Crossing Rubicon | No Less Than Everything | Album Review March 2017

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Crossing Rubicon | No Less Than Everything | Album Review March 2017

Label: Pavement Entertainment
Release Year: 2015
Country: USA
Genre: Progressive/Power Metal

 

Band Members

Scotty Anarchy – Lead Vocals
Brandi Hood – Drums/Vocals
Jeanne Sagan -Bass/Vocals
Zach Lambert – Guitar/Vocals
Jesse Near – Guitar

 

Contact Links 

Crossing Rubicon Official Website

Crossing Rubicon Official Facebook Page

Crossing Rubicon Official Twitter

Crossing Rubicon Official YouTube Channel

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I can remember a time in the early to middle 1980’s where some very quality heavy metal bands were coming out of the New England area of the United States. Much of the bands were coming from Connecticut area. My first introduction to bands out of this area was Liege Lord in 1983. Soon after that I would discover Steel Prophet and Obsession. But in 1984 it was legendary progressive metal Fates Warning that would really put the Connecticut/New England metal scene on the global map. These bands would all share into some success throughout the rest of the 1980’s until the Seattle bands in the Pacific Northwest would alter the musical landscape for a few years to come.

While record labels and promoters were having their honeymoon with plaid clad lumberjack Grunge whores, heavy metal would suffer for a while and music that once sold out arena’s was reduced back to the nightclub scenes it seemed to of come out of just a decade before. However as many know heavy metal is extremely resilient and has proven so in its almost 50 year history. It is so resilient in fact that those bands I mentioned would recruit another generation of bands. Crossing Rubicon would be one of those bands. Here is a brief biography from their official Crossing Rubicon Facebook Page.

Crossing Rubicon began as a two-man project involving Scotty Anarchy and Pete Ahern (Red China Blue). The band enlisted our current drummer Brandi Hood shortly thereafter. Zach Lambert came on board and the group’s second guitarist. Brandi’s long-time rhythmic accomplice Jeff Diablo joined in the spring of 2010 as the groups bassist to round out the lineup. Pete stepped away from the band in the summer of 2010. Rob Dolan (ex-Dirty Blonde, ex-Hot Mess) joined to fill the lead role through four very successful shows including opening slots for In This Moment, Nonpoint, Pop Evil, and Rev Theory. In March 2011, the groups current guitarist Matt Douglas took over as the group’s permanent lead guitarist.
Success continued as the band landed opening slots for Motley Crue, Bret Michaels, and Tantric. Bassist Jeff Miles stepped away from the band in late 2013 to be replaced by the groups current bassist, Steven Riccio. Crossing Rubicon’s music is often described as a throwback to metal of the 80’s and early 90’s, as band such as Queensryche, Alice In Chains, Metallica, Judas Priest, and Iron Maiden, while having a modern rock sound.

It would be that very sound that the band would employ to forge their debut album No Less Than Everything. The band not only applies vintage heavy metal forged from the golden lineage of heavy metal but also advance the evolution of power progressive metal with very modern and relevant elements. Their music is written in such a way that it is ‘Generation Transcending’ as to not be pigeonholed to any particular generational or age demographic. They certainly have a keen and intricate sense of allow all the hallmarks of pure and true heavy metal to come through everything they write and record. Now I will proceed to do a track by track analysis and point out some highlights from every track on Crossing Rubicon’s No Less Than Everything.

 

Tomorrow Never Comes is a straight away guitar charged frenzy. This frenzy is backed by a very quick and precise charging rhythm section. The vocals are a hybrid of Michael Kiske meets Jon Oliva. There is almost a slight thrash metal aesthetic throughout this track. The backing vocals have some attitude behind them as well. The guitar solo’s are well balanced.

Unhinged opens up with a more tuned rhythmic section both with the bass/drum and rhythm guitar. It is a bit more distorted than the previous track however the intro serves a purpose to set up the first verse and bridge narrative. The female backing vocals add some depth to this track as well. This track just continues to build layer upon layers on heavy rhythm sections within the chord progressions.

Never Again begins with a blistering rhythmic section based around the drums. From there it is a total blister fest between chord progressions and time signatures forming some brutal passages. The heavy blast beats of the bass drums really ground and anchor this track. The guitar solo really stands out as a shred fest among this heavily rhythm based track.

The Fallen begins as a semi atmospheric ballad with a isolated guitar bass and vocal before taking off into a blistering frenzy. This track goes from more of a ballad into a anthem style track. The vocals are very warm and really play off the backbone of the rhythm section. The guitar chord progressions are a bit warmer in this song as well. The lead portion of the guitar goes into a multiple solo style progression telling almost a instrumental story narrative. The backing vocals are very spot on as well. This track ends almost like a Savatage style track.

