Welcome to the November Progress Report – the final Report of the year, as December’s will be our Top Ten list. Often when we get to November the best albums are in our rearview mirror, but this month there’s more than one act vying for a place in our Top Ten. As always, we’ve got a wide variety of acts here, all of whom bring something compelling to the table. One thing they do have in common is length: four of these six releases are more than an hour long. Dig in and see what turns your crank!
Ratings are on a five star scale.
Blame Zeus – Seethe (Rockshots)
Portugal’s Blame Zeus take alternative metal and spin it into a progressive web – or is it the other way around? Either way, on their third album, Seethe, the quintet strike forth with Alice in Chains angst and guitars, but quickly move into much more progressive territory, taking inspiration from anyone between Pink Floyd and Tool.
Once the alt-metal takes a back seat to the band’s prog leanings, the songs really take off. However, the highlight of Seethe is the vocal talents of Sandra Oliviera. Her powerhouse vocals are reminiscent of Chrissie Hynde (Pretenders) and Deborah Holland (Animal Logic). Oliviera belts her way through Seethe with amazing pipes and presence, making Blame Zeus an act to keep an eye on.
The Flower Kings – Waiting for Miracles (InsideOut)
Last year, Roine Stolt teased us by releasing an album by Roine Stolt’s The Flower King. Apparently, response was strong enough to warrant a release by the actual band – their first since 2013’s Desolation Rose. Here on Waiting for Miracles, we are treated to a double-CD’s worth of pure progressive rock material.
Clocking in at a walloping 85 minutes, Waiting for Miracles has the feel of a concept album, with many lyrics taking a sci-fi approach. Musically, we have plenty of amazing work, with tasty keyboard and guitar work and plenty of sweet bass lines from Jonas Reingold. Aside from the unwieldy length, Waiting for Miracles is an excellent progressive rock outing from The Flower Kings.
Forstenet are a Danish band with lofty goals. Here we have Ephemeros: Virvar, their debut album, which even without the bonus track is more than an hour in length. Featuring a vocalist with a wide range of skills, a Hammond organ player, and trombone, this quintet’s sound is nothing if not eclectic.
While lengthy, Ephemeros: Virvar is a compelling listen. Sung in Danish, the vocals command our attention throughout, and musically these guys know their stuff, dropping plenty of progressive riffs, atmospherics, and solid organ/trombone playing. I’ll be keeping an eye on Forstenet going forward, as this is a very solid debut.
Meshiaak – Mask of all Misery (Mascot)
Australia’s Meshiaak are more of an alt-metal band with plenty of progressive complexity in their sound. That seems to be a predominant style down there, but it usually works. Mask of all Misery is the band’s second release, and aims to showcase more of the same: thick riffs, charismatic vocals, and an overall dark vibe.
All the songs on Mask of all Misery showcase remarkable maturity, featuring great arrangements and tasty guitar work. This is possibly one of the more accessible entries in our monthly feature; an album loaded with anthems that stick in your head but retain a level of intricacy prog fans yearn for.
A Canadian instrumental prog metal band with ties to Musk Ox and Agalloch, The Night Watch return with their third album, An Embarrassment of Riches. This album was actually started before 2016’s Boundaries, but the scope of it required many years to ripen. After all, a 72-minute instrumental concept album doesn’t just create itself.
Despite the name-drops above, The Night Watch might have more in common with bands like Wilderun, minus the vocals. There are some vocals here, but they’re just gang chants, and only serve to give the album a distinct pirate metal feel. Otherwise, the excellent music journeys from post metal to prog, with death and doom moments scattered within.
Boston’s Wilderun are almost the golden child of progressive folk metal. 2015’s Sleep at the Edge of the Earth was featured prominently on many year-end lists. They finally return here with Veil of Imagination, and the aim of pushing their genre-defying musical styles even further than before. Folk, death, prog rock, and metal are all deftly interwoven throughout these eight songs.
The folk elements are less dominant here on Wilderun’s third album, but it is no less bombastic and epic. In fact, it may be too over the top for some listeners, but over the course of an hour the band has put together an amazing, dynamic, all-encompassing progressive metal opus that will surely see them returning to the top of many year-end lists next month.
Other 2019 Progress Reports
The Progress Report: January 2019
The Progress Report: February 2019
The Progress Report: March 2019
The Progress Report: April 2019
The Progress Report: May 2019
The Progress Report: June 2019
The Progress Report: July 2019
The Progress Report: August 2019
The Progress Report: September 2019
The Progress Report: October 2019