Poem - Unique

Genre: Progressive Metal, Rock/Metal

Greek prog outfit Poem has definitely adopted some sort of stealth technique when it comes to new releases. Just like their second full length Skein Syndrome (2016) their fresh third effort Unique somehow manages to simply… having been released, without you knowing you were waiting for it. It’s only upon giving the progressive darkness a whirl that you realize there was a need, a want, to hear it. Poem makes Unique a varied album, and deliver unto us a set of rhythmically heavy passages bringing the groove and the thunder, which break beautifully against the softer waves. This gives an enchanting blend of despair and pain, hope and transgression, in constant rhythmic fluidity, captured with a heartful of darkness and a gloomy sense of emptiness, even in the airier parts. Obviously so, given song titles like My Own Disorder and The Brightness Of Loss - about as far from rainbows and puppies as musical themes get. This isn’t to their detriment, as Poem channels these emotions naturally.

Poem - Unique

Vocalist and rhythm guitarist Giorgios Prokopiou brings passion in no small numbers, much like he did on the predecessor. The man is blessed with one of the most expressive voices in metal these days, bringing emotion somewhat like that of Mark Kennedy of Damnations Day (with whom Poem are touring, as of writing). Grungy motions are tossed into the mix in massive single My Own Disorder, while tracks like Euthanasia and the title track delve into prog rock, straying from the otherwise massive metal formula. The latter is a fine grower, that starts slow and calm and with a powerful delivery by vocalist Propkopiou, that then evolves into a slowly heavy rhythmic beast, that then again turns into the slow cooking breather, no less dense in atmosphere. It has been argued that the song is too long, and that some of the “saucier” parts could be removed. You could, sure, but not without losing the integrity of the song. In fact, it could serve to have the weightier parts elongated. A great track to be sure, though the album has several better.

From the very beginning, the album is set in motion showcasing Poem’s immense talent and prominence in penning weighty prog metal of great substance. False Morality, the shortest track, opens with airy groove and delightful vocal melodies. It’s followed by the aforementioned My Own Disorder, one of the most emotionally driven and heaviest songs in Poem’s discography thus far. Third is Four Cornered God, nearly eight minutes in length, which blends the softer edges from the albums latter half with the groove and heavy senses of the first two tracks. Though one might call Discipline and closing track Brightness Of Loss slight dips in comparison with the other material, there is still ample good parts to be found all over the album. Lead guitarist Laurence Bergström amasses heavily with distinct leads alongside the naturally heavy and easily flowing rhythms of Prokopious’ rhythm guitars, as well as Takis Foitos and Stavros Rigos on bass and drums respectively. All in all, Unique is a great step forward from the first two albums, which in hindsight have a sense of anonymitiy to them; it feels more cohesive - bigger, better and in every aspect more remarkable.

 

Standout tracks: My Own Disorder, Four Cornered God, Euthanasia

 

    

 

Musikvideo: Poem - False Morality

Thaurorod - Coast Of Gold

Genre: Power Metal, Progressive Metal

With two albums under their belt, Finnish progpower outfit Thaurorod have shown heaps of potential while never really living up to it. Their efforts have been lacking that certain something - until now, that is, as they deliver what will likely become their defining moment of glory. Coast Of Gold comes five years after the release of its predecessor, the band’s sophomore effort Anteinferno (2013), and if that album was a huge step up in intensity and songwriting chops from debut album Upon Haunted Battlefields (2010), this new album is a straight up punch in the jaw, as made immediately obvious in opening track Power and the following The Commonwealth Lives. The two tracks are high octane, kickass melodic crotch punchers that set the album off on a distinctly high note that already blows most of the previous material out of the gate. The first half of the album is a revelry in speedy melodics in the likes of Theocracy, with hints of Unisonic intensity and melodies out of Avantasia’s more power metal-ish numbers.

