Top 10 Albums Of 2017 | Melodic Rock/Metal/AOR
Here is my list of Top 10 Melodic Rock/Metal/AOR Albums of 2017. This list does not reflect the other members of Power Of Prog or its followers. Hopefully you will discover that quality rock still exists. This is a first in a three part series of Top 10 of 2017 lists. The other two lists will be Progressive Rock and Progressive Metal.
1. Coldspell – A New World Arise
Label – Escape-music ltd. UK
Niclas Swedentorp – Lead Vocals
Michael Larsson – Guitars
Chris Goldsmith – Bass
Perra Johansson – Drums
Matti Eklund – Additional Keyboards
Coldspell Official Website
Coldspell Official Facebook Page
2. The Night Flight Orchestra – Amber Galactic
Label – Nuclear Blast Records
Björn Strid –Vocals
Sharlee D’ Angelo – Bass
David Andersson – Guitar
Richard Larsson – Keyboards
Jonas Källsbäck – Drums
The Night Flight Orchestra On Nuclear Blast Records
The Night Flight Orchestra Official Facebook Page
3. Black Country Communion – BCCIV
Label – Mascot Records
Glenn Hughes – Bass & Vocals
Joe Bonamassa – Guitar & Vocals
Jason Bonham – Drums
Derek Sherinian – Keyboards
Black Country Communion Official Website
Black Country Communion Official Facebook Page
4. Pink Cream 69 – Headstrong
Label – Frontiers Records srl
Pink Cream69 Official Website
Pink Cream69 Official Facebook Page
5. Kryptonite – Kryptonite
Label – Frontiers Records srl
Jakob Samuel – Vocals
Pontus Egberg – Bass
Robban Back – Drums
Mike Palace – Guitar
Kryptonite On Frontiers Records srl
Kryptonite Official Facebook Page
6. Martina Edoff – We Will Align
Label – MRM Production AB
Martina Edoff – Vocals
Martina Edoff Official Website
Martina Edoff Official Facebook Page
7. Eclipse – Momentum
Label – Frontiers Records srl
Erik Mårtensson – Guitars/Vocals
Magnus Henriksson – Lead Guitars
Magnus Ulfstedt – Bass
Philip Crusner – Drums
Eclipse Official Website
Eclipse Official Facebook Page
8. House Of Lords – Saint Of The Lost Souls
Label – Frontiers Records srl
James Christian – Lead Vocals/Guitar/Keyboards
Jimi Bell – Lead Guitar/Backing Vocals
B.J. Zampa – Drums/Backing Vocals
Chris Tristram – Bass/Backing Vocals
House Of Lords Official Website
House Of Lords Official Facebook Page
9. Harem Scarem – United
Label – Frontiers Records srl
Harry Hess – Vocals/Guitars/Keyboards
Pete Lesperance – Vocals/Guitars
Stan Mscez – Drmus/Vocals
Darren Smith – Bass/Vocals
Harem Scarem Official Website
Harem Scarem Official Facebook Page
10. Honeymoon Suite – Hands Up
Label – Frontiers Records srl
Johnnie Dee- Vocals
Derry Grehan – Guitars
Gary Lalonde – Bass
Dave Betts – Drums
Peter Nunn – Keyboards
Honeymoon Suite Official Website
Honeymoon Suite Official Facebook Page
Anger as English Pub Bans Female-Fronted Bands
Doctor Brown’s Pub in Middlesbrough bans female-fronted bands from playing, claiming their customers don’t believe women can sing rock songs
A pub in England has banned female-fronted bands from playing, claiming their customers don’t think women should sing rock songs.
The decision by live venue Doctor Brown’s in Middlesbrough has sparked anger, but manager Paula Rees has defended the choice, saying it’s a business matter – and that her regular customers won’t turn up if a woman is on stage.
She tells The Northern Echo:
“We had female singers on in the past and customers just didn’t like it. We’re a rock bar and they don’t think that women should sing male rock songs.
“It’s nothing to do with me – it’s the pub’s regulars who come in every week, they won’t come in if there’s a female singer.”
Rees reports that the rule will be relaxed for one female singer next year, and would consider artists if they could guarantee a large crowd – but insists that the general ban will stay in place.
