Shadow Circus – On a Dark and Stormy Night
I must say that I absolutely love Shadow Circus’ latest album cover; so dark, almost fools you into thinking this is a metal album. Not so. These New Jersey proggers deliver a solid blend of classic 70’s progressive with a heavy dose of neal prog to produce tracks that are simultaneously catchy while maintaining a nice concept feel throughout. Tracks like “Make Way for the Big Show” demonstrate great piano playing, cool tron, dark atmosphere, blazing synths and fiery Hammond. Instrumental madness like “Tesseract” features great dirty guitar riffs and lots of keys while “The Battle for Charles Wallace” is an exciting journey with a sinister melodic touch that will haunt your nightmares before laying down moments of calm with multi-layered vocal arrangements. On a Dark and Stormy Night is a solid album which should definitely appeal to fans of neo-prog.
Yleclipse – Songs from the Crackling Atanor
Although I wasn’t blown away by anything overly original when listening to Yleclipse, there was an immediate sense of pleasure as I was quickly reminded of a dear band I love: Gryphon. This is never a bad thing. In fact, for anyone who is into this nerdy kind of medieval rock music, this is heaven. Yleclipse drops loads of medieval/renaissance inspired melodies for all of your Dungeons and Dragons needs, or at least enough for mine. That’s not to say theYleclipse is a Gryphon ripoff; nothing could be further from the truth. Compositionally they are quite distinct, and even their use of medieval is quite removed, so I’m not quite sure what quite gave me the Gryphon impression. At the very least, the presence of a singer who does very different kinds of vocals and melodies than Gryphon will prove immediately to give the band its own presence, with a sort of Ainur feel, for those familiar with the Italian symphonic band bearing that name. The production Songs from the Crackling Atanor sounds very dated; in fact, some of you might wonder if this really came out in 2012. Well, it did. And yes, it’s not a flawless album, but from the album cover to the sound itself, it does have nerd written all over it, which is enough to capture many of us prog fans.
Il Giardino Onirico – Perigeo
Atmospheric at times, mysterious, heavy, even jazzy, Il Giardino Onirico delivers music that leaves you guess what’s next but still feels consistent throughout. While many sections are interesting the overall compositions can get a bit tedious, lacking (imo) enough attention grabbing moments to keep you focused between the key sections of songs. On one hand though, Perigeo makes for greatood for background listening, something that you can put on and really enjoy while multi-tasking and which won’t get you excessively distracted. A prime example of this is “Utopia Planitia” with its mysterious overtones, as well as “Agosto” with its slamming heavy riffs with great atmospheres. Fans of the band and genre should pick up this album; for all else, give it a spin while its available so you can see if its your cup of tea.