Oceana, The Pattern (Time To Kill Records 2021)

Italian progressive death metal trio Ocean release their first full-length album twenty five years after their inaugural EP.

In 1994 the band began to come together with the thought of creating melodic death metal music. They issued a demo and an EP in 1996, then went silent on the recording front for a couple of decades. They are back now, realizing the original intention. The band is Massimiliano Pagliuso (vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards), Gianpaolo Caprino (guitar), and Alessandro “Sancho” Marconcini (drums).

The sound of waves and a crying baby are the opening bars of the first song, followed by a short melodic voice interrupted by coarse croaking. Acoustic guitars dance around swelling electric ones. The percussion becomes increasingly persistent, urgent, and menacing, and the guitar turns stabbing. Then voice is back, bigger than before. This is “Hiding Lies,” and it is a flag for the entire set.

The band’s music is described as melodic death metal sometimes. I think progressive elements are stronger here, but there is a large and abiding melodic element so I see where the recurring handle comes from. The appealing factors for me throughout the album are the recurring juxtaposition of light and dark, harsh and quiet, and the unfiltered emotional expressions. The longer you listen to the album the more it grows on you.

I especially appreciate the lead guitar moments were technical ability shines through. The epic fourteen-minute “Atlantidea Suite Part 1” is a stand-out track in this regard and as a summary and emblem of the intent for the overall set. This album will appeal more to the prog crowd than the death metallers out there.

The Pattern is out now. You can pick it up from Time To Kill Records at their on-line store, or the ever-ready Bandcamp.

Links.

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

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

Time To Kill Records, https://timetokillrecords.bigcartel.com/category/oceana

Oceana, The Pattern (Time To Kill Records 2021)

Stellar Death, Fragments Of Light (2021)

Stellar Death’s debut album is an adventure in instrumental space prog that winds through disparate corners of the universe to coalesce in a fascinating unified semblance.

Matt Kozar and Scott Loose are the duo Stellar Death, playing instrumental music that lands a heavy blow. They have worked together for many years in the band Brave, and decided to branch out with this new project in order to shed any constraints on form. Both are guitarist and play keys, with Loose minding the percussion. There are eight pieces on the album, most in a fairly long design.

The opening song is a seven minute outline titled “The Astronomer.” Throughout its course, many of the elements and atoms that combine in the musical creation of the set are first introduced, including mesmerizing ambient sequences and forceful guitar movements. “Endless” is filled with sadness the way that Frank Zappa’s “Watermelon In Easter Hay” is, and that is meant to be a high compliment. Its companion piece, “Betelgeuse,” moves on from trauma and morning, turning a corner and picking up power. Heavier guitars and more rambunctious percussion returns in “Binary Collapse” to close side one.

On the back four, solitude is a reinforcing theme and a channel for momentous contemplation. “Everywhere and Nowhere” has quite dramatic moments, while “Critical Mass” presents the most tense passages in the eight minute leg. Stellar Death winds it down with “Afterglow,” offering up a spell of reflection and meditation. While this album will appeal perhaps most to the ambient crowd as it is on the less technical side of prog, anyone who likes instrumental rock will find a confrère here. Recommended.

The street date for Fragments Of Light is January 8th. Direct business is at Bandcamp for the download. Three songs are available now and you can listen to them instantly if you preorder the album.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://stellardeath.bandcamp.com/album/fragments-of-light

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

Stellar Death, Fragments Of Light (2021)

Allegaeon, Concerto in Dm (Metal Blade 2020)

If J. S. Bach had had an electric guitar to work with, his music might have sounded something like this.

Last year’s Apoptosis was a major event in the evolution of Allegaeon, and in heavy music, really. The superlative musicianship combined with cunning composition established a primary marker in the band’s canon.

It might have been overlooked by the casual fan that the vinyl release of Apoptosis included two tracks not available on the digital download. Those tracks have now been released as a digital single for the greater enjoyment of the public at large.

“Concerto in Dm.” When the Roundabout single came out earlier this year, I suggested that you listen to the original Yes song first in order to appreciate better the new version by Allegaeon. Same thing here. The Bach music is Harpsichord Concerto in D minor, BWV 1052 allegro, to be precise. Typically executed on harpsicord and bowed string instruments, it sounds amazing on electric guitar with modern accompaniment. After all, it is not just the guitar – Bach didn’t have this percussion, either. This is not a note-for-note replication. Rather, this is an interpretation necessarily requiring some alterations. The resulting music is superb.

Side B is “In Flanders Fields,” a beautiful piece featuring acoustic guitar. Here it serves as a peaceful wind down from its energetic companion. The two seem very much like they go together, even lifted as they are out of the context of the larger album.

Concerto in Dm is available now at Bandcamp and other fine establishments. If you did not get these songs on the vinyl last year, now is the time to pick them up. Recommended.

Links.

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

Facebook, http://www.facebook.com/allegaeon

YouTube, http://www.youtube.com/ALLEGAEON

Roudabout review, https://flyingfiddlesticks.com/2020/04/04/allegaeon-roundabout-single-review/

Allegaeon, Concerto in Dm (Metal Blade 2020)

Dvne, Omega Severer review (Metal Blade Records 2020)

The new EP from Dvne captures some of their new music and reinvigorates some of their well-known work.

Edinburgh, Scotland Prog Metal band Dvne will have a new album out in 2021. In the mist of time between now and then, they have released an EP that has two songs: one new, and the other a re-recording of a favorite tune from the band’s Aurora Majesty release of 2015.

The band is Victor Vicart (guitar, vocals, and keys), Dudley Tait (drums), Daniel Barter (guitar and vocals), Greg Armstrong (bass), and Evelyn May (keys). I found out about them via Psycho Las Vegas, and I have been a fan ever since. For many people, Prog is an acquired taste, perhaps because of its compositional density – it requires participation from the listener. I like it in just the right amounts; I know when to listen and when to stop.

The new song is “Omega Severer,” to which the EP owes its title. It is heavy on the synthesizers. I do not mean that as a negative criticism – the song is ten minutes long and there is a lot going on throughout the journey. There are multiple voices, heavy guitars, quiet moments and outrageously loud ones. The complex nature of this type of music often means that these sort so transitions are expected, and here they all are. The possibilities are truly endless but artistry and talent are required to make something enjoyable to listen to and memorable. This song hits all the marks, and more.

The re-recorded song is “Of Blade And Carapace.” I liked this song the first time I heard, and the re-recording is excellent. It is a very active piece, with rapid movements and a pulsating, compelling nature.

Bandcamp is the place to collect these songs. Link below. I am anxiously awaiting the full album in 2021. Recommended.

Band photo by Johannes Andersen.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://songs-of-arrakis.bandcamp.com/

Facebook, https://facebook.com/DvneUK

Dvne, Omega Severer review (Metal Blade Records 2020)