Album Reviews

Issue 2014-030


Progstravaganza XVIII - Transforma

Progstravaganza XVIII - Transforma
Country of Origin:Various
Record Label:Prog-Sphere Promotions
Catalogue #:n/a
Year of Release:2014
Samples:Click here

Prog-Sphere's Progstravaganza progressive rock compilation series has reached its eighteenth edition with the release of the brand new sampler titled Transforma.

Transforma brings seventeen songs, and is the fifth to get the DPRP review treatment.

As before, the aim of this "review" is not to provide a detailed analysis of each track but a brief comment to signpost songs which may be worth further investigation.

To make it more of a challenge - our reviewers have to do it in no more than a paragraph!

Where available we've also added a link to the band's most recent DPRP album review.

You can stream individual tracks of interest from the Progstravaganza 18 Bandcamp page by clicking the "Info" option above whilst you read through the comments. You can also download the entire "album" via Bandcamp in the usual different audio formats under the "pay what you want" format.

Jason Rubenstein - The Blow Off (6:16)

Roger Trenwith (RT): A VERY Crimsoid tune from American multi-instrumentalist. I quite like it, especially when the organ kicks in, but it does nothing we've not heard before.
Andy Read (AR): Movie soundtrack instrumental prog with Moog and Hammond in the vein of KC and ELP. Not my thing.
André de Boer (AdB): Jason claims to go prog. Maybe it is an instrumental exercise in the end. Simple in composition and play, doesn't quite reach me.

5R6 - K (4:42)

RT: Generic bludgeon riffola. Doesn't float my boat. Next...
AR: Listenable-but-predictable alt-rock with a stoner, grunge vibe and odd time signatures from Ukraine.
AdB: Prog Metal mixed with Nirvana grunge from the Ukraine. Not original but nice to listen to.

Bugra Sisman - The Trees Made It (4:39)

RT: Melodic prog metal. Pleasant enough, but no surprises.
AR: Ambient-gets-heavy instrumental from Turkish guitarist. Nice emotive playing. Would be more interesting in a band context for me.
AdB: Nice solo play by this Turkish guitarist but you've heard it many times before.

Ethereal Riffian - Wakan Tanka (12:09)

RT: A band with high artistic ambition, ER's last album apparently came with a book explaining the concept behind their heavy and hypnotic stoner metal, of which this is a prime example, with some great guitar mangling. Sabs fans would love it.
AR: Heavy ambient chants amid distorted guitars for Tibetan Monks to meditate to. Being a Quaker, I prefer silent thought.
AdB: 12 minutes of eclectic vibes and stunning guitars. Fascinating really, without the vocals.

Stolen Memories - Scattered Man (5:28)

RT: French "progressive thrash metal". I haven't a clue what's going on here, but at least it is not as off-putting as its description. Yikes!
AR: Aggressive Metal Progressif from French band's second album. Lovely guitar but needs a richer vocal to really work for me.
AdB: French, with English lyrics, high speed prog metal with some nice twists.

Vie Jester - Manifest (5:02)

RT: L.A. punk metal/hard rock trio in the vein of Alice In Chains. sounds like a track from halfway through an album. Forgettable.
AR: A modern power trio out of LA whose new EP Cognisense will find favour with fans of Creed and Nickelback. Nice vocals and guitar details. Limited Prog appeal.
AdB: USA rock. Nice, though not so much prog but straight (hard) rock.

Celluloid Winter - Kodachrome (4:41)

RT: Another L.A. based band, and the first song on this compilation that is not metal or metal influenced. Huzzah! Dreamy if simplistic art-pop with a strong Steven Wilson/Blackfield feel.
AR: American Prog Rock duo with a clear loving for Floyd, Steven Wilson and Blackfield. Inoffensively one-dimensional with nice melody. Whole EP is avaiable for Name Your Price on their Bandcamp Page.
AdB: Fine mesmerizing quiet song. Listen to this one several times to make up your mind.

Jofro-Hema - Home (5:33)

RT: Danish neo-prog band. Doesn't bring home the bacon. Pigling Bland?
AR: Suprisingly inventive and melodic NeoProg from Danish/Faroese band. More please.
AdB: Easy, non pretentious prog song from Denmark with sedate Faroe vocals. It brings a wonderful atmosphere. Lovely.

Road Not Taken - Hangman (6:39)

RT: German band batter interesting folky intro to death with yet more dull metalisms and over-earnest vocals. The drums are far too upfront. Uninspiring. Skip.
AR: Inventive heavy prog with power metal bursts. Enjoyed the music but the singer doesn't fit.
AdB: Rather typical German old skool progressive metal.

