Reviews of the latest CD and DVD releases in the world of progressive rock

September 19, 2021
Orbit - Human Voltage
A great discovery, multi-instrumentalist and studio guru Marc Girard presents his brand new project, Orbit, with the album entitled Human Voltage. High quality electronic music, with a dozen short and catchy compositions, featuring a great variety of styles and themes.

All of the tracks on this album have appealing melodies and harmonies that are sometimes reminiscent of the ambient new-age sound of Jean-Michel Jarre, or the experimental themes of Mike Oldfield. The subtle and ethereal arrangements are magnificent.

Among the pieces that stand out, Connexion and Voyager III are definitely influenced by the classic sound of Jean-Michel Jarre. Black Hole and Adventure, with their spirited rhythm, remind us of the dynamic sound of Ozric Tentacles at times. Interlude reminds us a bit of the graceful reverberations of Vangelis. Dawn has some early Tangerine Dream vibes, there is a nice inspired guitar solo at the end, courtesy of the excellent Bruno Coulombe! The beauty of this album is that it is linear and relaxing, harmonious and well-arranged from the first to the last note.

Orbit is definitely a delicious new project that will appeal to lovers of this eclectic musical style, I highly recommend it : 4.5/5

August 18, 2021
Frost* - Day And Age
The excellent folks from Frost* have released a new opus this past May, entitled
Day and Age, following the release of Falling Satellites in 2016. Jem Godfrey, John Mitchell, and Nathan King reunited to record the album over the course of 2019 and 2020 in the middle of the pandemic lockdown, along with guest drummers Kaz Rodriguez, Darby Todd and Pat Mastelotto.

Frost* is renowned for its quality edgy progressive pop, with their mix of short, punchy songs and lengthy, bombastic epics, and I must say that Day and Age fits perfectly this description! Beautiful melodies, energetic rhythms throughout the entire album, but with darker lyrics that contrast a bit with the jovial melodies and dynamic tempos. Many of the songs on this new album have a driving energy that is perfect for road music at full volume!

The album is composed of 8 tracks on the first CD, with a second CD composed of their instrumental counterparts and edited tracks. it is also available in digital format and in a double vinyl LP set + CD. The title track, Day and Age, is a wonderful start to the album with a catchy jingle and energetic rhythm. Terrestrial has a hypnotic, spacey rhythm and so does the highly rhythmic track The Boy Who Stood Still, which has a spoken word portion done by Jason Isaacs (he played the devious Lucius Malfoy in Harry Potter). Island Life harkens back to the style of the 1st Frost* album, with John Mitchell's highlighted vocals. Skywards and Waiting for the Lie provide a pause with more atmospheric melodies. Repeat to Fade has a bit of a heavier tone with equally ponderous lyrics. The epic of the album is the excellent Kill The Orchestra, which begins as a ballad, only to gradually gain momentum and turn into a vigorous number with a catchy melody!

Some of the songs, like Day and Age, Island Life and Terrestrial, have captivating accompanying videos. A brilliant 4th album from Jem and the guys!

August 6, 2021
Liquid Tension Experiment 3
Here's a quick review of Liquid Tension Experiment 3:
Fans of Liquid Tension Experiment have always hoped for a reunion after the band's two stellar releases in 1998 and 1999, but as the decades passed, It seemed more and more unlikely.

But late last year, to the surprise of all, Mike Portnoy announced that the group had gathered again – in the Dream Theater studios no less – to record the third opus of the mighty LTE. They had confined themselves in order to work together in the studio. LTE3 was released in mid-April this year.

This third new album captures the spontaneity, energy and originality of their first one, and I must admit, is far better than their second one. The quartet as always, puts the accent on impressive instrumentation and blistering virtuosity throughout the album, which is composed of a solid selection of fiery, energetic numbers, ballads and improvisations. Some of the compositions have riffs directly lifted from Petrucci's Dream Theater library of melodies! It was no surprise that their famed interpretation of "Rhapsody In Blue" by Gershwin was featured on this album, as they had introduced it during their US tour in 2008 much to their fan's delight!

