For some reason a band like Opeth and their newest Progressive/Psychedelic antics, while great sounding, they usually put us to sleep. Contrastingly, Greece’s Hail Spirit Noir and their latest newfound Psychedelic/Progressive endeavors incite a great level of curiosity and engagements from us. Unleashing “Eden in Reverse”, the band delivers a mixture of their weird avant-gardeness of their earlier days and trippy Proggy/Psych brilliance, perfectly delivered in seven tracks and nearly 45 minutes of captivating music.
The album opens up with the more traditional old-school Prog/Space rock of bands like Hawkwind and Magnum on pieces like “Darwining Beasts” and “Incense Swirls”. While catchy, we didn’t really get turned fully into the release until “Alien Lip Reading” comes in with a certain weird Solefald sounding angle, creating captivating guitar melodies and hypnotic vocal arrangements. This track nicely turns the release into a very interesting and completely trippy experience as it sounds like your old prog/space rock, but with a fresher and more dynamic edge.
After taking a brief hiatus a few years ago, Katatonia has returned with their signature melancholic Progressive/Alternative Rock and Metal mix with “City Burials”. As one of their most accessible and darker releases in recent years, this album delivers eleven tracks and nearly 50 minutes of highly emotional music with the band’s signature sound. If you are into the mellower side of things, this release is the perfect backdrop for a quiet evening of quarantine.
The release opens with the moody vibes of “Heart Set to Divide” and “Behind the Blood”, both tracks nicely frame Jonas Renkse emotive vocals with nice atmospherics and heavy guitars. More experimental elements are used on songs like “Lacque” and “Vanishers”, which show an interesting electronic undertone, similar to what Anathema tried on their last release. Other tracks just deliver the oozing melancholy achieved by lush vocal melodies and weeping guitars like “Rein”.
With Roy Khan reviving Conception back in 2018, the band took a while to deliver their return full-length “State of Deception”. Delivering around 40 minutes of music, this release has that old Kamelot vibe with a few sprinkles of Evergrey and Queensrÿche. The nine tracks here are catchy and engaging and will surely be loved by Roy Khan fans, as his vocals take front and center to solid songwriting skills and crafty arrangements.
After the mood setting intro, the album kicks off with the hard rocking “Of Raven and Pigs”, a track that starts a bit slow and it takes a while to settle with its lush vocal melodies and crafty guitars. With “Waywardly Broken”, the band goes into that Power/Progressive Metal vibe that we were expecting, thanks to the lively vocal leads and lush atmospheric keyboards. Thankfully, “No Rewind” continues this mood with dynamic guitars and crafty tempo changes, making it one of our favorite songs in this release.
Unleashing a very unique musical concoction of Progressive elements mixed in with Death/Black Metal, today we have Bay Area’s newcomers Dawn of Ouroboros and their full-length release “The Art of Morphology”. With over 40 minutes of crafty music, this release showcases plenty of musical talent and creativity paired with a high-octane delivery and intensity. If you are a fan of creative music that blends genres together and delivers high-replay value, this is the album for you.
Opening with the dreamy intro to “Revivified Spirits”, the band quickly shifts into 5th gear with brutal onslaughts of harsh vocals, violent drumming and intense riffing, showing off their versatility from the start. With a certain jazzy and proggy vibe, “Pinnacle Induced Vertigo” is one of those playful tracks that nicely transitions into the mood setting instrumental “Gateway to Tenebrosity”. Fronted by Chelsea Murphy, the band’s sound is perfectly suited for her mixed use of demonic harsh screams and angelic clean vocals as the ethereal “Lunar Cathexis” contrasts.
With most bands happy to just crank out full-length after full-length releases, Black Metal pioneer Ihsahn decided to challenge himself and do the opposite: break up a full-length release and deliver it as two EP’s. In “Telemark” we can hear some of his most rawest and direct compositions in quite a while, showing that this experiment has allowed Ihsahn to focus on the duality of his sound in compartmentalized approaches.
The incisive opener “Stridig” perfectly balances raw and punishing BM onslaughts with trippy Saxophone elements and a very dreamy and yet aggressive stance. With all the lyrics in Norwegian, this track has a brilliant pace and feels like yet another exploratory dimension to Ihsahn’s unique musical vision. With a bluesy aggression to it, “Nord” perfectly combines heavy riffs with crafty tempo changes and a sultry hypnotic pace thanks to a piercing bass guitar line and sinister drum patterns.
