Welcome to the June edition of The Progfiles Archives.
The Progfiles also has a Discord channel that is usually active during the shows, and where you can chat with the hosts of the show, many of the Progspace crew, other progressive music fans, and quite regularly also the musicians being featured, so feel free to join the fun.
You can listen to The Progfiles every last Monday of the month at 21.00 CET at ISKC Rocks Radio.
Listen to the full show in the SoundCloud player, including introductions and musings by the host, or jump straight to individual songs below:
I became aware of Dutch band Semistereo after seeing their great performance at Progpower Europe. The band has a great sound drawing from alternative and indie-rock and mixing it with progressive elements. Vocalist Paul Glandorf has an emotionally charged voice that pulls you into the atmosphere of their music. “25th Frame” is the latest single from the guys, and I hope this means a new album is in the pipeline!
FFO: Riverside, Lunatic Soul, Blackfield, Porcupine Tree/Steven Wilson, Votum
Some great music from the Mexican band The Advent Equation. The band manages to balance on the edge between progressive death metal, and more melodic prog, featuring both harsh and clean vocals. Their sound might very well entice listeners who are not normally fans of the more brutal and extreme sides of the genre to give them a listen. “Remnants of Oblivion” was released on the cusp of 2020, and I truly hope we will hear more music from them soon. If you like your prog melodic, but with some edge, you owe it to yourself to check this out.
FFO: Opeth, Kalisia, Leprous, Disillusion, Persefone, Cynic, In Vain
Time for that monthly The Progfiles history lesson. Once again we have some obscure, but great prog that was recorded towards the end of the “golden age” of progressive rock. After an interview with Israeli band Subterranean Masquerade, I found myself wondering if the country had any representatives of that early age of prog (most countries have if you look long enough). And surely enough; Atmosphera was an Israeli progressive rock band active in the late 70s. The band recorded two long epics for an album with lyrics inspired by authors like Shakespeare & Lord Tennyson, but was unable to find a record label at the time. The Israeli music industry was sadly not big enough or perhaps, ready for, this eclectic music back then. The master tapes were archived and the album was never issued at the time of recording. Luckily in 2002 MIO Records finally made this gem available to fans of classic progressive rock. I have selected the title track from the album “Lady of Shalot” for your listening enjoyment.
FFO: Yes, Genesis, King Crimson, Camel, Focus, Kayak
Norwegian band Terra Odium might just have released their debut album, but the members making up the band are by no means newcomers to the progressive music scene. Vocalist Øyvind Hægeland and drummer Asgeir Mickelson are both known from legendary band Spiral Architect. Hægeland was also, of course, the singer in Manitou, a band where Terra Odium guitarist and songwriter Bollie Fredriksen also started out. With them, on the bass guitar, they have none other than Steve DiGiorgio, known for his work with Death, Sadus, Control Denied, Testament and so many others. So this is really a release by a group of veterans with decades of experience in the progmetal world. Finally, they recruited sound wizard Jon Phipps to add some orchestration and a cinematic scope to their output, resulting in an album that sounds as complex as it sounds majestic.
FFO: Spiral Architect, Control Denied, Fates Warning, Psychotic Waltz, Crimson Glory, Cynic, Watchtower
As mentioned above two of the musicians from Terra Odium has a history from Spiral Architect. A band who only released one album, “A Sceptic’s Universe” back in 1999, but still is mentioned today whenever the discussion on “most impressively technical progmetal album” occasionally happens. On repeated listenings, it’s clear though, that the band was just as inspired by the atmospheric jazz-fusion leanings of Cynic, as by the insane thrash antics of Watchtower, shaping it all into something unique, complex, yet surprisingly melodic. There have since been regular rumours of a second Spiral Architech album being worked on, and fans have never completely given up the hope of hearing more music from the band. Vocalist Øyvind Hægeland could actually confirm that more music exists in our interview with him on the Progtalks, so if you’re interested in the history and possible resurgence of these insane Norwegians, you should definitely watch or listen to that.
FFO: Fates Warning, Psychotic Waltz, Crimson Glory, Cynic, Watchtower, Sieges Even, Twisted Into Form
Going back even another couple of years, let’s look at an album Terra Odium members Øyvind Hægeland and Bollie Fredriksen released with their original band Manitou. After having played together since 1985, releasing a string of demos, and playing lots of gigs, the band finally managed to record and release their debut album “Entrance” in 1995. The album is somewhat of an outlier for the time, being more inspired by the sounds of Fates Warning or Psychotic Waltz, than by the stylings of Dream Theater, which seemed to have solidified a blueprint of sorts for progressive metal in the early ’90s. The band managed to give their sound a moody, almost menacing feel, and the combination of excellent musicianship and great vocals means the album is definitely a must-have for anyone looking for those obscure progmetal gems. Sadly the band only released this one album, but have more recently come together to play the occasional live show.
FFO: Fates Warning, Psychotic Waltz, Crimson Glory, Queensrÿche, Conception, Dream Theater
Sydney, Australias super FLORENCE jam provides us with an eclectic mix of rock and roll. Their output reaches all kinds of styles ranging from blues to progressive rock, punk to funk (not necessarily in that order) before emerging as garage rock with psychedelic elements. The Australians are more or less impossible to pigeonhole, and that’s why their music is so enjoyable as well. Some of their songs are progressive in the true sense of the word, while others are more traditionally structured. But to me, all their musical output has one thing in common, great songwriting. For the show, I selected the beautiful “No Man’s Land” from their self-titled 2009 EP.
