Dario | Nov 15, 2023 | 0
66 releases, 13 highlights: Fall release frenzy is continuing!
Releases of the Week 42/2023 with Lalu, District 97, Owdwyr, Monosphere, Volkor X, Head With Wings, Divided By Design, Outrun the Sunlight, Ozric Tentacles, Myrkur, Vertrebra Atlantis, Splice & Sylvatica
This week’s highlights include new albums and EPs from Lalu, District 97, Owdwyr, Monosphere, Volkor X, Head With Wings, Divided By Design, Outrun the Sunlight, Ozric Tentacles, Myrkur, Vertrebra Atlantis, Splice & Sylvatica
Discover all of them now through the Bandcamp links in the list in the article on our website or in our weekly updated Spotify playlist. Subscribe now: https://theprogspace.com/rotw-playlist
Lalu - The Fish Who Wanted To Be King
“We are the wondering kind, keeping the wonder alive!” The transformation is complete. After two stellar melodic Prog Metal albums in 2005 and 2013, French composer and keyboardist Vivien Lalu went into a decidedly more Prog Rock focused direction with last year’s comeback album “Paint the Sky”. The first one with the current Lalu line-up featuring Damian Wilson on vocals, Joop Wolters on guitars and bass and Jelly Cardarelli on drums, “Paint the Sky” turned out as one of 2022’s best Progressive Rock albums, and “The Fish Who Wanted To Be King” clearly builds on these strengths found within that line-up, expands them – and finally establishes that Damian Wilson can make anything sound absolutely gorgeous – even the phone book. I mean, we all secretly knew it to be true, but now we’ve finally got proof! Now, that can only mean two things: we need more phone-book-Lalu-prog! And an ASMR-meditation album by Damian where he’s reading some good night stories or something like that. Anything. I’d buy it in a heartbeat. Also: don’t miss out on the One Knight Only tour if you have the chance to catch it. I’m sure there’s gonna be some Lalu songs thrown in for good measure as basically the whole Lalu band will be present. “Wake up. Stretch. And open the hatch.The sound you hear will direct you to your universal need!” Not sure which universal need Damian is referring to here in the intro of the title track. Probably the universal need to listen to this album.
District 97 - Stay for the Ending
Continuing this week’s Prog releases journey with District 97’s new album “Stay for the Ending”. It is the Chicago based quintet’s fifth studio album and despite knowing about them and their standing for years now, I never really took the time to dive into their music. After a first spin of “Stay for the Ending”, I must say I’m really glad that I finally did. I stayed for the ending, hooked on a perfect balance of proggy, intricate grooves and the gripping vocal melodies, often shared by Leslie Hunt and guitarist Jim Tashjian. District 97’s sound is something like the marriage of the eclectic and the accessible. And stay for the ending you should too, as it features a grandiose, heavily progging finale to a stellar album with the ‘Deck is Stacked’ (including a sick drum solo by founding member/main composer Jonathan Schang) and ‘The Watcher’ especially (that main groove, those harmonic progressions…). But in the end, the album is stacked with killer songs, no matter if they clock in at five or nine minutes.
Owdwyr - Receptor
Arvo Pärt’s ‘Fratres’ in a brutal Avant/Tech Death setting? Hell yeah, bring it on! The surprise of the week award definitely goes to Owdwyr’s debut album “Receptor”. At first, I was put off a little by the mention of Grind in the press text, but the very endearing terms Tech Death, Prog and Classical plus the involvement of some of the best Extreme Metal drummers these days with Navene Koperweis (Entheos, ex-Animals as Leaders), Kenny Grohowski (Imperial Triumphant, John Zorn), Kevin Paradis (Ne Obliviscaris, Benighted) and Alex Cohen (Contrarian, ex-Pyrrhon) piqued my interest. Apart from the aforementioned Arvo Pärt, you can find some Heitor Villa-Lobos, some Radiohead, and even some Allan Holdsworth if you’re digging deep enough beneath the abrasive Tech Grind crust. But despite my biased misgivings against that certain subgenre with the supershort songs I’m endlessly fascinated by the insane end result. And even if “Receptor” probably won’t be featured in too many Debut of the Year lists because of its extreme nature, I’ll always cherish it’s stunning accomplishment. Jaw-dropping extremity to the max!