Thaurorod - Coast Of Gold

Thriving guitar lines, pounding drums and catchy riffage are tossed in with perfect marksmanship as the songs line up. Each following song delivering incredibly catchy melodies while soaring vocal lines gem the choruses like pearls, Andi Kravljaca’s (Aeon Zen, ex- Seventh Wonder) distinct voice delivering the goods, balancing expertly the difference between cheesiness and the innate power of his voice. From the immediately catching opener Power that delivers just that - power - to more progressively built 24601 and beautifully epic Feed The Flame, everything here just hits the spot perfectly, with the blistering guitar work of Lasse Nyman and Emil ‘Emppu’ Pohjalainen (Amberian Dawn) melding neatly with Harri Koskela’s (Embassy Of Silence) keyboards. The second half is slightly more subtle in delivery, but no less potent once you get to really experiencing it; set around mid tempo tracks and slightly more prog built structures, and with great moments particularly in Into The Flood and Illuminati.

The album sort of lacks something huge and epic, the likes of the title track from the previous album, but still does well without one. The shorter songs don’t rely so much on slowly building the epic scope, but still retains it, as it were. The closest would be seven minute Illuminati which follows in the same steps as ten minute Anteinferno from the previous album, though as with the rest of the album, kicks up the intensity and the instrumental delivery up a notch or two. Perhaps the weakest spot is closing ballad Halla, which although delivered with ample emotion and packing some great melodies doesn’t quite engage just like the rest of the material on here. A few years of building and songwriting seems to have done Thaurorod a world of good. The result being an album which is wholly better than anything the band has put out before it, and the best album of 2018 thus far. If in doubt after the previous two releases, Coast Of Gold displays that Thaurorod can deliver exactly the opening track states; Power.

 

Standout tracks: Power, 24601, Feed The Flame

 

    

 

Musikvideo: Thaurorod - The Commonwealth Lives

NovaReign - Legends

Genre: Power Metal, Progressive Metal

When it comes to progressive power metal the days of a few big outfits maintaining a strong grip around the scene are gone. The last few years has seen a rise in younger outfits armed with plenty of inspiration and technical skills to set things in motion. Los Angeles born NovaReign aims with their debut album Legends to be one such band. With said debut album, the quintet delivers a hook driven set of interesting music, constantly driving and evolving in curious turns and led by the furious guitars, care of Balmore Lemus and Danny Nobel. Taking inspiration from the likes of Symphony X and Queensrÿche, NovaReign has a unique sound, and a level of depth and competence that doesn’t often come across on a debut album – though of course they have been doing their thing for the better part of a decade, and even released demo versions of some of the tracks back in 2014.

NovaReign - Legends

Right from the get go it’s full throttle and nonstop intensity. This makes the entire length somewhat daunting, especially since three of the tracks reach around ten minutes playtime. The entire album consists of an hour’s worth of music split into nine intense tracks that span a diverse range of power metal that heavily explores progressive elements and epic scenery delivered through the wealth of masterful guitars. Lemus and Nobel’s guitars seem sometimes dead set on show-off, and there are some truly impressive solo parts strewn across the album - take the very intro of opening track Call On The Storm for instance. It is however the intermittent dual harmonic parts and the myriad of heavy twin riffage that intertwines the intense solo action that truly stand out. There are some definite Angra moments in the guitars, as well as a Kamelot hint here and there, but generally, the music leans toward the guitar driven antics that don’t rely on heavy symphonic elements or keyboards.

The drums, laid to near perfection by Paul Contreras, remain the heavy backbone on which the guitars can rely throughout the album. Progressive and shifting at every turn he never stops, but keeps up with the slick guitars at all times. The short drum solo in Heavy Heart just goes to show that it doesn’t need to be overly complex to be very efficient. Legends by no means a perfect album; though made with competence and delivered with ample inspiration and technical skills it also seems to lack a certain dynamic range in its sound. The deep lows would be better off sounding deeper, to contrast the highs so much better, and a few tracks could do with a shaving down of a minute or two. It is however a wholly interesting album, with loads of talent strewn across the runtime that should sit well with fans of Queensrÿche or even MindMaze, and it counts a few pearls among it ranks, such as Skyline, with its epic vocal lines (and such a delivery by David Marquez!) and the intense mid section that starts low and rumbling with rhythmic riffage and evolves into a furious solo duel. Well worth checking out.

 

Standout tracks: Call On The Storm, Skyline, Legends

 

    

 

NovaReign - Beyond The Cold