Crash And Ride Music http://www.crashandridemusic.com The latest album reviews, concert reviews, and interviews of progressive and alternative rock and metal. Thu, 18 Feb 2016 14:00:53 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.5.2 http://i0.wp.com/www.crashandridemusic.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/cropped-crash-and-ride3.png?fit=32%2C32 Crash And Ride Music http://www.crashandridemusic.com 32 32 Interview: The Great Curve http://www.crashandridemusic.com/2016/02/18/interview-the-great-curve/ http://www.crashandridemusic.com/2016/02/18/interview-the-great-curve/#respond Thu, 18 Feb 2016 14:00:53 +0000 http://www.crashandridemusic.com/?p=2717 American progressive/experimental rock band The Great Curve consists of Kevin, Ross, and Brian. They recently released their second album “Something Grand Is Dying.” I had the chance to sit down with them and discuss their band, influences, and future plans. K: Kevin R: Ross B: Brian How long have you been playing music? K: Twenty-two years. I first picked...

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American progressive/experimental rock band The Great Curve consists of Kevin, Ross, and Brian. They recently released their second album “Something Grand Is Dying.” I had the chance to sit down with them and discuss their band, influences, and future plans.

K: Kevin

R: Ross

B: Brian

How long have you been playing music?

K: Twenty-two years. I first picked up an instrument in 5th grade, choosing to play the cello rather than fail miserably trying to draw boxes in Art class.  By 6th grade I’d given up any real attempt at musicianship and just repeatedly smashed my bow into the strings in a poor recreation of Soundgarden’s “Fourth of July.”  I grabbed an electric bass shortly thereafter and quickly forgot every formal lesson, replacing my bow with a pick and accidentally mimicking the Melvins in full stoner-drone rock mode.

Sad aside: I gave that first bass to an absolute genius of a kid in my class with extremely strict parents.  He just wanted a chance to play a little “rock n’ roll.”  Unfortunately he carried the “too smart to function” gene and supposedly ended up hitching rides on trains and shooting heroin.  Hope you’re alright out there Wes!

R: I think I started clanging on piano in either kindergarten or first grade, but got tired of the classical tunes after several years of lessons and wanted to rock. That clearly meant I would have to learn guitar. So with a few chords my dad taught me (eat your heart out), I started shredding on a Martin Stinger. I won’t even get into my junior high seven-string phase. Sigh. Then in college I rediscovered piano/synth was actually cool, taught myself drums, and did blast/grind beats minus the kick.

K: Before TGC Ross played drums in a band called Taft.  He used to do these amazing no-kick blast beats while blowing out his vocal chords.  We called it the Screaming Eagle.

Who were your greatest musical influences growing up? How have they impacted your sound today?

K:  Luckily, my parents listened to (mostly) amazing music, so I jammed out to the Who, Talking Heads, the good (read: stolen) Paul Simon records, early Beach Boys, a carefully curated selection of Doors tracks, and a steady stream of the Stones.  I did eventually have to shut down my dad’s obsession with Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band, but otherwise no complaints!

I grew up in an awful town for, well, everything, but particularly music.  Happily my folks loved live bands so we’d trek 2 hours to Austin and see Delta Blues and Zydeco legends at the original Antone’s.  I’d eventually fall asleep on a table in the bar and the next morning wake up back home somewhat ready to attend school.  In text that sounds like awful parenting, but I assure you it’s exactly the opposite!

In terms of later, more personal taste, I owe everything to Poster Children, the greatest American rock band of all time and yes I will fight you over this.  My dump of a hometown rarely got shows, so when the venerable Sponge announced a date in College Station my fellow “grunge banger” friend and I purchased tickets immediately.  We dreamed of a real, live mosh pit.  Poster Children, a band I’d never heard, opened the show and just crushed, which led to an extremely bizarre BMG Music Club order that included the legendary PC record Junior Citizen and a Boyz II Men album.  It’s no Junior Citizen, but I still love some Motown-Philly.

Once we got internet at home, I quickly discovered PC’s online tour diaries (I think they produced the first band-managed webpage – they used to design flight simulators!).  Through those writings I learned not only about outstanding bands (Hum, Man or Astro-man?, Tortoise, Seam, Jesus Lizard, Jawbox, etc.), but also about ethics in the music biz.  No matter the size of the crowd you play your absolute heart out!  I might have stalked them every time they came within a one-state radius of Texas.  No, I definitely did that.  If you dig through their tour diary archives you can find some, ahem, interesting pictures of me.  Thanks parents!

Later key influences came from recommendations via other musicians: Neurosis, Devin Townsend, Lightning Bolt, the Locust, Melt-Banana, Drive Like Jehu, Boards of Canada, Assacre…

In terms of our sound, I think those groups provided two key points:

1. Take risks.  Unless you’re a totally unstoppable melody machine like my buddy Frank in the Murdocks (Austin-based and amazing), there’s little reason to swim in conquered waters.

2. Mean every note, every word, every action.  It’s not about the crowd, it’s about YOU and those small moments of expression.  Also, you don’t need tons of notes, only the right one played really, really LOUDLY.

I remember in your email that you said you have no expectation of making a living with music. How have you balanced music with your personal life?

K: Poorly?  In the band we have a mix of jobs, kids, and some other responsible sounding stuff I’ll think of later.  We tend to work in bursts.  We’re usually slowed over the holiday season and eventually pick up steam again, but it depends on the motivation level.  I DON’T have OCD, but I get compulsive and reclusive during a writing binge.  People start doubting if I value their friendship.

How would you describe your own music? Because honestly, I have a hard time describing it myself. (laughs)

K: Yeah, I find this tricky as well.  I wanted to carve my eyes out while working when searching for the proper phraseology for record promo.  I typically just call it “soundtrack influenced rock music,” although if I’m talking with a known metalhead I’ll throw something in about “technical drumming.”

R: ‘Soundtrack’ has definitely become the stand-by for how we describe it now. A lot of times I just ask people if they like weird music.

How is the songwriting process in The Great Curve? Is there one key songwriter, or is it a collaborative effort?

K:  It’s definitely a collaborative effort in the end.  The first record developed out of “jamming” but I don’t think it achieved our goals, so we made adjustments to the process.  For this record, songs developed mostly through file-trading rather than staring at one-another in person.  I’d generally come up with a rough outline of the track, but then we’d work out all the details as a group via emails, texts, and carrier pigeons (it’s not clear if Brian has EVER checked his Gmail).

Is there a theme behind the album? Correct me if I’m wrong, but this feels like a concept album.

K:  Yes but…  You know, I tried to explain this for another site (after a similar inquiry), but I think it’s possible I ruined the record for him in the process.  The forthcoming review disappeared into the abyss.

I’ll try a short (ha!) version: the album addresses the power and danger of human creativity.  As a species we develop incredibly intricate systems, but after we adopt these ideas we tend to forget how they emerged, instead “naturalizing” them as if synonymous to physical law. Before starting the record I outlined a terrible movie addressing that theme, then broke the result into various scenes and tried to write the music one might use to underscore the emotional content.  The titles reflect those initial intentions, but the lyrics do NOT follow any sort of strict story.  We took a fairly precise seed and then blew out it in more universal form; if you read the words you couldn’t suddenly recite the plot, thankfully.

