Welcome to Trollheart's Fortress of Prog! - Music Banter Music Banter

Go Back   Music Banter > The Music Forums > Rock & Metal > Prog & Psychedelic Rock
Register Blogging Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read
Welcome to Music Banter Forum! Make sure to register - it's free and very quick! You have to register before you can post and participate in our discussions with over 70,000 other registered members. After you create your free account, you will be able to customize many options, you will have the full access to over 1,100,000 posts.

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 01-21-2021, 09:39 AM   #91 (permalink)
Born to be mild
 
Trollheart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: 404 Not Found
Posts: 25,130
Default

I reviewed that Aardvark album in the History of Prog here I Know What I Like - Trollheart's History of Progressive Rock and Progressive Metal
__________________
Trollheart: Signature-free since April 2018
Trollheart is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-22-2021, 05:17 AM   #92 (permalink)
Born to be mild
 
Trollheart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: 404 Not Found
Posts: 25,130
Default



We couldn’t finish up our look at Threshold without giving a shout out to the third vocalist, could we? And as I have yet to listen to their latest, the only other album with Glyn Morgan behind the mike is rather unfortunately my least favourite of theirs. Well, here we go then!

Album title: Psychedelicatessen
Artist: Threshold
Nationality: English
Year: 1994
Chronology: 2


Track Listing: Sunseeker/A Tension of Souls/Into the Light/Will to Give/Under the Sun/Babylon Rising/He is I Am/Innocent/Devoted

Comments: The album starts off well enough, with the rocking “Sunseeker”, and after the excellent debut Threshold are certainly in form here, a big atmospheric synthy opening suddenly kicked aside by Karl Groom as the track explodes into life, very heavy metal and Morgan’s voice when we first hear it is certainly different to the other two, more in the metal vein than both his predecessor and the man who will succeed him in four years. The song changes into an almost gospel style (sort of) halfway through, slowing down and allowing Groom to fire off a screeching solo, ramping everything back up again. There’s a kind of preview of the melody of later “Devoted” before we head into “A Tension of Souls”, beginning slow and snarly, both guitar and vocals, then picking up as it heads towards something of a crescendo via a slow, staggered sort of blues section.

When it gets going though it really comes to life and that hook is there again. All the best Threshold songs have memorable parts, catchy tunes and recurring hooks, which might be why this album is so relatively poor: many of the songs (not these but later) are just forgettable, and seem badly constructed. The epic is “Into the Light”, opening on chimy, echoey slow guitar and an aching, emotional vocal from Morgan. Quickly though it ramps up and running for ten minutes (exactly) you’d expect it to go through some changes. And it does. There is, to be fair, a hook in the song - and the absence of such is not an accusation I can level at all of the tracks, only a small handful, but still, for Threshold you don’t even expect one - and while it bounces around a little, kind of unsure exactly where it’s going it’s still very listenable. It is telling though that every single time I see this track I fail to remember how it goes. Says a lot really.

And then we come to a low point on the album, as we hit the first Glyn Morgan-penned track. Now I’m not going to blame the poor quality of this album on him, as some have done. I think he’s a decent singer; he had very very large shoes to fill with the departure of Wilson, and while he struggles to lace them up properly, the boys must have been happy with him as he is now the current vocalist. But this song is, how can I say this without giving offence? I can’t: it’s awful. It’s just insipid, weak, bereft of ideas, bereft of any real melody, lacking any hooks and boring as hell. Other than that, I guess it’s all right. He’s not a bad songwriter though, as we’ll see with the other track he pens later.

After the disappointment of “Will to Give” we’re treated to a Richard West masterpiece in the sublime “Under the Sun”, a short but far superior song showcasing his talent on both the piano and synth, while Morgan gets a chance to really stretch his vocals without having to roar or growl. Back to the grind then for “Babylon Rising”, which to be entirely fair to it is an okay song, but just that: it’s nothing special, which when speaking about Threshold makes me sad but that’s how it is. And it doesn’t get any better - in fact, it gets much much worse - as we stumble into “He Is I Am” (what?), perhaps the strangest song title I’ve heard in a while, certainly the oddest from these guys. There’s a dub version of this on another album of remixes and my god it gets on my tits. I actually find the melody of “Babylon Rising” quite similar to this, so that it seems almost like it’s a continuation. Not completely, but there are echoes there.

