Tag Archives: hard rock

Guilty of Innocence

Joe Deninzon & Stratospheerius – Guilty of Innocence

Joe Deninzon & Stratospheerius – Guilty of Innocence (Melodic Revolution Records, 2017)

Guilty of Innocence is the fifth studio album from Joe Deninzon and Stratospheerius. Deninzon is known for his fiery violin solos and delivers quite a few great ones.

While in the past, Deninzon has recorded progressive rock and fusion-leanings compositions, Guilty of Innocence heads into a more commercial direction, with short songs infused with hard rock, AOR and pop hooks. Sure, there are brief spectacular violin solos and notable bass lines, but it’s mainly non-progressive material.

The highlights of the album are track 9, “Dream Day Cadenza,” where Deninzon showcases the marvels he can do with solo violin and effects; and track 10, “Soul Food.” This last song begins as yet another AOR piece, but when you get passed minute 4, it’s transformed into a wild instrumental prog rock ride with electric violin and guitar wizardry as well as splendid mandolin and piano.

Personnel: Joe Deninzon on electric violin, lead vocals, mandolin, and guitar; Aurelien Budynek on guitar, vocals; Jamie Bishop on bass, vocals; Lucianna Padmore on drums.

Guests include Renaissance’s Rave Tesar on keyboards; guitar maestro Alex Skolnick on guitar; Randy McStine on guitar, background vocals; Melanie Mitrano on vocals; Eddie Venegas on violin; Earl Maneein on viola; Leo Grinhauz on cello; Patrice Jackson on cello; and Benny Koonyevsky on drums.

Buy the digital download version of Guilty of Innocence. The CD is available from store.cdbaby.com

Promising Aporía

Pareidolon – Aporía (Shine Productions, 2017)

Pareidolon is a Canadian progressive rock and hard rock act led by ensemble led by bassist and composer Lachlan Tocher. All the members of Pareidolon are graduates from the Selkirk College Contemporary Music & Technology program.

Aporía contains 6 tracks. The highlights are the three progressive rock-leaning pieces: “The Tunnel”, “Leave” and “Good Morning.”

“The Tunnel” features a mesmerizing mix of mellotron, piano and bass along with tasty synth and guitar solos and a fine mix of male and female vocals.

 

 

“Leave” is a great suite containing mellotron, dreamy female vocals and dual guitar work.

 

 

Piano and natural sounds are the essence of the evocative instrumental “Good Morning.”

 

Two other tracks are essentially hard rock efforts and the last track introduces heavy metal.

The lineup includes Lachlan Tocher on bass and mellotron; Brittany Keller on vocals; Jonathan Kwak on vocals; Ashley Pearce on guitar; Branden Green on guitar; Anna Backus on piano and synths; and Aybars Savat on drums.

There seem to be two elemental forces in the band, pushing and pulling. The progressive side is obviously the most appealing, forward-thinking, with great potential.

Buy Aporía

From Here to the Impossible

Karibow – From Here to the Impossible

Karibow – From Here to the Impossible (Progressive Promotion Records, 2017)

Yet another album marketed as progressive rock that’s really not. Karibow is the project of vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Oliver Rüsing. His style brings together AOR, pop rock beats, hard rock and heavy metal riffs. The only piece that you could legitimately call progressive rock is a pretty good symphonic instrumental titled “Requiem.”

This video will give you an idea:

Xavier Boscher’s Pentagramme

Xavier Boscher – Pentagramme

Xavier Boscher – Pentagramme (Orfeo Lab, 2016)

Pentagramme is a solo album by French composer, guitarist and vocalist Xavier Boscher. He incorporates a mix of progressive rock, heavy metal, hard rock and pop.

The highlights of the album are the progressive rock-oriented sections, including “Volupté,” which has a great ambiance, electric piano and fretless bass; “Géométrie intime”, a piece with great shredding; the evolving piece “Quinacridoine” that has a Joe Satriani flavor; and the epic “Les Voyageurs du Temps.”

 

 

 

 

The album is available from xavierboscher.bandcamp.com

The Continuing Journey of Rahul Mukerji’s Guitar

Rahul Mukerji – Ma De Re Sha (Rahul Mukerji, 2017)

Ma De Re Sha is a great electric guitar album by Rahul Mukerji, an Indian musician living in the Washington D.C. area. Mukerji combines powerful rock guitar hero licks with jazz-rock fusion, Middle Eastern beats and Indian music influences. He also uses a note bending technique that gives it a South Asian flavor and sets him apart from western guitar players.

