58 releases and once more 10 Highlights: March starts as strong as February left off
Apart from two established acts releasing their 7th and 16th (!) album (Haken and Enslaved respectively), we have two melodic prog rock highlights (A.C.T & Single Celled Organism), two rebrandings presented by Matthew Dakoutros (Aortes & Hamasaari), two (mostly) instrumental (solo) albums (Olumbe Falú & Abel Sequera) and finally PoiL Ueda & PeroPero representing the crazier margins of Prog. Dive into this massive release-week ringing in March! Subscribe to our weekly updated Spotify playlist right here: https://theprogspace.com/rotw-playlist!
A.C.T - Falling EP
Let me introduce you to – Sweden’s best kept musical secret! Seriously, I’m absolutely baffled how A.C.T are not one of the biggest and hottest bands in the Prog circus, at the very least since their seminal masterpiece, 2003’s “The Last Epic” (you don’t know that one? Do your homework and listen to it immediately! That’s an order!). Their newest EP “Falling”, the third in a series of EPs that started with 2019s “Rebirth” and continued with 2021s “Heatwave”, is out now and it is every bit as gloriously (and shamelessly) melodic as you can expect from any A.C.T release. There has never been happier music about – well, the end of the world in a nuclear catastrophe. Having said that, the final song, aptly titled ‘The Earth Will Be Gone’, is hitting directly into the feels. Deeply. After that, only the ‘Fall Out’ is left, which leaves you with a bit of a disturbing sense of dread in regards of the current state of the world, but there’s always the repeat button, or the rest of the wonderful A.C.T discography to (re-)discover for that absolutely unique and exuberantly gorgeous Dream Theater/Queen/Abba mashup only the five piece from Malmö knows how to brew. I can’t get enough of it!
Single Celled Organism - Event Horizon
…or you can continue with another release of this week that is straddling the waters of melodic progressive rock. “Event Horizon” is the third album by Single Celled Organism, the brainchild of Hamburg-based drummer and multi-instrumentalist Jens Lueck. It is the direct conceptual continuation of the two previous albums “Splinter in the Eye” (2017) and “Precipio Ergo Sum” (2021), and what is served musically here is reminiscent of two of Germany’s best progressive rock bands, Sylvan and RPWL, not only in style, but also in quality. So if you enjoy lush Floydian atmospheres, crystal clear, soaring guitar leads (courtesy of Sylvan guitarist Johnny Beck a.o.) and warm, melodic vocals, emotionally performed by Isgaard and main-man Jens Lueck, you can do no wrong here. On the contrary, you will need to give this a listen, trust me!
HamaSaari - Ineffable
HamaSaari is a new band born after the disbandment of Shuffle, though it’s more of a rebranding. The band consists of the same people but they wanted a new name with their new sound to start over. Sounds like a mix of bands like Pain of Salvation, Porcupine Tree and other more modern prog metal bands, on the other hand there are a lot of prog rock and post rock elements.
Their music is very melancholic, and dramatic. While the complexities of a typical prog metal album are not absent, there are songs like ‘Bleak’, their first single, an airy track with dramatic explosions.
An interesting mix of familiar sounds that will please fans of the more emotional prog music.
PoiL Ueda - PoiL Ueda
After two melodic prog rock highlights and some emotional French post prog, we stay in the lands of wine and cheese for something completely different. PoiL have been a mainstay in the brimming underground world of weird Avant-Prog for quite some time now, and for their 5th album “PoiL Ueda” they have teamed up with Japanese vocalist and satsuma-biwa (a kind of short-necked lute) player Junko Ueda. The result is, who would have thunk it, not easy to digest at all, but all the more fascinating and puzzling. Some serious ‘as-out-there-as-possible’ stuff for the adventurous among you. You’re more than welcome to dive into the hypnotic, strange and abrasive sounds, but be warned, side effects may include dizziness and nausea, in the weirdest satisfying way. But I guess you’ll have to try for yourself, this is the kind of music that is almost impossible to describe with words. “PoiL flows, dances and dashes between the energy of punk, the beauty of chamber music and the chaos of a factory on the brink of explosion.” according to the band’s own description on Bandcamp. Make out of that what you will. Or listen for yourself.