She adds: “We’ve got to keep our regulars happy. I’m not a rock fan so can’t judge myself but I’ve been told that some women can sing and some can’t, but they can’t sing heavy rock.
“If we put a poster up and our regulars know there’s a woman in the band, they won’t give them a chance. They’re my bread and butter and we can’t risk nobody coming in.”
Vocalist Hannah Sowerby, who fronts Revenant and Syndicate 66, says her gigs were cancelled after the pub discovered she was a woman.
“I haven’t been allowed to play because I’m female, despite the fact my band can draw a crowd.
“You wouldn’t get people saying they don’t like male bands, because not all male singers are the same – just like not all female singers are the same.
“It is a sexist attitude from the regulars and there’s no excuse for it in 2017, you’d think we’d be past this by now.”
The Sea Within – a new art-rock group formed by Roine Stolt (Transatlantic, The Flower Kings), Daniel Gildenlöw (Pain of Salvation), Jonas Reingold (The Flower Kings, Karmakanic, The Tangent), Tom Brislin Music (Renaissance, Spiraling, Yes Symphonic, Deborah Harry) & Marco Minnemann (The Aristocrats, Steven Wilson, UK, Joe Satriani) – have announced they will release their as-yet-untitled debut album in Spring 2018.
Roine Stolt comments on how the project came together:
“I think all it started as a suggestion from the record company – putting together a new band, starting fresh, seeing if collective writing could spawn a unique style. Call it a supergroup if you want – I think we can handle that.”
The members recently entered Livingston Studios in London to begin recording the basic tracks, and found an instant chemistry in the way they worked together. “Going into the studio in London was taking a great risk as we had not been in the same room together beforehand.” Roine continues: “We had just sent demos around and didn’t really know if we could make great music together, but we managed to track almost 2 hours of new music, a mix of collective ideas. We also had a lot of great ‘off-time’, sharing laughs and stories in local pubs – that part is important.”
Currently the members are putting the finishing touches on their debut album, and of the music’s direction Roine says: “There are elements of prog, pop, art-rock and many cinematic elements. I suppose the music comes from within our collective memories of all that we love as far as sounds, visions and poetry. We hope that discovering the music will be a journey for the open-minded fan – something as fresh and uncertain and unfolding as it is for us.”
The Sea Within has also announced their first confirmed live date, taking to the stage at Night of the Prog Festival 2018 at Loreley, Germany on the weekend of 13-15th July 2018 alongside Camel, Big Big Train, Riverside & more. Tickets are available now here:
Night Of The Prog Festival
The Sea Within Official Contact Links
The Sea Within Official Facebook Page
The Sea Within Official Twitter
The Sea Within Instagram
The Night Of The Prog Festival Links
The Night Of The Prog Festival Website
The Night Of The Prog Festival – Tickets
Dreadnought | A Wake In Sacred Waves
Label: Sailor Records
Release Year: 2017
Genre: Progressive/Doom/Black Metal/Folk Metal/Post Metal/Avant Garde
Kelly Schilling – Guitar, Flute, Clean and Harsh Vocals
Jordan Clancy – Drums, Alto/Tenor Saxophone
Kevin Handlon – Bass, Mandolin, Lyrics
Lauren Vieira – Keys, Clean Vocals
Dreadnought Official Website
Dreadnought Official Facebook Page
Dreadnought Official YouTube Channel
Dreadnought Official Bandcamp Store Profile
Dreadnought are certainly one of those bands you can never judge the book by its proverbial cover or in this case the name of the band. When you peel away the cover and begin to peel the layers back it is a a Melodic Christmas over and over and over again. This band have their own Periodic Table of Elements as far as music is concerned. My goal for this review will to elaborate the multiple elements in a very conclusive way without boring the reader of the review.
When I use to live in Denver, Colorado back in the later 1990’s, I began to notice just how utterly diverse the entire I-25 corridor was as far as music was concerned. One day you could be in Denver at a metal show, the next day be out in Boulder, Colorado at a ‘Jam Band’ style festival and a day after that be in Colorado Springs, Colorado at some ‘Alternative Music’ show. It seems Denver is one of the few areas that allow for such diversity in the music and arts to breathe and flourish without much persecution. It has always seemed that the Denver, Colorado area has been able to really coexist as far as musical genres have been concerned.
