Dario | Nov 15, 2023 | 0
66 releases, 12 highlights: keeping up the streak!
Releases of the Week 43/2023 with Violent Jasper, Ramage Inc., Sky Empire, Crossing the Rubicon, Nick DePirro, Burak Ozmucur, Vokonis, Sorcerer, Wayfarer, Three Eyes of the Void, Colin Edwin / Robert Jürjendal & Ulver
The end of October comes with astonishing debut albums from Violent Jasper & Three Eyes of the Void; cool EPs by Crossing the Rubicon, Nick DePirro, Burak Ozmucur & Vokonis; massive full lengths from Ramage Inc., Sky Empire, Sorcerer & Wayfarer; and not to forget: a live document from Ulver!
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
Violent Jasper - Control
Just back from an amazing Sylvan show last night here in Munich, and spinning “Control” in heavy rotation since its release last Friday, I’ve got to tell you: I’m absolutely enamored with this wonderful debut album by the Sylvan side project Violent Jasper. The brainchild of keyboarder Volker Söhl and guitarist Johnny Beck, both known for their exquisite work for Hamburg premium Prog Rockers of Sylvan, “Control” explores human emotions musically, not entirely unlike their mainband (whose vocalist Marco Glühmann can also be heard a couple of times), but with a clear emphasis on the juxtaposition of electronic and cinematic textures and the emotive lead vocal performance of Caro von Brünken (Wild As Her, RPWL) and Johnny’s gorgeous lead guitar sounds. Taken to the extreme in the astounding ‘Masquerade’, that oscillates between Baroque beauty (complete with oboe and spinet in addition to the string chamber ensemble) and dark electronic vibes (topped off with a heart melting guitar solo) or the brutally dark ‘Desire’ just to pick two examples, Söhl and Beck are conjuring up emotions upon emotions throughout the entire length of “Control” and leave me wanting more. Now, whether the next release involving those two incredible musicians will be another Sylvan album or the follow up to “Control”, I really don’t care, as long as it’s as amazing as this stunning debut!
Ramage Inc. - Humanity Has Failed
Ramage Inc.’s unique style of Prog Metal surely packs a punch with a hundred ton heavy riffing and Bryan Ramage’s powerful vocals on top. The Scottish four-piece has been at it for almost 20 years already and “Humanity Has Failed” is only their fifth album in all that time. It is also their first since 2018’s “Under The Skin”, but it gives us a full dose of that Ramage Inc. punch in the face and then some with its runtime of almost 1 hour and 20 minutes though. 15 songs filled to the brim with epic yet heavy Prog Metal anthems riding the fine line between gut punching heaviness, bordering on some more extreme territory but never actually crossing into the lands of Death Metal and co. and delicately crafted layered atmospheres. An impressive feat usually reserved for grandmasters like Devin Townsend, but where the Canadian Prog Metal professor is always branching out to make his music as eclectic, weird and crazy as possible, the four Scotsmen have crafted a dense, yet expansive sound, exploring all of its aspects in very concise songwriting structures. The post-apocalyptic themes explored on “Humanity Has Failed” feel all too timely, making it an incredibly relevant album and of the best 2023 has to offer in terms of powerful Progressive Metal. Certainly the most accomplished work from Ramage Inc. so far.
Sky Empire - The Shifting Tectonic Plates of Power - Part One
British progressive metal band Sky Empire are back with their 2nd album, “The Shifting Tectonic Plates of Power – Part I”. They open straight away with a 15 minutes instrumental piece, which is clearly a venture, but they absolutely nail it, and I’m already sold after the first guitar solo coming like a whirlwind out of the speakers. Next up is the first song on that we can hear none other than Jeff Scott Soto, who took over the vocal duties after the band’s hiatus due to the tragic loss of their friend and singer Yordan Ivanov. “On the Shores of Hallowed Haven” is a peaceful track with light percussion, beautiful orchestration and smooth bass lines, building up tension towards “The Emissary”, that might be a contender for “progmetal hymn of the year” thanks to its catchy chorus and the mesmerizing instrumental parts but nevertheless heavy riffs. They hold this momentum over the next songs, effortlessly keeping their challenging music in flow until they close with another 16 minutes epic, ‘House of Cards’.
