Just over a month ago, I attended Temples Festival in Bristol. The festival, in it’s second year, completely blew my mind. The alcohol helped, but the banter, atmosphere and performances from some of the heaviest acts in extreme music were primarily to blame for the blowing of said mind. I have not had that much fun listening to music, ever. If I could share another drink with every person I met, I would do so in a heartbeat.
Temples, if you didn’t know, is a completely independently run event. No sponsors or partners involved, it is a music festival for music enthusiasts and snobs like myself. Sludge, hardcore, grind and doom were all very well represented this year. On the final day of the festival, I got to sneak in a chat with the man in charge, Mr Francis Mace. We chatted about the origin of Temples itself, future lineups and of course, chicken shits (Eggs. Duh).
The Jersey boys in Symphony X have been well at it for over twenty years now, releasing some of the most challenging and musically-proficient material in the progressive metal scene along the way. There’s no denying that records like The Divine Wings of Tragedy and V: The New Mythology Suite have laid the groundwork for shredders worldwide, and have probably even gone on to influence plenty of bands in the power metal scene as well. Now on the cusp of releasing their ninth LP, Underworld, the band are working on synthesizing their entire discography while still trying to push their sound to previously unexplored heights. That being said, it’s a definite success and shows the band at their most inspired and consistent in quite some time. I had a chance to speak with guitarist and founding member Michael Romeo a few days ago about taking their time between releases, their upcoming summer tour, balancing technicality and songwriting, and much more.
Names are powerful things, we’ve discussed this in the past. It bears repeating though in the light of the album we are now looking at: Steven Wilson‘s name is one of those which shine brightest in the skies of contemporary music. From a solo project through one of the most successful progressive acts of the past two decades, finally back to a solo project, Wilson is one of the most varied creators working today. His last album, The Raven Who Refused To Sing, was an amazingly well-made record but also touched on one of the gripes that many people have with Wilson: his slow drift into aural nostalgia that some feel is holding him back from creating new and exciting music.
We’ve talked a lot about fun, music and analysis here on the blog and we’re sure to talk about in the future as well (there’s an editorial coming, worry not). What exactly is the relationship between enjoying music, its complexity and its innovation? The question will perhaps remain forever open, but that doesn’t have to stop us from just enjoying what we enjoy, regardless of intellectual matters. This is exactly the kind of approach one should use when sitting down to listen to Nightingale‘s newest album, Retribution. There’s nothing here to innovate or complicate but it rings true with the good kind of nostalgia; the kind that takes the best out of familiar themes and works on them.
The Contortionist are one of many bands in the progressive metal realm that just refuses to stand still. Once a band admired for their intelligent and atmospheric twist on the brutal groove of the deathcore sound that would otherwise beg for ignorant hate-mosh, they’ve since reached for the clouds and shifted towards more psychedelics a la Cynic. Intrinsic was pretty far-removed from the groundbreaking debut Exoplanet. The breakdowns that occupied so much playtime were largely eschewed in favor of post-rock and prog leanings; low-end technical riffing was traded in for jazzy chords and guitar virtuosity. Many of the instrumental sections across Intrinsic brought to mind a modernized interpretation of progressive rock bands like Rush, and it all worked in context as a separate entity apart from the band’s celebrated debut as an unavoidable stylistic evolution. Exoplanet and Intrinsic both embodied the idea of space in completely different ways. Following in step, Language continues the evolutionary journey through the stratosphere in favor of high-concept, cinematic prog.
I’m sick and tired of all these “Best ____ Albums Of All Time”. They’re always voted on by staff, and never even consider the popular opinions of their readers, who mostly disagree. It’s like reading Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums list and seeing the top ten albums consist of 8 Beatles and 2 Bob Dylan albums. It’s stupid, and quite frankly keeps me from ever subscribing to their magazines. However, PROG Magazine are deciding to do something different.
The tag “progressive” is assigned loosely today, with every band that features poly-rhythms or non standard time stamps hailed as innovators. However, being “progressive” doesn’t have to necessarily lie in the complexity of your music or a wide swerve off accepted musical norms. It should instead be placed in changing the genre you work in by introducing new elements or interpreting existing norms anew. This is the core idea behind Mirrors for a Prince; Wings Denied strive to graft onto a metalcore theme new ideas and structures. However, is this creation cohesive enough to convince the listener?
A Sense of Gravity
04. Answers Lost
07. Above the Horizon
08. Ration Reality
09. Weaving Memories
Sometimes, you need to chase down your own name. Innovators become bogged down in their own sound, eventually becoming iterations of themselves. Sometimes, a fresh new voice is needed to break the patterns that former radicals have grown comfortable with. This is what A Sense of Gravity bring to the table. Their clean-slate name allows them to bring progressive metal something it has craved for years: organic, dynamic sound that simply flows from place to place. Travail sounds like a living thing: birthed in one sitting and obedient to its own internal laws and patterns.
Remember Rush? The prog-kings who did everything your favourite prog-rock band does, but years ago? Yeah, you do.
They have a new live DVD out, comprising of footage from their recent Clockwork Angels tour, that apparently lasts a whopping 3 hours and features the classics and even some lesser known tracks amongst the new material. The first official look we’ve got into it is in the form of ‘Subdivisions‘ from 1982’s Signals, see below:
The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame is a bit of a joke really, and that’s putting it nicely. Having ‘Rock And Roll’ in the title is a bit of misnomer when some of the latest inductees include Randy Newman, Donna Summer and Abba. Plus, what’s more rock and roll than a bunch of people sitting around and deciding who’s ‘rock and roll’ enough for their special club? Regardless, amongst the list of criminally overlooked acts, one of the most famous was Canadian prog kings Rush but 2013 was the year that they finally go the validation they needed — all those world tours and all those millions of records sold have been mere blips in their story compared to this.
Thankfully the ceremony saw the band doing what they do best and even included an amazing cover of the first section of the epic ‘2112‘ by two members of the Foo Fighters and recent Rush producer Nick Raskulinecz, complete with kimonos and garish platform shoes. Considering the fact that they were covering a band in front of thousands of their fans, wearing some pretty unsuitable garb, I’d say they did amazingly well. Check it out after the jump!