Maestrick - Espresso Dela Vita: Solare

Genre: Progressive Metal

Brazilian prog outfit Maestrick’s second full length is a big one. Seven years after debut album Unpuzzle! they apparently aren’t pulling the stops at all. Espresso Della Vita: Solare is a huge album, with plenty of unique little quirks and twists to make it interesting, even though it is at the far end of long. And while it’s a little bloated, there are plenty of things to like about this album which comes in at the right point. The airy feel that blends progressive elements ranging from the rock based to hints of power metal, though never straying too far into either one but eclectically diverting through the sounds and the styles with ease and precision. It dares to not be metal when it suits, and it lets the guitars take a laid back role behind the keys and the bass. Producer Adair Daufembach adds the guitars, but while there are some great moments therein as well as several great, laid back solos, the melodic touch comes mostly care of Neemias Teixeira and the keyboard tracks he lays with precision and grace.

Maestrick - Espresso Dela Vita: Solare

The guitars always seem to do something interesting, finding some new quirk to pull and burst into a solo. Be it in the winding licks or the background riffage - or the aforementioned solos, which are to the point and delivered with pinpoint accuracy. They trade the melodies with Teixeira’s fine tuned keys that deliver silly to full blown melodic mastery, and doing so without losing track. As stated, Renato Somera’s bass is also highly prevalent, never taking a backseat in terms of mixing and always staying interesting without following in the tracks of the guitars or the melodies. Vocalist Fábio Caldeira has a bit of a Tommy Karevik (Seventh Wonder, Kamelot) aura around him, but without the big, epic flair that comes from the latter’s turns in Kamelot. His whole delivery is great, and done with just that right amount of charm to pull of the sillier numbers while also being potent enough to do the serious parts justice. His best would be The Seed, an album highlight where he goes from an emotive mid range to tugging at the higher notes as he battles the guitars.

One problem would be the album’s more than substantial length; clocking in at just under 80 minutes it’s almost enough for two full length albums. And there are some filler within that space, and it does take a while for the album to fully take off. Lengthy opening track Origami is instrumental, and followed by I A.M. Living, a not so interesting song that opens up the album in an almost bored fashion. Luckily, it kicks off better with Rooster Race, Keep Trying and 15 minute epic The Seed, to deliver full blown passion that doesn’t stray from the whole sense of the music. So it’s a big album, and a lot to take in, especially in one sitting, but it’s a neat experience and one that won’t be getting tiresome quick, as there is plenty of material in here to keep the mind wandering through the lengthy instrumental passages, the guitars and keys battling in lofty solo duels. Espresso Della Vita: Solare has all the flair of a warm summer day, and adds the fresh breeze just enough to keep it cool.

 

Standout tracks: Rooster Race, The Seed, Across The River

 

    

Amorphis - Queen Of Time

Genre: Progressive Metal

Amorphis is one of those constellatory equations that have always stayed peripheral to my auditory vision. Despite tens of albums over the past (almost) three decades there has been little staying power to me in their admittedly well crafted style of progressive death/doom turned more accessible melodic heavy metal. Latest outing Under The Red Cloud (2015) sported a few decent selections, as have all of their efforts that I’ve given the time of day. At first glance Queen Of Time, the band’s thirteenth studio effort, seems like it might be able to break that spell. Epic melodies soaring over distinct progressive anthems and a majestic blend of coarse death metal vibes envelop this release in a dark veil pierced by what is undoubtedly great songwriting and musicianship equal to that. Jumping in at the deep end with Amorphis’s discography might not be the greatest way to go about it, however, as Queen Of Time proves a lot to swallow.

