Welcome to the April 2018 Progress Report. Life goes in cycles, so it seems. Back in March, everything we reviewed was gold. This month, while there’s nothing bad here, there also isn’t really anything likely to find its way onto end-of-year lists. All the albums we checked out this month are good but not great. Meaning if you’re into the style you’ll like it, otherwise these albums probably won’t convert you. Still, we’ve got everything from pop to death metal here, so read on and see what you can find.
Ratings are on a five star scale.
Canada’s Æpoch, featuring a lineup that primarily hails from grind act Brazen Bull, have been around for five years, touring relentlessly and honing their brand of progressive death metal. After a demo and an EP, Awakening Inception is the band’s debut album.
Prog-death would be a fairly limiting term here: Æpoch stretch their musical boundaries constantly, integrating black metal, thrash, and old-school death into a compelling amalgam. The vocals can be a bit shaky, but much of the music on Awakening Inception is excellent. Æpoch are certainly a band to watch going forward, and their debut is sure to garner interest from record labels.
Awooga – Conduit (Rockosmos)
Awooga have one thing on common with Æpoch: oddly enough, they both have a song called “Tabula Rasa” on their album. That’s where the similarities end, though, as this Sheffield trio focuses on atmosphere and melody rather than brutality. In fact, calling the band’s second album, Conduit, progressive would be a bit of a stretch.
Musically, Conduit is heavily influenced by bands such as Alice in Chains and Deftones – and even a bit of Tool. The songs are full of emotion, downtuned not to the point of sounding sludgy, but still a very melodic, alt-metal vibe. Awooga have crafted a catchy and enjoyable album that will satisfy a lot of fans of the aforementioned bands.
Frequency Drift – Letters to Maro (Gentle Art of Music)
Another band that doesn’t strictly fit in the “progressive” genre, Frequency Drift come to us from Germany and Letters to Maro is the sextet’s seventh album. New singer Irini Alexia brings an artsy, dramatic approach to her lyrics and vocals as she tells the story of a person’s homecoming.
Cinematic would be a good way to describe Letters to Maro. The album is much more like the soundtrack to a movie than a progressive pop album – and there is definitely a pop sheen to the songs. Some songs start with suspenseful keyboard work, but all told Letters to Maro is a solid but unspectacular exercise in dramatic pop music.
Here’s a quick little instrumental EP for you from just up the road from my place. Edmonton, Canada’s Tres Thomas is the one-man band known as Infinitee (and also plays in death metal band Tales of the Tomb), and The Possibilities are Endless is an intriguing listen.
Thomas combines a number of genres to great effect, including progressive metal, djent, and EDM. The man is clearly an amazing shredder on the guitar, and proves his competency on the drums and keyboards as well, delivering six short songs that hold our attention through multiple listens. Here’s hoping Infinitee keeps going and delivers more in the future.
Poly-Math – House of Wisdom | We are the Devil (Lonely Voyage)
House of Wisdom | We are the Devil is a double album from Poly-Math, an instrumental band from Brighton. This is the band’s second album, and putting out a 70-minute post/prog/experimental metal monster is definitely a bold move, but this trio pulls it off.
The eleven songs here run an interesting gamut, flaunting influences ranging from Russian Circles to The Mars Volta, from King Crimson to Death from Above. It’s a crazy mish-mash of ideas and sounds, but it’s perfect for those of us who love our prog quirky and off-kilter. A double-LP is a lot to digest, and it’s entirely possible I’ll like this one even more as the year goes on.
Unprocessed – Covenant (Long Branch)
This one is the most truly progressive album of the month for us. Unprocessed are a relatively new modern prog-metal band from Germany, and despite having formed in 2014, Covenant is already the band’s third album, and one thing that’s for sure is the band name is a misnomer – the production is as clean, precise, and modern as anything out there.
The easiest comparison to make here is to Between the Buried and Me. Unprocessed are equally technical, with alternating harsh and clean vocals and highly complex songwriting. But Unprocessed are much heavier on atmospherics than anything BTBAM has recorded, and that gives Covenant a cohesive, melodic appeal that makes it my co-pick of the month, along with Poly-Math.