February 2023 finishes with a bang, 10 Highlights out of 60 releases!
10 out of 60, five leaning towards the heavy side of prog things, the other five representing the rockier roads. Debuts, sophomore albums, eleventh albums and albums that add to an extensive discography that you can’t even count anymore. We’ve got it all in this week’s edition of our Releases of the Week series. What was your favorite release of this massive release week? In any case, don’t forget to subscribe to our weekly rotated RotW Playlist on Spotify: https://theprogspace.com/rotw-playlist
The Resonance Project - Ad Astra
Ever since I fell madly in love with their self-titled debut album around four years ago, I’ve been wondering how the hell Californian duo The Resonance Project would follow up such a perfect masterpiece. Now the answer is here in the form of their sophomore album “Ad Astra”. To say drummer Lang Zhao and guitarist/bassist Yas Nomura have perfected their signature blend of orchestral fusion metal would be wrong, as it was already perfect on the debut. However, “Ad Astra” builds on the foundation laid out by its predecessor and adds a few new colors here and there, like the powerful guest vocals from Dino Jelusick (Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Michael Romeo, Whitesnake) on album closer ‘End of Time’, additional bass wizardry from French jazz luminary Hadrien Feraud on ‘Gem’ or the orgasmic lead & solo trumpet courtesy of Aaron Janik on lead single and heavy contender for fireworks-song-of-the-year ‘Prophecy’. 8 little symphonies, providing almost 50 minutes of pure aural bliss. “Ad Astra”: a shining, polished, otherworldly gem.
Hammerhedd - Nonetheless
From a crazy talented duo to a crazy talented trio: this band of brothers have been making waves for quite some years already despite their young age. Hammerhedd from Kansas City are back, presenting their second album as well. “Nonetheless” is a wild ride into sludgy riffs galore, and while I’ve seen a lot of comparisons drawn to Gojira and Mastodon thrown around, one name that pops up in my head due to some savagely off-kilter weirdness is that of Canadian prog thrash legends Voivod. Not losing any of their grit and dirt, there’s some delicately jazzy parts hidden deep in “Nonetheless”, complementing the otherwise relentless riff onslaught perfectly. Hypnotic and raw.
Hypno5e - Sheol
The importance of Hypno5e’s 2016 breakthrough masterpiece “Shores of the Abstract Line” for my own personal musical journey can absolutely not be overstated. Perhaps it was because of that incredibly deep connection to that particular album, that I had difficulties to bond as profoundly with the follow-up, 2019’s “A Distant (Dark) Source”. Now in retrospect, and with the direct conceptual continuation “Sheol” in hands (or rather, in ears), I’m finally beginning to feel the pull, being drawn into the emotionally devastating distant memories of what happened at Lake Tauca. The musical world of Hypno5e is unlike any other in the metal, prog and post-whatever-core worlds, able to reach deep within your soul, heart and subconscious. Not an easy listen, that’s for sure, but it won’t let you go so easily once you’ve opened yourself for it and let it in. A singular presence in today’s musical landscape where are a lot of bands sound the same.
Time Primer - Artefact
The first debut full length album of this week’s highlights comes out of Finland: “Artefact” from Time Primer. More like time blender I’d say, as the quartet is mixing different influences from all kinds of prog/metal subgenres from melodic to brutal into one coherent and accomplished sound. Between the Buried and Me or Haken come to mind as reference points, or maybe Devin Townsend or Leprous (‘Born of Shades’) elsewhere. With that in mind, it’s gonna be interesting to see (or rather hear) if Time Primer will be able to swim free of those comparisons in the future, but for now “Artefact” is definitely a strong first mark that should definitely appeal to fans of aforementioned bands and prog metal aficionados in general. Definitely quality stuff right there.
What the Five Fingers said to the Face - Endless
Ritualistic, possessed sounds is what you will find on “Endless”, the new album from a Norwegian band that goes with the bulky name What the Five Fingers said to the Face. Spooky, eerie, cathartic and dissonant experimental death metal that seems to get darker and darker with each passing minute, each new song. Last year’s releases from Messora (“Burn”) and Scarred (“p A t i E n C e”) had similar vibes maybe, but I have a feeling that “Endless” is even a notch darker and scarier still. Not for the faint of heart or harmony craving.
Dominic Sanderson - Impermanence
The second debut album this week and the first of the second half of Highlights: 5 progressive rock releases after all the metal heaviness above… Dominic Sanderson is a young musician from the UK and his first full length release “Impermanence” is full of wonderful classic prog, but don’t let yourself be lulled into a false sense of security by relatively calm and tame opener “I Don’t Think I Can Get Over This After All” that evokes some Pink Floyd “Animals” memories with its acoustic guitars. The rest of the album dives head first into more daring, quirky, crazy territory bringing to mind bands such as Wobbler, Jordsø, Kotebel, the almighty progfathers of King Crimson and Yes. A wonderfully nostalgic affair, that sounds fresh and exciting despite its rather old idols in sound.
Hog Meets Frog - humANIMALization EP
Continuing the prog rock half of this week’s Highlights with “humANIMALization”, the new EP from Austrian crossover funk prog trio Hog Meets Frog we had the pleasure of premiering a couple of days ago here on The Progspace. If you’re up for some whacky slap-heavy craziness in the vein of Primus, Frank Zappa or Mörglbl this is definitely for you!