The group also released promo videos for the songs The Passage of Time, Beating the Odds and Hypersonic. The regular edition of LTE3 contains eight tracks; the special edition with bonus disc comes with almost one hour of improvisations. It was released in digital, CD, LP and Blu-ray formats, including a limited 2CD+Blu-ray artbook edition and a limited deluxe box set.

August 5, 2021
Here's a new energetic jazz fusion band with a super cool lineup! PAKT !
PAKT is made up of fretless bass guitar icon
Percy Jones (Brian Eno, Brand X), guitarists Alex Skolnick (Savatage, TSO) and Tim Motzer, and drummer Kenny Grohowski.

Elaborate instrumental proggy jazz fusion, with a superb level of virtuosity, the PAKT project is fluid and improvised yet highly organized. This album was released in July 2021, from a recording made of a live stream at the height of the pandemic lockdown, on August 15, 2020 in Brooklyn, NY. The intimate setting/live atmosphere of the ShapeShifter Lab Studios made for a splendid collaboration and instant chemistry between the musicians, something that would probably not have been possible if this project had been made in a home studio with the musicians sending their individual music tracks through email.

Alex Skolnick says: "When we play together it is non-categorizable, although one could probably apply terms like jazz-rock, ambient, experimental etc. It is entirely in the moment. The closest thing I've done to this was a project called Attention Deficit (with Michael Manring), although that was pure studio, never live. Fans of Attention Deficit will love PAKT, which can be seen live, and in fact, is all live, all the time."

Mixed and mastered by Benjamin Schäfer and Markus Reuter and produced by PAKT and Leonardo Pavkovic, this album is now available in CD format (2CD) on the Moonjune Records label, as well as on Bandcamp.

March 13, 2021
The Future Bites
from Steven Wilson
This is my review of Steven Wilson's latest album, The Future Bites.

Steven Wilson is one of those brilliant artists that truly reinvents himself from one album to another, his musical imagination seems to be boundless.
The Future Bites was released in early February, the COVID pandemic complicating the production side of the album, which had been scheduled to be released back in the summer of 2020. Quite a departure from the general musical styles and arrangements from his earlier albums Raven, Grace for Drowning and Insurgentes, but still very much in Steven's trademark sound and song structure.

The theme of the album is familiar to Steven Wilson fans, dealing with identity, technology and mass consumerism, offering at times a dark, dystopian view of our world. Those themes were explored in some way on Porcupine Tree's
Fear of a Blank Planet and are recurrent in some of his later work. Steven's press release described it as "The Future Bites picks apart our 21st century utopia, while also allowing for moments of personal growth and optimism".

The album begins with Unself, a short, eerie intro, and then on to one of the singles of the album, Self, which has a bit of a techno vibe, a catchy tune. King Ghost is a ethereal soundscape, reminiscent of "Index" at times, one caveat though, the tinny synth drums can be grating at times. 12 things I forgot is a great, catchy pop ballad with lovely melodies and harmonies, very much radio-ready, a genre that Steven explored on
To the Bone with "Permanating". Eminent Sleaze is a groovy, rhythmic track, where the usage of female back vocals is a bit reminiscent of Roger Waters and Pink Floyd, some great Chapman stick riffs from Sir Nick Beggs. Man of the People is a quiet, spacy interlude, which sounds like the material from the Grace For Drowning era, one of my favorites tracks. Then on to the "epic", and primary single of the album, Personal Shopper, clocking at almost 10 minutes, an energetic, highly rhythmic, slightly sinister techno rave track, and although I am not really a fan of this style, the track is quite catchy and is definitely good road music! Then on to Follower, an energetic track with a driving rhythm and a bit of distorted guitar work, the earworm "Ooh oh Follow me follow me" will stay stuck in your head! Count of Unease is a soft, melodic, fading conclusion to the album with a structure reminiscent of "Happy Returns" from Hand Cannot Erase.

A short main album at 42 minutes, I was tempted by the deluxe box set which features nearly 90 minutes of bonus material but for the casual fan, the regular edition is quite satisfactory.

A few music videos were released for the songs Eminent Sleaze, Personal Shopper and Self, all highly original, at times bizarre, with slick production and top notch effects.

