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The Progspace Awards 2020

2 EPs, 4 albums, lots of jaw dropping new music!

Releases of the Week 43/2021 with Alex Canion, Moron Police, Kayo Dot, Addiktio, First Fragment & Mastodon
2 EPs, 4 albums, lots of jaw dropping new music!

Another huge release week in this autumn frenzy with 44 new releases in total. Our highlights include Voyager bassist Alex Canion‘s debut solo EP “Birthmark”, another EP with Moron Police‘s fun, western tinged “The Stranger and the Hightide” and 4 epic albums: Kayo Dot‘s tenth full length offering with the poetic title “Moss Grew on the Swords and Plowshares Alike”, instrumental excellence with Addiktio from Norway and their sophomore effort “Anthem of the Year 2020”, a  neoclassical tech death symphony from Canada with First Fragments“Gloire Éternelle” and last but not least, the return of sludge overlords Mastodon into progressive waters with the huge double album “Hushed and Grim”. Don’t forget to subscribe to our weekly updated Spotify playlist as well to explore all those new releases as soon as they drop: https://theprogspace.com/rotw-playlist!

Alex Canion - Birthmark EP

25 October, 2021 | self-released
AlexCanion_BirthmArk

Voyager’s bass slapping boi Alex Canion just released his first solo work this week, and if you expected it to be a synth-wave inspired prog metal fest – it is not (and if you, having read the press announcements prior to the release, expected dark, heavily Opeth or Katatonia inspired music – you won’t find that, either). Instead, “Birthmark” is a rather quiet little EP, somewhere between singer-songwriter music and alternative rock. Having been 6 years in the making, a release on Canion’s birthday this last Monday just seemed ideal for this very personal piece of music. Within the 5 songs, Canion proves that he’s not only a stunning bass player; he played all instruments himself (except for the piano) and shows new sides of his voice. In ‘Mote of Dust’, he is joined by his Granddad, who is no less skilled. The mentioned influences rooted in Canion’s love for bands such as Opeth, Nine Inch Nails or Katatonia are there, but they are never rubbed into your face – they are subtly woven into Canion’s very own blend. Sometimes, the music could have used some more oomph, both in the vocals and in the guitar sound – the single ‘Sorrowtar’ and the last song, ‘Dream a Dream’ (which has a slight “Remedy Lane”/Pain of Salvation vibe to theses ears) show the potential that the first songs might have had with a more daring production. Nonetheless, “Birthmark” is a promising debut of one of Australia’s finest bass players and makes for a fine listen in these autumn months on this Northern half of the planet. Matthias

Moron Police - The Stranger & The Hightide EP

29 October, 2021 | self-released
MoronPolice_TheStrangerHightide

After the well-deserved hype and recognition gained from their 2019 album “A Boat on the Sea” there should be no lack of people awaiting new music from this Norwegian pop-prog quartet. And here it is, a four track EP, where I suspect the only real criticism of this release from the fans who loved their previous album will be that it is too short. Personally, I love the four tracks on this EP. We have some of that trademarked Moron Police sarcasm with the opener ‘The Power of Jesus’, followed by the impressively catchy title track, and a foot-stompin’ rocker with a great chorus in ‘Waiting for Wasteland’. The band even gives us a lovely little ballad with a beautiful piano melody in the final track ‘Parachutes’. All over the EP has a general country & western feel, further emphasised by the cool cover art created by Thomas Falla Eriksen. The tracks are seasoned with slight bluegrassy and folky elements added to the overall poppy tunes. When we talked to vocalist and guitarist Sondre Skollevoll on the Progtalks, he could divulge that this might not be the last EP the band releases, as he views it as a good vessel for songs that do not necessarily fit into an album context. He also mentioned how the next full-length release from the band might very well be a bigger, concept-type album, so more is definitely on the way. But in the meantime, “The Stranger and the Hightide” is a lovely little collection of songs to stem the hunger of those of us that love the bands’ music. Rune

