Welcome to the June Progress Report. While overall the month was not the greatest for metal releases, a couple of our Progress Report offerings will certainly make up for it. This is an interesting month on two counts: first, all of these albums range from good to great, and second, they were all either self-released, or put out on smaller labels. That’s a great thing to see – the scene is alive and well, and the high quality of the music this month is bested only by the production values. So take a look at these albums, and go listen to them. Do the artists a favor by buying the ones you like – I guarantee there will be a couple in here for everyone!
Ratings are on a five star scale.
Let’s get things started with an instrumental prog rock album headlined by a bass player. Prog Injection is Italian bass master Alberto Rigoni’s eighth solo album (he’s also worked with Twinspirits, BAD AS, and more), and here he enlists the assistance of Thomas Lang (Peter Gabriel, Glenn Hughes, etc) on drums and Alessandro Bertoni (Craig Blundell) on keyboards.
One might expect a lot of bass noodling on such an album, but Prog Injection is a muscular, riff-filled foray into progressive hard rock. Song styles cover the past few decades of prog, and Rigoni’s bass work sounds fantastic. Combined with top-notch drumming and tasteful synth work, Rigoni has delivered a compelling and entertaining album that avoids the self-indulgence that can be prevalent in the genre.
Atlas Entity are a two-man project based in Florida. It features multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Alex Gallegos and drummer Samus Paulicelli (Decrepit Birth, Devin Townsend). Beneath the Cosmic Silence is the progressive death metal duo’s first full-length release, and displays a wide range of influences, from Death to Opeth to Ihsahn, and more.
The songs on Beneath the Cosmic Silence have been percolating with Gallegos for years, and it shows. The skill and variety of styles displayed is impressive for a debut – there is as much melody and nuance as there is blast-beating brutality. The focus on arrangement rather than technicality pays off with a number of compelling songs. If the pair stick together, Atlas Entity certainly have a bright future.
At the beginning of this decade, Portland’s The Odious made a big impression on the prog metal scene, with their debut EP That Night a Forest Grew and their follow-up LP, Joint Ventures. Then they seemed to have disappeared, until now. Vesica Piscis takes all that the band displayed seven years ago and ramps it up artistically and compositionally, giving us a complex, addictive, invigorating album.
The Odious take elements of progressive death metal, prog rock, jazz, avant-garde, hardcore and more, and fuse it all into something quite unique. Songs take unexpected turns down groovy swing- or jazz-drenched avenues when one would expect something completely different. The musiciamship is beyond reproach and Patrick Jobe deftly nails every vocal variety presented. Vesica Piscis is our prog album of the month, and one of the top releases of the year.
This might be a first for the Progress Report: a progressive punk album. Puritan is the debut LP from Europe’s Ragdoll Sunday, and promises to mix the disparate styles of prog, punk, and metal. With references like Rage Against the Machine, Tool, and Soundgarden, this certainly grabbed my attention.
Both the progressive and the punk angles are proudly displayed, and adroitly mixed. Crazy, unpredictable drumming meets angular, riff-filled guitar lines, all supporting the charismatic yet slightly unhinged vocals. While most of the songs are constructed from a punk foundation and the production maintains that ethos, the arrangements lead us in unforeseen directions that for the most part generate a ton of grins. Puritan is an exuberant album and Ragdoll Sunday display a ton of potential.
Thank You Scientist – Terraformer (Evil Ink)
Terraformer is the third album from New Jersey’s Thank You Scientist. These guys play a catchy version of prog rock with healthy dollops of metal and jazz thrown into the mix. It’s all a heady take on the stylings of both The Mars Volta and Coheed and Cambria, and these six musicians have the chops to bring it.
Terraformer feels more like a double LP, clocking in at a massive eighty-five minutes, and at times they can lose the listener, but overall there is more than enough intricate yet catchy material here to make it worth our while. The balance between technicality and slick poppiness is spot on, with shredding guitar solos, jazz swings, and upbeat ditties all earning their time in the sun. Thank You Scientist show that they are a talented band that deserves our attention.
TheNightTimeProject – Pale Season (Debemur Morti)
TheNightTimeProject is a Swedish supergroup of sorts, formed by members of Katatonia, Letters From the Colony, and October Tide. With lofty pedigree comes high expectations, and here on their debut album, Pale Season, the band try to put their stamp on the dark melancholic prog sound bands such as Katatonia and Mother of Millions perform.
For the most part, TheNightTimeProject succeeds. The opening of “Hound” and “Rotting Eden” is as strong as anything released by the other bands name-dropped, and the penultimate track “Signals in the Sky” features a mesmerizing vocal performance from Heiki Langhans. Not every song matches these high levels, but overall Pale Season is an outstanding dark prog release that fans of Katatonia and others will love.