This news story was originally published here: http://theprogressiveaspect.net/blog/2017/10/19/enslaved-e/

I will admit I’m a late-comer to Enslaved; my interest initially piqued by a reference in a Mikael Åkerfeldt interview some years back. Once I started exploring their enviably consistent discography I realized that unlike most bands that have been around for decades they didn’t hit an early peak and then slowly start the long fade downhill. By contrast they’ve been on a methodical ascent for a very long time; their music becoming more progressive, more intriguing and more thoroughly personal over the years.

E is their fourteenth studio album, and before we delve into the sounds within, let’s take a moment to ponder the cryptic album title. Here is the description from guitarist Ivar Bjørnson;

“Ehwaz (pronounced and used as what’s known as ‘E’, but drawn as an ‘M’) looks like and means ‘Horse’. Which is closely linked to its esoteric meaning; which is ‘trust’ and ‘cooperation’… It is about the symbioses that surrounds us; which are vital to our existence, to our development – on all scales: man and vessel (for instance horse, yes), a person and its significant other, child and parent, musician and instrument, chaos and order, subconscious and conscious, Oden and Sleipnir – wisdom and communication.”

The material on the album draws from this thematic concept and I believe is a perfect encapsulation of what makes Enslaved unique. Their entire sound is based off symbiosis of diverse and contrasting elements; harsh brutality and ethereal beauty, the raw and the refined, aggression and peace. Unlike several of their contemporaries, Enslaved has never removed the rough edges from their music, instead they’ve consistently expanded around it and worked to more effortlessly weave those disparate strains together. E demonstrates the maturity of this approach and hints at even greater heights to come.

Last year when keyboardist/clean vocalist Herbrand Larsen announced his departure from the group there was trepidation amongst the fans as to how this would affect their overall sound. Hebrand’s vocals and keyboard sounds had been a consistent ingredient during their most-impressive run of albums starting with Isa (2004) and concluding with In Times (2015). Those fears were completely unnecessary; the band selected a perfect replacement in Håkon Vinje, the 25-year old keyboardist (who wasn’t even born when Enslaved was formed) from Seven Impale. Håkon fits in seamlessly with the Enslaved sound; his vocals are comparable in approach to the departed Larsen, though his tone is slightly higher, but his keyboard playing is a significant upgrade.

Sacred Horse demonstrates the power of this new Enslaved line-up in all its pummelling intensity and deft mood shifts. After a momentary acoustic tease, it explodes with a stampede; a furious gallop propelled by Cato Bekkevold’s double-bass drums and the airtight riffing of guitars and organ. Grutle Kjellson’s caustic, battery-acid vocals have never been more powerful or complimentary; when this band slams the pedal to the floor there are few others that can match their heft, it’s deliriously entertaining. The first mood shift occurs just before the 3-minute mark with an inspired instrumental bridge section that leads into a glorious Hammond organ solo; this is the element that had been missing from Enslaved, a true soloist at the keyboard position. As is the norm with Enslaved the song continues to develop, exploring a moody eastern motif (mildly reminiscent of Paint It Black) with accompanying choral vocals before a brief, violent reprise of the opening.

Another example of Enslaved’s continuing maturity is how with E they’ve begun to approach the studio as another instrument, while their arrangements have always been complex their productions have generally been straight-forward captures of their live sound. Here there’s more focus on sound design and weaving effects into the arrangements. Jens Bogren (who is becoming the Alan Parsons of progressive metal) provides a beautifully detailed, balanced and inventive mix. The vocal arrangements have also become a primary focus of expansion, using layers of multi-tracks to create a massive choir effect.

Opening track Storm Son applies these tools (captured sound, synth effects, modulated pink noise, swirls of reverb) to increase the dramatic impact of an already epic, widescreen composition. The first couple of minutes are a joy, a beautiful circular layering of guitar and keyboards with Grutle providing an impressive ‘outside’ bass solo. This morphs into a melodic mid-paced riff which features Håkon’s clear tenor with occasional commentary from Grutle’s rasp. A harsh vocal verse and a short instrumental interlude follow and then at nearly 7 minutes it finally explodes into a rampaging metal juggernaut. I love the small details like the synth effect that’s mixed in with the guitar riff and the sounds of explosions that complement the drum part.