Pil & Bue - Special Agents
Keeping the energy with our second entry from Norway: Pil & Bue offer their fourth album “Special Agents”, a highly energetic affair that’s giving me lots of Coheed & Cambria vibes while still retaining a distinct Pil & Bue edge. Currently on tour with Long Distance Calling around Europe, I’m pretty sure these songs kick some serious ass live. I’m not even concerned about the fact that it’s only a duo with Petter Carlsen on vocals and guitars and Gøran Johansen on drums, I’m absolutely convinced they are going to rock your socks off! Check out the remaining tour dates here and catch them live!
Lazuli - 11
Calming things down a bit with “Lazuli 11”, you might have guessed it, the eleventh album from French prog phenomenon Lazuli. Already with album opener ‘Sillonner des océans de vinyles’ they manage to purvey their very own magic that somehow manages to be exuberant and melancholic at the same time. Dominique Leonetti’s signature high vocals and french poetry, Claude Leonetti’s singing, soaring Leode, Romain Thorel’s (bass) keyboards and (french) horns (‘La bétaillère’), Vincent Barnavol’s intricate yet driving percussion and last but not least the guitar sounds of newest member Arnaud Beyney all contribute equally to a unique sound that is absolutely incomparable to anything else. The prog music world can count itself lucky to have such a rare band continuing to release amazing music well into the third decade of their career.
Rick Wakeman - A Gallery Of The Imagination
Well into the 5th decade of his career already is british keyboard maestro Rick Wakeman, who just released his new studio album “A Gallery of the Imagination”. Believe me, I’ve tried to count the number of solo albums he released so far starting with the legendary “The Six Wives of Henry VIII” in 1973, but I have failed miserably. Anyways, toning down things a bit further still for this 10th and final Highlight this week, 73 year old Wakeman senior (two of his sons went on to become accomplished keyboardists, musicians and composers in their own right) is inviting us for a tour of his very own “Gallery of the Imagination”. “It is a very tactile album” Rick explains. “I’d like to feel that people can actually touch the music.” Well, one thing is certain at least: he can touch people with his beautiful music, even though some of those melodies are leaning a tiny bit on the sweet and sugary side. A worthy addition to his incredibly extensive (yes, that’s an understatement) discography.
More releases for 24 February, 2023
- Mike Keneally - The Thing That Knowledge Can't Eat
- Rick Miller - Altered States (Feb. 21, PPR) Bandcamp
- Insomnium - Anno 1696 (Century Media Records)Read Our Review
- The Design Abstract - Transhuman Ascendant (Feb. 21, Sliptrick Records) Bandcamp
- No Spill Blood - Eye of Night (Svart) Bandcamp
- Polinski - Telex from MIDI City (Data Airlines) Bandcamp
- Étale - Phynai (Feb. 23) Bandcamp
- Tritop - Rise of Kassandra (Feb. 25) Bandcamp
- Omega Infinity - The Anticurrent (Season of Mist) Bandcamp
- Daikaiju - Phase 3 (Feb. 21) Bandcamp
- King Abyss - Snake Oil Bandcamp
- They Grieve - To Which I Bore Witness (Silent Pendulum Records) Bandcamp
- Mankurt - Někdo má, někdo je (Feb. 23) Bandcamp
- The Grass - Porch (Art As Catharsis) Bandcamp
- Seventh Legend - After Death Bandcamp
- Jirfiya - -W- (Feb. 21) Bandcamp
- Thy Gnosis - Seroconversion (Feb. 25) Bandcamp
- Sleep Terror - Railroad to Dystopia Bandcamp
- El Supremo - Acid Universe Bandcamp
- Wolves In Winter - The Calling Quiet (Argonauta Records) Bandcamp
- 7 H.Target - Yantra Creating (Willowtip Records) Bandcamp
- BIG|BRAVE - nature morte (Thrill Jockey Records) Bandcamp
- Eyes of Argus - Honey’d Dreams Bandcamp
- Asylence - Endanger Us All Bandcamp
- Enemy of Reality - Where Truth May Lie Bandcamp
- Khan - Creatures (Feb. 22) Bandcamp
- Slumbering Sun - The Ever-Living Fire Bandcamp
- Upcdownc - Duel Bandcamp
- Úkryt - 1897 Bandcamp
- Anatomy of Habit - Black Openings Bandcamp
- Give Up to Failure - Cocoon (Feb. 20) Bandcamp
- Sarcoptes - Prayers to Oblivion (Transcending Obscurity Records) Bandcamp
- Merlock - Onward Strides Colossus Bandcamp
- Le Mur - Caelum Invictus Bandcamp
- When Hearts Wither - This Is Where It Ends (Feb. 25) Bandcamp
- Origami Swan - Radioactivity Breath and Mysteries From Space (Granite Tomb Records) Bandcamp
- Heidevolk - Wederkeer (Napalm Records) Bandcamp
- Blitzar IV - Ayla (Feb. 20) Bandcamp
- Deathsbroom - Quietus Bandcamp
- Lost Minnow - Dear Ghost EP Bandcamp
- Lorenzo Ceci - Dive EP Bandcamp
- Crown of Madness - Elemental Binding EP (Feb. 23) Bandcamp
- Wanderer - Indulgence of the Surreal EP Bandcamp
- Isolant - Drain EP Bandcamp
- Datadyr - Keymaster EP (Is It Jazz? Records) Bandcamp
- VLMV - RedivideR EP Bandcamp
- Kauan - ATM Revised (Artoffact Records) Bandcamp
- Zebeck - Dharma (Re-Release) (Wormholedeath Records)
- The Alan Parsons Project - The Turn of a Friendly Card (Reissue Boxset)
- High Castle Teleorkestra presents - A Beginners Guide to Sublime Frequencies Vol. 1&2 (Art As Catharsis) Bandcamp