Bittersweet Day opens up with a very groove laden rhythm section with some really intricate rhythm guitar work in perfect harmony with the bass/drum rhythm section. This track is a very gritty yet fluid track allowing the vocals to come through very crystal clear allowing the track to both breathe and tell the story of the song. The guitar solo’s remind me a lot of a Kai Hansen (Helloween era) meets Savatage’s Cris Oliva. This is one of those songs that can hold its own in any decade over the last 30 years.

Cut Deep reminds me of one of those old school hard rock tracks that may of surfaced in the late 1980’s early 1990’s. There is a certain Alice In Chains influence happening in this track with the multiple vocal harmonies. This takes nothing away from the beautiful quality of the track. I hear some KingsX and even Galactic Cowboy odd metal influence in this one. The vocals harmonies are the true highlight on Cut Deep.

Whos Gonna Save You opens up with a serious blistering rhythm section. This is beautifully followed up with some nasty yet brutal lead vocals with some blistering and brooding backing vocal harmonies. The lyrical content is spot on in harmony with the instrumental throughout the entire track. The writing was deliberately brutal on this song. Even the rhythm section and guitars are brutal with some serious teeth behind them. This is just one serious beast of a track.

Violet Carson opens up with a vocal chant like there may be a occult thing going on here. The vocal chants are layered with beautiful harmony. Soon the track takes a very dark and brutal brooding chord progression. This song really reminds me of a Mercyful Fate meets Narnia vibe in a very odd yet tasteful way. The rhythm section throughout goes in and out between a progressive and power metal time signature. Once again the guitar solos are very spot on in time and register. There is a very wicked and beautiful spoken word section in the middle of the track to help enhance the narrative of the story. The vocal chants harmonies are the true anchor on this one.

Reason To Beg opens up with a very traditional heavy metal chord progression. The rhythm section reminds me a lot of gritty sleaze rock in the vein of Dirty Looks meets Ugly Kid Joe with slight progressive power metal elements. The lyrical content is rather brutal as well.

Do We Not Bleed is one of those tracks that could of been very radio friendly in the 1980’s or early 1990’s. It is a very well written straight away heavy metal track that carries all the hallmarks of verse/bridge/chorus with a well executed guitar solo within it that is carry by a strong bass/drum rhythm section. This is a song that could also be easily adapted to video form.

Im Here is a straight up guitar and vocal oriented track. With that said it is greatly anchored by a killer rhythm section with some serious emotion within the lyrical construct. It is a very fast up tempo track that will appeal to both metal purists and progressive metal purists. The chord progressions within the guitar solos are very heavily progressive influenced along with the vocal harmonies. The vocals really hit some high points on the register.

Return To Atlantis opens up with a very unusual but welcomed ocean crashing on the shore effect. Then the track takes on a very pure progressive metal chord progression allowing the rhythm section and lyrical story to breathe while the listener digests what they are listening to. This track is really focused on the harmony between vocals and instrumental portions developing a special emotion for the audience to really absorb this. The guitar solos are arranged and executed to the point as to not take away from the obvious story narrative the band is trying to convey to their target audience.

Crossing Rubicon are definitely one of those bands that really take a little bit of influence from all eras of heavy metal and hard rock and balance them with ease. They also blend all these various forms of metal and hard rock without it sounding stale or dated. They definitely have created a sound that will not pigeonhole them into where they can play and who they can share a live bill with. It is also noted that No Less Than Everything is a ‘debut’ album. If this is a debut album I can not wait for what they will do next. They definitely have the talent and ability to created various levels to heavy metal and hard rock. For a well thought of and well written ‘debut’ I give this a 4.5/5 for the insightful effort.

 

 

 

Knight Area | Heaven And Beyond | Album Review March 2017

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Knight Area | Heaven And Beyond | March 2017

Label: Butler Records
Release Year: 2017
Country: The Netherlands
Genre: Neo Progressive Rock/Metal

Band Members

Gerben Klazinga – Keyboards
Mark Smit – Vocals
Pieter van Hoorn – Drums
Peter Vink – Bass
Mark Bogert – Guitars

 

Contact Links 

Knight Area Official Website

Knight Area Official Facebook Page

Knight Area Official Twitter

Knight Area Official YouTube Channel

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My gateway into neo progressive rock music was Marillion’s Misplaced Childhood in 1985. It was a bit difficult for me due to the fact I was a solid metal purist at the time. However the music never left me and the seed was sown towards future neo progressive music in the future. Throughout the years neo progressive music and bands would come across my path. By 1999 I had discovered California neo progressive rocker’s Enchant when I bought A Blueprint Of The World – 1993 and Wounded – 1996. From that point all my defenses concerning neo progressive rock and metal had been totally removed.

