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May 23, 2015

Progressive Metal Review: Native Construct-Quiet World

Release Date: 21st April 2015
Label: Metal Blade Records

This is another release by a band that this reviewer hadn’t heard of, and consequently would not have come across. The band is called Native Construct and the title of their debut album is Quiet World.

The band is a collaboration between students started in 2011 at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts, where I’m informed, a certain Dream Theater, also originated. The album, Quiet World, is a concept album dealing with the tale of Archon and The Silence, the inhabitants of the Quiet World. The style of the band hints at Dream Theater, Pain of Salvation, Queen, Between The Buried and Me, and should suggest what is to be found on Quiet World. There is a musical amalgamation of classical with musical theater via prog metal.

Native Construct is made up of three members, Myles Yang (guitar, programming), Robert Edens (vocals) and Max Harchik (bass).

The album, Quiet World, clocks in at around 48 minutes, with 7 tracks in total. The longest track on offer is the final track, track 7, “Chromatic Aberration” which plays for 12:28 minutes with the previous track, track 6, “Chromatic Lights,” the shortest at only 2:14 minutes.

The opening track on Quiet World, “Mute” (6:34); I have listened to many times because of the range of styles present in such a short time. Starting atmospherically, it soon explodes into action with a full band blast, including a vocal that just about holds its own against the instrumentation. A twist soon sees the track head into jazz territory before 2 minutes have elapsed, with some very nice harmonies and a little show of guitar work from Myles. A further shift around 3 minutes brings in a sublime little passage of gentle instrumentation and harmonized singing. This is then a cue for the “strings” to enter the fray and add a symphonic tinge with some very subtle piano away in the background. This is an excellent little section which slowly builds, but then jumps into growled vocals and metronomic drumming, which unfortunately happen to be two of my pet dislikes, but also features some amazing guitar. Despite several listens, the music loses me at the, and lets not pull any punches, death metal growls. Call it by any other name, extreme metal, whatever, but I find that growling vocals are a total turn-off. This opening track encompasses, for me, the highs and lows of what Native Construct have to offer.

There is a very jazzy start to “The Spark of Archon” (9:09) which edges into the metal style very quickly with some great guitar. The vocals are more like a narrative to start but become “normal” by the 2 minute mark. There are several tempo changes early on, which serve to impede the flow of the track, as it seems to veer from place to place. The jazzy moments are very good, but at around 3:30 minutes, there is a switch to full on metronomic drumming and I start to drift. A moment or two later and we have entered a superb atmospheric melodic passage. Just after 6 minutes we again hit the metal guitar with “double pedal” drumming then the track dives back into the realms of jazz again. There is some superb guitar from the 7:30ish minute which drives the track along, with some low, and fairly indistinct, vocals. The track moves to a finale with simple instrumentation and a crystal clear vocal.

“Passage” (8:23), has atmospheric passages, superb “string” themes, variable time changes, great saxophone, and then the growling starts, this time in front of some superb symphonic sounds.

The final, and longest, track, “Chromatic Aberration” (12:54), has some scintillating guitar work at the outset with excellent vocals and it isn’t long before the time changes start to appear and the vocals shift towards the growl, leaving the track desperately searching for a direction to go in. Instruments vie for attention and the overall effect is, unfortunately, disappointing. As the track continues to veer from one passage to another, it simply starts to blur the track. Around the 4:30 minute mark, there is an oasis of calm, with very atmospheric music and superb vocals, giving a majestic snapshot of what Native Conflict can achieve. The track then moves off in another direction but maintains the listeners’ interest. The mid part of this track is by far the most amazing passage contained within the album. The staccato style which heralds the tracks’ exit seems to jar and the growls also reappear around 12 minutes. 

This listener is certainly not leaping up to put the album on again. Quiet World is a very complex album to get into as it is seems to be trying to be all things to all people, sampling jazz, rock, metal, prog, folk, classical and more. Whereas there are great examples of skilled musicianship on show throughout this album, I found the speed at which shifts from style to style happen, didn’t work and although some passages were superb, the album seems to lack coherence and seemed unfocused.

I will stress again, however, that this is a very personal opinion on Native Construct and admit freely that the sound of growled vocals do absolutely nothing for me, apart from reach for the off button.