Did you approach “Something Grand Is Dying” differently than your last album “An Overwhelming Vastness”?

K: Other than maintaining our streak of pretentious-sounding album titles, absolutely.  I mentioned many of the changes before, but I should note the addition of lead vocals.  We’d never made a record with this kind of vocal emphasis, so it presented a fairly arduous learning curve.  We’re extremely proud of the results, however it also means a complete inability to play these songs live.  Our drummer Brian handled the David Lee Roth role throughout the album, but for him to handle both jobs live – Phil Collins couldn’t pull that one off.

Is there any interesting stories you’d like to share since the formation of your band?

K: I’m just thankful we’ve made this record.  It took an embarrassing amount of time, but it’s the first thing I’ve recorded I know I’ll willingly listen to twenty years from now.  Chico at Ohm Recording Facility did a magical job as a producer/engineer/friend, and the band definitely nailed the performances.  Confession: I don’t actually play the bass parts on the album.  I outsourced that to an amazing musician here in town (Kyle Robarge) because I knew I’d otherwise lose the big picture and only hear my flubs.  I managed all the string, synth, and vocal recordings, so I didn’t want to end up in the weeds.  Kyle killed it.

Is there any information you’d like to share about The Great Curve? Any new material in the works? Any tours to be announced?

K: Well, we’re working on a couple of videos in support of the record.  Also, in the face of our inability to play these tracks live we’ve actually started another band called Freedom Attacks that focuses on stuff that will actually work in a venue.   It’s the same members as TGC, but it’s not restricted to the studio.  We’ll definitely return to the Curve in the future though.

Also, thanks to you for the kind words and your willingness to check out the record!  It’s limited to Bandcamp at the moment, but once we finish the videos we’ll get it on all the major streaming services.  As you noted, while it’s nice to make back bit of our investment we know we’re always going to lose money making music.  That said, it’s extremely gratifying to find anyone out there that appreciates our work.  We make music selfishly, but when it DOES connect to the outside world it’s a genuine thrill.

B: I’m just doing this every day because I really love doing it. It makes me happy. That alone makes me do this. Period.

Thanks to The Great Curve for taking some time for Crash and Ride!

Bandcamp

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Album Review: Votum – Ktonik http://www.crashandridemusic.com/2016/02/12/album-review-votum-ktonik/ http://www.crashandridemusic.com/2016/02/12/album-review-votum-ktonik/#respond Fri, 12 Feb 2016 14:00:03 +0000 http://www.crashandridemusic.com/?p=2712 Losing an original, founding member of any band is never fun. I remember when Mike Portnoy left Dream Theater I was emotionally distraught, especially after numerous albums worth of lackluster drumming performances from his predecessor. The same could be said about longstanding fans of Polish progressive metal band Votum, having lost their lead vocalist between...

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Losing an original, founding member of any band is never fun. I remember when Mike Portnoy left Dream Theater I was emotionally distraught, especially after numerous albums worth of lackluster drumming performances from his predecessor. The same could be said about longstanding fans of Polish progressive metal band Votum, having lost their lead vocalist between albums. Granted, I’d never listened to Votum before their upcoming album “Ktonik” (due to be released February 26th), so the shock never hit me. From what I’ve heard, though, their previous album “Harvest Moon” is considered their magnum opus, which only heightens my expectations for their newest album. Thanks to Inner Wound Recordings, I did enjoy an advanced copy of “Ktonik,” but I couldn’t help but frequently wonder how much better their previous album was in comparison.

Consisting of slower paced and less complicated tracks than typical progressive metal acts, “Ktonik” instead leans on the atmospheric nature of the band’s synthesizers, keys, and drum machines. It is keyboardist Zbigniew Szatkowsk’s performance that makes “Ktonik” such a beautiful album. The graceful yet depressing piano arrangement of “Blackened Tree” pulls at the listener’s heartstrings while new vocalist Bartosz Sobieraj sings in a lower tenor before rising in the song’s closing moments. The delayed clean guitar pattern of “Prometheus” is also catchy, giving the chance for Sobieraj to take over once again. I feel the entire album follows this slower build, mostly acoustic type of sound with plenty of breaks using ambient noise. In some ways it’s quite relaxing, but I’d be lying if I claimed I didn’t check to see how much longer until the song was over. This becomes one of the album’s drawbacks, since Votum tends to group slower, droning tracks together when a change of pace is much needed. Votum does, however, deliver a beautiful closing track in “Last Word,” highlighted by its instrumental acoustic guitar and piano outro.

Just because “Ktonik” is softer in nature doesn’t mean the album is void of harder material. In fact, the first two tracks “Satellite” and “Greed” could easily be considered one of the best one-two punches I’ve heard in some time. From the start, the latter drills overly distorted guitar rhythms with passionate drumming, only to take things back with an acoustic guitar. The song is the perfect balance between heavy and soft, bringing back that atmospheric sound alongside rising vocals and pinch harmonics. “Greed” follows a familiar pattern, except allowing drummer Adam Lukaszek some of the spotlight. The fifth track “Simulacra” also is a much needed break from the somberness of the album with aggressive guitar rhythms and bass lines. Lukaszek again shines, proving his ability to create complex drumbeats despite the song’s pace. The musicianship behind these harder songs show their ability to progress while maintaining that core, droning sound throughout.

votum
Photo by Votum (Facebook)

Besides the atmospheric orchestrations, “Ktonik” is most definitely a vocally-driven album, featuring new singer Sobieraj. As I stated earlier, I’d never heard Votum’s previous work, so there’s no way for me to compare Sobieraj with the previous singer. I can, however, confidently state that Sobieraj sounds almost exactly like Anathema’s Vincent Cavanagh, a talented vocalist within the progressive rock music scene. There’s definitely a Polish tinge to his voice, which I feel adds character to the album. It is because of his singing that I easily imagine Anathema’s sound, which Votum slightly mimics with “Ktonik.” What’s great about the band’s sound is can also remind the listener of other bands without outright copying them. I believe this familiarity paired with absolutely stunning production quality leaves this album as a contender for a future Top 20 spot for 2016.

If anything were holding back “Ktonik,” though, it would be its predictability. Because the album is more easygoing and less complicated than typical progressive metal albums, one cannot help but let their mind drift from time to time. Once this happens (and believe me, it took me a few listens before I fully “heard” the album), none of the songs off “Ktonik” are memorable, besides the opening tracks of course. Had there been less expected songwriting, or perhaps a different ordering of the tracks, Votum could’ve locked the listener’s attention for the duration of the album. Perhaps in their next album they could refrain from grouping multiple down-paced songs in a row, and shake things up with more wake up’s like “Satellite.” They have all the right pieces for an amazing album, just not the right order.