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The track Axis Of The Worlds proves that Enslaved also has a sense of humour. The wonderfully bent opening guitar solo courtesy of Ice Dale is a gem; the bluesy twang completely alien in this environment. It’s a bit of a Prog lark, but it makes me smile. The track is surprisingly catchy and the way Håkon mirrors the guitar riffs on the organ is beautifully done, Jon Lord would be proud. The construction of the arrangement here is Grutle handles the harsh vocal verses while Håkon provides the hooky choruses, this same template is used on the shortest track, The River’s Mouth.

The most impressive pieces on E close out the album. Feathers Of Eolh is a swirling vortex of 7/8 progressive rock that ventures into surprising harmonic territory, it’s easily the most complex and technically challenging composition on the album. It’s also a rarity in the Enslaved catalogue because it features Håkon’s clean vocals throughout, in addition to Grutle providing his clean baritone vocals to the proceedings. Layers and layers of sound pile up during the conclusion creating a dizzying build-up of tension.

The release is provided by the crystalline beauty of the opening guitar riff on Hiindsiight. This could be my favourite Enslaved track yet. After lifting you up with the intro, they drop the floor out from under with a deliciously nasty doom section, then the opening melody returns and Kjetil Moster enters with a gorgeous saxophone break. The final four minutes of this song are simply beautiful, a plush cloud of droning shoegaze guitars and space rock vocal harmonies; it’s one of the best progressive rock arrangements I’ve heard this year.

[Note: This review is of the standard CD/LP edition, the Digipack CD release contains two bonus tracks that weren’t available for review.]

TRACK LISTING
01. Storm Son (10:54)
02. The River’s Mouth (5:13)
03. Sacred Horse (8:13)
04. Axis Of The Worlds (7:50)
05. Feathers Of Eolh (8:06)
06. Hiindsiight (9:36)

Total Time – 50:00

MUSICIANS
Ivar Bjørnson – Guitar
Grutle Kjellson – Bass & Vocals
Ice Dale – Lead Guitar
Håkon Vinje – Keyboards & Vocals
Cato Bekkevold – Drums
~ with:
Kjetil Moster – Saxophone
Einar Selvik – Vocals

ADDITIONAL INFO
Record Label: Nuclear Blast
Country of Origin: Norway
Date of Release: 20th October 2017

LINKS
Enslaved – Website | Facebook | Bandcamp

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Edition 116 of Sounds That Can Be Made is now available as a podcast!

Playlist:

Black Country Communion – The Last Song For My Resting Place (from BCCIV)
CIRCU5 – Stars (from CIRCU5)
Dave Kerzner – Static (from Static)
Lifesigns – Chasing Rainbows (from Cardington)
Caligula’s Horse – Fill My Heart (from In Contact)

Connect 4:
Barclay James Harvest – Science Fiction: Nova Lepidoptera (from XII)
Kracked Earth – When The City Sleeps (from When The City Sleeps)
Glass Hammer – Something’s Coming (from Journey Of The Dunadan)
Clive Nolan & Oliver Wakeman – By Your Side (from The Hound Of The Baskervilles)

Subsignal – Everything is Lost (from The Beacons Of Somewhere Sometime)

Jurassic Prog:
Emerson Lake & Palmer – The Barbarian (from Emerson Lake & Palmer)
Focus – Hocus Pocus (from Moving Waves)

Weend’O – Experience (from You Need To Know Yourself)
Abigail’s Ghost – Cinder Tin (from D_Letion)
Marillion – The Space (from Seasons End)
Budgie – I Turned To Stone (from Birdflight)
3 – Crazy Eyes (from Crazy Eyes)
Sylvan – Lost (from X-Rayed)

