Welcome to the April Progress Report. We’ve got six strong albums for you this month, some or all of which are bound to appeal to our dear readers. As always we’ve tried to mix things up, from debuts to legends, big labels to small, across a wide range of progressive styles. Read on and give these albums a spin; I am sure you will find some great gems below.
Ratings are on a five star scale.
Erebe – Aeon (Silent Future)
France’s Erebe have a style that is hard to pin down. They seem to draw influence from multiple genres – prog metal, post-metal, alternative, even shoegaze – and their use of three vocalists (including Gorguts’ Luc Lemay) adds to the difficulty in pinning these guys’ style down. Aeon is the band’s debut album, and might appeal to fans of The Ocean or even Opeth, it’s difficult to say.
While not the most progressive in a true sense, there’s a ton of catchy songs on Aeon, “Drowned” perhaps leading the way. Erebe certainly know their way around their instruments, with “The Collector” being the most progressive outing and the track that features Gorguts’ Luc Lemay. Give this one a spin, it just might be what you’re looking for.
Hällas – Isle Of Wisdom (Napalm)
Swedish retro/psychedelic prog-rockers Hällas dropped their third full-length this month, Isle of Wisdom. I was worried about the band’s trajectory; I loved their 2017 debut Excerpts From A Future Past, but thought follow-up Conundrum was a weaker effort. I’m happy to say the quintet have returned to form here, with eight top-notch tracks of old-school “adventure rock.”
In many ways Hällas are similar to Wobbler: smoky, unique vocals, and a love of analog sounds from the ’60s and ’70s. Hällas tinge their work with sci-fi themes (their band name is the name of the protagonist of their songs), and on Isle Of Wisdom they flash the energy and catchy songwriting that their debut was known for. Fans of ’70s acts such as Genesis and Camel (and the aforementioned Wobbler) will love this album. It’s our pick of the month.
Kaipa – Urskog (InsideOut)
It has been fifteen years since we heard from legendary Swedish outfit Kaipa, but now they return with Urskog, their fourteenth album. The six songs here were written for the most part four years ago by longtime band leader Hans Lundin, and are meant to immerse us in the Swedish wilderness through the changing seasons.
There is no instant gratification to be found on Urskog. The shortest song is over six minutes long, while the longest clocks in at just under nineteen minutes. That being said, the music and vocals are spectacular, the album is impeccable produced, and Lundin’s ability to convey mood through music is stellar. This is a daunting album but definitely worthy of your attention.
Monuments – In Stasis (Century Media)
In Stasis is U.K. – American outfit Monuments’ fourth album, and first with new vocalist Andy Cizek. With their modern progressive metal style coupled with plenty of djent arrangements, one can here influences ranging from Periphery to BTBAM to recent Haken. Cizek’s vocals in particular stand out, as he is outstanding with both his clean and harsh work.
Founding member John Browne provides stellar djenty riffs and plenty of intricate arrangements, with washes of keyboards tastefully supporting the rhythms and vocals. Monuments manage to be heavy, aggressive, and accessible all at once, throwing plenty of hooks out there and nicely offsetting aggression with melody. Album highlights “Opiate,” “The Cimmerian,” and “No One Will Teach You” are all great examples of this style of music.
Novarupta – Carrion Movements (Suicide)
Elemental metal is how Alex Stjernfeldt describes his Novarupta project. Each album focuses on one of the elements, and in the case of Carrion Movements, the project’s third album, that element is air. Novarupta’s fire and water albums, Disillusioned Fire and Marine Snow, were both well-received, so there’s a certain bar to be met here for sure.
Carrion Movements certainly changes things up. Primarily eschewing vocals and comprised only of two lengthy tracks, the album is a departure. However, it does manage to deftly convey the feelings one might anticipate from an album focused on the air element, and both songs, although 17-18 minutes long, are unique and engaging pieces of instrumental prog/post/sludge metal. Carrion Movements won’t disappoint fans of this project.
Tranzat – Ouh La La (Klonosphere)
If you’re a fan of Devin Townsend, Faith No More, France, and kooky humor, Tranzat is the band for you, and their third album Ouh La La will be just what the doctor ordered. Take the aforementioned acts, infuse them with a ton of groove and some crazy musicianship (and at times vocals), and you’re left with this prog metal platter.
One look at that album cover tells you just what you need to know. And with song titles like “Mr. Awesome” and “Pillow Fight” you know you’re in store for a carnival atmosphere. But the great thing is Tranzat write some really cool songs, and play and sing the hell out of them. There’s a lot to digest here, with nine songs spanning fifty-five minutes, but Ouh La La is never not entertaining. Well-played, slightly deranged, and a ton of fun, it’s certainly worth checking out.