I must salute Steven for this highly audacious and out-of-the-box album, definitely far from his comfort zone, which features good melodies, catchy pop themes and thoughtful lyrics. Some of Wilson's more rabid fans have often voiced their discontent at his current pop phase, and are not happy with his new musical direction. And it is indeed jarring at times, but give it a chance, give it a spin, it'll grow on you.

I will admit that even though I definitely enjoy this one a lot,
The Future Bites is not my favorite from his discography. I give it 3.9 out of 5 stars!

February 6, 2021
A Sky Full of Ghosts
from Sonus Umbra
Today, I'll be reviewing A Sky Full of Ghosts, the latest album from Sonus Umbra, a prog rock band based in Chicago, but originating from Mexico. Sonus Umbra have produced 6 studio albums over the last quarter century, and their brilliant mix of electric and acoustic material is what I affectionately label the "Chicago sound" that is common with brilliant artists of that area like Phideaux Xavier and Matthew Parmenter.

The production quality and mastering on this album is splendid, one of their most elaborate and mature productions, Sonus Umbra in its current incarnation is composed of highly talented multi-instrumentalists:

Luis Nasser / bass
Roey Ben-Yoseph / lead & backing vocals, percussion
Rich Poston / electric guitar, keyboards, vocals
Steve Royce / flute, keyboards, vocals, holophonics
Tim McCaskey / guitar, vocals
Andy Tillotson / drums, guitar, vocals
Bill Harrison / drums, percussion

A Sky Full of Ghosts features 9 compositions, clocking at 64 minutes, and begins with Antidentity, a great instrumental with a few elegant Jethro Tull-inspired passages, thanks to the masterful work of Steve Royce on the flute, a stylish and energetic rhythm section, and some pretty dazzling and ornate guitar work.

Bleary-Eyed People features a catchy guitar and flute intro with a beautiful melody, followed by a more hefty rhythm and complex time signatures, great vocals from Roey Ben-Yoseph, elegantly accompanied by a cello background and the ever present whimsical flute work from Steve Royce.

Desolation Dreams is an elegant interlude where the cello and the flute discourse with enthusiasm.

Any prog album worthy of its name must have its mighty epic masterpiece and Hidden in the Light fits that definition! This 20-minute composition has everything to please, with joyfully disconcerting temporal changes and a few tasty solos, eerie special effects and solemn, melancholic piano intervals, building up to a majestic crescendo of layered vocals, cello, acoustic guitar and piano, a wonderful track!

After this magnum opus, the piece Losing My Insanity is a tasteful, melancholic break with a bit of the old Hammond organ thrown in for good measure!

The Last Menagerie features an energetic mid-section with juicy counterpoints, where Luis Nasser's bass work shines brightly.

Time Is Running Out has a bit of a sweet, spirited Beatles vibe with a beautiful, catchy melody and vocal harmonies.

The Waves Will Devour the Sea is a playful instrumental track with a bit of an avant-garde vibe, with an intro reminiscent of Miriodor, it truly highlights the talent of these splendid musicians.

Apogee is a delicate and melancholic conclusion to this album, ending with ethereal, narrated vocals reminiscent of Anathema.

So there you have it, a splendid variety of sounds and styles, but very consistent and coherent as a whole. The depth and quality of these compositions is highly satisfying, an album best appreciated in its entirety.

Check this band out on their Bandcamp page at:

Sonus Umbra - A Sky Full of Ghosts • Released on December 22, 2020 • UPC code: 700261484990

November 24, 2013
by Robert Dansereau

Despite Guardian Angels is the first album by Montreal prog rock band Huis. The band is composed of an excellent gathering of seasoned veterans of the Montreal music scene including Michel Joncas on bass, Pascal Lapierre on keyboards, Sylvain Descoteaux on vocals, William Régnier on drums and Michel St-Père on guitars. Formed in late 2009 by Michel and Pascal, with Sylvain, William and Michel joining the band more recently, the quintet hit the studios early in the summer of 2013 to record their sensational debut album.

