Welcome to the May 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 Soundcloud player below, or you can find direct links to listen to the selected tracks from 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.
“Hidden Wound” is the latest single from Greek modern progressive metallers Within Progress. The track dropped a few weeks ago, and it’s a banger! The band seem to feature more contemporary elements on this new track than on their great 2018 album “Oceans of Time”, and I’m pretty sure fans of a more current sound won’t object to that. At the same time, they have that foundation of melodic and classic progmetal, which makes them so endearing to me. Well worth listening to, and a great teaser for what is (hopefully) a new album on the way.
FFO: VOLA, Feather Mountain, Poem, Tesseract, Dream Theater
This Romanian band was new to me, but luckily an acquaintance advised me to listen to this album, which he described as “his album of the year”. After listening to “Har” I have no problem seeing where he comes from. The main songwriters for the band, Hupogrammos and Sol Faur, founded Dordeduh after leaving Negura Bunget. Together they have created a sound that is part dark folk and part progressive music, part brutal death and blackmetal inspired, and part atmospheric and airy. The name of the band combines the word ‘Dor’ (the yearning for something; the lack of something) with the term for spirit ‘Duh’ – according to the musicians, this amalgamation represents “the struggle to express those meaningful values that make us human by uniting the soul and the spirit“.
FFO: Agalloch, Katatonia, Opeth, Novembre, Soen.
Lovely melodic and progressive instrumental music is what Greek guitarist and songwriter Kostas Sampanis presents us with on his latest EP “Autumne”. Consisting of 5 short little tracks with a focus on the guitar, and its melodic capabilities, this is really a small gem of a release. There are definite progressive elements here and impressive guitar acrobatics. Although his music mostly stays in the more melodious, melancholic and atmospheric territory, he occasionally includes fragments of shred and neo-classical. The tastefully added acoustic guitar and piano parts are highlights as well. For me, this is the type of music that needs to have very strong songwriting to work, and this EP has tons of it. I truly look forward to hearing more music from Sampanis.
FFO: Musk Ox, Plini, Sithu Aye, Jim Matheos, The Night Watch
While Fractal Universe started out as more of a technical death metal band, they have over the past 2 albums moved in a more atmospheric, progressive and adventurous direction. While a lot of tech-death bands seem more than comfortable staying inside the quite strict boundaries of the genre, this French band seems more interested in experimenting with the form and style on their third full-length offering “The Impassable Horizon”. We have clean vocals, jazz-fusion inspired passages that seem as much inspired by guitarists John McLaughlin or Alan Holdsworth as by the more brutal side of extreme metal. The inclusion of the saxophone also helps give the album an added dimension. This album is a big step up, even within the already impressive discography of Fractal Universe.
Hailing from Melbourne, Australia, this trio consists of two bassists and a drummer. That is quite remarkable in itself, but the rich and melodic sound they are able to create with this line-up is just fantastic. While the output of the band is technically impressive, that is not necessarily what strikes the listener first when faced with their music. Their sound is warm, and atmospheric, with lots of progressive and melodic elements. And the little detail constantly added by the interwoven bass-guitars are just so tastefully done. The Aussies just released a new single with the great track “Wax & Wane”, but I could not help myself but pick my favourite track of theirs “Pharaoh 2.0” for the show. Well worth keeping your ears on!
FFO: Plini, Animals as Leaders, Scale the Summit, David Maxim Micic, Exivious
Swedish stoner/doom metallers Vokonis are in no way newcomers, as “Odyssey” is in fact their third full-length album. Still, it might be their first full dive into progressive rock and metal. While the earlier albums like 2017’s “The Sunken Djinn” definitely had psychedelic rock and slight progressive influences, “Odyssey” is permeated with it. Amazing doomy and melancholic passages, topped by both clean and harsh vocals, combined with more understated, yet hypnotic moments, make this album into one of the most interesting releases so far in 2021. The fact that the band employed the help of ex-Opeth keyboardist Per Wiberg also adds a lot to the album. His warm and rich carpets of sound add a certain majesty to “Odyssey”. And look at that delicious cover art by Kyrre Bjurling! Perhaps my favourite album cover so far in 2021.