Kayo Dot - Moss Grew on the Swords and Plowshares Alike

29 October, 2021 | Prophecy Productions
KayoDot_MossGrew

“Moss Grew on the Swords and Plowshares Alike” is the tenth album from Kayo Dot. One of many musical outlets for Toby Driver, a man who I have no qualms at all describing as a musical genius, and a true visionary. As someone who has been a music fan, and collector, for most of my life, it is not often new music manages to bring up the emotions of wonder and surprise that so often accompanied listening to a new album when I was in my teens, but Driver never disappoints in this regard. With most other bands, even the ones I truly love, part of the magic is lost by the fact that I feel I can sort of understand the creative process or imagine the workings of the engine that gives power to their musical output, but with Driver and his Kayo Dot I’m lost. If he told me that these musical ideas appear fully-fledged from some dimensional portal in his basement I’d nod and believe him. I think that is also why his releases never stop fascinating and enthralling me, my analytical mind shuts down, and I get, for one small hour, to experience music with that sense of childish wonder. With this new album Driver again breaks new ground, yet at the same time he looks back at the beginning. It’s a clear move away from the more post-rock influenced ethereal and hypnotic sound of 2019’s “Blasphemy”, and towards a more extreme yet melodic form. Not what you’d expect necessarily, but it all makes more sense in perspective. It’s been 25 years since his initial band maudlin of the Well formed, and 20 years since that same band released their seminal albums “Bath” and “Leaving Your Body Map”. Two companion albums that definitely have stood the test of time, and that created much of the foundation for what later became Kayo Dot. Another puzzle piece to this new album that Driver divulged in a recent interview with the Progtalks (that will be out next week), was his rediscovery of the vibrant European metal scene, and an impulse to re-visit the heavy, gothic and doomy landscapes of those early albums. All these elements seem to have played a big part in the creation of “Moss Grew on the Swords and Plowshares Alike”, and to any listener familiar with the early 90’s gothic, doom and avant-garde scene, it’s quite clear that these influences are very much present. Still, they seem, this time, reflected through a more mature and thoughtful kaleidoscope. The opener ‘The Knight Errant’ hits you in the chest like a brick, and the album never really lets up from there. There are certainly more relaxed moments, like the sombre ‘Void in Virgo’, but even here there is a tenseness, an uneasiness, that does not really allow you to relax your guard. This is not simply a return to the music of that early era, but more like a re-imagining, from a more experienced musician. To make the experience complete Driver sought assistance from his former maudlin of the Well band-mates. Jason Byron, no longer a vocalist – that job is handled perfectly by Driver himself, has written the lyrics. Byron’s elegant command of language helps to infuse the album with yet another layer of esotericism and spiritism. In addition, Greg Massi performs several guitar solos on the album, and his contributions manage to lift the material even higher when he shows up. Towards the end of the album, the monumental finisher ‘Epipsychidon’ assaults the listener with its aspects of black and death metal deftly interwoven with atmospheric melodies before it flows into almost static soundscapes. We are nearing the end of 2021, and I feel very sure that this will end up as one of, if not the best release of the year from my perspective. /Rune

Addiktio - Anthem for the Year 2020

29 October, 2021 | Indie Recordings
Addiktio_Anthem

Norwegian instrumental trio Addiktio return three years after their debut album “Verraton”, with their sophomore effort, sporting the curious title “Anthem of the Year 2020”. Their very own blend of sonic tapestries they are exploring in their music is not easily pigeonholed, as they combine a lot of influences to form an impressive whole that is energetic at times, anthemic at others, but always highly engaging and gripping. Most instrumental prog records these days could either be lumped into a vague post rock/metal puddle or virtuosic fusion metal acrobatics, Addiktio’s music is neither. Due to their epic, cinematic atmospheres one could say that they are closer to the former, yet sounds like the abrasive math rock riffs in ‘Spectacle’ or ‘North’ that wouldn’t sound too out of place on a late 90s/early 2000s King Crimson album are usually not one of the standard ‘post’ tropes. Beautiful moments of introspection take turn with huge momentous as well as quirky and jazzy passages and at the end of the day, Addiktio drive home one of the most intriguing and unique instrumental releases of the year. Dario

First Fragment - Gloire Éternelle

29 October, 2021 | Unique Leader Records
FirstFragment_GloireEternelle

Canadian five-piece First Fragment is definitely a unique phenomenon in the technical (death) metal circus. While genre leaders of Archspire are dropping their newest, highly anticipated high speed assault “Bleed the Future” today as well, I for one prefer First Fragment’s approach of infusing their metal with as much classical influences as they can find as well as Flamenco and other cool melodic stuff. “Gloire Éternelle”, their second full-length effort is no different. Not only could their music be classified as pure neoclassical metal if you took away David AB’s harsh growls, also fretless bass legend Dominic “Forest” Lapointe plays his instrument as equal partner between the two guitarists Phil Tougas and Nick Miller. So this album is a welcome feast for all those who love their technical metal in a neoclassical fashion and a must for fretless bass enthusiasts at that. More is more, so “Gloire Éternelle” not only includes two mini epics close to the 10 minute mark, the highlight of epic proportions is undoubtedly the 19 minutes spanning ‘In’El’, a little death metal symphony for the true connoisseur, and the total album playtime tops that of the new Archspire by more than double (81 versus 31 minutes). Anyway, whether you’re more into short and concise highspeed massacres or classical epicness, today is a good day for all technical death metal fans. Dario

