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Abighor - Anticlockwise
Abstracta - T.R.I.P.
Acacia Avenue - s/t
Achard, Cyril - Violencia
Adams, Steve - Camera Obscura
Airless - 2nd Round
Alias Eye - In Focus
All That I Bleed - Dying To Remember
Anand - A Man's Mind
Andeavor - Once Upon Time
Andromeda - Extension of the Wish
Andromeda - II=I
Angra - Rebirth
Annon Vin - A New Gate
Anthriel - The Passway
Anwar, Faraz - Abstract Point of View
Akashic - Timeless Realm
Anguish - Symmetry
Antithesis - Dying for Life
Apetrea, Coste - Rites of Passage
Arachnes - A New Day
Archetype - Dawning
Archetype - Hands of Time
Arkhe - s/t
Armored Saint - Symbol of Salvation
Artension - Future World
Artension - Into The Eye of The Storm
Artificial Light Attraction - Fragile Skin
Ascention Theory - Regeneration
At Vance - Only Human
At War With Self - Acts of God
At War With Self - Torn Between Dimensions
Auditory Imagery - Reign
Auditory Imagery - So Alive
Avalon - Vision Eden
Avalon - Eurasia
Awake - Illumination
Awake - Forever More
Ayreon - The Universal Migrator Pt.1: The Dream Sequencer


Abighor - Anticlockwise
Lucretia Records
(1997)

If I am not mistaken, this is an Italian power metal band's first album. Anticlockwise was originally released in 1994 as a different artwork. Later on, their record company, Lucretia Records International released Anticlockwise as remix version. Overall, I noticed that their sound and production had not been completed in good condition, in spite of remix works. The vocals are way back in the mix, and the drum parts are up-front too much. Being honest about what I had heard so far, there were pretty strange mix and mastering jobs from this album. If you are not very picky about production and mixing problems, Anticlockwise would appeal to the fans of melodic speed metal. Musically, their music is in the vein of Angra's Angels Cry and Stratovarius' Vision music. I understand they were trying to maintain energetic and speedy power metal performance. Unfotunately, there are not many songs appealing to my heart and soul. I would recommend that Abighor needs to take time to concentrate on sound production and mixing. If they fix enginnering and technical things for production, the music of Abighor would have a chance to the scene of power metal.

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Abstracta - T.R.I.P.
Elevate Records
(1998)

Another brilliant Italian prog metal band from Elevate Records. Abstracta plays really intense and technical progressive metal music with great musicianship. Stylistically, Dream Theater comes to my mind inevitably. Nevertheless, they combine technical prog metal with their own italian dramatic lyricism. Therefore, it is not necessary to associated to direct plagiarism at all. Rather, they have their own characteristics and chamrs in their music. Tita Tani, who used to work with Italian band Glory Hunter, sings a pleasant and extra-ordinary vocal performance. It is interesting to know that drummer Giuseppe Orlando has also performed with Novembre besides Abstracta. All members are very proficient musicians utilizing their high skills. Mainly, T.R.I.P. album features long form songs. All songs are well-arranged and performed, so never get bored at all. In fact, I enjoy listening to this album very much. Really well-done and excellent prog metal works you will find on T.R.I.P. Highly recommended for fans who enjoy quality prog metal featuring intricate performance, frequent twists and turnings, and dramatic soundscape. I believe this music appeals to both prog metal and prog rock fans. The members of Dream Theater themselves were impressed with Abstracta's excellent live performance, when they came to visit at Italian Rock Cafe. I wonder what happened to them, after releasing this excellent first album. I strongly wish them make new album with awesome tunes and musical intricacies. Overall, I am very satisfied with this album. I believe the singer of Abstracta, Tita Tani, is singing for another excellent Italian melodic prog metal band, DGM nowadays. I am afraid Abstracta is no more. If it is true, that would be too bad and big loss for prog metal fans.

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Acacia Avenue - s/t
Lion Music
(2010)

Looking back the music career of Danish guitarist Torben Enevoldsen in these years, he has already established his own fan base through his own prog metal project Section A, Fatal Force and his solo album. It has been really great to see that he keeps expanding his musical boundaries to collaborate with some extraordinaire rock and metal musicians. Acacia Avenue is a brand-new melodic hard rock project led by Torben Enevoldsen. His previous albums have always had melodic oriented songs with some progressive grooves and intelligent instrumentation. But this time he takes a different approach to his new project. The self-titled album is full of accessible and song-oriented hard rock music with AOR influences. In other words, Acacia Avenue do not rely on technical interplay most time, except for Torben's brilliant guitar shreds and some amazing solo spots. Stylistically, the music fans of TNT, Saga, TOTO, and Dokken would instantly enjoy the material here. What satisfies melodic rock fans moreover is Torben Enevoldsen have brought four accomplished hard rock vocalists around the Europe to join the force: Tony Mills (e.x. Siam/Shy/TNT), Geir Ronning (Radioactive/Prisoner), Torben Lysholm (Pangea/Misterell), and Lars Safsund (Work of Art.). These vocalists have individual characters; each vocalist pulls off his peculiar singing ability with catchy vocal melodies. From beginning to end, this album has a passionate energy from all musicians being involved and hard-driving rock vibes. Basically, this European group performs a starightforward hard and heavy music with a strong melodic sensibility throughout. Some people would feel the music of this group tends to go too formulaic; but who cares if you are into this type of melodic hard rock with nice instrumentation. The focal point of this music is definitely a great guitar soloing and tasteful riffing of Torben Enevoldsen in every song. All musicians put the emphasis on performing memorable songs. Yet, the instrumental tune called "Mad Antenna" showcases the side of sophisticated instrumentation that I really enjoyed a lot, although I wanted to hear this kind of intricate number much more to be honest. If you are into complex kind of music with tempo changes and irregular time signatures, it would have been very difficult to get into the style of Acacia Avenue. Torben Enevoldsen and his band mates have already proved themselves of how great they are in other projects like Section A and Fatal Force; therefore, there was nothing to keep me from enjoying melodic rock heaven presented on this cd. Just relax and dive into this melodic oriented sounds with accomplished song-writing skills and great performance they showcase. Yeah, just enjoy the overall good rock sounds. Highly recommended for everyone who enjoys 80's style music and quality melodic hard rock with nice guitar chops.

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Cyril Achard - Violencia
Lion Music
(2010)

"Violencia" is a brand new album of French guitarist Cyril Achard released in 2010. His latest album is, once again, a fine guitar instrumental album with his extraordinary rhythm section coming from great prog metal band Adagio. As you might remember that his previous album is geared toward jazz-rock style, yet this album has full of totally hot-burning hard rock numbers with his sheer energy. His new album puts the emphasis on melodic phrasings and hard-driving rock guitars over complexity and intricacies. Cyril Achard is always known performing superbly complex and intricate guitar work in the format of his solo and prog metal group like Cyril Achard's Morbid Feeling. Since I heard his performance on the cd of Cyril Achard's Morbid Feeling, I have been really enjoying his musical style and great performance. Although this new album is focused on straightforward style with great rock sounds, it also features his progressive feeling and slightly technical elements within solid-gold ensemble. Cyril Achard is definitely one of most talented and great guitar players in the instrumental music scene. "Violencia" is another winner for his music career. Nowadays, this magnificent guitar player seems being focused on straight heavy rock music, yet I wish that he return to the style of technical prog metal music for his future band's new offering. Anyway, this new album of Cyril Achard showcases his versatility with professional skills. Highly recommended for guitar fans who are into quality guitar music.