Overall, “Ktonik” by Votum is worth an hour of your time. From having never heard about this band to being played nearly daily at work, Votum’s atmospheric nature coupled with its raw power is addicting. With one play-through, the listener will decipher the core of who Votum is, their sound, and their potential in the progressive rock community. For fans of bands like Anathema, Riverside, Katatonia, and Delvoid, you will enjoy the calming aura of “Ktonik.” You can support Votum by checking out their website, preordering their album here, and by following them on their Facebook page for band updates.

What did you think of Votum’s “Ktonik”? Is it a peaceful, atmospheric performance, or too slow for the average proghead?

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Interview: Eric Baulenas of Eric Baule/Moonloop http://www.crashandridemusic.com/2016/02/11/interview-eric-baulenas-of-eric-baule-moonloop/ http://www.crashandridemusic.com/2016/02/11/interview-eric-baulenas-of-eric-baule-moonloop/#respond Thu, 11 Feb 2016 14:00:14 +0000 http://www.crashandridemusic.com/?p=2642 Cover Photo Credit: Javier Remacha Eric Baulenas is the singer/lead guitarist for Barcelonan progressive rock band Eric Baule and progressive metal band Moonloop. His band Eric Baule released their latest album “Revelations Adrift” last year. I had the chance to sit down with him and discuss his bands, influences, and future plans. How long have you played music? How...

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Cover Photo Credit: Javier Remacha

Eric Baulenas is the singer/lead guitarist for Barcelonan progressive rock band Eric Baule and progressive metal band Moonloop. His band Eric Baule released their latest album “Revelations Adrift” last year. I had the chance to sit down with him and discuss his bands, influences, and future plans.

How long have you played music? How long have you played with your current lineup for Eric Baule and Moonloop?

I began to play guitar when I was 13 years old, and now I’m 37, so I’ve been playing music for 24 years. Moonloop was born in 2001 with me, Juanjo (guitar) & Raúl (drums), and they’re still part of the lineup, so we’ve been together for 15 years. As a band, Eric Baule was born in 2010, but existed as a solo project since 2005, so it’s a 10 years old project.

Who were your greatest musical influences growing up?

Mainly guitarists like Satriani, Vai, Van Halen, Mark Knopfler, Gary Moore, Eric Johnson, David Gilmour, Alex Skolnick or Kirk Hammett, but I also grew up listening to a lot of rock, blues, pop and classical music. When I was a kid my favourite artists were Hendrix, The Who, The Kinks, Dire Straits, Pink Floyd and Van Halen, among others. Soon after, when I was a teenager, I discovered Grunge, Indie, and specially, Extreme Metal. At the same time I began to dig into Progressive music thanks to bands like Dream Theater or Marillion.

What are you currently listening to? Have you discovered any bands or albums lately?

I’m usually listening to new and old music. I love to discover actual music, but I also enjoy a lot travelling to the past (can be music from the sixties to the nineties). Now I’m listening to some krautrock bands, and at the same time I listen to my all-time favourites like Devin Townsend, Meshuggah, Arena, or Satriani, to name a few. Recently I bought some new albums by artists like Tame Impala, Casualties of cool, Ghost, Steven Wilson, Bowie, Franco Battiato, or Killing Joke. On the other hand I’m still buying old records by artists like Sixteen Horse Power, Simple Minds, or Nico. I’m always curious, so the more you know, the more you grow as a musician. Sadly I don’t have enough time to listen to all the music out there…

When you aren’t playing music, what do you do in your free time?

I love to ride my bike, be far away from the city, going to the beach, or hunting fossils. Apart from music, my biggest passion is geology and paleonthology, so I try to make this time machine-like journey whenever I have free time. It’s a meditation, a good connection between myself and nature, and also very exciting!

Is the songwriting process different between your two bands?

Not too much. I always write some music before I have the lyrics, so the process is basically to paint a musical landscape at first, and then let it speak for itself. I usually have notes and ideas about a story or an emotion, so I use them for my lyrics too.

Where do you get inspiration for your lyrics?

Sometimes the music tells you a story, or carries a concrete emotion, and you only have to follow your instinct to let the whole idea flow. It isn’t easy to work like that, but it’s a good experiment that I definitely recommend. With Eric Baule, if I’m not following the message that comes from the music, my inspiration then comes from nature, friends, relationships, and life in general. With Moonloop I have a more cutting-edge style, focusing on a negative or dark depth, and also natural disasters, but with some moments of light, of course.

eric baule live
Photo by Eric Baule (Facebook)

What is your favorite song to play live? Why?

“Strombus” by Moonloop is one of my favourite songs since we rehearsed it for the first time. It has strong riffs, clean and growl vocals with a “climate change” topic behind the lyrics, and then you have all those progressive changes and rhythm patterns. Maybe it’s not our best song, but I enjoy playing it live a lot. With Eric Baule I enjoy playing “Redemption” and “Release From Duality”. They’re long tracks with emotional passages and melodic guitar solos, and I can feel like I’m being the song itself while I’m playing them on stage. It’s a beautiful and very positive experience.

What type of equipment do you use? What is your favorite piece?

I’m using my Ibanez JS guitar since I was 17 years old, and I’m totally in love with that one because I grew up playing that guitar. It’s like an extension of my arm, a part of me, and of couse a very comfortable instrument. In 2011 I bought my first seven string guitar, and since then, that guitar is one of my basic tools as a musician. I have also an electro-acoustic guitar, some guitar pedals like a wah and a whammy, and a percussion module that I use only to record demos. I’m not too much into buying lots of stuff because I feel comfortable with less equipment. My Switchblade Hugues & Kettner amp is one of the most important pieces of my equipment because it sounds amazing, and also has effects in it, so that allows me to avoid pedal stuff.

What are some hardships you’ve experienced throughout your career, and how did you overcome them?

Fortunately, I haven’t experienced so much hard times yet, but my experience tells me that there are two key points for me. The first is that you must be sincere with yourself and follow your own instinct about your music and how to play your instrument, and that means to keep your genuine idea instead of falling in doubt due to external judgements or reviews. To compare your music or musicianship with others is the first step to negativity and to a false sense of your work. I’m not talking about being a dictator or somebody that has no ears for external ideas, but it’s good to be careful with that point. The second point is that if you choose to be a musician, sometimes it’s very difficult to achieve some goals because the music industry is a very soulless world. Money, promotion, deadlines, and external factors like jobs, or the busy agendas by other band members can make you feel that it’s impossible to do what you really love to do. I’m still learning how to walk this road, and the most important thing is to be focused all the time and communicate with respect. If you’re in a band, all the members must share the same goal and have to be conscious of the meaning of what you are doing.

Is there any information you’d like to share about either of your bands, whether upcoming tour/album news, band updates, etc.?

