As one of the most anticipated releases of 2015, Jess and the Ancient Ones return with their sophomore release “Second Psychedelic Coming: The Aquarius Tapes”. Moving away from their Doom influences and fully embracing the psychedelic/progressive side of their sound, the band delivers nine enigmatic tracks that will intoxicate all fans of the band and the genre. Greatly improving over their first effort, this is one release that nobody will want to miss.
Opening with the creepy playfulness of “Samhain”, the band set a very enigmatic mood with funky samples and a truly psychedelic vibe. There are some parallels to bands like Purson, but with the signature JATO style. Jess’s mesmerizing vocals do a great job in setting a very mellow and dark mood on tracks like trippy “The Flying Man” and super catchy psychedelic anthem “In Levitating Secret Dreams”. The band truly travels in time with a very organic and natural sounding recording, allowing all the sounds captured to be truly authentic sounding.
Arriving today from the USA we have Shaumaun and their progressively oriented mash up of musical styles. In their self-titled debut release, the band presents twelve very melodic tracks that are a bit contrasting from each other, but full of promise, excellent ideas and solid execution.
The album opens with the proggy “A New Revolution”, which is a very entertaining piece that ultimately is just a warm-up for what is to come next. “Miracles of Yesterday” and “You and I Will Change the World” have a more radio-friendly and mainstream vibe, with loud rhythm guitars and solid leads. Being very catchy, this last song has some cool passages, but it also tries to incorporate too many elements, making things a bit awkward when they should have stayed simple as the track’s hook is pretty solid.
Arriving from France, today we have a very interesting and different release titled “Altra” from a band called Naïve. Mixing Progressive Rock/Metal influences with some trip-hop, shoegaze, and tons of electronic elements, they manage to create a very unique and dramatic cinematic experience in this album. Being more of the commercial-friendly spectrum of things, this release is quite mellow and perfectly enjoyable on a rainy day.
Opening with the playful “Elevate/Levitate”, we are instantly treated to a very well put together track that nicely navigates through multiple moods and different soundscapes. With every track featuring soaring vocals and powerful guitars, this French trio has developed a very unique and solid formula to deliver high-quality songs like “Yshbel” and the excellent “Mother Russia” to name a few.
Always expecting the unexpected from Code, the band takes a huge musical leap with “mut”. Usually characterized by playing intricate and unconventional songs, the band will surely puzzle their listeners with this Post-Rock/Progressive Rock album that keeps the band’s unique sinister atmosphere present, but with a different packaging.
The album starts off with the trippy and jazzy “On Blinding Larks” and “Undertone”, two tracks that are quite atmospheric and while different to what one would expect, they are quite engaging. The guitar work led by Aort and Andras is spot on, reminding us a bit of a jazzier and darker version of Anathema. Wacian further showcases his vocal magical powers with a very diverse and full of surprises performance through the album, but in particular tracks likes “Dialogue” and the deranged “Affliction”.
The USA Progressive Metal scene has been growing in the last few years, and surprisingly besides the premiere bands, there are many newcomers (or smaller bands) filled with quality like Oceans of Night. As the brainchild of multi-instrumentalist Scott Mosher, “Midnight Rising” marks the third full-length release of the band and greatly shows improvement over their previous albums. Coming in at nearly one hour of music, this release combines early 90’s Progressive Metal elements with the futuristic vibe of Dol Ammad and Ayreon.
Opening with the atmospheric “The Haunted Mind”, the band seamlessly transitions into the Heavy/Power Metal elements of “Midnight Rising”. In this last track, Scott Oliva shines through the expertly crafted riffing and percussions. Breaking up the flow, the highly atmospheric “Critical Mass / The Breathless Sleep” nicely changes the pace of things before the epic “The Burning Sky”. As one of our favorite tracks in this release, the instrumental passages and guitar solos are just amazing in this one (there is a guest solo in this track by Chris Rifkin).
