The Fierce And The Dead - Field Recordings
Magnet In Your Face (2:06), Ark (4:38), Dancing Robot (4:55), Verbose (6:09), Palm Trees (4:01), 666.6 (6:52)
As such, it serves up a good summary of what TFATD are all about and showcases their not-inconsiderable chops, and their eccentric-yet-still-accessible music. Assuch it's a great introduction to any new listeners. Starting with a ferocious riff on Magnet in your Face, right through to the closing blast of 666.6, this is a vey enjoyable album but sadly it is a very short listen, being only 30 minutes in duration.
But even so, it is very, very good and well recorded, capturing the excitement of the day very accurately. The band are certainly on great form throughout, and can be heard to be clearly enjoying playing to a large festival crowd. I'm sure their set won them plenty of new fans.
TFATD are often compared to King Crimson and other "experimental" prog bands and you can clearly hear their confidence in this material. Of special mention is the sterling bass work of Kev Feazley, who adds significant bottom-end to these tracks, and who in tandem with Stuart Marshall's drums, provides a great base from which guitarists Matt Stevens and Steve Cleaton can both soar and weave their own unique brand of sonic mayhem.
New songs Verbose and Dancing Robots also register as strong new pieces and fit well with older classics like Ark and Magnet In Your Face, all of which bodes well, as this fine little band grow in confidence and grow in their stature and popularity.
Overall a great release. If only it were a bit longer! Still it comes highly recommended indeed and fans of Crimson and their ilk will find much to relish here. Oh and it has a great cover sleeve as well.
John Wenlock-Smith: 8 out of 10
The Land Of The Snow - Paths Of Chaos
Lone Wolf Ritual (4:57), Forget Everything (5:17), Beyond The Golgotha (4:22), Impermanent Bliss (4:07), States Of Longing (4:40), Nomad's Dust (3:29), Path Of Chaos (7:10)
Comprised of seven tracks, the album slowly trundles-in with a slow, rythmic and bass-heavy riff which slowly evolves in heaviness over the course of the album intro, Lone Wolf Ritual. What follows is a sludgy, fuzzy tone. Think the old fuzzy tones you used to get in old school rock, but heavier. The tone stays the same, with this bass and fuzz-heavy sound, but the riffs continually evolve at the right times to inject a new energy into the tracks and to keep them interesting.
The drums add to an overall sound of slow, impending doom, which coupled with the riffs, make for an astounding album for any fan of this style of music. As an instrumental album, it relies heavily on the riffing to keep the listener interested, and as a fan of this genre, I was very interested. It is just awash with fantastic riffs.
In short, if you like slow, riff-laden, doomy tracks, get this album. For me? This is definitely going to be one I'll be listening to for years to come. An album for fans of doom and sludge metal, similar to bands such as Lycus, Inverloch, Slabdragger and Jumbo's Killcrane.
Calum Gibson: 9 out of 10
Pymlico - Meeting Point
Crab Key (4:45), Second Rate Punk (7:30), Broken Glass (4:43), Iris (3:58), First Light (3:13), NOL861613060 (4:36), Lucy Does Not Approve (4:32), Erised (8:54)
The album has excellent sound quality and the band's style in this instrumental album can be broadly described as melodic and accessible. The tunes have strong hooks and are never complex for the sake of it. Nevertheless, the music is satisfying, and at times the album successfully mixes a number of styles, including symphonic prog and fusion.
Layers of keyboard effects are used extensively, and this, on occasions, gives the music a cinematic feel. Some of keyboard player Øyvind Brøter's solos and majestic flourishes, added to the ensemble parts of the band's arrangements, are simply delightful.
Guitarist Stephan Hvinden has an expressive style and is able to convey subtlety and ferocity as the need arises. The clever use of saxophone gives the album an extra voice, and it is used to good effect alongside brass instruments in the excellent NOL86161360, to emphasise a number of changes of tempo and also to underpin shifts in mood.
NOL86161360 is probably the most progressive tune on offer and has many interesting facets. I particularly liked the dirty, distorted guitar riff that occurs at the beginning. Later on, I enjoyed the flurried Moog solo that concludes the piece. Equally impressive, is the band's skilful ability to combine a number of unexpected elements during the composition. I am confident many prog fans will enjoy NOL86161360. Despite its cutting edge sound and often unpredictable nature, it still retains an air of accessibility because of the consistent way in which ear-friendly melodies are utilised within the arrangement.
Much of the music in Meeting Point combines a strong rhythmic approach with likeable melodies. It is an album that makes you want to reach for your gold, 80s, jazz-styled party hat, and is sure to get the foot tapping and the lips humming. The interplay between the guitar and keyboard that is present in a significant number of tracks, reminded me of bands such as Camel and Solaris. At other times, in tunes such as Lucy Does Not Approve and Erised, which concludes the album, the band opts for a sound reminiscent of the style of jazz rock bands like Passport in the 80s.
Some of the album's compositions work extremely well. In the genteel Iris, bulbous bass lines blossom, fluid guitar tones flutter and fall and spoken and chanted effects add mystery, to ensure that the piece succeeds in holding a listener's interest. As a consequence, the best tracks of the album are very enjoyable and have much to offer anybody who enjoys varied instrumental music.
Nevertheless, Broken Glass has got knuckle-knee tapping qualities and is sure to splinter opinions. Unfortunately, I personally found the vibe of its slick-paced groove unsettlingly reminiscent of strobe-lit venues, and reminded me of nights spent watching backward-glancing jazz rock bands in the early 80s.
