The opening riff of Lotus sums up the album fairly well. Though the riff is technical and groovy, the guitar tone itself has a certain stank to it—a lingering, though not altogether unwelcome, stank that permeates the entire album. Lotus is generally more soulful than its predecessors, emphasizing passionate vocals and bluesy guitar sections, occasionally to a fault, but often successfully playing off precise, progressive riffs. (more…)

You may not have heard of MESTIS, but you may have heard the guitar stylings of Javier Reyes, the other guitarist alongside Tosin Abasi in the instrumental prog metal band Animals as Leaders. MESTIS is the side project of Reyes, and Eikasia is the second album under that moniker released through Sumerian Records, and it also features Eric Moore on drums. If you are looking for a companion to the heavier Animals as Leaders releases, you’ve come to the wrong place. Eikasia is a melding of instrumental jazz, relaxed atmospheric tones, classical guitar and a touch of proggy djent, in the same vein as Reyes’ previous release, Polysemy from 2015. Reyes delivers clean, groovy guitar with a couple muted surprises. My beef with this album is not in the talent of the artist, but is the same as it is with many instrumental prog acts. Eikasia is pleasant, but lacks the dynamics necessary to give the music any weight or to make it truly engaging. (more…)

The Pacer is the debut EP from Virgil, an instrumental super-group comprised of members from Cynic, Entheos, The Faceless, The Zenith Passage, and Animals as Leaders. With such an intimidating pile of bands to pull from, and The Pacer meets expectations (allowing for its short duration). Nothing is pushing the envelope to a scary degree here, but the different personalities of the group all shine through, and play well together. (more…)

Does China djent? Apparently. Von Citizen, an instrumental djent band out of Guangzhou, China, have dropped their debut album, Sentience, and it’s a pretty good one. Von Citizen is basically Intervals, Scale the Summit, and Joe Satriani merged into one. The music utilizes a lot of guitar layers and atmospheric synth to create vast but clean soundscapes that are regularly grounded by groovy, punchy djent rhythms. So, by no means is Von Citizen original, but I do think they masterfully combine a lot of what is good in the instrumental djent world, working in the tradition of Animals as Leaders and Cloudkicker. (more…)

It’s been 14 years since A Perfect Circle’s last album, eMOTIVe. Now, after over a decade of hiatus, vocalist Maynard James Keenan and guitarist Billy Howerdel have realized a new vision for their collaboration. Eat the Elephant is a different beast altogether. It is by far the band’s softest and most poppy album, squashing any hope for a return to the likes of Mer de Noms. For better or worse, the APC of 2000 is gone. (more…)