Archive for June, 2011

New GEPR Upload coming soon!

June 24, 2011

There will be a new upload of the GEPR full web site coming soon. Really! I promise! I know it’s been over a year since the last full update, but I have been trying to stay somewhat in touch via this blog. At least when it comes, you’ll see I’ve updated a huge number of entries, and not all of them have made it into this blog either. Don’t hold your breath … yet. But it should be ready really soon. — Fred Trafton

Adrenaline Mob

June 24, 2011

Adrenaline Mob

Jeez. If I met these guys on a regular street, I’d probably soil myself. They definitely look pretty badass. But separated by the Internet Data Superhighway? No problem. This is Adrenaline Mob, and their drummer sounds like that guy from Dream Theater. Oh. Never mind. It is that guy from Dream Theater, Mike Portnoy … or rather the guy who used to be in Dream Theater. Also Symphony X frontman Russell Allen, guitarists Mike Orlando and Rich Ward, and bassist Paul DiLeo. No keyboard player? Perhaps they ate him for lunch. Well, just saying.

Even with all these prog and proggish luminaries, they claim this is an old-school metal band, not prog-metal. Well, I’ve heard a preview of their songs on their Facebook page, and as far as one can tell from a collage of snippets, there’s enough prog content here to make for at least a couple of good listens … as long as you don’t hate prog-metal. They haven’t released an album yet, but look for one soon.

Oh, and this obviously isn’t the Morse-Morse-Portnoy-Larue-McPherson band, which near as I can tell still doesn’t have a name yet. — Fred Trafton

Click here for Adrenaline Mob‘s Facebook page, where you can hear the “collage of snippets” preview by clicking on “Like”.

AKIN – The Way Things End

June 22, 2011

AKIN Р(not in photo order) Luc Babut (bass), Matthieu Baker (guitars, backing vocals), Philippe Chaubiré (flute), Julien Chometton (rhythm guitar), Romain Fayet (drums), Adeline Gurtner (lead vocals) and Pierre Lucas (keyboards)

Akin is alleged to be prog-metal. Well, I certainly hope I won’t offend this excellent band if I say, “NO WAY!” Sure, there are heavy guitar parts and even a bit of shredding, but these are relegated so far down in the mix that you actually have to listen for them. How can you call a band prog-metal when they rely this heavily on a real string ensemble, lots of acoustic guitar plucking and strumming, flute, harmonizing vocal overdubs and a non-operatic female lead singer? Personally, I can’t. The poorly-defined Prog Archives designation of “heavy prog” I might buy. But calling this band prog-metal just doesn’t work for me. Not that I have anything against prog-metal you understand. I just think it’s a poor description.

Akin is a French band, though you can barely detect any accent from lead singer Adeline Gurtner as she belts out these tunes in flawless English. Don’t expect any operatic vocals √° la Jessica Lehto (Factory of Dreams) or Simone Simons (Epica). If not for the heavy guitar oriented accompaniment, I’d almost call her vocals “folksy”. That’s by no means a bad thing … her vocals fit wonderfully into the music, which is complex, orchestrated with a great deal of variety and mood changes, and with liberal dashes of very Bach string concerto classical-sounding passages.

After a long hiatus (ten years!) since their last full album, Akin returns on the Progrock Records (the USA one) label with a fantastic new album, The Way Things End. If you’re interested in hearing their earlier album (and an EP), click the links above to download them for free from their Bandcamp site. The new album The Way Things End will be released by Progrock in September 2011. — Fred Trafton

Footnote: Actually, ProgRock Records‘ Shawn Gordon says they’re in, so click on over and order your copy now!

Click here to order The Way Things End from ProgRock Records
Click here for Akin‘s Facebook page
Click here for Akin‘s Bandcamp page
Click here for a review of The Way Things End on the Femme Metal Webzine

M. Judge – Architects of Flesh-Density

June 14, 2011

The Nerve Institute (M. Judge) – Architects of Flesh-Density

I must say, I’ve gotten to the point where I yawn (or grimace) at the receipt of a promo pack from some record labels. I don’t know that I’ve ever gotten a bad album from anyone, but there’s an awful lot of also-rans out there, and I just have too many albums to be spending a lot of personal energy on them. One label for which this is not the case, however, is the AltrOck label from Italy, which consistently delivers outstanding CD’s from incredible groups and artists. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anything from the label that wasn’t really good, and most of them go well beyond that and into “superb”.

