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Back in 2015, I reviewed the last EP by Deathwhite. In it, I remarked how I assumed they would be a band I should like but that the EP just wasn’t quite good enough. I closed by saying they were a band to “keep an eye on” and they might be a force someday. That day has arrived today. Deathwhite has released their first full length album “For a Black Tomorrow” and WOW, I was right! They have officially grown into a force to be reckoned with.

Deathwhite channel Katatonia’s vibe, the vocal prowess of The Chant and atmosphere of Anathema and still put their own spin on it all. The album starts off with an excellent 1-2 punch of “The Grace of the Dark” and “Contrition.” The riffs are crunchy, the vocals are powerful and the drumming is on point.

The music is varied enough. Plenty of melody and darkness in each song but each song is still very unique from the rest. As I always say, it’s about the song. These are some excellent, well written songs. From the acoustic/electric balance of “Poisoned” to the subtle power of “Eden” (that riff!) to the ethereal majesty of “Death and the Master” (think Primordial goes prog), you think that Deathwhite must run out of great songs but no, they just keep coming through out the album! The band are anonymous which is cool but whoever they are, the riffs and the notes hit by the vocalist are equally amazing!

“For a Black Tomorrow” is exactly what I wanted from that EP in 2015. Three years on, Deathwhite have emerged as an amazing band that everyone needs to check out. I was saddened when Katatonia went on hiatus and I’ve been disappointed with the last few Anathema albums. Deathwhite has stepped firmly into that void for me. “For a Black Tomorrow” is one of the best albums of 2017 so far, without question.

Rating: 9.5/10

Tracklist:

1. The Grace of the Dark
2. Contrition
3. Poisoned
4. Just Remember
5. Eden
6. Dreaming the Inverse
7. Death and the Master
8. Prison of Thought
9. For a Black Tomorrow

Label: Season of Mist
Release Date: 23 February 2018
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/deathwhiteofficial/

Deathwhite - For a Black Tomorrow (2018) full album - YouTube
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Phase is the debut album from Melbourne-based band Mildlife. The lead single The Magnificent Moon is the first track on the album and it is a wonderful introduction to this band.

On first blush, this song reminded of another Aussie band, Cut Copy, with its rhythmic beat and lush keyboards. There is more going on here, however, as there are textures that invoke jazz and psychedelic sounds. Check the YouTube link below and hear it for yourself.

Mildlife - The Magnificent Moon - YouTube

I also enjoyed the track Im Blau, which features a spacey synth, a nice guitar line and filtered vocals. A touch of Can is in the mix, but this is Mildlife’s song.

This collection of tunes fits together nicely as an album. Nothing is jarring, none of this music feels out of place. The set has a wonderful flow. And, as with all good listening experiences, something interesting can be discovered on each play.

The press release states that the members of the band are old friends. This group sounds like a tight unit and I’m sure the friendship between the musicians contributes to this.

This is a strong debut. It will be interesting to see how Mildlife progresses down the road

Rating: 8/10

Tracklist:

  1. The Magnificent Moon
  2. Zwango Zop
  3. Im Blau
  4. Phase
  5. Two Horizons
  6. The Gloves Don’t Bite

Band members:
James Donald
Adam Halliwell
Kevin McDowell
Tom Shanahan

Label: Research Records
Website: mildlife.com.au
Facebook: www.facebook.com/Mildlife
Bandcamp: mildlife.bandcamp.com

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AMORPHIS have finally finished recording their upcoming new studio album, entitled ‘Queen Of Time’. The record is scheduled for a May 18th release, via Nuclear Blast. In comparison to its predecessor, ‘Under The Red Cloud’ (2015), the album will include the use of real strings, flutes, orchestral arrangements and even choirs! In addition, this will be the first time that people will be able to hear their lyricist Pekka Kainulainen on the album as he contributes a speech in Finnish.

Today, the band unveils some more details on the production, the album title, the album cover (see above) and on working with their new/old bassist Olli-Pekka Laine.

The album was once again produced by the famous Jens Bogren (OPETH, AMON AMARTH, KREATOR, and many others), who is well-known for challenging, and motivating, the artists during the recording process. He isn’t afraid to push them to their limits!