Soon after I had discovered bands such as IQ, Pendragon, Spock’s Beard, Jadis, Pallas and Arena to name a few. These bands all have a common thread that easily allows the neo progressive title to be bestowed upon them. This common thread is experimental symphonic prog. It requires particular programming of synth’s along with guitars and rely more on a heavy lush stringed section. It is a very rare occasion when the neo progressive element meets a heavier almost metal element. It also takes a very talented and exceptional band to be able to blend these elements just right. Fortunately Dutch band Knight Area has been able to manage just that. Their 2017 release Heaven And Beyond displays this at work.

On Knight Area’s Heaven And Beyond there is a sonic buffet of various styles in play. Various styles not only include the obvious neo progressive staple but also go on to include hard rock, heavy metal and even AOR at certain points. This album is easily accessible to those various audio pallets. My appeal to Knight Area really took off after Peter Vinnk – Bass (Star One and Ayreon) alumni joined the band. I had always been a fan of his intricate and expansive bass work. This work is magnified on Knight Area’s Heaven And Beyond. Now I would like to explore some highlights of Knight Area’s Heaven And Beyond track by track.

 

Unbroken opens up with the keyboard transcribing a horned section almost from the 16 th century. Soon it goes into a pure progressive hard rock slightly metal chord progression with a great isolated guitar solo. The track fades down and soon come out of left field with a really gritty and crunchy rhythm based guitar signature. That is followed by a thunderous another thunderous rhythmic section between the bass, drum and rhythm portion on the guitar. Mark Smit – Vocals then comes in with some powerful, clear and angelic style vocals to carry the atmosphere of the track. This is a very guitar driven track from top to bottom with various breaks and time signatures.

Tree Of Life opens with a beautiful piano passage before being met with a straight away progressive hard rock passage. The rhythmic section really sets the table on this track quite nice. The guitar almost sounds like a 7 string guitar at times allowing more depth within the track. The vocal work is just as much a instrument as it is a narrative piece within the composition. The guitar solo’s really allow for a heavier listening experience. This is easily one of the tracks that can open up a live set list delivering depth to their intended audience. The Hammond Organ style towards the end gives the track a vintage progressive rock presence.

Memories starts out with a lush piano ballad with a deep warmth within the vocals. Although it is very progressive it displays some light AOR elements. The track soon takes off like a hard rock power ballad however without sounding cheesy. The guitars really lend a lot of atmospheric depth and layers to the stringed section. The vocals harmonies are spot on with the instrumental portions to the composition. They are almost like a mini choir in nature. This is definitely one of the more guitar driven tracks on the album.

Dreamworld begins with a beautiful piano intro before taking on a very heavily symphonic rooted chord progression. It is as if the band are taking a symphony orchestra mindset and transcribing it to the available instruments at their disposal. This track as big thunderous rhythm sections matched wonderfully with big stringed sections. The vocals really blend all the sum of the parts of this track beautifully. The band really start to form a very distinct sound on Dreamworld.

The Reaper opens up with a very dark brooding bass passage with some seriously warm yet dark vocals along with a open atmosphere on the keyboards. The vocals are arranged with such thought and care in their isolation. This track takes on a very some very misty eerie instrumental elements allowing the isolated vocals to get a beautiful to be told in its fullness. In its gloomy atmosphere the track still allows a little light in to breathe.

Box Of Toys opens with a powerful guitar solo from the top. Soon it goes into a break with a great rhythm section to allow the vocal to breathe and tell the story. This track reminds me a lot of early GTR or Asia compositions. There is a great violin in this as well. The harmonies are very Yes in nature.

Starlight blasts open into a progressive frenzy with the rhythm section. This is a very straight away progressive hard rock track with intelligent vocal harmonies playing in perfect range with the stringed section of keys and lead guitar. Starlight borders on the fringe of a progressive metal track at times throughout the track.

Heaven And Beyond opens up with a beautiful harmony between the piano, guitar and vocal. This combination allows the listener to settle in the track. The opening is almost ballad like before the drums come in and turn it into more of a power ballad. This is definitely one of those songs I see their fan base singing back to them during live performances on tour. Its very nature is unifying. The guitar solo’s are a complete treat on this one as well. There are some really tight beautiful vocal harmonies towards the end.

