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Old 12-28-2013, 03:14 PM   #1 (permalink)
Nobody likes my music
 
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Default Welcome to Trollheart's Fortress of Prog!



Welcome, welcome, welcome! Did I say welcome? If you’re one of those breed of people who believe a ten-minute keyboard solo is “just getting going”, if your prefer to listen to a song that’s in four or five parts, if you prefer suites to suites and your lyrics on the obscure side, and if you like to hear a guitar being used evocatively and thoughtfully rather than being used for shredding, this is the place for you. In other words, welcome progheads!

Here I’ll be talking about some of my favourite prog records, mostly prog rock but some prog metal too, and mostly new ones I’ve discovered but that’s not to say some of my old mainstays won’t find their way in here. They won’t really be reviews so much as short rundowns, with some information on the band or artiste and any background I can supply to the album. Anyone is welcome to post their own prog albums but please no “just YouTube” posts: if you love or like an album that much that you want to post it then talk about it: this is not the “Albums you’re digging” thread, and such video-only posts will be ignored. This is a place to discuss our love of prog, so let’s discuss it.

In the same spirit, please don’t come on here posting “Prog sucks” or other pearls of wisdom. I’m fully aware there are a lot of prog-haters out there in the forum, and others who just don’t care for it and that’s fine: progressive rock is not for everyone. But please respect the views and choices of those who do post here and don’t come into the thread just to cause trouble or troll. There’s enough diversity in music for everyone to have something they enjoy, but inevitably some people will never like some music, and that’s just how it is. I’m prepared to accept that, so please do me the same courtesy.

If of course you are not into prog but want to or think you might be interested in it, this could also be the place for you. My plan is not for this to be an elitist, snobby place where if you’ve never heard a Yes or Genesis or Camel album in your life you’ll be laughed at. Beginners are very welcome, as it says in all the best of those card ads you see in phoneboxes advertising …. sorry, got a bit sidetracked there! Yeah, if you know nothing or very little about prog then feel free to ask questions. You will not be ridiculed if you don’t know a Moog from a Mellotron or Trespass from Tarkus. Progheads may have something of an upper-class, superior reputation but that is not what I want to project here. All are welcome, just please leave your prejudices at the door. And your boots: I’ve just had the carpet relaid! Thanks.

So cross the threshold if you dare, gaze deep into the wonderful world of progressive rock, and don’t worry about the dragon: he’s a sweetie really. Aren’t you Cecil? Aren’t you? Oo’s a sweetiekins then? No really, he is. Just don’t step on his talons cause otherwise he gets a little … irritated.

Come in, come in! The door’s open, there’s food and wine in the Great Hall and we have the bitchinest (copyright The Batlord, MMII) sound system you could ask for. The first album is cued up and ready to go. Let me just go check the heating is working and I’ll be right back. Sit down, sit down! Make yourself at home. This could be your new hangout, or at least somewhere you come regularly. We certainly aim to help make that happen.
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Old 12-28-2013, 04:07 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Have you listened to Close to the Edge yet? Because if you haven't you won't be taken seriously
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Old 12-28-2013, 05:31 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Have you listened to Close to the Edge yet? Because if you haven't you won't be taken seriously
Quiet, you, if you want your award tomorrow!
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Old 12-28-2013, 06:14 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Quiet, you, if you want your award tomorrow!
**** I forgot about that!
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Old 12-28-2013, 09:40 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Splendid thread here TH, absolutely splendid. I'm bristling with excitement!
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Old 12-29-2013, 11:06 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Note to self: who was I trying to kid? Short rundowns? Short?? Oh dear! Forgot it was me that was doing this! Oh my sides! Oh, that's a classic!

Sorry, on with the first album...



Album title: A tower of silence
Artiste: Anubis
Year: 2011
Nationality: Australian
Discography: 230503 (2009), A tower of silence (2011)
Lineup:
Robert James Moulding (Vocals, percussion, bass)
David Eaton/ (Keyboards, vocals, guitars)
Douglas Skene (Guitars, vocals)
Nick Antoinette (Bass, vocals)
Steven Eaton (Drums, vocals)
Dean Bennison (Guitars, lap steel, vocals)

Tracklisting

1. The Passing Bell (Part I-VI) (17:08)
2. Archway of Tears (5:45)
3. This Final Resting Place (8:28)
4. A Tower of Silence (9:57)
5. Weeping Willow (2:43)
6. And I Wait for my World to End (5:15)
7. The Holy Innocent (11:45)
8. All That Is (11:13)
i. Light of Change
ii. The Limbo of Infants
iii. Endless Opportunity

Anubis are one of the first Australian prog acts I’ve heard, to my knowledge (don’t hit me, Anteater!) but if this is what they’re all like then I need to think seriously about going Antipodean! This, their second album, is truly a stunner, and again it’s from the patented Trollheart “Might as well” stable. In other words, I was looking for something to listen to on my Zen and this was one of the only albums I hadn’t already heard, as I am at heart quite lazy even if transferring music to Creative’s cool little MP3 player is a thousand times faster, easier and more enjoyable than wrestling with Jobs’ colossus.

But I was really glad I decided to give this a go, as it impressed me from the start and has not been off my virtual turntable for at least a week now. Every time I think I should move on and listen to something new my fingers just keep drifting to the “play” button and I say to myself “Ah sure one more listen can’t hurt!” And it never does. Except that one more listen becomes two more listens, then three, and so on. It’s like that with albums I really get into, I’m sure some of you are the same.