Luckily, the guys marshall to finish a very weak album strongly, with the second of Morgan’s compositions in the rather beautiful “Innocent”, showing he can indeed write songs, and good ones. Echoey reflective guitar leads the melody, with a powerful vocal prayer in the lyric. Yeah, the guy can write, just sometimes he doesn’t do it well I guess. Finally we get the full version of that snippet we heard at the end of the opening track, which becomes the theme to “Devoted”, kicking off on a manic guitar riff and swirling stabbing synths before settling down into a swaggering march. The song actually is almost two, the second part ushered in on a celestially beautiful synth as Morgan’s voice climbs to heaven, bringing back in the hard guitar riffs and ending on a powerful flourish.



Track(s) I liked: “Sunseeker/A Tension of Souls/Into the Light/Under the Sun/Innocent/Devoted”

Track(s) I didn't like: “Will to Give/He is I Am”

One standout: Under the Sun

One rotten apple: Will to Give (or “He Is I Am”, can’t decide: they’re both crap)

Overall impression: Definitely the weakest of the Threshold albums. Unfair I think to lay all the blame on the shoulders of Glen Morgan, who was just stepping in here at the time, Wilson returning for the next album, and he’s involved in little of the songwriting, which is generally pretty poor. It’s not the worst - even a bad Threshold album is better than those from many other artists - but it ranks very low, probably at the bottom of this band’s work.

Rating: 7.8/10
__________________
Trollheart: Signature-free since April 2018
Trollheart is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-23-2021, 06:42 AM   #93 (permalink)
Groupie
 
Join Date: Dec 2020
Posts: 42
Default


Last edited by Onslow; 01-31-2021 at 07:17 AM.
Onslow is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-23-2021, 02:34 PM   #94 (permalink)
Born to be mild
 
Trollheart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: 404 Not Found
Posts: 25,130
Default


With the onset of a new year my intention is to try, as far as I can anyway, to listen to and feature the newest prog albums as they come out. For my guide I’m using this site New Prog Releases: 2020-2021 and will watch as each week and month goes by to see what comes out. Obviously, I can’t and won’t attempt to feature every album, because even when you’re only talking about prog albums there are a lot of them released every month, so the plan would be - and this is, as ever, open to change brought about by a sudden, ill-conceived confidence in my abilities, boredom, home circumstances or any other factor whatever - to try to pick one each week, and if possible to try to feature it on the week it’s released.

Obviously this will not be possible with this month, as we’re already heading into its last week and a bit, but for the future this is what I will be aiming for. As for January, I will try to feature four albums from this month over the next days; as not every album I want will be available to me when I want it I may decide then to run into other months, ie look at January albums in February and March and so on, depending on how many are released that I want to hear. At least this way I can keep up with some of the latest prog albums that come out. At the end of each month, insofar as I can, I’ll choose my best of the month, and then at the end of the year I’ll have a better idea of what might be my favourite albums of this year.

Here is the list of what was, and is scheduled to be, released in January.


January 2021 Cloud Over Jupiter "They're Here With Us" (Progressive Rock) (CD)
January 2021 RLND "Zealand" (Instrumental Progressive/Post Metal) (vinyl)
January 2021 Oracle Sun "Machine Man" (Progressive Power Metal) (CD)
January 2021 Raven Sad "The Leaf and the Wing" (Progressive Rock)
January 29, 2021 Syrinx Call "Mirrorneuron" (Progressive Rock)
January 29, 2021 Gaspard "Vertiges" (Instrumental Progressive Rock/Metal)
January 29, 2021 Asia Minor "Points Of Libration" (Progressive Rock) (Europe)
January 29, 2021 Needlepoint "Walking Up That Valley" (Retro Prog, Canterbury, Jazz-Rock, Fusion)
January 29, 2021 Soen "IMPERIAL" (Progressive Metal)
January 29, 2021 Steven Wilson "The Future Bites" (Progressive Rock/Pop)
January 25, 2021 Home Brewed Universe "Fear of an Obtuse Earth" (Instrumental Progressive Post Rock/Metal)
January 22, 2021 Steve Hackett "Under A Mediterranean Sky" (Instrumental Acoustic Progressive Rock)
January 22, 2021 Red Cain "Kindred: Act II" (Progressive Power Metal) (digital)
January 16, 2021 Humanity Gone "The Seven Deadly Sins" (Progressive Metal)
January 12, 2021 Need "Norchestrion: A Song For The End" (Progressive Metal/Rock)
January 11, 2021 The Flying Caravan "I Just Wanna Break Even" (Progressive Rock)
January 10, 2021 MFTJ "My Mom's Getting a Horse" (Instrumental Eclectic Progressive Rock)
January 08, 2021 Exodus to Infinity "Archetype Asylum" (Progressive Rock/Metal)
January 08, 2021 Sithu Aye "Senpai III" (Instrumental Progressive Metal)
January 08, 2021 Roland Gassin "Born In The Seventies" (Hard Rock, Progressive Rock)
January 07, 2021 ProAge "4.Wymiar" (Progressive Rock)
January 06, 2021 Stewart Clark "Let's Go There" (Progressive Rock)
January 01, 2021 Mark Wingfield with Jane Chapman and Adriano Adewale "Zoji" (Progressive Rock, Fusion)
January 01, 2021 Glass Kites "Glass Kites II" (Progressive Rock)
January 01, 2021 Soniq Theater "Time and Space" (Instrumental Progressive Rock, Electronica)
January 01, 2021 Neon Heart "temporaria" (Psychedelic, Progressive Rock) (CD)
January 01, 2021 Like Wendy "The Fisher" (Progressive Rock) (CD)
January 01, 2021 Geof Whitely Project "Luna Ad Insanian Convertant" (Progressive Rock)