The Beckoning - The Sifting (Part 1) (4:44)

RT: Growling...I mean, assuming they wrote lyrics, just what is the point? He could be singing anything. I won't be searching out part 2.
AR: Raw, extreme, progressive, gothic metal from Canada. Failed to warm to the cold production.
AdB: Melodic death metal, bit out of place here. Horrible vocals.

:::KILLCODE::: - Hands Up (4:07)

RT: "Southern infused Metal / Rock with modern vocals" says the blurb. Yet more dull grey steel if you ask morphs into Rage Against The Machine on Mogadon towards the end, which I found rather amusing.
AR: Suvern-infused heavy rock with anthemic chorus. Lynyrd Sevendust? Very good example of it's style but not progressive in any way.
AdB: An uncomplicated piece of rock with a bright appeal. Will bore me.

MotherSloth - Death Flower (8:11)

RT: Great name! I'm an optimist if nothing else, waiting for something inspriring to emerge from this pondful of sludge. MotherSloth are a Spanish band, and this is the longest track this time round. The clue is in the second syllable of their name.
AR: Quartet from Madrid whose flower comes into bloom very slowly. Riff-based instrumental.
AdB: Great display of mastering different types of handling guitar driven intrumental. From dark and moody to wahwah and beyond. Band and song title names say the rest.

the TerraZAR - Close the Door (You're Letting the Stank Out) (4:18)

RT: Bloody daft song tile. "the TerraZAR is a 3-piece Prog Funk band from South Africa", which means a bit of variety, at last! Angular white funk-rock moves, a tad repetitive, but at least the rareified sonics show a bit of imagination. The bass player in particular is rather good.
AR: Gotta love a jazzy prog funk band from South Africa with a debut album called All Hail The Bunny. It's available for Name Your Price on BandCamp. On the basis of this instrumental, it's worth a listen.
AdB: Great groovy song with lots of humour incorporated.

Rosa Luxemburg - Ils se tiennent la main (3:33)
[I & II (2009)]

RT: Unremarkable French pop-prog-metal (?!) that seems longer than it is.
AR: The only band I'd heard before. Guitar-based modern Prog sung in French. For fans of Némo?
AdB: A lovely French progressive metal song, including Hammond. Recommended, could be stretched to 8 minutes at least.

Rubik 1138 - Bostezo Universal (4:18)

RT: Masked Mexicans who mix many rock influences and spit them out at 90 mph, with a decent guitar break in the middle. Passable.
AR: Instrumental prog from Mexico inspired by the Rubik's Cube. I could never get into that either.
AdB: Interesting instrumental prog track from Mexico. Very detailed composition and playing.

Septa - Widower (6:44)

RT: Being Ukranian, this band probably have more important things to worry about right now than making music. Hard edged indie rock with a singer who in a few years won't have a voice left if he carries on like that! Horrible.
AR: A clever variety of sounds and textures wrapped around a vocal that starts low-key before showing aggressive tendancies. Artistic alt rock from Ukraine. Also offered at Name Your Price on Bandcamp
AdB: Yet another interesting Ukraine band. Great song, with vocals and a small modest grunt that fits. Album cover fits the current political stuation.

Rapid Pig - To the Mountain (bonus track) (5:28)

RT: No info on this band. Druggy riff driven spacerock. Nothing new, but ok.
AR: The Space Rock son of Fright Pig? I found the vocals so horrible I could only make the first two minutes.
AdB: After Fright Pig (which is very good!) we now have Rapid Pig. Experimental UK mix of punk and prog that is quite nice.

And Finally...

Roger Trenwith: With this latest compilation, Progstravaganza have maybe reached the bottom of the well. Thoroughly dull and forgettable. The two recommendations I made are the only glimmers of hope in an otherwise unispiring pile dying embers.

Andy Read: I feel Prog-Sphere has now got the right number of tracks and song length for a compilation. More of an alt-rock tendancy on this edition but as always something new to discover.

André de Boer: Didn't know any of this episode's bands. Which is lovely, because the Progstravaganza are here for us listeners to explore the new, isn't it. Some possibilities here but no real awe moments or discoveries on first listen. Have a listen to anything you like or have a go on my 3 recommended bands. Enjoy!

Top 3 Recommendations

Roger Trenwith

Andy Read

André de Boer

1.Ethereal Riffian
Wakan Tanka
Rosa Luxemburg
Ils se tiennent la main
2.the TerraZAR
Close the Door
Rosa Luxemburg
Ils se tiennent la main
Rubik 1138
Bostezo Universal
Stolen Memories
Scattered Man
Stolen Memories
Scattered Man

From the DPRP Archives...
Previous Progstravaganza Reviews:-
Progstravaganza 13
Progstravaganza 14: Timeshift
Progstravaganza 15: Ascension
Progstravaganza 17: Progression

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Published 11th May 2014
Album Reviews