Monsters of Progzilla:


Strangefish – Ignorance Of Bliss (live)
Renaissance – Opening Out (live)
Jadis – Where In The World (live)
IQ – Frequency (live)
Sonata Arctica – The Last Amazing Grays (live)
Electric Light Orchestra – Do Ya (live)

Manning – James Fairfax (1922 – 1945) [An Average Man](from Margaret’s Children)

Steven Wilson – Permanating

Blackfield – Oxygen

Porcupine Tree – Time Flies

Steven Wilson – Telegraph Commercial

Porcupine Tree – Footprints

Porcupine Tree – Voyage 34

Steven Wilson – The Watchmaker (Live)

Porcupine Tree – Blackest Eyes

No-Man – Something Falls

Porcupine Tree – Even Less

Bass Communion – Transcendence

Steven Wilson – Home Invasion

Steven Wilson – Regret #9

Steven Wilson – Pariah

Steven Wilson – The Raven That Refused To Sing

Blackfield – Cloudy Now

Porcupine Tree – Fear Of A Blank Planet

 

 

Proving that prog isn't just for dinosaurs!
I’m delighted to announce that the podcast for edition 217 of Live From Progzilla Towers is now available.

In this edition we heard the following music:

  1. Kaipa – Children Of The Sounds
  2. Transpanda – Ew, It’s Everywhere
  3. Multi Story – Ahead Of Your Time
  4. Hadal Sherpa – Heracleion
  5. Icon – Elstree
  6. Fish – Fearless
  7. I Am The Manic Whale – The Milgram Experiment
  8. The Icicle Works – Love Is A Wonderful Colour (12″ Mix)
  9. Koyo – Jouska
  10. Twelfth Night – Last Song
  11. Kate Bush – Experiment IV (12″ Mix)
  12. Colin Tench Project – See How She Runs
  13. Penguin Cafe Orchestra – Perpetuum Mobile
  14. Liquid Tension Experiment – Acid Rain
  15. Björk – The Gate
  16. Vessels – Mobilise
  17. Soup – Sleepers
  18. Millenium – Are We Lost?
  19. Gentle Giant – Giant (Steven Wilson Mix)
  20. Kevin Gilbert – Goodness Gracious (Acoustic)

iTunes/iPod users*: Just search for ‘Progzilla’ or subscribe to: http://podcasts.progzilla.com/cliff/podcast.xml

Enjoy!

This news story was originally published here: http://www.prog-sphere.com/specials/orissa-blue-communion-exclusive-premiere/
Progressive / Cinematic Rock Project, ORISSA, Drops New Track From Upcoming Album

Progressive/cinematic rock project, Orissa, has teamed up with Prog Sphere for an exclusive premiere of their new song “Blue Communion,” taken from the upcoming album Resurrection, due out November 3, 2017. Hear it below.

Singer and multi-instrumentalist David Dodini commented:

‘Blue Communion’ is the culmination of the musical and lyrical themes presented throughout the album. It is much more than a summation – it arrives at then keeps pushing ever deeper in an exploration of an eternal, profoundly personal connection with the divine. I know from blood to balls to bones that there are some souls with whom ours is deeply connected through eternity. At one of the climactic moments in this song, I found in the song’s musical fires, the poetry to express this:

‘Lifetimes in search of that feeling.

Enough to stand alone, but made whole joined with you.

Winding all paths to the spirit, the soul I once met now held by flesh formed as you.

Our bond cannot be broken, or severed by our walls.

Across the ocean, across all time

We follow heaven’s call.’

Mixed by Sahaj Ticotin (RA, Meytal Cohen, Adekain, September Mourning) and mastered by Paul Logus (Stone Sour, Steel Panther, Shadows Fall) the LP showcases “progressive metal that demonstrates remarkable mastery.” (Codifiers)

Dodini, graduated with honors from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and completed his masters at the Biella Conservatory’s Scuola Niccolo Paganini in Biella, Italy. Orissa‘s live band is a roster of NYC’s finest musicians from Trans Siberian Orchestra, Neal Morse Band, Stratospheerius, Book Of Mormon, Dyed In Grey, Haakons Fault, Emergence and Astronaut Down.