Saviour Of Sinners opens up with a straight away prog metal delight with some neo progressive elements sprinkled in. The band really has a great talent in mixing the vocals to be isolated within the instrumental where they can be clearly heard and the story told. The rhythm section is spot on leading both the vocal harmony and the stringed section serving as a anchor for the entire track. Time signatures are definitely present all over this song.

Eternal Light the ethereal opening guitar solo on this track matches the title quite perfectly. It appears this was recorded live as is in studio along with a beautiful and perfectly complimentary keyboard in tandem harmony. The emotion in this track will take the listener for a emotional ride. It is the only instrumental on Heaven And Beyond.

Twins of Sins opens up in a almost unconventional classic rock format. It opens up much like 1980’s progressive rock when bands like Asia, Yes , etc took on more AOR elements. However the further this goes the more the track takes on a more modern neo progressive metal track with catchy time signatures and complex chord progressions to match the intricate bass and vocals. This track also serves as a great uplifting track to close out the album.

To my surprise Knight Area’s Heaven And Beyond was a very unconventionally guitar oriented neo progressive album. Sometimes the term neo progressive means it is more keyboard based however this album was not that. Heaven And Beyond is going to surprise some people in the progressive rock and metal communities since there is a little bit of everything for the progressive pallet. I would not be surprised to find this album in the Top 5 or even #1 of the Album Of 2017 lists when they come out at the end of the year. This is a very good album and gets a 5/5 for the variety of many progressive elements.

Jethro Tull | Thick As A Brick A 45th Anniversary Retrospective

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Jethro Tull | Thick As A Brick
A 45th Anniversary Retrospective

 

Original Label : Chrysalis (Europe) Reprise (North America)
Release Year : 1972
Country : United Kingdom
Genre : Progressive Rock

 

Original 1972
Band Members
Ian Anderson – Lead Vocals/Acoustic Guitar/Fute/Volin/Tumpet/Sxophone/Cover Art Producer
Martin Barre – Electric Guitar/Lute
John Evan – Organ/Piano/Harpsichord/Cover Art
Jeffrey Hammond (as “Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond”) – Bass Guitar/Spoken Words/Cover art
Barriemore Barlow – Drums/Percussion/Timpani

Additional Guest Musicians

David Palmer – Orchestral Arrangements
Terry Ellis – Executive Producer
Robin Black – Engineer

 

Contact Links 

Jethro Tull Official Website

Jethro Tull Official Facebook Page

Jethro Tull Official Twitter

Jethro Tull Official YouTube Channel

 

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Conceptual Blueprints #1

Throughout the history of progressive rock, the progressive rock epic has become a staple in the historical record of progressive rock. What do I mean by progressive rock epic. It is simple, a song that is 15+ minutes in length that transcends the original album they appeared on. In the progressive rock community in 1972, we witnessed a year of epics. Various epics that saw that light of day in 1972 are in no particular order, Yes’ Close To The Edge – 18:43 , Genesis’ Suppers Ready – 22:57 , Frank Zappa’s Waka Jawaka – 36:08 , Ash Ra Temple’s Schiwingungen – 38:04 and all four tracks that would make up Tangerine Dream’s Zeit, Birth of Liquid Plejades – 19:54, Nebulous Dawn – 17:56 , Origin of Supernatural Probabilities – 19:34 , Zeit – 16:58, etc …..

A little more history, due to the absolute time constrictions of the vinyl records of the day many of these classics came in 2 to 3 even more disc packages. The was a 22:05 restriction on each side of the vinyl records. It would only be later on Cassette and CD formats that we could really enjoy the progressive rock epic the way is was meant to be heard. Jethro Tull’s Thick As A Brick in reality was a 43:48 song that had to be divided into two sides due to industry restrictions. Side A was 22:39 and Side B was 21:09. I imagine if CD and Digital technology existed in 1972, the history of progressive rock and metal would be a whole different story.

Ian Anderson did Thick As A Brick as partial satire to where the progressive rock community started to go with longer more detailed compositions. In a interview with with PROG Magazine, Ian Anderson explained that Thick As A Brick was the basically the Monty Python to the progressive rock concept album of the day.

“Monty Python lampooned the British way of life,” says Anderson. “Yet did it in such a way that made us all laugh while celebrating it. To me, that’s what we as a band did on Thick As A Brick. We were spoofing the idea of the concept album, but in a fun way that didn’t totally mock it.”
Ian Anderson would go on in same interview and say that progressive rock had become all entirely ‘too serious’ feeling ‘too self important’

 

“When progressive rock started out, it was all about bands such as ourselves moving beyond merely being influenced by American blues. We stopped trying to be the next Fleetwood Mac or Chicken Shack – in other words, derivative of Elmore James – and began to take on board so many diverse musical ideas. It was exciting and dynamic. But, by the time the 1970s had begun, bands like ELP were a little up their own arses. Everything was too serious and overblown. So, we set out with Thick As A Brick to show up this side of the genre.”