Monosphere - Sentience
Toning it back a tiny bit on the extreme part, Germany’s Post/Core juggernauts Monosphere are back with “Sentience”. Exploring themes of machine intelligence (and sentience), their sophomore effort after 2021’s acclaimed debut “The Puppeteer” sees the Mainz-based five piece branch out in several different directions at once. Drawing influences from all across the heavy music board, Monosphere concoct their very own unique sound that, emerging as so much more than merely the sum of its parts, even though (or maybe precisely because) their mashup might not seem like it should work at all if you look at the mess on the drawing board. Yet the songwriting feels very concise and on point, and with top notch performances from everyone involved (including our very own Matthew Dakoutros on strings), spearheaded by an impressively diverse vocal performance from Kevin Ernst, “Sentience” establishes Monosphere as a truly innovative force to be reckoned with in modern Extreme Prog. Without a doubt their most diverse and accomplished work to date.
Volkor X - The Loop
From sentient machines to a sentient alien life form on its way to destroy earth. French synthwave artist Volkor X takes us on a cinematic journey through outer space that takes place before his two other albums so far, “This Is Our Planet Now” (2020) and “This Means War” (2016). Just two weeks ago, we had epicness redefined by Randy M. Salo’s Titan Agronomist Project’s second album, but now Volkor X takes it to a whole new level entirely. Running the risk of overusing the word, the 9 EPIC synthwave-meet-post-rock songs on “The Loop” are interspersed with spoken word dialogues between an astronaut and her computer(?), giving the whole 74 minute affair an even more EPIC feel. The spoken word bits remind me a bit of ‘I.O.T.A.’ and ‘V.A.D.I.S.’ from the last two albums of Greek prog metal band Need, but while they were something like the emotional highlights for me there, the EPIC music of “The Loop” is surely the emotional motor of the album for me in this case. And just when you thought it couldn’t get more EPIC, “The Loop” closes with an EPIC guitar solo by returning collaborator Sylvain Coudret (Soilwork). Ok, enough with the hyperboles, I think I’m starting to repeat myself. You probably should go and listen to “The Loop” now, OR DIE!
Head With Wings - Without Intervention
Continuing on our journey through this week’s best concept albums, there’s absolutely no way of overlooking “Without Intervention”, the new album by Head With Wings. Occupying their very on spot in the Alternative Prog world with a unique sound and innovative approach to immersive songwriting, the band around vocalist Joshua Corum and guitarist Brandon Cousino definitely were one of the odd ones out stylistically (together with Azure) when they were booked for the 2019 edition of the usually more Djent and Metalcore heavy Euroblast Festival in Cologne. But they managed to leave a lasting impression for sure and here we are, four years later, and they present a meticulously crafted work of art with “Without Intervention”. Musically, Head With Wings could be compared to The Dear Hunter (without the circus/brass parts) or a less hyperactive Coheed and Cambria, but both these comparisons fall short of the sound they’re actually producing. (Is that a Rush vibe in ‘Comfort in Illusion’?) Conceptually, we follow ‘Galaxy’, a character from their previous work (2018’s “From Worry To Shame” and 2021s “Comfort in Illuson” EP), expanding their very own universe and lore. The music was masterfully produced, mixed and mastered by Vikram Shankar (who also provided the keyboard parts), with Joshua’s expressive vocal performance recorded and produced by Earthside’s Frank Sacramone, Head With Wings are poised to be the next big thing in Alternative Prog Land. Period.
