Symphony X

Borealis – Illusions Review

Borealis – Illusions Review

“With the stunning, back-to-back releases of Fall From Grace and Purgatory, it isn’t easy to imagine the band could ever top them. So, when 2018’s The Offering surfaced, I knew the very thing I feared had come true. The passion so instrumental to the band’s success felt zapped from the songwriting. And, where it was weakest, the orchestration was heaviest—as if trying to hide the lack of emotion found in previous releases. As I said in my review of The Offering, it’s still a strong enough album to revisit and enjoy. But something was missing. This year’s Illusions is a sequel to The Offering’s story. But will it be a sequel to that album’s struggling delivery?” Fire in the sky, bombast in the pie.

Nova Luna – Nova Vita Review

Nova Luna – Nova Vita Review

“”Prog metal” is a weird label. At times, it feels almost like a catch-all for music that isn’t quite rock and isn’t quite metal. At others, it feels like a way for bands and fans alike to tout minor stylistic differences between one group and the next closest thing. And other times, prog metal is weird. So it’s kind of a gamble, opting to review music under this moniker, as was the case when I first spun Nova Vita, the debut full-length from Italian prog metallers Nova Luna.” Super Nova?

Guild of Others – Guild of Others Review

Guild of Others – Guild of Others Review

“Too many bands today make progressive music for the sake of being progressive, prioritizing meandering exploration over songcraft, and this is akin to a chef filling a bowl with flavorful seasonings and serving it as a full meal. Guild of Others seem intent on dishing out hearty meals seasoned with proggy goodness, their promo even going so far as to quote prolific music critic Martin Popoff, who is supposed to have said, “Guild of Others accomplish the near impossible, and that’s make progressive metal that is accessible.” Let’s see if there is any truth to these words, or if they’re merely promospeak.” Guild to last.

Opera Diabolicus – Death on a Pale Horse Review

Opera Diabolicus – Death on a Pale Horse Review

“Along with Shaw and Levén, the band adds some stellar vocals from Madeleine Liljestam (Eleine) and Angelina DelCarmen (Charetta), and guitar solos from King Diamond legends Andy LaRocque and Michael Denner. But the backbone of the album is all the other guests. These lesser-known individuals supply the keys, strings, pianos, and organs that make up the record’s core. It’s an unbelievable lineup with a lot of moving parts. But, somehow, the band keeps this chaotic metal opera about ‘witchcraft, the black death and revenge!’ together.” Panic in the opera horse.

Eternity’s End – Embers of War Review

Eternity’s End – Embers of War Review

“A week ago, progressive/technical death metal titans Obscurareleased a well-received album that featured the return of longtime guitarist Christian Münzner. Münzner had left the band in 2014 after developing focal dystonia, an overuse condition that left his fretting hand neurologically compromised. Needing a break from the relentless touring cycle of a band like Obscura, Münzner turned to other projects. Recruiting former Obscura bandmates Linus Klausenitzer and Hannes Grossmann, Münzner formed Eternity’s End with the goal to produce high-quality progressive power metal.” Powerful hobbies.

Teramaze – And the Beauty They Perceive Review

Teramaze – And the Beauty They Perceive Review

“One country whose output always perks my ears up is Australia. It seems like the Aussies just know how to craft strong albums, whether it’s the catchy hard rock of Butterfly or the avant-garde insanity of Portal, music from Down Under never fails to entertain. Nowhere is this more evident than in the country’s progressive metal scene, which features such bands as Karnivool, Voyager, Dead Letter Circus, and current kings of the mountain Caligula’s Horse. All of these bands craft terrific songs featuring strong musicians, but more importantly stellar vocalists. Let’s go ahead and add Teramaze to this list now.” Hit the Tera button.

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.