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Steve Adams - Camera Obscura
3Ears
(2004)

3Ears seems to have been known among U.K. prog masters Camel fans and Camel-related enthusiastic music lovers. Due to my lack of studying U.K. prog rock scene in general, I admit I have never heard of Steve Adams previously (except for my experience about listening to Camel's classic "Mirage" album back then). By courtesy of 3Ears Records president, Mr. Roy Clay, I have just recently been getting familiar with an England-prog label called 3Ears releasing fine prog rock albums including Camel's all classic albums, Colin Bass, and Pete Bardens Mirage. Ok, let's go back to the review of Steve Adams. "Camera Obscura" album is the latest album of Steve Adams. According to the info on 3Ears, Steve Adams is the guitarist for Pete Bardens Band and Mirage. I checked out his music on Camera Obscura before reading the info about him, so I was wondering who Steve Adams is. I thought he must have been one of a great new discoveries. After reading the info about Steve, now I come to realize that he is a seasoned skilled musician in the field of U.K. prog and symphonic rock. Overall, I am amazed by Steve's incredible musical works and his guitar technique with his talented backing fellow musicians. In the beginning of my listening session about Camera Obscura, I thought that his musical direction would be in the realm of neo-prog vein. But my immdediate assumption was totally wrong. Camera Obscura covers diverse music zones, such as rock, blues, prog, pop, and jazz. Every track makes me wow and enjoyable feeling, while listening to the album. His guitar solos and tones are very tasty and emotional. Somehow, his playing style appeals to the fans of Steve Hackett and Eric Johnson. His musical style is totally different from what I consider guitar instrumental music is like Shrapnel shred school, Lion Music artists, Bluesy, and guitar school, etc in general. In other words, his music is very fresh and unique in my opinion. His music would be categorized under the file of guitar instrumentals in the shelf, but his music is more than that. I think his roots of music is progressive rock related, but the sounds on Camera Obscura are really original and very well-made. If you are into different types of music and cross-breeding/mixed with the elements of prog, you'll find great enjoyment. In my honest opinion, what he has displayed with his collague musicians sounds different from what I have imagined. Otherwise, this is not stereo-typed music at all, so highly recommended to the fans of instrumental music who are looking at different angles.

[Steve Adams Official Page]: http://www.steveadams.net/
[3Ears Records]: https://www18.ssldomain.com/cdcafe/3ears/start.asp
[Cdcafe]: https://www18.ssldomain.com/cdcafe/CAFE/default.asp

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Airless - 2nd Round
Lion Music
(2005)

Spanish Melodic Hard Rocker's 2nd album. I believe their first album has already been released at a different label, but this time they signed with Lion Music to kick off their new start with their brand-new album called 2nd Round. Stylistically, they are playing kind of traditional melodic hard rock with really nice guitar sounds. If you are into the bands like Harem Scarem and Fate, Airless' music is definately right place to check out. I think this band basically put the emphasis on middium-tempo good old days' hard rock tracks over speedy and super-uptempo beats. Airless are really good at playing with nice melodic sensibilities and fantastic guitar solos. Very lively and driving energy you can get. In addition, the lead guitar player of this band has a capability to be a new guitar hero. I hope this band's approach appeal to lots of melodic guitar-oriented hard rock music. If my memory serves correctly, Airless' first album has already been getting exposed to my country's melodic rock fans. Anyway, another good newcomer at Lion Music label.

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Alias Eye - In Focus
Quixote Music/ProgRock Records
(2007)

This is the fourth album from a talented German neo-prog group. I've been always very curious about what Alias Eye sound like, since their albums often have been reviewed on several well-known prog websites and magazines. Finally, I had a good chance to get my hands on the latest cd of Alias Eye, and checked out the entire album (thanks for the help of QuiXote Music from Germany). My overall impression on this cd is really brilliant and superb. Before having checked out the cd, I guessed they could sound like symphonic hard rock or typical melodic neo-prog. However, it turns out a cohesive and solid progressive rock with strong identity and passion through their music. Obviously, the music of Alias Eye has song-oriented approach over technical instrumentation. Moreover, the impressive musicianship reminds me a bit of Enchant and Threshold. In some parts, they have slightly heavier edge and dynamic parts as well to surprise me. Although I do not check out recent neo-prog groups a lot, I believe the music of Alias Eye on 'In Focus' album would definitely appeal to the fans of prog metal music. In particular, the lead vocalist Phillip Griffiths (the son of a legendary prog rock group Beggars Opera's member) has a wonderful vocal performance. His voice and expressions shine on in my opinion. Even though their music can not be categorized under the prog metal section, they are also good at performing the complex instrumental sections with harder edge. Thus, I hope they would add heavier instrumentation and more complexity in the future. Anyway, prog metal fans need to pay attention to Alias Eye. Each song is carefully polished and well-composed to capture the listener. There are several hard neo-prog sounds, but their song approach is very varied and entertaining quite a lot. Wow, what can I say more? Simply, 'In Focus' packs lots of great moments and their terrific instrumentaion. In particular, the new guitarist must have brought intensity and heavier elements that sound similar to Sylvan and Enchant into the group. On the other hand, there are also lots of fascinating keyboards and organ parts for both symphonic rock and jazz/fusion fans. This is a simply wonderful and stunning album to my ears. Let's give a praise to this fantastic works, shall we? So far, this is one of best prog rock albums released in 2007. :-) Of course, highly recommended for neo-prog and prog metal fans.
[website: http://www.aliaseye.com/]

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All That I Bleed - Dying to Remember

(2002)

Since the name of ALL THAT I BLEED popped up at the list Progged Radio and Seismic Radio (mostly DJ ZERO HOUR show), I had been curious how they sound like. Although I heard a tune from Progged Radio show, I did not have a chance to check out the music entirely until this month. From this week, I concentrate on listening to ALL THAT I BLEED's debut album called Dying To Remember. Overall, I start getting intrigued by their heavy guitar-driven powerful prog metal very much. I was not familiar with the bands from Puerto Rico, Central America, most Latin American countries (except for Sepultura, Angra, and Dimension). All That I Bleed made really fine driving prog metal music on Dying To Remember. Esp., I like epic tracks like Dying To Remember, Horizons (This really rocks!!), Promise of Life (lots of interesting movements). Recommended band for fans of Auditory Imagery, Fates Warning, Mercury Rising, and Seventh Sign. All That I Bleed is one of best recent newcomers along with Dimension, Elsesphere, Scenario, Perfect Symmetry, Nemesis, and Seventh Wonder. In addition, All That I Bleed's music has some kind of Latin Music energy and passion, esp., from intelligent arrangement of each track and vocal melodies of Leonardo Rivera.... Yes, Leonardo Rivera has really nice voice. His vocal performance has soul and passion. I like his singing quite a lot. Intricate ensemble and interesting instrumental movements are noticeable to enjoy this kind of progressive metal :-) All That I Bleed is promising act for prog metal listeners.