Divided By Design - A Canvas for the Universe
Instrumental Prog Metal, UK/studio edition: Divided by Design’s fourth album “A Canvas for the Universe” is here to take you on a galactic journey. It is more like a compilation of all their most recent singles, but they all seem to build up to the 16 minute epic ‘Returning to a Distant Earth (The Reason to be Remembered)’ with some amazing Plini-esque, Syncatto-esque, David Maxim Micic-like soundscapes.
Outrun the Sunlight - Terrapin (Live)
Instrumental Prog Metal, US/live edition: Chicago-based quintet Outrun the Sunlight performed their 2014 album “Terrapin” live in its entirety last year, and now they’ve made the whole recording available to listen to on all digital platforms (or buy it on Bandcamp), and also to watch it on YouTube. Raw and unfiltered yet intricate and refined, this is top notch instrumental Prog Metal and a great momentum of the current line-up and their great chemistry.
Ozric Tentacles - Lotus Unfolding
Psychedelic Hippie Prog inventors Ozric Tentacles are still going strong 40 years into their career. “Lotus Unfolding” is their 22nd album and after two rather hectic opening tracks, they settle for the wonderfully relaxed, trance-like vibe they’re known for. Psychedelic bass grooves meet acoustic guitar shred and spaced out flutes and synths. A welcome change of pace and mood between abrasive metal sounds.
Myrkur - Spine
Back from a mostly folky trip on “Folkesange” is Danish artist Amalie Bruun aka Myrkur with her new album “Spine”. Far from going back to her black metal roots, “Spine” does bring some of those sound elements, but into an overall more 80s sad pop environment. Kind of like Eurythmics meet Susanne Sundfør, Anna von Hausswolff, A.A.Williams and the likes with a hint of Black Metal here and there. A mix that probably won’t work for everyone, but I for one am enjoying quite a bit to say the least.
Vertebra Atlantis - A Dialogue With The Eeriest Sublime
From semi-black metal goes pop album called “Spine” to a full fledged black metal album from a band called Vertebra Atlantis. “A Dialogue With The Eeriest Sublime” is the sophomore record by this Italian project and its unfolding more and more of its wonders the further its progressing. Coming from Cosmic Putrefaction mastermind G.G., hardcore fans are already complaining that this ain’t no Cosmic Putrefaction, but the more we approach the beautifully melodic title track, the more I fall in love with this album. It’s not that I don’t like the harsher, heavier first part of the album (I’ve come a long way in this regard over the last years), but the real bliss for me happens in the second half. A must hear for fans of Emperor and all that good stuff!
Splice - Crypsoria’s Echoes EP
With their affinity for theatrical epic, several French bands have won me over in recent months, and Splice quickly lined themselves up with their new EP “Crypsoria’s Echoes”, which is the quintet’s first release since their debut album 10 years ago. Don’t let yourself fool by the colorful cover artwork, this is neither Disney- nor Powermetal, but brutal yet melodic Death Metal! On the one side, we can hear beautiful orchestral and choir arrangements, building up huge harmonic layers in the background, with some wonderful piano or organ parts shining through the mighty soundscapes. On the other side, we have the band firing on all cylinders with relentless blast beats, vigorous riffs, and mighty growls, taking us on a wild journey. All-together a surprising, exciting find, with the five songs blowing your mind like the thunderstorm growing over the artwork’s protagonist…
Sylvatica - Cadaver Synod
Danish melodic death metal quartet Sylvatica already crossed my musical path back in 2021 and quickly convinced with their genre bending 2nd record “Ashes and Snow”, so album Number 3, that got the lovely title “Cadaver Synod”, was highly anticipated here. Lyrically, they take us to the dark Middle Ages, musically cooking the different stories in a kind of Uriah Heep meets the Phantom of the Opera melting pot, spiced up with pummeling drums, mighty yet virtuosic guitar work, and powerful growls. While I liked their previous album already a lot, “Cadaver Synod” is a huge step forward for these crazy Vikings, with the music being faster and more dynamic thanks to more variety in the songwriting. The creative use of different key instruments, especially the huge organ sound, adds something mystical and sublime, making this record a great, entertaining listen over its 40 minutes playing time.
