Welcome to the September Progress Report. The release year is winding down, which usually means the big names start to drop albums and the quality goes up. And while this Report maybe doesn’t include any big names (Opeth gets their own review, of course), the quality is here, from some sweet progressive rock to modern prog metal, and a few stops in between. As always, check out the albums below, and show the bands some love if you like them!
Ratings are on a five star scale.
Let’s start the month off with some instrumental prog metal, courtesy North Carolina’s Anamorph. Lucid is the band’s third album, and is produced by Jamie King. Why is that significant? King has produced Between the Buried and Me and Scale the Summit, and one can readily hear those influences on Lucid.
Production is clean as a whistle here, and Anamorph display an ample amount of musical prowess throughout Lucid – from modern prog metal to jazz-filled moments and death metal blasts, these guys lay it all out. Thirteen songs may be a bit much, but for those looking to scratch their Scale the Summit itch, Lucid will more than satisfy.
Foscor – Els Sepulcres Blancs (Season of Mist)
Foscor is Catalan for “darkness,” and dark, atmospheric prog is the order of the day from these artistic Catalans. Els Sepulcres Blancs (“The White Tombs”) is the second part of a trilogy that began with 2017’s Les Irreals Visions, and continues the tragic tale of our decadent and sick society.
Foscor long ago abandoned their second wave black metal roots, moving into an avant-garde style of dark prog metal, but occasionally their blackened roots do rear up. Overall, Els Sepulcres Blancs is as complex and beautiful as its predecessor, and perhaps even more intimate and personal. Fans of the band, and especially Les Irreals Visions, will love this album.
IATT – Nomenclature (Black Lion)
IATT used to be known as I Am the Trireme, and this Philly-based band plays an extreme brand of progressive metal, rooted in brutal black metal. Nomenclature is their second full-length, and the band’s wide-ranging talent and influences shine brightly throughout all ten songs. While the songs may address primitive topics such as primitive medicine, the music is anything but.
Lightning riffs and leads are backed by a nightmarishly fast rhythm section, and all the while the complexity of the songs are perfectly balanced with melody and arrangement. Jay Briscoe’s vocals are off the rails – clean, harsh, hardcore, you name it, sometimes in the same verse – and sometimes it might seem like a bit much, but IATT hold it all together wonderfully, making Nomenclature our pick of the month.
Rise Twain – Rise Twain (InsideOut)
Changing things up is Rise Twain, another band from Philadelphia, but very different from IATT. This duo’s self-titled debut comes on the heels of both members playing and producing other bands, so despite this being a rookie effort, they are vets of the scene, and this comes through in many ways on Rise Twain.
This album is pure, melodic progressive rock, with warm, rich vocals and well-written, subtle melodies. The goal here is to produce exquisite songs rather than over-the-top virtuoso playing, and J.D. Beck and Brett William Kull succeed. Hopefully they continue collaborating in this manner; Rise Twain can easily rise to the top of the prog rock heap.
Sifting – The Infinite Loop (Eclipse)
Another album with Jamie King’s touch, The Infinite Loop is Sifting’s third album. Originally from Venezuela, Sifting now call Los Angeles home. The guys have a progressive take on radio-friendly alternative metal, in both songwriting and production, alternating between writing catchy, melodic songs and heavier, nearly thrashy fare.
For the most part, The Infinite Loop is a satisfying experience. The band shows solid chops and the ability to walk that fine line between complexity and accessibility. After a half-dozen spins, I’m left with the impression these guys could play any style they wanted to, even if the songwriting can still be further refined and their style solidified. If you like a little less prog in your metal, Sifting could be the band you need to check out.
Swan Valley Heights – The Heavy Seed (Fuzzorama)
Our last album is the shortest, with five songs taking just over forty minutes – but song lengths from 3 to 13 minutes give us an indication of the strangeness to come. Swan Valley Heights are a German progressive psych/stoner band, and The Heavy Seed is their second album. And with mixing and mastering provided by Truckfighters’ Dango, you should have an idea as to what’s coming your way.
The Heavy Seed is just that; a heavy, fuzzy, thick album rife with riffs and meandering psychedelic journeys. The vocals are sparse here. Swan Valley Heights seem more content to jam away and let ideas come and go as they please, which makes for an interesting listen.
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