If you can imagine what Kayo Dot, Maudlin of the Well, Ephel Duath and Subterranean Masquerade would sound all blended together, then you would get close to just how expansive In Human Form sounds. Unleashing their three-songs, 49 minute opus “III”, this band pushes all boundaries into completely new dimensions and creates some of the most unique sounding Metal we have ever heard.
The release opens with the 18-minute tour de force “Apocrypha Carrion”, where the band starts off with furious guitar riffs and a very intense pace. The screamed vocals are quite hectic and very fitting for such chaotic music, but what really draws the listener is the funky subtle tempo changes mixed in with some more drastic near full-stop switches. We particularly enjoy the jazzy elements that transition the song’s multiple movements from chaos, to lush beauty and down the rabbit hole again.
Ukranian sensations Jinjer are ready to drop a massive release with their crushing “Macro”. After a small taste with their “Micro” EP, this release delivers 40 minutes of high-octane groovy music that is unlike any other band these days. Characterized by their mixture of proggy aggressive passages and both hellish and sultry vocals, the band brings their live energy into the studio on this masterful release.
Wasting no time in blowing away the listener, the album starts with the pulsating guitars of “On the Top”. Tatiana Shmailyuk harsh growls set a very crushing atmosphere, only to be brilliantly contrasted later by her clean sections. This duality of vocal styles between heavy and more mellow instrumental sections is key to the band’s unique style and catchiness, as one can hear on both “Pit of Consciousness” and “Retrospection”.
Fully embracing and developing their Progressive Metal/Rock sound, Opeth as embarked on a journey in their last few releases to discover and create an own cohesive sound. With “In Cauda Venenum”, the band seems to be nicely settled and delivers ten lush tracks that showcase their impressive progress in this genre. Released in both Swedish and English, this album is quite a treat to enjoy if you are a fan of the genre and bands like Leprous and Haken but with a funky Psychedelic punch to them.
After setting a trippy mood with the opener “Garden of Earthly Delights”, the band starts their proggy journey with the funky “Dignity”. Featuring an intricate bass guitar line and psychedelic synths and eerie vocal arrangements, this track nicely showcases the band’s craftiness. Mikael Åkerfeldt’s clean vocals are a very nice complement to the music’s craftsmanship on tracks like “Heart In Hand” and “Next of Kin”. We particularly enjoy how the band shifts tempos and hooks the listener with subtle details between transitions.
Hailing from the USA, today we have Vintersea and their very unique and interesting sophomore release “Illuminated”. Featuring tons of cool influences ranging from bands like Borknagar, Cronian to the likes of Into Eternity and more proggy outfits, this album contains nearly 40 minutes of exciting music. If you are a fan of melodic and progressive music with a very experimental edge and don’t mind growls or clean female vocals, this is certainly something to check out.
The album deceivingly starts quite intense with “Spawn Awakening”, but this does not last too long as the track transitions into proggy and dreamy territories quite quick. With the opening track finishing quite intensely, the band nicely transitions to the mellower “Old Ones”, which is led by the fantastic clean vocals of Avienne Low. With Avienne also handling the harsh vocals, the transitions are quite seamless and interesting, allowing the songs to shift moods very quickly and dramatically, as on the excellent melancholic track “Illuminated”.
Unleashing a truly unique amalgamation of Doom Metal with Progressive/Post-Metal influences, today we have Oceanwake and their latest opus “Lights Flashing in Mute Scenery”. For 45 minutes this outfit delivers seven tracks filled with traditional elements unconventionally arranged. Particularly appealing for those of us that like to be challenged by music, this release has a high replay value as you will always discover something new with each listen.
The album starts with the dreamy intro to “Radiant Nightbreak”, which transforms into a moody clash between clean and harsh vocals. With crushing riffs and a very depressive atmosphere, the album continues with “The Occult”, a piece that starts heavier and then it turns into a lush atmospheric Post-Rock-ish composition, only to close strong with a crushing Post-Metal/Hardcore onslaught.