Symphony X

Pharaoh – The Powers That Be Review

Pharaoh – The Powers That Be Review

“For a time it seemed Philly-based Pharaoh would be the vanguard of a new wave of gritty American traditional/power metal. Albums like The Longest Night and 2012s Bury the Light bristled with burly riffs and rough-hewn vocals, accentuated by super slick musicality and proggy elements. After nearly nine years without a release, the band’s forward momentum is a thing of the distant past, but that doesn’t mean they can’t drop another barn burning dose of heavy metal thunder with fifth album The Powers That Be.” Curse of the Pharaoh!

Hevilan – Symphony of Good and Evil Review

Hevilan – Symphony of Good and Evil Review

“If you are one of the poor souls who’s managed to follow my pedestrian music journalism career, you know that I’m a hopeless Nevermore weenie. There’s just something about the way they combined immense, progressive, down-tuned riffing with powerful, operatic vocals that is incredibly pleasing to my ears. I was therefore absolutely defenseless against the promo blurb that touted Hevilan guitarist Johnny Moraes as having appeared in Warrel Dane’s live band, as well as on the late Nevermore singer’s posthumous solo release, Shadow Work.” Good times, bad times.

Witherfall – Curse of Autumn Review

Witherfall – Curse of Autumn Review

“In the grand talent lottery, Witherfall hit bigly and muchly. They possess such a vast wealth of ability that it could be redistributed among any 10 lesser acts with copious chops leftover. On third album, Curse of Autumn all this talent is on vivid display as the band rips through wild, adventurous prog-power anthems tailor-made for fans of Symphony X and Nevermore. At every turn you’re regaled by the stunning shreddery of Jake Dreyer (ex-Iced Earth, ex-White Wizzard), the soaring vocal heroics of Joseph Michael (Sanctuary, ex-White Wizzard), the powerhouse technical drumming of Marco Minnemann (Steve Wilson, ex-Necrophagist), and the slick bass-work of Anthony Crawford. The sheer magnitude of what the band is capable of hangs heavy in the air every second the album plays. With so much raw potential and mega-competence however, comes a higher base level of expectation.” Curse of potential.

Need – Norchestrion: A Song for the End Review

Need – Norchestrion: A Song for the End Review

Need‘s previous record Hegaiamas: A Song for Freedom was one of my favorites of 2017. Apparently I’m not alone, as I had to fight Huck
off to review this one. As the album titles imply, Greece’s Need play pretty prototypical pretentious prog, in the vein of Mountain-era Haken and bits of Symphony X. As the tussle over reviewing it implies, they’re also really good at it,” Needful songs.

Scardust – Strangers Review

Scardust – Strangers Review

“I have a strange relationship with progressive metal. On one hand, I feel like the vast majority of prog is made up of decent song ideas separated from one another by fancy time signatures, self-indulgent experimentation, and other forms of needless wankery. But on the other hand, I proudly claim progressive titans Symphony X and Nevermore as my two favorite bands of all time. Those bands had a way of making their immensely complex compositions seem deceptively simple — a hallmark of a good prog band in my book. To me, progressiveness is really just the amplification of — or an embellishment upon — what a band already does well. Thus, my view that much of today’s “prog” music is really just embellished nothingness. On that cheerful note, enter Israeli progressive metal band Scardust.” Prog for dummies.

Judicator – Let There Be Nothing Review

Judicator – Let There Be Nothing Review

“Thanks entirely to Eldritch Elitist‘s coverage of Judicator‘s last album, The Last Emperor, I discovered one of my favorite new-to-me bands in recent memory. After an initial good impression, The Last Emperor eventually completely won me over, and it landed in my top 10 of 2018. There’s something so pure and magical about the way Judicator combines the influences of Blind Guardian and Iced Earth into a prog/power beast that stands its own. It reminds me of what Demons & Wizards might sound like if their music was actually good.” Nothing is more.

Buried Realm – Embodiment of the Divine Review

Buried Realm – Embodiment of the Divine Review

Buried Realm play an eager, galloping sort of melodeath, with lots of speedy leads, upbeat riffs, synthesizers, and solos everywhere. It’s almost as if Blind Guardian enthusiasm and subject matter met up with Scar Symmetry’s love of ambience and melodic-yet-death-y riffs, while the vocalists from the latter act offered helpful hints here and there.” Melodeath potluck.