Esa comments: “I guess ‘Queen Of Time’ turned out as a massive surprise to all of us. During the rehearsing and pre-production we didn’t have any idea that Jens had this huge picture inside of his head about the landscape of the album. It’s a very natural continuation to ‘Under The Red Cloud’ but with steroids. The songs are more aggressive but there’s more dynamics, harmonies and orchestral arrangements present. The result is AMORPHIS as something you’ve never heard before! Essentially, working with Jens worked really well. As a person he is very similar to us – we share the same kind of weird humor and we all like to work hard.” 

 

The cover artwork, which was created once again by French artist Jean ”Valnoir” Simoulin from Metastazis, captures the feeling of the lyrics and the music. With Pekka Kainulainen‘s (lyricist) words, the lyrical theme is universal: “Cultures rise, flourish, and are destroyed. The story of man is the story of searching, finding, and forgetting. A single spark can set the world afire, a single idea can give birth to a new culture. The greatest can stagnate into insignificance, the smallest can hold the power for change. The lyrics on this album are distant echoes of ancient forest peoples, from a time when meaning was proportioned by the cosmic forces that govern birth and death. If the connection was lost, they sought for a strand of knowledge, found a new direction, and a new age began.”

 

‘Queen Of Time’ will be also the first album with their old/new bass player Olli-Pekka ‘Oppu’ Laine following the departure of Niclas Etelävuori in 2017. Oppu was one of the founding members in 1990 and recorded the first seven records with AMORPHIS (‘The Karelian Isthmus’ LP, 1992; ‘Privilege Of Evil’ EP, 1993; ‘Tales From The Thousand Lakes’ LP, 1994; ‘Black Winter Day’ EP, 1995; ‘Elegy’ LP, 1996; ‘My Kantele’ EP, 1997 and the ‘Tuonela’ LP, 1999) before he parted ways with the band in spring 2000.

“To be honest, ‘Oppu’ was the only guy we could imagine being in AMORPHIS. It was funny – when we started to play our first shows together again last summer it all felt so familiar. He was involved with arranging songs and he also even brought some new songs to the table… really good ones, too!” says Esa. And Oppu adds: “Even though the last year with AMORPHIS has been exciting, nostalgic and fun, it’s also been truly comfortable to be with the guys again. As a clichéd expression, it’s been like returning home from a lengthy odyssey. After eighteen years, it feels like we are picking up where we left off from the good ol’ days! I’m really looking forward for the upcoming tour. The new album itself is a really strong package, the only hard thing will be picking which songs to play live! It’s safe to say we are set to pull off some killer shows over the next few years. After that, I’m predicting a long and fruitful career for the band in its current form…”

 

The band will soon kick off pre-orders for ‘Queen Of Time’ and release their first single, so stay tuned!


AMORPHIS festival shows 2018:
12 May Kopervik – Karmoygeddon Metal Festival (NO)
08 June Hyvinkää – Rockfest (FI)
09 June Tampere – South Park Festival (FI)
13 June Tokyo – Shibuya Club Quattro (JP)
14 June Osaka – Umeda Club Quattro (JP)
21-23 June St. Goarshausen – RockFels (DE)
24 June Clisson – Hellfest (FR)
05-07 July Ballenstedt – Rockharz Open Air (DE)
06 July Lohja – Rantajamit (FI)
12-14 July  Balingen – Bang Your Head!!! (DE)
12-15 July Vizovice – Masters of Rock (CZ)
14 July Joensuu – Ilosaarirock (FI)
20 July Laukaa – John Smith Rock Festival (FI)
27 July Kuopio – RockCock (FI)
28 July Oulu – Qstock (FI)
02-04 Aug. Wacken – Wacken Open Air (DE)
08-11 Aug. Villena – Leyendas del Rock (ES)
10 Aug. Kortrijk – Alcatraz Metal Festival (BE)

