From Termo Records, the label that brought us one of 2011’s standout releases White Willow’s “Terminal Twilight”, today we have Tusmørke’s “Underjordisk Tusmørke”. In what it is probably one of the oddest releases we have every received at Infernal Masquerade, This album is undoubtedly beautiful, haunting, and plain weird (for us at least). This Norwegian Psychedelic/Progressive Folk Rock packs a mean punch in this nine song release, and it will surely rattle your eardrums considering how original their music is.
Opening with very high spirts with the track “Fimbul”, the band instantly reminded us of Dark Reality and their “Blossom Of Mourning” album but with a twisted psychedelic edge. The band brilliantly incorporates their folk elements into their dark Psychedelic Rock side, and creates a very unsettling but quite unique mix. The vocals are quite lush and greatly bring the folky vibe to life on the excellent songs “Watching the Moon Sail out of the East” and “The Quintessence of Elements”. With an uncanny old-school Psychedelic vibe, this release heavily relies on their unique atmospheric elements.
Delivering a truly cinematic experience via Progressive Rock music, today we have Spyros Charmanis and his full-length release “Wound”. Clocking around 72 minutes of brilliant music, this self-released album delivers delightful compositions that any fan of traditional Progressive music will love from beginning to end. Spyros ability to craft intricate songs that are both musically and technically engaging without being overly done or falling into the ‘musical masturbation’ category that many Progressive bands unfortunately fall under.
The album opens with the intro track “Pushing The Sky”, a song that is very reminiscent of Progressive greats Dream Theater, and similar bands. With such a playful and strong opener, Spyros greatly indicates that this will be one quality and fun release. After the opener, the album ‘splits’ into three different sections of the conceptual foundations of this release. This concept basically tells the story of a fictional character through a series of experiences, too bad the artwork in this CD is very dark and we had trouble reading it unless we had a direct light source on the booklet.
Arriving all the way from Portugal in a very cool glossy packaging box, today we have Via Sacara’s “The Road”. In this release the band delivers ten tracks of excellently crafted Progressive Rock/Metal with very epic keyboards and anthemic tracks. Since the opening track of the release, the band does a very solid job in crafting catchy Rock melodies that at some points have a slight Heavy Metal vibe.
With epic chorus lines, songs like “Lost World” have a very powerful sound and nicely bring together all the elements we love about Rock and Metal. The band also has a nice commercial edge to them making their songs very accessible and enjoyable, while still maintaining some heaviness in their sound. One of our favorite track is the constantly changing “Souls of Fire”, in particular the last few minutes when after some epic vocals the music gets a bit Post-Rockish, totally brilliant in our book.
Making Progressive Rock/Metal look easy, today we have the highly skilled District 97 and their latest release titled “Trouble With Machines”. Featuring Leslie Hunt (American Idol Top 10 Finalist), this band is far from your usual Idol produced musical AIDS. With some killer musicians behind her, District 97 delivers seven mesmerizing tracks that showcase the band’s skills in a very playful and direct manner.
“Back and Forth” opens the release with a playful intro section that is followed by a weird-at-first Progressive vibe with female vocals. While the band is not the first one to attempt this, they are the first ones to really make it work and sound fresh in the process. In tracks like “Open Your Eyes” the band does not stray away much from regular Alternative Rock until the brilliant progressive details come into play. These details allow the songs to be a lot less linear and quite engaging since they seem oddly placed, excellently executed, and for some reason we can’t get enough of them.
Progressive Rock genius Neal Morse is back with another masterpiece titled “Momentum”. Featuring Mike Portnoy and Randy George, this release is one hell of an album that no Progressive Rock fan can miss. Packed with six tracks that span nearly an hour of brilliant music, this release shows why Neal Morse is one of the best in the genre and that he still has the touch for creating fresh sounding music that will blow you away.
Opening with a very futuristic/space-ish vibe, “Momentum” gets down to business very fast with excellent melodic sections and very tight drumming. Neal’s vocals are excellent as always and very well arranged in this track. The guitar solos in this song are outstanding, showcasing Neal’s timeless ability to write and play excellent guitar sections in his music. “Thoughts Part 5” features a more playful nature with some very well crafted sections that showcase the excellent drumming of Mike Portnoy (as if we needed more proof) and very ethereal keyboard sections that set the mood very nicely, several guest appearances by Eric Gillette and Wil Morse greatly enhance this song as well.