I have to admit that even though Sky Empire should have clicked all boxes from the beginning, it took me a while to really get into “The Shifting Tectonic Plates of Power – Part I” because of the sometimes too hard, dry sound, but in the end their excellent musicianship and multifaceted compositions won me over. With their mix of complex rhythm patterns, virtuoso guitar and keyboard solos as well as marvelous yet accessible melodies, they offer an amazing progmetal album, highly recommended ffo Sons of Apollo, Symphony X and Dream Theater.
Crossing The Rubicon - Eclipse EP
Since its inception in 2011 by multi-instrumentalist Alejandro Licano as his creative outlet, instrumental progmetal project Crossing the Rubicon saw several line-up changes, and currently also features bassist Zach McDermott and Manuel Trabucco on saxophone. Their new EP “Eclipse” lines up in an already impressive back-catalogue and continues the story of their main character’s arc from earlier releases (which is also supposed to be expanded on an upcoming graphic novel). Music-wise, they offer a high-energetic mix of modern, djent-driven rhythms and heavy riffs in combination with sighing, sometimes crazy saxophone interplays. While ‘Rift’ and ‘Liminal’ are more like kinds of experimental, atmospheric soundscapes, ‘Rite of Passage’ and ‘Eclipse’ come along as mighty, groovy progmetal tracks with mind blowing guitar work and jazzy sax solos. The melody on ‘Coalesce’ gives me some 80s vibes, but the underlying rhythmic and shredding are clearly rooted into contemporary metal. Our short, but intense journey already ends with ‘Totality’, a mesmerizing, piano and keyboard-centered piece, leaving me curious to hear what is yet to come from these guys.
Nick DePirro - Stations of Light EP
Continuing this little string of EPs is “Stations of Light”, the first solo EP by LA based guitarist Nick DePirro. After a couple of Twitch session compilations and three stand-alone singles earlier this year, this 15 minute 5-track EP features some relentless, modern high energy riffing and feels like the natural extension of the still brand new Night Verses album “Every Sound Has A Color In The Valley of Night: Part 1”, one of Nick’s main bands. Another sonic association I had was The Totemist’s new EP, which is also focusing on strong riffing rather than endless solo noodling. An interesting and refreshing trend in the instrumental guitar music department if you ask me. Bring it on!
Burak Ozmucur - Alive EP
EP #3 out of 4 this week: some dark atmospheric melancholy prog from New Jersey based solo artist Burak Ozmucur. With a clear emphasis on mood and atmosphere, the four tracks on “Alive” bear a strong resemblance to the sonic palette of acts like Deftones, Katatonia or Anathema, perfectly capturing these autumn vibes. Dreamy, yet still heavy in places, the atmospheric guitar layering is giving me some slight Earthside vibes as well, albeit in a more succinct, less cinematic songwriting environment. Seeing there’s only a few EPs and singles out so far, I’d definitely think the style and quality could easily carry album length, so I’ll keep my eyes and ears open for more quality music from Burak Ozmucur for sure!
Vokonis - Exist Within Light EP
Among The Progspace crew, I’m definitely the resident Vokonis fanboy. Whilst they may only be a small progressive stoner metal band from the cold lands of Gothenburg, this band has grown to mean a lot to me over the years. Their 2021 album “Odyssey” was my album of the year that year by a landslide, and has become one of my favourite albums of all time, so needless to say I was very excited for their follow up EP “Exist Within Light”.
A notable difference between this EP and their previous album is the vocals. On “Odyssey”, bassist Jonte Johansson took a much more prominent role the vocals, providing cleans and harshes to work alongside vocalist Simona Ohlsson’s shout style vocals. Think something like System of a Down, where the backing vocals bounce off the leads, and sometimes even become the main focus. Here though, Johansson takes a step back in the vocal department. How do they adapt to this? Ohlsson shows off their range and gives snippets of cleans and even harshes on top of their signature shout style vocals. Whilst I did enjoy the way the vocals bounced off of each other on “Odyssey”, hearing Ohlsson’s full range of vocal styles over just 3 tracks is also a journey in itself.
Something that hasn’t changed is the musicality. Vokonis really are one of the most unique bands in the stoner rock umbrella, adapting many different styles within their sound. From the desert rock style galloping riffs of opener ‘Houndstooth’, to the heavy climax of ‘Revengeful’, to the slow closing riff of the title track, there’s so many moments over the three tracks where Vokonis feel completely alive and fresh within their sound. Not to mention the constant shifts between stoner style riffs and huge progressive solos that breathe life and atmosphere into every moment of the EP.
