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News from: CD Reviews (courtesy of Progarchives.com)

HUIS Despite Guardian Angels (Neo-Prog, 2014)

Review by b_olariu — A new prog act on the prog rock map - Huis (meaning as far as I know doors in english) from Canada
and their first offering Despite guardian angels from 2014 issued at canadian label Unicorn Digita.
Well, what we have here is a good towards great neo prog album with hints of symphonic prog all done
in a beautiful and elegant manner. This is a young band with good potential, the head of the band
bassist Michel Joncas gathered around him some talented musicians, some of them well known in prog
circles like Michel St-Pčre the guitarist from another respected band in this field Mystery and on
one piece is the ex guitarist from dutch band Knight Area - Mark Vermeule, so the line up is solid
and tight aswell as the music offered. What about the music, I must confess I was really hooked from
the first piece Beyond the Amstel, really impressive musicianship, subtil and elegant arrangements,
lots of synthesisers what else a winner. Another forte tracks are the instrumentals Oude Kerk I & II
(Oude Kerk is Amsterdam's oldest building), this is impressive, really tight musicianship, excellent
ideas, every musicn involved here is sure what is doing and done very well in the end. The music
overall is well crafted , with lots of keyboards and guitars aswell maybe in some parts they remind
me of Mystery because of St-Pere guitar touch. Anyway strong compostions under neo/symphonic prog
flavour. The art work and overall package is great to, digipak format. So, from me 4 stars,
definatly one of the better albums of this year.







THOUGHT CHAMBER Psykerion (Progressive Metal, 2013)

Review by UMUR — "Psykerion" is the 2nd full-length studio album by US progressive metal act Thought
Chamber. The album was released through InsideOut Music in September 2013.
There have been quite a few changes in the lineup since the debut and as a consequence the only
remaining members of the lineup that recorded "Angular Perceptions (2007)" are band
founder/guitarist Michael Harris and lead vocalist Ted Leonard
(Enchant, Affector, Spock´s Beard).

While Michael Harris was the main composer on "Angular Perceptions (2007)" and
remains to be on "Psykerion" the two albums are quite different in sound and style. You can
still hear it´s the same band playing, but Thought Chamber have developed their sound
significantly in the years between the two releases. While references to acts like Dream
Theater, late eighties Fates Warning (tracks like "Psykerion: The Question"
and "Recoil" feature the same dark atmosphere) and at times even early Psychotic
Waltz (mostly because of Ted Leonard´s voice and singing style) are valid enough,
Thought Chamber incorporate a lot of progressive rock elements on "Psykerion",
which they didn´t do to this extent on the debut album, which was more of a "straight" progressive
metal affair. As a result "Psykerion" is quite an eclectic release featuring a successful
balance between progressive metal and progressive rock elements (tracks like "Light Year
Time" and "Isle of Bizen" for example feature very few metal related elements).
Probably because of the shared sci-fi lyrics and imagery I can´t help mention that
"Psykerion" features quite a few similarities to "ReEvolution (2013)" by
Cynthesis. Another great 2013 progressive metal release.

"Psykerion" features 16 tracks and a full playing time of 63:53 minutes. Some of the tracks
are shorter instrumentals, interludes or intro/outros, but the song lengths are generally around the
3 - 5 minutes mark, with only two longer tracks out of the bunch and none of those two exceed the
10 minutes mark. The whole thing is packed in a powerful and well produced sound production. At
times I feel the keyboards (leads) are slightly too high in the mix, but that´s a minor issue. The
organ on the other hand are placed tastefully in the mix and provide the music with a nice organic
warmth.

The musicianship are on a high level. In keeping with the eclectic nature of the music you´ll be
exposed to both atmospheric playing and more challenging progressive parts with fast runs and
tempo- and time signature changes in "classic" progressive metal style. Lead vocalist Ted
Leonard delivers a very convincing performance, but if you are already familiar with some of
his previous work, that´s really no surprise. He is a greatly skilled singer with a distinct sounding
voice and a personal vocal style.

"Psykerion" reeks of class all the way through. The musicianship are strong, the sound
production professional and well sounding and the songwriting is intriguing and adventurous. All in
all a high quality product in every way possible. A 4.5 star (90%) rating is deserved.

