Welcome to the April edition of The Progfiles Archives.
This month the show is compiled and presented by Cees, who has once again put together a “Promotur” show, consisting of albums released over the last few months for you to check out.
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.
Darragh, which is Irish for “Old Oak”, is a group of musicians from Northern Germany. The band mixes the refinements of heavy progressive rock with elements of metal, and the elegance of modernity in a creative way. Their debut album “Traveler”, released just at the end of last year, is well worth a listen.
FFO: Anathema, Soen, Wheel, Vulkan
You don’t hear a lot about metal from Iran, and even less about progressive music. Therefore it’s great to discover a band like Atravan, who has delivered a great classic progmetal album with “The Grey Line”. This is, like mentioned, traditional progmetal, but with great melodies and songwriting they make sure the album sounds fresh and exciting, and a joy to listen to. The vocals of Masoud Alishahi deserves a mention as well, he has a deep, rich voice that adds another layer of melody and emotion to the music. If you enjoy progressive metal, make sure you don’t miss out on this album!
FFO: Evergrey, Wolverine, Fates Warning, Poem, Mother of Millions
Geoff Downes should be a well-known name to many, from his work with Yes and Asia to his time in The Buggles, he has released music appealing to both prog, and pop-fans alike. Here is he is with his associate Chris Braide, who is highly respected songwriter and producer in his own rights, having worked with major artists like Sia, Lana Del Ray and Halsey, and having co-written several songs for movie soundtracks. “Halcyon Hymns” is however a progressive album through and through, slightly reminiscent of the work Downes did with Yes on their 1980 album “Drama”. So if you’re up for some nice, relaxing neoprog, this might be for you.
FFO: Yes, Asia, It Bites, Kino, Moon Safari
Consisting of current Yes members Billy Sherwood and Jon Davison, and joined by Jay Schellen (who has functioned as a touring drummer for Yes), Jimmy Haun (who played the guitar on “Union”) and Dave Kerzner (ex-Sound of Contact), Arc of Life sounds exactly like you expect it to. This is pure ’80s sounding progressive rock with a definite feel of that eras output by bands like Yes or Rush. There is also a hefty dose of early 90’s neoprog to be found here. So if that rocks your boat, have a listen.
FFO: Yes, Rush, Cairo, Magellan, World Trade
Joel Hoekstra is a guitarist most known for his work with Whitesnake and Transiberian Orchestra, as well as playing with Cher, Night Ranger and the Broadway show “Rock of Ages”. This album, “Running Games”, is, however, his solo effort, filled with guitar-based groovy hard rock with metal and prog elements. It also features quite the star-studded line-up of musicians. To mention some names, you can find Russel Allen (Symphony X), Vinnie Appice (Dio/Black Sabbath), Derek Sherinian (Dream Theater / Sons of Apollo) and Lenny Castro (Toto) on the album. So if your looking for some great melodic hard rock abound with guitar-solos with its feet firmly planted in the 80s’, look no further.
3.2 is a project from Robert Berry, initially started as “3” with Keith Emerson and Greg Lake. “Third Impression” is the second album under the name “3.2”, and naturally the “Third Impression” if you include the 1988 album under the previous name “3”.
As both Lake and Emmerson have sadly passed away, I guess 3.2 is the closest we will ever get to new music from ELP, and for anyone missing their particular style of progressive rock, “Third Impression” does not disappoint here. The album is full of amazing musicianship and great tracks, and it’s downright impressive as Berry apparently handles all the instruments himself.
FFO: ELP, Triumvirat, Cairo, Yes
True veterans of progressive music, UK’s Strawbs released their first album in 1969, and now, after more than fifty years, and an impressive amount of releases they bring us this new album “Settlement”. The band led by Dave Cousins started out as a bluegrass group and eventually moved on to other styles such as folk, folk-rock, glam-rock and progressive rock. During their long career members have included Sandy Denny (Fairport Convention), and Rick Wakeman (Yes), and this new album shows the band still going strong. “Settlement” features a number of great tracks with a nice amount of folk, grit and attitude included in their unique brand of progressive rock. This is a very warm, grounded musical experience. Highly recommended!
FFO: Fairport Convention, Greenslade, Fotheringay, Lindisfarne, Renaissance
Caligonaut is the solo project from Norwegian guitarist and vocalist Ole Michael Bjørndal, known for his guitar work with among others Oak and Airbag.
The album has in a short time become a favourite of several of our team here at the Progspace. And you can of course read the full review of this album, written by Duncan, here.
FFO: Riverside, Lunatic Soul, Oak, Airbag, Pink Floyd
Suburban Savages is a Norwegian four-piece that released their third album at the beginning of March this year. Their music is varied, upbeat and fresh, and has a catchy yet complex core to it. Read the full, detailed review, once again by our writer Duncan, here.