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Anand - A Man's Mind
Lion Music
(2005)

Anand Mahangoe is a really fine instrumental guitar player originally from Surinam. I still remember that his live performance at Headway Festival impressed me a lot with his band members and Joost van den Broek of ex. Sun Caged/After Forever as a supporting keyboard player. A Man's Mind is his reissued debut album from Lion Music. His style reminds me of Joe Satriani, Prashant Aswani, Patrick Rondat, and Steve Vai. However, he puts his own personality and style as well. No vocals featured, but his guitar solos and melodic lines are really tasty throughout the album. Each track offers really nice lyrical guitar solos with dynamic instrumental foundations. Even though this is Anando Mahangoe's solo project, he is never being a self-centered mind or show-off guitarist. He puts the emphasis on melody over showmasn-ship or guitar-hero things. Definately, this kind of guitar-oriented hard fusion music fans would love this album entirely. There is no filler, and the music of A Man's Mind has lots of potentials to appeal many different rock music fans. Actually, I have been totally impressed with his guitar playing style and music displayed on here. Amazingly tasty hard fusion/rock instrumental album. Highly recommended for fans of instrumental music. Really impressive instrumental works and nice music featured on A Man's Mind.

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Andeavor - Once Upon Time
PMM
(1999)

I think this is one of the albums led by Rodler brothers of Progressive Music Management I have tried way before for the first time. The music of Andeavor gave me a fresh breeze and nice impressions back then, and still does. It's quite impressive for me to hear complex prog metal with melodic sensibilities from "Once Upon Time" album. I remember that the year of 1999 saw lots of great prog and prog metal bands debuting and releasing the albums in the music scene. Comparing to other PMM artists and groups, Andeavor plays solid progressive metal with some influences from Rush, Fates Warning, and even Dream Theater, yet they have laid out their own styles and elements as well. Andeavor make a good balance between technicality and song-oriented approach quite nicely, but overall they managed to put the emphasis on melody and hooks over intricacies and mind-boggling instrumentaion. This album performed by Andeavor was a fresh surprise for me, and I think "Once Upon Time" is definitely very enjoyable for the ears of prog metal listeners. In addition, they put some mystical atmospheres with soaring lead vocals and complex ensembles. Nicely done, and highly recommended for solid prog metal music fans. I like this album so much. :-) I really look forward to hearing their follow-up new album in the future.

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Andromeda - Extension of the Wish
NTS/Wagram
(2001)

Yeah, this cd sounds really great!! This cd is really hard to get in my country, right now. Hopefully, one of Japanese labels find out this gem sooner to release their cds. In the case of import market in my country, the reaction of this cd is great, and "Extension Of The Wish" album reached no.2 at Burrn! magazine's import chart, right on!! Kudos to Andromeda camp. Their music is kind of complex and high energy and youthful prog metal style, which cross a between Dream Theater and Eldrich. The fans of DT and Eldrich style should not pass this band!! The leads of guitars and synth are kind of futuristic and very tasty. Lots of shredding and technical ensemble (of course, I do not mean technial metal).

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Andromeda - Two Is One
Avalon/Marquee
(2002/2003)

So far, I really enjoy second album of Andromeda quite a lot. However, somehow, other people who adored first one have different opinions (the main reason why they are bit confused is that second album is quite different from what they have expected, and someone did not like new one as much as first one). If anyone has favorable opinions on general prog metal, then Two is One is definately superb new release in the second half of 2002. I probably will put this cd in the top 5 of 2002's excellent release category. 2600 yen (approximately 24 to 25 dollars) costs not cheap if you buy from one of Japanese vendors, but Andromeda's new one is definately worthwhile to check out for Andromeda, Pain of Salvation, Dream Theater, Zero Hour, and Ark fans I think. Indeed, this one is very bombastic and huge one :-)

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Angra - Rebirth
Steamhammer/SPV
(2001)

'Rebirth' is the Brazillian power metal group Angra's fourth full-length album. As you have already known who they are (if you are not familiar with melodic power metal scene, please check out their website or history in the net), so I do not need to put any additional info about Angra this time. In short, this album should be one of their turning point in their career, since Andre Matos who was a main songwriter for them departed. Successfully, the original members of Angra (Kiko Loureiro and Raffael Bittencourt) maintain the legacy and tradition that Angra has accomplished in their early albums. Even though some prominent members of this Brazillian power metal group left, new members including a fantastic lead vocalist Edu Falaschi did great job in each song. Esp., Edu's vocal performance is really pleasant for melodic metal fans out there. Although I enjoy the quality and powerfully driven metal music with dramatic sounds on this cd, I miss the epic elements that Andre Matos brought in previously. Some progressive metal and ethinic elements found on this cd are quite fine, but they safely stay in the realm of melodic power metal side most time. Overall, the Angra fans were quite surprised by the fact that this group can keep up quite high music skills and melodic compositions even without Andre Matos and previous rhythm section who were dealy missed. Comparing to the popularity toward Angra's excellent second album 'Holy Land' (which is my favorite album as well), 'Rebirth' might not have been highly popular among prog metal fans. But the contents and mushicianship on this cd are definitely top notch in the power metal scene.

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Annon Vin - A New Gate
Zandoz
(1996)

A New Gate is a German prog metal trio's first album. Although I do not have much information about this band, Annon Vin is really good at pulling off intricate and complex progressive instrumentals and vocal harmonies. Their musical style is kind of similar to Sieges Even and Voivod. There are lots of busy bass movements and nice guitar chord progressions with pounding and impressive drum parts throughout this album. Due to co-production of Ralph Hubert (Mekong Delta), it sounds really well-done. In the beginning, it is bit hard to absorb, but it is worthwhile for fans who enjoy unpredictable music. A New Gate contains lots of interesting instrumentaions and vocal works. Styx's famous hit tune, Mister Roboto, was featured , and covered by Annon Vin. On this album, I hardly heard keyboard sounds. Yet, I noticed some glocken spiral sounds and electric effects soundling like keyboards mixed well with intense prog trio rocking sounds. Overall, I enjoyed A New Gate by Annon Vin quite a lot. Well done.

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Anthriel - The Passway
Lion Music
(2010)

Once again, Finland offers an interesting new comer. Anthriel is one of recent new youngsters from Lion Music. Don't get fooled by the album cover and this album's main concept coming from epic story and fantasic literature. The reason why I tell you this is because I thought this band might be influenced by Blind Guardian and Wuthering Heights. However, what they aim for their music is totally different from melodic symphonic power metal, just mind you. "The Passway" is the debut album for relatively young prog/power metal group. At glance, their musical style reminds us of Symphony X in the era of Divine Wings of Tragedy or Twilight in Olympus. However, when you listen to their debut album more closely, "The Passway" showcases great instrumental performance and interesting compositions from this Finnish group. To me, the second half of this album intrigues me big time, because of their intricate and complex prog metal sounds. Of course, the first half of this album has lots of energy and in-your-face speed and brilliant flows as well. Even though this album seems produced and engineered by themselves, it sounds quite warm and well done in my honest opinion. There is some neo-classical metal flavors, but the atmosphere and musical style of Anthriel could be classified under the file of prog metal or prog power metal. The music of Anthriel might not be inventing new wheels, but their entire performance with musical composition is very solid and quite impressive. I wish them all the best for future releases. Lion Music has got another talented new group from Finland. Congratulations!