SEASONS OF TIME Closed Doors to Open Plains (Neo-Prog, 2014)

Review by Second Life Syndrome — I have such mixed feelings on this debut album from Seasons of Time. I wouldn't call it a
mixed bag; however, I do feel that there is a certain inconsistency here that I would like to
address. This German band has an awesome style of music that brings all the best
elements of the neo-progressive style into one neat, tight package. However, there is more
lying under the surface.

Opening with the drawn out sound of birds and the great outdoors, "Closed Doors to Open
Plains" builds wonderful suspense and anticipation, perhaps a bit too much. However,
Seasons of Time has crafted an album of sixteen tracks that tend to be shorter, but all
connected. Their interesting themes that seem to have to do with relationships are
captivating, especially in the way the emotion comes through in the music,

Indeed, the music is simply fantastic. It's top-notch, top tier stuff. Guitars raise the hair on
our necks with searing solos and theatrics, the keyboards are perfectly tuned and expertly
composed, the drums are perfectly technical and never pretentious, and the bass is
rollicking and foot-stompingly good. Yes, the music, as I said, takes all the best elements
and makes them even better. If this were an instrumental album, it would certainly get full
stars from me.

However, "Closed Doors to Open Plains" isn't instrumental. Vocalist Dirk Berger is present,
and I wish to high heaven that he weren't. This guy can't sing. It's that simple. His voice is
off-key, his pronunciation could use some work and flow, and he simply does not have a
pleasant sound. But, it gets worse. The lyrics are truly awful. From the very first verse, you
get that feeling. Not only are the lyrics badly written, but they are cheesy and even vulgar at
points. For me, progressive music is too classy to resort to dropping f-bombs for no
apparent reason. I'm all for it if the situation calls for it, but Dirk seems to drop them for the
hell of it. It really ruins the beautiful atmosphere and the overall character of the music.

So, there is a clear division here. Seasons of Time has composed an amazing album.
However, they've failed miserably on the lyrical and vocal end of things. Thank goodness,
then, that most of the album is indeed instrumental, and there are many instrumental
tracks. Dirk isn't all bad, as I enjoyed his work on "Closing Doors", but that's about it.
However, the sheer amount of favorite instrumental tracks is staggering, as I just love "Bite
the Bullet", "Burning Bridges I and II", "Fuzz & Buzz", "The Station at the Border of the Mind",
and others. So, essentially, what we have here is tight music mixed with sloppy vocals and
lyrics.

Seasons of Time is still worth your money. This is a definite buy for anyone that loves neo-
prog. However, be warned that the album has some unpleasant, rough moments.
Though,, if you are in it for the music only, you will be thrilled.

3.5 stars

JOHN WESLEY Disconnect (Crossover Prog, 2014)

Review by Second Life Syndrome — Every once in a while, an album simply doesn't connect with me. Ironically, the album this
time is called "Disconnect" by John Wesley. Wesley has a long history in progressive
music, being attached to Fish and Porcupine Tree at various times. His multi-
instrumentalist capabilities have taken him far. However, here he is with his sixth solo
offering, and he has a full band behind him.

Being an excellent guitarist, "Disconnect" is really a guitarist's album. Guitar is front and
center, to a fault, I believe. Indeed, Alex Lifeson even guests on guitar for one of the tracks,
"Once a Warrior". So, if you love guitar, this might be your thing. I'm rather disappointed,
though, as I find that every thing else about this album is completely average or worse.
Drums, bass. and even vocals are all humdrum and uninteresting. And don't get me started
on the lyrics, which, for the lyric enthusiast, are not worth your time.

Yet, I can complain about the rest of the instruments on this album, but I think the major
problem is the horrible mix and the domination of the guitar. For whatever reason, I cannot
stand the guitar tone on this record. It literally gives me a headache, even on low volumes.
It's steel-hard, loud, and bombastic. It completely masks the rest of the instruments to the
point where the band never really feels like a band, but instead seems like background
musicians keeping time for the guitarists to bore us to death. Solos go on and on forever
without ever having an ounce of soul or emotion. Technical feats come and go without
anything truly interesting ever happening. Indeed, most songs sound the same: lame
attempt at a verse and chorus followed by a few minutes of guitar drudgery. Rinse. Repeat.