FFO: Major Parkinson, Meer, King Crimson, Gentle Giant, A.C.T
Dutch band Perfect Storm is a new shooting star in the prog-rock skies with their debut album “No Air”. Picture well written, melodic progressive music with catchy instrumental parts and great male and female vocals. Or read the full review by Cees, for even more information on Perfect Storm here. If you enjoy modern progressive rock, this is not an album you’d want to miss out on!
FFO: Toto, Karmakanic, Kino, Pallas, Spock’s Beard
Composer and musician Simon McKechnie released his fifth album “Retro” at the end of March. His music is eclectic and adventurous, yet brightly melodic and catchy drawing as much on jazz and art-pop influences as progressive rock. McKechnie has a background in jazz and classical music, something that can clearly be heard in the professional feel of this album, still at the same time there is vigour and playfulness to his music that keeps the listener interested through the entirety of “Retro”. The album has “lyrics by Charles Darwin” and is it’s concept is heavily inspired by Darvin’s writings making it an interesting experience both musically and lyrically.
FFO: Yes, The Police, Moon Safari, Cardiacs, King Crimson
Venerable veterans of Swedish prog, Trettioåriga Kriget released their first album all the way back in 1974, and now, more than 45 years later, they are releasing their 11th offering “Til Horisonten”. Even though the band has been inactive at times throughout their career, they have always reunited and returned occasionally to play live. Since 2003 the band has been actively performing and releasing new albums, and their current musical output does not need to stand back in comparison to their 70s’ releases in any way. Their music can be described as adventurous hard rock, rooted in the 70s’ and with a strong progressive ethos. Lyrically the band has always been very interesting as well, and that trend continues on this new album. Anyone who loves that era, but has yet to listen to Trettioåriga Kriget has something to look forward to indeed.
FFO: Änglagård, Anekdoten, Flesket Brinner, November, Høst, Isildurs Bane
This Birmingham act has been around since 2019, and presents us with melancholic and emotional alternative rock with strong elements of grunge and progressive music. Fronted by the beautiful voice of Marie Purcell they now release their debut album “Silence” after a string of singles. The plethora of influences seemingly informing the musicians on “Silence” makes it a delightful and varied listening experience. Vaccine7 definitely seems to be a band to keep your eyes (and ears) open to going forward.
FFO: Golden Caves, Lesoir, The Gathering, Karnataka, Pure Reason Revolution.
Something a bit heavier, these Americans decidedly made us perk our ears up, and take note. “II: Eternal Meditations Of A Deathless Crown” is a continuation of their 2019 debut. The band’s preferred style of sound is groovy as hell, sludgy doom with plenty of progressive details that make the music never lose its grip on the listener. Vocals are growled screams with some frenetic, almost spoken, parts thrown in. What really elevates the band’s music, however, is the more laid back, atmospheric parts, like the one that starts about 02:05 into this track, ‘The Empire Never Ended’. Add to that the fact that the album is built on a concept of dark sci-fi and fantasy, and you have what we would refer to as “a complete package”. This is cyclic and hypnotic stuff, and highly enjoyable.
FFO: Intronaut, Mastodon, Anciients, Isis, Cult of Luna
The Lion’s Daughter might not self-identify as a progressive metal band, but their eclectic mix of 80’s style horror-movie synths and sludgy, gritty metal is highly experimental and may be more progressive in the literal sense of the word than the music of many self-proclaimed progmetal bands. Their 2016 debut “Existence is Horror” was a great example of boundary-breaking music, and 2018’s “Future Cult” was nothing but a small masterpiece. Still, I feel that this new album manages to deepen what makes this band so interesting even further, and seems less willing to compromise with the vision of the musicians. There is something almost obscene about the way the ethereal, John Carpenter-like blankets of synth mixes with the dirty, heavy foundation of metal. Add to that influences from industrial, black, and death-metal, and you get a very interesting album in “Skin Show”. A contender for favourite album of 2021 for sure.
FFO: Sludge, Gloom, Alkaloid, Mastodon, Conjurer, 80’s horror movie soundtracks
German Sylvan is truly veterans of modern progressive rock, having been around in one form or another since 1990. At the end of May they will be releasing their first album since 2015’s “Home”, and we can not say anything else than that it’s good to have them back. “One to Zero” is another concept album, this time diving into the mind of artificial intelligence, and asking the questions what it really means to be human, or to be alive. Their first single “Go Viral” presents us with some heavy, catchy progressive rock, and so we are definitely looking forward to hearing the entire album. Watch this spot for an upcoming full album review of “One to Zero”
FFO: IQ, Arena, Gazpacho, Airbag, Blind Ego, Subsignal