Welcome to the March edition of The Progfiles Archives.
You can now also listen to the podcast version of the most recent edition in full by clicking on the YouTube link below, or you can find direct links to listen to the individual bands via streaming services.
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.
We listen to everything we are sent and try to feature all the music we like within the time limits of the show. So that being said, I hope you enjoy reading this month’s article, that you find some new great progressive music to enjoy, and that you keep on spreading the proglove!
You can listen to The Progfiles every last Monday of the month at 21.00 CET at ISKC Rocks Radio.
Sometimes you don’t discover a band before they are gone, and that’s sadly what happened here. Spanish Olivia & the Random released an amazing album of progressive and emotional art-rock in 2014, before disbanding in 2016. The album is filled with great songwriting, talented playing and some great singing from vocalist Johnny Starantino.
They are, at times, highly reminiscent of the style played by another band that disbanded way before their time, namely Fair To Midland. I truly hope we will get the chance to hear more from these musicians at some time in the future, as they are clearly able to produce top of the line progressive music. I’ve picked the melancholic end piece ‘Before Dawn’ from the album for The Progfiles Archives.
FFO: Rishloo, Karnivool, Fair To Midland
Birmingham, UK is home grounds for the four musicians that make up progmetal band Dakesis. “Fractures” is yet another good release from 2020 that I feel deserves a little more attention. Usually, genre-descriptors like “powermetal”, and “symphonic” makes me start to cold-sweat a little when applied to progressive bands, but Dakesis nimbly sidesteps the worst clichés and focuses on creating great melodic metal, with just the right amount of progressive tendencies added, and I find myself enjoying the vocals of Gemma Lawler more with each listen. The entire album doesn’t hit me equally strongly, but selected tracks, like the 15-minute epic title-track selected here, is close to perfect.
FFO: DGM, To-Mera, After Forever, Circus Maximus
Scouring Bandcamp looking for new progressive music is sometimes quite exhausting. For every good release, there is a big handful of less interesting ones, but once in a while something like this EP from Canadian band The Parallax pops up, and makes it all worth it. Progressive Death Metal with both modern and more classic influences. They should be able to appeal to modern fans of extreme metal, without alienating followers of a more traditional sound, and vice versa. A lot of fascinating guitar-work is squeezed into this short EP, and the vocalist Antonio Moreira masters both cleans and screams quite well. Add to that the fact that the band lets you “name your own price” here, making the music free if you so choose. That’s an offer you shouldn’t refuse.
FFO: Architects, Luna’s Call, Periphery, Veil of Maya, Persefone
Norwegian trio Laughing Stock has been mentioned here at The Progspace quite a few times already. A progressive-rock band with so many diverse elements present in their music. You can, of course, find 70’s inspired prog influences, but mixed with more modern prog rock, art-pop, as well as some folk and Americana. The two tracks featured on this edition of The Progfiles ‘My Love Pt 1 & 2’ is taken from the band’s third full length “Zero Acts 1 & 2”. It is a melancholic and at times understated album, that reveals devastating beauty and complex nuances through repeated listening. It is, in my opinion, the career highlight of Laughing Stock. If you, like me, enjoy some tristesse in your prog, I can think of no better album to recommend you right now.
FFO: Pink Floyd, Riverside, Lunatic Soul, Oak, Pineapple Thief, Camel
James Lindsay is a Scottish composer and instrumentalist who really caught me off-guard with this absolutely gorgeous album. “Torus” contains nine pieces of instrumental music with its roots in traditional folk music as well as more modern pop and rock. The use of fiddle, accordion and alt saxophone enhances the songs, even more, helping bring out some stunning melodies. James states that “it has a prog ethos at its heart”, and I could not agree more with him. The music on this album feels more experimental and progressive than the output of many self-proclaimed progressive bands.
The full album will be released on the 23rd of April, but until then you can enjoy the gem of a song that is “Observatory” right here.
FFO : Musk Ox, The Nights Watch, Raphael Weinroth-Browne, Jim Matheos, Tuesday The Sky
Norwegian woodland-proggers Jordsjø is back with a new track from their upcoming album “Pastoralia”. And if we are to judge from ‘Skumring i Karesuando’ this will be just as amazing as their 2019 album, “Nattfiolen” or their fantastic 2017 release “Jord”. The basis is definitely in 70’s inspired prog, but there is a unique Scandinavian feel to the bands sound. An atmosphere conjuring up images of deep spruce forests and trickling streams with mossy stones. Rich layers of moody keyboards carry the soothing voice and flute of Håkon Oftung, and it all rests upon the solid foundation provided by drummer Kristian Frøland. The album will feature a plethora of other musicians from the Norwegian prog-scene as well. Highly anticipated.
FFO: Nordagust, Wobbler, Änglagård, Tusmørke, Landberk, Anekdoten
San-Francisco’s Lotus Thief seems to have no problems fusing the stylings of doom-metal with the atmospheric moods of psychedelic space rock. Add to those foundation elements a bit of everything from black-metal to post-rock, and top it off with the ethereal voice of singer and multi-instrumentalist Bezaelith and what you end up with is a juggernaut of heavy experimental music. The band, who also consists of keyboardist and backing vocalist Iva Toric, and Botanist-mastermind Otrembor on drums, released their last album “Oresteia” in January last year. The song I’ve selected for this edition of The Progfiles, however, is the opening track from their amazing 2016 release “Gramarye”.