Having made that comment however, I will be very interested to see (or should it be hear) the direction that the band take with any follow-up release. I enjoyed many passages on this album, Quiet World, but the chasm between extremes was simply too great.

3.5/5 Stars

Key Tracks: Mute, Spark of Archon, Passage

Tracks:
 

Mute
The Spark Of Archon
Passage
Your Familiar Face
Come Hell or High Water
Chromatic Lights
Chromatic Aberration
 
Jim “The Ancient One” Lawson-Sr. Reviewer Prog Rock Music Talk

May 23, 2015

Review Provided By Prog Rock Music Talk

May 21, 2015

Progressive Metal Review: At War With Self-Circadian Rhythm Disorder

Release Date: 11th March 2015
Label:  Digital release

At War With Self is a project led/conceived by Glenn Snelwar, a multi-instrumentalist, best known, although not by this reviewer, as one of the guitarists on the Giordian Knot debut which featured members of King Crimson, Cynic, Watchtower and Dream Theater.

At War With Self has previously released three albums, Torn Between Dimensions (2005), Acts of God (2007) and A Familiar Path (2009), and now, album No 4 has landed on The Ancient Ones’ desk for review. The title of the newest release is Circadian Rhythm Disorder.

To quote the press release that accompanies this album release, “Circadian Rhythm Disorder is the culmination of four years of writing, recording, re-writing, analysis, re-analysis, discarding, rebuilding, e-evaluation and final culmination of compositions based on the framework of a 51 minute drum solo performed in a single take by Marco Minneman (drummer, composer, multi-instrumentalist with Steven Wilson Band and Joe Satriani Band).”

I will admit at the outset of this review that the thought of a 51 minute drum solo filled me full of foreboding, but I was interested to hear how Glenn built Circadian Rhythm Disorder around this base point.

The musicians involved on this release are Glenn, who plays guitars, fretless bass, mandolin and keyboards, with Marco Minneman, providing the drumming and percussion.

Circadian Rhythm Disorder is a 24 track album with a total paying time of around 51 minutes. Fifteen of the tracks last for under the 2 minute mark, with “Slate Wiper Pt 2,” the shortest at only 53 seconds and the longest track on offer on Circadian Rhythm Disorder is “Seeds Of Doubt” which plays for 4:19 minutes.

The opening track on Circadian Rhythm Disorder, “Slate Wiper” (3:26) is an interesting piece of music based on the first section of the drum track. There is a fair amount of metal guitar riffing, interspersed with mandolin which draws the listener in, although the sudden change from acoustic to metal guitar can be a little jarring. This is a positive start to the album with a track that certainly hangs together very well.

“Seeds Of Doubt” (4:19) has a very atmospheric build-up to around the 2 minute point before the metal guitar appears in the background and takes over with bursts of machine gun like riffing, which unfortunately isn’t a style that keeps the interest of this listener.

“Seeds Of Love” (3:47) changes tack with piano and acoustic guitar setting the scene before the keyboards fill in the background. A good track, and indeed, I think the best of these early tracks without a doubt.

“Shards Pt 1” (3:21), “Shards Pt 2” (2:17) and “Shards Pt 3” (0:55) are based around the less metallic side of the music, with “Pt 1” using acoustic guitar and keyboards to provide a gentle, almost laid back, flowing piece of music, which does have a few tempo changes, but it is always satisfying. “Pt 2” has a superb piano to start and is again, in the gentler of the musical styles across this release. There are some excellent acoustic guitar themes on offer over the length of this track. “Pt 3” again highlights the piano, but at under a minute in length, is too soon gone.

Having listened to this album several times over the last few weeks, I am still not convinced that I like or dislike it. Overall I’m very happy with the gentler, more atmospheric tracks, but a little put off by the harsh metal thrashing. This is an album I may well dip into from time to time, but only some of the tracks.

As usual, this is a very personal view of Circadian Rhythm Disorder, and I would always advocate that people have a few listens before making their mind up.

