These posts are written by: Mike McMahan

Ecstatic Vision – Raw Rock Fury

Ecstatic Vision’s Raw Rock Fury is a good-natured record that most people are gonna want to like. It’s hard not to smile when the first track, which is all of 17 seconds long, is called “Intro” and is pretty much a swooshing noise. A cursory listen reveals these guys know their Nuggets and have been in several garages, surely. The band has made a fun enough record, at least while it’s being played. In a way it may even be the perfect record for the U.S in 2017—all flash and no substance. Whether this was intentional… well, that’s highly doubtful, though some listeners may feel otherwise. If you’re wondering whether you will enjoy this record, look at the cover and you will know. Raw Rock Fury can be judged by its cover, presumably something the band is intrinsically aware of.

He Is Legend – Few

Change and progression have been requirements for respected rock bands (and art) for as long as there have been rock bands that want to be taken seriously. If you evaluate He Is Legend by this criteria only, they are one of the most successful bands of all time. Now He Is Legend are back with Few, their first album since Heavy Fruit in 2014.

Replacire – Do Not Deviate

The genre of technical death metal is tricky to do well. Oftentimes the songs are so densely arranged and executed that they are impenetrable and listeners may struggle for something—anything!—to latch onto. There are bands that do it well, and it’s probably time to start paying attention to Replacire, as they’re bringing some new perspectives and ideas to the genre. Their new album, Do Not Deviate, condenses some of the ideas from their debut, The Human Burden, into a heavily detailed monster. If listeners want a visual cue for what to expect, the bad ass cover art provides a perfect look. Robotic ferocity, Escher-esque labyrinths and the occasional mystical occult vibe–because, hey, why not? And, despite giving plenty for listeners to digest on early listens, this album practically screams that obsessive listens will reveal hidden layers and secrets.

Hey! Listen to The Mute Gods!

Likely one of the most enjoyable albums of the year, The Mute Gods’ Tardigrades Will Inherit The Earth is brimming with melody from front to back, with outstanding keyboard arrangements and gorgeous bass licks. This album pays more direct tribute to 80s prog, an era that is maligned but provided some of the giants of the genre (Yes, Rush and Genesis) with some of their biggest hits and served to introduce the MTV generation to some of the most talented musicians on the planet. Tonally, Tardigrades is most like Yes’s 90125 and even has a sort of synthesized new age feel that marked the band’s collaboration with later soundtrack wunderkind Trevor Rabin.

To Prequel or Not? Cynic Provides the Missing Link and has their Revenge of the Sith Moment

Cynic is a legendary and influential band. Since news that drummer and founding member Sean Reinert has left the band, many fans have wondered what is on the horizon, if anything. While there’s still no word on new music from co-founder and guitarist/vocalist Paul Masvidal (who vowed to continue the band), late last year, an announcement from the realm of music archaeologists got nerd minds spinning. Uroboric Forms: The Complete Demo Collection would be released and fans would maybe get some answers about how the hell Cynic went from being in Death (which was basically a Chuck Schuldiner backing gig) to dropping an absolutely groundbreaking gem in Focus. Southern Florida in the late 80s and early 90s is hallowed ground in extreme metal. Would Uroboric Forms rewrite the narrative?

Crystal Fairy – Crystal Fairy

Omar Rodriguez-Lopez is a hot-shit guitar player, no doubt about it. He was a core member of post-hardcore firebrands At The Drive-In and his Herculean strongman solos defined the sound of The Mars Volta, the love ‘em or hate ‘em prog punk freakout machine. After recording over 900 solo albums, he seemed to have decided that his maximalist style was maxed out. First it was Noctourniquet, the fairly straightforward, (allegedly) final album from the Volta. Then it was a new band with the longtime Plant to his Page—vocalist Cedric Bixler-Zavala—and the post-punkish Antemasque. Their debut record was even more conventional than Noctourniquet, with catchy choruses and riffs, and the least cryptic lyrics Bixler-Zavala has ever put to wax. So maybe, in retrospect, Crystal Fairy is not that surprising.

Pryapisme – Diabolicus Felinae Pandemonium

Instrumental music makes more room for the listener by opening up the palette—there are no lyrics that cue the listener how to feel. Whether this is true of extreme metal and the frequently unintelligible lyrics is arguable, though the titles and style of vocal delivery gives a pretty solid idea of what’s being communicated. This same openness can make describing or quantifying instrumental music difficult—a bit like translating poetry. Something inevitably gets lost.

Some bands are, by their very nature, divisive. These bands are often idiosyncratic in their approach and tend to generate strong opinions; in short, you love ‘em or hate ‘em. Pryapisme, who have delivered another madcap romp with their new album, Diabolicus Felinae Pandemonium, are one of those bands.