Despite Guardian Angels incorporates all of the staples of a great prog rock album, including lush instrumentation, odd time signatures, sharp tempo changes, well balanced, omnipresent keyboards with hammond, moog and mellotron tones, mesmerizinc compositions impeccably interpreted, highly cohesive, never going overboard on the symphonic side, and with Michel St-Père's elegant and tasteful guitar work throughout. The album as a whole flows incredibly well between the vocal and instrumental components.

The musical themes explored on this album range from medieval sounds inspired by Alan Parsons, to snappy and energetic rock compositions, all the way to soaring melodic symphonic prog rock, and features a well-balanced mix of ballads and rhythmic compositions, with strong classic progressive rock roots, but sill remakably original and refreshing.

Highlights are the excellent instrumental compositions Oude Kerk I & II featuring fantastic guitar solos and a great rhythm section, and the stunning Little Anne showcasing Sylvain's melodious vocals, with a serene intro that builds into a lofty crescendo. There are no long epics on Despite Guardian Angels, with track lengths ranging between 3 and 9 minutes, a total of 11 tracks clocking at 73 minutes.

What a wonderful new musical discovery! Fans of highly melodic symphonic progressive music will enjoy this new album thoroughly. Highly recommended!

4.5 out of 5

track list:
1- Beyond the Amstel
2- Haunted Nights (Instrumental)
3- The Last Journey
4- Oude Kerk I (instrumental)
5- Lights and Bridges
6- Little Anne
7- If By Morning
8- Oude Kerk II (Instrumental)
9- Write Your Name
10- Salvation
11- Garden of Dust

Total time: 73:00

Michel Joncas: bass
Pascal Lapierre: keyboards
Sylvain Descoteaux: vocals
William Régnier: drums
Michel St-Père: guitars.

Release info:
Unicorn Digital - release date early January 2014

January 26, 2013
by Eric Caron

The music of Antonius Rex leaves no one indifferent! You either like it or hate it!

The latest CD from this italian band is no exception…
Hystero Demonopathy is quite captivating. A very progressive sound, rich in harmonies and often dark melodies, much like the soundtrack of a scary thriller or heroic fantasy flick!

The first track of the epic, the main title Hystero Demonopathy is a powerful overture. Rich organ textures are ubiquitous in the music of this band, as well as other Antonio Bartoccetti projects such as Jacula. A gregorian chant choir makes the theme somehow very catchy. The guitar riffs are impressive. the next track is more subtle but very dark, entitled Suicide Goth. A sad ballad with a poignant theme. The keyboards dominate much like the rest of the album. The intro of Are Mine makes room for acoustic guitars quickly substituted for an energetic metal guitar sound and lush keyboards. There are no vocals in the music itself, aside from female vocal narrations throughout the compositions, ranging from pain to ecstasy depending on the theme of the track.

After a poem narrated in italian of course, the fourth track Disincantation offers a magical journey where the guitar work ventures into blues. Demonic Hysteria is a very sinister composition, sort of a goth metal trip hop sound with blistering guitar solos. Followed by the evocative-titled The Devil's Nightmare, pursuing in the same dark theme, a horrifying cavalcade accompanied by powerful musical themes. The track Witches has a Tim-Burton-esque intro, continuing through much like a languishing march of lost souls. Followed by The Fatal Letter, despite a cheerful intro accompanied by the narration of another poem, remains mournful, ending much like a composition from 90's popular band Enigma. The last piece of the album has such a cinematic theme, is sounds much like the soundtrack of a brutal horror movie.

In short, dark, rich instrumental music that conjures quite a bit of imagery as you listen to it. The project still remains somehow out-of-the-box and requires open-mindedness to truly appreciate it. As mentioned at the beginning, you'll either like it or hate it! You can listen to this CD for a few weeks on the website.

