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February 2007 - Issue 62
Progressive Rock CD Reviews
Age of Nemesis - Terra Incognita
Review by Rick Damigella
Hungarian prog metalers Age of Nemesis are back with their third English language release, Terra Incognita. Originally released in their native Hungarian language in 2002, English speaking fans can now enjoy this unique concept album courtesy of this new Magna Carta release.
Aisles - The Yearning
Review by Gary Hill
I just now discovered this album, the debut release from Chilean band Aisles. It was released in 2005, and while I don’t really remember what the mass of discs to come out that year were,
Jon Anderson - Olias of Sunhillow
Review by Gary Hill
When the members of Yes all went off to do solo albums after Relayer, Jon Anderson delivered Olias of Sunhillow. In so many ways it was the most ambitious of the discs.
Jon Anderson - Song of Seven
Review by Gary Hill
There was a time when this album from Yes man Jon Anderson was my all time favorite disc by anyone. Mind you times have changed somewhat.
Deluge Grander - August in the Urals
Review by Julie Knispel
August in the Urals is the debut release from Deluge Grander, a new progressive rock band from Baltimore, Maryland. The group formed from the ashes of Cerebus Effect as an avenue for Dan Britton and Patrick Gaffney to develop and record new material that Britton had been composing.
Earth Lab - Element
Review by Gary Hill
Fans of Hawkwind should find plenty to like about this release. It sounds quite a bit like that band.
Randy Ellefson - The Firebard
Review by Lisa Palmeno
A one-man band, Randy Ellefson wrote, performed and produced everything about The Firebard. The 10-track mythical metal journey features Ellefson on all guitars, bass and drum programming.
Ferris Mudd - Ferris Mudd
Review by Julie Knispel
Ferris Mudd (the band) is a trio hailing from Alabama. Comprised of Steve Richard (lead vocals, lead guitar, guitar synth, acoustic guitar), Danny Dicus (bass, acoustic guitar, keyboards, backing vocals), and Lester Meredith (drums, percussion, keyboards, acoustic guitar, backing vocals), the band writes and performs progressive rock with a heavy melodic emphasis.
Genesis - And Then There Were Three
Review by Gary Hill
There are those out there who basically think that any Genesis album once they were a three piece is just plain pop tripe. Well, I have to tell you that I think you are wrong.
Genre Peak - Ends of the Earth
Review by Gary Hill
I’ve always felt that a lot of the more moody new wave music of the 1980’s had a lot in common with progressive rock. It seems to me that Hogarth era Marillion turns to some of that sound for their inspiration.
Jakko M. Jakszyk - The Bruised Romantic Glee Club
Review by Julie Knispel
Jakko M. Jakszyk has had a long and diverse career, careening wildly from pop/funk band Level 42 to Canterbury bands featuring Dave Stewart (Rapid Eye Movement), David Jackson, Peter Blegvad and John Greaves (The Lodge) and countless others.
King Crimson - Happy With What You Have To Be Happy With
Review by Julie Knispel
Happy With What you Have to be Happy With was the second consecutive EP release from King Crimson, and presented a look at additional material that would, along with the instrumentals presented on the Level Five EP, form the majority of the band’s (at the time) forthcoming studio album The Power To Believe.
King Crimson - Level Five
Review by Julie Knispel
Following the “research and development” phase that was the ProjeKCts, King Crimson resumed its most recent return to recording and performance. Having jettisoned Bill Bruford (who returned to primarily jazz playing via Earthworks) and Tony Levin (who returned to live work with long time collaborator Peter Gabriel), Crimson recorded and released the more electronic album The ConstruKCtion of Light in 2000.
King Crimson - Three Of A Perfect Pair
Review by Gary Hill
When King Crimson reformed in the 1980’s to create the Discipline album the sound they presented was quite different from the classic Crimson of the 1970’s. While I liked all of the discs from this Belew, Bruford, Fripp and Levin lineup, I still preferred the “old school” stuff.
King Crimson - VROOOM
Review by Julie Knispel
10 years following the dissolution of King Crimson following a trilogy of world and gamelan influenced albums, the band quietly rejoined forces in a small studio in Woodstock New York to create a new band and a new sound.
Lana Lane - Gemini
Review by Gary Hill
Like the new Erik Norlander disc, this one is an album of covers. While this CD works quite well, I’d have to say I prefer the other one.
Dee Long - Live Long and Prosper
Review by Gary Hill
Dee Long is probably best known for his work with Klaatu. If you take a look at the other review of his that is in this current issue, you’ll see that that association is the central reason for putting his work into the progressive rock category.
Dee Long - Welcome To The Future
Review by Gary Hill
The first point that needs to be gotten out right up front – this CD wouldn’t be lumped into the progressive rock category based on its own merits. Instead it would be put into the non-progressive grouping as a uniquely charming piece of pop rock.