About Orissa:

Orissa was created in 2010 by Dodini, a virtuoso singer, guitarist and bassist, who writes, arranges and performs all the parts on Orissa’s records. Born out the of desire to explore inner creative space and create a distinctive, cathartic, deeply personal and therapeutic art, Dodini abandoned the strictly classical background and delved into his own songwriting, fusing his classical training with his love for jazz, Balkan and other ancient rhythmic traditions; these styles translated into Dodini’s immersion into metal and progressive music, as the genres carry numerous parallels. Orissa released its debut EP Omens in 2012 on which Dodini played all the instruments and was backed by Dan Walsh (drums). Omens was mixed by Stacey O’Dell (Killcode, Panzie, Awaken), and mastered by Chris Muth of Taloowa. Orissa launched two additional singles in 2013 as The Musical Offering. They were mixed and mastered by Patrick Derivaz (Jon Scofield, Jeff Buckley, Meshell Ndegeocello), and released to support a Kickstarter Campaign. In turn, the Kickstarter raised over $20K to fund the upcoming album, Resurrection, which features Dodini’s vocal and instrumental arrangements and performances as well as drummer Jason Gianni (Trans Siberian Orchestra, Neal Morse, Book Of Mormon). In 2016, Orissa brought the music from the studio to the stage when Dodini attracted the best musicians from NYC’s progressive, metal and rock communities.

Stay tuned for more announcements from Orissa, material from the new album and regional tour dates in anticipation of Resurrection. Soundcrave Magazine declares, “this is more than just metal. I hope the world is ready for this.

This news story was originally published here: http://www.prog-sphere.com/specials/orisa-blue-communion-exclusive-premiere/
Progressive / Cinematic Rock Project, ORISSA, Drops New Track From Upcoming Album

Progressive/cinematic rock project, Orissa, has teamed up with Prog Sphere for an exclusive premiere of their new song “Blue Communion,” taken from the upcoming album Resurrection, due out November 3, 2017. Hear it below.

Singer and multi-instrumentalist David Dodini commented:

‘Blue Communion’ is the culmination of the musical and lyrical themes presented throughout the album. It is much more than a summation – it arrives at then keeps pushing ever deeper in an exploration of an eternal, profoundly personal connection with the divine. I know from blood to balls to bones that there are some souls with whom ours is deeply connected through eternity. At one of the climactic moments in this song, I found in the song’s musical fires, the poetry to express this:

‘Lifetimes in search of that feeling.

Enough to stand alone, but made whole joined with you.

Winding all paths to the spirit, the soul I once met now held by flesh formed as you.

Our bond cannot be broken, or severed by our walls.

Across the ocean, across all time

We follow heaven’s call.’

Mixed by Sahaj Ticotin (RA, Meytal Cohen, Adekain, September Mourning) and mastered by Paul Logus (Stone Sour, Steel Panther, Shadows Fall) the LP showcases “progressive metal that demonstrates remarkable mastery.” (Codifiers)

Dodini, graduated with honors from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and completed his masters at the Biella Conservatory’s Scuola Niccolo Paganini in Biella, Italy. Orissa‘s live band is a roster of NYC’s finest musicians from Trans Siberian Orchestra, Neal Morse Band, Stratospheerius, Book Of Mormon, Dyed In Grey, Haakons Fault, Emergence and Astronaut Down.