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Despite Ian Anderson’s reservations on portions of the industry at the time, Jethro Tull’s Thick As A Brick would go on to become both a legendary album and a album that now has its own ‘cult like’ following. It is due to those factors alone that I decided to present this 45th Anniversary Retrospective. The above mentioned epics and Thick As A Brick would go on to also influence many many more artists in contemporary progressive rock and metal community.

Conceptual Blueprints # 2

The idea to make Thick As A Brick into a very deliberate concept came from Ian Anderson’s irritation over the general public pigeonholing Jethro Tull’s previous album Aqualung into a conceptual piece. On the contrary it just had a general theme running through over a multiple tracked album. Ian Anderson told Teamrock’s Prog Magazine about the situation in January 2016,

“Not angry, no,” explains the man nearly four decades on. “I was actually mildly irritated and wryly amused. However much I insisted that Aqualung wasn’t a concept album, the media still persisted in treating it as such. They seemed to believe the whole record was a major religious story. The truth was that three or four songs were linked by questioning the nature of religion. But the rest were stand-alone tracks. So, after this whole scenario, I thought, ‘OK, we’ll not only now do a real concept album, but we’re going to make it the mother of all concept albums!’.”

The general story centers around autobiographical events through Gerald Bostock, Ian Anderson’s alternate ego and fictional character he created for Thick As A Brick. As Gerald Bostock, Ian Anderson questions the state of organized religion of the time. Here is what I see going on within this line of stiff scrutiny towards organized religion as it relates to Thick As A Brick.

A young man, full of vigour and not yet beaten down by the system, “sees” what’s wrong with society and can’t believe that the elders don’t see “it” also. I believe that Ian is this young man and that these ideas are illustrations of his opinions of what’s wrong with the world.
In Aqualung, the album just before TAAB, Ian attacks organized religion. He also examines the loveless, godless dregs of society.
In Chateau D’Isaster, the “lost” album just after TAAB, Ian attacks the Rat Race – the business people whom he charicatures as various types of animals. He also comments on Free Will vs. God-driven pre-destiny by likening Life to a stage upon which the sole actor (you, me, us) goes out onto without a script and has to improvise.
In TAAB and Roots to Branches, Ian examines how society and organized religion spread (by imprinting children before they become old enough to think for themselves).
In general, I feel that Ian believes in free will and in the humanitarian aspects of modern religions – we can determine our own actions and we are charged with the responsibility to act with compassion towards ourselves, other people, animals and nature. He believes that it is wrong to rely on a personified deity (“God”) – a god who will come riding in like the Great White Knight to “save” us from our own stupid actions. You can see this belief expressed throughout Aqualung, e.g. “He is the god of nothing, if that’s all that you can see, You are the god of everything, he’s inside you and me”.

Now I know there will be a bit of controversy with this. Some will agree or disagree with how God is looked at. That is not my intention to  persuade somebody’s faith or religious beliefs. I am merely being as generally objective as possible. Some of the views expressed about the issue and subject of God even conflict with my own beliefs however still, my main focus is the facts and this was how the issue of God was viewed by Gerald Bostock, a.k.a fictional character of Ian Anderson as it concerns Jethro Tull’s Thick As A Brick.

The Anatomy Of A Epic – A Breakdown Of Jethro Tull’s Thick As A Brick.
Thick As A Brick – Sides #1 & #2

 

This was the only song on the album. Side 1 was “part 1,” running 22:31, and side 2 was “part 2,” clocking in at 21:05. Each side was over 20 minutes long.

A radio edit, running just 3:01, was sent to radio stations and is the version used on most compilation albums. Speaking with us in 2013, Ian Anderson explained: “back in 1972, you had to be aware of what was then called AOR radio – it was a delicate beast. It could only in most cases manage to play music that was in bite size portions. So we had to think about giving the option to American radio playing little edited sections of ‘Thick As A Brick,’ so they didn’t have to delicately drop the needle into the middle of a long track or lift it off after the three and a half minutes. So we did that specially for American radio.