Denver natives Dreadnought have certainly embraced this attitude of diversity within their music and art. They have taken many various elements within music to truly form their own unique sound. At first glance or listen many questions come to the surface that could leave some to pigeonhole this band in one particular genre or another. However listener beware this band are totally adamant that they will never be pigeonholed at all whatsoever. So it leads to the pressing questions, who are Dreadnought and what style are they?
Is this band Black Metal? Are they Avant Garde? Are they progressive metal/rock? I would have to say they are all that a a whole lot more. Dreadnought are on the very new vanguard of a all new intelligentsia cropping up among several genres that seem to get closer together as time and music evolves. For a band with only four members they give the listener the appearance that there is a entire symphony orchestra to accompany them. Dreadnought are also coming along at a perfect time where many genres are embracing various elements of one another and allowing the melting pot to cook to perfection.
Dreadnought’s approach to the progressive music side is rooted very heavily within the 1970’s and spans nearly three generations. Dreadnought are also a band that constantly changes the questions when people believe they have all the answers concerning the band. Over the remaining duration of this review I will point out many of the various elements that make up the Dreadnought sound.
Vacant Sea begins with a beautifully isolated female vocal that creates a atmosphere to the listener in attempt to gain their undivided attention. This soon subsides and the beauty of percussion enters in along with a profound rhythm section before the female vocal comes into a harmonic bliss with the instrumental portion. The progressive aspect of this is rooted within the 1970’s in the tradition of Yes, King Crimson and ELP. The jazz style sections are a reminder of bands like Jaco Pastorius era – Weather Report with various elements of Caravan and Camel.
The Black Metal aesthetic runs in the tradition of both old school low fi resolution sounding guitar atmospheres in the tradition of early Mayhem, Hellhammer and Celtic Frost. It is also met by some heavily laden Atmospheric Black Metal much like Agalloch and Summoning come to mind along with some elements of both Shoegaze and Blagaze. All of this is much like a marriage of sounds along side with with very intricate time signatures and various chord progressions make for a very unique sound that separates Dreadnought into their own unique and independent sound.
The duel female vocal between Kelly Schilling – Guitar, Flute, Clean and Harsh Vocals and Lauren Vieira – Keys, Clean Vocals is definitely something groundbreaking within all the various musical genres present on the album. They have taken what Cadaveria (ex Opera IX) did to a entire creative level. These two ladies have also brought something to this style of Progressive Extreme Metal and that being a singer/songwriter element to the genre. Vacant Sea immediately dives into all these elements.
This track may be 17+ minutes but rest assured the long instrumental parts have a specific purpose and mean something and lead somewhere. Dreadnought are not the type of band to have insignificant fillers just for the sake of making the length of time rendering the song to appear redundant.
(Dreadnought – Vacant Sea – A Wake In Sacred Waves)
Within Chanting Waters opens up much in the vein of Opeth’s Leper Infinity from Blackwater Park meets Agalloch’s The Mantle with a twist of early King Crimson. The rhythm section of bass and drum really rips from the very first note and chord progression. The band certainly and deliberately are taking their sound to the next level and showing various depths of dimensions with this one. The band certainly displays their progressive prowess here as far as incorporating chord progressions and time signatures that sometimes get drowned out with the more extreme elements. The clean female vocal and the extreme metal vocal allow the track to breathe in such away where both vocals appear to take on a split personality to the central story. In the mind’s imagination it seems like there is a calm and angry side being conveyed in the vocal. Jordan Clancy – Drums, Alto/Tenor Saxophone, has a very keen sense of how hard to hit the drums and when to fall into the general rhythmic background. The band also display the very prowess of engulfing the listener into their various layers of diverse atmospheric elements.
