Ring of Gyges – Beyond the Night Sky (Album Review)

Ring of Gyges – Beyond the Night Sky (Album Review)

Review by Prog Nick

If you imagine that a young band from Iceland delivering its debut album is likely to be nothing but roaring metal and grinding guitars, you would be dead wrong. Ring of Gyges are full of surprises, and they are mighty good surprises for any fan of melodic, powerful Prog.

Hailing from Reykjavik, this young band of independent proggers has delivered a debut album of such high quality and standard that it does, quite simply, defy any misperceptions that might be created by the relative youth of its members. Ring of Gyges’ debut album “Beyond the Night Sky” is stupendous.

Opening song “Ascend” is a consonant à capella harmony performance that would impress fans of any dedicated vocal harmony group. Beautifully executed, it immediately surprises, and gives way to the magnificent “Advaka”, a song that has already enjoyed some exposure on the internet. This song is a mature and innovative exposition of how to meld classic Prog influences with modern progressive power. Crisp and melodic, filled with emotive harmonies and finely composed, it has a classic flavor that attacks the listener with the perfect blend of melodic emotion and sonic power. A highly impressive start to a highly impressive album.

Second song “Aluminium God” is harder and heavier, with more of a classic rock feel, but it is no less pleasing. There are a few scattered growling vocals, but the song also contains a jazzy interlude and a quirky keyboard part that declare this band’s versatility. It feels almost as if the band are making an intentional point about their adaptability and ability to approach compositions from varied perspectives.

The longest piece on the album, “Dusk” is an opus that would be well-placed on any album by Prog’s biggest current acts. It opens with a gorgeous and fulfilling piece of sadness and introspection that then builds into a varied and diverse journey of progressive experimentation. There are intense arrangements, powerful Haken-like guitar riffs, Gentle Giant vocal counterpoints, superb solos and yes, cookie monster vocals at one point, but placed tastefully and selectively, as they should be. Ring of Gyges prove their Prog credentials once and for all with this song.

“Death’s Door” is an ethereal piano-based melodic Prog song with hints of Marillion, Pink Floyd and Queen, executed beautifully. “Not This Time” follows this trend and delivers one of the most haunting and tortured melodies you have heard. The latter is a risky arrangement and could easily have failed if delivered by less competent musicians, but it succeeds.

“(Instru)mentality” delivers exactly what its name would suggest. Five minutes of Prog instrumental quirk and virtuosity – no further explanation required.

“Dawn” is another epic that is very adventurous in its complexity. Requiring an investment of attention by the listener, this ten-minute song delivers excellent returns and musical dividends for that attention. Very melodic and filled with soundscapes built on the foundation of superb guitar work, the song peaks in a Prog-metal climax with a guitar solo reminiscent of Steve Vai, giving way to a lonely flute solo. It is immense.

“Descend” closes the album with a solitary vocal melody introduction accompanied by strings and keys leading into a slow metal groove of cinematic power, ending with the main riff reprised on lonely strings. This song demonstrates, yet again, that this band knows how to build melody into power with grace and emotion, while never losing respect for the composition.

The influences of bands like Opeth and Haken are indeed to be heard on this album, but so too are the influences of Rush, Yes and Genesis, all in good balance. All Prog, all melody, all power and all top-drawer in its quality, “Beyond the Night Sky” deserves recognition as a very important first album by a group of hugely promising young musicians that are to be watched closely. Could Ring of Gyges develop into the next big thing in Prog? Very possibly. Is their first album worth investing your money in? Most definitely. “Beyond the Night Sky” is, for me, the debut album of the year so far.

Released November 22, 2017

1.Ascend 02:24
2.Andvaka 05:05
3.Aluminum God 03:47
4.Dusk 13:46
5.Death’s Door 06:44
6.(Instru)Mentality 04:25
7.Not This Time 05:19
8.Dawn 09:53
9.Descend 04:18

Ring of Gyges are:
Helgi Jónsson: Vocals, guitar, bass (“Dawn”), drums (“Not This Time”)
Guðjón Sveinsson: Vocals, guitar
Einar Merlin Cortes: Drums, percussion
Gísli Þór Ingólfsson: Piano, organ, synths, vocals (“Death’s Door)
Þorsteinn Ýmir Ásgeirsson: Bass

Concert Review: Mike + the Mechanics, Ft. Lauderdale 3-16-18

Concert Review: Mike + the Mechanics, Ft. Lauderdale 3-16-18

Back in the 80’s, when Genesis was atop the music world, there was also no shortage of success by its members through side projects. While Phil Collins and Peter Gabriel were floating on successful solo careers, guitarist Mike Rutherford opted instead to form a group called Mike + the Mechanics. The group saw immediate success with massive hits like “Silent Running”, “All I Need is a Miracle,” and “The Living Years.” Although they would not have as much success later on in the US, the band would continue to release albums earning a few more hits singles. The band, now with Rutherford as the lone original member, released a new album in 2017 called ‘Let Me Fly’ with singers Andrew Roachford (from 80s pop group Roachford) and Tim Howar replacing Paul Carrack and the late Paul Young.