So who are Anubis? Well, if you were to ask me who was Anubis, or what, I’d tell you pompously that Anubis was the guardian of the dead in Egyptian mythology, stylised with the head of a dog and so often known as “The Dog of the Dead”, or even “The Guard Dog of the Dead”. Not really: I made that last one up. But the first one is true. Anubis the band? Well they were formed in 2004 and their first album was apparently written in tribute to and remembrance of a friend who has passed on, which may possibly explain the recurring motif of death, the afterlife, religion and the soul used here on songs like “This final resting place” and “And I wait for my world to end”. I didn’t think it was a concept album, but after reading some other reviews I see it is, and is based around the idea of a child who has been left to die in a Victorian mental asylum, and her quest for release and spiritual enlightenment as her ghost wanders the halls of that huge echoing dark edifice: a tower of silence, indeed! There are definite themes of loss, death, loneliness, hopelessness fear and an inability to understand why this has happened running through the album, with the opener, “The passing bell”, setting the scene and an angelic chorus ending “All that is”, two of the longest tracks, that bookend this fine album.

The vocals are just beautiful on this record. As you can see from the lineup, just about everyone in the six-piece has a hand in singing, whether they sing lead, harmony or backing. Some members of Anubis are also multi-instrumentalists, as again you can see from the lineup. The music varies between soft symphonic prog and harder what I would term “normal” prog, though most will probably term it neo-prog: I’m not too fond of that term. Always think of neo-Nazis and neocons! The guitar work is at times hard and heavy but a lot of it is very laidback and introspective, often both in the one track.

It’s hard to pick out favourite tracks here, as just about everything is great. I honestly can’t point to a bad song on the album, and every time I listen to it the whole just gets so much better than the sum of its parts: yeah, “A tower of silence” is one of those albums that’s best appreciated when listened to in one sitting, as one piece of music or suite. Tolling bells become something of a recurring motif throughout, not surprisingly given the mostly death/afterlife inspired lyrics, and in this way, lyrically only not musically, I see parallels with both Arena’s and Kamelot’s last albums, though I did mention that I found the latter’s “Silverthorn” to be one of the saddest and bleakest albums I have ever heard. Anubis somehow manage to avoid the trap of being too down, too morose, which is quite a feat given the fact that they’re talking here about a child dying alone and unloved.

But the music is uplifting and powerful, and if you choose to look beyond or ignore the lyrics, if you’re the sort of person that can do that (I can’t) then you have one incredible album of symphonic prog music that shows a band who are barely known even though they’ve been together almost ten years now, and who surely have a hell of a bright future ahead of them, if only someone will give them their big break.

I hear a lot of Arena here, especially in the faster sections of the songs, a definite Supertramp influence circa “Crime of the century”, and even nineties Genesis at times, and yet Anubis are not just ripping off the old masters or the new pretenders: they have a sound all their own that really has to be heard to be appreciated and is hard to compare. Listen to the starkly beautiful piano passage in the twelfth minute of the seventeen-minute opener, or the close vocal harmonies on “This final resting place”, or indeed the glockenspiel and harpsichord melody on the short but gorgeous “Weeping willow”. Oh, and let’s not forget the incandescent sax solo that leads out “The holy innocent”, where the (uncredited) sax player gives John Helliwell of Supertramp a run for his money! You can’t help but be impressed. The band are also somewhat unique in having not one, not two, but three guitar players, something that can happen in metal bands but seldom occurs in prog ones. It certainly adds a whole new layer of sound to the music, though it does make it hard for a poor reviewer like me to give credit where credit is due, as there’s no way to know who exactly is playing that great solo or passage.

The Arena sound comes through quite strongly in the abovementioned “This final resting place”, which in parts reminds me of their “Purgatory Road” off the “Pepper’s ghost” album, with some eerie sound effect closing it out that brings to mind recently-reviewed instrumental prog metal combo Caves of Glass, or Marillion spinoff Edison’s Children. If I had to pick a highlight (don’t make me! Oh well if I must…) it would probably be between the ten-minute title track, with another beautifully stark piano line driving it and mournful backing vocals against a sumptuous synth and guitar melody, closer “All that is” or the wonderful “The holy innocent”. There: told you not to make me choose! It’s just impossible.

Just as impossible as it is to stop playing this album once you’ve heard it. Oh hell: one more spin can’t hurt, can it?
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Old 12-29-2013, 08:03 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Leave it to Trollheart to yet again make a thread that I will instantly get attached to. I'm sorry, i'm like a leech for the thirst of Trollheart threads.
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Old 12-30-2013, 12:40 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Never heard of this band before. Just skimmed through the song but it sounds great!
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Old 12-30-2013, 04:54 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Exactly my point. I downloaded the album in a collection and have had it on my computer for probably a year or more, then just needed something to listen to when I was out and this was about the only thing left on my Zen. All I can say is I was totally floored! How can talent of this quality go unnoticed? It's just criminal!

Glad you liked it: their album is available from their bandcamp home here A Tower Of Silence | Bird's Robe Records
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Old 12-30-2013, 05:52 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Sounds good. I pretty much love your texts- keep them coming.
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