We’re working on a small tour to promote Eric Baule’s “Revelations Adrift” through Spain, although it’s very difficult to organize due to our jobs. We’re very excited because we have three dates and surely there are more dates to come. I’m also working on some ideas for the second Eric Baule album, but there’s still a lot of work to do. On the other hand, I’m very excited about the yet-untitled second Moonloop album, wich is being mixed right now. We have one show scheduled in Madrid, and I hope to have the album finished to release it next spring, although we don’t know if Listenable Records will release it due to economic issues. Anyway, if there’s no record label who wants to release the album, we’re gonna make a self-release as I did with Eric Baule’s album.

What advice would you give to aspiring musicians today?

Have fun above all, try to speak from your heart, and don’t feel discouraged if someone tells you anything that makes you feel like you’re not good, because the best thing is that there is nobody like you in the whole planet. The best version of yourself is you, so explore without mental barriers and try to know how the music industry works as soon as you can. The most important thing is that you must have fun instead of having a sense of being in a race or in a competition. Let it flow!

Thank you Eric for freeing up some time to chat with me!

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Top 5: Best The Mars Volta Albums http://www.crashandridemusic.com/2016/02/09/top-5-best-the-mars-volta-albums/ http://www.crashandridemusic.com/2016/02/09/top-5-best-the-mars-volta-albums/#respond Tue, 09 Feb 2016 14:00:55 +0000 http://www.crashandridemusic.com/?p=2698 American progressive rock band The Mars Volta may have disbanded years ago, but their unique sound has influenced numerous contemporary bands today. Headed by Cedric Bixler-Zavala and Omar Rodriguez-Lopez, this partnership has played music together for decades, and has even recently reunited with one of their first projects At The Drive-In. Ranging from progressive rock, to Latin jazz, jazz fusion...

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American progressive rock band The Mars Volta may have disbanded years ago, but their unique sound has influenced numerous contemporary bands today. Headed by Cedric Bixler-Zavala and Omar Rodriguez-Lopez, this partnership has played music together for decades, and has even recently reunited with one of their first projects At The Drive-In. Ranging from progressive rock, to Latin jazz, jazz fusion and experimental, their six LP’s and two EP’s have more than enough material to keep you busy. But which album is their best?

Enjoy as Crash And Ride Music lists off the Top 5 Best The Mars Volta albums:

5. “Noctourniquet”

the mars volta noctourniquet

Their last album released, “Noctourniquet” is written without key members Ikey Owens and Jon Theodore. A more stripped down and direct approach to songwriting, it is still a memorable album.

4. “Tremulant”

the mars volta tremulant

Their first ever production, “Tremulant” is a small collection of what The Mars Volta would expand upon with their first album. It just so happens that album is…

3. “Deloused In The Comatorium”

the mars volta deloused in the comatorium

I know this masterpiece is more than likely placed lower on this list than most fans’ list, but nonetheless “Deloused…” is a strong album.

2. “Amputechture”

the mars volta amputechture

This album is purely chaotic and experimental. As I stated in my post for this album, “Amputechture” has definitely split its fan base with mixed reviews. But it is because of its wild performance that I cannot forget this album.

1. “Frances The Mute”

the mars volta frances the mute

Jazzy, classy, amazing. “Frances The Mute” at one point was considered my favorite album of all time. Everyone should hear this album at least once.

There you have it: Crash And Ride Music’s Top 5 Best The Mars Volta albums. But more importantly, what albums make up YOUR Top 5, and why?

 

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Album Review: Atmospheres – The Departure http://www.crashandridemusic.com/2016/02/08/album-review-atmospheres-the-departure/ http://www.crashandridemusic.com/2016/02/08/album-review-atmospheres-the-departure/#comments Mon, 08 Feb 2016 14:00:23 +0000 http://www.crashandridemusic.com/?p=2685 Formed just a few short years ago, Belgium progressive metal band Atmospheres have risen in popularity faster than most. After playing several music festivals and other miscellaneous tours, they returned to the studio to release their sophomore album “The Departure” a few months ago. Thanks to Viral Propaganda, I’ve been able to listen to this...

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Formed just a few short years ago, Belgium progressive metal band Atmospheres have risen in popularity faster than most. After playing several music festivals and other miscellaneous tours, they returned to the studio to release their sophomore album “The Departure” a few months ago. Thanks to Viral Propaganda, I’ve been able to listen to this breathtaking album, one that would surely land on my Top 20 of 2015 list had I known. It is indeed a departure from your typical progressive metal, focusing on minimalist, ambient textures, with occasional djent guitar rhythms and entirely clean vocals. What the band has created is a pleasant musical atmosphere that will launch its listeners into outer space.

atmospheres live
Photo by Atmospheres (Facebook)

If the song titles didn’t give it away already, one will have an “ah ha!” moment when learning “The Departure” follows a concept based on leaving the earth in search for a habitable planet. From the opening track “Sun,” we accompany the band on an emotional journey away from everything we love, complete with conversations between astronauts and NASA in several of the songs’ backgrounds. I especially enjoyed the opening drum fill that sets the scene for the remaining instruments. As we are treated with airy, layered synthesizers, turbulence interferes with the album’s dominant bass presence. The following track “The Farthest Star” is a prime example of the power behind the bass rhythms and down-tuned guitar chords. Most of the album shifts between a deep, guttural sound with light, buoyant soundscapes.

Every track fits nicely into one cohesive package, perfectly demonstrating the trials one would experience drifting through the voids of space. The instrumental passages like “Void” and “Laniakea” work as ambient interludes to further the story, but are also strong tracks on their own. The clean guitar arrangement in the prior is serene like a somber movie soundtrack, which I’d recommend listening with your eyes closed. It is because of the album’s superior sound quality that intensifies these moments, as I feel the same experience wouldn’t be felt with weaker audio quality. These tracks really are some of the more under-rated moments on the album, reminiscent of the lighter moments in any The Contortionist album. Overall, “The Departure” does a very good job complementing heavy instrumental arrangements with moments of tranquility.

The track “Satellite” comes across as the album’s single, with a standout performance by all members involved. Utilizing some of the same sound effects and arrangements from previous songs, “Satellite” is a culmination of not only all that went into this journey from Earth, but of all Atmospheres put into this album. Reminiscent of bands like TesseracT and Oceansize, the listener can feel the intensity of the vocals and guitar in the song’s chorus, being one of my favorite moments on the album. The self-titled track, on the other hand, relies on the heavy commotion of fast-paced chords and time-signature changing drum beats, a traditional djent song in every sense.

The final three tracks drift a little from the djent sound introduces in the first half. Reminding me somewhat of post-hardcore act The Receiving End of Sirens, the second to last track “The Arrival” nonetheless delivers a memorable lead guitar performance in the song’s verse. The bottom falls out in the song’s bridge, showcasing low-fi improvisation and astronaut discussions to set the mood of an arrival on a strange planet. The album concludes with “Vapor Trail,” another low-fi passage with chaotic sound effects and the same drum fill as the opening track. Being my only complaint about the album, it’s a little unclear and anti-climatic considering the journey Atmospheres took you through over the course of an entire album. To shame the last minute on a forty five minute album seems unnecessary, though, so I’ll refrain from ruining your listening experience. I will say, though, that “The Departure” feels shorter than it does despite the respectable album length.

atmospheres
Photo by Atmospheres (Facebook)

A concept album about space travel, the music behind Atmospheres’ “The Departure” is perfectly fitting, painting a vivid picture of a rocket traveling through the nothingness of space. All it takes is closed eyes and a little imagination, and the listener can touch the stars. This album is something special, a recommendation for anyone who’s library is filled with atmospheric and progressive metal. I’ll go as far as calling this album “djentle” (patent pending), a great mix of soothing skies and rock hard bottoms. Please support Atmospheres by purchasing this album through their Bandcamp page, or by following them on Facebook for band updates.

