The Progress Report: November 2023

Welcome to the November Progress Report – our last column of the year featuring new material. December will be our Best-Of list. This also happens to be a column that contains six really strong albums, which hasn’t always been the case this year. It’s a struggle to find fault in any of these releases. From the psychedelic prog of Gong to the blackened prog of Ch’ahom, each of these albums is more than worthy of a purchase, let alone a listen. Check them out, and we’ll see you again in a couple weeks with your annual Top Prog list.

Ratings are on a five star scale.

Sentient Ruin

Ch’ahom – Knots Of Abhorrence (Sentient Ruin)

I don’t often review progressive black metal here, but once in a while an album grabs my attention, and Knots Of Abhorrence is such an album. Germany’s Ch’ahom have been toiling for seven years and have honed their style into a blend of progressive, psychedelic black/death metal that is sure to please.

On their debut album the group shows remarkably mature songwriting skills, deftly blending their primal brutality with prog-infested soundscapes. This is just the right mix of the above genres, with primeval bestiality and technical sorcery playing equal roles. Knots Of Abhorrence is worth it for the epic title track alone, a two-part eighteen-minute album closer that is one of the finest examples of the genre this year.

Rating: 4


Gong – Unending Ascending (Kscope)

Okay, here’s an intriguing one. Some of you might remember Gong as a late ’60s spinoff of Soft Machine, led by Daevid Allen. Between ’68 and ’74 this psych-rock outfit released a half-dozen albums, reunited in the ’90s, and had a sporadic release schedule since. Eight years ago Allen passed away but implored the band to carry on.

Unending Ascending is the band’s third post-Allen album, all with the same band members. They succeed in carrying on the Gong legacy, with eight songs that are trippy, spacey, psychedelic joy. There’s plenty of ’60s quirkiness along with modern production and even the occasional riff (“Choose Your Goddess” is a killer tune). Fans of this style and era will love Unending Ascending.

Rating: 3.5

Argonauta Records

Left Eye Perspective – Conundrum (Argonauta)

Four-piece Belgian rockers Left Eye Perspective release their debut album, Conundrum, this month. Throughout the album’s 41 minutes the band delivers a satisfying mix of sludge and stoner rock with a decidedly progressive bent. The band reminds me of another group that deserves more attention: Hyborian.

In the Gong review above I mentioned the occasional riff; Left Eye Perspective live by the riff. Every song on Conundrum is packed with riffs, each catchier than the next. Top up this plethora of riffs with some stellar musicianship and mean-as-hell vocals and you’ve got an album overflowing with energy. If you prefer some groove in your prog (and riffs!) this just might satisfy you.

Rating: 4

Svart Records

Strange New Dawn – New Nights Of Euphoria (Svart)

Svart Records always release intriguing albums, especially within the prog scene. New Nights Of Euphoria is no exception. Norway’s Strange New Dawn were formed by founding members of Green Carnation and In the Woods, and this album is the band’s second album and first since 2015. The band’s style can’t really be pinned down much more than simply saying progressive metal.

Elements of ’70s prog, psychedelia, modern metal and more are all in abundance here, and all well done. At times the vocals seem to dip in quality but they always somehow bounce back, both clean and harsh. New Nights Of Euphoria is an album that just keeps getting better with every listen.

Rating: 4

Season Of Mist

TEMIC – Terror Management Theory (Season Of Mist)

The four players comprising TEMIC harken from such acts as Devin Townsend, Haken, Mike Portnoy, and Neal Morse. They have a strong pedigree and now on Terror Management Theory, the group’s debut, they get the chance to break out of the shadows and strut their stuff. They take full advantage of the opportunity.

Terror Management Theory epitomizes modern progressive metal. There’s plenty of virtuosity on display, especially from guitarist Eric Gillette, but there’s equal amounts of melody, emotion, and power on display. Fredrik Bergersen has a killer voice tailor-made for prog, and each song presented here is impeccably arranged and produced. This is a killer prog album and just happens to be our pick of a very strong month.

Rating: 4.5

Vicisolum Records/Sound Pollution

Weeping Silence – Isles Of Lore (ViciSolum/Sound Pollution)

Similar to Strange New Dawn, Weeping Silence are back with their first album since 2015. Isles Of Lore is the Malta outfit’s fifth album. Here they merge their early gothic doom influences with more progressive, melodic fare, creating an intriguing melodic death-doom platter that focuses on Maltese legends and folklore.

Isles Of Lore is another album that took a few listens to sink in, but there is no denying the skill present here in songwriting, arranging, and overall performances. At times the harsh vocals can lag behind the music as far as emotion goes, but it’s a minor quibble. Isles Of Lore is this month’s longest album (61 minutes) but there’s no filler here. The epic 16-minute closer “The Legend of Matteo Falzon” is a fantastic way to close out the album – and this month’s column.

Rating: 4

Other 2023 Progress Reports

January 2023 Progress Report
February 2023 Progress Report
March 2023 Progress Report
April 2023 Progress Report
May 2023 Progress Report
June 2023 Progress Report
July 2023 Progress Report
August 2023 Progress Report
September 2023 Progress Report
October 2023 Progress Report

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