Dreamgrave – Monuments, Part 1: The Anxious
Hungarian progressive metal band Dreamgrave have released the first part of their Monuments trilogy: The Anxious. The Mad and The Imperious are to be released nine to ten months apart. Their sound borrows a lot from progressive rock, with many a softer passage, laden with violins and soaring vocals, but the harsher metal nature of the band shows itself already on the second track, “Monuments”. It starts oozing of Diablo Swing Orchestra’s signature swing riffing with female vocals and violins accompanying the drums and bass foundation. Not too long afterwards, the riffs enter along with harsh vocals and pounding drums. The EP is very good and varied, so I’m excited to hear part two and three of the Monuments series.
Schizofrantik – Ripping Heartaches
This German progressive rock band is pretty interesting. Their third album, Ripping Heartaches, begins and ends with mind-boggling compositions that border the realms of experimental prog and math metal, with two tracks over twelve minutes long. This is, for me, the pinnacle of what they are able to achieve: it’s challenging and inventive, and keeps me on the edge. However, between those peaks is a valley of decent, at best, progressive rock compositions that are full of the genre’s clichés and tropes, and make me wish the time went on faster. If Schizofrantik would capitalize on their more experimental side, it could become one of my favourite prog acts.
Abronia – Obsidian Visions/Shadowed Lands
Portland’s Abronia is an interesting experimental rock band, close to post-rock and drone rock, whose main characteristic is the use of a 32-inch marching band drum serving as drumkit. Of course, there are other percussions, such as tambourine and some cymbals, but using only this big drum lends to the band a very unique sound; ritualistic, solemn. They call themselves desert drone, which is a perfect image of what kind of music they make. Their debut album came out in June, and it’s really good!
Earth Electric – Volume 1: Solar
Earth Electric is a progressive metal band from Portugal, and their debut album, Solar, came out in May. The full-length is filled with odd time signatures and harmonic modulations that are perfectly conveyed by Carmen Simões’ melancholic voice and Rune Eriksen’s clockwork guitar riffs. The band strikes a neat balance between old prog worship and modern rock and metal. Solar is a stellar debut that deserves to be on more lists this year.
Impact Fuze – Moscow
This one is a bit puzzling to me. Moscow was previously released in 2011, and I absolutely loved this absolutely mental jazz fusion release. I’m including it here because it recently popped up on Bandcamp, along with a bonus track, so I’m guessing this is some sort of reissue? It seems to be limited to the digital format for now, which is a bit strange if it’s a reissue, but hey! I’ll take every opportunity to talk about Impact Fuze. If you haven’t caught this release in 2011, don’t miss it twice.
Traun – Escape from Spa 9
Traun is an ambitious avant-garde progressive metal project that plan on releasing four EPs – three main ones and a “deleted scenes” one, filling the gaps to their convoluted science-fiction concept storyline –, and Escape from Spa 9 is the third one. The compositions on Traun’s releases are too short for us to tire of them, and that brings the added benefit of listening through a lot of very diverse styles of music in a short time span. The styles go from progressive metal to jazz to chiptune and many others. I hope that, after the release of their Deleted Scenes, all their tracks are put chronologically into one full-length album.
N█O – Adrestia
Ukrainian atmospheric post-black metal band N█O released Adrestia in late October. It’s a really good contender for its genre. The band (pronounced /no/), crafts strong chord progressions in solid song structures, which makes the album cathartic and memorable. Recommended!
Eeviomorfia – Mortal Lacuna
The only track on the Mortal Lacuna EP is its twenty-minute title track, a daunting avant-garde death metal release that spews out Deathspell Omega-influenced dissonance and Gorguts-like structures and riffs. This act is a mysterious one, with some information pointing out to them being Russian and some other American. The fact that they lack any form of social media presence only thickens the fog. Regardless, Mortal Lacuna is an astounding release!
Tetragrammacide – Primal Incinerators of Moral Matrix
Tetragrammacide is an Indian avant-garde black metal trio fuelled by anger and demanding a revolution. Primal Incinerators of Moral Matrix is their debut album, following a 2015 mini-album that gathered them worldwide fame in the underground black and death metal communities. This record is a lot to take on in one listen: forty minutes of abrasive and relentless metal that’s also influenced by Indian traditional music and that boasts a production as smooth as an AK-47 constantly firing. It’s an interesting one to say the least.