Voivod Streams “Post Society” Track

Progressive thrash act Voivod is streaming the title track from its upcoming EP, Post Society. The new release marks the band’s first official recording since 2013’s Target Earth.

Blabbermouth reported last year that a new album is currently in the works and slated for a 2016 release.

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Gazpacho’s Molok Is Not the Art Rock Masterpiece You’re Looking For

Expectations are often our own worst enemies. We hear an exciting, novel record for the first time and fall head over heels like starry-eyed saps. Soon after, we begin constructing the absurd mythology of a band “too big to fail.” Gazpacho’s Demon worked as the perfect lure for that trap. Haunting, bizarre and curiously beautiful, 2014’s progressive rock sleeper hit found the band firing on all creative cylinders for a career milestone – an album that, by all accounts, will go down as one of art rock’s overlooked gems. Molok, the follow-up to 2014’s masterful Demon, seemed primed for rounds of universal praise, and it’s probably going to get it. Best-of-the-year lists will likely make room for the Norwegian ensemble’s latest record. Droves of avid listeners will likely throw the album into heavy rotation. But I won’t. Gazpacho’s Molok isn’t what I hoped for, and it’s my own fault for expecting perfection.

A major reason for this lukewarm reception is the band’s approach to songwriting, which finds Ohme and company once again discarding the extended, long-form compositions of Night and Demon in favor of bite-sized chunks of sound. This wouldn’t be an issue, however, if Molok’s thematic and conceptual depth didn’t demand more from each individual track. “Algorithm” effectively grips the listener by the throat with its ominous, tribal soundscapes but loses hold just as quickly; it merely segues into another track and never truly develops beyond beleaguered sighs and pounding rhythms.

Elsewhere, “Bela Kiss” quickly earns its spot as Gazpacho’s most curious track to date. It’s an ethnic romp with little substance, not dissimilar in sound from the Italian tarantella outro of “Wizard of Altai Mountains” but without the impact. Oddly, the track isn’t attached to a more substantial centerpiece, and it doesn’t carry enough fire to warrant itself as a standalone composition. These tracks would have served well as smaller pieces in a larger whole — small segments in the vivid, sprawling sonic canvases the band has so thoroughly demonstrated its talent in coloring. “Algorithm” and “Bela Kiss” aren’t the only offenders here: they’re just the most egregious.

It’s a shame, too, because Molok is one Gazpacho’s best sounding records. “Know Your Time” sports a spacious mix that allows each instrument room to breathe, evoking the band’s trademarked ethereal wonderment with ease. But even the record’s brightest moments flicker out when put into perspective. Gorgeous as it is, “Know Your Time” is a retread of familiar territory. In many ways it’s the prototypical Gazpacho song. River-of-glass vocals? Check. Haunting atmospherics? Check. The subdued percussion of “Choir of Ancestors” is a smart production choice, allowing Ohme’s smooth vocals to take center-stage, but, ultimately, it feels a bit hollow – like an excerpt from material that wasn’t strong enough to get out of the cutting room last time around.

Despite this, Molok isn’t a poor effort, or even an average one. It’s decidedly good, but when a band has consistently raised the bar to herculean heights – Night, anyone? – it becomes progressively harder to be impressed. 2014’s Demon introduced bizarre instrumentation and unexpected twists into the group’s arsenal, but Molok merely doubles down and dumbs down. Nothing here caries the ethereal, cinematic sweep of “I’ve Been Walking, Pt. 2” and nothing hits quite as hard as Ohme’s dramatic declaration of “I lost it down the rabbit hole” in “I’ve Been Walking, Pt. 1.” Molok, in many ways, seems natural as a next step for the group: it continues to divorce the band’s sound from the sea of uninspired prog-rock tribute acts. That’s a great move, but opting for refinement over revolution only works if you’re actually upping the ante, and, sadly, that’s where Gazpacho drops the ball. Molok certainly isn’t a revolution, but it’s not really a refinement, either: it’s a band in suspended animation.

6/10

Artist Spotlight: Dungen

Despite an appearance on Late Night with Conan O’Brien and a performance at Bonaroo, Dungen can’t claim much of a profile. Swedish psychedelia has yet to break mainstream, but that hasn’t stopped the band from releasing a number of fantastic releases over its 16-year career. From  Ta Det Lungt‘s hazed-out indie psych to the pastoral, summery vibes of Skit I Allt, Dungen has maintained an enviable consistency. The band’s latest record, Allas Sak, keeps that tradition alive.

Tracks like the phenomenal “Franks Kaktus” showcase the band’s instrumental ingenuity with a solid percussive backbone anchoring airy flute passages. Beneath, Reine Fiske retains his ever-tasteful guitar tone and seals the deal for a truly gorgeous instrumental jam. Elsewhere, “Flickor Och Pojkar” ebbs and flows like a gentle stream, soothing the listener with its lapping melodic waves. It’s more than just a gorgeous track: it’s a perfect excuse to daze out of reality. Really, that just might be Dungen in a nutshell. Whether playing peaceful psychedelia or indie rock through a kaleidoscopic lens, the band remains uniformly excellent – as does Allas Sak

You can find more information about the band via its official website.