Indeed, ever since I saw the weirdly sexual music video for "Disconnect", I knew this album
would never pan out for me, and I was correct. I tried, but I can't get past the boring songs,
the pretentious guitar work (especially on "Any Old Saint"), and the aura of arrogance that I
can't seem to shake. Rough, blasting guitars mean nothing when the artist can't seem to
give them any meaning within a song structure. Indeed, it's difficult to base all your writing
on guitar without paying attention to the other instruments, melody, and rhythm. In the end,
this album feels like one big set-up for John and company to show off on guitar. You know
what, though? The guitar never really impresses anyways. Overall, "Disconnect" is a
disappointment and a failure.

BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST John Lees Barclay James Harvest: North (Cros…

Review by SouthSideoftheSky — The best Barclay James Harvest album in three decades, yet still not all that good!

Released in 2013, North is the first proper studio album to be released under the name of John Lees'
Barclay James Harvest. (1999's Nexus was a mixture of original material and re-recordings of classic
Barclay James Harvest songs; and besides it was released under the alternative name of "Barclay
James Harvest Through The Eyes Of John Lees".) Before he passed away in 2010, Woolly
Wolstenholme was involved in this version of the band (which can be seen on the very good live DVD
Legacy - Live At The Shepherd's Bush Empire released in 2007). The John Lees' Barclay James Harvest moniker is thus more appropriate than it was when it started as John Lees is now the only original member of Barclay James Harvest involved. (Les Holroyd has his own version of the band called Barclay James Harvest Featuring Les Holroyd, which included the fourth original member Mel Pritchard before he passed away.)

Nonetheless, North is a full-fledged Barclay James Harvest album in sound and appearance and is
indeed the best studio album that (any version of) the band has produced in a long, long time. Almost all
the songs bear the trademark Barclay James Harvest sound embodied in the voice and guitar sound of
John Lees. The opening track If You Were Here Now does however not have this sound and I wonder if it
is not bass player Craig Fletcher who sings lead here (?). It is a rather weak song which does not leave
a good impression.

The album continues with Ancient Waves which was previously familiar to me from the live album Live In
Concert At Metropolis Studios, London. This is one out of three good songs on this album, the other two
being the title track and On Leave. The latter is the longest track on the album which leaves room for
some tasteful guitar and keyboard work. These three songs easily rank among the best songs that the
band has produced since the 1970's. Unfortunately the album as a whole is not up to that standard.

Unreservedly Yours was released as a single to promote this album. It has a rather standard, Beatles-
esque melody and failed to leave any lasting impressions. On Top Of The World is a decent symphonic
ballad which is pleasant enough, but again hardly impressive. Is it Fletcher singing again?

The real embarrassments of the album have not yet been mentioned however. In Wonderland is an
absolute miss, especially the lyrics are cringe-worthy implicitly criticising the age of information
technology by urging us to switch our phones off making the band appear like some old Luddites. With
lines like "Facebook, YouTube, you loose" and "Schmetterlings for brains" this is best avoided by
contemporary beings. The Real Deal is another weak track, a dull, middle of the road rocker.

With some strong moments, some decent moments, and some really weak moments, North could
certainly have been a lot better than it is. If you are a fan of the band, by all means check this out, but
for most people this is far from essential.

MIKE OLDFIELD Man On The Rocks (Crossover Prog, 2014)

Review by Chris S — I must say I was somewhat skeptical when learning of this release late 2013 but when I heard
the sampler of the studio work, saw Leland Sklar in the background and Luke Spiller on
vocals, I knew that this could be potentially a refreshing new release.

Mike Oldfield has always managed to cross between long epic instrumental passages with
short crossover pop/prog songs. In fact he even went totally pop on the studio album Earth
Moving. So what am I driving at? Albums like side two off Crises, side two off Islands, side one
off Heaven's Open, Discovery and Earth Moving always had a wealth of shorter, vocally driven
songs. Exclude short tracks off more definitive works like Five Miles Out or QE2. So this is
Oldfield in his comfort zone, mixing a good dose of rock and crossover which results in mostly
a highly enjoyable album. Cleverly composed songs with a perfect blend of Oldfield's
ubiquitous guitar solo's and led with Luke Spiller's vocals. I will go one further and say that in
terms of choosing a male vocalist to guest on his albums, this is by far Oldfield's shrewdest
choice yet.