PeroPero - Massive Tales of Doom
Ready for some “progressive metal from outer space”? Ok, actually you mustn’t venture that far, only to Berlin, where two Austrian musicians found each other and produce some crazy sounds under the name PeroPero. “Massive Tales of Doom” is the title of their, well, massive third album and the opener ‘Vermin’ already marries the seemingly disparate sounds of Devin Townsend and The Flower Kings. Tasty. What follows are 5 more highly original prog metal tunes full of nasty odd meter grooves on end with a lot of swathing, yet gritty analogue synth goodness. Stoner Math? Sludge Prog? At times I have the feeling that with each song, with each minute we dive deeper into madness. A massively satisfying onslaught that is both sophisticated and chaotic. What a crazy intergalactic ride!
Aortes - Devouring Gloom
Previously known as Autism, this is the fourth album of the band, first as Aortes. The pandemic slowed their plans and they had to change line up, and accordingly their sound is somewhat different. The ambient elements seem to take a back seat, and there are much more harsh vocals, as well as heavier guitars.
“Devouring Gloom” is dark, taking inspiration from gothic and doom bands, but there are also many atmospheric black metal elements. At times it reminded me a bit of early In the Woods… and Wolves in the Throne Room, but with guitar riffs similar to Isis. While an interesting combination, the end result is not something too original but it will certainly please fans of this sound.
Olumbe Falú - For Hearth and Home
From Lithuanian post black metal to modern instrumental guitar prog metal from San Diego in sunny California: Olumbe Falú presents his debut full length “For Hearth and Home” after one EP (“NNY”, 2020) and a couple of singles. A quick look at the cover artwork might fool you into thinking this might be some gothic haunted ruins ghost story, which couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s more like a less technical version of Plini or Jason Kui. The seamless transition from electronic sounds to metal in ‘Epsilon’ is perfectly executed and the mix by Arch Echo’s Adam Bentley is on point – clear yet powerful and heavy when needed. A surprising little J.S.Bach adaptation (‘Christus der uns selig macht’) is dividing the title track into two parts and we are left with a ‘Prayer for a Dying World’. Damn, that’s the second time this is happening in this week’s Highlights. But before it’s dying there is some more music to be heard, so read on below…
Abel Sequera - Soundscapes
More (for the most part) instrumental music is coming from Barceolona-based drummer and composer Abel Sequera. His album “Soundscapes” features so many guest musicians that they’re way too many to mention them all here in this mini review. According to the press release 50 in total, but I haven’t counted them in order to verify that number. Be that as it may, they are all more than capable players, some of them even among the best in prog metal one could say. (For a full list of musicians, check Abel’s website). With so many different players involved, one might expect a totally tattered album with lots of different styles trying to fit together but in the end failing to meld into a coherent whole. But that is absolutely not the case. Quite the accomplishment, from a songwriting and production perspective I’d say. Just don’t expect anya actual soundscapes, but if you’re up for some classic progressive metal sounds, you might find a whole lot to your liking here.
Haken - Fauna
A lot has been said and written about Haken’s long awaited seventh studio album, “Fauna”. Our very own Bob concluded: “Is this the best Haken album so far? Perhaps but it is certainly the most complex, which may split opinions. One thing is for sure, the band are further cementing their status in the upper echelons of progressive rock/metal.” in his in depth review which you can read in full here. And while many long-time fans have decried a lack of catchy melodies/too much brickwalled djent-riffage on the previous double strike “Vector/Virus” (2018/2020), I’m sorry/not sorry to report that there’s still a lot of heavy chugging going on. However it is interspersed cleverly with the most memorable Haken-hooks in years, resulting in, as Bob aptly stated, possibly the best Haken album to date as it marries the best of both worlds. And it marries the Queen with the Gentle Giant in the pen-ultimate epic “Elephants Never Forget”. That alone should be worthy of the highest accolades. But then again there is so much more to discover on this hour long masterclass of modern prog if you sink your teeth in. And I urge you to do so, even if you’re vegan. No animals were harmed in the making of this “Fauna”. At least to my knowledge. A triumphant return for Haken. And they’re on tour in Europe right now so go get your tickets if you’re near any of the remaining dates: https://hakenmusic.com/tour/!