More live dates:

w/ DARK TRANQUILLITY, MOONSPELL, OMNIUM GATHERUM
07 Sept. New York, NY – Gramercy Theatre (US)
08 Sept. Montréal, QC – Café Campus (CA)
09 Sept. Québec City, QC – Impérial de Québec (CA)
10 Sept. Toronto, ON – The Opera House (CA)
11 Sept. Ft. Wayne, IN – Piere’s Entertainment Center (US)
12 Sept. Detroit, MI – Harpos Concert Theatre (US)
13 Sept. Joliet, IL – The Forge (US)
14 Sept. Minneapolis, MN – The Cabooze (US)
15 Sept. Winnipeg, MB – The Park Theatre (CA)
17 Sept. Edmonton, AB – The Starlite Room (CA)
18 Sept. Calgary, AB – Dickens (CA)
19 Sept. Vancouver, BC – Rickshaw Theatre (CA)
20 Sept. Seattle, WA – El Corazon (US)
22 Sept. Berkeley, CA – UC Theatre (US)
23 Sept. Anaheim, CA – City National Grove (US)
24 Sept.West Hollywood, CA – Whiskey a Go Go (US)
25 Sept. San Diego, CA – Brick by Brick (US)
26 Sept. Tempe, AZ – Marquee Theatre (US)
27 Sept.Las Vegas, NV – House of Blues (US)
28 Sept. Salt Lake City, UT – Liquid Joe’s (US)
29 Sept. Denver, CO – Herman‘s Hideaway (US)
01 Oct. Dallas, TX – Trees (US)
02 Oct. San Antonio, TX – The Rock Box (US)
03 Oct. Houston, TX – Scout Bar (US)
05 Oct. Tampa, FL – The Orpheum (US)
06 Oct. Lake Park, FL – Kelsey Theater (US)
07 Oct. Atlanta, GA – Masquerade (US)
09 Oct. Louisville, KY – Diamond Pub & Billiards (US)
10 Oct. Durham, NC – Motorco Music Hall (US)
11 Oct. Baltimore, MD – Soundstage (US)
12 Oct. Philadelphia, PA – Trocadero Theatre (US)
14 Oct. Clifton Park, NY – Upstate Concert Hall (US)

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Airbag guitarist Bjørn Riis put out one of my favorite albums of 2017 with “Forever Comes to an End.” Needless to say (yet I am), I was very excited to find he was releasing a follow up mini-album/EP called “Coming Home.” Riis is not only a great guitar player but even though he is not the lead vocalist in Airbag, he very well could be because he is a great singer as well. Add in that he writes excellent songs and you have a formidable combination.

“Coming Home” is definitely an extension of “”Forever Comes to an End” but it definitely does NOT sound like left overs or outtakes. They might very well be but Riis is so talented that his cast offs would be as good as any of his music. “Coming Home” does get off to a bit of a rocky start for me with the new age instrumental “Daybreak.” It’s nice and all but never really goes anywhere.

Things are back on track with the title song “Coming Home” which builds from an acoustic piece with a great vocal to a full band number that has that Floydian vibe Riis (and Airbag) are so good at doing. “Drowning” is a duet with Norwegian singer Sichelle, who I was not familiar with prior to this. Her voice fits in well with both the music and Riis’ voice. The song’s lyrics are so moving and emotional. Plus, there’s some excellent guitar work on it as well. Next is “Tonight’s the Night” is piano heavy track with TONS of atmosphere.

The album closes with an alternate semi-acoustic take of the title track from his first solo album “Lullabies in a Car Crash.” It definitely fits the overall vibe of the EP but in including it, it also makes the EP into a nice sampler for those not familiar with Bjørn Riis. “Coming Home” is both a welcome addition for fans who know Bjørn Riis and a nice introduction to those who will be fans of him as well.

Rating: 9/10

Tracklist:

1. Daybreak 4:00
2. Coming Home 6:44
3. Drowning 6:14
4. Tonight’s the Night 3:16
5. Lullabies in a Car Crash (alternate version) 6:29

Label: Karisma Records
Release: 23 February 2018
Website: www.bjornriis.com

Bjørn Riis - "Coming Home" Official Album Teaser - YouTube
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American, legendary, technical, metal pioneers ATHEIST have signed a worldwide record deal with the European based label, Agonia Records. The band is expected to release a new studio album, the follow-up to 2010’s critically acclaimed “Jupiter” in mid to late 2018.