Mastodon - Hushed and Grim

29 October, 2021 | Reprise Records
Mastodon__HushedGrim

Twelve years after their seminal masterpiece “Crack the Skye”, progressive sludge overlords of Mastodon return with a double album of epic proportions no one expected in this form after the last more straight forward and psychedelic outings of the four-piece hailing from Atlanta, Georgia. “Hushed and Grim” is neither hushed nor overly grim, but easily the most diverse Mastodon record to date, even topping the aforementioned “Crack the Skye” by far, as the last 12 years of musical evolution certainly have left their traces. A monumental chorus like in the single ‘Sickle and Peace’ ist just getting all the more massive in its impact when packaged within exhilarating prog metal twists. A huge and bold statement overall that doesn’t shy back from softer tones as well and squarely puts Mastodon back in progressive territory. Huge and Fun! Dario

More releases for 29 October, 2021

  • Drifting Sun - Forsaken Innocence (Oct. 27)
     Bandcamp  Read Our Review
  • NDKH - If Heaven Is A Lie (Oct. 28)
  • This Winter Machine - Kites (Oct. 28)
     Bandcamp  
  • Ad Infinitum - Chapter II - Legacy (Frontiers Music)
    Read Our Review
  • Archspire - Bleed the Future (Season of Mist)
     Bandcamp  
  • Sunless - Ylem (Willowtip Records)
     Bandcamp  
  • Burial - Inner Gateways to the Slumbering Equilibrium at the Center of Cosmos (Everlasting Spew Records)
     Bandcamp  
  • The Design Abstract - Metemtechnosis
     Bandcamp  
  • Prophetic Scourge - Gnosis - A Sorrower’s Odyssey (Klonosphere/Season of Mist)
     Bandcamp  
  • Parzival - David - The Hymn (Hypertension Music)
  • Pennies by the Pound - Heat Death of the Universe
     Bandcamp  
  • Transport Aerian - Skywound
     Bandcamp  
  • Soars - Enfold
     Bandcamp  
  • DaisukE - The Moth and the Lotus
     Bandcamp  
  • Be’lakor - Coherence (Napalm Records)
     Bandcamp  
  • Zeolite - Proselytism
     Bandcamp  
  • Cyclopean Walls - Enter the Dreamlands
     Bandcamp  
  • Entropic Awakening - Epilogue
     Bandcamp  
  • Withering Worlds - The Long Goodbye
     Bandcamp  
  • Callus - A Breath of Flesh Air (Trepanation Records)
     Bandcamp  
  • Aexylium - The Fifth Season
     Bandcamp  
  • Mellow Beast - Invisible Wormhole
     Bandcamp  
  • Deadglow - Machine Skin
     Bandcamp  
  • Vivid Illusion - Vivid Illusion
     Bandcamp  
  • Nobody - Another World (Inverse Records)
     Bandcamp  
  • Vespero - Sonĝo
     Bandcamp  
  • Whitechapel - Kin (Metal Blade Records)
     Bandcamp  
  • A Secret Revealed - When the Day Yearns for Light (Lifeforce Records)
     Bandcamp  
  • Intaglio - II
     Bandcamp  
  • Contrition - Broken Mortal Coil (Disorder Recordings)
     Bandcamp  
  • The Dark Horde - The Calling
     Bandcamp  
  • Mass Hysteria Agency - The Run EP
     Bandcamp  
  • Primrose Path - Matriffe EP
     Bandcamp  
  • Molybaron - The Mutiny (Re-Release) (Inside Out Music)
  • Nektar - The Other Side (Reissue) (Cherry Red Records)
  • Emerson, Lake & Palmer - Out of this World: Live (1970 - 1997)
  • Hieronymus Dream - Nostos (Oct. 30)
     Bandcamp  
  • Mistchaser - Kairos (Oct. 30)
     Bandcamp  

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About the Author

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.

Matthias

Co-founder of The Progspace. Enthusiastic concert visitor - especially if there are good photo opportunities. Loves all kind of progressive rock and metal, as long as it is original and not too technical or aggressive. News journalist and passionate nature photographer.

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.

Rune

Hailing from Trondheim, Norway, but currently living in France. Rune has been a fan of everything hard and heavy since he got his first real taste of music in the early 80's. Originally a fan of the more extreme genres of metal, like thrash, death and blackmetal, he always enjoyed the more technical, progressive and avant-garde side of music. When he's not working, collecting and listening to albums, or attending concerts, Rune enjoys one of his many other nerdy hobbies, including roleplaying games, video-games, comics, and sci-fi and fantasy literature.

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