In my last AltrOck mailing, I received a CD from a band called The Nerve Institute. I was amazed to see that the first “reference band” they were compared to was The Underground Railroad. Hey, I know and love these guys, they’re from my area (Dallas/Fort Worth), but I’ve never seen them named as a “reference band” before. So I was really interested to give a listen to this CD.

The first thing I’ll say about Architects of Flesh-Density is, “WOW!” This is one of the best albums I’ve heard this year. The comparison to Underground Railroad is pretty fair, but Architects of Flesh-Density is more experimental, and goes into more avant-garde/RIO territory than UR. At the risk of sounding glib, I’ll say that, “If Bill Pohl liked Fred Frith as much as he likes Allan Holdsworth, then The Nerve Institute would sound like Underground Railroad.” Helpful if you know all these references, useless if you don’t.

So, if you don’t, I’ll just describe it as symphonic with strange but beautiful harmonies, jagged rhythms, and a high level of virtuosity on all the instruments. The musical parts stray toward dissonance, then resolve into quite beautiful harmonious sections. It’s also punctuated by innovative sound effects and artfully-used noises and studio sound-warping. The sections are tightly integrated and the music is skillfully composed and recorded with utmost attention to detail and clarity. All this is made even more impressive by the fact that it’s all composed, played and recorded by one guy named M. Judge, and the “studio” consists of a laptop where the music is “edited/EQd/compressed in whatever freeware music program I happen to be using.” What’s the “M” for? A careful search of the links will reveal it, but since he always seems to introduce himself as only “M” I’ll just stick with that.

Mr. Judge has stated in an interview that he gets tired of band names, and so has released works under several other monickers, including The Wolf Tickets, Jerusalem and Sinthome. The only other Judge I’ve been able to find available is the second Sinthome album, Ficciones, still available on the ReR label. It’s very different from The Nerve Institute, and from what I’ve read, Judge delights in changing what he does from one album to the next. In fact, he’s said, “My goal with any upcoming album is really to scare the hell out of myself and anyone else who liked the previous one.” He goes on to say, however, that he may record more under The Nerve Institute name. I’m hoping this means more along the same lines, because one CD of this brilliance just isn’t enough. I do hope to hear more. My highest recommendation! — Fred Trafton

Click here for M. Judge‘s MySpace page
Click here to download Ficciones from ReR USA
Click here to order Architects of Flesh-Density from AltrOck Records
Click here for an interview with M. Judge for Prog Archives

Herd of Instinct – same

June 9, 2011

Herd of Instinct – Mark Cook (Warr guitar), Mike Davison (guitar) and Jason Spradlin (drums/percussion)

Following the breakup of 99 Names of God, Mark Cook joined up with Hands for their 2008 album Strangelet. Then he rejoined with 99NoG drummer Jason Spradlin and guitarist Mike Davison (Nervewerks) to create a new band, Herd of Instinct. They’ve been playing in the Dallas/Ft. Worth metroplex for a while, and have slowly been amassing a sufficient quantity of recorded material for their first album. It’s finally happened, and their first self-titled album was just released on Djam Karet‘s Firepool Records label.

Playing live, they’re a three-piece, but for the album, they invited many friends to “run with The Herd” as it were. These guest artists include Pat Mastelotto (King Crimson, XTC), Jerry Marotta (Peter Gabriel, Tony Levin), Gavin Harrison (Porcupine Tree), Gayle Ellett (Djam Karet, Ukab Maerd), Kris Swenson (99 Names of God) and others. The result is a highly varied sound that still features a core that can be carried off in live performances.

Musically, the best point of reference is probably ’90’s Crimson, but there are also influences from the more modern, agressive prog-metal sound like Dream Theater and the “indie” sounds like the alt-metal of Tool, the post-rock of Tortoise and even some brief flirtations with ambient music. But all these comparisons only get you into the ballpark. Herd of Instinct is all instrumental (with the exception of one song, vocalized by former 99 Names of God vocalist Kris Swenson, which may even be a “leftover” from 99NoG recording sessions with some reworking), and has its own unique sound. The album slows down a bit towards the end, but even so the last songs are better than most modern bands best efforts. This album is a gem, and it’s a small wonder that Gayle Ellett chose it to be the first non-Djam Karet-related album on the Firepool label. Seek it out, a definite keeper! — Fred Trafton

Click here for Herd of Instinct‘s web site
Click here for Herd of Instinct‘s MySpace page