After blowing us away with their excellent debut release “Trails Out of Gloom”, Fen (the Progressive Rock/Metal one) returns with “Of Losing Interest”, a release that while heavier in nature it failed to captivate us as much as their previous release. With nine tracks of well-crafted Progressive Rock/Metal, this release is by no means bad, it just feels too straightforward and lacking the magic that “Trails out of Gloom” had in every track.
The opener “Riddled” is a quintessential Prog piece that sounds a bit too predictable and linear in our opinion. There are a few cool guitar sections and the bass guitar line is pretty solid, but the song as a hole seems lacking some creativity. Things pick up a couple of times during the tracks “Of Losing Interest”, “Nice for Three Days”, and “A Long Line”, with a few brilliant guitar sections and tight percussions, but nothing extremely impressive. We are kind of turned off that we are almost half-way through the release and haven’t found anything that really sticks in our head.
Arriving all the way from Italy, today we have a very mellow and atmospheric release with L’Alba Di Morrigan’s debut full-length album “The Essence Remains”. Combining elements of Art Rock with some Progressive and Post-Rock hints, the band delivers nine tracks of solid music that will nicely relax you after a hard day of work.
The album opens with the very Katatonia-esque “Snowstorm”, a piece that had the participation of Frank Default (of Katatonia fame) on percussions and keyboards, giving this track a nice ethereal sound to it. The band continues with more Katatonia worship on “The Fairies’ Circle”, mainly on the distant vocal sounds and the overall depressive vibe. Frank Default makes another appearance on “Silence”, our favorite track of this release thanks to its very moody passages.
With a very well defined Progressive Rock sound, Case in Theory really makes an impact with the 11compositions presented in this very professionally crafted release. “Cinematic” marks the full-length debut of this band and its atmospheric/melodic approach to music, very similar to 3’s “The Ghost you gave to me”. Funded through kickstarter.com, this release packs a lot of punch and hopefully lands the band a label deal.
Opening with the emotional “Mavericks”, the band showcases very ethereal and well crafted atmospheric elements. The guitar work is very engaging and the backing vocals nicely build up momentum, culminating in the hypnotic song “The Night”. In the second song of the release, the vocals of Jonathan Posadas add an extra dimension to the melodic aspect of this album. Paired with the atmospheric rock guitars and some progressive elements, this song is the perfect indicator of things to come.
If Neal Morse’s Testimony 2 – Live in Los Angeles DVD’s where not enough for a dosage of excellent prog, the same promo package we got included Transatlantic’s “More Never Is Enough: Live In Manchester & Tilburg 2010” DVD portion of the release, for another 3+ hours of orgasm-inducing musical experience.
The live DVD portion of this release features the complete Tilburg concert in all its glory and with seven professional cameras rolling. It also showcases the full band with the extra addition of Daniel Gildenlöw from Pain of Salvation. If you are a big fan of the band’s music and their latest release “The Whirlwind”, the first DVD shows the band playing this release in its entirety.
After being lost in the post-office oblivion for a few months, today we received a promo package containing the DVD portion of this 3CD/2DVD package that has been highly coveted by prog fans since it came out in November. Featuring around 3 hours of live material, Neal Morse, Mike Portnoy, Randy George, Eric Brenton, Rick Altizer, Mark Leniger, Nathan Girard and Nathan Brenton play some very intricate and exciting progressive music that has a very natural and free-flowing nature that only the best in the scene can achieve.
As a first thing to notice is that there is quite a lot of ‘praise and Jesus-stuff’ in this release to the point of being a bit annoying, but the music makes it quite bearable and when not focusing on the lyrics everything played in this release is excellent. Every since 2002 Neal has focused more on the spiritual side of things and this is very prevalent through the release. Nothing wrong with this and we are not against it, but we don’t really like it rubbed that much on our faces, especially on top of fantastic music.