Crystal Palace – Dawn of Eternity

Even after two years of reviewing and putting stuff on internet radio, I run into bands I don’t know – and it looks like that is not going to change anytime soon. On the table right now is the album Dawn of Eternity by German prog rockers Crystal Palace. A band that’s been active since 1995 as far as album releases are concerned, releasing their debut about a year after their start in 1994. crystal palace

The band required some investigation on my part, as I knew the name but not the music (as often happens to me). Although dubbed Neo-progressive on progressive rock database giant ProgArchives, the band have quite a bit of hard rock and metal influences in their music – probably stemming from their roots as an AOR band in the mid ’90s. This also shows on this album, for example in Confess Your Crime, which starst after the atmosperic brief instrumental opener Dawn. Something in Confess Your Crime, probably the keyboards and vocals vaguely remind me of early Dream Theater work. However, there are also influences of older Pendragon and perhaps even IQ in there. The track changes from metal like to a more heavy psychedelic midsection, and then to a very well sung keyboard and vocal part at around 2/3. Certainly a nice introduction the album as well as the band. 

Eternal Step starts again with an almost metal guitar intro, and again a vocal part that reminds me of Dream Theater – actually this track has a similar, but softer, feel as Surrounded in places. The build up from the opening to the melodic guitar solo and the heavier ending is great on this track. And building up tracks is something that certainly characterises this album – it works on this track, but also on the very well arranged Fields of Conciousness, which starts with a melancholic guitar tune, then builds up via something close to alternative rock to a metal-like ending. The vocals on this one are emotional and very good.

Word to the drummer also – for example on Heart of Sale, which has a slight echo on the upfront drums, which works well with the electronic sound of the keyboards and the guitar riff. An other great drum track is All of this, which is heavy and dark, but still melodic and contains a very well done guitar solo.

Another track worth mentioning is Sky without Stars, which starts with a pulsating guitar and emotional vocals, until guitar, bass and drums join in to make it more powerful, without speeding up. As the music softens a bit halfway, the vocals beautifully reappear from the echoes, working toward a Porcupine Tree like soundscape at the end.

Crystal Palace are band with many influences, and they deliver a powerful album here. Probably not the biggest hit in the genre this year, but certainly recommended for fans of heavier progressive rock with 80s neo and 90s prog metal influences. The singer and drummer alone are already worth having a thorough listen.

Virus – Memento Collider

Having released four albums in 13 years, Virus is clearly a band that doesn’t focus on quantity of releases. This feeling gets stronger when you take into account that the length of their fourth, 2016, release Memento Collider is only 45 minutes long.

The Norwegian band, headed by Carl-Michael Eide (vocals and guitars) has its roots in the Norwegian black metal scene of the 1990s, but have moved on quite a bit from there. On previous albums, their music was compared to that of for example Voivod and Cynic, but they also claim influences from the likes of Talking Heads and even Miles Davis. The latter is definitely not very present on this album, the others can easily be found when listening carefully.VIRUS-640x640

What is immediately immenent when listening to this album, is that this is not happy party music. Sinister guitar riffs, supported by very melodic, often quite slow bass lines build an atmosphere of eeriness that gets under your skin. I think we have all tried listening to Dark Side of the Moon in the dark with headphones one. This album gives the same feeling, but with far darker music. The first two tracks, Afield, which is very dark and slow, and Rogue Fossil, which shows more rhythmic and melodic variations either pull you into the album or drive you away from it. I let myself be dragged in, and I must say I have no regrets. This is the kind of music I appreciated at the time Voivod let go of their pure metal roots, and some elements of the music also remind me of the Austrian band Il Ballo Dell Castagne, whose album I reviewed end of last year. 

The remaining four tracks on the album do not all reach the level of the first two, in terms of darkness and variation, but none are bad. The bass is very prominent in all tracks, as are the sometimes frantic drums (Phantom Oil Slick!). Gravity Seeker, which lyrics are the source of the album title, has a slow, almost 80s new wave feel to it – with a heavier basis.

All in all – for those who like the bands mentioned in this review, this is definitely a band to check out. The same holds for metal fans who want to hear what a metal band can do when they leave their core roots behind and start mixing in other things. One thing is for sure, in terms of progressiveness, this is a lot more original than all the Yes, Genesis and Pink Floyd derived material that is floating into our collections these days. None of it bad, but some refreshment for the ears is more than welcome.

My first live show on Internet Radio!

The first time live on air was fun, and a bit exciting. I’m off to bed, but enjoy the podcast in case you missed the show.
Including an interview with Marek Arnold, of Seven Steps to the Green Door.

T-shirts (2)

13767360_10206769973269908_8337784239636349092_oOsmo kept his promise, he photographed himself in an Angelo’s Rock Orphanage t-shirt at Nordkapp. Thanks very much Osmo!!!

I also figured out the pricing, so those who contacted me will get a PM or e-mail soon.

Mike Kershaw – What Lies Beneath

In the modern prog world, we find a number of communities, consisting of fans and musicians. The communities are represented online, on Facebook or on music web sites, and the involved musicians end up playing on each others albums, or cooperating on  ‘special’ albums. Some of these cooperations involve long standing artists, for example the current cooperation between Jon Anderson, Roine Stolt and Jonas Reinhold in Anderson/Stolt. Others involve less well known artists, some of whom also have been around for a while already. Here examples are cooperations around Corvus Stone’s Colin Tench, or United Progressive Fraternity and Mark ‘Truey’ Truack.

