Gorod, The Orb (2023)

French tech prog death metal band Gorod mesmerize with their seventh album, The Orb.

Gorod began life in the late 1990s as Gorgasm, changing their name to the more familiar moniker in 2005. After the name change, they followed up by producing three memorable albums in fairly quick succession, Neurotripsicks (2005), Leading Vision (2006), and Process of a New Decline (2009). They have been on a three year publishing cycle since then, with a couple extra years tacked on to this last span due to the pandemic. For me, the new album is some of their best and most bewildering work so far. The band is Mathieu Pascal (guitar), Benoit Claus (bass), Julien “Nutz” Deyres (vocals), Nicolas Alberny (guitar), and Karol Diers (drums).

“Chrematheism.” Holy shit. It is an overwhelming assault from the first note. A challenging, killer piece from the jump. Harsh, coarse vocals are the most discernable element in the opening bars. The riff and keys are jagged and piercing. It is chaos with no regard for whether you can find the order in it. Of course, order is there, and in this kind of technical death metal, order is the structural characteristic. It is the rod that straightens your spine. There is a crazy lead shred as well. It is like dunking your head in a bucket of ice water – ice water with a razor blade vortex. “We Are The Sun Gods” is, if anything, more surgical with a mad central interlude. And then the title track comes along and shows a soothing calm nose that quickly turns away. Melodic-ish vocals prey on your emotions, moving you to drop your defenses right before the riffs hit hard. Mmm.

Technical progressive death metal is actually quite unusual. It is typically one or the other, isn’t it, tech or prog. Here, though, it is both, and each input is equally important. The death metal element is integral as well, which is not a given in other bands that are described in similar fashion. Gorod is fully committed in this music, and they are doing what other musicians don’t. Keep an ear out for “Victory” because it is a degloving experience, and also “Strange Days,” the closer and the shortest song of the set. It is very theatrical and one of my favorites on the album. Recommended.

The Orb can be fully yours on Friday, March 3rd at the Bandcamp link below or wherever you get your stuff.


Bandcamp, https://gorodmetal.bandcamp.com/album/the-orb

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/GorodOfficial

© Wayne Edwards

Gorod, The Orb (2023)

Owl, Geomancy (Lummox 2023)

California elementalists Owl make a bold return with their third album, Geomancy.

Owl coalesced into being around Oakland, California in the year 2007. Their music is immediately recognizable for its inventive connectiveness. You could call it prog metal, or you might place it in the stoner and heavy psych pods. Whatever the category, it is the engagement that will get you. Their first album came out in 2012, Owl, followed two years later by Screech. Since then, things have been relatively quiet on the recording front until now. The band is Axell Baechle (guitar, vocals, piano), Alexander Baechle (guitar, vocals), Clint Baechle (drums), and Jamie Sanitate (bass).

The album begins with the chaotic “Awaken The Mountain.” It is difficult to know which end is up on this song. In that way, there is a kind of Mothers of Invention calamity going on where the listener rides along the edge of a starburst, catching different elements as they sail by. “Runes” is more straight forward. There is a nice arcane sense to the riffs, and the heavy presence of the bass is a reassuring delight. The vocals are soulful here, luxurious. It is metalled-up rock with a theatrical twist. “Pyramid Builder” quiets things down, shifting into a rural tempo with a little folk witching to stitch it all together. The prog appears clearly first with “Minion Of The Amethyst Cave,” to my ears. If that is what you were waiting for, here it is. It was my favorite track to this point in the album, with its solid and earnest construction. I listened on.

Geomancy is odder than I expected it to be. While I generally do not like surprises, I was pleased to find it this way. There are so many paths to walk along here that you cannot get bored. I am a huge fan of long form structures like the ten-minute “A King For Every Mountain,” and its even longer kin, “Shadow Of Ehe Catl.” There is so much to experience in these dedicated pieces that you cannot get it all in one listening. The top prize, though, goes to “Jupiterean Ocean,” which is an intoxicating elixir from its first notes. The instrumentation is precise and crisp and, with no narrative distraction, the music goes straight to your brain. Whatever you might know about Owl, everything or nothing, the new album will shake you up. Recommended.

Geomancy is out on Friday, February 17th through Lummox Records. It can be had at the links below.