So what about the songs. I am thrilled to say there are no throw away tracks at all. The
combination of musicianship, choruses, vocals, work a treat and flow seamlessly. Spiller is so
good he allows Oldfield space to belt out his music without any pressure. There are eleven
tracks on Man on the Rocks, the highlights would be Nuclear. Listen to the chorus, Spiller
sounds like Greg Lake on Epitaph.......yeah that good! Moonshine and Dreaming In The Wind
are excellent also as is Irene. This last track really does sound like a hurricane building to a
relentless and oppressive climax. Castaway has some solid drumming by John Robinson.
Leland Sklar never disappoints on bass throughout the album either. So I stick my neck out
and unashamedly say this the most enjoyable studio release since TBIII. A deserved four stars
and great to see Oldfield back and enjoying himself. His guitars really shine.

VULTRESS Distance (Heavy Prog, 2013)

Review by Gallifrey — Note: this is also a review of Zentraedi's Seven Medley Sins

I'm actually glad I've been given a decent chance to talk about this album, since I failed to do so last year when it was released. It came to me through bandcamp's name your price system, something that had heralded many gems the year before, but as much as I wanted this to be a timeless classic, there were simply too many things that brought it down in my books, no matter how good some parts were. So now, I've been given another opportunity, since Seven Medley Sins came along and I decided to do this 'experimental' double review. Because, hey, if experimental music exists and so does experimental film and sculpture and literature, why can't experimental music criticism exist?

This review is published in two versions, with different introductions and conclusions, but the same body, because these two albums, in my opinion, have very similar great parts and very similar flaws, and talking about them together only seems logical. Of course, the fact that one of these albums is significantly better than the other may veto this fact, but I really, honestly couldn't think of another way of discussing these records. So I'll do so by running through a few central topics of similarity (and difference):

i. Production

Ok, ok, I first must get this one out of the way, since this is probably the only major topic upon which these albums differ. Distance's production was a huge obstacle for me, it sounded weak and amateurish, and during the parts when it wasn't being awesome, it really did start to frustrate me. Both albums suffer from a lack of variation within tones ? and with long albums this can definitely get a bit grating, but Distance had the frustrating problem of the vocals sounding distinctly placed out of the mix, as if they were floating over the top rather than blended in with the music. Often as well, the vocals would start to sound a bit off-key, especially when Anthony Capuano goes into his full Claudio Sánchez impression.

On Seven Medley Sins, the production is far less of an obstacle, but there still is much to be desired. My major problems really lie with the tones of the instruments, particularly the keyboards, which house some inevitable cheesy sounds during this record's duration. "Dodging the Remote" features some rather nasty ones, especially during the instrumental jam section. Fortunately, for every average keyboard tone, there is a less average one in a different section. The band makes regular use of the IQ/Arena 'stretchy' neo-prog synth that I am a big fan of, although I'm not certain it fits entirely with this music.

ii. Vocals

Although both these records centre themselves around progressive metal, with ample use of synthesiser and Dream Theater aesthetics, both bands have vocalists that pull them from that crowd and straight into the post-prog sounds of Coheed and Cambria or Circa Survive. Vultress' vocalist channels a very Claudio Sanchez inspired delivery for much of this record, although missing much of the ridiculous theatricality and pronunciation that many find unappealing about Claudio's voice. Zentraedi's vocalist reminds me a lot of Nathan DaSilva from Canadian band Slyde, but considering Slyde are pretty underground too, that's probably an unhelpful comparison. Either way, both these vocalists would feel more comfortable on alt-rock or post-hardcore records, but I feel that may be what brings them out of the generic prog metal field.

iii. Structure/Wanking

As I have mentioned, one of the many odd similarities between these albums is the fact that both records have seven tracks, and both records clock in at around 70 minutes. So, by use of brilliant mathematical deduction, it means these tracks are long. Really long. Aside from "The Siren's Song" (which Vultress even label as an interlude), we don't have a single track under six minutes, and only two under eight. Between these records, we have six songs over 10 minutes, and one that nearly hits 25 in its length, and when I see track lengths like this, I hope to hell that the band knows how to structure them.