FFO: Subrosa, Alcest, Botanist, Molassess, Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard
In the shadow of the greats of the golden age of prog, there existed a stew of great bands that aren’t remembered to the same extent today as Genesis, Yes or Camel. One of my favourites is the UK band Gryphon, which released a string of amazing albums from their self-titled debut in 1973, and up through the seventies. Being classically trained students of medieval and Renaissance music, they integrated these styles into their sound, joining them with more contemporary rock music to create a unique mix. The band’s albums would often feature a mix of traditional tunes and self-written compositions and include unusual instrumentation (for a rock band), such as crumhorn, bassoon, mandolin and timpani as well as a wide variety of wind instruments, like recorder and flutes. The band is still alive and kicking, and released their seventh album “Get Out Of My Father’s Car!” last year.
The track featured here ‘Lament’ is taken from their third album “Red Queen to Gryphon Three”, with a concept based around a chess game, and where the themes are presented, developed and recapitulated in the style of classical composition.
FFO: Gentle Giant, Yezda Urfa, Malicorne, Lindisfarne, Renaissance.
Anyone who has been listening to The Progfiles for a while knows I have a weak spot for Italian prog. Here we have a band that was born as a result of a meeting between pianist and keyboardist Elisa Montaldo, and vocalist Stefano Galifi, known from legendary 70’s Italian prog act Museo Rosenbach. Initially, the group performed the Museo Rosenbach album ‘Zarathustra’ live but soon moved on to releasing their own self-composed music, and Galifi was replaced by the voice of Francesco Ciapica . The first self-titled album was released by Black Widow Records in 2010, and the album this track ‘Il Passo’ is taken from was released in 2013. Their, up until now, latest album “Il-ludere” dropped in 2017, and there are rumours of a new album being currently worked on with former Änglagård drummer Mattias Olsson.
The band has clear influences in the classic UK prog acts but also the greats of the Italian scene of the 70’s.
FFO: Banco del Mutuo Soccorso, Balletto di Bronzo, King Crimson, Gentle Giant, Genesis.
I’ve always had a weak spot for progressive thrash and death metal, as that was my first tastes of progressive music back in the late 80’s. Many bands were experimenting, and both thrash and heavy metal bands took some inspirations from early prog-rock bands like Yes, Rush or King Crimson. This style of metal is not that common today, but you still have an underground of technical bands that create this intense and frantic style of prog.
Paranorm comes from Upsala, Sweden, and seem to be inspired by some of the masters of the genre, while still having a modern, youthful energy to them. Great snarling vocals, blistering guitar solos, and the required drips of melody make sure that the listener is never bored when listening to “Empyrean”. There are some true bangers on the album, like the title track I have selected here.
FFO: Vektor, Demoniac, Voivod, Coroner, Death
Norwegian band Needlepoint has at this point released a string of fantastic albums, with their 2018 album “The Diary of Robert Reverie” being my favourite from their discography so far, but that is quickly changing with “Walking Up That Valley”. The bands’ music clearly takes some inspiration from the progressive and psychedelic rock from the 60’s and 70’s, but also has a clear jazz-rock ethos and a style and form that brings to mind the UK Canterbury scene (even if I’m unsure if the musicians are directly influenced by it). But clearly, if you enjoy that style of pastoral, jazzy prog-rock, you will love this album. Everything about Needlepoints music is perfect for me. It’s this kind of feel-good-melancholia, like a childhood memory. Something you remember fondly, but there is an underlying sadness thinking about bygone days and loved ones who have passed into the mist of the past. Absolutely beautiful!
FFO: Camel, Caravan, Hatfield and the North, National Health, Henry Cow
Sentenced was a Finnish heavy metal band that played technical, melodic death metal in their early years before transitioning to a more gothic and atmospheric sound in the late 90’s. Today they are more known for their later albums, where they became more of a gothic-metal band. While those albums are great in their own right, the Finns were most interesting to me in that transitional phase where they were moving from a more pure death metal sound and into something else. Their fantastic album “North From Here” released in 1993 clearly took some inspiration from technical death metal bands like Atheist and Death. Mixing that technicality with atmospheres taken from Scandinavian black, and death metal. This track ‘Desert By Night’ is a “hidden gem” in my opinion, as it was released on the “The Trooper” EP in 1994, and thus overlooked by many. It shows the band at the height of their “transition period” from being a death metal band with technical and progressive elements, into a more gothic sound. The band split up in 2005, after a string of great albums, and guitarist Miika Tenkula sadly passed away in 2009 from a sudden heart attack caused by a genetic condition.
FFO: Atheist, Amorphis, Tiamat, Katatonia, Edge of Sanity
It would not be The Progfiles without some really long tracks, and this time the Canadian band Pyramid Theorem provides the longest epic of this edition with the seventeen-minute title track from their album “Beyond the Exosphere” released in August of last year. This is great progressive music, balancing on the edge between rock and metal. The band have what I would refer to as “a classic prog-metal sound”, reminiscent of the stalwarts of the genre, like Dream Theater, Rush or Fates Warning, but with enough professionalism, creative songwriting and a unique style that makes them stand out in the crowd of copycats. There are a plethora of things to enjoy in this album, and the great voice and guitar work of Sam Ermellin and the tasteful keyboards of Stephan Di Mambro is just two of them. The fact that the entire band provides great backing vocals is also something I appreciate. All in all, “Beyond the Exosphere” is a joy to listen to.
FFO: Dream Theater, Fates Warning, Rush, Sun Caged, Mind’s Eye, Enchant, Andromeda