Mangrove - Coming Back To LIVE
Review by Julie Knispel
Mangrove is a 4-piece progressive band hailing from the Netherlands. Active in the scene since the mid-1990’s, the band released their debut (the mini-album Massive Hollowness) in 2001. Coming Back to LIVE is the group’s fourth release overall, a double live album recorded 4 November 2006 in Apeldorn Netherlands.
Manfred Mann's Earth Band - The Roaring Silence
Review by Gary Hill
I don’t know if Manfred Mann’s Earth Band one hundred percent belongs in the category of progressive rock, but I think it can be argued to put them there. Certainly a lot of music in the 1970’s was influenced by prog (and carried element of it).
No Rules - Where We Belong
Review by Gary Hill
When I hear the term “symphonic rock” I tend to think of the more classically oriented prog. No Rules uses that label to describe themselves, and I think they should perhaps change it to “progressive rock.” Their music occasionally wanders into territory I would think fits that “symphonic” label, but more often than not what they create is closer to metallic neo-prog.
Erik Norlander - Hommage Symphonique
Review by Gary Hill
I know there are those out there who would consider that a CD of covers is not worthy of being a real release. Well, I’m here to tell you that if you have that attitude you might miss out on what could well be the best prog disc of the year.
Pain of Salvation - Scarsick
Review by Julie Knispel
Sweden’s Pain of Salvation’s Scarsick is the follow up, nearly three years on, from the band’s critically acclaimed concept album Be. Released on InsideOut Music America, Scarsick sees the band continuing in thematic arenas, releasing an album that deals with the problems facing modern society.
Alan Parsons - Pyramid
Review by Gary Hill
This 1978 disc has a bit of a bad reputation. I’ve seen it ripped apart as being overly pop oriented. Frankly, other than the track “Pyramania” I just don’t see it.
Rare Blend - Stops Along The Way
Review by Gary Hill
Fans of jam bands and fusion jazz stylings will find plenty to like on this album. I’ve included it in the progressive rock section because there is enough rock here amongst the jazz-like arrangements to quality it there, but it is quite close to the jazz genre.
Rush - Fly By Night
Review by Gary Hill
To quote the disc’s closer, “I know, I know, I know” that many of you don’t consider Rush to be a progressive rock band. That said, we have always included them under that heading due to the strength of their more prog period (Caress of Steel, 2112, A Farewell To Kings and Hemispheres).
Rush - Roll The Bones
Review by Gary Hill
While I would consider almost any Rush album to be great for one reason or another, this one really showed off its best qualities in relation to the discs that came before it. I remember thinking that this one, with it’s harder edged texture, was a step back in the right direction for the guys.
Spock's Beard - Spock's Beard
Review by Julie Knispel
Spock’s Beard needs no introduction, as they are one of the highest profile American prog bands of the past 15 years..
Starcastle - Citadel
Review by Gary Hill
Starcastle have gotten much criticism over the years for being "a rip off of Yes". Certainly the Yes influences are very strong, but honestly they really did their own take on those influences.
The Tangent - A Place In The Queue
Review by Steve Alspach
Andy Tillison's side project is getting so successful that his "original" band, Parallel or 90 Degrees, may be his side project these days. The Tangent's third album, A Place in the Queue pays homage to Yes' Tales... album (at least Tillison does in the liner notes in a delightful way), but the Tangent mix shorter songs with two bookend epics.
Tea For Two - Twisted
Review by Rick Damigella
Tea for Two is not a newcomer on the music scene, having been together in their earliest incarnations since 1984, but with this, their third studio effort, the trio comprised of Michael Schumpelt (keys, recorders, drums) Oliver Sörup (acoustic & electric guitars, mandolin, quint guitar) and Stephan Weber (vocals) have crafted a unique blend of progressive rock that ranges from Tull-ian folk arrangements to Floyd-ian keyboard flourishes.
Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews
Amon Amarth - With Oden on our Side
Review by Julie Knispel
With Oden On Our Side is the sixth full-length album from Swedish melodic/Viking death metal band Amon Amarth. Released in late 2006 on Metal Blade Records, the album paints a far more extreme musical picture than previous efforts, notably heavier than their previous album, Fate of Norns.
Antiquus - Eleutheria
Review by Mike Korn
Antiquus is a peculiar name for a band but I suggest you make a place for it in your mental filing cabinet. You're going to be hearing a lot more of it in the years to come.
Al Atkins - Demon Deceiver – The Sin Sessions
Review by Gary Hill
Let’s get one point out there right away, Al Atkins was the lead singer of Judas Priest before Rob Halford. That puts him in the formative period before the group recorded.
Black Sabbath - Heaven and Hell
Review by Gary Hill
I was a huge Black Sabbath fan when this disc came out. I suppose I should clarify that by admitting that I still am.