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Interview: Chloe Alper of Tiny Giant/Ex-Pure Reason Revolution http://www.crashandridemusic.com/2016/02/05/interview-chloe-alper-of-tiny-giant-ex-pure-reason-revolution/ http://www.crashandridemusic.com/2016/02/05/interview-chloe-alper-of-tiny-giant-ex-pure-reason-revolution/#respond Fri, 05 Feb 2016 14:00:23 +0000 http://www.crashandridemusic.com/?p=2673 Chloe Alper is half of the British rock band Tiny Giant, and former singer, bassist, and keyboardist for progressive rock band Pure Reason Revolution. Tiny Giant will be releasing their debut album later this year. I had the chance to sit down with her and discuss her new band, influences, and future plans. When you write music, do you...

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Chloe Alper is half of the British rock band Tiny Giant, and former singer, bassist, and keyboardist for progressive rock band Pure Reason Revolution. Tiny Giant will be releasing their debut album later this year. I had the chance to sit down with her and discuss her new band, influences, and future plans.

When you write music, do you tend to surround yourself with other people, or close off and think introspectively?

I do the opposite of surround myself with people. Aside from being with my writing partner Mat Collis, I become a total recluse. It’s necessary for me, I don’t know why. I shut everything out so that I can drill inside. I enjoy the process but it can be difficult sometimes. My friends and family are thankfully very patient because I have a habit of disappearing into my work and being pretty socially misaligned when I re-emerge.

I have some questions for you that span your whole career. I wanted to start off by asking who inspired you to write music? Are there any specific musicians that have influenced your style?

Definitely. I love Cocteau Twins. I could site them as my favourite band but having a ‘favourite band’ requires me to make something of a Sophie’s Choice between them and Kate Bush and I can’t do that. When writing the Tiny Giant album (which will come out later this year) I found that I could only listen to a handful of artists – Cocteau Twins, Kate Bush, Talk Talk, Genesis, Sade, St. Vincent and Roxy Music – aside from them and a tiny handful of others, I couldn’t listen to anything else. Sometimes the music pool is so big that it’s frightening, and especially because now you can have anything whenever you want it. So, during the writing process, I made my pool smaller. Not in an un-inquisitive way, rather just so that I knew where I was. There’s something scary about listening to what other new bands are doing when you’re writing, just in case they’re brilliant, and it casts pointlessness on everything you’re doing. My writing partner on this project has very different influences, and I think that’s why we make for such an interesting pairing.

What are some of the trials you’ve experienced over your career, and how have you overcome them?

It’s difficult writing sometimes, because to be genuine about what you’re writing requires self-excavation. Art is a self-referential mirror, and sometimes it’s difficult to reference it with total honesty. Then there’s the more obvious cliché things like… it’s sad but true; it’s not always easy being a woman in the music industry. Fortunately I work with Mat who is brilliant. I have a wonderful relationship with him and I’ve never felt my gender around him. But in the past I’ve noticed that often music bigwigs will gravitate towards making more eye contact with the guys in the band as opposed to the girls, even if the girls are the songwriters or whatever. That’s a gender thing, I know it is. So I find that difficult sometimes, and depressing that it’s still an issue. It’s a male dominated industry, it still is, and you still have to consider it as a woman. Also, the money thing can be tough. When I started out as a musician, massive record deals still existed and people still bought music, they didn’t expect to have it for free. I suppose they were a lot more respectful in that way, it was the norm to go to HMV to spend $15.99 on an album. Now people just expect to have music for free.

You’re a very creative person. I know besides making music, you’re also an artist, and have contributed artwork for several different projects. Are you currently working on other artistic projects, and do you see yourself pursuing that passion further?

Unfortunately I haven’t had much time to do much by way of visual art lately because I’ve been so busy writing the Tiny Giant record. I did a lot of the artwork for Pure Reason Revolution because I had time then to fill the visual gap. But for Tiny Giant we’re looking forward to commissioning artists we love to come up with their own visual interpretations based on our direction. I’m excited to do things differently this time, to see how different artists will collaborate with us and translate what we give them.

Before we do discuss Tiny Giant, I do have a couple questions relating to Pure Reason Revolution. You not only have supported amazing progressive rock acts like Mew, Porcupine Tree, Secret Machines, but you’ve also headlined your own concerts as Pure Reason. What was your favorite concert performing as them?

My favorite? That’s so difficult. We played some awesome shows. I really love supporting other bands, especially on a good bill. Mew are one of my favorite bands, so supporting them was amazing because I got to watch them every night. It was a good match, their fans were responsive to us. I used to squint and fool myself that their crowds were there to see us (laughs). We did some amazing festivals and some pretty weird prog festivals. We played an outdoor arena; I forget where but it was damn hot. It might have been in Italy. It was beautiful, one of those moments where you can pinch yourself. One of the best shows for me was the last PRR show we did, at Heaven, London. We sold it out and it was our last ever show. I don’t want to be too self-congratulatory because we had been going for a long time, but it was a packed room, and we played most of our repertoire. I think we were on stage for almost two hours, and it was just a really nice, civil way to say “this is the end of this project, and here’s everything we’ve done, and thank you.” It was an elegant alternative to fumbling off and falling out; a graceful way to draw a line under it. As morbid as it sounds, the last concert we did was probably my favorite. Without meaning to sound ungrateful to Pure Reason Revolution, because I’m not, I loved that band, and I loved being in it. But I was definitely ready to go, so the last show to me represented a new beginning for me.

Have you learned anything about yourself or your musical ability being a part of Pure Reason Revolution?

Definitely. I spent almost ten years in that band. It wasn’t my first ever band, but it certainly formed my musical upbringing. I was in a punk band when I was a kid. That was my first interaction with music. Jon Peel decided we were brilliant so we did sessions for him, and released singles, but I was 13 so I didn’t really understand what was going on. It wasn’t till I was in Pure Reason Revolution that I learned what it meant to share a tour bus, to play my instrument properly, to understand band politics. I learned how to be, how not to be. I saw how being a in a band can be exhilarating, challenging, grueling, and wonderful.

On to Tiny Giant. I recently started listening to the two singles you have. Listening to “Seeing Everything As Though It Was Real,” I really enjoyed that song because it has the light, airiness to it, but also that really deep rhythm. I was wondering how you would describe your new project.