So with all that in mind, the first one I want to look at was indeed released on the first day of this month, the first day of the year, and is from an artist of whom I have never heard, as many of these probably will be.


Title: Glass Kites II
Artist: Glass Kites
Nationality: Canadian
Sub-genre: Crossover Prog
Release date: January 1 2021
Album number: 2
Familiarity: Zero
RYM Rating: 3.21
ProgArchives Rating: 3.70

These guys certainly don’t believe in rushing out the albums! Inadvertently, one would suppose, reversing the year numbers on their debut and next albums, they put out their first offering way back in 2012, leaving a gap of nine years before this hit. Has it been worth the wait? Has anyone been waiting? I’ve personally never heard of them, but when you come from the land that gave us Rush and Mystery, well you have to take notice don’t you? The opener is a nice soft little instrumental, mostly driven on piano, that gets bouncy as it nears its end, and then “In the Night” introduces us - well, me anyway - to the vocals of Leon Feldman, who doesn’t only sing but plays guitar, keyboards, piano, synths and does sequencing too, so probably the creative engine of the band? I would say tentatively though that his voice, while certainly competent, lacks the power needed to really focus you on him, at least on this track. And there are only five on the album in total.

Sort of a tubular bells introduction with rolling percussion to “Leviathan”, one of the longer tracks at just shy of nine minutes, with some good synth work but I’ve yet to hear the guitars make their mark in any significant way; they seem to be sort of riffing around the edges as it were. Piano is very front and centre here again. This is not that surprising: Glass Kites have, in addition to Feldman, another piano player in Daryn Cassie and Nate Drobner, who takes bass duties, also plays keyboard and synth, so this is of necessity going to be a very keyboard-heavy album. There’s a certain sense of minimal jazz fusion in the music too I feel, keeps it light and breezy. I would like to hear the guitar get its head though - poor Curt Henderson sounds a little left out, while even Kyle Araki on the drums is having a fine time. Hear a lot of ELO’s “The Whale” from 1978’s Out of the Blue here, and the use of the vocoder certainly adds to that comparison. I didn’t realise how many prog bands seem to be using vocoders, but I’ve come across two now, other than Threshold, who I thought were the only ones.

Despite the slightly frenetic drumming of Araki, it’s still coming across as fairly laid back, relaxed and I’ve yet to hear Glass Kites rock out, if indeed they do. I have two more tracks on which to see if this happens, and once again bright piano takes us into “Idealogue”, which, given its less than three minute length, I assume will be another instrumental. There’s some nice strummed guitar here; maybe Henderson is a believer in the “less is more” theory. It works pretty well here. But the closer is the longest track, ten and a half minutes of “Discworld/Projector.” I don’t know if that’s Terry Pratchett’s famous comic fantasy world in the title, but I guess we’ll find out. Or, you know, not, as I can find no lyric sheet. No surprise by now to find it’s a big synthy opening, quite dramatic with a whispering vocal before the actual singing begins, putting me in mind of The Alan Parsons Project in some ways.

Picks up now about four minutes in, though again it’s the piano and the keys that drive the song, a nice little almost apologetic solo from Henderson before he’s shunted aside by the banks of keyboards again. Probably the most uptempo of the tracks on the album, and finally Henderson gets to let loose and to be fair goes completely wild on the frets. About bloody time. The track ends on what appears to be thirty seconds of empty silence, which is something that always annoys me. Maybe there’s something going on very low in the background?

