Hopefully you like songs describing the collapse of the universe in the most convoluted way possible, because Obscura have given you ten more of them. Diluvium is the fifth release from this German, progressive technical death band and the final in a series of related concept albums. The concept of Diluvium is almost too all-encompassing, as nearly all the songs are similar both lyrically and in their instrumentation. Minor shortcomings aside, Obscura once again display nearly unmatched technical skills, effortlessly blending intimidating guitarwork with entrancing melodics, making Diluvium one of their strongest releases to date. (more…)

It’s been a while since Between the Buried and Me released Automata I, and now, after months digesting it, we have the second half, the aptly named Automata II. I praised the first half as being one of the better BTBAM releases, despite the mysterious choice to split what we now see is clearly intended to be one complete product. The music on the first half was every bit up to snuff with prior releases, pulling from some of the best sounds of the Colors era and adding some clean, minimalist refinement. Now, part two continues that trend and takes a detour into the zany, as we ought to expect by now. Overall, the entire package is a worthwhile endeavor. The lyrical theme of being lost in a dream-state carries throughout the two parts, and they flow seamlessly from one to the next. Regardless of whether we approve of it being released in parts, BTBAM can do as they please when the music is of this quality. (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…)

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…)

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…)

Amorphis is one of those bands that I can never tell whether they take themselves seriously or not. I’m thinking they do. This is a band that really wants you to know how much they love their homeland, Finland. The lyrics to Queen of Time, their 13th release, are vague in every way, but undoubtedly celebrate a romantic idea of the medieval Finnish adventurer. The music is over the top epic, with full orchestra, and a smattering of traditional folk instruments. Basically, if Skyrim was a metal band, it would be Amorphis. (more…)

From time to time, bands like to give props to their influences in the most entertaining way possible—the cover. It’s particularly great when one of your favorite current bands covers one of your favorite classic bands. Whether with a fresh, modern twist on a psychedelic seventies track or with something more analogous to the original, these covers give us new perspective on the songs we’ve been hearing for decades. With that in mind, here are my top five favorite modern covers of classic progressive songs: (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…)

It turns out, hip-hop doesn’t have a monopoly on guest vocalist appearances. Because progressive music emphasizes both experimentation and dynamic contrast, artists inevitably seek out different voices to add to their songs. Many of the following artists are fans of each other, and have toured together in the past. It’s always a fun surprise when one of your favorite singers from a relatively obscure band shows up on the record of another one of your favorite, relatively obscure bands.

I chose these songs based on a couple criteria. First, how awesome is the song? Is it worth my time? The answer has to be “yes.” Second, how essential is the guest appearance to the success of the song? Does it lend something the band couldn’t present otherwise that really makes the song? With those criteria in mind, here’s my top 5 guest vocalist appearances: (more…)

Remember Dimmu Borgir? Well they’re back, in prog form. Eonian is Dimmu’s first album in eight years, following 2010’s Abrahadabra. What sets Eonian apart? Well, simply put, this album sounds more like Epica than Dimmu. They’ve gone whole hog, banking on big choral vocals, strings, horns, keys, and there’s guitar in there, too. (more…)