Category Archives: CD Reviews

The Two Sides of Hamadryad

Hamadryad – The Black Hole (Hamadryad Music, 2017)

The Black Hole is the new album by Canadian band The Black Hole. The group delivers a mix of progressive rock, hard rock and heavy metal.

The highlights of the album are the progressive rock-leaning pieces. The four musicians are superb instrumentalists and when they step away from predictable hard and heavy rock, they really stand out.

On “Peaceful Exit” and “So / By Your Side,” perform high energy rock characterized by memorable bass, keyboard and guitar solos and creative drumming.

Most of “Fall’n Fly” is embodied by heavy metal riffs. “Dark Souls” has some interesting moments, but again, it’s full of conventional hard rock and heavy metal riffs.

“Crash” is a bass-fueled rock song with great hooks. “The Worst Is yet to Come” is another high point, a delightful piece incorporating spacy synths, acoustic guitars and great vocals.

“Amora Demonis 2017” is the last song, a re-recording of an early Hamadryad classic. It’s a mix of hard and progressive rock, with the guitar pulling towards hard rock and the rest of the band tugging towards progressive rock.

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Shape-shifting Progressive Jazz

Dusan Jevtovic – Live At Home (Moonjune, 2018)

Live At Home showcases the talent of innovative Serbian guitarist Dusan Jevtovic and his formidable band. On Live At Home, delivers a superb set of progressive jazz-rock fusion.

Spain-based Jevtovic is not a showoff guitarist. Instead he uses his guitar in multiple ways, creating a certain ambience, delivering altered walls of sound, distorted guitars, some solos and improvisations as well. His colleague, guest keyboardist Vasil Hadzimanov performs an excellent set of mesmerizing electric piano segments that at time channel Chick Corea.

The rhythm section is impressive featuring Pedja Milutinovic’s powerful drums and Pera Krstajic gets some opportunities to play creative bass lines.

On song 5, “Babe,” the band introduces Eastern European chants that lead into cutting edge fusion. Meanwhile, on track 6, “Briga,” the band adds dreamlike sampled vocals that weave in and out.

Live At Home was recorded live at Decije Pozoriste, Kragujevac, in Serbia, on December 23, 2016.

Dusan Jevtovic’s Live At Home displays impeccable examples of progressive jazz craftsmanship.

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The Sonja Kristina Anthology

Sonja Kristina: Anthology

Sonja Kristina: Anthology (The Right Honourable Recording Company, 2017)

Singer-songwriter Sonja Kristina was one of the female pioneers of progressive rock as the lead vocalist with British band Curved Air. This anthology contains two discs with a selection of music from her solo albums as well as new material.

These are short songs spanning various styles like folk-rock, pop, psychedelic rock and even world music influences.

The CD booklet contains liner notes and many exclusive photos of Sonja Kristina.

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Clouds Can’s Progressive Pop

Clouds Can – Leave


Clouds Can – Leave (Progressive Promotion Records, 2017)

Leave is the new album by German act Clouds Can, a project featuring multi-instrumentalists T (Thomas Thielen) and Dominik Hüttermann. They describe their music as progressive pop, which is a pretty accurate description. It’s a set of beautifully-arranged, deeply melancholic songs.

Aside from the introspective pop sensibility, there are elements of post rock and some scarce progressive rock moments. Highlights include the epic instrumental conclusion of “Life is Strange” and the ambience and effects that open “Like Any Angel.”



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Premiata Forneria Marconi’s Emotional Tattoos

Premiata Forneria Marconi – Emotional Tattoos

Premiata Forneria Marconi – Emotional Tattoos (InsideOut Music, 2017)

Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM) was one of the finest European progressive rock bands in the early 1970s. They are now signed to InsideOut Music and this is the band’s first release on their new label.

Like other iconic progressive rock bands of the 1970s, PFM had two stages, a progressive rock era and a commercial pop/rock phase. Emotional Tattoos takes you to the melodic rock and pop style, with catchy songs and ballads. There is only one progressive rock piece, a great instrumental titled “Freedom Square.”

This album is available in a special 2-CD set with English and Italian vocal versions of the album.



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Wingfield, Reuter and Sirkis’ Groundbreaking Improvisation

Wingfield Reuter Sirkis – Lighthouse (MoonJune Records, 2017)

Mark Wingfield, Markus Reuter and Asaf Sirkis , three highly-innovative musicians, got together in a studio in Spain to record improvised music with no overdubs. The result is Lighthouse, a genre-defying set of progressive music explorations.