About Orissa:

Orissa was created in 2010 by Dodini, a virtuoso singer, guitarist and bassist, who writes, arranges and performs all the parts on Orissa’s records. Born out the of desire to explore inner creative space and create a distinctive, cathartic, deeply personal and therapeutic art, Dodini abandoned the strictly classical background and delved into his own songwriting, fusing his classical training with his love for jazz, Balkan and other ancient rhythmic traditions; these styles translated into Dodini’s immersion into metal and progressive music, as the genres carry numerous parallels. Orissa released its debut EP Omens in 2012 on which Dodini played all the instruments and was backed by Dan Walsh (drums). Omens was mixed by Stacey O’Dell (Killcode, Panzie, Awaken), and mastered by Chris Muth of Taloowa. Orissa launched two additional singles in 2013 as The Musical Offering. They were mixed and mastered by Patrick Derivaz (Jon Scofield, Jeff Buckley, Meshell Ndegeocello), and released to support a Kickstarter Campaign. In turn, the Kickstarter raised over $20K to fund the upcoming album, Resurrection, which features Dodini’s vocal and instrumental arrangements and performances as well as drummer Jason Gianni (Trans Siberian Orchestra, Neal Morse, Book Of Mormon). In 2016, Orissa brought the music from the studio to the stage when Dodini attracted the best musicians from NYC’s progressive, metal and rock communities.

Stay tuned for more announcements from Orissa, material from the new album and regional tour dates in anticipation of Resurrection. Soundcrave Magazine declares, “this is more than just metal. I hope the world is ready for this.

This news story was originally published here: http://www.prog-sphere.com/specials/portnoy-akerfeldt-collaboration/
PORTNOY on Collaboration with AKERFELDT: "We're Just Waiting for the Right Moment"

Mike Portnoy once again shared an invitation to Opeth‘s Mikael Akerfeldt to work on a project together, telling Prog Magazine:

I love Mikael dearly. He and I are kindred spirits.

First of all, I love the music he makes. You won’t get a bigger Opeth fan than me. I love everything they’ve done, from the most brutal music to the most prog epics. You put it together and you get ‘bru-tiful music.’ As a fan, it moves me so much.

But as a friend and as a person, we’re both music enthusiasts and historians and record collectors. We get together and we can just talk music and rock ‘n’ roll trivia and history together – I love and respect and admire him so much.

He is the one person that I have yet to work with.

We’ve toured together, and I’ve taken Opeth out when I was in Dream Theater, and he and I constantly flirt with the idea of doing something together.

We’ve been talking about it for 10 or 15 years now. We’re just waiting for the right moment, for the right vehicle.

It’s the one collaboration that’s still eluded me and I’m still patiently waiting for. I would do it tomorrow – Mike knows that.

I think he’s a bit more hesitant. I’m obviously very good juggling 87 bands. I think he’s a little more, ‘Can I do this? Is the time right? What will it be?’

I keep trying to nudge him: ‘Mike, dude, whatever it is it’ll be great – let’s just fucking get in a room and play together!’

Back in May, Mikael was asked on The Metal Teddy Bear Experience about Mike‘s strong desire to collaborate, to which he replied:

It’s mostly him. I’d say he’s a bit of a workaholic.

He’s a friend of mine now. He’s a cool guy, a great drummer, I’d love to do something with him.

Initially, when he brought it up, he wanted to do something really heavy, and I’ve been doing that for a really long time. I was like, ‘It’s not really interesting for me. I want to do something else.’

So it all depends. We talked about collaborating on the record for the project I had with Steven Wilson called Storm Corrosion, but we ended up with no drums. We didn’t need a lot of drums for those songs.

You never know. It’s one of those things that every time we meet or every time we’re on e-mail, we talk about it a little. It hasn’t materialized, we don’t have any ideas on what that should be.

Generally, I’m that type of musician that tries to put everything I want to into Opeth, so I don’t really need side projects, if you know what I mean.

Him, he’s with – of course he was with Dream Theater before – he has Transatlantic, The Winery Dogs, he was with, what they called it… Adrenaline Mob – lots of different bands, lots of different styles.

But we try to bring everything into Opeth, which leaves me quite content in that sense. I don’t have too much that I can’t explore within the band.