It was never released publicly in that form, but in limited editions which were sent out to radio stations in the US, which is the only place where the record got played, anyway. It never got played in the UK or anywhere in Europe, it was just not that kind of music.”
“Thick as a brick” is a phrase meaning stubbornly dumb, as one’s head is so thick that no new thoughts can enter it. The song starts with Ian Anderson expressing his low expectations for his target (“I may make you feel but I can’t make you think”) before singing about class structures, conformity, and the rigid moralistic beliefs of the establishment that perpetuates it.

The song follows a young boy who sees two career paths: soldier and artist. He chooses the life of a soldier, just like his father. We see him assimilate into the society he once rebelled against, becoming just like his dad.
With minimal meddling, the album took only two weeks to record, and was written in less than a month. The packaging was designed to look like a small-town newspaper called the St. Cleve Chronicle and Linwell Advertiser. When opened, the album revealed 12 pages of newspaper stories, making innovative use of the square foot of sleeve space with a fold-out so the Chronicle measured 12″x16″.

Under the headline “Thick As A Brick,” we learn that an 8-year-old boy genius named Gerald Bostock wrote the lyrics for a poetry competition, but was disqualified on moral grounds by the governing body, The Society for Literary Advancement and Gestation (SLAG). According to the story, Ian Anderson of the “Major Beat Group” Jethro Tull read the poem and wrote 45 minutes of “pop music” to accompany it.

The newspaper also contained ads, recipes, TV listings, a crossword puzzle, and a review of the album. Jethro Tull wasn’t the first to use the newspaper theme for album art: The Four Seasons 1969 album Genuine Imitation Life Gazette was made to look like a newspaper with lyrics to the songs appearing as stories. It even had a comics-section insert.
In 2012, Ian Anderson recorded a sequel called Thick As A Brick 2 – Whatever Happened To Gerald Bostock? The album presents various outcomes for the now 48-year-old Bostock, including banker, preacher, soldier, and shop owner. Anderson says the album examines how “our own lives develop, change direction and ultimately conclude through chance encounters and interventions, however tiny and insignificant they might seem at the time.”

 

Anderson had never performed the original Thick As A Brick in its entirety, but later in 2012, he began a tour where he played the entire album and its sequel.
This continued an experimental phase for Jethro Tull. Their previous album, Aqualung, was considered a “concept” album, with characters and themes continuing from one song to the next. This was considered “progressive” rock, with very obtuse lyrics and a great deal of production. This song seems to be a commentary on modern society and the human condition.
In 2001, this was used in a Hyundai commercial. Group leader Ian Anderson recorded a new version for the spot to avoid having other musicians butcher his song, as is often the case in commercials. He improvised an outro which he felt was the best part, but it was edited out. Anderson does not drive a Hyundai. He calls himself a “professional passenger.”
This appears in an episode of The Simpsons where Lisa goes to the “Boy’s School.”
In the digital age, an album containing just one song doesn’t fit the download model. When the 40th Anniversary Special Edition was released in 2012, Ian Anderson divided the album into 8 different pieces that could be sold individually on iTunes and Amazon as $1.29 songs with titles like “The Poet and the Painter” and “See There a Man Is Born/Clear White Circles.” “Some artists choose not to do that – famously Pink Floyd – and don’t want to have their music unbundled to offer it in song length pieces,” Anderson told us. “But I accept that that’s the musical appetite of most folks these days. They don’t really have the time or the concentration to listen to a whole album in one go. They want it in manageable pieces.”

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Need | Hegaiamas: A Song For Freedom | Album Review February 2017

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Need | Hegaiamas: A Song For Freedom

Label : Trailblazer Records (Greece/Europe), Laser’s Edge (USA)
Release Year: 2017
Country: Greece
Genre: Progressive Metal

Band Members

Jon V. – Vocals
Ravaya – Guitars
Anthony – Keyboards
Victor – Bass
Stelios – Drums

 

Contact Links 

NEED Official Website

NEED Official Facebook Page

NEED Official Bandcamp Store

NEED Official YouTube Channel

Lasers Edge Official Website

Lasers Edge Official Need – Hegaiamas: A Song For Freedom Profile

 

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Along the north central portion of the Mediterranean Sea, tucked in between the Ionian and Aegian Sea’s lies a country that has been called The Cradle Of Western Civilisation, this being Greece. This peninsula has served as some of the most significant events in the history of the world. It gave birth to democracy, set an example that even city states can come together under one country, one constitution and one currency.