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Faraz Anwar - Abstract Point of View
Lion Music
(2004)

One of finest hidden gems in prog metal and hard fusion scene goes to the guitarist called Faraz Anwar. Unless Lion Music notified the information, I would not have accessed to Faraz Anwar's music. Before listening to this cd, I had no idea what I could expect. At first, I thought it could be one of typical guitar instrumental works. Nope, I was totally wrong. But fortunately, Pakistani guitarist's first solo album Abstract Point of View is totally different from guitar instrumentals in general. The album title itself hints what he wants to project in his music. Faraz plays the complex instrumental music beyond neo-classical or rock guitar instrumentals. Abstract Point of View's most tracks have technical progressive parts and hard driving fusion elements as well. Faraz Anwar is really proficient and skilled guitarist whose style is similar to Allan Holdsworth and TJ Helmerich to my ears, yet he injects his own emotions and charms. His legato runs and shred performance is breathe-taking. I could never have imagined how good this precious gem it was, before I tried out his music at first. Anyway, Faraz is such an extraordinary guitar player from Pakistan. As you hear the country of Pakistan, you would imagine some kind of oriental and traditional South Asian sounds. But Abstract Point of View does not show any kind of traditional South Asian or Pakistani music background. Rather, Faraz plays progressive and technical instrumental style with well arrangement and contemporary touch like some other American or European hard progressive fusion. Esp., the first track "Through The Passage of Time" represents what he wants to express in his music. Very progressive and emotional sounds all over the place. It is hard to believe he has done everything (guitar, bass, keyboards, and drum machine), except for one track called "Last Summer" featuring the performance of Fahad Kahn (drums) and Meekal Hasan (bass). To me, it is very surprising fact that Pakistani musicians offer great chops and incredible musical world. Since John McLaughlin of Shakti/Mahavishnu Orchestra introduced quality Indian and Pakistani musicians throughout 70s, there have been really excellent South Asian musicians working so hard. What Faraz Anwas sets apart from his country musicians is he does not show any traditional Pakistani backgrounds and sounds, yet his music has been really....I would say his style is unique and original with contemporary sounds. It must have been so difficult to form the band in the situation of his country or whatever. Faraz Anwar definately astonish music listeners in general. Very impressive work nicely done. Next time, I hope I would like to hear his band efforts in the future. Ok, if you are very curious about his music, let's go find out his info and music at his website.
[website: http://www.farazanwar.com/]

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Akashic - Timeless Realm

Pretty good symphonic laden Progressive Metal from Brazil reminding me of SYMPHONY X. If you are fans of SYMPHONY X, ADAGIO, and ARTENSION, their music will not disppoint you. Although they are doing pretty good symphonic prog metal, this album does not intriugue and excite me as much as others. Overall, their instrumentation and song writing ability are quite impressive. Hopefully, they keep up good works to maintain excellent musicianship. So far, I started enjoying their music after several listenings. Hopefully, they will make a better album in the near future.

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Anguish - Symmetry

Massacre Records
(2002)

What can I say about this cd? Well, probably I expected something different from this band, so nowadays I have a bit difficulty to enjoy this cd entirely. Symmetry album has some cyber atmospheres and faster pumping tunes, but I do not know why I can not get into this album much further. Although I enjoy this kind of cyber-esque sounds and melodic metal approach with some prog metal influences, some songs on this album do not stay in my ears. I might have missed something on this band. I think this album sounds all right, but I hardly say I am very satisfied with this one. Strange feeling..., it is good actually, but not really enjoying fully in my case. Slightly, the music I heard on this album is a little different from my comfort zone....

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Antithesis - Dying for Life

Nightmare Records

This album, Dying For Life, really ROCKS!! It's been a while since I heard driving powerful metal, such as VICIOUS RUMORS and METAL CHURCH. During a few years, I did not find many interesting powerful metal bands (of course, except for some bands including ARCHETYPE, BRAINSTORM, and SYMPHORCE). ANTITHESIS's second album has been released for a while, but I am a bit late to check out Dying For Life. Overall, ANTITHESIS's Dying for Life album must be important album for headbanging metal and powerful prog/power maniacs along with their first one. Very tough, crunchy, heavy, intricate, furious, and energetic. Anyway, thanks for Krusty and ANTITHESIS camp. I really start enjoying this cd. Triumphant powerful metal album with nice amounts of intricacies and complexities.

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Apetrea, Coste - Rites of Passage
Lion Music
(2006)

He is the guitarist of legendary Swedish progressive rock band, Samla Mammas Manna. I think most people visiting my website might not have been familiar with Samla Mammas Manna and Coste Apetrea, but be aware of his brilliant song writing skills and unique guitar performance with his instrumentation. If you are curious about Swedish prog rock and jazz rock music, you'll instantly fall in love with his style and musical diversities. Some fans of Samla and Coste would be really surprised to see that Coste has just recently released his new solo album from Lion Music. In recent few years, Lion Music has been re-issuing and releasing some finest Finnish and Swedish prog musicians' works while releasing new talented musicians and progressive rock and metal groups all around the world. Coste's new album, Rites of Passage, features strong guitar-oriented progressive jazz rock/fusion tracks with acoustic-oriented great performance. I have been really enjoying his new solo album since I got this. So far, he's done another great new album.

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Arachnes - A New Day
Lion Music
(2011)

'A New Day' is the fourth album of Italian ProgPower Metal band. The name of Arachnes occasionally comes out, whenever I browse the information of Italian Metal. I was kind of curious about how they exactly sounded like. However, I was a bit hesitant to give their music a chance, because their musical style usually has been compared with European melodic power and speed metal bands like Helloween and Stratovarius. Additionally, others mentioned the musical style of Arachnes could be categorized under the file of Prog Power Metal. Such information and views of others perplexed me big time; these are the main reasons that I was late to check out. For a long while, Arachnes had been one of mysterious and unknown metal bands that I'd never tried before. In any way, finally I got a chance to listen to their latest album: A New Day. Actually, this is my first time to check out the music of Arachnes. Although I have never heard their previous albums, what they have aimed here on this new album is categorized under the genre of solid Italian power metal. In addition, this Italian group adds some vibes and elements of prog metal. If my memory serves correctly, Arachnes used to release the albums through Scarlet Records featuring Italian melodic power metal groups. However, new album of Italian group is available from Lion Music this time, so they may have left the contract of local record company. The focal point of A New Day is melodic oriented powerful metal with nice amounts of impressive guitar shreds and futuristic synth leads. Lots of crunchy guitar sounds and futuristic keyboard parts I enjoyed. Arachnes does not put the emphasis of intricacies and redundant parts; but occasionally they pull off semi-complex parts and create bit Sci-Fi atmospheres. Surprisingly, there are not many mind-boggling speedy parts; perhaps they try to avoid the similar styles of other contemporary Italian metal groups. Nevertheless, their latest cd also contains uptempo tracks with some immediate feelings that Italian power metal fans usually demand. Technically speaking, most prog metal fans would not consider what Arachness plays is typical prog metal music. However, their crunchy and pounding beats are solid enough for having a pleasant listening. If I am allowed to compare the style and sounds of Arachness, other quality Italian metal bands such as DGM and Astra come to my mind. Uniquely, the vocalist of this Italian group who has nice vocal timbres reminds me a bit of Lance King (ex.Balance of Power). The cd of 'A New Day' gives a pleasant listening moment to my ears. Overall, the production and musicianship is solid enough, and it's entertaining for Italian Metal fans out there.