Owl website, http://www.owlbrotherhood.net/

Bandcamp, https://owlbrotherhood.bandcamp.com/album/geomancy

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/owlbrotherhood

Lummox Records, https://lummoxrecords.bandcamp.com/

© Wayne Edwards

Owl, Geomancy (Lummox 2023)

Mos Generator, Time//Wounds (2022)

Mos Generator release music from the future and the past for their tenth album, Time//Wounds.

I don’t usually quote such long passages from a press release, but this is a precise description of what is on the new Mos Generator record, so let’s listen in.

Written, Arranged and Recorded over two sessions in the summer of 2021, with some musical themes going back as far as 1989. Time//Wounds is six songs about the passing of time, the tolls taken by the pursuit of dreams, and the regret of opportunities not taken. “I hear this collection of songs as progressive rock of the 1970s meets the 1980s and 90s alternative underground. Much like the music I was writing in the 1990s when I was in my early twenties.” Although previous albums have been leading up to this shift in sound, Time//Wounds takes a massive leap forward (and backward) by conjuring the spirit and recklessness of young musicians and combining it with the experience and diversity of mature songwriters.

At the time of writing this release, we have decided to proceed with finalizing the album by using these demos instead of re-recording the album from the ground up. I am revisiting each mix to bring out the best in what we have captured and to replace or add instrumentation that I feel needs attention. By taking this route we possibly sacrifice perfection for energy but this isn’t a new approach for us and we feel like it has worked well on previous albums.

OK, so that is a little confusing to me. Even so, like I always say, no matter what the underlying story might be, we can always just listen to the music and see whether we like it or not. Let’s try that. “Aja-Minor” is up first. It is a cheerful-sounding rocker that could have been excavated from deep in rock and roll history. Catchy and peppy, it crackles with energy and verve. The song takes a nice prog walk in the middle that is also quite enthusiastic. “(Don’t) Wait Until Tomorrow” is a soft and sweet song when it begins, and then it takes a darker turn in tone and stretches into complexity. A bit like life itself. It is an excellent piece. “Burn Away The Years” is somewhat more tentative in its opening bars, but then it claps down and gets going and the sense of it all becomes clearer.

“Getting Good At Revenge” is sharp and stabbing, with exceptional guitarwork and gritty vocals. It is a heavy piece, carrying easily the weight of the theme. “Only Yesterday” is a dreamy wonder that rambles through the universe, known and unknown, with an eye toward reflection. In the end we have “Until We Meet Again,” a fifteen-minute treatise on the meaning of meaning – at least that is what is sounds like to me. All the music on the album is great, but if there was only one song I could listen to, this would be it.

Mos Generator is Tony Reed (guitar, vocals, keys), Jono Garrett (drums), and Sean Booth (bass). This is not the album I expected from them, but I am glad they did it. Recommended.

Time//Wounds is out on Friday, December 16th. Check out the links below for ordering info.


Bandcamp, https://mosgenerator.bandcamp.com/album/time-wounds

Mos Generator on-line store, https://heavyheadsuperstore.storenvy.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/MosGenerator/

© Wayne Edwards

Mos Generator, Time//Wounds (2022)

Hammers Of Misfortune, Overtaker (2022)

Rocky Mountain prog metal band Hammers of Misfortune are back with Overtaker.

Hammers of Misfortune started out in San Francisco more than twenty years ago. Back in the nineties, they operated as Unholy Cadavar before changing their name to the current, more familiar one. With six previous long-players under their belt (and the Unholy Cadaver album, too), They have made an indelible mark on progressive metal. The lineup for the Overtaker album includes John Cobbett (guitar, bass, Mellotron), Jamie Myers (vocals), Mike Scalzi (contributing vocals), Blake Anderson (drums, piano), Sigrid Sheie (Hammond B3), Frank Chin (contributing bass), and Steve Blanco: (synth), with a guest appearance by Tom Draper (Carcass, Spirit Adrift) on guitar.

It has been six years since the last record, so fans have been sweating this new for a while now. The title track kicks things off at a blistering pace as the band puts it all out there at once. “Dark Brennius” inveigles with the respite of its opening bars, but it is a dodge. Cataclysmic music follows, a ravaging lead break, and mystical passages that are like opening a door to gentle blue light in a dungeon of cacophony. I get the sense that I am being chased with this one all the way through. And then comes “Vipers Cross” which, if anything, is more chaotic than the first two songs. I am breathless but Hammers is filled with energy and keeps it going for twice again as much more.

