Category Archives: Progressive Rock

Wyatt E. – Exile To Beyn Neharot

(Shalosh Cult, 2017)

Wyatt E. is a three-piece from Belgium (consisting of guitars, synths and drums), recently brought into my attention with their awesome display of steady and hypnotic, yet intense and deeply colourful Psychedelic and Doomy Prog-Rock jamming, with strong nods to the desert ways of classic Stoner. Before this release, they have apparently released one album, similarly containing two about 20min songs such as this one, but after a quick listen of the first one, it is evident the band has progressed musically and aurally even further after their first release.

The first song “Nebuchadnezzar II” starts with ambient whirling synth-effects reminiscent of an ominous wind or a swarm of insects, before adding ritualistic percussion and sitar-sounds, as well as some flutelike synth-effects. A very minimalistic start for the album, yet the listener gets the feeling of high quality and strong emancipation for something mind-blowing, and the listener is not wrong. As the song explodes into a slow and Doomy beat, loud guitars with heavy effects invade our minds. Sounding a bit out of place (like from an old Western movie) at first, the ear gets used to the idea of this section of the song quite quickly, and the trip is on. Going quite intense at parts due to background guitars of heavy audial aesthetics and other synthy effects, the song keeps the listener in it’s grasp nicely to the middle part of the song, where the journey slows down into a Middle-Eastern melody from the guitar (and a cool organ in the background), before exploding into new realms with quite heavily distorted guitars. After yet again a short and more calm part, the song ends in truly awesome sounding Oriental tremolo melodies from a very atmospheric guitar, ending the song in great style. The whole experience lives up to it’s name, bringing to my mind the Babylonian king’s dreams of doom and apocalypse, as told in the biblical narrative.

The second song, “Ode To Ishtar”, starts with some minimalistic but tribal sounding drumming and low thumping basses, backed up with various vintage-sounding synths and howling and chirping synth-like effects, which bring to my mind an astral Babylonian river of futuristic and retro aesthetics. As Ishtar descends further and further into the collective unconscious, the underworld is revealed to be a vast and cosmic place of many layers and plains opposite from anything claustrophobic. As the drumming turns more complicated adding some snares and crashes into the ritual call, more wavy synths and Egyptian-sounding guitars appear, joining the caravan floating on this cosmic river. The whole experience is so pleasant I can imagine spending hours and hours tripping here, letting the river take me to more and more exotic sceneries of the vast and forgotten subconscious. As more drony synths appear and the drumming intensifies further, guitar leads jamming naturally Middle-Eastern melodies take over the experience almost completely, placing the final trance upon the mesmerized listener. A bit halfway through the song, the awesome displays of the musicians and instruments halt down into a stoned transition, before morphing into a quite groovy and jamming beat from the drums, as the other instruments continue their hypnotic riffing while growing slowly into yet another mental climax. The end of the song cuts some of the aural layers down, ending the experience in quite serene states.

While both of the songs deliver perfectly what they intend to do, the second song is a bit better than first one when it comes to overall harmony of the various psychedelic sounds. Both songs have a strong feeling of live-recording into them, which naturally suits this kind of music perfectly.

Altho hypnotic and trancelike, this stuff might be too much as a casual meditative experience for most people, but everyone experienced in psychedelics (and/or longer meditation sessions) will recognize instantly the great psychedelic and spiritual potential of this music.

A heartily recommended release for all fans of intense yet patient aural psychedelia, especially for those with a soft spot for eighties and nineties synth-vibes, classic sustained and hypnotic Prog Rock, and mental Middle-Eastern aesthetics.

I wish a great future of touring and jamming in the studio for this band. They totally deserve it.

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Der Blutharsch And The Infinite Church Of The Leading Hand – Sucht & Ordnung

(WKN, 2016)

At this point of his artistic career, Albin Julius probably is not that interested in answering questions about his musical past under the name Der Blutharsch. After the pretty much total audial transformation of the band (altho certain vibes and attitudes came along for the ride from the previous incarnation of course), the audiences of the group have now been accustomed to the Psychedelic Rock version of Albin’s musical visions, and there is no doubt he will continue to change and progress his musical identity in the future. But right now, we have this new album in our hands.

“Zucht und Ordnung” in German means “Discipline and Order”, a term associated with for example Christian or Fascist authority in society. “Sucht und Ordnung” however means “Addiction and Order”, and as an album stands for quite different mentalities, in its improvised and jamming ways. Recorded live at Pure Sound Studio (Vienna), this album features three songs and about 30 minutes of intense Psychedelic Rock the Der Blutharsch way we have become so familiar with in the recent years. Of course there is s certain discipline and order present in the song structures and performances of the recent material of the band, but nevertheless this is fucking psychedelia, which stands for total assimilation of control.

The album lifts off calmly with moody oriental melodies from the reverberated guitar, backed by ride-cymbals and the ever-expanding synth. But when the drums and basses kick off, I am surprised to hear a Surf Rock beat from the drums, together with an extremely heavy bass jamming sweet melodies with the already jamming distorted guitars. As the song progresses the synths change colour and texture like splashing various paints on a canvas, making me wanna be high as fuck on weed while listening to this song. After a break-like calm sequence the song ends in a sweet rocking beat and high guitar solos, which together with the organ-like synth makes me feel very classic seventies. This is the exact alchemical stuff the godlike albums of old were made from. This band gets it.