Band co-founder & vocalist/songwriter Kelly Shaefer commented: “2018 will mark our 30th year of making records. Atheist will embark on a very important album with an important new label along with a great team behind us, including Extreme Management Group. I feel confident that together, and with their anticipated dedication to bringing Atheist to a new level, the band will be poised for a crushing, new record! We cannot wait to begin this new chapter”.

Agonia Records commented: “We’re beyond excited to welcome Atheist to our roster. This is a band of extreme talent and bold creativity, a band lauded for their invaluable contribution to the death metal genre. They’ve been there in the early years and paved the way for countless acts playing progressive/technical death metal nowadays. We feel honoured to help them pave the way for next generations to come”.

ATHEIST are widely considered the true architects of the technical death metal genre. The group was co-founded in 1988 by drummer Steve Flynn and singer / guitarist Kelly Shaefer.

Followed by bands such as DEATH and CYNIC, they would together, define a sound that is a pillar of complex, progressive, jazz infused death metal intensity, with supreme musical prowess – the genre celebrated and known today as “Progressive Technical Death Metal”. They attained that status thanks to their debut, “Piece Of Time” (1989) and “Unquestionable Presence” (1991), both regarded as important benchmarks of the genre, and both were recorded at the now infamous, Morrisound Studios with producer extraordinaire Scott Burns. The studio itself will be forever etched in the history of extreme metal – along with the first 2 ATHIEST records, Morrisound Studios produced the albums from many known extreme metal bands of the 90’s, from Sepultura, Obituary and Death, Deicide, Morbid Angel, and Cannibal Corpse.

Recognized for its blistering intensity, and heightened level of musicianship, ATHEIST created something very unique, and set themselves worlds apart from the newly developing, death metal scene. Unfortunately, at a time when the band’s profile, and international recognition was growing, tragedy would strike as the band was out on tour. The band had just finished a North American tour with Swedish metal band Candlemass and crashed their vehicle on a highway outside New Orleans.

The accident took the life of bassist Roger Patterson. He would later be replaced by another incredibly, talented bass guitarist, Tony Choy (previously a member of Cynic). While ATHEIST continued to push boundaries, in 1993, with their third studio album, “Elements”, a groundbreaking barrage of never before heard combinations of Latin Jazz/Death metal with complex, conceptual lyrics, written and recorded in just 40 days with longtime Frank Zappa engineer Mark Pinske, it would be the last album the band would make for 17 years.

Modern tech death metal acts such as Necrophagist, Obscura, Gorod, Fallujah and Rivers of Nihil, are all the products of the sound that ATHEIST created. As such, the band’s impact on the genre is not only pioneering but path defining. The band is bigger today than ever since returning in 2006. ATHEIST enjoyed rave reviews for performances at the WACKEN OPEN AIR festival in Germany as well as HELLFEST in France, and was urged to do a new record. Reluctant at first, Shaefer and Flynn got in a room and knew right away the formula was alive and well.

ATHEIST released its first album in 17 years in 2010, returning with “Jupiter”. The album displayed all the elements that the band was recognized for, and demonstrated that ATHEIST stand alone in a style all their own. The band is ready to continue the journey they began from its inception in the late 80’s all the way into its 30th Anniversary, while adding a new bassist who’s quite known in the genre and has great technical abilities, which will allow the band to push the boundaries of the genre and develop a sound that is all ATHEIST. Featuring original founding members Kelly Shaefer and Steve Flynn, ATHEIST are poised to take the next step forward in redefining a genre, that the band were truly architects in creating. ATHEIST will be supporting this next release by touring worldwide!

Line-up:
Kelly Shaefer (Vocals)
Steve Flynn (Drums)
Chris Martin (Guitar)
Jason Holloway (Guitar)

ATHEIST on-line:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AtheistBand/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/atheistband

Agonia Records:
Website: http://agoniarecords.com
Webshop: http://tinyurl.com/agoniashop
Facebook: https://facebook.com/agoniarecords
Twitter: https://twitter.com/agoniarecords
SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/agoniarecords
Bandcamp: https://agoniarecords.bandcamp.com
Instagram: https://instagram.com/agoniarecordsofficial
YouTube: http://youtube.com/AgoniaRec

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Today I’m listening to and reviewing Jakub Zytecki’s solo music. He may be known as the guitarist in prodigal Polish progressive metal act Disperse. February 23, 2018 will see the release of Jakub’s “Feather Bed / Ladder Head,” a physical release of two previously-digitally-released EPs (7/18/2017 & 12/15/2017 respectively).