4/5 Stars

Key Tracks: Slate Wiper, Seeds of Love, Shards Pt 1-3

Tracks:
Slate Wiper
Seeds of Doubt
Seeds of Love
The Mirror
Mirage
Stumbling To Sleep
Daydream
This Is Not My Reflection
Smash The Mirror
Shards Pt 1
Shards Pt 2
Shards Pt 3
Nightmare
Running From The Dream
N.D.E.
Tunnel Of Light
Re-Birth
First Breath
New Life Pt 1
New Life Pt 2
Slate Wiper Pt 2
A Day’s Death
Completion Of The Cycle
One And All

 


Jim “The Ancient One” Lawson-Sr. Reviewer Prog Rock Music Talk

May 21, 2015

Review Provided By Prog Rock Music Talk

May 17, 2015

Prog Rock Review: Jethro Tull-Minstrel In The Gallery 40th Anniversary La Grande Edition

Release Date: May 4, 2015

Label: Chrysalis


Minstrel in the Gallery (1975) was Jethro Tull’s follow up to the fantastic War Child release from the previous year. For this listener it was a time of discovery for all kinds of rock music and I remember clearly playing the vinyl version of this release quite often. I particularly enjoyed the opening title track when the bass kicked in then the guitar began to lead the way. This was Jethro Tull in their prime doing what they knew best. They had quite a run in the 70s and this album kept the train rolling right along.

The second disc features a live recording of Jethro Tull performing at the Olympia in Paris on July 5, 1975, a few months prior to the release of Minstrel In The Gallery. During the show, the band played songs from several of its albums, including War Child and Aqualung, as well as an early performance of “Minstrel In The Gallery,” which is superb (note the live video provided here for your pleasure). The live performance was mixed to 5.1 and stereo by King Crimson guitarist Jakko Jakszyk.

This 40th anniversary book style version of the original album includes two CDs and two DVDs with seven bonus tracks, six previously unreleased and two mixed to 5.1 surround, and all in stereo by the resident remaster king Steven Wilson. The album expansion includes the B-side “Summerday Sands,” several studio outtakes, and alternate session material recorded for a BBC broadcast.


My favorite tracks were and still are ”Minstrel In The Gallery,” Cold Wind To Valhalla” and “Baker St. Muse.” These tracks in particular are the core sound of the band and do quite a wonderful job of showcasing the talents of each member. The complexities and nuances somehow come together to make sense while pointing to stellar musicianship and consistently interesting song writing. They had the knack of taking pieces of the past and applying it to modern day life. It is Mr. Anderson’s wink and a nod to the days of kings and court jesters and how we still have those in this day and age however in a much different context.
So those are some of the highlights but hardly all the details of this beautiful and comprehensive set. I can assure potential listeners that this will be the first time this release will really pop out in such a way that every detail and nuance of the instruments used in each track are crystal clear.


I think what is most exciting about these 40th Anniversary editions is that it serves as an ongoing journey through the history of Jethro Tull in more detail than any music fan has had the pleasure of enjoying before. The 80 page meticulous recollection of the recording sessions and such will bring you right back to that time. The additional tracks and various versions of the album and the concert help to make this the ultimate Minstrel in the Gallery package thus far. So it’s definitely about the journey and not the destination when it comes to these jam packed musical treats. The band was never stronger in this decade in my humble opinion, which I keep on stressing in all of my coverage. Ian Anderson has carried the torch to this day bringing us new music while celebrating the music that got him to where he is today. Although Anderson has always been the main cog in the wheel we all get an up close look at the JT family tree during each recording.


So once again I have had the honor and great pleasure of enjoying yet another set from the archives with the opportunity to share what I have found. Get your copy post haste and start your own Jethro Tull journey!

Detailed Highlights Taken From The Band’s Website:
* Original album plus seven bonus tracks (six previously unreleased), two mixed to 5.1 surround, and all to stereo by Steven Wilson
* Flat transfers of the original LP mix at 96/24 plus additional track Summerday Sands
* Flat transfer of the original quad mix of the LP plus additional track Summerday Sands
* An eight and a half minute film of the band performing Minstrel In The Gallery in Paris from 1975
* Presented in a case-bound DVD book that includes an 80-page booklet featuring an extensive history of the album, track-by-track annotations by Ian Anderson, recollections by roadie Kenny Wylie, Maison Rouge maintenance engineer Pete Smith, and string section member Liz Edwards plus lyrics, tour itinerary and rare and unseen photographs.


Heavyweight vinyl and standard CD editions of the album will be issued as well.