The album fills your head with ideas and information at a pace right on the edge of what humans can reasonably be expected to take in. Any slowing down that occurs is brief, occurring in between flurries of furious activity. Fans of the band will be ready for this. Newcomers: prepare yourselves. Recommended.

Overtaker is out digitally on Friday, December 2nd. Stream or pick it up at Bandcamp, or wherever prog metal lives.


Bandcamp, https://hammersofmisfortune.bandcamp.com/album/overtaker

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/hammersofmisfortune

© Wayne Edwards

Hammers Of Misfortune, Overtaker (2022)

In The Woods…, Diversum (Soulseller 2022)

Progressive black rock and metal band In The Woods… returns with a nuanced perspective on Diversum.

In The Woods… formed in Norway in 1991 alongside, in many ways, Green Carnation. Their earliest expressions were black metal, and later they were one of the first bands to refer to their music as pagan metal. I am most familiar with what sounds to me more avant-garde and prog-like from this group. The new album shines a light on familiar places as well as along less well-trodden pathways. The band is Anders Kobro (drums), Bernt Sørensen (guitar), Nils Olav Drivdal (bass, keys), Bernt Fjellestad (vocals), Kåre André Sletteberg (guitar, keys), and Alf Erik Sørensen (session keys).

“The Coward’s Way” is surprisingly straight-forward in structure with a gentle intro and an emotional rock delivery. It does swerve off into lands peculiar toward the end and that’s when I knew I was in the right place. “Moments” is a direct meshing of discordant elements in that the rhythm structure does not match, in a conventional way, the vocal presentation. As the song goes on, there is more of a meeting of the minds, but there is plenty of start-and-stop and swing and chop all the way through. “We Sinful Converge” is off in another direction, soaring on wings of high production. There is an episode of lostness in the middle, creating an important reference before the return to the earlier framing. It is a fascinating beginning.

“The Malevolent God” is very dramatic, taking the mood to a dire crescendo. It is my favorite track on the record for that set up and the amazing middle chopping riff and ramble, spiced with a slick lead break. I also appreciate the closer, “Your Dark.” This final song takes a soothing vocal mediation in precedence to screeching singing and heavy guitars, reverting at last to an off-balance placidity. A curious excursion indeed. Recommended.

Diversum is out now through Soul Seller Records. Follow up at the links below.


Bandcamp, https://soulsellerrecords.bandcamp.com/album/diversum

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/inthewoodsomnio/

Soulseller Records, https://www.soulsellerrecords.com/

© Wayne Edwards

In The Woods…, Diversum (Soulseller 2022)

Hypermass, Empyrean (2022)

Progressive death metal band Hypermass release their debut full-length album, Empyrean.

Formed ten years ago in Norway, Hypermass issued a demo in 2013 called Into Oblivion, then the EP Clouded Visions a couple years later. Since 2015 they have been rather quiet on the recording front, raising expectations for their first long-player, Empyrean. Playing progressive death metal that is loaded with grooves, hooks, and technical proficiency, they exist on their own self-constructed plane. The band is Markus Sundet (vocals), Thomas Pedersen (guitar), Sindre Dagestad (guitar), and Martin Nordvik (bass). Torgeir Aambø did the drum work on the new recording.

There are nine tracks on the album, starting with a short on ramp, “The Constant.” “Hivemind” is the first detailed glimpse into the universe of the set and it walks you around the expansive neighborhood, offering clues to the keys to the coming compositions. The hammer drops and the prog breaks out and it is more like a festival than a chemistry class. That is the hallmark of Hypermass – they confident enough in their own ideas that they do not try to fit in anyone else’s mold.

There is a plethora of looks on the album. The grisly “The Degenerate Strain” has its own approachability despite its sharp edges. Watch out for the ripping lead guitar that springs to life unexpectedly. “Null and Void” has the fully formed heaviness, too, that is somehow carried on a musical anti-gravity mechanism that allows it to move toward wherever you are at the time you hear it. It is almost mystical the way it works.

The title track comes near the end of the record and it is an achievement. Whether the sky is coming down or we are rising to meet it the journey is multifaceted and absolutely fascinating. The guitar on this song shines again, and the coarse vocals remind us that existence is multidimensional. Excellent throughout, and recommended.

Empyrean is out now. Bandcamp is a quick place to hear it – at the link below.