More releases for 20 October, 2023
- The Callous Daoboys - God Smiles Upon The Callous Daoboys EP Bandcamp
- Dreamwell - In My Saddest Dreams, I Am Beside You Bandcamp
- Dream Unending / Worm - Starpath EP (20 Buckspin) Bandcamp
- Rage of Light - Opaque EP Bandcamp
- Jason Blake - Radiant Dusk Bandcamp
- Elegy of Madness - IX (Scarlet Records) Bandcamp
- Dave Kerzner - Heart Land Mines Vol.1 Bandcamp
- Chandelier - We Can Fly Bandcamp
- David Longdon - Wild River Bandcamp
- betcover!! - 馬 (Uma) (Oct. 17)
- KalMar - 2002 Bandcamp
- Dirty Sound Magnet - Dreaming in Dystopia (Wild Thing Records) Bandcamp
- Inpha One - Lights and Shapes EP (Oct. 19) Bandcamp
- PRIM - Meridian Steps (Alessa Records) Bandcamp
- Supreme Conception - The Post-Humanist Delusion EP Bandcamp
- Solemn Vision - Despite the Rise of the Sun (Black Lion Records) Bandcamp
- Plaguestorm - Empty Eyes EP (Noble Demon Records) Bandcamp
- Afterbirth - In But Not Of (Willowtip Records) Bandcamp
- Baring Teeth - The Path Narrows (I, Voidhanger Records) Bandcamp
- Unverkalt - A Lump of Death: A Chaos of Dead Lovers (Argonauta Records) Bandcamp
- Dust Devil - Oubliette Bandcamp
- Mortajas - Mortajas II (sun&moon Records) Bandcamp
- Domhain - Nimue (These Hands Melt) Bandcamp
- Sadness / Vulning - Split Bandcamp
- Venomous Echoes - Writhing Tomb Amongst the Stars Bandcamp
- Trounce - The Seven Crowns + Live at Roadburn (Hummus Records) Bandcamp
- New Forms - As Dust Collects (Oct. 19, Zegema Beach Records) Bandcamp
- The Amenta - Plague of Locus (Debemur Morti Productions) Bandcamp
- The Spacelords - Nectar of the Gods (Tonzonen Records) Bandcamp
- Animations - Contemporary Guide to Modern Living Bandcamp
- Temperance - Hermitage - Daruma's Eyes Pt. 2 (Napalm Records) Bandcamp
- Within Temptation - Bleed Out
- Aldaaron - Majestic Heights Melancholic Depths (Paragon Records) Bandcamp
- Occult Hand Order - Silence By The Raging Sea Bandcamp
- Conny Ochs - Wahn und Sinn (Exile on Mainstream) Bandcamp
- Oxymorrons - Melanin Punk (Mascot Label Group) Bandcamp
- Misleading Days - Kintsugi
- Silva - Forgotten Sanctuary (Black Lion Records) Bandcamp
- Sandragon - Hierophant Wake Up Dead Records)
- Hippie Death Cult - Helichrysum Bandcamp
- Appalooza - The Shining Son (Ripple Music) Bandcamp
- Bloodred Hourglass - How's the Heart? (Out of Line Music) Bandcamp
- death pose - Midnight Society (Brutal Panda Records) Bandcamp
- Stomach - Parasite Bandcamp
- Stone Nomads - ...At the Gates of Solitude Bandcamp
- Archangel - Total Dark Sublime (Scarlet Records) Bandcamp
- Enigma Ex Machina - Blurring Thoughts, Flawless Lies
- Poseydon - Through the Gate of Hatred and Aversion (Necktwister)
- 20 Watt Tombstone - The Chosen Few
- Angelus Apatrida - Aftermath (Century Media)
- Bodies of Conceit - Bodies of Conceit (Verydeeprecords) Bandcamp
- David Sattout - Go Gentle (Art As Catharsis)
- Arena - Lifian Tour MMXXII