On the face of it Second Rate Punk is a tune that might not appear to have anything particularly novel to express. It is essentially a series of recurring rhythmic interludes with a jazz tint, that are interspersed with a number of calming and reflective sections reminiscent of Camel. Despite a somewhat predictable structure, the good production values, energy that is expressed, and some skilled musicianship manages to carry the piece successfully and enjoyably to its conclusion.
Meeting Point is an album that has grown on me, as I have become more accustomed to it. I have tried to focus on what lies underneath its accessible structure and somewhat familiar overall 80s jazz-tinged style, and I have enjoyed what I have been able to discover. Whilst I cannot wholeheartedly recommend Meeting Point, I think that many DPRP readers who enjoy instrumental music with clearly defined structures will find that it is worth checking out.
Owen Davies: 7 out of 10
Rivière - Heal
New Cancer (8:31), Golden Wounds (6:41), Symbol (8:54), Satin Night (9:45), Cobalt (2:58), Binary Love (5:48), Yosemite (9:49)
They open Heal with the heavy post-rock grind of the first few minutes of New Cancer, before the track catches fire, with interweaving guitars and thunderous drums. Throughout the album, Rivière are prepared to take their time to develop an intensity that is very rewarding. They do this on the longer tracks, such as when they turn up the metal on Satin Night, and they don't forget to make it dynamically, as well as rhythmically, interesting. They also add great vocal harmonies. On Yosemite they mash-up a Mogwai-like build-and-release, with Riverside's melodic sense.
Even when Rivière go aggressively metal, as on Binary Love and to some extent Golden Wounds, they still produce some welcome light and shade amongst the monolithic riffing. But for me it is the less interesting aspect of their album.
The thing that wins me over to this album though is bassist Arnaud Laffront's tenor voice. His subtle approach to the vocal melodies and his phrasing, avoiding the scream and the growl clichés, stand in stark contrast to the metal mayhem that sometimes surrounds him. But in doing less than the usual metal vocalist, he focuses the listener's attention to the interplay of melodies. As someone who is not always convinced by the heavier side of prog-metal, Rivière's approach on Heal is a winning and refreshing combination.
Martin Burns: 7.5 out of 10
Voyager - Ghost Mile
Ascension (5:22), Misery Is Only Company (5:02), Lifeline (4:45), This Fragile Serene (4:56), To The Riverside (2:10), Ghost Mile (4:19), What A Wonderful Day (3:13), Disconnected (4:53), This Gentle Earth (3:28), As The City Takes The Night (6:26)
We start off with the familiar tones of Ascension and Misery Is Only Company, both video singles, the first one just recently released, the latter around for a year ever since the joint European headline tour with Norwegian shooting stars Leprous. This pair of songs shows that Voyager have perfected their unique brand of 'pop prog metal' even further.
The first guitar notes of Ascension, and thus of the entire album, are exemplars of how Voyager manage to blur the lines of major and minor on Ghost Mile (not to speak of the luscious lead guitar tone), and how this is a record that is both uplifting and melancholy in nature. What might sound quite schizophrenic on paper, works impressively well and never sounds disjointed or odd throughout the whole album.
Back to the opening track, Ascension: Alex Canion's bass lines during the verses are warm and beautiful, until his massive growls kick-in for the spine tingling bridge. To top it all off, they have another 180 degree turn in store for us, an ending with a djenty riff of absolutely epic proportions. What a stunning opener.
After Misery is only Company, Lifeline surprises with a stellar guitar solo, one of the few (if not only two) on Ghost Mile. The Fragile Serene captivates with a memorable, groovy riff and Canion's incredibly beautiful clean vocals take a more prominent role for the first time. The short To The Riverside works perfectly as a build up to the monstrous title track. Winding their way along the Ghost Mile, the second half picks up speed and ferocity, with blastbeats underlying serene keyboard atmospheres and epic vocals.
The electronic pop flourishes of the upbeat What A Wonderful Day is splendidly placed as a follow-up, especially with yet another huge riff towards its end. Generally I notice an interesting songwriting pattern here, that just works perfectly: end every other song with an absolutely huge and epic riff that doesn't necessarily have to have something to do with the riffs used throughout the rest of the song. It always leaves you wanting more.
Luckily, we haven't quite reached the end of the Ghost Mile. With the beginning of Disconnected it suddenly seems like we stepped into a loophole in time and space into Leprous' stellar debut album Tall Poppy Syndrome, at least until Danny's vocals kick in, to steer the song back into familiar Voyager territory.
This Gentle Earth provides classic Danny Estrin piano/vocal material, exploring yet again the voltage field of an uplifting sonic tapestry, counteracting some dark and lonely lyrics.
As the album comes towards its end, As The City Takes The Night sums up once again, why Ghost Mile is one of the most important modern, melodic prog metal releases of 2017. The thundering bass of Alex Canion is reminiscing the tones of Amos Williams from the almighty british djent masters TesseracT. His amazing additional vocals during the chorus/bridge are the icing on the cake, and the final polyrhythmic riff should suffice to make the aforementioned Tessercats jealous. And this time it is not that riff, but the heartbreaking melody from Alex that leaves us begging for more. Luckily, there is the repeat button.
Ghost Mile is just as immediately hitting, as it is subtle, with lots of intricacies to explore. So maybe you could call it a 'fast grower'. With groovy, sometimes djenty riffs, addictive melodies and soothing atmospheres to bathe in aplenty, this album is a milestone in the pop-prog metal genre. Or "EPIC ELECTRO PROGRESSIVE POWER POP METAL" as they like to refer to their own style. Maybe the most fitting sub genre categorisation I've ever heard of. Well done lads and lass. Hats off.
Dario Albrecht: 10 out of 10