I’m really bad – famously bad – at describing our music. I’m so emotionally invested, so my descriptions always turn into emotive ramblings (laughs) or bizarre anti-statements. I would much rather people listen to it and formed their own descriptions. I’m also against the principle of ‘the big introduction’ because descriptions can inhibit other people’s reactions to things. Music is communication, it shouldn’t exclude anyone.

How are the duties split between you and Mat Collis in the band?

Everything Mat and I do is half and half. It’s the most democratic way to work. We’ve never even questioned it. It’s obvious to both of us that I wouldn’t be doing this without him and he wouldn’t be doing this without me. It’s a really healthy duo in that respect. On the recordings, Mat is the multi-instrumentalist. He plays the instrumentation you hear. I write the vocal melodies and the lyrics. We often work on the song structures together. We have three brilliant musicians who join us on stage to deliver the live sound. They are: Paul Glover on drums (he used to be in Pure Reason Revolution too), Nick Willes on guitar and Luke Burnett-Smith on bass. I feel very lucky we have them in the live show.

chloe alper tiny giant
Photo by Mari Sarai

How long have you known Mat? Is he someone you’ve known for a long time?

I met Mat over ten years ago. We had a mutual friend and Mat would often be there when I went to hang out at her house. He would usually just be in the corner working away on music while everyone else drank cheap vodka and talked crap. I remember the day someone played me something he’d written once and it literally made me stop what I was doing, like stop dead. It was extraordinary. At that point I knew I wanted to work with him some day. But then Pure Reason took off and I was busy for almost a decade. As soon as I knew Pure Reason was coming to an end I got in touch with Mat and we started writing. The first song we wrote together surprised us. We were pinching ourselves, wondering whether it was a fluke. So we tried another, and now here we are, an album in and still going strong. I’ve never felt more creatively satisfied.

That basically answers my next question, because I was going to ask how the writing process is in Tiny Giant compared to anything you’ve ever done in prior projects. It just seems like you have more freedom with this band compared to prior bands you’ve been in.

With Pure Reason our first album received a lot of critical acclaim. It can be difficult when your first release receives critical acclaim, because it’s then hard to change the infrastructure of how you work. It wasn’t Pure Reason’s fault that I didn’t have much space to write within that project. But Tiny Giant is a creative exploration for me and that’s such a joy. Having the ability to make something that resonates with other people is such an incredible feeling and I’ll never tire of it.

I’m really looking forward to this album. I don’t know if you’ll ever hit the United States or not, but if you ever come I’d love to see you guys live.

Yeah, I love touring in America. It’s just so much more exciting (laughs). Brits are constantly spoon-feeding themselves American culture, so just being there feels movie-like, surreal and exciting. I have a feeling we’ll be playing in the US soon.

Do you think there’s a different atmosphere or vibe coming from an American audience compared to a British crowd, or a German crowd, or wherever else?

Forgive the generalization, but I find that Americans are more expressive and therefore more fun to play to. They’re not afraid to be complimentary. Whether those compliments are more genuine I don’t know, but frankly I don’t really care, because when you’re on stage all you feed off is the crowd’s optimism and you don’t have time to get all contemplative about whether that’s entirely genuine. Again, it’s a cliché but London crowds by comparison aren’t always forthcoming. Some of the best crowds are the Latin crowds. Some of my favourite shows were in Spain where people are patently unafraid to show that they’re having a good time. As a performer that’s what you feed off, a crowd’s buoyancy is your lifeblood on stage.

What are some of your inspirations for the themes or concepts or meanings behind Tiny Giant and their upcoming album?

I was about to say there isn’t a concept, but that’s arguably untrue because there’s always some sort of theme in your writing. Every artist has a theme running through them at any given time whether they’re aware of it or not. I find the beginning of the writing process chaotic, there are ideas everywhere but the outcome isn’t chaotic because there’s symmetry in it. I suppose this record is a record about how beautiful and painful things happen, and how we keep revisiting the same lessons. Every song is about something a little different, but there is an overarching symmetry to the whole thing. So maybe there is a loose theme in there somewhere.

I have one last question. What’s next for Tiny Giant? You said the album is coming out early next year?

We’re releasing a video, then singles and then an album in 2016. Oh and we’ll be playing lots of live shows. We hope to be playing in Europe as soon as we can. And, like I said, the states. And we’ll be writing a lot. We have a lot of exciting song ideas up our sleeve so we want to explore those and see where they take us.

Thanks to Chloe for taking some time to speak with Crash And Ride!

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Top 5: Best Opeth Albums http://www.crashandridemusic.com/2016/02/03/top-5-best-opeth-albums/ http://www.crashandridemusic.com/2016/02/03/top-5-best-opeth-albums/#comments Wed, 03 Feb 2016 14:00:29 +0000 http://www.crashandridemusic.com/?p=2663 Swedish band Opeth are never afraid to push the boundaries of progressive metal. Fronted by singer/guitarist Mikael Akerfeldt, Opeth has released eleven albums over its twenty year history. Evolving from death metal to pure progressive rock, and incorporating influences of folk, blues, jazz and classical music, it is debatable which album is considered their best among Opeth fans. Of...

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Swedish band Opeth are never afraid to push the boundaries of progressive metal. Fronted by singer/guitarist Mikael Akerfeldt, Opeth has released eleven albums over its twenty year history. Evolving from death metal to pure progressive rock, and incorporating influences of folk, blues, jazz and classical music, it is debatable which album is considered their best among Opeth fans. Of their colorful discography, which albums stand out as the best by Crash And Ride Music?

Here’s your Top 5 Opeth albums according to Crash And Ride Music:

5. “Damnation”

opeth damnation

Going soft before it was cool, “Damnation” contained a complete change of pace from previous albums with acoustic guitars and entirely clean vocals.

4. “Deliverance”

opeth deliverance

It only makes sense that “Damnation’s” companion be on this list as well. An intense performance, “Deliverance” is one of Opeth’s most aggressive albums since its first.

3. “Pale Communion”

opeth pale communion

Winner of Prog Magazine’s Album of the Year, “Pale Communion” is definitely a must listen, provided you’re ok with another album lacking death growls.

2. “Ghost Reveries”

opeth ghost reveries

The first Opeth album I’ve ever purchased, “Ghost Reveries” is pure nostalgia for me.

1. “Watershed”

opeth watershed

Ah “Watershed.” After some time away from the band, it took one of my friends to remind me of this amazing album. The last to feature Mikael’s death growls, “Watershed” is Opeth’s masterpiece.

Do you agree with this list? What Opeth albums make up YOUR Top 5?

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Album Review: Silver Snakes – Saboteur http://www.crashandridemusic.com/2016/02/02/album-review-silver-snakes-saboteur/ http://www.crashandridemusic.com/2016/02/02/album-review-silver-snakes-saboteur/#respond Tue, 02 Feb 2016 14:00:49 +0000 http://www.crashandridemusic.com/?p=2658 I had the unexpected privilege of seeing post-hardcore/industrial rock band Silver Snakes when attending my tenth Coheed and Cambria concert a few months ago. For those who can’t recall, after taking some time to listen to some singles before the show, I simply couldn’t get into them. But after seeing their auspicious performance, I had...