Bandcamp, https://hypermass.bandcamp.com/album/empyrean

YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCHw3woqZYJMR4AN9Yf02jRQ

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/hypermassmetal

© Wayne Edwards

Hypermass, Empyrean (2022)

Týr, A Night At The Nordic House (Metal Blade 2022)

Folk metal icons Týr have recorded a live album with an orchestra that exhibits an unforgettable musical symbiosis, A Night At The Nordic House.

It has been a little over twenty years since progressive folk metal band Týr was founded in the Faroe Islands. Their location is certainly a memorable aspect of the band’s character, but of course it is the music they create that sets them apart. Over the years they have released eight full-length studio albums, the most recent being Hel (2019). Their style is a progressive form of epic folk metal that overlaps Viking and death metal as well.

The new album was recorded live at The Nordic House in Tórshavn, in the Faroe Islands on February 8th, 2020, with the Symphony Orchestra of the Faroe Islands. If ever there was a metal band that could make effective and dramatic use of an accompanying orchestra, Týr fits the bill. From the press release … “Working with the Symphony Orchestra was without a doubt one of the highlights of our careers,” admits vocalist Heri Joensen. “The feeling of sheer sophisticated power behind us was extraordinarily uplifting. We were awed by how well the songs worked in a symphonic setting. ‘By The Sword In My Hand,’ for example, seems to take on a new life.”

There are eighteen tracks on the massive album, including the opening intro. “Gates of Hel” is the ideal song to hear first if you want to know what to expect from the rest of the performance. The slow build is enormously enhanced by the fullness of the orchestration. The primary instrument is still the guitar, and the voices and orchestral apparatus work a pervasive, all-encompassing effect. The gruff lead vocals match the perfectly the melodic aspects of the overall musical construction.

“By the Sword in My Hand” is another exemplary performance. The theme is an epic tale of conquest and the ideal instantiation of the narrative. Dazzling lead guitar work and soaring choruses combine into overwhelming musical power. The final track, “Álvur Kongur,” is the capstone, and you get the feeling at the end that seeing this performance would have been as amazing an experience as hearing it.

A Night At The Nordic House is out on Friday March 18th through Metal Blade Records. Highly recommended for fans of Týr, and genre fans as well – but, seriously, if you appreciate folk/Viking/epic metal then you are already a Týr fan.


Bandcamp, https://tyrband.bandcamp.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/tyrband

Týr website, https://tyr.fo/

Metal Blade Records, https://www.metalblade.com/us/

© Wayne Edwards. All rights reserved.

Týr, A Night At The Nordic House (Metal Blade 2022)

Psilocybe Larvae, Where Silence Dwells (Fono Ltd. / Red Rivet Records 2021)

The new album from Russian metal band Psilocybe Larvae breaks a nine year silence with a clang and a roar.

The music of Psilocybe Larvae has strong progressive elements that frame the visages of death and doom. The band has released four previous albums: Stigmata (2000), Agony (2003), Non-Existence (2008), and The Labyrinth of Penumbra (2012). The line-up has jostled some over the years. The musicians on the new album are Vitaly Belobritsky (guitars, vocals), Alexey Legotin (bass), and Iliya Piyaev (drums), while in the current band Belobritsky and Legotin are joined by Anton Veresov (guitar) and Alexander Yakovlev (drums).

“The Flame Of Dying Life” is the first of ten tracks on the album and it sets a grim tone. It offers a dark frolic and a gentle growl to wave you in then drops the hammer with heavy punches and gravelly shouts. The feel is most gothic. The next song has a similar structure with a somewhat different timbre, followed by a notably different approach in “Ghost In The Room,” my vote for most memorable song on the album. The layers in this one are stretched to the very edge of complement and, even though the track starts out fairly up-tempo, it finds a way to build throughout. Good show.

There are heavier songs like “Dead Dreams,” which is full-on death metal turned at the corners toward a broader appeal. And then you hear “Sorvali Cemetery” which has a dooming sense to it and offers a number of surprises from the strings to the soaring middle ground. The album is sure to be a hit with the newer generation of heavy music fans and it also holds sway over more seasoned listeners like me with it callbacks and essential roots. Recommended.

Where Silence Dwells hits the streets Friday, December 10th in digital. The CD version will be released by Fono Ltd. (Russia) and Red Rivet Records (Japan) on December 15th, and a cassette version comes out that day, too. The vinyl LP is set for a February release.