Track Listing

1. Intro (Soviet) (8)
2. In the Night (7)
3. Leviathan (7)
4. Ideologue (8)
5. Discworld / Projector (8)

I’d say this was certainly an enjoyable little album, nothing wrong with it but I can’t see anyone who would have been breathlessly awaiting its release. Worth a listen all right, but I don’t think I could go out of my way to recommend it.



(This is all YouTube has, sorry…)


Bandcamp: https://glasskites.bandcamp.com/album/glass-kites-ii
__________________
Trollheart: Signature-free since April 2018
Trollheart is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-23-2021, 04:32 PM   #95 (permalink)
Groupie
 
Join Date: Dec 2020
Posts: 42
Default

So then this is off???:


"Going alphabetically through my collection I’ll stop at each prog arist (cos, you know, I have other music too) and if I haven’t heard anything/all by them I’ll choose one album, see what it’s like and move on"
Onslow is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-23-2021, 08:49 PM   #96 (permalink)
Born to be mild
 
Trollheart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: 404 Not Found
Posts: 25,130
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Onslow View Post
So then this is off???:


"Going alphabetically through my collection I’ll stop at each prog arist (cos, you know, I have other music too) and if I haven’t heard anything/all by them I’ll choose one album, see what it’s like and move on"
Absolutely not.
It's just one of the many sections I'm dealing with here at the Fortress. We have the Featured Artist, we have decades of prog, we have albums I want to give a last chance to, we have new albums (as above) and there are literally ten or twenty new features in the pipeline. This will run as and when, but every post will not be an alphabetical pick from my collection. The next one will be happening soon, but until then there are plenty of other proggy goodies to keep you entertained.
__________________
Trollheart: Signature-free since April 2018
Trollheart is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-24-2021, 09:25 AM   #97 (permalink)
Born to be mild
 
Trollheart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: 404 Not Found
Posts: 25,130
Default

Let's stroll with our hands in our pockets down the dusty windswept streets of my musical memories, passing The Regret Hotel, glancing with a shudder in the direction of the Bad Choices Bank, round the corner of Inadvisable Street and Stupid Move Avenue. If we cross over the road here and avoid the careening horse-drawn wagons with their deliveries of Doubt and Disappointment and Frustration, we can see the lights and hear the off-key music, so let's just push in the doors and grab a drink down at the

Which is my colourful and roundabout way of saying we're about to check out another album that did not impress me in the past, and see if I can get into it, or whether it needs to be shelved forever and forgotten about.



Album title: Perchance to Dream
Artist: The Arc Light Sessions
Nationality: Canadian
Year: 2015
Chronology: 3
The Trollheart Factor: 1

On the surface, I should love this band. With a classically-trained piano player into everything from Genesis and Yes to PFM and Pat Metheny, what’s not to like? But I remember being mightily disappointed - bored, I think - the first and I believe only time I spun it. So here I am again, giving it another chance to convert me, see if my opinion on it changes. The Arc Light Sessions is the brainchild of John Alarcon, who plays keys including Mellotron, with Michael Dionne taking vocals and guitar. There’s a very orchestral opening to the title track, with a slow Asia feel to it too, plenty of Mellotron blasting from Alarcon, the song putting me in mind too of Pendragon. I don’t know about the vocalist; I kind of think he’s not that great, and he certainly doesn’t grab the attention. Some nice piano merging with a squealing guitar, but there’s something not quite, I don’t know, cohesive about this, like they’re borrowing bits from other bands and songs and trying to force them all together. God that singer is pretty poor.

Alarcon can certainly play the piano, there’s no doubt about that, keys and Mellotron taking us directly into “... only to Awake”, a much shorter piece, the companion to the opener, and I would say quite likely an instrumental, which is good as I don’t have to listen to Dionne attempting to sing for a while. God I hope he improves as the album goes on, otherwise it’s going to be torture listening to him all through the rest of this album. Well I was right about this being instrumental, and then “There Will Come a Day” is a slow very Alan Parsons Project ballad and unfortunately Dionne has not improved. He also does his own backing vocals it seems, so it doesn’t help that now I’m hearing him twice as it were. The melody is nice, the piano carrying it, but it’s hard to enjoy it when the vocalist is making such a hash of the singing. Nice guitar solo, very effective; if only Michael Dionne would stick to the frets.