Asaf Sirkis creates powerful, creative beats that support drone guitar sounds and evolving, spellbinding processed guitar improvisations that take the listener to uncharted territory.

The lineup includes Mark Wingfield on electric guitar, Markus Reuter on Touch guitar; and Asaf Sirkis on drums.

Lighthouse is a groundbreaking album by the three musicians at the cutting edge of progressive music.



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Prospect of the Deep Volume

Azonic – Prospect of the Deep Volume One

Azonic – Prospect of the Deep Volume One (Indivisible Records, 2017)

Prospect of the Deep Volume is the new album by experimental guitarist Andy Hawkins. The album features a wall of distorted guitar sound over which Hawkins develops long tone guitar improvisations. On this new Azonic project he’s joined by percussionist Tim Wyskida on timpani, concert bass drum, and gong who contributes mesmerizing beats.

The vinyl version of the album includes two pieces: “Oblivion of the Deep” and “The Argonaut’s Reckoning.” The CD edition contains a bonus track, “Voices of the Drowned.”

Prospect of the Deep Volume One opens new gates into the sound of the electric guitar.



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Skyscraper Souls

Geoffrey Downes and Chris Braide – Skyscraper Souls

Geoffrey Downes and Chris Braide – Skyscraper Souls (The Right Honourable Recording Company, 2017)

Skyscraper Souls is the third album by British artists Geoffrey Downes (Buggles, Asia, Yes) and Chris Braide. Despite the fantasy artwork by Roger Dean, this is an album of ballads and tap along pop with no connection whatsoever to progressive rock.

The album features guest appearances from Marc Almond, Andy Partridge, Kate Pierson, Matthew Koma, David Longdon and Tim Bowness.

Renaud Louis-Servais’ Epic Jazz-Rock

Renaud Louis-Servais Group – Epic Circus (2015)

Epic Circus is the second album by French guitar hero Renaud Louis-Servais. On Epic Circus you’ll find a mix of fiery instrumental rock-fueled electric guitar mastery together with superb jazz-rock fusion segments.

The influences range from Joe Satriani to Daryl Stuermer and Alan Holdsworth. Although the focus is on the electric guitar and its multi-faceted sounds, the Renaud Louis-Servais Group also features first rate musicians and you’ll find memorable interactions between the guitar and the keyboards played by Philippe Saise and Christophe Cravero supported by creative bass and drums.

Renaud Louis-Servais is epic and also highly melodic. Highlights include the opening track “Carry’n”; the funk-jazz piece “Zaku Patatu”; the prog-rock leaning title track Epic Circus; and the seductive groove of “When you’ve Got Nothing” which features a series of fabulous guitar solos and also Henri Dorina’s notable bass lines.

Lineup: Renaud Louis-Servais on electric and acoustic guitars; Virgil Donati on drums; Henri Dorina on bass; Philippe Saise on Fender Rhodes, Hammond B3, Prophet, piano, mini-Moog, clavinet, Wurlitzer, vocoder and synth layers; Christophe Cravero on Fender Rhodes, Mini-Moog, Hammond B3 and synth layers; and Aurl Ouzoulias on drums.



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Tasty Leftoverture

Kansas – Leftoverture Live & Beyond (InsideOut Music, 2017)

American progressive rock band Kansas has gone through numerous personnel changes. The current generation of Kansas is a well-oiled machine featuring a mix of original band members like drummer Phil Ehart and guitarist Williams along with new talented musicians and former band members from different stages that have returned.

Although the most recent Kansas recording has strayed away from progressive rock, Leftoverture Live & Beyond is a tribute to some of the band’s finest material, which happens to be from the progressive rock era. Kansas was characterized among other things by the use of the violin and the violin is back in the hands of David Ragsdale.

New vocalist Ronnie Platt does a great job, performing the band’s most iconic songs.

With the classic era prog-rock leaning song selection and being a live album, Kansas treats the listener to an instrumental fest of fiery electric guitars, keyboards and violin.
The landmark “Leftoverture” album is performed in its entirety.

“Leftoverture Live & Beyond” is available as a double CD digipak, four 180 Gram Vinyl boxed set, and digital format.

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