2018’s In Contact by Caligula’s Horse was one of the band’s greatest releases to date—a carefully crafted album that tackled many themes both lyrically and musically. One of the album’s most memorable songs is a fifteen and a half minute epic that carries some of the most provocative imagery. I was struck by how viscerally I connected with the emotions of the song’s voice even upon the first listen. This is a song that merits a deeper look, and although the pronouns in the narrative are often impossibly vague, even the cryptic nature of the lyrics is intriguing—forcing the listener to examine the relationships therein in attempt to better understand the experience of the characters. Lyrically, “Graves” is a deeply interesting song that uses the metaphor of rival stone masons to examine the costs of obsession, and the fear of failing to realize one’s ambitions, particularly in regards to maintaining healthy fatherly relationships. (more…)

Of all the eccentric ambassadors for progressive metal out there, Devin Townsend is certainly the most theatrical, and one of the most prolific. Depending on how you count them, Empath is Townsend’s 26th full-length album, and devoted fans will be pleased to see he’s showing no sign of slowing down with this one. More reminiscent of 2011’s Deconstruction than anything else, Empath pulls from much of Townsend’s successful sounds and brings us an intriguing and inspired concept about the uniting qualities of shared human experience. (more…)

Occasionally, I’m turned on to a truly unique act that I somehow missed, despite that act having a long and productive career. Such is the nature of progressive music—full of surprises, sometimes delivered as a sheer consequence of obscurity. The Norwegian group Madder Mortem is one of these bands. As I’ve only just now heard their music—on this, their seventh full-length releaseI’ll approach this review as objectively as I can, completely ignorant of their earlier catalog. (more…)

From the ever intriguing minds of Haken comes Vector, the British band’s fifth studio album. Clocking in at around 45 minutes, Vector is Haken’s shortest yet most dynamic full-length release to date. This succinct collection of seven songs takes the listener on a psychological roller coaster, focusing on themes of the mind from the perspectives of both the mentally wounded and their apparent psychoanalysts. Musically, Vector successfully delivers myriad tones ranging from an orchestral introduction, to catchy pop, punchy metal, and subdued melancholic passages. (more…)

A few weeks ago, I reviewed IV by Grayceon. Now, we have another project made up of former members from Giant Squid, and in this case, Agalloch as well. Indie band Khôrada have come out with their debut album, Salt, and it’s a lot to chew. This is a band that’s difficult to categorize. They’ve been able to cultivate a unique sound, somewhere amidst post-rock, sludge, and black metal. Like the twisted, abstract face adorning its cover-art, Salt is perhaps summed up best in one word—tortured. It is in all ways somber, but often animated, captivating, and evocative. (more…)

With the release of their first full-length album, Gyre emerge in the arena of progressive stoner metal, but risk too closely parroting their obvious influences. Though decent overall, Shared Visions is possibly both too experimental and yet too uninspired at the same time. The rawness of the album is one of its strongest and weakest attributes, at moments feeling woefully unrefined, yet refreshingly genuine. Above all, this is music the artists have made for themselves, but there’s plenty for the rest of us to enjoy as well. (more…)

It doesn’t get blacker than Zeal and Ardor. As far as I can tell, this is the first and only negro spirituals plus black metal act out there. Manuel Gagneux originally started Z&A as a solo project in 2014 more or less as a dare from a 4Chan user, who suggested Gagneux combine “black metal” and “ni**er music.” Now in 2018, we get Stranger Fruit, the first full-length release from this very real band. (more…)

Well, if you haven’t heard of Grayceon, you are not alone. As of this moment, their full-album video of IV on YouTube has a whopping 310 views, at least a dozen of which are from me. They are indeed a unique band, and I’ll let them describe themselves—from their bandcamp page: “Atypical three-piece from San Francisco comprised of electric cello, guitar, drums, and vocals. Pulling together an extremely diverse range of musical influences, Grayceon’s sound defies the boundaries of the metal/rock/progressive genres. Screaming melodic lines over distinct guitar ‘chunk,’ doom riffs, jazz chord progressions, intricate folk-like delicacies, and just about everything in between.” Well said. (more…)