FFO: Opeth, Graveyard, Mastodon, King Goat, Elder, Anciients
The Progfiles isn’t all about new music. I also play select tracks from older releases, that I discover or love. I try to feature bands that I find is somewhat overlooked or underappreciated, and when I was given the advice to listen to the US band Astra, I instantly fell in love with their sound. Spacey, atmospheric rock with strong elements of prog and psychedelia, and a definite appreciation for the great bands of the 70’s make this track, with the same title as their 2012 album a joy to listen to. The fact that the band uses a lot of vintage synths and keyboards helps bring out that warm and organic sound. Sadly there hasn’t been a lot of activity from the band since the release of this album, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a follow-up at some point in the future!
FFO: Pink Floyd, Wobbler, Anekdoten, King Crimson, Änglagård
From a band inspired by the 70’s to a band actually active in the early years of the decade. UK band Cressida was only around for a few years, from 1968 to 1971, but managed to release two great albums of pastoral, beautifully symphonic progressive rock. Their sound also has influences taken from jazz and folk and feels closer to the output of some of the bands of the Canterbury scene than big acts like Yes or Genesis. This track is taken from their 1971 release “Asylum”, an album that can be warmly recommended to anyone wanting to explore 70’s prog outside of the main staples of the genre. For fans of more modern progressive music, it can be mentioned that Opeth’s Mikael Åkerfeldt has mentioned Cressida as a favourite and an inspiration on several occasions. Even though the band only released music in the early 70’s, the members are still active and play the occasional gig.
FFO: Camel, Fairport Convention, National Health, Caravan, Needlepoint
On to something very much modern sounding with Canadian The Design Abstract. “Technotheism” is their second full-length release, and just a maniacal, brutal and mesmerizing conglomerate of progressive, technical and symphonic elements. The inclusion of processed clean vocals and growls, as well as some Asian inspired vocaloid, blistering guitar solos and memorable melodic moments makes this album quite an entertaining listen. In addition, it seems to have a full-on concept, steeped in science fiction which is never a bad thing. If you’d like to explore the album further, our eminent reviewer Bob has a full review of the album on offer.
FFO: Septicflesh, Scar Symmetry, Dimmu Borgir, Fleshgod Apocalypse, Machina
Vietnamese progressive metal isn’t something you run across every day, and the quality of the music Hạc San is creating isn’t something you run across very often either. This album, although released last year might end up as my favourite discovery of 2021. The songwriting on “Hon – Trăng – Máu” is incredibly strong, in fact, some of the strongest I’ve been able to find in this style of prog for many years. The album consists of just one long song of around half an hour, and the band has no problems keeping the listener engages across this almost 30-minutes of music. It just flows effortlessly, and it’s over before you know it, leaving you wanting more. The style is reminiscent of early 90’s progmetal, with lots of melodic elements, and small hints to AOR. The musicianship is impressive, and the vocals are great, and it does not bother me one bit that the lyrics are in Vietnamese, in fact, it adds more charm in my opinion. If you, like me, are a sucker for well made classic progressive metal, do not miss out on this album!
FFO: Early Dream Theater, Fates Warning, Andromeda, Sun Caged, Haken, Circus Maximus
Djenty, aggressive and rhythmically complex is how I’d describe the sound of the French band Dukkha. Hailing from Lyon, the band has just started to release singles to promote the follow up to 2018’s “Legacy”. Their style is a mix of the brutal and the melodic with a strong focus on thick grooves and topped by screams and clean vocals. Lyrically, the band explores everything from philosophy to environmental concerns. Definitely a “must-check-out” band for fans of contemporary prog and djent.
FFO: Gojira, Textures, Tesseract, Meshuggah, Vildhjarta
We’re staying in France for the last entry into this edition of the Progfiles Archives. Personally, I enjoy just about every sub-genre of progressive music, and I love to be able to feature some post-rock on the radio show and podcast. It’s not always easy to find good music in this sub-genre, as the songwriting has to be very proficient to catch my attention. Luckily Bruit≤ put all my doubts to rest with their recent album “The machine is burning and now everyone knows it could happen again”. The album is magnificent in its scope, filled with cinematic melodies that keep on growing and expanding, like only the best of post-rock and metal is able to do. There is a plethora of progressive and experimental elements and details, but they never overwhelm the real focus of the music of Bruit, which is great atmospheres and melodies. And once again we have a full review for anyone wanting to delve deeper into the band, this time by our prolific writer Matthew.
FFO: Maudits, Sleepmakeswaves, Hammock, 65Daysofstatic, Long Distance Calling