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Archtetype - Dawning

Independent Release
(2002)

Latest album of Archetype, Dawning, has shown big step forward from their earlier works including "Hands of Time" e.p. which was previously reviewed on Pilgrim World website about last year. Even though they released this full length debut album from independent productions, sound production and ensemble is quite crystal clear and well-written. Their trademark of combination between American powerful metal and European power metal is still evident. "Dawning" album features brand-new songs and re-recorded songs of confident "Hands of Time" era. At a glance, they have already established their technical and bombastic ensembles on progressive powerful metal sounds. This band will appeal the fans of Vicious Rumors, Iced Earth, Annihilator, and Antithesis, because of their tightness and powerful metal approach. Chris Matyus' guitar playing is definately highlight on this band. His guitar playing is lightning fast and very sharp to entertain powerful metal listners. Most tunes contain heaviness, agressiveness, power, complexity, and dynamics. Occasionally, acoustic and clean guitar playings injected with heavier edge tunes to make their music diverse. It is really well-balanced guitar oriented agressive and technically precised metal. Vocalist, Greg Wagner, sings from high to middium ranges with occasional growls and harshed voices. Rhythm section, Keith Zeigler and Jamie Still, also takes important role to kick harder to keep high energy and complexities which is required of most Archetype tracks. Archetype is a must for fans of powerfully driven progressive power metal band leaning toward complex ensembles and bombastic energy similar to Antithesis, Iced Earth, Iron Maiden, and Vicious Rumors. Hard driving and enough complexities entertain various metal listners. Perhaps, people who always need keyboard oriented prog metal sounds have slightly different opinions on non-keyboard prog metal, but Archetype is one of non-keyboard driven progressive powerful metal bands you need to keep an eye on.

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Archetype - Hands Of Time
Independent Release

Archetype is a progressive metal quintet blending authentic powerful metal elements and progressive rhythmic ensembles with American views and European metal influences. I assume that they care for 80's powerful metal sounds and 90's semi-complex prog metal styles which they are trying to achieve on the album, Hands Of Time. Particularly, they are different from symphonic and keyboard dominated prog metal bands, but rather their musical style must stand in the vein of guitar oriented power metal genre. From their songs, I sence that they have offerd aggressive, progressive ensembles with strong and bombastic guitar oriented sounds. Probably, Vicious Rumors, Fates Warning, and Psychotic Waltz can be counted as their main metal mentors. Neverthless, they create and show their own identiteis and characteristics on this album. Definately, we must appreciate that Intromental Management has singed this Ohio Progressive power metal quintet to offer us another treasure moment in the scene of both power metal and progressive metal band. First track, "Visionary", kicks off aggressive and bombastic ensembles in similar  vein of Fates Warning and Vicious Rumors. If you like the bands I mentioned above, you will be hooked in the melodies, ensembles and song wholeheartedly. Amazingly, this song itself shows their own promising talents and powerful performances here and there. Rhythmic patterns are kind of semi-complex, so progressive metal elements are evident, and actually I really like atmosphere of tension they have created here, and aggressiveness in the manner of prog metal, in particular, guitar sections. Their ensembles are really tight and aggressive, and relatively well-mixed and produced, hence I enjoy its album quite a lot. Lead singer's vocal ranges are mostly from mid to high. Mainly, I am impressed with guitar works of Chris Matyus. Probably, this first track can be most outstanding track in my opinion. Following Visionary, "Dissention's Wake" comes along shortly after. Perhaps, this song may stand between European Power Metal style obviously, and American semi-prog metal moments. Introduction and middle parts seem to have Rush-esque progressive rhythmic patterns. Besides those parts, some speedy and powerful sections rush into the style of slightly German power metal in Archetype way, so it sounds still original for them. Third track, "Arisen", might be different from previous two songs. Third songs moderately starts with memorable and melodic acoustic guitar strokings with dreamy and ethereal atmospheres. Shortly after the warm atmosphere they made, they moved into next development part full of animation and complexity a la Queensryche's "Prophecy". Lastly, title track closes this surprising album. It is little bit bad for me that E.P. contains only excellent four tracks. Actually I want to hear other materials from them. Fourth track, Hands Of Time, can be categorized as progressive metal style tune which appeal die-hard progressive metal listeners like us. Overall, this album shows their promising talents and unique ensembles. I can not say this is the band which create original music, but they have performed really exciting and energetic prog metal tunes and powerful metal repetoirs. Maybe, this band should be memorized for future references as next big rising prog metal band from Ohio, Texas. Archetype should be recognized in the scene of prog metal and powerful metal fans. Thanks for Chris Matyus and Archetype camp. It sounds great. Good job!!

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Arkhe - s/t

Underground Symphony
(1997)

Just like Italian soccer league, I would guess that there must have some kind of Italian prog metal league :-) Italian act Arkhe, is one of known DT-ish bands in the community of prog metal fans. In the beginning, I thought that they would not sound much like Dream Theater somehow. After I listend to this cd entirely, I started understanding that their music is kind of dangerously categorized as "Dream Theater clone". I come to realize that this band's DT influence is definately huge, but they mix their own musical ideas and theme with DT-ish elements cohesively and intelligently, so in my case it turns out good efforts. Stylistically, the influences of Dream Theater are quite huge on Arkhe's music. In particular, pino Tozzi's vocal performance is quite similar to James LaBrie's timbres and style. However, the approach of guitar/keyboard solos are a bit different from DT to me. In the case of Arkhe, the amount of guitar solo and keyboard solo has been relatively given in balance like Dream Theater. However, some intricate sections and dual leads have a bit of neo-classical tones (like Artension) with fusiony and modal leads. Due to legato guitar phrasing, its style reminds me of T.J. Helmerich and Allan Holdsworth a bit. The styles and sounds have been symphonic and melodic prog metal in Italian way. That is no question about it. How about the song length and theme of each tune. Well, obviously each song reflects on phylosophical themes and European literatures. Those ideas are effectively related to intricate ensembles and heavy sounds to me. Rhythmic approach is also interesting. They throw some odd-time meters and tempo change quite often. It keeps definately listener's ears interesting. I am not sure that this expression is proper or not. Their first album will be remembered as one of first class Dream Theater sounding bands. Average time length of each tune is quite long. It takes about 7 to 12 minutes, so some listeners have to be patient to follow each tune. Overall, their musicianship is actually skillfull and control pretty well. The entire sounds and atmospheres on Arkhe are considered as kind of first class. Nevertheless, they need to have more unique ideas and theme like "Le Voyand de Salon" that sound quite terrific. I hope they keep creating mystical-laden symphonic prog metal sounds continuously. I would like to know whatever happened to them, since their first album was out.

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Armored Saint - Symbol of Salvation
Metal Blade Records
(1991)

During late 1980's and early 1990's, I went through the phase of quality powerful metal and technical thrash metal before getting into progressive metal and prog rock. Armored Saint has been one of my all time favorite American power metal bands. Even though I admit I am not an expert of Armored Saint, the tracks from this 'Symbol of Salvation' released in 1991 were often played on Heavey Metal radio station and MTV's Headbangers Ball. It cought my attention back then; I was right to get my hands on this cd. If my memory serves correctly, this group has still been very respected a lot among enthusiastic power metal fans in U.S. and Europe. Symbol of Salvation is no doubt one of most attracting power metal albums that has memorable phrases and catchy ensembles with powerful John Bush's strong voice, who later joined Anthrax later. Esp., the songs like "Reign of Fire" and "Last Train Home" have really strong potentials to grab all heavy metal fans. Actually, this album is entirely produced and performed quite solid. If you miss this classic American Power Metal release back then, you need to give a chance. To me, this album is one of important and favorite power metal albums.

