The pedestal is a potentially dangerous object, sometimes even metaphorically – though it really depends on how hard you can throw it.
Australian progressive rock band Anubis have been sitting quite comfortably on my pedestal for quite some time. Their previous albums, 230503, A Tower of Silence, and Hitchhiking to Byzantium remain some of my favourite albums, and those of you who have read my review of the latter may even accuse me of, dare I say, ‘fanaticism’? However after first hearing their fourth studio album, The Second Hand, I began to second guess myself and my expectations of the band – am I right to expect an artist’s latest work to be the same as their others? Am I right to even have expectations? What this record shows, both as a part of Anubis’ discography and through its politically-charged concept, is that to err is human. Though some may see it to be a misstep in an excellent discography, The Second Hand is an admirable effort, where Anubis’ shift in musical style and approach to concept albums present some of the band’s best and worst newfound qualities.
You may (or may not) have noticed that things have ground to a halt here at Prog Talk. Now I can’t speak for every admin, but a deadly cocktail of all-consuming academia, a dab of stress and a deviating taste away from prog has left Prog Talk untouched for some time and Cerpin throwing up over the side of the settee. Metaphorically speaking, of course.
Dare I say that prog just doesn’t interest us anymore? No, that’s not quite right – there are still a number of progressive rock albums from 2017 that have duly impressed me, but there’s been a lot more that haven’t. However, it’s prog’s sister-genres: avant-garde, experimental, and jazz fusion that have really piqued my interest so far – so you have some catching up to do, prog.
As we’ve just entered the second third of 2017, I thought it would be fitting to give a brief roundup on my highlights of the year up until now, and a shout-out to future albums that we may expect to be just as excellent. Remember: This is just my opinion, I do not speak for the rest of the team at Prog Talk.
Concept driven ‘classic’ progressive rock has had a bit of a bad run recently – well, for this cynic at least, anyway. Neal Morse’s album and Dream Theater’s He-Whomst-Must-Not-Be-Named have left a sour taste in the mouths of many, especially for the latter’s hollow and copious ballads. Imagine my surprise when Azure.’s debut album comes and flaunts classic prog worship; 19-minute conceptual narratives and power ballads like they’re going out of fashion. With Wish For Spring, Azure. has breathed new life into the seemingly doomed prog stereotype with daring vocals, exciting song concepts and a pinch of sex appeal that makes for one of the strongest prog records from this year so far.
The new prog supergroup Nova Collective, encompassing the bands Between the Buried and Me, Haken, Cynic, and Trioscapes, is soon releasing The Further Side. They play some damning good tunes, as demonstrated in the video above, and in the other ones that they’ve published, but everyone calling their music ‘new’, ‘pushing boundaries’, or ‘next level’ is only putting their musical illiteracy in broad daylight. Here’s why, in a relatively short rant. Continue reading
Have you, a friend or a loved one ever wanted to get into The Mars Volta, but didn’t know where to start? Fear not, for help is at hand – our latest installment of our ‘A Beginner’s Guide To’ series features another flowchart as a guide in how to first experience the experimental rock group and a few associated acts.
This is the concluding part to my Best Albums of 2016 list; you can read Part I (#10 – #6) here
Again, this list is to celebrate the most fantastic albums from 2016, and I highly urge you to check them out if you haven’t done so already – you may end up loving these as much as I do!
#5 – Vektor – Terminal Redux (Thrash Metal / Progressive Metal)
Thrash metal isn’t exactly a prosperous genre nowadays; whilst ‘The Big Four’ are still alive and kicking (albeit frailly), their latest efforts have fallen short of their former glory. At least that’s the general consensus, but I’ve never been a thrash fan to begin with and I never thought any album could turn me round.
Cue Terminal Redux, and the explosive intro to ‘Charging the Void’; painting the cosmic canvas of an album that’s set to hyper speed from the word ‘go’. Vektor’s third album is a seamless trail of memorable, heavy riffs for well over 70 minutes of constant high energy; even the relatively gentle closers, ‘Collapse’ and ‘Recharging the Void’, ooze with gravity with the gravelly choruses or wailing female vocals. Like Cult of Luna & Julie Christmas’ Mariner, Terminal Redux is the soundtrack to an immense space-faring journey; one a little more exciting than No Man’s Sky (though the soundtrack for that is superb, too).
I’d wish for an extra pair of arms just so I could simultaneously play air guitar and air drums along to all of Terminal Redux; it’s grossly enjoyable and, dare I say, fun? Even the guitar tapping solo in ‘LCD [Liquid Crystal Disease]’ sounds like spaceship lasers flying across the galaxy. It’s a shame that most of Vektor left the band towards the end of 2016, but frontman David DiSanto is confident that Vektor will continue going on strong; and given how sound Vektor’s track record is, I have no doubt about that.
Though 2016 is long, long gone, there are a large number of albums which still resonate strongly with me from last year that I couldn’t not write about, even if I am unforgivably late. Like my most disappointing albums of 2016 list, I’ve had to cut my ‘Album of the Year’ list into two parts because I’ve had so much to say about them!
Please note: there are a lot of albums which I still haven’t heard or ranked from 2016, either out of negligence or, well there really is no other excuse – if there’s an album you love that hasn’t made this list, there’s a chance I haven’t listened to it as of writing this article. Then again, there’s a higher chance that these albums succeeded it, in my opinion.
As ever, feel free to leave a comment below if you want to share your thoughts on these albums or whether you think they don’t belong here. But without further ado, here are my top albums from 2016:
The Tangent is one of my favourite progressive rock groups, or, in this case, supergroup. Admittedly, their delivery is far from being consistent, and ranges from the tremendous Not as Good as the Book (2008) and Le sacre du travail (2013) to the very lacklustre Comm (2011) and A Spark in the Aether (2015). So, it’s always a case of cautious excitement whenever Andy Tillison’s Canterbury-inspired prog rock outfit announces something new. Here comes ‘A Few Steps down the Wrong Road’, a 19-minute epic that was released in August of last year, in anticipation of the band’s upcoming album, The Slow Rust of Forgotten Machinery. Continue reading
After I completely shat over all that you love, I think it’s time to counterbalance with something more positive. No, 2016 wasn’t only shit, and yes, I do love well-executed progressive music. Maybe the bigger names did disappoint, but many smaller ones surprised, or, at least, met the expectations. So, without further ado, here’s a short, unranked list of the great things the year had to offer. Continue reading
Following on from yesterday’s article, this is the conclusion to my Disappointing Albums of 2016 list, where I discuss the albums that personally let me down this year. What? You haven’t read Part I yet? What are you doing here? You’ll ruin the surprise!
You can read Part I of my Disappointing Albums of 2016 here
Disclaimer: this is NOT my ‘Worst Albums of 2016’ list
Some of the albums on this list I genuinely like – but not these two, oh no, not these two. As ever, if you disagree, if you’re outraged and want to challenge me to a fist fight or if you want to counter my arguments, feel free to give your thoughts in the comments section below!