Amorphis - Queen Of Time

Amorphis is one of those constellatory equations that have always stayed peripheral to my auditory vision. Despite tens of albums over the past (almost) three decades there has been little staying power to me in their admittedly well crafted style of progressive death/doom turned more accessible melodic heavy metal. Latest outing Under The Red Cloud (2015) sported a few decent selections, as have all of their efforts that I’ve given the time of day. At first glance Queen Of Time, the band’s thirteenth studio effort, seems like it might be able to break that spell. Epic melodies soaring over distinct progressive anthems and a majestic blend of coarse death metal vibes envelop this release in a dark veil pierced by what is undoubtedly great songwriting and musicianship equal to that. Jumping in at the deep end with Amorphis’s discography might not be the greatest way to go about it, however, as Queen Of Time proves a lot to swallow.

Still, as strong as the album starts out, with the behemoth of a catchy, mountainous track that is lead single The Bee, it also gradually loses momentum. Each song sees less of the great qualities from the previous one, and by the end it’s devolved into something that carries semblance to the awe striking beginning, but not reaching its heights. However, the album is ambitious and delivered with a great potency and a big dose of confidence, and it does retain a high quality throughout, with great delivery from all the members, each having their own standout moment and being an integral part of the whole. While there are a few tracks that don’t quite fully engage, the album never seizes to be and feel exactly how it needs to be. In that, Amorphis has done it once more; their quality as songwriters and builders of their own world, based on that of Finnish mythology has never been in question, even to an outlier, and as such, Queen Of Time does not fail.

 

Standout tracks: The Bee, Daughter Of Hate, The Golden Elk

 

    

 

Musikvideo: Amorphis - Wrong Direction

The World Is Quiet Here - Prologue

Genre: Progressive Metal

Who are The World Is Quiet Here? Just five Wisconsinites who at first glance could be mistaken for your local nerds? Yes, that too, but also the new upstarts who just put out their first album, Prologue; at times a study and exploration of life and the meaning thereof, and at times an indulgence into original and sometimes breath taking musical direction. The tinges of David Lamb’s flawless drums interchange in instants, beating the steady rhythm of a heavy metal romper one moment while skillfully intermixing death metal fury in a moment, while the entire thing is dense with shifting tempos in the rhythm section and driving hooks from guitarists Ethan Felhofer and Isaac Stolzer-Gary; the two flow with rhythmic strokes and beastly melodic pieces through the unfolding tapestry in vivid colors that is Prologue. 

The World Is Quiet Here - Prologue

Taking influence from everywhere in the progressive metal spectrum, from the more extreme ends to the prog rock stylistic flairs, Prologue is not an easy album to grasp. It’ll take several listens to get to appreciate the little details and finer moments that are strewn throughout the runtime. Even though it clocks in at just over fifty minutes the scope is colossal, as the roster includes big epics like The Benign Author: Construct and See The Sun. It feels grander and longer than it actually is, but manages the feat without getting bloated. The World Is Quiet Here pulls it off with accuracy thanks to proficient musicianship and no small amount of talent in the songwriting department that sees every track take on interesting new approaches and twists. And even with the big scope, much of the beauty comes from the attention to detail and the shifting emotive states of vocalist Tyler Koltz. Blending the darkest growls and their innate awe striking auras with soulful cleans he takes the listener along on the musical journey.

While best ingested as an entirety, giving the whole a vibrant energy as each song flow and progress into each other, each individual song still keeps an integrity of its own. Opening track Some Call Me Cynical has a trilling middle part that just bursts with color into a striking guitar solo that impresses not because of speed or musicianship but how it embeds the emotive strokes of Koltz’s growls and little by little grows into gritty a riff part that is once more followed by an intricate solo. Perhaps the biggest moment on the album is 13 minute behemoth See The Sun, a beast in its own right as it brings out every moment of the entire album leading to its penultimate crescendo - the album is neatly closed with stylistic Aperture, but See The Sun remains the zenith - with its grandeur and epic setting that makes it a contender for 2018’s song of the year. All in all, Prologue is a damn fine album that may likely prove to grow even further with enough time, and it’s been done with accuracy and striking grasp of what it needs to be. A beast in constant turmoil, but controlled.

 

Standout tracks: Some Call Me Cynical, The Benign Author: Construct, See The Sun

 

    

 

The World Is Quiet Here - The Benign Author: Construct