But honestly, I have yet to find a band that can make this many epics in a record and make them all sound cohesive, and although there are tracks that are pretty decently structured here, many of them meander and piss about, and generally feel like a bunch of song ideas stacked on top of each other. Both bands have an obvious Dream Theater influence in the way they use synth and guitar parts together, but there's also the influence of DT's messy gluing together of longer tracks, to the point where a few of them just completely lose all sense of greatness part way through the track. "The Path" on Distance has a really brilliant lead vocal melody and chorus, as well as some really nice instrumentation to back it, but the solo and bridge just lose themselves part way through, and even the final chorus isn't enough to really get any of the greatness back.

There are exceptions though, and I could cite both opening tracks as being pretty decently structured. Zentraedi throw one of the best choruses on the album right at you, straight off the bat, which I feel is a rather bold move, but it was certainly what sucked me in. I feel they did wait a bit long to bring the melody back into play, since it only reprises about a minute before the track ends, with a lengthy instrumental break and some hardcore wanking in the middle. Vultress take the tack of having a long and jamming instrumental to introduce the album, and is honestly one of the few instrumental sections on either album that I thoroughly enjoy. Despite taking up nearly half the track, it doesn't feel too long at all, and I really like the riff that comes in underneath the first vocal line. Unfortunately, toward the end of the track, they bring in one of the best melodies on the entire album, but 7.5 minutes into the track, it feels way too late to bring in such a great melody, and is one of the very rare times when I wish they actually continued and developed around this melody, because it feels so under-used.

But many of the tracks, and the biggest culprits here are "Time Capsule" on Seven Medley Sins and the closing "At The Edge" on Distance, which are both very meandering and aimless tracks. "Time Capsule" really just feels like a bunch of ideas flung together, and most of them are killed by completely unnecessary time changes, like the way that the intro never settles into a groove, constantly shifting and being rather annoying with the accented beats. Sometimes time changes are great, but here it just feels disjointed and irritating. "At The Edge", being nearly 25 minutes, has its fair share of long-winded and boring sections, and especially combined with the fact that it has as many memorable melodies as one of the shorter tracks, makes it a rather arduous listen. Vultress do have moments of good structuring though, and the reprises of the "Siren's Song" melody during both of the last two tracks is really nice, especially considering it's one of the best melodies here.

I think the basis of a lot of this meandering is because both these albums are heavily concept and lyrical-based. Seven Medley Sins as a title is a terrible play on 'seven deadly sins', and I have had my fair say of anger towards long-winded concept albums about deadly sins in the past. It doesn't come directly to the front, but on both albums, there are sections that are just lengthy storytellings, as if the music has been written around the lyrics. And of course, combine that with many prog bands needs to wank aimlessly for minutes on end, and you have some pretty tiring material. It would be something that affected my opinions of these records greatly, if it weren't for the massive redeeming feature?

iv. Melodies

I've often said in my reviews, at least of the albums that I say negative things about (yet somehow like) ? "everything is irrelevant if you have good melodies"

And as much as I love to talk about music in terms of everything but the melodies, you can't forget that melody is the core of music, and if you have great melodies, there's a 90% chance that your music is going to be great, no matter how you present it (there are still those (*cough Amaranthe *cough) that somehow manage it). But the fact is, everything I have said in criticism of these two records is fixable. The production will improve with success and fans and therefore better funding, the structuring and wankiness will come with time and practice, these bands just need to get a feel of where the songs are heading, so I guess that although these factors do affect my enjoyment, there are enough memorable riffs and melodies to make me forget all of that and enjoy the music.

Unfortunately this is where these two albums start to spread out a bit, in terms of my opinions about them, because it's obvious that Vultress have a far better knack for great choruses than Zentraedi, and that certainly has a bigger effect on my views. On Seven Medley Sins, the album opens with a bang, as I have stated the chorus of "Swarm" as being truly excellent, and there are certainly some other great ones ? "Dodging The Remote" and "Dek80z" are both littered with catchy little hooks in their verses, but nothing on here compares to some of the stuck-in-your-head-all-day stuff on Distance. "The Siren Screams" has an absolutely phenomenal chorus, awesomely catchy and memorable, which is a pity since a fair bit of the rest of the track is pretty lacklustre. "The Siren's Song" also has a nice little melody, and Vultress are smart enough to reprise it a few times during the last two songs.

Conclusion

But I guess the point is that, regardless of their similarities, these two records are both excellent debuts in the prog metal world that push beyond the obvious drawbacks to be significantly unique within the scene. Both these bands can be given the same advice, and with some more focus, they cold both release stellar follow-ups.