On Friday, March 16th, in Ft. Lauderdale, the group kicked off a new North America tour to a delighted crowd at Parker Playhouse, a venue that has lately become the go-to place for exceptional concerts perhaps not meant for arena-sized crowds. It is a brilliantly designed venue with a great view from every seat and pristine sound. Mike + the Mechanics hit the stage shortly after 8pm and opened with their first hit “Silent Running,” a song instantly recognizable from the first keyboard note. Roachford seemed to take the role of Paul Carrack, sitting at a keyboard and displaying his own bit of soulfulness that Carrack so aptly provided. Roachford then handled another bit hit with “Another Cup of Coffee.” Howar, meanwhile, has a rock vibe about him and a rock voice to boot. Taking the songs mostly handled by Paul Young, Howar summoned the power necessary for songs like “The Best if Yet to Come” and the “Beggar on a Beach of Gold.”

Knowing the audience would expect it, Rutherford played 2 Genesis classics that fit with his current group’s sound in “Land of Confusion” and “I Can’t Dance,” both sung with bravado by Howar, who offered a bit of tongue-in-cheek humor much like Phil Collins would do. Newer material from their ‘Let Me Fly’ album garnered much applause, the title track being elevated by a live performance.

Roachford was given a chance to perform the hit he had in the 80s with his band Roachford with “Cuddly Toy” a fun number which allowed the band to play around a little bit with the audience. Of course, they closed the set with their biggest hits “The Living Years” and “All I Need is a Miracle” to a standing room only crowd. They then returned for an extended version of “Word of Mouth” from third 3rd album of the same name. It was a fantastic show full of uplifting songs and a bit of nostalgia. While we might not see a Genesis reunion any time soon, any chance to see its members live, performing these great songs, is a reason to go to a show.

Silent Running
Another Cup of Coffee
Get Up
The Best Is Yet to Come
Land of Confusion
High Life
Let Me Fly
A Beggar on a Beach of Gold
Over My Shoulder
Cuddly Toy
I Can’t Dance
The Living Years
All I Need Is a Miracle
Encore: Word of Mouth

Dave Kerzner Announces New Progressive Rock Supergroup “In Continuum”

Dave Kerzner Announces New Progressive Rock Supergroup “In Continuum”

American musician, songwriter, producer, sound designer, co-founder of the band Sound of Contact and lauded progressive-rock artist Dave Kerzner, has announced the birth of a new progressive rock super-group named “In Continuum”. The band consists of Kerzner at the helm as the main songwriter and keyboardist, sharing lead vocal duties with Gabriel Agudo (Steve Rothery Band / Bad Dreams).

Joining Kerzner and Agudo on the debut album – set for release later in 2018 – are top multi-instrumentalists Matt Dorsey (Sound of Contact) and Randy McStine (Sound of Contact, The Fringe), former Porcupine Tree and Sound of Contact touring guitarist John Wesley, drummers Nick D’Virgilio (Big Big Train, Spock’s Beard) and Derek Cintron along with guitarist Fernando Perdomo from the Dave Kerzner Band. Special guests on the album will include singer Jon Davison (Yes) and guitarist Steve Rothery (Marillion).

“In Continuum will have a similar approach that Alan Parsons Project or King Crimson has had in that it will feature multiple singers and musicians” says Kerzner “Each album will have a cast of players best suited for the material.”

The music of “In Continuum” is described as “sci-fi-themed space rock” and stylistically it’s a cross-over blend of progressive rock and mainstream alt rock.

Kerzner says “My role in Sound of Contact writing lyrics and music for keyboard-driven progressive rock music is similar to Tony Banks’ role in one of my favorite bands, Genesis. I’ve created ‘In Continuum’ as a new vehicle and outlet for that musical side of me to continue while I explore other areas in my solo work”.

In Continuum will be performing on Cruise To The Edge, Feb 4-9, 2019. More shows and further details regarding the album release date will be announced at a later time on http://incontinuumband.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/incontinuumband
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/incontinuumband

King Crimson Meets Van der Graaf Generator! David Cross & David Jackson Release New Album “Another Day” OUT NOW!

King Crimson Meets Van der Graaf Generator! David Cross & David Jackson Release New Album “Another Day” OUT NOW!

During the 1970s David Cross was a member of King Crimson and David Jackson was a member of Van der Graaf Generator. Now much to the excitement of music aficionados worldwide, the duo have teamed up for an amazing new album titled “Another Day”!

Released via Cherry Red Records, the 12 new tracks on this album showcase the talents of Cross & Jackson and will appeal to the fanbases of both artists and the bands they have been in. It’s an innovative meeting of minds. This new studio album also features Mick Paul on bass, Craig Blundell on drums and was produced by Jake Jackson.

