After two full length albums, they return with a four song EP, aptly titled “Convoluted Mess Machine”, that is chock full of mindblowing music. ‘Tightrope Tap Dance’ sounds just like the title suggests, but ‘Auris Animi’ is already diving into moodier atmospheric territory, not too far from the sounds produced by their Art As Catharsis label-mates of Voronoi. Lo and behold: the third track ‘Sanity Meter’ sees (or rather hears) the London fusion metal trio for an amazing feature, most jawdroppingly celebrating the marriage of electronic and organic (bass and drum) sounds. Definitely wouldn’t have sounded so out of place on Voronoi’s excellent debut album “The Last Three Seconds” that was released earlier this year. ‘Coda’ wraps up this ultra cool affair in style and I can’t wait to hear more from Luo. Trippy! Dario

Hippotraktor - Meridian

15 October, 2021 | Pelagic Records
Hippotraktor_Meridian

The precision with which Pelagic Records are pumping out progressive post metal releases of the highest caliber almost weekly now is starting to become a bit eerie to be honest. Last week the new album from Shy, Low and today “Meridian”, the debut album of a band called Hippotraktor is ready to scorch the earth and burn the land. Combining post and sludge heaviness with lots of atmosphere and delicate rhythmical proggy flourishings is nothing new, yet the Belgians present themselves with a refined perfection and fierceness that rivals even the biggest players in the muddy waters of this particular subgenre. Hippotraktor is definitely a name to be reckoned with and “Meridian” is one hell of a statement of a debut album. Chapeau! Dario

A.A. Williams - arco EP

15 October, 2021 | Bella Union
A.A.Williams_arco

Between all the electronic and prog metal madness, the new EP from A.A. Williams is a haven of peace amongst the chaos. Even though these four songs are not new in itself, rather taken from her self-titled debut EP that was released in January 2019, the stunning new arrangements for a 10-piece string ensemble and Williams’ ethereal voice serve to fall in love with every single one of them all over again. “arco” means bowed in latin and that unique mournful sound of a string ensemble fits those songs like a glove. If you’re looking for breathtaking beauty in your music, this should be your choice today, without a doubt. But don’t say I didn’t warn you, the melancholy is tangible and all-encompassing, so it could either wrap you in a warm blanket or swallow you whole and take you into the pitch black void. Either way, this release is flawless and needs to be heard! Dario

Twelve Foot Ninja - Vengeance

15 October, 2021 | Volkanik
TwelveFootNinja_Vengeance

Australian weirdos of Twelve Foot Ninja are no strangers to the global progressive metal scene. Their rise to fame was not only, but also fueled by a unique and over the top sense of humor in their various music videos and short films that they have put out on YouTube over the years. In fact, their notoriety and all around status in the scene has become so big already that it almost beggars belief that “Vengeance” should only be their third full length album. But here we are with another collection of songs (or should I say hit singles?) in their very own unique mix of modern, djenty progmetal, electronics and the occasional surprising orchestration here and there. It’s almost impossible not to dance or headbang to those exquisitely fun tracks – or run headfirst into the next mosh pit you can find when one of those super nasty breakdowns hit, exemplary displayed in the second single and opening track ‘Start the Fire’. Quite theatrical and almost musical like at points (like that middle part in ‘Shock to the System’), electronic and groovy in other parts,  “Vengeance” is one thing first and foremost: a lot of fun! We even get a bonus guest appearance by Jinjer’s Tatiana Shmayluk in ‘Over and Out’ as a little cherry on the cake. So what’s not to love? Dario

Altesia - Embryo

16 October, 2021 | self-released
Altesia_Embryo

Starting this week’s highlights with a Monday release and finishing it off with a Saturday release only seems appropriate given how absolutely massive this Release Week is in terms of sheer quantity of the albums and EPs being released. Altesia from France are releasing their second album “Embryo” on October 16. Their brand of progressive metal is of quite the epic nature, evoking massive shades of Wilderun and Opeth as sort of main reference points. But also bands at the forefront of the modern prog metal movement like Haken and Leprous have certainly left their traces. All in all the sound of the five frenchmen from Bordeaux stays in fairly ‘traditional’ waters though, with lots of Hammond organ and vintage keys plus some cool orchestrations spicing up the prog metal backdrop. Their 2019 debut album was called “Paragon Circus”, and everyone who is missing that circus element in their prog metal since Haken’s “Aquarius”: look no further, there’s even some accordion to be discovered here in the midst of all the epicness! And if that’s not enough to convince you to listen to “Embryo”, check out the final 20-minute longtrack ‘Exit Initia’, closing the album in true prog fashion, including an extended saxophone solo! Get in there and enjoy the ride! Dario