Distance - 8.0
Seven Medley Sins - 7.1

Originally written for my Facebook page/blog: www.facebook.com/neoprogisbestprog

ZENTRAEDI Seven Medley Sins (Progressive Metal, 2014)

Review by Gallifrey — Note: this is also a review of Vultress' Distance

It's actually quite uncanny how many similarities there are between this, Zentraedi's debut album, and Distance, the debut album from Vultress that was released last year. Both the genre and the influences, the country of origin and method of distribution, to even little things like the album length and number of tracks, and of course, how I feel about these two albums. When it came to write a review of this album, I simply couldn't think of a way to discuss it without bringing up Distance every few seconds, and that would probably help no one in terms of comparison, since Distance is basically as unknown as this is. So I have decided, completely unsure of whether this will work or not, to write an 'experimental review' of both albums at the same time.

But I don't want anyone to think that Zentraedi are a clone band because this was released after Distance, because Vultress are certainly just as unknown as these guys are, and I don't really think a band would go out of their way to copy and album that was pretty flawed in its own right. This review is published in two versions, with different introductions and conclusions, but the same body, because these two albums, in my opinion, have very similar great parts and very similar flaws, and talking about them together only seems logical. Of course, the fact that one of these albums is significantly better than the other may veto this fact, but I really, honestly couldn't think of another way of discussing these records. So I'll do so by running through a few central topics of similarity (and difference):

i. Production

Ok, ok, I first must get this one out of the way, since this is probably the only major topic upon which these albums differ. Distance's production was a huge obstacle for me, it sounded weak and amateurish, and during the parts when it wasn't being awesome, it really did start to frustrate me. Both albums suffer from a lack of variation within tones ? and with long albums this can definitely get a bit grating, but Distance had the frustrating problem of the vocals sounding distinctly placed out of the mix, as if they were floating over the top rather than blended in with the music. Often as well, the vocals would start to sound a bit off-key, especially when Anthony Capuano goes into his full Claudio Sánchez impression.

On Seven Medley Sins, the production is far less of an obstacle, but there still is much to be desired. My major problems really lie with the tones of the instruments, particularly the keyboards, which house some inevitable cheesy sounds during this record's duration. "Dodging the Remote" features some rather nasty ones, especially during the instrumental jam section. Fortunately, for every average keyboard tone, there is a less average one in a different section. The band makes regular use of the IQ/Arena 'stretchy' neo-prog synth that I am a big fan of, although I'm not certain it fits entirely with this music.

ii. Vocals

Although both these records centre themselves around progressive metal, with ample use of synthesiser and Dream Theater aesthetics, both bands have vocalists that pull them from that crowd and straight into the post-prog sounds of Coheed and Cambria or Circa Survive. Vultress' vocalist channels a very Claudio Sanchez inspired delivery for much of this record, although missing much of the ridiculous theatricality and pronunciation that many find unappealing about Claudio's voice. Zentraedi's vocalist reminds me a lot of Nathan DaSilva from Canadian band Slyde, but considering Slyde are pretty underground too, that's probably an unhelpful comparison. Either way, both these vocalists would feel more comfortable on alt-rock or post-hardcore records, but I feel that may be what brings them out of the generic prog metal field.

iii. Structure/Wanking

As I have mentioned, one of the many odd similarities between these albums is the fact that both records have seven tracks, and both records clock in at around 70 minutes. So, by use of brilliant mathematical deduction, it means these tracks are long. Really long. Aside from "The Siren's Song" (which Vultress even label as an interlude), we don't have a single track under six minutes, and only two under eight. Between these records, we have six songs over 10 minutes, and one that nearly hits 25 in its length, and when I see track lengths like this, I hope to hell that the band knows how to structure them.

But honestly, I have yet to find a band that can make this many epics in a record and make them all sound cohesive, and although there are tracks that are pretty decently structured here, many of them meander and piss about, and generally feel like a bunch of song ideas stacked on top of each other. Both bands have an obvious Dream Theater influence in the way they use synth and guitar parts together, but there's also the influence of DT's messy gluing together of longer tracks, to the point where a few of them just completely lose all sense of greatness part way through the track. "The Path" on Distance has a really brilliant lead vocal melody and chorus, as well as some really nice instrumentation to back it, but the solo and bridge just lose themselves part way through, and even the final chorus isn't enough to really get any of the greatness back.