Don’t fret, there is plenty of slithering guitar happening here. If you are looking for djenty-metalisms or balls-n-chunk syncopation you will want to look elsewhere. In my option, these recordings are all about melodies, atmospheres & emotions; plus the production values used to evoke such concepts.

I remember checking out Steve Vai and Eric Johnson at the same time (almost thirty years ago!) and being intrigued by their styles. Jakub incorporates attributes of both guitarist while also having his own identifiable style. The guitar tones here are clear and hide nothing; you can hear the slides, the sweeps, the taps, and the harmonics.

These songs are all about the songs, not that one solo or that one riff. There is a thickness to the compositions, but not in a sickly-sweet way. That’s not to say there aren’t some incredible solos here. There are programmed drums when necessary, massive reverb when it suits the song, double tracked guitars on occasion, only a few (wonderful) vocals, features of electronic music/sampling used for shading and enrichment of the atmosphere. Can something be thick and weightless? That’s what this is. I’m reminded of how I feel about Vai’s Flexible: I love it but I also know what comes next (Passion and Warfare, of course).

These tracks don’t scream “I’m a guitar player in a prog-metal band!” These tracks politely ask “why don’t you put on your headphones and check this out?’ There are funk and electronica rhythms, some lo-fi alternative rock, and multi-tracked collages of sound. These songs are many things, not only one tired genre.

And the end of Feather Bed/Ladder Head, I want two things: 1) to hit repeat and 2) to listen to Disperse. That’s a pretty awesome result from a couple EPs.

Rating: 8/10

Side One – Feather Bed

  1. Mandala
  2. Opened
  3. Letters
  4. The Drum
  5. Feather Bed
  6. Per Fley

Side Two – Ladder Head

  1. Ladder Head
  2. Yesterdead
  3. Lovetape
  4. As You Are
  5. NightDiving

Release Date: February 23, 2018
Bandcamp: jakubzytecki.bandcamp.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/Jakub-Zytecki-151354041572056

Jakub Zytecki : Letters - YouTube
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Brazilian prog band Vitral are very good at what they do. What they do might not be considered “reinventing prog” but that’s okay with me. They play a very decidedly classic style of prog which is heavily influenced by British prog and Rock Progressivo Italiano. So you will hear such influences as ELP, Tull, Yes, PFM and perhaps even Camel.

“Entre as Estrelas” has only 3 songs on it and clocks in around 64 minutes. However, the title track alone is 52 minutes long! This means the other two tracks are somewhat short in comparison, 7 minutes and 5 minutes set aside for those. What’s fascinating is that the songs were composed back in 1983 and 1985 (except for a part of the title track). The songs finally were recorded in 2016 and 2017, proving how timeless prog rock is.

“Pétala de Sangue” kicks the album off and has plenty of organ and flute. It sounds like Keith Emerson and Ian Anderson jamming with Yes in 1971. The other shorter track is named for the band, “Vitral.” It’s a dreamy number with plenty of flute that would have made Ray Thomas proud. The track closes with a big, slow bit of bombast. This leaves the middle track of the album, the massive title track. Honestly, this song really could have been the album by itself. It really doesn’t need the other two songs at all.

This is not to take anything away from those songs but “Entre as Estrelas” is a huge prog epic. It’s grand in it’s entrance and makes for a wild journey. You will hear plenty of ELP, Tull and even very early Kansas. Like the other 2 tracks, it’s all instrumental. This is a band that is so good at what they do and play, vocals would probably take away from the overall quality of the music. And that’s very high quality indeed.