FFO: Karnivool, Dry The River, Dead Letter Circus, The Butterfly Effect, Oceansize, Dredg
It’s not the first time I’ve featured the Mexicans of Anima Tempo on the show, but their ability to take their music into new unexpected territories tells me that it will surely not be the last time either. This single “The Infinite Eye” shows them moving in a more melodic, atmospheric direction, but do not be afraid, there is plenty of complex, technical details for those that appreciate those elements. The band has a highly rhythmical approach, with guitars, bass and drums, as well as the growls working in a percussive manner, yet it is beautifully contrasted by orchestration and the clean vocals that really come into their own on this new track. Truly a band that continues to change and surprise, and one you should definitely follow.
FFO: Vola, Haken, Ne Obliviscaris, Fractal Universe, Agora, A Sense of Gravity, Mobius, Glass Mind
Progressive rock/metal blending epic musical styles from Somerville, MA. This self-titled debut album presents us with well-composed, modern-sounding progressive rock, yet with a touch of metal. The album is brimful of great little moments, showing the band is capable of adding both symphonic and melodic elements, as well as rocking out hard when needed. Add to that some nice little surprises, like the inclusion of flute, cello and brass, and some fantastic solos from guitarist and vocalist Eric Hochwald. Trust me, this is not an album you want to sit out.
FFO: Caligula’s Horse, Haken, Arcane, Rush, Outlander, Wheel
Doomy, sludgy and atmospheric are good words to describe the output of this French trio. Airy, cosmic trappings, both in image and music, meets heavy riffs, cyclic repetitive patterns and extended droning sections, and it all works perfectly. “Ummon” is somewhat of a hypnotic masterpiece, and sitting back with over 70 minutes of music they provide here, is a mesmerizing experience, where you truly feel you have been on a journey through both time and space. The great use of keyboards and guitar leads on the album opens vistas in the listeners head, and is a great contrast to the crushing heaviness of the bass and drums. There is no lack of progressive elements, and influences from both krautrock and electronic music can be heard, so Slift is definitely no one-trick-pony!
FFO: Motorpsycho, Vokonis, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, Elder, Isis, All Them Witches
Isproject is an artrock/post-prog band from Italy founded by musicians Ivan Santovito and Ilenia Salvemini. The track I selected for this episode of the Progfiles is taken from their debut album “The Archinauts”. The album is a very pleasant piece of contemporary progressive rock, mixed with some more poppy and neo-prog influences. There is more than enough catchy melodies and diverse elements to make sure listeners are never bored. The band apparently started working on a follow-up to the debut, but sadly nothing has been heard from them for a few years. Still, my fingers are still crossed that we will one day get that sophomore album.
FFO: Anathema, Verbal Delirium, Magenta, Karnataka, Antimatter,
Earlier this year I featured a new Dutch prog-rock band called Perfect Storm on The Progfiles (read a full review of their album here). And one of the many things I enjoyed about their debut album was the impressive voice of Syrian singer Adel Saflou. Looking further into the history of this skilled vocalist I discovered that he not only sings with Perfect Storm, but also has his own, quite different, band Ambrotype. That again led me to this album “The Revelations” released back in 2015. Not at all neoprog as his other band, Ambrotype is powerful, heavy, yet melancolic progressive death metal, and, would you know, Saflou’s impressive range extends to growls and screams as well. The fact that I only managed to discover this album now, 6 years after its release is somewhat of a heresy, as there is so much talent on show here, and the songwriting is great. If you have an interest in this style of progressive music, do not hesitate, as this is truly an underappreciated gem. If you are still not convinced, listen to the selected track “My Nightmare Chamber” below.
FFO: Opeth, In Mourning, Katatonia, Spires, Luna’s Call, Rannoch, Paul Sadler, Edge of Sanity
Philadelphia based Lör offers up an impressive blend of power, folk, and progressive metal. Their debut album, “In Forgotten Sleep” from 2017 was met with high praise around the world, and “Edge of Eternity” takes their unique style of epic prog-folk even further. The album is an entertaining listen, and brims over with catchy hooks, that will stick in your brain and implore you to give the album yet another spin. Personally, I tend to be a bit hesitant when approaching a band that is described as “folk-metal”, as I dread sitting through albums filled with “sing-along” choruses, and “ompa” sections, but luckily Lör is nothing of the kind. Their folk elements are as tastefully implemented as the progressive parts, epic or the more extreme-metal sections. I find myself thinking of the most progressive and adventurous parts of a band like Blind Guardian mixed with the atmospheres and measured brutality of old-school Opeth. For the show, I selected the banger “Ruin” as it shows so well what is on offer from Lör.
FFO: Wilderun, Blind Guardian, Wintersun, Opeth, Wind Rose, Wuthering Heights
These UK lads describe themselves as “Phenomenal Technicological Astrodeath”, and that’s surprisingly not a bad label for the intricate insanity they manage to produce on their first full-length album “Visitations from Enceladus”. Their music has a lot to offer, twisted, frenetic songs, skirting the borders between technical thrash and death metal. The almost 26 minute “Moonbelt Immolator” is an epic of a scope you don’t hear very often, even in this genre, and shifts effortlessly between atmospheric dissonant parts and full-on tech-death attacks. Cryptic Shift is a band with the authority and confidence you would expect from musicians much farther into their career, and personally, I can’t wait for a follow-up to “Visitations from Enceladus”. For the show I picked the intense “(Petrified in the) Hypogean Gaol”, so enjoy!
FFO: Voivod, Vektor, Nocturnus, Timeghoul, Coroner, Aspid, Hellwitch, Droid