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Another example is the community that revolves around the band Big Big Train. In their Facebook group, a whole lot of musicians have found each other, including for example Fractal Mirror and some members of Unto Us. In this community, we also encounter keyboard player and vocalist Mike Kershaw. On his album What Lies Beneath, subject of this review, we find a lot of musicians who are active in the BBT community, like Leo Koperdraat, Leopold and Allyson Blue-Sky, and Gareth Cole.

As can be expected, having musicians, good musicians cooperate, something good must come out of it. On this album, we find 8 tracks, on all of which the involved musicians give it their best. Frank Urbaniak’s drums, Gareth Cole’s and Leopold Blue-Sky’s bass are the most frequent companions of Kershaw’s own keyboards, but on individual tracks we also find drums by Joshua Leibowitz, Rohan Jordan-Shah and Leopold Blue-Sky, while Leo Koperdraat and Tom Slatter take care of guitar and vocals on Two Eyes and Wounds.

Looking at the compositions, most of the tracks are written by the trio Kershaw, Blue-Sky and Cole, and feel like a mix of rock and folk, often with a nod toward the 80s – especially when Mike’s keyboards come in. What strikes me is that although each track has it’s own little treats, there is no real shiner among the tracks composed by this trio – although the guitar solo in Another Disguise is a landmark on the album. The tracks Two Eyes and Wounds, for which respectively Leo Koperdraat and Tom Slatter not only played guitar but also wrote the music, appeal more to me. Two Eyes, which’ lyrics are very personal to Mike Kershaw certainly brings life to the album half way, and although not an up tempo track, Wounds stands out as well – this could be a Roger Waters track to my ears.

Due to the keyboards and vocals, Gunning for the Gods is the only track on the album that I don’t really appreciate at all. It’s thought provoking lyrics get buried in a keyboard sound that is not working for me.

All in all, this is not a bad album, certainly not in execution by the musicians, but I would have hoped for a little more excitement in the compositions. Apart from ‘breaks’ and ‘bridges’ a lot of the music gets stuck in the same slow, melancholic mood and tempo, which makes it hard to keep listening attentively. Part of that judgement no doubt comes down to taste, so I do suggest everyone to give it a try, not ignore it.

T-shirts…

Arianna tshirt Rock Orphanage

Arianna Pernigoni – Mistress of House of Prog’s Metal Madhouse

When I started using the name Angelo’s Rock Orphanage, Sonia Mota made a nice drawing that I used as a logo. This was nicely incorporated later in the Facebook banner for my radio shows and the header of this web site.

As I posted earlier on Facebook, I also had a few t-shirts made based on this logo, one for myself, one for the artist herself, Duthc former prog reviewer and radio host Wouter van Hal, and very recently also for Osmo Jarvenpaa of Hullaballo Radio in Finnland and for Arianna Pernigoni at House of Prog.

After posting about this last week, people strarted sending requests to buy one. I’m looking into making that affordable, and will keep you posted. The shirts are high quality cotton, and if I do it price will be between 15 and 20 euro a piece. I would be interested to hear if that is an affordable price for a radio show / weblog t-shirt. Either way, it’s a fun gadget and I’m not making money from it, so I’m just going to make sure that if people want it, it is not going to cost me money either. Just let me know – thanks already!!!

Angelo Rock Orphanage t-shirt

Me – the dean of the Rock Orphanage

P.S. Osmo is going to photograph himself at Nordkapp wearing the t-shirt, and Wouter van Hal and Sonia Mota are sending their pictures in due time as well. All who wear one will end up in a big collage at some point….

 

 

Night of the Prog 2016

And a final post for today: I have my ticket, my photo pass appears to be waiting for me, and my hotel is booked. So, in less exactly one month I’ll have returned already from Night of the Prog 2016. At that time, I will have seen the following bands… and met a lot of people that I connected to through Facebook, Twitter, ISKC Rock Radio, this blog, ohter music sites and real life.

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Gagliarchives top 20

Second week in a row I post this, because I’m trying to see how things develop over a period of a number of weeks, and partly because I think Tom Gagliardi’s show deserves to be promoted.

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My anger came out

I tried to follow the news last week, online mainly. I hadn’t done that for real in over a year, and I stopped quickly. It didn’t work, I got angry and restless like before. Partly because of bad timing, with the Orlando shootings being in the headlines, partly by the way people think and react on these things. So, I’m off the news again – apart from an occasional quick headline scan to make sure I don’t become ignorant of the world.

The lines below were written largely out of anger, and not everybody will like them, but I will keep them here – just for the record.

Someone’s child has died
Someone’s friend, someone’s sister,
someone’s kin
Forty nine of them in total, lifes cut short
and dreams demolished

One mans stands in front now
Raise his chin, raise his voice,
raise his fist
“I had this all predicted, I know all,
and I will lead you”

Are you happy, Agent Orange,
Now that so many more have died
To prove your point, moot to begin with,
just to let your ego thrive?

I cry for those who died, despise
the one who killed
But more than that I pity
Eyes closed for what goes on

Black-Ribbon

Gagliarchives Top 20, June 10th

No idea if I’m going to post this here every week, but I was postively surprised by some entries in the Gagliarchives Top 20 for the week of June 10th, which I caught on Tom Gagliardi’s show this morning. Usually I don’t catch that programme, since it runs from 4AM-8AM local time on Sunday morning for me, but he had an extended show today, running till almost 9AM. Definitely a list to keep an eye on, even if you can’t catch Tom’s show.

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