Welcome to the August Progress Report. As summer winds down we bring you another half-dozen progressive music albums of varying styles. This month we focus primarily on self-released albums; these bands work hard on shoestring budgets to get their music out to you, so be sure to click through them all and support the ones that you like. From folk to death, we’ve got a bit of everything this month.
Ratings are on a five star scale.
U.K. duo All Seeing Eyes start the month off with Reinventing Time, their second album. This is a true progressive metal offering, stylistically harkening back to bands like Queensryche, Watchtower, and Crimson Glory. In other words, there’s plenty of nuance, dynamics, shredding, and heaviness.
Ben Colton and Kenny Fraser are All Seeing Eyes, and when it comes to guitars and vocals the pair are as strong as anyone out there. There are some fantastic lead breaks on every song and Colton’s vocals are emotional and powerful – exactly what one seeks in this genre. Reinventing Time slips a bit one the production/post-prod side of things: not all songs are mastered to the same level, which can be jarring, and the choice of drum sounds (especially the toms) could have been much better. Still, Reinventing Time is a fast-paced and engaging album that shouldn’t be ignored.
Burial in the Sky – The Consumed Self (Rising Nemesis)
It’s hard to believe this is the same Burial in the Sky that gave us 2018’s Creatio et Hominus. What a change a few years makes! While that album may have been a disappointment, The Consumed Self completely rights the ship, and this Philly-based prog-death quintet hit nearly all the right buttons as they deliver a seamless whole-album experience.
The Consumed Self is beautifully put together with a flow that often eludes tech-death bands. Pummeling brutality and hyper-fast intricate passages are interlaced with wistful atmospherics and occasional (but very effective) clean vocals. “Mechanisms of Loneliness” and “Anatomy of Us” should be benchmarks for progressive death metal. Burial in the Sky definitely win the award for Most Improved; The Consumed Self is a stellar release.
Dikajee is a multi-instrumentalist and singer originally from Russia, but now of a global origin. She has been quite prolific over the past few years. Her newest album Forget~Me~Nots was recorded with a number of musicians across Europe (in that way, it reminds me of Tony Levin’s excellent release, World Diary) who contribute everything from guitar to bagpipes to her evocative and enthralling compositions.
The songs adhere most closely to intricate folk passages, with all tracks centered around Dikajee’s incredible voice. Don’t let that scare you off, though: the group of musicians she is collaborating with are not afraid to push the envelope and create some truly outstanding music. Ethereal, hypnotic, magical – call it what you want, Forget~Me~Nots is a mesmerizing journey that will appeal to anyone who is into superb vocal performances and strong compositions.
Moon Unit – Differences In Language And Lifestyle (PRT)
Boy, where to start with Croatian outfit Moon Unit. Differences In Language And Lifestyle, the band’s debut album, is maybe the most confusing listen of the month here. These guys draw influence from everyone from Faith No More to Devin Townsend to Limp Bizkit – yes, Limp Bizkit, and that’s where things get weird.
Musically, Moon Unit just might be the most talented bunch in this column. The music here is tight and complex, spinning off in various directions with apparent ease. It’s head-scratching time when the rapping starts, though, as the songs veer directly into nu-metal territory. The Fred Durst-isms will likely turn off folks who regularly read this column, but Moon Unit are a stellar band; give this album a shot and see if it works for you.
I’ve been hooked on Terminus since grabbing their 2018 release Fortune Looming. The Arkansas trio specialize in a very unique amalgamation of doom, stoner, and prog, and do it wonderfully. The Silent Bell Toll is the band’s latest album, recorded a year and a half ago but not released until this month. The wait is worth it.
While Fortune Looming had a somewhat wistful feel to it, on The Silent Bell Toll Terminus turn up the volume and the chunky fuzz – slightly reminiscent of 2016’s “Safe Travels, See You Never.” This album is loaded with riffs, and the charismatic vocals of Sebastian Thomas (think of a cross between Pallbearer and Geddy Lee) make every song ooze with class. From the earworm riffs of “Black Swan” to the epic fuzz-tinged doom of “Oh Madrigal,” songwriting, performances, production, and arrangements are spot on, easily making The Silent Bell Toll our album of the month – heck, of the summer.
It’s hard to describe St. Louis quartet Voidgazer. They have coined themselves a “biker prog’ band, but on Dance Of The Undesirables, their first output since a 2016 EP, they are much more than that. Sure, I can see myself cranking this when I’m cruising around on my motorbike, but maybe the best phrase that comes to mind is “all-out aggression.”
Dance Of The Undesirables is sort of a mini-LP; five songs in 31 minutes. From the opening salvo of “Jesus Take the Needle” to the closing fury of “Sexual Sadist Serial Slasher,” these guys don’t let off the throttle. Harsh vocals accompany massive riffs, all-out aggression, and plenty of progressive dalliances. In short, this is a great little gem of an extreme prog release.