*prognotes – Slice the Cake’s Odyssey to the West: Part I

2016 has been a great year for our *prognotes feature, and here we are with yet another mammoth album to explore. Slice the Cake’s Odyssey to the West clocks in at a massive 77 minutes, and that’s without even looking at the 28 minute accompanying EP Odyssey to the Gallows which acts as a prologue. Today we’ll only be looking at the LP, so strap yourselves in because this is going to be a long one, and we’d best be getting started.

*prognotes — Clipping’s Splendor & Misery, Part II: Long Way Away

Welcome back to our ongoing analyses of clipping.’s Splendor & Misery. In case you aren’t caught up, we highly recommend reading the first part. If you’re a busy adult with many busy adult things to accomplish today (such as undermining the basic structures of our lives as we know them), here’s a summary: we’re in the future. Our protagonist, Cargo 2331, has seized the ship on which he was being ferried to a distant space war. The ship, in turn, fell in love with him (or, rather, its AI did) and now they are hurtling through space, jumping at random in order to escape their pursuers. This leaves 2331 in dire straits as his life literally flashes before his eyes every time the ship jumps and he is put into hypersleep. This is where “Wake Up” left us, with 2331’s mind slowly degrading as his history, genesis and family get left behind in the unfathomable millennia that are involved in any form of “realistic” space travel.

*prognotes – Vektor’s Terminal Redux

Wikipedia has this to say about space opera: “Space opera is a subgenre of science fiction that emphasizes space warfare, melodramatic adventure, and often risk-taking, interplanetary battles, as well as chivalric romance”. While this definition is certainly accurate, it also downsizes one of the grandest, most expansive sub-genres of science fiction out there. Beyond the insane amount of terrible space opera (see Sturgeon’s Law for why this shouldn’t bother you), it has some of the most memorable and well thought out settings in science fiction literature (and beyond, but we are not getting into this discussion). Funnily enough, it also has some ties to metal: several albums draw on the space-oriented themes of the sub-genre to create their oppressive, rust-tinged settings, replete with beasts from beyond space and time, sentient spaceships and more.

However, this year we were treated to the best space opera setting in the history of metal with Vektor’s Terminal Redux. If by some insane reason you haven’t listened to this album yet (seriously, go listen to it RIGHT NOW), let me by way of an introduction tell you that it’s everything that progressive thrash should have been and wasn’t. It’s truly diverse, with choirs, technical tricks and much more to vary up the huge amount of riffs, and focuses on delivery and composition rather than just blistering displays of technicality. And, on top of all of that, it’s a concept album. It tells a classic space opera story: an outcast finds great (internal) power, returns to claim dominion, achieves stellar success, literally, only to realize that it all means nothing in the wake of the vastness of space and time. Along the way, we are treated to some of the most fleshed out characters in a concept album, complete with competing, interstellar empires, brutal enforcers, uncultured masses and a technology that changes everything, for better or for worst. And so, this album basically begs for a *prognotes post and here we are!

Small note for this specific post: it is highly recommended to listen to the album while reading these lyrics. Some of the sounds, instruments and progressions on the album only make complete sense when experienced via the lyrics (you’ll get a good example for this very soon, on the first track) so while it’s always advised to listen and read at the same, it’s doubly true here. Let us begin!

*prognotes – The Ocean’s Pelagial – Part I

Another *prognotes already, you ask. Well yes, aren’t you all a lucky bunch because following on from Eden’s excellent analysis of Caligula’s Horse’s 2013 opus last week, we’re back today with a look at another incredible album from the very same year. The Ocean’s Pelagial is one of the finest metal albums of the decade, an intriguing concept album that covers a journey from the surface down to the murky depths of the deep blue sea. Before getting into the meat of the matter, let’s start with some background.

*prognotes – Caligula’s Horse’s The Tide, The Thief & River’s End

If you follow this blog for more than a few months, you might have noticed that we really like Caligula’s Horse. Honestly, it’s one of the bands that reflect the most what a lot of our staff members like in their music. It’s modern and well produced, leaning on “djent” influences. But it’s also groovy, intelligent and melodic, blending progressive attention for detail with a heavy, instinct driven approach to composition. For many of us, this approach was introduced to us with their second album, The Tide, The Thief & River’s End (which shall be referred to as The Tide from now on). As such, we’ve spoken about it numerous times on the blog: in posts celebrating its art, its music and its release.

*prognotes: The Dear Hunter’s Act IV: Rebirth In Reprise (Part IV)

We’re in the final stretch! In our previous installment, our protagonist went on a huge existentialist bender, The Lover was fed up with his shit, The Pimp/Priest re-entered the story in the most garishly devious way, and The Boy decided that entering politics would be the best course of action to take down his nemesis once and for all. This final third of Act IV moves quickly and sort of papers over a lot of potential story details, presenting us with more in the way of broad strokes plot summary than introspection and character development (though there is still some of that). To be perfectly honest, though certainly fun and plenty enjoyable, I found this section to be the weakest part of the album overall because of that sense of hurtling quickly towards the album’s conclusion, which presents a cliffhanger conflict that will likely come to define most of Act V. That said, there is still more than enough going on here to unpack, so let’s drive straight into the belly of the beast together!

*prognotes – Fleshgod Apocalypse’s King

Welcome to another edition of *prognotes! We hinted this was coming when we looked at a few Fleshgod Apocalypse album covers, and today we’re going to be diving deep into their stellar 2016 release King. Before delving into the individual tracks, we should take a look at the overall concept of the album. Each track is from the point of view of a different member of the royal court, and to see why that’s the case here are a couple of interview excerpts with pianist/orchestrator Francesco Ferrini and lead vocalist/guitarist Tommaso Riccardi respectively:

“[We] wanted a strong characterization for each character involved in the story, so we started from the idea of writing specific songs for each one… Each [character] represents, metaphorically, a different aspect of human nature… In a world that runs so fast, the King is an ideal carrier for strong values that humanity around him lost track of. Some of these values might appear old-fashioned, even outdated somehow, but nowadays, there’s too much left behind in the name of ‘progress.’ ” F.F. (newnoisemagazine)

“All the other characters in the court represent the fears that can lead us to make everything worse” T.R. (decibel)