It is time for the best of the latest batch of progressive tinged music.
Cynthesis have followed up DeEvolution with their new album ReEvolution and continue with their brand of evolutionary prog rock and metal. There are times on here that remind this reviewer of bands like Opeth and Anathema. This is not your chill-out style of prog, but one that tries to get you to think and pay attention. It is conceptual in scope but it never gets pretentious or tedious in any way. This album is some of the finest prog rock you will hear this year. There is very much an edge to all the music on this release, a welcome edge, that makes it entertaining. Cynthesis are one act to watch out for if you like bands on the crossroads between prog rock and metal.
Nektar are back with their long-awaited return in the form of Time Machine. This is a solid piece of prog rock and is certainly a gander. This is their 13th album and it has been four years since their last. While many such releases tend to drift quickly into navel gazing frippery, there is certainly enough meat on these bones to keep fans happy and attract new ones. It is not hard to understand why the U.K. band are considered legendary by both critics and fans alike. Tracks like the epic nine-plus minute opener “A Better Way” easily lend themselves to Pink Floyd comparisons. The song like of the rest of the album sucks you into a miasma of musical delight.
Scale the Summit have released The Migration and it is yet another collection of highly technical progressive heavy rock. Unlike many of their ilk, this is completely vocals-free. And unlike like most instrumental albums, it doesn’t matter a bloody jot. This is just as infectious and catchy as similar albums with vocals. Scale the Summit have succeeded at something few instrumental bands can muster, an album in which the instruments doing all the “singing”. As regular readers will know, I rather liked The Collective, their previous effort as well. If you can imagine Opeth’s more recent stuff without any vocals on it, then you are getting somewhere to imagining this. And yes, this album is that good.
Sleepers Awake are set to release their second album called Transcension, with its modern take on progressive metal. This certainly is very far from bands that sound like Dream Theater or a heavier Floyd. It is very much steeped in the post-grunge vibe of music and far less pretentious than much of the progressive metal out there. Their sound has a heavy feeling to it that is not that distant from bands like Mastodon and Tool, with a heavy dose of stoner angst for good measure. Transcension is not your normal progressive metal, so it is good to see bands like Sleepers Awake pushing the boat out a bit in this genre.
Spock’s Beard have released Brief Nocturnes & Dreamless Sleep as their latest prog epic. As you would expect from this lot, the album is a superb exercise in high quality accessible music. And this is with a new vocalist Ted Leonard, whose voice seems to perfectly meld with the music. He is an enchanting addition to a great band that doesn’t seem to let lineup changes slow down their stride. This is a surprisingly solid release for this band considering their recent past. The CD version of the release comes with four more tracks on a second CD, all of which are worth your attention.
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