3 out of 5

track list:
1. Hystero Demonopathy
2. Suicide Goth
3. Are Mine
4. Disincantation
5. Demonic Hysteria
6. The Devils Nightmare
7. Witches
8. The Fatal Letter
9. Possaction (integral document)

bonus video:
Rexample (vocals soloist & riffs pt. 1)

Total time: 59:20

Antonio Bartoccetti: guitars, vocals, bass
Rexanthony: vocals, keyboards, synths, piano, digital drum/orchestra
Monika Tasnad: medium

Release info:
Black Widow Records BWR 153-2 (on CD and on vinyl) December 12, 2012

November 20, 2011
by Robert Dansereau

The name may be unfamiliar, but the keyboard sound on this album is unmistakable. Trurl is the pseudonym of one of the founding members of Glass Hammer, Fred Schendel, and Do Not See Me Rabbit is his recent instrumental album, available through Bandcamp.

Fred played every instrument on this album, and with a little bit of studio magic, made it sound just incredible. He worked on this project between 2005 and 2006, but decided to discretely make it available on Bandcamp in September 2011.

Do Not See Me Rabbit is an energetic exuberant instrumental album, featuring a series of well-crafted tracks that meld synthetizers with the classic sound of the Hammond organ and grand piano. Great harmonies and catchy melodies with a definite Glass Hammer sound, and a few unusual sonic experiments thrown in for good measure. This is a must for all Glass Hammer fans and a great representation of the musical range and genius of Fred Schendel.

Do Not See Me Rabbit is one of those undiscovered little gems that I hope won't remain in anonymity for too long. The album is available through Bandcamp for a very reasonable fee, and there might be a physical CD release eventually if there is demand for it.

4.5 out of 5

track list:
1. Indoctrination . . . . 8:47
2. Affirmation and Tasty Snacks . . . . 9:27
3. Chest Pain and Sophistry . . . . 5:44
4. Passion and Industry . . . . 7:11
5. Travels with Lemon On A Stick . . . . 0:51
6. Opposition and The Great Toe Of Enlightenment . . . . 6:25
7. Bonus Track (2009): Whirled Peas . . . . 3:51

Total Time 42 minutes

Fred Schendel: All instruments, production and engineering

Release info:
Digital download through Bandcamp. Released: September 15, 2011

January 2, 2010
by Robert Dansereau

Formed in 1981, The Box is best known for its classic hits Must I Always Remember, Closer Together and L'Affaire Dumoutier (Say to Me) that played on the airwaves of CKOI and CHOM in Montreal at the end of the 20th century. The band's keyboardist, singer and main composer, Jean Marc Pisapia presents this new Box album, this time entirely in French, its concept based on the short story Le Horla by Guy de Maupassant. My first audition just blew me away!

Definitely their most "progressive" album to date, it has a wide variety of rhythms, including mesmerizing atmospheric themes, beautiful melodies and a surprising level of energy, all the while keeping the traditional The Box sound. The instrumentation is quite varied, from the accordion to a mean, distorted Hammond B3, and from the most delicate piano melodies to the the most energetic rock tones, a few passages on the compositions L'eau le vin et le lait and Sous Hypnose even reminding me at times of the best years of Deep Purple. Un impénétrable mystère offers a few lyrics in latin and J'ai vu includes a brilliant mix of intense rock rhythms and hypnotizing melodies.

Launched at the end of 2009, this is my first musical discovery of the new year, and probably one of the most captivating albums i've had the pleasure of listening to in many years. To all fans of progressive rock, don't hesitate to get this album, it features a high level of quality in the composition and instrumentation department, and it's en Français!

4.5 out of 5

track list:
1. Ouverture (6:15)
2. Incubus (9:14)
3. L'Eau, Le Lait, Le Vin (6:30)
4. Mont Saint Michel (10:57)
5. Le Chat Noir (2:12)
6. Un Impénétrable Mystère (6:49)
7. À Bougival (5:07)
8. Sous Hypnose (7:01)
9. J'ai Vu (8:47)
10. Super 61 (3:44)

Total Time 66:30

François «Ace» Bruneau / Guitars
Martin Lapierre / Drums
Isabelle Lemay / Vocals
Guillaume Marchand / Keyboards
Jean-Marc Pisapia / Vocals, Keyboards
Daniel Volji / Bass

Release info:
single CD • Les Disques Passeport (PAS-CD-1228) • Nov. 11 2009


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