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I had the unexpected privilege of seeing post-hardcore/industrial rock band Silver Snakes when attending my tenth Coheed and Cambria concert a few months ago. For those who can’t recall, after taking some time to listen to some singles before the show, I simply couldn’t get into them. But after seeing their auspicious performance, I had a rejuvenated drive to check them out again. With only a few days away from the release of their upcoming album “Saboteur,” my ears have enjoyed a promotional copy of this promising, young band. These guys are going places, especially with the help of Coheed frontman Claudio Sanchez and his newly formed label Evil Ink Records.

Residing in Los Angeles, Silver Snakes consists of Alex Estrada on vocals/guitar, Mike Trujillo on bass guitar, Jeremiah Bignell on guitar, and Garrett Harney on drums. With a sound comparable to early Tool, Deftones, and Nine Inch Nails, Silver Snakes incorporates darker elements into their newest album “Saboteur” compared to their previous releases. There is something completely different and special about this album compared to what has been released so far this year. Heavy riffage meet spacey bridge sections throughout the album, all while driven by industrial sounding drum machines. Citing influences from popular Nine Inch Nails album “The Downward Spiral,” one can only nod in agreement while listening to the track “Glass,” with its wave after wave of droning sound effects. Both guitarists are highlighted continuously throughout, displaying massive bombardments of overdriven aura and dreamy atmospheres of reverb. I particularly love the juxtaposition of light and dark in my personal favorite track “Devotion,” with drums carrying the back half like a Chelsea Wolfe song.

At times, “Saboteur” appears progressive in nature, utilizing extended rhythm sections and experimental song structures. As “Fire Cloud” fades into the album’s single “Red Wolf,” I particularly enjoyed the rises and falls from chorus to verse. Silver Snakes has mastered this technique in their short career, bringing the mood down for a necessary amount of time, only to set off like a firework in the song’s chorus. The final two tracks “Dresden” and “The Loss” are the album’s longest, resulting in a surprising amount of experimentation for such a heavy album. The deep bass guitar presence in “The Loss” helps to drive the album to a close, but not before a brilliant drum performance starting halfway through the song, and a handclapping outro to shake things up. The double bass pedal beats adds a whole other layer of darkness to an already ominous album.

silver snakes
Photo by Silver Snakes (Twitter)

The rotating vocal deliveries from cold and harsh to soft and melodic land vocalist Estrada as the album’s top performer. Having seen him live, I can attest to the passion and emotion behind his performance. All it took was the opening track “Electricity” to show off his vocal ability, driving the listener into an unrelenting fury. Supported by lead guitarist Bignell, the duo adequately play off each other’s riffs, providing a memorable, guitar-driven performance. Although not a concept album, Estrada’s lyrics provide a mirror for self-reflection and discovery, allowing the listener a glimpse into one’s own mistakes or the enjoyment in the mistakes of others. It’s truly a haunting, yet accurate portrayal of one’s own selfish desires and its consequences, which is more symbolically represented with Estrada’s meandering voice. Kudos for the emotionally manipulative vocals.

Silver Snakes’ first album through Evil Ink Records is an absolute hit. Containing all the heavy guitar, bass, and drums one would expect from such a hard album, “Saboteur” will serve as the band’s masterpiece, that is until they release another album of this caliber. For fans of bands like As Cities Burn, Pianos Become The Teeth, and Vessel Born, I’d give this album a spin. Please support Silver Snakes by pre-ordering and purchasing their upcoming album on their website, and by following them on Facebook for band updates. They are preparing a North American tour supporting Coheed and Cambria, so I would highly recommend stopping by if they hit a city near you.

And to Silver Snakes: I’ll see you guys again in San Diego!

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Album Review: Dream Theater – The Astonishing http://www.crashandridemusic.com/2016/02/01/album-review-dream-theater-the-astonishing/ http://www.crashandridemusic.com/2016/02/01/album-review-dream-theater-the-astonishing/#comments Mon, 01 Feb 2016 14:00:28 +0000 http://www.crashandridemusic.com/?p=2649 To limit this review was a daunting task, almost as daunting as listening to it in its entirety. But nonetheless, it felt necessary to give my two cents on the most anticipated and fan-dividing album of the year: progressive metal giants Dream Theater’s concept double album “The Astonishing.” It seems everyone has something to say...

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To limit this review was a daunting task, almost as daunting as listening to it in its entirety. But nonetheless, it felt necessary to give my two cents on the most anticipated and fan-dividing album of the year: progressive metal giants Dream Theater’s concept double album “The Astonishing.” It seems everyone has something to say about this one, at polar opposite ends of appreciation. I’ve read both harsh contempt and deifying praise for “The Astonishing,” which has only confused my expectations. But after two listens to this album lasting over two hours, I have finally formed an opinion. And where do I stand, you ask? Somewhere in the middle.

“The Astonishing” is truly remarkable considering its size and scope. I like to think of all of the what I call “mega-concepts” ever made, being concept albums lasting over a span of multiple albums. Older albums like Genesis’ “The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway,” Pink Floyd’s “The Wall,” and The Who’s “Quadrophenia” come to mind quickly, cinematic and operatic in nature. This album falls right in line with the others, being less of a metal album and more of a soundtrack instead. Something about these mega-concepts bring out a lighter, dramatic side of the bands performing them, which Dream Theater succumbs to here. There is a noticeable lack of shredding, instrumental duels between different members, or keyboard-driven wankery of the Wizard, but they’re not altogether absent. Instead, this album relies heavily on two members: singer James LaBrie and pianist (not keyboardist) Jordan Rudess.

Singer LaBrie gives the performance of his career in “The Astonishing,” probably one of his better showings in their long discography. Being coached by lyricist/guitarist (and creator of the concept) John Petrucci, LaBrie provides different vocal deliveries for each character in the concept, approaching each set of lyrics as the character would. I admit sometimes it’s hard to tell which character is talking, but in some cases the deliveries are quite noticeable. The ponderings of Lord Nafaryus in “Nafaryus” and the conversation between its two main characters in the following song “A Savior In The Square” are spot-on, with the antagonist’s snarl and protagonist’s hopeful voice. There are other instances throughout “The Astonishing” that LaBrie’s vocals shines, particular in notable piano arrangements by Rudess. Something I particularly enjoyed about this album is the increased piano presence compared to the over-the-top keyboard effects. The piano is something that isn’t particularly focused on in prior work, so it becomes a breath of fresh air after listening to older albums like “Train of Thought” and “Black Clouds and Silver Linings.”

dream theater james labrie
Photo by TeamRock

As for the remaining instruments, they are basically left in the background. There are moments when guitar chords and soloing are brought to light, but not nearly as focused as in other albums. In fact, I was surprised by the lack of bass guitar and drums on “The Astonishing.” John Myung’s bass rhythms are always complementing Petrucci’s ridiculously fast guitar solos, but are not given the opportunity in the more piano-centric album. In addition, drummer Mike Mangini feels left out on every album he’s played on, instead used as a pendulum for the others. I would never think in my years of listening to Dream Theater that one of its members would be used in a way that didn’t accurately portray their talents, but Mangini’s contributions to “The Astonishing” (and to a lesser extent their previous self-titled album) leave much to be desired. If only Mangini was used to strengthen dramatic moments in the album’s concept, it would provide another needed dimension.