Yes, “Entre as Estrelas” is a lot to take in both as a song and an album. But this is true progressive rock played by a band that understands the music and LIVES it. This is not an estimation of what prog is which I hear too often. You are going to feel like you’ve been transported back to 1973. Some would argue that’s regressive. I would argue that is playing the music as it was meant to be played. Vitral do it as well as anyone has.

Rating: 9/10

1. Pétala de Sangue 6:49
2. Entre as Estrelas 52:22
3. Vitral 5:12

Label: Masque Records
Facebook: www.facebook.com/bandavitral

VITRAL - PÉTALA DE SANGUE (Petal of Blood) - YouTube
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It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these. I was reminded by Luke Henson of that, so here’s my rank ’em for the mighty Fates Warning. The criteria is no greatest hits albums, no EPs and no live albums. There is one slight caveat on this list. The Arch/Matheos album, to me, is a Fates Warning album so it’s on the list. The lineup is all current or former FW members and it sounds like them. So here’s the list:

13. Night on Bröcken (1984)
12. The Spectre Within (1985)
The first two albums are good (and I know John Arch fans will be pissed off) but they are far from great. Each have signs of what the band would become. I love the band’s energy more than the output. These are always at the bottom for me.

11. FWX (2004)
10. Inside Out (1994)
These two suffer from the same problem for me, a lack of energy. Each album has some GREAT songs but also some average ones. In both cases, it sounds like a band that was rather tired and going through the motions. Each album signaled the end for some members of the band so I think the discontent shows on each album. Each can move up a slot or two.

9. Darkness in a Different Light (2013)
There are some fantastic songs on this album! “O Chloroform” is one of my favorite Fates songs. The problem is the mix and mastering are lacking. The album has no punch at all. They fixed the issue on the next album “Theories of Flight” by getting Jens Borgen to mix it. Maybe have him remix this one?

8. No Exit (1988)
There are plenty of classic songs on “No Exit” but there are some iffy ones. I’ve never thought “Anarchy Divine” was any good. Plus Ray Alder’s voice was rather rough at this point. This one can move up a slot but no more.

7. Perfect Symmetry (1989)
What a difference a year made! Ray sounds so much better on this one. The songs are much tighter as well. This one can move up a slot or two for me from time to time.

6. Arch/Matheos – Sympathetic Resonance (2011)
This for me is a Fates album. Honestly I think it’s every bit as good as “Awaken the Guardian.” The two can flip spots. The songs on this one are stellar and John Arch sounds better than ever.

5. Awaken the Guardian (1986)
A classic album for sure. It showed how far the band could come by their third album. This one never gets any higher for me than number 5. It can drop as low as 8 though. I figured I’d better give it my highest rating or Arch fans would hunt me down.

4. Parallels (1991)
There’s not a weak song on this one. This album SHOULD have made Fates Warning huge. Some might knock it for it’s pop sensibility but who doesn’t want to sing along with the songs on this album. It can go as high as number 2.

3. Theories of Flight (2016)
This is the album I had been waiting for Fates to make. It really showcases everything that they can and have done over the years. Great songs, GREAT mix. But I can’t place it higher than 3.

2. Disconnected (2000)
This might be a surprise to some but the longer tracks on this album are some of my favorite Fates songs. It has Kevin Moore on it. Enough said. It goes no lower than 3 but usually it’s a strong number 2.

1. A Pleasant Shade of Gray (1997)
Easily my favorite Fates Warning album. There is no contest. This is one of my favorite albums by ANYONE. Love the songs, love the reuse of themes, love Terry Brown’s production and of course…Kevin Moore.

So there you have it. This is my ranking for Fates Warning. How did I do? What does your list look like?

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Djent as a genre has pretty much exhausted itself. At least that’s what I think and then a band will come along that channels djent in a new, fresher way. VOLA was one of those bands. Letters From The Colony are another of those bands. Desperse are reinventing it as well. And now France’s Black Neon District are another one of those bands but they use djent more as an accent to their music.

The band take the melodic approach that VOLA is currently championing and attempt their own spin on that. So it comes down to the songs, as it should. When you are playing this style of prog metal (or really ANY style of prog for that matter), the band has to be able to play. Black Neon District can certainly play. But they don’t fall prey to overplaying like bands like Animals as Leaders or Periphery tend to do. Their debut EP “Standing Waves” has more hooks than both of those bands combined.