There are exceptions though, and I could cite both opening tracks as being pretty decently structured. Zentraedi throw one of the best choruses on the album right at you, straight off the bat, which I feel is a rather bold move, but it was certainly what sucked me in. I feel they did wait a bit long to bring the melody back into play, since it only reprises about a minute before the track ends, with a lengthy instrumental break and some hardcore wanking in the middle. Vultress take the tack of having a long and jamming instrumental to introduce the album, and is honestly one of the few instrumental sections on either album that I thoroughly enjoy. Despite taking up nearly half the track, it doesn't feel too long at all, and I really like the riff that comes in underneath the first vocal line. Unfortunately, toward the end of the track, they bring in one of the best melodies on the entire album, but 7.5 minutes into the track, it feels way too late to bring in such a great melody, and is one of the very rare times when I wish they actually continued and developed around this melody, because it feels so under-used.

But many of the tracks, and the biggest culprits here are "Time Capsule" on Seven Medley Sins and the closing "At The Edge" on Distance, which are both very meandering and aimless tracks. "Time Capsule" really just feels like a bunch of ideas flung together, and most of them are killed by completely unnecessary time changes, like the way that the intro never settles into a groove, constantly shifting and being rather annoying with the accented beats. Sometimes time changes are great, but here it just feels disjointed and irritating. "At The Edge", being nearly 25 minutes, has its fair share of long-winded and boring sections, and especially combined with the fact that it has as many memorable melodies as one of the shorter tracks, makes it a rather arduous listen. Vultress do have moments of good structuring though, and the reprises of the "Siren's Song" melody during both of the last two tracks is really nice, especially considering it's one of the best melodies here.

I think the basis of a lot of this meandering is because both these albums are heavily concept and lyrical-based. Seven Medley Sins as a title is a terrible play on 'seven deadly sins', and I have had my fair say of anger towards long-winded concept albums about deadly sins in the past. It doesn't come directly to the front, but on both albums, there are sections that are just lengthy storytellings, as if the music has been written around the lyrics. And of course, combine that with many prog bands needs to wank aimlessly for minutes on end, and you have some pretty tiring material. It would be something that affected my opinions of these records greatly, if it weren't for the massive redeeming feature?

iv. Melodies

I've often said in my reviews, at least of the albums that I say negative things about (yet somehow like) ? "everything is irrelevant if you have good melodies"

And as much as I love to talk about music in terms of everything but the melodies, you can't forget that melody is the core of music, and if you have great melodies, there's a 90% chance that your music is going to be great, no matter how you present it (there are still those *cough* Amaranthe *cough* that somehow manage it). But the fact is, everything I have said in criticism of these two records is fixable. The production will improve with success and fans and therefore better funding, the structuring and wankiness will come with time and practice, these bands just need to get a feel of where the songs are heading, so I guess that although these factors do affect my enjoyment, there are enough memorable riffs and melodies to make me forget all of that and enjoy the music.

Unfortunately this is where these two albums start to spread out a bit, in terms of my opinions about them, because it's obvious that Vultress have a far better knack for great choruses than Zentraedi, and that certainly has a bigger effect on my views. On Seven Medley Sins, the album opens with a bang, as I have stated the chorus of "Swarm" as being truly excellent, and there are certainly some other great ones ? "Dodging The Remote" and "Dek80z" are both littered with catchy little hooks in their verses, but nothing on here compares to some of the stuck-in-your-head-all-day stuff on Distance. "The Siren Screams" has an absolutely phenomenal chorus, awesomely catchy and memorable, which is a pity since a fair bit of the rest of the track is pretty lacklustre. "The Siren's Song" also has a nice little melody, and Vultress are smart enough to reprise it a few times during the last two songs.

Conclusion

But I guess the point is that, regardless of their similarities, these two records are both excellent debuts in the prog metal world that push beyond the obvious drawbacks to be significantly unique within the scene. Both these bands can be given the same advice, and with some more focus, they cold both release stellar follow-ups.