5/5 Stars


Key Tracks: Minstrel In The Gallery, Cold Wind To Valhalla, Baker St. Muse


Tracks:
Disc One – New Steven Wilson Stereo Remix:


01. Minstrel In The Gallery
02. Cold Wind To Valhalla
03. Black Satin Dancer
04. Requiem
05. One White Duck / 010 = Nothing At All
06. Baker St. Muse
07. Baker St. Muse – Pig-Me And The Whore
08. Baker St. Muse – Nice Little Tune
09. Baker St. Muse – Crash-Barrier Waltzer
10. Baker St. Muse – Mother England Reverie
11. Grace
12. Summerday Sands
13. Requiem (Version 1)*
14. One White Duck (Take 5)*
15. Grace (Take 2)*
16. Minstrel In The Gallery (BBC version)*
17. Cold Wind To Valhalla (BBC version)*
18. Aqualung (BBC version)*
 

Disc Two – Live at The Palais Des Sports, Paris, July 5, 1975 (A Jakko Jakszyk Stereo Mix):

01. Introduction (The Beach Part 11)
02. Wind Up
03. Critique Oblique
04. Wond’ring Aloud
05. My God
a. Flute Solo Including: God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/Bouree/Quartet
b. Living In The Past
c. My God (Reprise)
06. Cross-Eyed Mary
07. Minstrel In The Gallery
08. Skating Away On The Thin Ice Of The New Day
09. Bungle In The Jungle
10. Aqualung
11. Guitar Improvisation
12. Back-Door Angels
13. Locomotive Breath with improvisation and including Hard Headed English General and Back-Door Angels (Reprise)


* Previously Unreleased


The DVDs feature the DTS & DD 5.1 surround mixes as well as the 96/24 PCM stereo mix and and an eight and half minute film of the band recorded in Paris on 6th July 1975.


Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck- Prog Rock Music Talk Founder

May 17, 2015

Review Provided By Prog Rock Music Talk 



May 15, 2015

Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow Set To Release A Series Of Vintage Concert Recordings From 1979!


Los Angeles, CA – In an era teaming with bands led by virtuoso guitarists and fronted by a singer with killer pipes, British rockers Rainbow stood head and shoulders above the crowd. Ritchie Blackmore’s hugely influential guitar playing mixed baroque bombast with blues rock brilliance, and laid the perfect sonic foundation for the versatile vocals of the late, great Ronnie James Dio. When Dio left the band in 1978, Blackmore along with drummer Cozy Powell recruited another vocal powerhouse, singer Graham Bonnet, and together with other new recruits including Deep Purple bassist Roger Glover and Coliseum II keyboardist Don Airey, recorded what would be one of Rainbow’s greatest achievements, their breakthrough album Down To Earth. Not only did that masterpiece spawn the band’s first charting single “All Night Long,” it also contained the all-time classic, rock radio staple “Since You Been Gone.” The subsequent Down To Earth Tour became the stuff of legend with a groundbreaking light show and a set list packed to the gills with fan favorites like “Man On A Silver Mountain” and “Long Live Rock And Roll” but still plenty of room for Blackmore’s own six-string pyrotechnics.

Now these incredible performances are being released for the first time with the pomp and pageantry worthy of these historic recordings, courtesy of L.A.-based Purple Pyramid Records. Available now is Denver 1979, an extraordinary concert album pressed on vinyl in 3 different colors - red, green, or blue - and packaged in an eye-catching holographic foil gatefold jacket. And coming August 21 is a super deluxe 3CD box set featuring full-length concert recordings from Denver, Long Island, and Chicago each packaged in its own individual sleeve next to a whole boatload of classic rock goodies including a 1” color button, embroidered fabric patch, a Ritchie Blackmore signature guitar pick, and a combo bottle opener/keychain - all beautifully contained in a gorgeous red-velvet lined box. For fans of this extraordinary band, there can be no bigger pot of gold!