Bruce Dickinson - Balls to Picasso
Review by Lisa Palmeno
Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden fame released Balls to Picasso in 1994. The front man whose powerful and highly-developed voice provided the inspiration for legions of heavy metal followers proves himself again and again on this massive work.
Holy Moses - Queen of Siam
Review by Greg Olma
The good folks at Locomotive have done it again. The idea of reissuing an album is one of the best ways to give some older music a new lease on life.
Krokus - Hellraiser
Review by Greg Olma
I have always had a soft spot for Krokus. I started following their career early on with Metal Rendez-vous on up to Change Of Address.
Scorpions - Taken By Force
Review by Gary Hill
This disc represented the final Scorpions album with Uli Jon Roth. While I’ve always appreciated the later period of the band, I’ve always preferred the Roth edition.
Southview - Drink To the Poor Damned Souls
Review by Mike Korn
Southview is a band from my home area of Northern Illinois that I've been a fan of for quite a while now. The first time I saw these guys, I knew they were of a quality higher than the local bar bands that play the circuit.
Tristania - Illuminations
Review by Gary Hill
While this is Tristania’s third album, it was my first exposure to them. The comparisons to Lacuna Coil are obvious as this band’s style of split female and male vocal performances laced over the top of music that combines epic metal and gothic sounds certainly calls to mind that band.
Vengeance - Back In The Ring
Review by Mike Korn
It's true that I spend most of my time listening to extreme or "serious" heavy metal. But that doesn't mean I can't crack open a brew, kick back and head bang with down and dirty, no-messin' hard rock.
Non-Prog CD Reviews
Jodi Beach Trio - In Other Words
Review by Lisa Palmeno
The Jodi Beach Trio released In Other Words in 2004. The CD features classically-trained vocalist and pianist Jodi Beach along with Drummer Thom Fishe and Jim McDowell on acoustic bass and classical guitar.
Vince Gill - These Days
Review by Gary Hill
It’s not often that an artist tries so hard to produce a quality product that they wind up releasing a four CD set – at least not one of all new material. It’s also not often that an artist assembles a release that captures the essence of all their musical moods and interests.
Glenn Hughes - Music For The Divine
Review by Gary Hill
I have to say that it seems any more that bonus tracks are becoming a bad idea. Had the last two bonus tracks been left off of this disc, it would have been a pretty perfect album.
Ministry - Rio Grande Blood
Review by Mike Korn
Al Jourgenson continues his guerilla musical war against the Bush family with "Rio Grande Blood" and this time he takes no prisoners. Ministry has been battling with the Bushes since George Sr. was in the White House and the band sampled him for their anthem "N.W.O."
Adam Rich - You Can't Escape Life
Review by Lisa Palmeno
Adam Rich’s You Can’t Escape Life is a progressive/alternative offspring of the punk era. Rich has pinned power pop down to science.
Sugarland - Enjoy The Ride
Review by Gary Hill
You have to give credit to anyone who bucks popular styles and does their own thing. Such is the case with Sugarland.
Warp 11 - Boldly Go Down On Me
Review by Rick Damigella
Star Trek as a franchise celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2006. Hardcore Star Trek fans, commonly known as Trekkies, have likely seen the two documentaries on their fandom which share their name. The second of these, Trekkies 2, featured a look at the Northern California Star Trek tribute band scene.
DVD/Video Reviews
Amon Amarth - Wrath of the Norsemen DVD
Review by Julie Knispel
One thing I have found interesting as I spend time on message boards and progressive music forums is that there is a large subset of prog fans who also wildly embrace extreme metal. One might find that to be a difficult to resolve dichotomy; after all, progressive music is generally built on complex song structures, intricate/virtuoso playing, and often difficult to understand lyrics.
King Crimson - Eyes Wide Open DVD
Review by Julie Knispel
Following two plus years as a “double trio,” and nearly two years of fractionalization through a series of ProjeKCts, King Crimson returned to active duty in 2000 as a streamlined quartet with the album The ConstruKCtion of Light. A second album in this newer “double duo” format titled The Power to Believe, followed in 2003.
Porcupine Tree - Arriving Somewhere DVD
Review by Julie Knispel

When one considers that Porcupine Tree has been a touring band for over a decade, and has several live albums to their credit, it is amazing that the band has not had an official DVD documenting their live show until now. Recorded live in Chicago on 11 and 12 October 2005, Arriving Somewhere... showcases Porcupine Tree’s powerhouse Deadwing concert tour, offering up a selection of current tracks, a few older favourites, and some rarities and oddities to boot.

Interviews
Circle II Circle
Interview by Greg Olma
Interview with Zak Stevens of Circle II Circle from 2007
Krokus
Interview by Greg Olma
Interview With Marc Storace of Krokus
Mark Newman
Interview by Greg Olma
Interview With Mark Newman
Jon Oliva's Pain
Interview by Greg Olma
Interview with Jon Oliva
 
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