“From the first notes we ever played together David Jackson and I realised that we were driving in the same direction, free to play anything from fierce avant-garde cadenzas to haunting melodies and rocking riffs. ‘Another Day’ is the culmination of our ambition to date and has been realised as a quartet album through extraordinary instinctive performances from our collaborators, Mick Paul and Craig Blundell. The icing on the cake was the incisive, original vision which emerged in the mixing stage from our producer Jake Jackson. I love it.” – David Cross March 2nd 2018

“I am thrilled and very proud of this album with David Cross. It’s the best thing I’ve done in many years! We met at a Festival in Italy in 2010 and emergency improvised our way into a special kind of exciting harmony – and friendship too. Enjoying the space between two soloists, we soon discovered new ways of writing and arranging. Add in our legendary rhythm section of Mick Paul and Craig Blundell and I can guarantee you haven’t heard anything quite like this album before!” – David Jackson (26th February 2018)

Watch the new promotional video: https://youtu.be/paaTO6Oo0X8

In support of the album David Cross & David Jackson plan to tour mid-2018!

Track list:

Released March 16, 2018

To purchase David Cross & David Jackson’s “Another Day”:
Amazon: http://geni.us/ADay
iTunes: http://geni.us/ADayDig

Kansas announce new anniversary tour for ‘Point of Know Return’ album

Kansas announce new anniversary tour for ‘Point of Know Return’ album

America’s preeminent progressive rock band, KANSAS, will be touring select U.S. cities this fall celebrating the 40th Anniversary of their massive hit album Point of Know Return. To celebrate, for the first time in history, the band will be performing the album in its entirety. The tour will showcase more than two hours of classic KANSAS music including hit songs, deep cuts, and fan favorites.

Tickets and KANSAS VIP Packages for most dates go on sale to the general public Friday, March 23, 2018. Ticket information can be found at www.kansasband.com.

In 1977, KANSAS followed up the success of Leftoverture by releasing the album Point of Know Return. Containing the smash hit and million-selling single “Dust in the Wind,” along with fan favorites such as “Portrait (He Knew),” “Closet Chronicles,” and “Paradox,” Point of Know Return became the band’s greatest selling album. The album peaked at #4 on Billboard’s Album charts, reached sextuple-platinum status with more than six million copies sold, and had three Billboard Hot 100 singles.

“After the success of the album Leftoverture, it was hard to imagine when we released Point of Know Return that this album would be even bigger, but it was,” comments KANSAS guitarist, and original member, Richard Williams. “From the album artwork to the song ‘Dust in the Wind,’ the album Point of Know Return is really ingrained in Rock N Roll history and even in popular culture. The past two years we have done around 80 select shows performing the album Leftoverture in its entirety. We have been blown away by the positive fan response. Our hope is that fans will enjoy this Point of Know Return Tour just as much, and hopefully even more!“

Throughout the tour, live shows will not only culminate with the album Point of Know Return performed in its entirety, but KANSAS will also perform classic hits, deep cuts, and fan favorites. The band has not publicly performed some songs in the more than two-hour KANSAS musical event in decades, if ever.

KANSAS lead vocalist Ronnie Platt adds, “I often joke that I cannot be in charge of putting together a set list, because there are too many songs that I really want to perform. These shows, though, will be about as close as it gets. Of course, there will be hits like ‘Carry On Wayward Son,’ but to know we will be performing songs that KANSAS has not performed live for twenty or thirty years, or even ever, that is just really exciting. It is going to be a lot of fun.”


September 28 Atlanta, GA Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center
September 29 Nashville, TN Ryman Auditorium
October 5 Glenside, PA Keswick Theatre
October 6 Pittsburgh, PA Heinz Hall
October 12 Milwaukee, WI Pabst Theater
October 13 Chicago, IL Chicago Theater
October 19 Kansas City, MO Arvest Bank Theatre at the Midland
October 20 St. Louis, MO Fabulous Fox Theater
October 26 Kalamazoo, MI The State Theatre
October 27 Detroit, MI Fox Theater
November 2 San Antonio, TX The Tobin Center for Performing Arts
November 3 Dallas, TX Majestic Theater
November 9 Cincinnati, OH Taft Theatre
November 10 Indianapolis, IN Murat Theatre at Old National Centre
November 16 Huntington, NY The Paramount
November 17 Worcester, MA Hanover Theatre
November 23 Wilkes-Barre, PA The F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts
November 24 Baltimore, MD Modell Performing Arts Center at the Lyric
November 30 Asheville, NC Thomas Wolfe Auditorium
December 1 Columbia, SC The Township Auditorium
December 6 Mobile, AL Saenger Theatre
December 8 Clearwater, FL Ruth Eckerd Hall
December 14 Daytona Beach, FL Peabody Auditorium
December 15 Fort Lauderdale, FL Au-Rene Theater at Broward Center

PS – If you read this far, the passcode for the fan club pre-sale starting at 10AM on Tuesday, March 20 is KANSASBAND.

My Prog Five with Greg Spawton of Big Big Train

My Prog Five with Greg Spawton of Big Big Train

Big Big Train are one of the busiest bands around so it was a thrill when the band’s bassist and one of its lead songwriters, Greg Spawton, agreed to do a segment for My Prog Five. His selection takes us back to when he first discovered prog through what appeals to him today for a great variety of choices. Please check this out for a fascinating 45 minutes with one of prog’s best songwriters.

For the full audio interview click the podcast link below or download the podcast on iTunes.
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Also, you can hear the show on our YouTube channel which you can also subscribe to.

Hear the show and other Big Big Train songs on Prog Report Radio.

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