The second song starts off more heavy, not quite Doomy but nearly. Here were are introduced to the powerful majestic and almost preaching vocals of Marthynna. There has always been real dominance and sweetness at the same time in her voice, and this song is no different. However, if I was a bit surprised about the Surf Rock drumming in the first song, I am most definitely lifted off my chair when the song turns into a cool intense blast-beat and tremolo-riff driven Blackened kaleidoscope, before sinking again into slower currents. This was something I did quite not see coming from this band, not yet anyway.

The third song is a bit longer than the previous two, starting out really slow, before kicking off with a pretty minimalistic damping guitar riff and steady rocking drum-beat backed with a cool organ-sound and heavily phasing synths. Very classic Stoner (or just ancient Progressive) stuff here, staring at the night sky in the desert high on mushrooms. Marthynna’s chanting vocals fit the song again very well, as do the electrified howling effects taking the hypnotic riffing further into the mind’s eye. The song starts to fade towards the end only making an intense comeback, giving me spiralling chills down my spine. A very steady and well made song ending the album in extremely positive vibes.

In this age of music softwares one tends to forget the awesome power and magic of organic music. This album is a must for all fans of the previous albums of the band (especially after the musical “transformation”), and for all fans of hypnotic, psychedelic and hallucinatory jamming music in general. This album is my personal favourite among the band’s discography of the last five years.

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Today Is The Day – Animal Mother

(Southern Lord Records, 2014)

Steve Austin (a genius of a man) formed Today Is The Day in the early nineties, was signed to the cult-label Amphetamine Reptile Records, later went on to Relapse for about ten years, and now in 2014 has found his home at Southern Lord Records. He has also operated his studios Austin Enterprise, recording and mastering many critically acclaimed albums.

The classic albums by Today Is The Day include “Willpower”, “Temple Of The Morning Star”, “In The Eyes Of God”, and many more. The band has featured different members (line-ups) on almost it’s every record, from Brann Dailor and Bill Kelliher (later of Mastodon) to Derek Roddy (Hate Eternal among other bands). The current line-up features Jeffrey Lohrber (Trap Them) and Sean Conkling (Sidra).

It’s hard to describe the music of Today Is The Day, but if you think of genres like Noise Rock, technical Death Metal, Grindcore, Sludge and Alternative Rock put through a very intense and powerful (although not necessarily violent or aggressive) Avantgarde filter, you still might get the wrong impression in your mind. This stuff needs to be heard to be believed.

Steve Austin’s trademark, his high-pitched screams and lower shouts, are again the very same as on every previous Today Is The Day album, as is his Noisy but melodic riffs. The amount of Sludgy and Doomy (although rarely actually slow) riffs may have increased, or maybe it’s just me. The drums and bass are played the way this band demands, with a lot of feeling and expertise. On these areas not much has changed during the years, so what we are left to be critical about are the songs themselves.

Steve Austin has been through many ordeals in his personal life which are all reflected in his music and lyrics. This music is shamelessly and openly personal, yet emotionally appealing to each listener on an individual level.

When the previous album “Pain Is A Warning” was a great energetic in-your-face album, it wasn’t perhaps the most eventful record on the band’s catalogue. These songs however sound each like a masterpiece of it’s own, with a lot of variations and personality to the structures and various styles thrown into this colourful and artistic blender grinding at very surreal ways (way up high as way down below).

I have not a single bad word to say about this awesome album. Steve Austin once again reminds me why he is one of the greatest artist I have ever come across, especially in the world of extreme music. Check this album out. You will most likely love it instantly or get scared by it (in some weird way), but you will definitely not be left cold.

10/10 – Antti Mikonmäki

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Solefald – Norrönasongen

(Indie Recordings, 2014)

I first heard of Solefald in 1997 after buying their first full-length “The Linear Scaffold”, which was a good Avantgarde Metal album according to the standards of that time. In between this new Ep and the first album I have rarely heard their material, so there is little to say for me about the progression of the band. I do know that the members of Solefald are active in many artistic workings in their lives, a highly creative duo from which we can expect probably everything, but let us not go in the details regarding that area.

This Ep (38mins in length) inspected individually, offers some very artistic Folk-inluenced Prog Rock with some Metal influences. Sometimes I’m reminded of some good old Krautrock, sometimes a modern pop-version of Norwegian Folk music. The instrumentations feature a lot of Classical orchestra sounds (or Folk sounds) such as flutes, violins, etc. The guitar and bass sound remind of more 70’ies Rock music, while the drums jam away very professionally some more “modern” beats perhaps, although an apparent Prog vibe is easily heard there as well. Sometimes the guitars and drums deliver very Death Metallic parts without using too much aggression or distortion. The are also Electronic influences in the music, in the forms of drum-computer-sounds and drony synths (perhaps guitars).

The vocals are mostly clear Folk-oriented “Viking-style” singing and speech, male and female, performed very well, but the originality of the vocals might be the stumbling block of the music for many listeners.

Aesthetically we get a very stylish and quite minimalistic feeling from the artwork and the soundcapes of the music, although there is a lot happening in the songs. The album however, despite being musically quite complex in material, is coloured in same grayish colours all the way, which adds to the personality of the material and the band.

I’m guessing people into Neofolk, Prog Rock and Progressive Metal bands like Solstafir, and nordic life and culture in general, will find this album extremely interesting. I would give it even more higher points if I would be more into Folk Music and sounds, but if you are, I urge you to check the music of Solefald out!

7.5/10 – Antti Mikonmäki

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