The EP kicks off with “Emergence” which has some EXCELLENT vocals and strong harmonies. The band mix in some great riffs and just enough technical moves to let you know they are good. “Resurgence” is next up and it has a bit more openness to it than the first track. Together they show that Black Neon District can write a song. That is the key to what Black Neon District are about, the SONGS! It helps that lead vocalist Maxime Cuillerat has an outstanding voice!

“Seclusion” has an outstanding groove to it. It’s also yet another great sounding song. By this point, you’re wondering if they are going to slip up. That’s what I was wondering but “Ghost Line” is as strong as the previous tracks with a KILLER bass line AND bass sound…and the chorus is great! The song reminds me a little of Dead Letter Circus. The EP was recorded, mixed and mastered by Jean-François di Rienzo who deserves a mention here for just how great this whole thing sounds.

“Smattering Entities” closes out the EP with probably the trickiest guitar riff on the EP. At first, I assumed Black Neon District would finally give in and just overplay. Nope! The song has plenty of great parts but the melodies win out yet again. I think the band can only get better considering that this is their debut. I expect even bigger hooks and better songs on their next release. Let’s all hope there is one!

Rating: 8.5/10

Tracklist:

1. Emergence 05:57
2. Resurgence 05:01
3. Seclusion 05:38
4. Ghost Line 05:53
5. Smattering Entities 06:39

Bandcamp: blackneondistrict.bandcamp.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/BlackNeonDistrict

Black Neon District - Emergence - YouTube
Black Neon District - Resurgence - YouTube
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It would be easy to just lump Letters From The Colony in the djent category with their Swedish countrymen Meshuggah. But Letters From The Colony only use some djent as part of their overall extreme metal/progressive metal sound. There are more influences at play on their debut album “Vignette,” an album that has been many years in the making.

When listening to Letters From The Colony, there are elements of tech metal like Fallujah and also the groove prog metal approach of bands like Gojira. But none of these influences, including that of OLDER Meshuggah (think: “Destroy Erase Improve”), ever dominate their music enough to be derivative of those bands. The second track “Erasing Contrast” has dashes of djent along with a jazzy Meshuggah like solo. While the amazing opening track “Galax” merges atmosphere with great riffs and an incredible closing solo that none of the bands mentioned have done.

The riffs on “The Final Warning” do have enough meat to be a Meshuggah riff. Vocalist Alexander Backlund has a great death vocal style. He does sound more like Jens Kidman but not a copy of him. Next, “This Creature Will Haunt Us Forever” represents an brief, peaceful instrumental reprieve from the onslaught. “Cataclysm” reminded me that I should mention the band Kataklysm as one of the minor influences on Letters From The Colony. The song veers from a midtempo groove to an over the top blast beat that would make Kataklysm fans happy.

“Terminus” has a massive low end to it with ethereal guitar lines over the top, which makes for a nice juxtaposition. The harmonics and riffs on the song remind me a bit of Gojira. The riffs on “Sunwise” are also Gojira like. The album closes with the 12 minute epic title track which is the perfect climax to the album, plus it highlights everything the band do well. Wait for the solo 4 minutes in! AMAZING TRACK!

The band started out 8 years ago and have battled lineup change after lineup change. Finally, they have their debut album out with “Vignette” and it’s a stellar piece of work. Hopefully, the band will continue to make great music and also evolve as they do. Letters From The Colony may not have invented their own brand of prog metal but they have all the ingredients for something quite tasty.

Rating: 9/10

Tracklist:
1. Galax
2. Erasing Contrast
3. The Final Warning
4. This Creature Will Haunt Us Forever
5. Cataclysm
6. Terminus
7. Glass Palaces
8. Sunwise
9. Vignette

Label: Nuclear Blast Records
Release Date: 16 February 2018
Facebook: www.facebook.com/lettersfromthecolony

LETTERS FROM THE COLONY - Erasing Contrast (OFFICIAL VIDEO) - YouTube
LETTERS FROM THE COLONY - Galax (OFFICIAL VIDEO) - YouTube
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