Distance - 8.0
Seven Medley Sins - 7.1

Originally written for my Facebook page/blog: www.facebook.com/neoprogisbestprog

ROY HARPER Man andamp; Myth (Prog Folk, 2013)

Review by SteveG — The man who created his myth. I feel that this fantastic album was directly influenced by the stellar 2 CD compilation album Harper released a few years back entitled Songs Of Love and Loss which featured songs picked by Roy dealing with past relationships. Most of which failed. The related songs on Man And Myth which come to mind are Time is Temporary, January Man, and The Stranger. All feel, to me, like conclusions to the songs on the Love And Loss album. The beautiful folk/prog of Heaven is Hear segued into the Exile is time transporting musical bliss with a majestic almost understated Floyd like accompaniment (minus any keyboards of course) but with the signature rubbery bass leads of Tony Franklin to keep the music from sounding dated. This album is a worthy come back but please also seek out Songs Of Love And Loss which is not even listed on this sites discorgraphy.

LATTE E MIELE Passio Secundum Mattheum: The Complete Work (Rock Pro…

Review by Todd — A new version of Passio! (Posted Easter week 2014)


A new interpretation of a classic RPI title! This is quite an undertaking, but it comes off in an outstanding
way, giving new life to old friends. In contrast to so many reworkings of old pieces that I've heard in recent
years, this one does not leave me only wishing to listen to the original. Rather, the new work stands well on
its own, not only helping me listen to the original with new ears, but also bringing new insights and
experience.

In 1972, Latte e Miele released their debut, an incredibly ambitious work based on the Passion of St.
Matthew, "Passio Secundum Mattheum." This is one of the seminal titles of 1970s RPI and has rightfully
stood the test of time. The band would never equal this album, although the subsequent title, "Papillon",
came close. After that the band broke up for a time, until drummer Alfio Vitanza reformed the band, with new
members including bassist Massimo Gori. Their only album, "Aquile e Scoiattoli", has its moments but is
inferior to the first two, and the band disbanded a few years later after moving toward more commercial
music.

In 2008 the band reformed, including all three original members (Vitanza and songwriter/keyboardist Oliviero
Lacagnina, as well as guitarist Marcello Giancarlo Dellacasa) and Massimo Gori, bassist from the second
generation of the band. The quartet released "Live Tasting", an excellent live album that portended of the
good to come. Their time together also produced a wonderful new album, "Marco Polo: Sogni e Viaggi" in
2009.

Over the years, Lacagnina never stopped composing his masterpiece, his "Passio". Now the quartet has
recorded anew their masterpiece, adding those "new" compositions into the narrative. For example, "Il Pane
e il Sangue dell'Alleanza" has been inserted right after "Ultima Cena", and "Il Rinnegamento di Pietro" and "Il
Prezzo del Sangue" between "Il Pianto" and "Giuda". Also, the ending has been fleshed out significantly, with
four new songs, and the final song, "Come un Ruscello che..." includes the final themes previously entitled "Il
Dono della Vita". Also of note, a solo organ piece entitled "Toccata per organo" is placed just before
"Calvario"--this is special, as it is an original take from 1972!

The instrumentation is true to the spirit of the 1972 piece, although with an updated sound. Ditto the choir,
which sometimes on the 1972 version is muted and thin--here the choir parts are strong, lush, and vibrant.
The majority of the pieces that were rerecorded for this edition also maintain their compositional structure,
although there are a few changes inserted (notably in "I Falsi Testimoni", the new version of "I Testimoni"
parts 1 and 2). There is nothing that violates that spirit of the original work, though it is impossible to
duplicate its wonderful innocence.

Another unique feature of this album is the presence of several prominent figures from RPI providing the
spoken Evangelist parts. These include Alvaro Fella (Jumbo), Lino Vairetti (Osanna), Silvana Aliotta (Circus
2000), Paolo Carelli (Pholas Dactylus), Aldo de Scalzi (Picchio dal Pozzo), Sophya Baccini, Elisa Montaldo
(Il Tempio delle Clessidre), Giorgio D'Adamo (New Trolls), Max Manfredi, Simonluca, and Paolo Griguolo
(Picchio dal Pazzo). It's a nice touch that really rounds out the album.

The CD comes in a jewel case with a lyric booklet. I'm told that the pending Japanese version will contain a
newly recorded composition as a bonus track. But don't wait for that one--go out and grab this one. You
won't be disappointed. Four plus stars (Gnosis 13/15).