After dropping one of the best albums ever made in Odyssey, Vokonis are back to prove over the course of just three tracks that they aren’t slowing down anytime soon, and if this 18 minute long EP is anything to go off then the sky is the limit for the future of Vokonis. With one of the most unique and well crafted sounds in metal today, I fully believe that this group will go on to achieve the huge success they deserve. This EP is only a snippet of their true potential.
Sorcerer - Reign of the Reaper
We stay in Sweden but make a little change in style from stoner rock to epic metal, since powerhouse Sorcerer unleashed their new album this week as well. I still remember how they blew the roof off at last year’s Sweden Rock Festival with their high-energetic show, so I was excited to hear “Reign of the Reaper”, and what can I say… It’s a banger! The opening track ‘Morning Star’ takes us straight onto a relentless journey through the kingdom of Pandemonium and hell itself, already giving a great impression of what we can expect over the next 47 minutes: mighty heavy metal in the classical sense rooted in the work of Black Sabbath, but with their own signature and a modern production. What stands out for me is the fantastic guitar work, both with huge riffs and furious solos, as well as the powerful vocal performance, but of course the rhythm section doesn’t have to hide away, building a full-sounding, diverse basis that carries the songs. Being a proggy at heart, my favorites are clearly the faster tracks, especially ‘Thy Kingdom Will Come’, yet I can’t deny a certain fascination for the epic doom parts here, and the ballad ‘Eternal Sleep’ is supposed to deliver some goosebump moments. All-together a marvelous record, leaving me curious to see how the music might unfold in a live setting.
Wayfarer - American Gothic
Have you ever wondered what a hybrid of black metal and americana would sound like? No, me neither. I have heard some bands trying it in recent years without making a lasting impression, so when I checked “American Gothic” by Wayfarer, it was with a healthy dose of skepticism. It is an album that makes you feel like listening to black metal in a saloon in the wild west, with whisky in one hand, a six-shooter in the other and your fine horse in the barn. While this seems to be a fairly odd setting, Wayfarer somehow nailed the style, making a seamless blend of these very different genres to create an atmospheric and introspective piece of music.
The general mood on “American Gothic” is quite melancholic, with lyrics exploring the violent past and present of the United States. When the band switches from raspy black metal growls to clean vocals, there is even a hint of post-punk in the music, which might just be the much needed bridge between genres. All things considered, “American Gothic” is a surprisingly coherent album, by which Wayfarer have created something unique and memorable. If you have an open mind and are curious about different styles, I recommend giving this one a chance.
Three Eyes Of The Void - The Atheist
Staying within the realms of Black Metal, but turning to a more traditional atmospheric realm, Polish/Ukrainian band Three Eyes of the Void present their debut full length “The Atheist”, and while the album title seems quite typical for this kind of sub genre, there’s a lot more to it than ‘just’ plain and simple Atmospheric Black Metal. Interspersed with beautiful, sombre melancholy, Three Eyes of the Void hit the perfect balance between sadness and furious rage, expertly captured by producer David Deutsch (Heretoir) and refined by Der Weg Einer Freiheit Mastermind Nikita Kamprad’s master. Guest saxophone by White Ward’s Dima Dudko, session bass recorded by Soen’s Zlatoyar. Great album!
Colin Edwin & Robert Jürjendal - The Weight of my Shadow
Alright, if you’re looking for chill, ethereal, yet trippy soundscapes but thought last week’s Ozric Tentacles offering was way too hectic, bass legend Colin Edwin (O.R.k., ex-Porcupine Tree) might have just the remedy you’re looking for in store: “The Weight of my Shadow” is his second collaboration with Estonia based guitarist Robert Jürjendal after 2018’s “Another World” and it’s 12 tracks full of spaced out ambient stuff with lots and lots of reverb. A welcome invitation for some extended lucid daydreaming.