Riding on the success of their 2012 amazing release “Weather Systems”, Anathema returns with yet another masterpiece of highly melancholic and atmospheric Progressive Rock titled “Distant Satellites”. With a surprise rise in productivity from the band, we are stoked that they are consistently releasing albums and very good ones as well, and that we didn’t have to wait 7 or so years between releases. This release is highly comparable to the band’s efforts on “Weather Systems” and the style they proposed in that release.
This album kicks off with the very emotional first two parts of the track “The Lost Song”. In each these parts we have Lee shinning ever so brightly with her gifted vocals and the raw emotions she transmit through them. These tracks are also very well arranged and nicely change tempos and have brilliant climaxes. Following up with “Dusk (Dark is Descending)”, we now shift focus to Vincent’s signature pipes and the way they seamlessly blend with the very dramatic (and cinematic) musical backdrop.
Bordering on the limits of what we review here at Infernal Masquerade, today we have Alternative/Prog Rock outfit Reacta from Mexico. In their 2014 release “Refraction”, the band delivers 10 dreamy tracks of expertly crafted music that will grab the attention from fans of 30 Seconds to Mars all the way to God Speed Your Black Emperor.
Hailing from the city of Aguascalientes, Reacta kicks off the release with the perky “Lost”, a very mainstream track that has a super catchy vibe. This track instantly brings memories of bands likes Kings of Leon and similar outfits that have charismatic lead vocals and an eye for detailed guitar melodies. The Post-Rock/Atmospheric “Back Home” is another catchy piece with lush guitars and memorable vocals that sometimes have a certain ring to heavy weights U2.
Packaged in a very well designed Digipack, today we have Italy’s Il Rumore Bianco and their excellent EP titled “Mediocrazia”. In this four sound release, the band seamlessly combines elements of bands like Yes, Elfonia and Dream Theater with some more experimental Jazz and Fusion elements. Led by the charismatic vocals of Eddy Fiorio, this is one extremely refined band that delivers lush atmospheric and melancholic tracks.
The release opens with the playful “Tutto un Sogno” part one that delivers a very Yes-like Proggy Atmosphere. The instruments are very well layered and the psychedelic synths work wonders with the overall pace of the song. The band’s experimental side of things comes out with the intoxicating “Il Vestito Buono, a song filled with excellent vocal leads and quirky tempo changes.
Finally arriving to North America through Metal Blade, today we have Sahg and their fourth full-length release “Delusions of Grandeur”. In this brilliant Progressive/Psychedelic Rock/Metal album, we have this Norwegian band delivering over 45-minutes of mellow retro music. Filled with crafty passages and lush vocals, this is one very detailed release that you need to hear more than a few times to fully enjoy it.
The album leads off with the grandeur of “Slip Off the Edge of the Universe”, a track that reminds us of the magic behind acts like Magnum and Spock’s Beard. The guitars are perfectly layered and allowing the vocals to shine through the psychedelic keyboards. As the album progresses we have songs filled with intricate details (“Blizzardborne”) and more direct blistering solos like on “Firechild”. All these elements give Sahg a very authentic retro prog sound.
American guitar virtuoso Mike Campese is back with his eight studio release titled: “Chameleon”. In this very lively album, Mike shreds through 12 expertly composed tracks that range from Instrumental Rock to full on Progressive Rock/Metal. Being huge fans of virtuosos like John Petrucci, Toby Knapp, Timo Tolkki, etc., we greatly enjoyed Mike’s ability to craft very entertaining songs while showing off his talents.
Opening with the playful “To the 9’s”, Mike immediately makes a quick impact with a very catchy and skillful song. While we are usually opposed of the guitar virtuoso that attempts (and fails miserably) to sing, Mike does a decent job in “Chameleon” and “She Burnt the House Down”. Not being Bruce Dickinson or anybody in that range, we are pleased that he didn’t attempt anything out of his range.