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Artension - Future World
Lion Music
(2005)

Future World is perhaps one of most ambitious melodic prog metal albums that they have released. First two songs on the album feature classic speedy Artension-style bombastic neo-classical metal with heavy shred guitars and incredible fast keyboard solos. Except for these first two songs and a few other classical piano performance played by the leader of Artension, Vitalij Kuprij, I think most new tracks from this album offer refreshing song-writing approach with nice instrumental performance. Basically, Artension keeps their legacy and authentic HR/HM style, but I think the production on the instrumentation, esp., keyboard parts have really improved a lot, comparing to their early albums like 1st album and 2nd album. In my case, I thought 2nd album would be their best album they have created. Nevertheless, this new album is nearly as good as 2nd album. As always, Vitalij is this band's focal point among Artension fans. His lightning speed keyboard solos could not be faster enough. At the same time, Roger Stufflebach's guitar solos have been getting really tasty, too. Their rhythm sections keep supporting the foundation of this band really tight and solid. One thing I am a bit surprised is that John West's voice. What has happened to his soulful bold voice? I mean his vocal tones get thinner, even though he's done really good vocal performance on Future World. At first, I thought John has already left the band since he's involved with Royal Hunt, but he's not left. To be honest, I did not expect something very new and any thrills from their latest album. But I have to say sorry for the guys of Artension. My assumption was terribly wrong. Most tunes on the album have really great instrumental works and updated sounds and elements. Actually, this is fantastic efforts, and nicely done with new approach for Artension. If you are into Symphony X, Magnitude 9, and Adagio, this new album of Artension is recommended to the fans of neo-classical prog power metal music.

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Artension - Into The Eye of The Storm
Shrapnel Records
(1996)

'Into The Eye of The Storm' is the first album of neo-classical metal band led by Ukranian keyboard/piano player Vitalij Kuprij and guitar player Roger Staffelbach from Switzerland. Artension has been known and well received in the scene of neo-classical power metal. As I look back the year around 1996, the advertisement about this group's debut album on major American guitar magazines immediately captured my attension. It stated that Artension from Shrapnel Records is one of brightest hopes of progressive metal with superb musicianship, so how could I resist staying away from hypes? :) Of course, I got my hands on this cd immediately, when it's out. As for Artension's debut cd, it packs lots of bombastic neo-classical power metal with some hints of fusion interplays. Indeed, the musianship of this group is immaculate and very precise in all areas.

There are lots of up-tempo and faster powerful metal tunes with Vitalij's blazing synth solos and Roger's raging guitar solos that appeal to the fans of neo-clasical metal. On the other hand, I find some arguments from prog metal fans that the music of Artension on this album do not offer typical prog metal moments like odd-time beats and shifting drastic time changes very much. Stylistically, they put the speed and bombastic performance with neo-classically Euro metal moments over intricate interplay that prog metal band usually displays. Even though there are lots of technical keyboard performance from Vitalij and up-tempo moments from everyone, the rhythmic foundation of this group is kept safely steady and straightforward in most time. Lead vocalist John West's performance reminds me of energetic hard rock singers like Graham Bonnet and Joe Lynn Turner. He basically sings really powerful and soulful all the time.

Well, I agree with prog metal fans' minor complaints about lacks of prog metal elements. However, the tunes like complex "World of Illusion" and "Lost Memory" could be qualified as a kind of dark and powerfully-driven prog metal track to my ears at least. Interestingly, the rhythm section of Artension takes an important role to sound really dynamic; bass player Kevin Chown and drummer Mike Terrana have a major impact to enjoy more in my listening experience. "Smoke and Fire" is quite unique and has almost Deep Purple like feeling and jazz/fusion tastes with progressive metal instrumental parts that I really enjoyed. The instrumental tune of "Red's Recovery" is quite fascinating in the term of each players solo and ensemble that sound sometimes closer to crossover fusion, although the basic music structure of that tune is melodic power metal. In addition, the performance of Kevin Chown does not usually come forward like what Vitalij and Roger do, however Kevin's pulsating bass performance and backing contribution is definitely very important for this cd to put original touch and its own charms. Without any doubts, this group's musicianship is quite extraordinary and interesting enough to get into. Probably, Artention's 1st album might not have a strong appeal to most prog metal fans, but it's a great feast for melodic power metal fans who also get into neo-classical metal.

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Artificial Light Attraction - Fragile Skin
Independent Release
(2008)

'Fragle Skin' is the first album from Switzerland-based progressive project led by a multi-talented musician called Yves P. Shaub (vocals/guitars/bass). Before I heard their music, I had a totally wrong assumption that Artificial Light Attraction must have been some kind of symphonic prog rock group from Italy. This atmospheric art work of theirs I took a look on the internet gave me a such impression. Anyway, this group's music does not sound anything like Italian symphonic rock at all. Probably, the band name would imply some kind of media including TV and computer technology that we enjoy on daily basis (perhaps, we are dangerously drowned and buried in the vast information too much). Musically, what they perform on the album might be focused on the heavier side of progressive rock/metal with electornic and synth elements. Themes of most songs are usually driven by human emotions and darker side of people. Indeed, the whole thing performed on the cd of 'Fragile Skin' is very intriguing and highly original.

As I delve into their music intensely and carefully, each song on 'Fragile Skin' gradually grabs my attention. Additionally, their music grows on me getting stronger and better every time I listen. I'm quite impressed that Artificial Light Attraction combine heavier side of prog music with darker and melancholic moods quite effectively and successfully. Stylistically, Artificial Light Attraction would be classified under the progressive metal category, but what they showcase here sets apart from typical prog metal groups. They put the emphasis on relatively heavier grooves and modern sounds with some sort of prog metal vibes over intricate interplays. There are not many complex instrumental overplayings, but you'll find their compositions are relatively being sophisticated with various moods and atmospheres. It's quite amazing to see that most instrumentals handled by this group's mastermind Yves P. Shaub that sound really articulate and crisp. The grooves and rhythmic parts performed by Tobias Roth are very smooth and nice as well. Most compositions were written by Yves P. Shaub, but the enginner and producer Jan Stucki (samples/loops) also helped Mr. Shaub and made a collaboration for the music to add darker and swirling flavors on the world of 'Fragile Skin.' The production of their new album is really great and done professionally in my honest opinion. The instrumental sections are very organized and balanced well.

By the way, please do not get discouraged and confused by my word expressions like modern sounds and grooves. Each member of this Switzerland-based group is skilled in all sections, and knows how to burst heavier parts and emotional sides. Even though there are some electronic and synthetic sounds used, they do not go upfront too much. Personally, the mixture of heavy grooves and synth sounds are quite enjoyable while listening. Overall, I'm very satisfied with what they have acoomplished on 'Fragile Skin' album. I would say that Artificial Light Attraction is a highly original and professional progressive group. They have a big potential and appeals to the fans of Rush, King's X, Porcupine Tree, Fates Warning, and Superior. Highlights of this album for me are the dynamically driven "Experience", atmospheric flavored "Down Again", busy and uptempo "Consuming Me" with progressive and challenging spirits, and the last track of emotionally reflecting "Deceived." Definitely, I highly recommend for someone who would like to hear dynamic and modern heavy prog music. If you are curious about them, please check out their music on the official page and myspace.