Another piano ballad in “Through These Years”, but a lot shorter at three minutes, while “Please Let Me Know” runs for nearly six, and is also quite laid back, in fact I’ve yet to hear ALS really let loose and rock out, if they ever do. Again it’s like listening to a budget knock-off version of the APP, though nowhere near as good. I’m probably insulting Parsons and his boys by comparing them to these heads. To be fair, there’s nothing wrong with the music, just none of it is coming across as particularly original. It’s like the band sat down and listened to the APP’s discography and then decided they would emulate them rather than write any of their own music. Unfortunately the only way they don’t copy them is by having various vocalists, so we’re stuck with Dionne.

This is going to be a struggle, I can tell. We still have - ****! Eight songs to go, and I’m feeling like I’m in an ordeal. Think this next one might be another instrumental at least. When I don’t have to listen to Dionne’s singing - I use the word in its widest possible meaning - I can, not enjoy, but at least tolerate these guys. This isn’t too bad actually, for once mostly on guitar, but we’re back to piano for “The Old Man and the Sea”, with some nice flute added in by Luc Tremblay (definitely heard of him, just can’t remember where) but it breaks down as soon as Dionne opens his mouth. Some sort of choir there in the background which does help distract a little from his voice; with another, more competent or talented singer this could actually be enjoyable. Decent tune, some nice warbly keyboards and so far no Mellotron; these guys definitely overuse that venerated prog rock instrument. Good guitar solo, ramping up the tempo a little, though it quickly resumes its more or less sedate pace.

I suppose I should be thankful there are no epics here: the longest track just inches over seven minutes, and the next two are short ones, “The Ghost of Winters Past” slightly less than four minutes while “Jigsaw” just edges past three. Neither are very remarkable or memorable, and then we’re into the six-minute “Deception Days.” Normally I wouldn’t be so anal about the length of the songs (well, not all the time), but really I’m just hoping to get through this and the longer the tracks are the harder that task is becoming, so shorter tracks are welcome, or at least, more welcome than the longer ones, which aren’t welcome at all. Think I’ll just hide my head till it’s all over. If anything occurs to necessitate a remark I’ll mention it. Otherwise I’ll see you on the other side, assuming I make it out alive.

Oh god I just have to remark that on “Misunderstood” Michael Dionne does what I would have assumed impossible, and actually gets worse singing! God, when he growls it’s just painful. Shut the fuck up. Thought the album might go easy on me by closing with a double instrumental, but no, only the penultimate track, the other had to have Dionne foist his excuse for vocals upon us one last (and it will be the last) time. Fuck off you cunt.

Track Listing

1. Perchance to Dream... (7)
2. ...Only To Awake (8)
3. There Will Come a Day (6)
4 Through These Years (6)
5. Please Let me Know (5)
6. Eye of the Storm (7)
7. The Old Man and the Sea (9)
8. The Ghosts of Winters Past (7)
9. Jigsaw (8)
10. Deception Days (6)
11. Misunderstood (3)
12. Over the Horizon... (8)
13. ...Till the End (5)

Admittedly, some of the scores would have been higher had it not been for Michael Dionne’s awful travesty of a voice, with the result that any instrumentals got relatively high points. I pushed “The Old Man and the Sea” more than I wanted because, despite his vocals, it actually stuck with me and was a half decent song.

What do I think now?

I’m even more against this album now that I remember how terribly Dionne sings, and the poor APP rip-off the music is. Not sure how this struggled above a rating of 3 on Prog Archives but I wouldn’t have given it a 2. I won’t be giving this any more chances.

Verdict: Never gonna see the light.

__________________
Trollheart: Signature-free since April 2018
Trollheart is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-24-2021, 11:06 AM   #98 (permalink)
Born to be mild
 
Trollheart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: 404 Not Found
Posts: 25,130
Default

Coming Soon!
__________________
Trollheart: Signature-free since April 2018
Trollheart is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-24-2021, 12:21 PM   #99 (permalink)
Certified H00d Classic
 
Anteater's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Bernie Sanders's yacht
Posts: 6,118
Default

Looking forward to it!
__________________
Anteater's 21 Fav Albums Of 2020

Anteater's Daily Tune Roulette

Quote:
Originally Posted by OccultHawk
I was called upon by the muses for greatness.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Frownland
I'm bald, ja.
Anteater is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-24-2021, 02:26 PM   #100 (permalink)
Born to be mild
 
Trollheart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: 404 Not Found
Posts: 25,130
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anteater View Post
Looking forward to it!
__________________
Trollheart: Signature-free since April 2018
Trollheart is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Similar Threads



© 2003-2022 Advameg, Inc.