The Luminous Scale immediately opens up into a very diverse progressive atmospheric chord progression. The deep tones of the rhythm section along with the semi – atmospheric guitar certainly hook the listener into a mellow disposition. This is a preparing the listener for the duration of the album. Throughout the album the band’s chord progressions, passages and riffs all have a unique purpose that deliberately lead somewhere. There is absolutely no insignificant filler anywhere on the album. The keyboards really have a distinct presence on here as well. Those are beautifully done by Lauren Vieira – Keys, Clean Vocals. Kelly Schilling – Guitar, Flute, Clean and Harsh Vocals has a very heavily Summoning style vocal on here as well. They both echo and haunt the listener’s very soul and hook it all at once. The rhythm section totally engulfs and assault’s every last sense within in the listening audience. The flute in this track as a very Jethro Tull to Camel vibe stemming from 1970’s progressive rock. Kelly Schilling – Guitar, Flute, Clean and Harsh Vocals, is certainly the Black Metal equivalent of Ian Anderson or various flute players in the history of the band Camel.
A Drifting Reign explodes right out of the gate with deep rhythm sections along with a beautifully played lush piano chord progression. It takes a break and the band sets a deep atmospheric rhythm section between various layers of piano and horned sections that is quite psychedelic in nature. The subtle psychedelic elements are also blended with very lite post metal elements as well. This is the final track on the album. This is also the most eclectic and eccentric track on the album blending many of the bands never ending elements and talent together like a progressive buffet feast on the ears.
By now it is perfectly clear they refuse to be pigeonholed into one genre. It is this approach and attitude that will allow the band to play live on various and very different bills and festivals. Their infrastructure will also allow them the creative space to do what they want and what their fans want instead of a power hungry and a monetary beast with the mainstream side of the industry that is a continual disease to artists and creativity. Dreadnought’s A Wake In Sacred Waves will be a album talked about 20 years from now as a album that both expanded progressive music and exposed further possibilities that display that progressive music will always have many directions to go in. Dreadnought’s A Wake In Sacred Waves get a 5/5 for perfection.
Melodic Revolution Records | Feature Album October/November 2017
Darrel Treece Birch | Healing Touch
Label: Melodic Revolution Records
Release Year: 2017
Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Progressive Rock/AOR/Space Rock/Ambient
Darrel – Treece- Birch– Keyboards, Vocals, Bass Guitars, Mandolin, Drums.
From The Mouth
Cast It Out
The Fruits Of The Spirit
No Fear Here
Darrel Treece Birch Official Website
Darrel Treece Birch Official Melodic Revolution Records Profile
Darrel Treece Birch Official Facebook Page
Darrel Treece Birch Official Twitter
Darrel Treece Birch Official Youtube Channel
Melodic Revolution Records Official Website
Darrel Treece Birch is on a red hot roll as far as music is concerned. Last year we presented two reviews to you that this keyboard virtuoso, one was his solo album No More Time and the one he did as a member of Nth Ascension with In Fine Initium. In 2017 we see Darrel Treece Birch return with his other band Ten with Gothica and now his new solo album Healing Touch. Darrel Treece Birch has absolutely no lack of substance when it comes to creative license is concerned and it is demonstrated by the quick turn around between releases. Darrel Treece Birch is a flowing fountain and well spring of melodious bliss.
Unlike 2016’s offering No More Time, Darrel Treece Birch decided not to have multiple guest musicians and go it all alone. Another difference with Healing Touch is it is not the conceptual piece that No More Time was. Do not be fooled however, Healing Touch is one serious exotic and melodic safari through the soul of one Darrel Treece Birch. There are 10 new songs that are all instrumentals yet they each have their own individual identity while remaining on point to the main spiritual objective that becomes the common theme throughout Healing Touch. Without any lyrics, Darrel Treece Birch manages to convey subjects of life and faith quite eloquently with just instrumentals. To date Healing Touch is perhaps Darrel Treece Birch’s most diverse album.
God’s Prescription immediately sets a cool smooth mood for the listener of the album. It sets a mood like one is transported into a futuristic world of electronic jazz fusion. This sounds like it may in fact be 25 years ahead of its time. It is certainly a soothing track in that Darrel uses more atmospheric theory to transport the listener into the world he intended them to be. Some of the electronica atmospheres subside to a more traditional jazz fusion rhythm section and soon both of the sum of the parts gel into a perfectly balanced melody. The track even provokes visions of the future which is a testament to Darrel Treece Birch’s forward thinking and sometimes groundbreaking work. There are many elements to this track that also remind me of Kraftwerk meets Alan Parson’s Band. Even more so this track represents a celestial element as well.