[official website] http://www.artificiallightattraction.com/
[myspace] http://www.myspace.com/artificiallightattraction

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Ascension Theory - Regeneration
Nightmare Records
(2004)

This is a side project of the keyboard player Tim Becker from the U.S. prog metal group Aztec Jade. The cd of Regeneration has symphonic prog metal elements with movie soundtrack-like bombasts. Even though Ascension Theory is not as heavy or complex as Tim's main group Aztec Jade, it has lots of keyboard-dominated tunes and cinematic soundscapes. In this project, Aztec Jade's Leon Ozug is also featured as supporting member playing nice guitar solos and backing rhythms. Of course, he shows dynamic and soaring vocal performance as well. All songs written and keyboards are handled by Tim Becker himself; the arrangement and instrumentation sound really solid and steady. I think this is quite ambitious approach for Tim and Leon to perform keyboard/guitar oriented symphonic prog metal that obviously sound a bit different from what Aztec Jade usually do on their albums. Through 'Regeneration', Tim showcases his brilliant keyboard instrumental performance and displays movie soundtrack-like atmosphric and spacy sounds. I believe many Aztec Jade fans who enjoy Tim and Leon's style would love the first album of Ascension Theory.

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At Vance - Only Human
AFM Records
(2002)

At Vance from Germany constantly releases solid and fine melodic metal albums in recent years. This is my first try to check out At Vance's album, Only Human. Overall, they perform fine neo-classical flavored melodic metal with elements of some symphonic tastes. Esp., Olaf Lenk's blistering and shred guitar solos are one of highlights on Only Human. In addition, Oliver Hartman's powerful vocal is really outstanding, and Ulli Muller's keyboard playing is pretty good, too. Only Human contains several powerful upbeat tunes and a few other midium tempo songs. Probably, Only Human is one of their best efforts through their entire catalog. Only Human has nice sound productions and solid musicianship. If you are fan of Yngwie Malmsteen, Stratovarius, Sonata Arctica, Symphony X, Concerto Moon, Majestic, and Akashic, they are worthwhile to check out.

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At War With Self - Acts of God
Sluggo's Music
(2007)

'Acts of God' is the second full-length release from At War With Self featuring a progressive-minded guitar player/musician Glen Snelwar and his fellow musicians. The new line-up on this album is completely different from their previous line-up on the excellent heavy progressive album 'Torn Between Dimensions'. Let's look at the musicians on this booklet: Except for Glenn himself, its new line-up includes Damon Trotta (bass/synths/e-bow/programming), James Vonbuelow (guitars), Steve Decker (drums), Manfred Dikkers (drums); Moreover, it also features singer Mark Sunshine and synth/keyboard player Dave Archer. On this new album, the credits of compositions are coming mainly from Glenn Snelwar and and Damon Trotta. While listening to this album, I've come to realize that At War With Self do not seem to repeat doing same style again on each new release.

In the beginning of my first listening session on this new album, I was a bit overwhelmed by this monster prog album. I was kind of expecting same line of what they laid out on 'Torn Between Dimensions' that has some similarities like excellent Gordian Knot-like flavors and tensions. New album 'Acts of God' demands the listener to spin several times for digesting the music contents here. Of course, it's not that I do not like this album at all. Instead, this album is definitely challenging progressive rock music that denies the listener who approach with casual listening habit. After having listened to several times, I've got to hear quite unique and extraordinare approach heavy progressive sounds with the conceptual theme seemingly related to 911 tradegedy and some warnings toward the situation surrounding United States and world's conflict. I also recommend that progressive rock fans need to be careful to listen diligently to grab something intelligent and thought-provoking music from their latest works.

The core of this album and At War With Self's style is definitely complex and intricate progressive rock music. The music of new album is kind of bordering the territory of chaotic, yet organized dark progressive metal instrumental works. Again, the instrumentation of this group is astonishingly fantastic to my ears. Comparing to their previous album, there are much varied tracks including some comtemporary prog, post-modernism, and synthetic keyboard-drenched powerful sounds. Due to the involvement of synth player, keyboard sounds on some songs are dominant, but they do not sound like technical symphonic rock. Overall, it's quite ambitious ecclectic heavy progressive rock/metal music that they have managed to create. On the surface level, a lot of things are going on, but it's totally controlled and organized. I assume that the fans who are into Heaven's Cry, Voivod, and King Crimson would have a good chance to enjoy new album of At War With Self. Again, their new album is quite challenging and demanding prog music, so it might not be difficult to appeal to casual music listener. Nevertheless, this album has lots of own charm, so it's definitely worthwhile to grab and take something with each listen. If you are looking for something challenging and intricately arranged music like Gordian Knot, the music on At War With Self definitely gives you a new discovery. Highly recommended for heavy prog rock listeners and open-minded music fans.

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At War With Self - Torn Between Dimensions
Free Electric Sound/The Laser's Edge
(2005)

Again, The Laser's Edge introduces a stunning progressive rock project called At War With Self in 2005 under the banner of Free Electric Sound. Esp., we have heard lots of great new releases this year, 2005 alone. However, the mayhem of new releases does not seem to stop in the progressive rock world. Before having checked out the music of At War With Self, I thought this would be some kind of jazz rock or fusion music. Well, it turned out really fabulously intense heavy progressive rock sounds with lots of orgazined chaotic metallic flavors and improvisations on Torn Between Dimensions album. Torn Between Dimensions features really aggressive feeling tracks and some calm/atmospheric tracks as well. The keyword of their first offering is "variety and diversity" I believe. :-)

At War With Self features veteran musicians, such as Glenn Snelwar on guitars/e-bow/keyboard/mandlin (appearing on Gordian Knot's 1st album), Mark Zonder on drums (Fates Warning), and Michael Manring on bass. As you see the line-up of At War With Self, there is no mistake on the instrumental parts. These talented musicians offer lots of great moments and bombastic instrumentations with subtle flavors and emotions. On the surface level, you could feel like listening to intense jazz/fusion. But when you listen to this music of At War With Self closely, you'll find lots of great things going on. All musical elements of prog, jazz/fusion, moden classical, atmospheric touches, and metal have been interwoven tightly.

Probably, this album has been described as intense progressive rock, and I agree with that. The mastermind of At War With Self, Glenn Snelwar, successfully breaks the barriers of different styles, such as prog rock, jazz rock, fusion, classical, modern electronics, and prog metal. Even though this album is mostly played by instrumentals, the performance of all musicians is beyond so-called music. In other words, it seems that each track speaks itself with some kind of (title-related) human emotions, inner-conflicts, and another dimentions parallel to this world we live in.

Overall, I have been very very impressed and satisfied with At War With Self. If you have never heard of this band, please check this out. With each listening of Torn Between Dimensions, I always find refreshing discoveries. They have achieved really deep and emotional progressive rock music with virtuostic instrumental performances on this album. Highly recommended to the fans of Gordian Knot, Fates Warning, Attension Deficit, and recent King Crimson. I look forward to their new album and Glenn Snelwar's future musical works. Well-done, and superbly good job :-)

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Auditory Imagery - Reign
Zero Corporation
(1992)

'Reign' is the first album from the U.S. prog metal band Auditory Imagery. According to the info on the internet, they had been actively performing sort of solid prog metal music since late 1980's until 1990's. Later, a Japanese label called Zero Corporation picked up this group as one of their rosters to release this album and 2nd album. Stylistically, what Auditory Imagery showcases here on the first album, Rain, is not far away from the intricate progressive metal sounds of Fates Warning and Reading Zero. Originally, it was intensionally released as EP version for the first place, but eventually this album has been considered as their first album (added several songs as extented). Comparing to their later works, 'Reign' album has lengthy and exiciting complex tracks dominated by twin guitars and soaring lead vocals with twisted ensemble. It's quite enjoyable for guitar-prog metal fans in general to get into this first album. If you have never had a chance to pick up this album before, I recommend you give a try. Guitar-oriented prog metal fans do not get diasppointed with the results on this album. Of course, their musicianship is quite solid and tasty I think, even though the art work of album cover looks a bit spooky.