Ulver - Grieghallen 20180528 (Live)
Norwegian sound chameleons of Ulver peaked their electronic phase easily with the masterpiece that is “The Assassination of Julius Caesar” in 2017 and the subsequent touring cycle. The performances of this particular material where always not only a feast for the ears sonically, but also for the eyes visually with a massive lights and laser production (as you can see in these pictures taken at their appearance at Be Prog, My Friend! in Barcelona 2017, or by watching the YouTube video of the full concert featured on the album). Naturally, any real live performance of primarily electronic stuff is bound to get a more raw and real touch, especially with all the acoustic drums and percussion, but also the occasional guitar flourishing. And what they’ve captured from “Grieghallen 20180528” is no different. But that takes away absolutely nothing from the masterfully crafted songs. And well, I simply can’t get enough of Kristoffer Rygg’s gorgeous timbre. Never.
More releases for 27 October, 2023
- Pattern-Seeking Animals - Spooky Action At A Distance (Inside Out Music)Read Our Review
- Glass Hammer - Arise Bandcamp
- The Lovecraft Sextet - The Horror Cosmic Bandcamp
- Lightlorn - At One With The Night Sky (Black Lion Records) Bandcamp
- Closure in Moscow - Soft Hell (Bird’s Robe Records) Bandcamp
- Nyos - Waterfall Cave Fantasy, Forever (Pelagic Records) Bandcamp
- Darkness is my Canvas - White Noise EP Bandcamp
- Tortuga - Iterations (Napalm Records) Bandcamp
- Ego Planet - Ego Planet (Oct. 29, Argonauta Records) Bandcamp
- Euclid C Finder - The Mirror, My Weapon, I Love You Bandcamp
- End - The Sin of Human Frailty (Closed Casket Activities) Bandcamp
- Akkadian - The Devil Has Evolved EP Bandcamp
- A Flourishing Scourge - Sickened Seed (Oct. 24) Bandcamp
- Esoctrilihum - Xe Gh'arth EP (Oct. 24) Bandcamp
- Dead Serenity - When World Turns To Gray Bandcamp
- Sadness / Along Memories - Springnight Moment EP (Oct. 24) Bandcamp
- Adzes - Inver (Philip K Discs) Bandcamp
- Prospective - Reasons to Leave Bandcamp
- Of Virtue - Omen (Arising Empire) Bandcamp Read Our Review
- Year of the Knife - No Love Lost (Pure Noise Records) Bandcamp
- King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard - The Silver Cord Bandcamp
- Erland Dahlen - Racoons (Is It Jazz? Records) Bandcamp
- Sepulchral Curse - Abhorrent Dimensions (Transcending Obscurity Records) Bandcamp
- Cerulean - Carrion Angel Bandcamp
- Fish on Friday - 8mm
- Fly to the Sun - Fly to the Sun
- Witching - Incendium (Translation Loss Records) Bandcamp
- Ragana - Desolation's Flower (The Flenser) Bandcamp
- Ghosts of Atlantis - Riddles of the Sycophants (Hammerheart Records) Bandcamp
- In This Moment - Godmode
- Ignited - Cradle of the Wicked Bandcamp
- Immortal Guardian - Unite and Conquer (M-Theory Audio) Bandcamp
- The Guru Guru - Make (Less) Babies (Hummus Records) Bandcamp
- Stubora - Ecorché Vif (M&O Music) Bandcamp
- Howling Giant - Glass Future (Magnetic Eye Records) Bandcamp
- Lucid Sins - Dancing in the Dark (Totem Cat Records) Bandcamp
- Bonnacons of Doom - Signs (Rocket Recordings) Bandcamp
- Flesh of the Stars - The Glass Garden Bandcamp
- Suol - Suol Bandcamp
- Autopsy - Ashes, Organs, Blood And Crypts (Peaceville Records) Bandcamp
- Glacier Eater - Tempest
- Thriller - Street Metal (Oct 21)
- The Plague - Erosion of Gods (Brilliant Emperor Records) Bandcamp
- Synestia feat. Ben Duerr - The Poetic Edda Bandcamp
- Poppy - Zig (Sumerian Records)
- Robin Trower - Joyful Sky (Mascot Label Group) Bandcamp
- Obscura - A Celebration I - Live in North America Bandcamp
- Bernth - Live in London
- Jaye Jayle - Jaye Jayle on Audiotree Live
- Teramaze - Live at 170 Russell Bandcamp
- Luna Fawn Ripley - Diapason (Remaster) (Oct 25) Bandcamp
- Max Enix - Far From Home (Orchestral Version)
- Elegy - Manifestation of Fear (2023 Remaster) (Oct. 29)
- Savatage - Ghost In The Ruins (LP-Reissue) (earMusic)