As for the album’s concept, it’s a longwinded tale about a post-apocalyptic, dystopian future, kingdoms and rebels, saviors and the importance of music. Cheesy indeed, following the current trend of young adult, sci-fi movies. Honestly, I haven’t been able to tackle this beast in my two listens through, so I will have to leave this for you all to figure out. Ten bonus points to those that can comment below and summarize the album’s concept. What I have noticed is that much of the album’s lyrics are quite predictable, following similes and metaphors written by infinite others bands (like a phoenix rising from ashes, David versus Goliath, etc.). In this case, though, it serves as a positive in tackling the album’s concept, making it much more approachable and relatable.

An album with 34 songs, it was hard to pick which songs rise above the others. Since a majority of them follow the same flavor of orchestral, cinematic vocals and piano arrangements, I had a hard time deciphering which song was which. Much of the album uses repetitious arrangements to string the songs together, which doesn’t help matters. With that said, I can think of two that stand out: the single “The Gift of Music” and “The Path That Divides.” I feel these two stand out to me the most because they remind me so much of the culmination of their sound. Reading so many arguments about what influenced the album’s sound, I can definitely hear moments of albums like “Awake” and “Falling Into Infinity,” while at the same time hearing newer albums like “A Dramatic Turn of Events” and “Dream Theater.”

Despite the positives and negatives, praise and scorn, there is one pressing matter about “The Astonishing,” the elephant in the room: Who has time to listen to a two hour, eleven minute album nowadays? Since its release on Thursday evening/Friday morning, I’ve listened to “The Astonishing” a total of two times over several interrupted listens. With a wife, a child, a job, and a time-consuming hobby, I have little left in my day to devote to anything, let alone listening to an album longer than most movies. Don’t get me wrong, I love long albums, especially long concept albums. “Act IV: Rebirth in Reprise” by The Dear Hunter is a notable 74 minute album, while “Good Apollo Volume I” by Coheed and Cambria is a breathtaking 71 minutes of your day. But devoting 130 minutes to anything is absolutely insane. The worst part is despite the cries of filler material in this album, nothing could be taken away without sacrificing its quality. As much as I’d love for this album to elapse over one album instead of two, every song is essential. This format might work perfectly in a live setting, but I simply don’t have enough time to listen to “The Astonishing” in its entirety. This album will be one of those that one act will be listened to more than another.

dream theater
Photo by Rockhard

To summarize my thoughts of this album, I’ll answer these three important questions:

Is it better than their last self-titled album? Absolutely, since I considered it one of their worst they’ve ever released.

Is it their best album? Absolutely not. Nothing can (and will ever) touch “Metropolis Part II.”

Is it worth listening to? If you have the time and patience, of course!

So do give the ol’ college try on “The Astonishing.” I won’t be cliché and say it’s astonishing, but I will say that Dream Theater left everything on the table with this album. With its positives and negatives, they weren’t afraid to pour their soul and push the boundaries of progressive metal. Please support Dream Theater’s “The Astonishing” by purchasing it through their website, and by following them on Facebook and Twitter for band updates. They are currently preparing for a tour across North America in support, which I hope to see in Los Angeles soon.

 

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Album Review: The Great Curve – Something Grand Is Dying http://www.crashandridemusic.com/2016/01/29/album-review-the-great-curve-something-grand-is-dying/ http://www.crashandridemusic.com/2016/01/29/album-review-the-great-curve-something-grand-is-dying/#respond Fri, 29 Jan 2016 14:00:32 +0000 http://www.crashandridemusic.com/?p=2637 Lately I’ve been inundated with music submissions to the site. Combing through them takes a ton of time, especially since I like to sit down with my undivided attention on each one. Over the past month, though, one album has caught my eye because of its authenticity and originality. Having been influenced by acts like...

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Lately I’ve been inundated with music submissions to the site. Combing through them takes a ton of time, especially since I like to sit down with my undivided attention on each one. Over the past month, though, one album has caught my eye because of its authenticity and originality. Having been influenced by acts like Devin Townsend Project and Hum, Texas progressive/experimental rock band The Great Curve is so much more than the sum of its predecessors. Their latest EP “Something Grand Is Dying” is indeed grand, an unexpected and high quality performance from three talented musicians.

“Something Grand Is Dying” is a six song, 35+ minute album that flows more like a soundtrack. With plenty of moments of ambient, experimental, and even industrial aura, I really enjoyed the journey the album takes me. The experimental nature of this album comes across as sci-fi inspired, as if robots or aliens should be the pro/antagonists. I feel had The Great Curve been around during the height of progressive rock in the 70’s, that they would complement the style perfectly. Luckily, with the invention of newer instruments over the years, The Great Curve is able to utilize an interesting and modern sound while incorporating the classic progressive influences. The opening track “The Order of Mechanics” begins with chant-like voices and effect-driven verses, something I feel I could easily find in any Devin Townsend album. The keyboard presence is felt throughout the album to give it even more of a sci-fi feel, but is best represented in “The Doubter(s).” Almost exclusively focusing on the keyboards, the listener can close their eyes and feel the music taking them to faraway places. This song is also the perfect example in the use and effectiveness of vocals throughout the album. Although there are technically lead vocals in every song, they are used in a way that blend with the surrounding instruments, instead of shining in the spotlight. It feels very much like an instrumental album because of its role in manipulating emotion instead of actual speaking.

the great curve
Photo by The Great Curve (Facebook)

Now this isn’t always the case, especially in my personal favorite track “The Revolt.” The vocals are used not only in the forefront, but also to harmonize with its heavy keyboard presence. This track also provides the best drum performance on the record, a combination of intricate fills and double bass pedals. In fact, I would recommend listening to this album just for the drummer’s performance in “Something Grand Is Dying.” Something worth noting is the presence of orchestral instruments, which although are sporadically placed throughout the album, help to add a touch of sophistication in the album. “Something Grand Is Dying” closes with the airy, electronic “The Last Mass,” filled with a simple but effective drum lines and steady vocals. The swelling of phased guitars help to add to the electronic atmosphere, providing a rich flavor to the listener’s ears. By the album’s end, one cannot help but repeat this incredible album.

“Something Grand Is Dying” by The Great Curve is definitely not dying. For an album released nearly two years ago, I am impressed with the creativity and sound that feels ahead of its time. Should they get the exposure they deserve, I can foresee some great things with this band. For fans of bands like Devin Townsend, Russian Circles, and early progressive rock artists, I would definitely recommend you check out The Great Curve. Please support them by checking out their website, and by following them on Facebook for band updates. If you’re into the album, please check out their last album “An Overwhelming Vastness” available on Bandcamp with a “name your price” listing.

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