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Auditory Imagery - So Alive
Zero Corporation
(1994)

One of early U.S. prog metal bands from United States, Auditory Imagery's second album is really solid and guitar-oriented prog metal music. If you are into the bands like Fates Warning, you need to check out So Alive. They have managed to create heavy, yet complex prog metal ensemble with nice melodies and atmospheres on this entire album. I highly recommend this cd for die-hard prog metal fans who are into guitar-driven thinking man's music. Yes, actually I have enjoyed this band's music quite a lot. Do not miss it.

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Avalon - Vision Eden
B-Mind Records

Perhaps, the album of Vision Eden might be placed as Avalon's turning point after Srirankan singer Chity Lanka Somapala succeeded the position of a lead singer for them. Musically, their music canbe classified inbetween Vanden Plas/Dream Theater style prog metal and melodic powerful metal like Kamelot and Gamma Ray. Avalon created very interesting prog/power music that appeal to the fans of prog metal and power metal. Each member of Avalon showcases accomplished music skill. Their ensembles are really tight to perform intensely and aggressive parts. Each tune on this album, they concentrate making dramatic movements over technical chops. Avalon shows us very tasty performance of keyboard/guitar solos with female bassist's amazing bass chops. They put the essence of mysteriasness and minor ethnicness on a few tunes that influence next album, Eurasia. Speaking of Chitral, he has really melodic mid-ranged voice, and sometimes akin to Scorpions' ledendary singer, Claus Meine and ex. MSG singer, Robin McAuley. I really enjoy their music on Vision Eden a lot with their next opus, Eurasia.

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Avalon - Eurasia

B-Mind Records
(2000)

Yeeeeeessss!!!! Finally, I checked out an entire Avalon - Eurasia album. Woa!! This is very refreshing progressive powerful metal music I really enjoy. All songs on Avalon are very convincing and attractive. "Eurasia" seems to be a courageous step forward from previous works. "Eurasia" sounds very exotic and interesting mixture of ethnic sounds with melodic prog metal elements. Absolutely, fantastic compositions never let Avalon fans go. Of course, the ensembles of Avalon are pretty tight and bombastic!! The guitar solos of Sebastian & keyboard solos of Jens also stand out well. Petra's chopper basses are pretty exciting. Lots of Srilankan/Indian flavors tabla, elegant female Seilone/Sri Lanka style Buddists' chanting, and steel drum-like effects are tasty and spicey!! Moreover, Chity's vocal sound terrific as well. Very impressive works Avalon have done. The cover tune of Mr.Mister (KYRIE) sounds very symphonic!! (I would like to vote this is one of best cover tune, really refreshing!!) The last track is treat, because Sebastian's E-bow performance and Chity's Chapman stick performance (Woa, Chity..you are brilliant man!! you are the best Asian prog metal singer I have ever heard in recent years!! I did not know that you also play STICKS!! Great performance on both your vocal and stick department!!) My favorite tunes on Avalon are well all tracks, but if I pick up some....I would say "Aurora", "Temujin" "Save The Holy Land" "Eurasia" and more.Superb prog metal album!! Avalon - Eurasia would rank in the same height/place such as, Symphony X - V, Kamelot - The Fourth Legacy, Mind's Eye - Waiting For The Tide, Elegy - Forbidden Fruit, Pain Of Salvation - Perfect Element, Aghora, Silent Exile - Dancing with Death, Mattson - Another Dimention, Persephone's Dream - Moonspell and other excellent works in this year. This year, 2000, must be very fruitful for prog metal and prog rock genre. Congratulation to all members of Avalon!!

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Awake - Illumination
Lion Music
(2007)

Probably, Awake is one of most discussed and promising melodic prog metal bands in the European metal press in recent days. According to the info and many reviews I've browsed on the net, Awake (formaly known as Humanity) play melodic metal style in the vein of Evergrey. As I give a try to the album of Illuminations by this U.K. metal group, the overall atmosphere of the music they play is not dissimilar to Swedish melodic progressive power metal group Evergrey. With the help of a few members of Evergrey, there are no wonder some similarities between young U.K. group of Lion Music and the respected Swedish group from InsideOut roster. The name of this group themself gave me an impression of Dream Theater school prog metal before I have checked out their music, but it turned out solid powerful melodic ProgPower music geared toward Evergrey. Additionally, this group's style reminds me a bit of another solid England ProgPower metal group called ShadowKeep performing really good jobs at Headway Festival about a few years ago. In my first impression, what I expected from this group was much different. After having listened to this album several times more, I've come to a conclusion that what Awake perform is based on solid and less-complex melodic power metal without leaning on chops and intricate interplays. Many people compare them to Evergrey alone, but I would like to add that they also put the flavors and influences from their U.K. metal seniors like Toranaga, ShadowKeep and probably Iron Maiden a bit. In the latter section of Illumination, I find much more exiciting up-tempo parts that they pull off with slight complex and bombast elements. If you enjoy the music of Evergrey and similar style sounding bands like Awake, this kind of sound and approach would appeal to you big time. On the other hand, this entire solid and powerfully steady approach of this U.K. metal group would not have a big chance to win the hearts of most prog metal fans. Well, it depends on what you are hearing from this group, so please decide for your preference. Anyway, the production and songwriting of this album is very solid and well-done in my opinion. It's really good move for U.K. metal scene to provide such strong young new comers like Awake in recent years.

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Awake - Forever More
Lion Music
(2011)

It's been almost four years since their debut album, but British prog metal band Awake finally has returned with a strong new album. New album "Forever More" has quite emotional feelings with very solid and pounding prog metal ensemble and tasteful melodies to my ears. Comparing to their debut album, I believe they took some years to combine melodic sensibilities with heavier sounding complex prog metal in deep level. For some listeners, U.K. has been struggling to introduce quality prog metal bands, except for some notable groups like Threshold. In recent years, they come up with great quality bands, such as To-Mera, Haken, Linear Sphere, and so forth. Picky prog metal fans have also noticed that British music scene constantly offers new bands in recent few years. Awake could be one of quality prog metal acts from U.K. scene nowadays. To be honest with you, their second album "Forever More" has lots of impressive musical parts and inrigues much better than their previous debut album. Every time I listen to it closely, it brings me a great joy and precious discovery. Thanks to the hard work of Awake on their new album. This new cd performed by British prog metal group is going to get new fanbase. Keep up a great work, Awake. If you are looking for the sounds similar to Evergrey, Reading Zero, and Lion's Share type prog metal, this music would appeal to your musical tastes I assume.

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Ayreon - The Universal Migrator Pt.1: The Dream Sequencer
Transmission Records
(2000)

The Dream Sequencer is really enjoyable symphonic rock drama. Mostly, this album contains atmospheric and spacey melodic prog rock tunes remindind me of Pink Floyd with a bit harder edge. This is the story of last survivor in Mars left alone who use Universal Migrator program to go back to the pasts till end of his life. Each track represents his journey to the each era of past time on the earth. Definately, tour de force for sympho rock fans. The Dream Sequencer is mostly song-oriented album, so it is not difficult to get into it for any music fans. Actually, I really enjoy listening to this one quite a lot. Like other Ayreon albums, The Dream Sequencer include proficient musicians, such as Eric Norlander, Clive Nolan, Lana Lane, and so on. Universal Migrator Pt.2 features mostly melodic metal and prog metal musicians. Somehow, The Dream Sequencer is done pretty cohesive and well-put album.

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