More releases for 15 October, 2021

  • Sungazer - Perihelion (Oct. 11)
     Bandcamp  
  • Dead End Thoughts - Demon Form (October 12)
     Bandcamp  
  • Gypsum - Gypsum (October 12, Sonic Ritual)
     Bandcamp  
  • Anyone - In Humanity (October 12, TogethermenT Records)
  • Clouds - Despartire (October 14)
     Bandcamp  
  • Obol - Quizshow (October 14)
  • vildhjarta - masståden under vatten (Century Media Records)
  • Deviant Process - Nurture (Season of Mist)
     Bandcamp  
  • The Silver - Ward of Roses (Gilead Media)
     Bandcamp  
  • She Said Destroy - Succession (Mas-Kina Records)
     Bandcamp  
  • Baron Crâne - Les Beaux Jours (Mrs. Red Sound Records)
     Bandcamp  
  • Amarok - Hero
     Bandcamp  
  • Glass Hammer - Skallagrim - Into the Breach
     Bandcamp  
  • Ton Scherpenzeel - Velvet Armour (Friendly Folk Records)
     Bandcamp  
  • Reaping Asmodeia - Darkened Infinity (Prosthetic Records)
     Bandcamp  
  • The Delirium Effect - Eternal (House of Perdition Records)
     Bandcamp  
  • Regal Worm - The Hideous Goblink
     Bandcamp  
  • THSL - Memories of a Dream
     Bandcamp  
  • Aeon - God Ends Here (Metal Blade Records)
     Bandcamp  
  • Noltem - Illusions in the Wake (Transcending Obscurity Records)
     Bandcamp  
  • Harpo Jarvi - Abuelo Blanc
     Bandcamp  
  • Fractal Mirror - Beyond Borders (Bad Elephant Music)
     Bandcamp  
  • Hairless Monk - The Ether Whale
     Bandcamp  
  • Two Hundred Wolves - The Hold (Ichorous Music)
     Bandcamp  
  • Illudium - Ash of the Womb (Prophecy Productions)
     Bandcamp  
  • Sarah Perrotta - Blue to Gold (7D Media/Third Star Records)
     Bandcamp  
  • Djiin - Meandering Soul
     Bandcamp  
  • Zetar - Devouring Darkness
     Bandcamp  
  • Lutharo - Hiraeth
     Bandcamp  
  • Glass Island - Glass Island
     Bandcamp  
  • Craneium - Unknown Heights
     Bandcamp  
  • Destinity - In Continuum
  • Maragda - Maragda (Nafra Records)
     Bandcamp  
  • Perpetual Etude - Now is the Time
     Bandcamp  
  • Devoid - Lonely Eye Movement (Frontiers Music)
  • Lords of Black - Alchemy of Souls II (Frontiers Music)
  • Dynatron - Origins (Blood Music)
  • The Agonist - Days Before the World Wept EP (Napalm Records)
  • Nūr - Negative Transfer EP (Suicide Records)
     Bandcamp  
  • Rage In My Eyes - Spiral EP
     Bandcamp  
  • Hazards of Swimming Naked - Our Lines Are Down (Re-issue) (Bird’s Robe Collective)

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About the Author

Colin

Colin is a progressive metal drummer who currently plays with Ashbreather and Vicarious Reality. His introduction to prog was through his father with the likes of Dream Theater, Porcupine Tree, and Rush back in 2007. As the years went by, he would eventually work on his taste to get into more extreme forms of prog, and now adores bands like Opeth, Persefone, Atheist, BTBAM, Serpent Column, Slugdge, and countless others.

Dario

Co-Founder of The Progspace - Dario discovered the world of Prog upon hearing "Shine on you crazy diamond" for the first time at the tender age of 12 around the turn of the millennium. Coming from a musical family and brought up with classical music, this seemed to be the logical next step. Attended the school of www.progulus.com from 2002, delving into both directions: catching up with the history of already more than 30 years of progressive music as well as always staying up to date with the newest prog sounds. He loves meeting like-minded people and enjoying live music at a concert somewhere in Europe.

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