Greece at one point was even the center of the worlds intelligence, scientists, artists, etc… When men like Plato, Aristotle, Arcimedes or Euclid would of ever known just how their lasting legacy’s would eventually make into modern music and its various genres and culture’s. In a global progressive metal community, Greece has been one of the main pillars and beacons within the community. Recent metal bands beginning there journey out of Greece are Wastefall – (2003-2008), Rotting Christ – (1987) Septicflesh – (1990), Dakyra – (2004). A few progressive/power metal acts that have risen out of Greece are Firewind, Seduce The Heaven, Sunburst, Groove Therapist and now NEED.

NEED are Greece’s answer to Dream Theater, Opeth, Fates Warning and O.S.I all rolled into one band. Founded in 2004 with Ravaya – Guitars leading the band, they released they released their first promo CD “avoidinme”. Soon after that the band would endure quite a few personnel changes and tour with bands such as Zenith – (Denmark), Candlemass, Jon Oliva’s Pain, Dead Soul Tribe, Threshold , etc .. NEED would go on to play at the 15th Anniversary of 2014’s Prog/Power USA in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. On that bill they would open in support of Jon Oliva’s Pain, Overkill, Pain Of Salvation, Leperous, etc .. The band would ultimately settle around its current line up and in 2016 release Hegaiamas : A Song For Freedom.

On Hegaiamas : A Song For Freedom , NEED display’s a clinic on the execution of time signatures, chord progressions and heavy progressive atmospheres. Throughout its seven songs, the band includes many elements and theories that are utilized within the progressive metal community. Some of the progressive trademarks ultimately coming together into the 21 + minute epic Hegaiamas. Without any further delay I am going to do a track to track analysis of NEED’s Hegaiamas: A Song For Freedom.

Rememory opens up with a beautiful female voice in the first verse of the song. It soon goes into a rhythmic section explosion before a beautiful vintage Hammond Organ gives the track further depth. The depth of the opening rhythmic section and riffs are met with great sophistication and ferocity. This track displays the band immediately getting both new progressive metal fans through a old school progressive rock mindset. There are various breaks in between the fierce rhythmic chord progressions. Those breaks allow for the track and composition to breathe so the listener can digest the product.

Alltribe bleeds seamlessly well off of Rememory, almost in a conceptual manner. It is a very guitar driven introduction to the track with multiple progressive riffs and chord progressions within the passages. The guitar takes on several dimensions between a lead guitar and rhythm guitar. The drum and bass really allow for the rhythm guitar to pop and be present. The vocals are wonderfully done on the backdrop of the rhythm section almost like a Vanden Plas meets later Fates Warning style. The keyboards treat the stringed section with class playing alongside the lead guitar portions.

Theraintherope begins with a heavy avant garde passage before taking off into a very blistering chord progression. When the chord progression takes off it does so in the vein of Opeth or Bewteen The Buried And Me with death style growls in harmony with the cleaner lead vocals. This is a more modern by utilizing both a death vocal growl and a cleaner vocal running in harmony to one another. This makes the band very relevant in today’s progressive metal community. The guitar and keyboards really serve this track with a futuristic vibe about the track. The futuristic effect also really serves the death growls up more as a instrument than a lyrical style vocal. The guitar solo’s build upon this and form a very lush atmosphere to the song.

Riverthane starts off with a thunderous thrash metal style of chord progression. It is very brutal in its very nature. Once again their are subtle death growls in the backdrop to help anchor the vocal as well as the instrumental half of the thunderous riffs and passages. There is also the same rhythm guitar parts and keyboard portions that were present in the song before Theraintherope. The clean vocals are really strong in this one and perfectly compliment both the instrumental stringed and instrument rhythm sections. Towards the middle there is almost a effect like people are in serious distress. Ravaya – Guitars, certainly channels his inner Jim Matheos of Fates Warning on this one. Towards the end the song comes off like Fates Warning’s Disconnected .

Tilikum starts off very melancholic sound on the piano with effects as if children are playing in the background. This is met in harmony with the lead vocal coming in very soon after that. The track then takes another thunderous turn down towards a very heavy handed rhythmic section between the bass/drum/guitar. This track shows that the band can also utilize backing vocals perfectly with lead with both clean and death growl vocals present. Towards the end the song comes off like Fates Warning’s Disconnected meets Opeth’s Blackwater Park meets Within Temptation’s Mother Earth.

I.O.T.A. is a very eloquent track. This is a spoken word track. It is as if the band are setting up a conceptual story with the final track Hemigaias. There is a beautiful melancholic piano passage present while this spoken word dialogue is happening. It is a dialogue between a woman and a man.