From The Mouth in many ways keeps with the subject of faith, hope , healing and love. It opens up with some seriously heavy synth work along with a beautifully deep bass and drum rhythm section that is not always synth manufactured. It gives the most seasoned listener the truth appearance that every instrument was recorded prior the synths and keyboards. Although the futuristic mood is still there, this track takes upon itself some very heavy elements of jazz fusion, especially in the context of the rhythm section. The rhythm section takes on a very 1970’s mood with fuzzy elements serving as a main feature. This lending a heavy Pink Floyd influence about it.
Cast It Out starts out with a wall of synths that hearkens back to the later 1970’s Kraftwerk style meets the earlier 1980’s Buggles. Darrel Treece Birch certainly puts on the first of a few keyboardist music and theory clinics with this one. He is always venturing out into territory that easily keeps him from being pigeonholed into one style and Cast It Out is a perfect example to this. Cast It Out is also a serious departure from what we have been use to hearing in Nth Ascension and Ten, Darrel’s other musical outlets. The track eventually levels out to a more conventional progressive hard rock song that eventually ends with some very beautiful progressive rock atmospheres.
Re-Boot sees Darrel Treece Birch channel heavy elements to the late great Keith Emerson with the production mind of a Alan Parsons. It also leaves a very heavily ELP influence as far as atmospheric soundscape structures. The guitar work is very ‘Floydian’ in nature leaving void or filler for the sake of having a complete song. The rhythm section is very well balanced and subtle leaving the guitar and keyboard stringed section much room to breathe and thrive within the songs own identity and purpose.
The Fruits Of The Spirit opens up with beautifully orchestrated sounds of nature in harmony with radiant wind chimes. This track from the first note already transport the listener in a state of tranquility and peace. This is also a very intricate track where it appears that the keyboard is distributing various chord progressions of the other instrumental interests throughout the duration of the track. This track is a soothing balm perfectly arranged to keep the listeners attention in the album.
The Stand opens up like a whirlwind with a very windy atmospheric effect generated by the synth’s. It is soon followed up by a beautiful rhythm section with some more ‘Floydian’ guitar soundscapes. The pure fusion approach to this track is yet another departure from some of the normal work we are used to hearing from Darrel. His experimental side truly knows no boundaries. This track in particular explores a more avant – garde side to Darrel Treece Birch that I honestly never knew was there.
The Release reminds me a lot of Arjen Luccasen’s Ayreon work , specifically the Actual Fantasy album. This is very heavily rooted in the electronic orchestral chord progression. When the other instruments such as the lead guitar and drums come in they are immediately highlighted and allowed to breathe throughout the composition. It is almost a melodic play on words in that there is a play on various chord progressions and deeply instrumental rhythm sections that would make Tangerine Dream and Kraftwerk blush. This track truly lives up to its namesake in that Darrel Treece Birch appears to open up yet another level of musicianship.
The Expanse starts off with the illusion of a music box playing tender little wind chimed melodies. This transports the listener into a melodic fantasy realm. The rhythm section shines through deeply. Both the stringed sections and rhythm sections are in a perfect harmonious persuasion. The track builds layer upon layers as it maintains its uplifting objective. This track has a heavy science fiction aesthetic working through is various passages and intricate chord progressions.
No Fear Here basically continues in the tradition of The Expanse and The Release. It is both heavy on the keyboard atmospheres and the unorthodox rhythm sections tat keep hooking the listener. There are some elements of classic rock keyboards much like Keith Emerson meets Rick Wakeman at the crossroads of modern fusion.
God’s Medicine opens up with a immediate guitar solo. This is yet another unconventional and surprising element of Darrel Treece Birch’s approach on this album. This is also some very beautiful classically rooted atmospheric fusion. In its isolation it brings absolution and proper closure to Healing Touch.
Although this one took me a little longer than expected it was well worth the time invested in it. This is well worth the investment to any progressive rock or instrumentalist fans collection. Healing Touch has many personalities and dimensions to it. Darrel Treece Birch really took many risks and chances with this one. Darrel Treece Birch’s Healing Touch gets 5/5.