The lineup includes Rahul Mukerji on guitars, guitar synth, e-bow, sampling, tabla and drum programming; Bruce Ng on additional drum and percussion programming on all tracks; Ruben Rubio on bass.

Buy the CD from rahulmukerji.bandcamp.com/releases

Calculated Risk

Force of Progress – Calculated Risk

Force of Progress – Calculated Risk (Progressive Promotion Records, 2017)

Force of Progress is what is described as a progressive rock project put together by four German multi-instrumentalists. It’s a very keyboard-centric album, with great synth and piano work, although throughout Calculated Risk the band adds hard rock and heavy metal guitars.

There is way too much hard rock and metal riffing for this album to be seriously regarded a progressive rock album. Toning down the guitars would have helped a lot.

The lineup includes Hanspeter Hess, Dominik Wimmer, Chris Grundmann and Markus Roth.

 

 

Buy Calculated Risk

Hard Rockin’ Ape

Ape Shifter – Ape Shifter

Ape Shifter – Ape Shifter (Brainstorm Records BS0401639, 2017)

German band Ape Shifter plays powerful instrumental rock inspired by hard rock, heavy blues and also heavy metal. Why it’s marketed as progressive rock is a mystery to me.

There are some attention-grabbing moments when the guitarist demonstrates he can shred admirably.

Ape Shifter was recorded live in the studio, without any overdubs.

The lineup includes Jeff Aug on guitar; Florian Walter on bass; and Kurty Münch on drums.

These two videos will give you a good impression of the band’s sound:

 

Buy Ape Shifter

Drawn by the Sounds of the Desert

The Raptor Trail – “Devil on an Indian” (indie release, 2016)

“Devil on an Indian” by American rock band The Raptor Trail is a concept album about a young man that struggles with his American Indian heritage after being raised in a Christian family. The story mirrors the experience of multi-instrumentalist Matt Meyes. Although he has paternal and maternal Native American ancestry, he was raised by a white Protestant family.

Musically, The Raptor Trail crosses various rock genres with ease. The band plays a mix of classic rock, hard rock and sometimes ventures into progressive rock (“Wolf Medicine”) and other territories like in the piece “Dream Catcher” that has a trance-like tribal ambient feel.

The Raptor Trail’s sound is characterized by the outstanding vocals and remarkable solo guitar work of John Meyer, as well as the sound of a new hybrid instrument named guijo. The guijo was developed by Matt Meyes. It has an electric guitar body and a banjo neck.

The album ends with an apocalyptic explosion of the sun featuring a mix of rock band instrumentation and numerous sound effects.

 

 

The lineup includes Gene Bass on drums and percussion; Matt Mayes on vocals, guijo, acoustic guitars and banjo; and John Meyer on lead and background vocals, lead and rhythm guitars, and bass.

 

Buy Devil on an Indian

Odd Trip

Karmamoi – Odd Trip

Karmamoi – Odd Trip (Crisalide Edizioni, 2014)

Italian rock band Karmamoi is described by some as progressive rock. However, what I heard on their Odd Trip album is primarily hard/heavy rock and melodic rock. The only pieces that venture into progressive rock are brief instrumentals titled Interludes and a longer instrumental called 5+ with some Porcupine Tree influence.

The album lineup includes Serena Ciacci on vocals; Daniele Giovannoni on drums; Fabio Tempesta on guitar; Alex Massari on guitar; and Alessandro Cefali on bass.

VIII Strada’s Babylon

VIII Strada - Babylon
VIII Strada – Babylon

VIII Strada – Babylon (Fading Records, 2015)

Italian band VIII Strada seems to have two personalities, a fabulous progressive rock band with memorable moments and a hard rock band that has nothing new to say.their latest album, Babylon, features great symphonic progressive rock keyboards and vocals combined with hard rock and heavy metal guitars.

Unquestionably, the best work throughout the album are the keyboard solos and arrangements of Silvano Negrinelli along with Tito Vizzuso’s lead vocals.

The lineup includes Tito Vizzuso on vocals; Daniele Zigliani on guitars and backing vocals; Silvano Negrinelli on piano, keyboards, and backing vocals; Sergio Merlino on bass and backing vocals; and Riccardo Preda on drums and backing vocals. Guest: Andrea Negrinelli on backing vocals.

Buy Babylon