Bandcamp, https://psilocybelarvae.bandcamp.com/

Website, http://psilocybe-larvae.ru/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/psilocybelarvae

Psilocybe Larvae, Where Silence Dwells (Fono Ltd. / Red Rivet Records 2021)

Mastodon, Hushed and Grim (Reprise Records 2021)

Progressive metal band Mastodon cap a big year with a new full-length album, Hushed and Grim.

Since 2000, the band has been Troy Sanders (bass and vocals), Brann Dailor (drums and vocals), Brent Hinds (guitar and vocals), and Bill Kelliher (guitar and vocals). I remember exactly when I started listening to Mastodon. I did not hear their first long-player, Remission, when it came out in 2002, but I did hear Leviathan two years later. I liked, I recall, but for some reason it didn’t land with me the first time the way it ultimately would. Time passed and then I heard Crack The Skye (2009) – there was no turning back from that. I immediately went back through the entire catalogue and since have waited less-than-patiently for every new release. Mastodon is one of my absolute favorite metal bands.

In 2021, Mastodon has been showing up more regularly than most bands at festivals, sometimes stepping in at the last minute to replace bands that were sidelined by covid-19, as they did at Psycho Las Vegas, and in a headline spot, too. I have seen them several times live this year and always to my amazement. Each and every performance is masterful.

The new album is another exceptional set the band has added to their already galactic catalogue. Early singles were “Pushing the Tides” and “Teardrinker,” both of which have more than a million spins on Spotify by now. The more recently released “Sickle and Peace” already has half a million plays. Their fans are legion.

Mastodon’s music has evolved over the years, and now it in the complex and leans toward the progressive end of the metal spectrum. It has a haunting quality, and hypnotizing nature that draws you quickly in and holds you as the enchantment unfolds. The new album is almost an hour and a half long and it seems exactly right in its construction. Not extended or stretched; just precisely as it should be.

I am not going to pick favorites because every song has its necessary place, from the reflective “Skeleton of Splendor” to the forceful “Pain with an Anchor” to the overwhelming closer “Gigantium.” I will say this album goes toward the top of the list of the work the band has released. I found it to be captivating. Highly recommended.

Hushed and Grim is out now on all streaming platforms and in the expected physicals. Look to the links below.

Band photo by Wayne Edwards at Blue Ridge Rock Festival 2021.


Mastodon, https://www.mastodonrocks.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/Mastodon

YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/user/MastodonMusic

Mastodon, Hushed and Grim (Reprise Records 2021)

At The Gates, The Nightmare Of Being (Century Media 2021)

The seventh studio album from At The Gates is a progressive take on the condition of existence.

For more than thirty years the Melodic Death Metal band from Sweden, At The Gates, has been a consistent creator of heavy music. From The Red in the Sky Is Ours (1994) to 2018’s To Drink from the Night Itself, you could always count on them for compelling new metal that rang out in ways you’d never heard before. And here we see that again on the new album, The Nightmare Of Being.

The band – Tomas Lindberg (vocals), Martin Larsson (guitar), Jonas Björler (bass), Adrian Erlandsson (drums), and Jonas Stålhammar (guitar) – expertly executes an expanded palette of composition that embraces progressive metal elements more extensively than fans might have anticipated. An outlying example is “Garden of Cyrus” which features a saxophone – not an instrument you hear on a lot of death metal albums, but one that fits perfectly in this song, complementing gruff vocals and lyrical guitars. Still, it was a surprise to hear it

Not every song is an oddity. Long-time fans and newcomers looking for heavy, crushing metal are going to find it here, too. In most cases, the songs have more than one movement that is reached through effluence or stark shift, each standing in seeming, if not actual, juxtaposition to its neighboring fellows. The complexity of the music is one of its most attractive features.

The new album does sound different in many ways compared to early work of the band. For me it is a fitting addition to the canon of At The Gates and it is a strong sign of the continuing vibrancy of the musicians. Recommended.

The Nightmare Of Being is out now from Century Media in a plethora of versions. You can get it all over.


Website, http://atthegates.se/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/AtTheGatesOfficial

Century Media, https://www.centurymedia.com/artist.aspx?IdArtist=729

At The Gates, The Nightmare Of Being (Century Media 2021)