Enslaved - Heimdal
About 32 years into their career, Norwegians legends of Enslaved are still going from strength to strength, adding one impressive album after another to their already impressive discography in a steady 2-3 years rhythm. “Heimdal” is the title of their 16th full length studio album and is, as the title suggests, once more influenced by nordic myths. Dark and brooding at some points, hypnotic and majestic at others, the consistent quality Enslaved have put out in the last years, no, decades still beggars belief. And just when you thought oh well, every single song they put out is amazing, they surprise with the closing title track, a monster of a progressive analogue synth groove-tank, complete with jazzy guitar solo and all, that might just become my favorite Enslaved song yet. When ‘impressive’ just doesn’t cut it anymore, the call for a-b-s-o-l-u-t-e-l-y l-e-g-e-n-d-a-r-y becomes stronger and stronger. That is all.
More releases for 03 March, 2023
- Free Human Zoo - The Mysterious Island
- Entheos - Time Will Take Us All (Metal Blade Records) Bandcamp
- Lunar - The Illusionist (Salbot Reigns Records) Bandcamp
- Fracturus - Versus the Void EP Bandcamp
- L’Ira Del Baccano - Cosmic Evoked Potentials (Subsounds Records) Bandcamp
- Kong - Traders of Truth Bandcamp
- Stoned Jesus - Father Light (Season of Mist) Bandcamp
- Witch Ripper - The Flight After the Fall Bandcamp
- Toumaï - Tempus Fugit (March 01) Bandcamp
- Beneath my Feet - In Parts, Together Bandcamp
- Bagorah - The Art of Deviant Behavior (March 01) Bandcamp
- Inner Prospekt - Canvas Three (March 02) Bandcamp
- Carcariass - Afterworld Bandcamp
- Thousand Sun Sky - Passenger (Feb. 28) Bandcamp
- Black Stone Brewers - Conduit Bandcamp
- Terminal - R.A.T.S. (Trepanation Records) Bandcamp
- Suplex - A Stage, An Altar EP Bandcamp
- Bärlin - State of Fear Bandcamp
- Nemesis Sopor - Firmament Bandcamp
- Yaaroth - The Man In The Wood (I, Voidhanger Records) Bandcamp
- At the Altar of the Horned God - Heart of Silence (I, Voidhanger Records) Bandcamp
- Nomad - The Mountain Bandcamp
- John Zorn - The Fourth Way
- Empires of Light - Aberrations Bandcamp
- Mycelium Shroud - Mycelium Shroud (The Swamp Records) Bandcamp
- Lawrence Wallace - Shred Compilation (March 01)
- 3 Eyed Kids - 3 Eyed Kids EP
- Zulu - FSR 66 - A New Tomorrow Bandcamp
- Oscar Fritsch - A Moment of Absolute Acceptance Bandcamp
- Ljungblut - Sauda EP (Karisma Records) Bandcamp
- Via Luna - Muted Earth Bandcamp
- Ocean of Grief - Pale Existence Bandcamp
- Galneryus - Between Dread and Valor (March 01)
- Black Helium - Um (Riot Season Records) Bandcamp
- Threnodist - Make the Class War the Last War EP Bandcamp
- .gif from god - Digital Red (Prosthetic Records) Bandcamp
- Littu - Accolti da antiche radici Bandcamp
- Antitheist - Omnicide (March 01) Bandcamp
- Temptress - See (Metal Assault Records) Bandcamp
- Everson Poe - Servant (Euphoriadic) Bandcamp
- Cenozoa - Dark Energy EP (Feb. 28) Bandcamp
- Barren Heir - Died Down Bandcamp
- Primitive Man/Full of Hell - Suffocating Hallucination (Closed Casket Activities) Bandcamp
- 71TonMan - Of End Times (Transcending Obscurity Records) Bandcamp
- Kold - Intet Mere Er Bandcamp
- Villagers of Ioannina City - Through Space and Time (Alive in Athens 2020) (Napalm Records)
- Emiliano Tessitore - Live in Rome EP (March 02)
- Kekal - Eternitarian: The Essential Kekal 1995—2022