Hegaiamas is the epic of the album. This one clocks in at 21:52, a key signature to progressive rock or metal. This opens up with a short guitar solo with complex keyboard passages and vocal harmonies. It soon takes off with several time signatures and chord progressions building up to a climatic standard that progressive music is notorious for. There are some nice and very appropriate breaks for the vocals to come in with various chord progressions between the stringed and rhythm sections. The track really takes on some blistering time signatures at the 4:00 mark leading the track into a adventure for the listener. The keyboards sound much like Derek Sherinian meets Jordan Rudess in many ways. This track remains very busy as to not allowing for the listener to ever get bored with it.The guitar brings various dimensions to this giving the listener the audio appearance of various songs rolled into one. There are some really great harmonies building on top of multiple time signatures throughout the song.

Need Hegaiamas: A Song For Freedom is one more example of the natural evolution of progressive rock and metal. This band may carry many influences however they create the own original sound with those influences. You can tell that there is a full band democracy working within the creative process. Like a fine wine they open up every song for the listener and allow it to breathe so the listener can appreciate the music at its maximum capacity. I give Need Hegaiamas: A Song For Freedom a 5/5.

 

Women In Rock # 2 | Amanda Hammers | Sunshine and Bullets

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Women In Rock Series # 2
Amanda Hammers
Bass/Vocals | Sunshine & Bullets

There is a lot of very talented women in today’s musical atmosphere. However in a era that is so overly bombarded by how a woman comes off in her physical appearance it can become very monotonous into overkill where true talent can not be appreciated at its true value. In this 14 part Women in Rock Series here at Power of Prog, I have chosen to spotlight women who prove that music is far more than ‘Eyecandy’. In music there is substance and grace. That is where Amanda Hammers, bass player/vocalist of Florida’s very own Sunshine & Bullets fits the bill.

Lyrically Sunshine & Bullets are as introspective as The Cranberries meets Grace Potter. Melodically the band is this side of the heavier more hard rock version of Portishead meets Paramore. There music is partially science fiction from there debut Triangulum Mechanism to very heavy social commentary on their latest EP release Centauri Conspiracies Part 1 both available on Melodic Revolution Records. I recently caught up with Amanda Hammers for a interview. The following below is the interview. ‘SORRY’ guys Amanda is spoken for !

 POP – Hello Amanda thank you for joining us today?

AH – It’s a pleasure to be here!

POP – What was the very thing that started your musical journey and how long have you been on this journey?

AH – It all started in 2nd grade. I had an inspiring music teacher, Mr. Carter. Without him, I wouldn’t be joining you today.

POP –  What kind of musical background do you come from? What did your parents have as music in the home during your upbringing ?

AH – My mom loves to listen to music to dance to, and my dad is more of a rock guy. I like both, but when I got older I kept “borrowing” CDs from my dad’s collection. Aerosmith’s Toys in the Attic was my gateway drug.

POP – What band , artist or genre allowed you to fork off into heavier rock music?

AH – Although Aerosmith was good, I needed music of my own, so I developed an addiction to Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson.

POP – Probably a question most asked, how did you find your way into the creation of Sunshine & Bullets?

AH – I had been in bands with both Rich and Kyle before, knew they were both ridiculously talented and fun to hang out with, so all I had to do was introduce the guys, get all 3 of us in a room together with some instruments, and the musical chemistry just sparked!

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POP – For the fellow musicians out there, describe your musical gear you use in both studio and live in concert?

AH – Live, I use a couple of Dean Pro Edge 5 basses. The red one is standard tuning, just dropped half a step on all the strings, but the black one is drop tuned further, depending on which song I need it for. My Darkglass B7K Ultra is my lifeblood pedal! The character on that thing is beautifully dirty but still clear and low. I also use an EHX Micropog for that 12-string bass feel. I love the new D’Adarrio NYXL bass strings, and my current head of choice is a Hartke LH1000 with a Hydrive 8×10. If it’s good enough for Wooten, it’s more than enough for me!

I use basically the same things in the studio, but I’m not afraid to experiment with different things to get different sounds and tones if the song calls for it.

POP – Is there any current band or artist whom you would like to guest on their project and why?

AH – I’d love to work with someone like Eminem. He’s got this energy about him that is manic crazy yet bare bones honest.

POP – What are your goals going forward both with Sunshine & Bullets and solo?

AH – We’re continuing to write new material, release a new album, make more videos, all that good stuff. Rich and I are starting to make our wedding plans, but no date yet. As for goals, I like to keep it open-ended and simple: Have fun, and hopefully inspire others to do what they love!

 

Video Courtesy of :Sunshine & Bullets Official YouTube Channel )

Contact Links

Sunshine & Bullets Official Website

Sunshine & Bullets Official Facebook Page

Sunshine & Bullets Official YouTube Channel

 

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