The Dear Hunter Maintains its Record of Excellence with “Act IV”

Fire engulfs a mounted ring, and the crowd roars with excitement. The ringleader cracks a whip, cutting through the air like a gunshot. His lion roars and primes itself; its tail sweeps gently to and fro as its eyes narrow. Then it happens. The beast leaps through the flames with triumphant swagger, spinning circles as it lands. Fireworks burst through the air, and men on unicycles ride across tightropes in the sky. Every member of the audience explodes with applause. This is the level of bombast Casey Crescenzo achieves with The Dear Hunter. Since 2006, Crescenzo has been crafting one of music’s most ambitious projects – a six-part story of loss, love and redemption told over the course of six albums. If that sounds ridiculous, that’s because it is. What’s also ridiculous is just how consistently good this project has been. Defying all the odds, Crescenzo’s magnum opus has gone swimmingly so far. Infectious hooks, orchestral excursions and progressive songwriting all coalesce into an unmistakable sound that’s garnered a cult status among underground music fans. Good news, then, because Act IV: Rebirth in Reprise keeps The Dear Hunter’s tradition of excellence alive and well.

Much of Act IV’s success comes from Crescenzo’s self-awareness; he seems to know himself as an artist inside and out at this point in his career. He knows he’s at his best when he goes for broke, and “The OId Haunt” is as good an example as any. Rollicking bass and tumultuous guitar leads snake beneath a solid percussive backbone before erupting into an explosive, roaring chorus. It’s a moment of exhilaration and triumph for Crescenzo, who’s fully bought into his own capacity as storyteller. Moments like these work to sell the narrative and drive it home. It’s obvious that the band has bought into this story, but standout performances like these will buy the audience in, too.  As good as that track is, I’d be remiss not to bring up “Waves,” one of the year’s finest songs. Here, Crescenzo plays to another side of The Dear Hunter’s persona: emotional resonance. Swelling strings, crashing drums and female vocal accompaniment come together into a wrecking ball of emotional force. When Crescenzo’s final lament of “but I can’t see the lighthouse” bursts through the speakers it’s a gut punch of Mayweather proportions – one that will stay with you long after the record’s stopped spinning. This isn’t the only track on Act IV to evoke a potent reaction; it just happens to be the most effective of the lot.

Despite these standouts, it’s hard to shake the thought that many listeners will grow fatigued before the album’s end. This isn’t an issue of quality, but of energy. Cresecenzo’s larger-than-life personality and sharp narrative focus may demand too much investment from casual listeners, but honestly, this album was never for them. You won’t unearth the record’s subtleties on your first listen, and you certainly won’t realize how deep its hooks have sunk until later still. Tracks like the narrative-heavy “Bitter Suite IV and V” and the nine minute “A Night on The Town” aren’t easy listening – you will expend energy to get these songs. This might sound like a hazard sign, but don’t let it deter you; the effort required here is worth it. Act IV: Rebirth in Reprise is a fantastic, ambitious record if you allow it time to spread its wings. This may not be the easiest rock album of the year, but it’s certainly earned its place as one of the most impressive.

8.7/10

The Dear Hunter’s “Act IV” Detailed

The Dear Hunter has unveiled new details about its upcoming album, “Act IV: Rebirth in Reprise.” The album is currently slated for an August 21 release. “Night on the Town,” the first promotional single, debuts tomorrow. The album’s tracklisting can be viewed below:

1. Rebirth
2. Old Haunt
3. Waves
4. At The End Of The Earth
5. Remembered
6. Night On The Town
7. Is There Anybody Here?
8. Squeaky Wheel
9. Bitter Suite IV & V: The Congregation And The Sermon In The Silt
10. Bitter Suite VI: Abandon
11. King Of Swords
12. If All Goes Well
13. Line
14. Wait
15. Ouroboros

More information regarding The Dear Hunter’s new album can be found here.

Artist Spotlight: Anekdoten

Though they may have started out as a King Crimson cover band, Sweden’s prog rock statesmen Anekdoten have moved long past their humble beginnings. The band took the phrase “cult following” to new levels with 1993’s Vemod and 1995’s Nucleus, cementing itself as a considerable force in the  prog rock underground. Abrasive, angular and undeniably authentic, Anekdoten had carved a niche all its own. Since that time, however, the band’s aggression died down and gave way to an expanded sonic palette on 1999’s From Within and 2003’s Gravity, a change that culminated on 2007’s serene A Time of Day.

Flash forward to 2015, and Anekdoten has risen from the dead with their newest album, “Until All the Ghosts Are Gone.” The band’s sixth album finds them in a mood of consolidation, bringing their brand of grounded progressive rock into the new decade. Sure, it plays as close to the canon as ever, but the craftsmanship is exceptional. Featuring guest spots from Theo Travis (Steven Wilson) and ex-Opeth keyboardist Per Wiberg, Anekdoten has crafted yet another exceptional entry into the modern progressive library.

More information regarding the band can be found at their bandcamp page.

Gavin Harrison Releases New Video For “Cheating the Polygraph”

Former Porcupine Tree drummer Gavin Harrison has released a brief teaser for his upcoming solo album “Cheating the Polygraph.” The album consists of songs written by Porcupine Tree and reinterpreted as jazz pieces.

The album was released April 13 on Kscope records and can be purchased here. Harrison’s previous releases with 05ric can also be purchased via Kscope.