Welcome to the September Progress Report. Interestingly, this might be the first month in four years that we don’t have a self-released record on tap. With all six bands represented below having been signed to record labels, one would think the quality would be higher than self-released albums, but such is not the case. While we’ve got a couple of standout albums here, and a couple more pretty good releases, there are also a couple that don’t live up to expectations.
Also of note, two albums that would have appeared on this Report had we received promotional material would have been new releases from Gazpacho and Arcade Messiah. Both albums are excellent – the former progressive rock, the latter a bit heavier – and should be checked out by all fans of progressive music.
Ratings are on a five star scale.
Bangladeafy – Housefly (Nefarious Industries)
Bangladeafy are now semi-regulars in our column, as Housefly marks their third appearance. It’s good to see this pair of New Yorkers still cranking out their oddball avant-garde style of music, and once again they don’t disappoint. Atif Haq continues to demonstrate amazing skill behind the drum kit, and Jon Ehlers layers all sorts of multi-instrumental weirdness atop it.
Housefly maintains the style and feel of previous work. Again it’s short: the thirteen songs fly by in a mere eighteen minutes, making it more of a single piece. Like their last album, a few songs have low in the mix vocals, and all the songs feature chaotically enticing drumming combined with off-kilter synths, bleeps, and samples.
Intercepting Pattern – The Encounter (Rising Nemesis)
What do you get when you cross sci-fi themes with jazz fusion and death metal? You get Germany’s Intercepting Pattern and their debut album, The Encounter. Similar to Bangladeafy up above, The Encounter is more of a single song than a collection, this one spanning 31 minutes. Featuring musicians from bands such as Cerebric Turmoil and Defeated Sanity, there is a bit of an expectation to live up to here.
As expected, the music on The Encounter grabs your attention and never lets go. Whether it is the perfectly arranged and deranged jazz moments or the blasts of death metal brutality, or even the nasty harsh vocals, Intercepting Pattern deftly display a knack for cunning song structure and outstanding musicianship, making this one of our favorites of the month.
Kairon; IRSE! – Polysomn (Svart)
The most spaced-out of this week’s reviewed albums is certainly Polysomn, the third release from Finland’s oddly-named Kairon; IRSE!. These fellows’ style can best be described as an odd amalgamation of psychedelic rock, jazz, and ’70s prog. Echo and reverb-laden vocals combine with fuzzed-up instruments to create an almost mysterious vibe of coolness in the songs.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of variation amongst the eight tracks on Polysomn, and that air of mesmerizing cool fades slightly after a few songs. More twists and turns to make the individual tracks stand out while maintaining the overall feel and mood would be all Kairon; IRSE! need to take things to the next level.
Obsidian Kingdom – Meat Machine (Season of Mist)
Kairon; IRSE! may be the most spaced-out of these albums, but Obsidian Kingdom’s Meat Machine is most definitely the most varied. At times Scott Walker or Deftones, at other times Sarah McLachlan, this band from Barcelona load their songs full of changeups. A little bit of something for everyone.
From noise to industrial, from post metal to alt-rock, and nearly everything in between, Meat Machine is anchored by the contrast between male hardcore/clean vocals and ethereal female vocals. This strange concoction doesn’t always click, but when it does the songs can be massive and engaging. “The Pump,” “A Foe,” and “Mr. Pan” are standout examples of Obsidian Kingdom’s penchant for blending these disparate genres.
The Progressive Souls Collective – Sonic Birth (Metalville)
As the name would suggest, The Progressive Souls Collective are a group of musicians playing progressive metal, and Sonic Birth is their debut. Band members hail from Angra, Dream Theater, and Haken, but the leader is guitarist Florian Zepf, who wrote the entire album and recruited Kevin Moore, Derek Sherinian, Connor Green, and others.
Ambition is high on Sonic Birth, and Zepf showcases some truly amazing guitar chops that remind one of Michael Romeo. However, the songs lack cohesion (and at over an hour, the album is far too long), the mixes are uneven, and Vladimir Lalic’s vocal performances are often out of control, making the album sound more like a collection of instrumental (and vocal) moments than a complete band recording.
Rikard Sjöblom’s Gungfly – Alone Together (InsideOut)
Rikard Sjöblom first came to this column’s attention two years ago, when the Beardfish singer’s Gungfly project released its fourth album, Friendship. Now they are back with the apt-for-the-times entitled Alone Together. Recording as a power trio this time, Sjöblom handles guitar, keyboards, and vocals while Petter and Rasmus Diamant take care of drums and bass.
Alone Together is a different beast than Friendship was, in a good way. Sjöblom makes ample use of a Hammond organ sound here, and utilizes a variety of vocal styles. Musically the band weaves a path throughout ’70s and ’80s prog, from King Crimson to Yes. It all results in a more engrossing album than the previous, a record fans of prog rock that really rocks will want to hear.
Other 2020 Progress Reports
January 2020 Progress Report
February 2020 Progress Report
March 2020 Progress Report
April 2020 Progress Report
May 2020 Progress Report
June 2020 Progress Report
July 2020 Progress Report
August 2020 Progress Report