To purchase Denver 1979 on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Denver-1979-Colored-Vinyl-Rainbow/dp/B00UY80B3O
To purchase Denver 1979 on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/denver-1979-live/id990317751

Press inquiries:
Glass Onyon PR
Billy James
PH: 828-350-8158
glassonyonpr@gmail.com

CLEOPATRA RECORDS, Inc.
11041 Santa Monica Blvd #703
Los Angeles CA 90025
www.CleopatraRecords.com

May 12, 2015

Legendary Manfred Mann's Earth Band Vocalist Chris Thompson Releases 'Jukebox - The Ultimate Collection' 2CD Remastered Anthology


London, UK - Esoteric Recordings is pleased to announce the release of 'Jukebox: The Ultimate Collection', a two disc anthology by legendary CHRIS THOMPSON!

Known for his work as the lead vocalist and guitarist on many hits with Manfred Mann's Earth Band, including “Blinded By The Light”, “For You” and “The Mighty Quinn” as well as featured on the classic Jeff Wayne concept album 'War of the Worlds', Chris is also a noted songwriter (penning among other songs the smash hit “You're the Voice” for John Farnham). His most recent studio album, 'Toys and Dishes', his first in over ten years, (released on Esoteric Antenna), gained excellent reviews from critics and praise from fans worldwide.

Chris Thompson continues to draw enthusiastic live crowds throughout Europe. 'Jukebox: The Ultimate Collection' is a fine, brand new 36-track newly remastered compilation of material that has defined Chris Thompson's career, including songs such as “Blinded by the Light”, “For You”, “Father of Day’, ‘Davy's on the Road Again”, “Martha's Madman”, “The Mighty Quinn”, “Thunderchild” and “You’re the Voice’, along with tracks from 'Toys and Dishes' such as “Eddie Wants to Rock” and “Millie Christine”.

DISC ONE

1. DARK SIDE
2. LOVE AND LONELINESS
3. FATHER OF DAY (LIVE)
4. HOT SUMMER NIGHT (LIVE)
5. MILLION DOLLAR WONDER HIT
6. COLD WIND BLOWING ACROSS MY HEART
7. SPIRITS IN THE NIGHT (LIVE)
8. WHOLE LOT TO GIVE
9. FOR YOU
10. ONE MAN MISSION
11. MARTHA’S MADMAN (LIVE)
12. BEAT OF LOVE
13. YOU ANGEL YOU (LIVE)
14. A SHIFT IN THE WIND
15. EDDIE WANTS TO ROCK
16. DREAM AWAY LITTLE GIRL
17. DON’T STOP
18. THE FIRE

DISC TWO

1. THE MIGHTY QUINN (LIVE)
2. THE CHALLENGE
3. RUNNER (LIVE)
4. REDEMPTION SONG
5. LAND OF THE LONG WHITE CLOUD
6. BLINDED BY THE LIGHT
7. ANGEL
8. HEART OF THE FIRE
9. DON’T KILL IT CAROL (LIVE)
10. IF YOU REMEMBER ME
11. MILLIE CHRISTINE
12. YOU’RE THE VOICE
13. DAVY’S ON THE ROAD AGAIN (LIVE)
14. QUESTIONS (LIVE)

BONUS TRACKS
15. ZU LEBEN
16. THUNDERCHILD (ACOUSTIC VERSION)
17. WHAT WORLD
18. WE ARE THE STRONG

Tour dates:

01/05/15 - Bergen Madam Felle, Norway
02/05/15 - Bergen Madam Felle, Norway
13/05/15 - Rjukan Festival, Norway
30/05/15 – Oslo Bjerkefestivalen, Norway
05/06/15 - Egersund Dalane Blues Festival, Norway
03/07/15 - Konsberg Konsberg Jazz Festival, Norway
04/07/15 - 24340 Eckenförde Radio Nora Sommer Open Air, Germany
09/07/15 - Mosjøen Festival, Norway
22/08/15 - Hamar Under Brua, Norway
10/12/15 - 63739 Aschaffenburg Colos-Saal, Germany
12/12/15 - 64625 Bensheim Musiktheater REX – Kulturdenkmal Güterhalle, Germany
17/03/16 - 76646 Bruchsal Fabrik, Germany
18/03/16 - 55232 Alzey Alzeyer Oberhaus, Germany
19/03/16 - 53721 Siegburg Kubana, Germany

To purchase:
http://shop.cherryred.co.uk/shopexd.asp?id=4930

For more information: http://www.christhompson-central.com/

Press inquiries: Glass Onyon PR, PH: 828-350-8158 (USA), glassonyonpr@gmail.com