Review: As A Conceit - Frown Upon Us

Everyone can agree that it is becoming increasingly difficult to find new talent in today's modern metal scene. In recent years, ...

Review: Karakorum - Beteigeuze

Germany is one of the premier suppliers when it comes to quality guitar music. This is also the case with progressive rock and metal. Bands like Colour Haze, Dark Suns, RPWL and Eloy have almost become household names. The Germans from Karakorum may not have that kind of fame, they’re every bit as good as the aforementioned acts. The one thing that sets this quintet apart is their collective admiration for vintage progressive rock from the seventies. 

King Crimson, Yes, Camel and Genesis, just some random names that come to mind when you’re listening to the band’s brand new outing Beteigeuze. The abundant presence of several types of vintage organs and synthesisers, the analog sound and warm vocals echoes the band’s love for seventies progressive rock. That’s actually an understatement when you listen to all three compositions the album is made of. 

It’s the band’s genuine love and sheer joy of playing this kind of music that makes Beteigeuze such a memorable album. There are some darker overtones here and there, but generally speaking the overall mood is pretty light-hearted. Another striking feature are Karakorum’s innate ability to write memorable compositions and their Frank Zappa inspired ditto frolics. 

Beteigeuze thrives on its warm and analog sound, which really strengthens the overall seventies atmosphere and the jazzy swing of this album. 

Okay, Karakorum may not be the most original band around and at times they’re trying so hard to duplicate that vintage sound it tends to get under my skin. However, I have to admit that few do it better than Karakorum nowadays and that Beteigeuze is a thoroughly enjoyable effort. Excellent album! 

Beteigeuze is available from Tonzonen Records. Follow the band on Facebook.

Review: Soul Enema - Of Clans and Clones and Clowns

Just when I thought all of the fresh talent in prog metal was hiding towards the more extreme side of the spectrum, I am introduced to this band, the Israeli quintet Soul Enema. Although I was expecting Soul Enema to fall into the same rut of Dream Theater or Symphony X that so many melodic prog metal bands do, the change of pace here is refreshing, and while not an entirely new breath of fresh air than what I have already heard in the style, Soul Enema do plant themselves as one of the last vestiges of hope in a style that I personally think got tired over a decade ago.

My personal cynicisms for melodic prog metal aside, Soul Enema are a truly impressive act, and the fact that I find myself so endeared to them with all things considered should be a testament to their strength as an act. Musically, Soul Enema’s music is heavy at times, but always melodic, and resists the temptation to become an overly technical wankfest a la Dream Theater. Instead, Soul Enema bases their sophomore album around the long lost art of proper songwriting; their music uses sometimes complex musicianship, but it is always based in a tight composition, and this really grabs my attention. The vocals here are often the center of attention atop tasteful instrumentation, the atmosphere is kept somewhat dark and melancholic throughout, and- coming as a surprise to someone that was expecting a metal album- tastefully mellow. Soul Enema is instead heavy prog rock throughout most of this, although I would have to say that the vocals keep a metallic tinge to the music. Comprised of two vocalists, Noa Gruman (who is listed as a lead vocalist) and Constantin Glantz (who sings on a number of songs), the vocal delivery on Of Clans and Clones and Clowns is something refreshing. 

The songwriting here is generally the highlight of the album. Everything is beautifully produced and polished, but the sound stays organic; a sure sign of a successful studio job. The songwriting really caught my attention from the first listen onwards though; while the atmosphere that Soul Enema makes on the album rarely becomes upbeat or cheery, they get the sadness across with a variety of different sounds.

It has to be mentioned that there is a number of musicians that appear here and are listed as guest contributors. These include Ayreon’s mastermind Arjen Lucassen who plays lead guitar on “Eternal Child,” certainly one of the highlights and centrepieces of the record. Other guest appearances include Yuri Ruslanov & Sergey Kalugin of Russian progressive rockers Orgia Pravednikov, Yossi Sassi (ex-Orphaned Land), and more.

Spymania” is one of the most memorable tracks here, using some lively riffs to create a hook. “Last Days of Rome” makes perfect use of those mid-to-high-register vocals that Now Gruman does so well, and gets fairly heavy, only to be trailed by a nice sitar passages in “Dear Bollock (Was a Sensitive Man).” The highlight moments on Of Clans and Clones and Clowns are brilliant. The album is one of the most consistent records I have heard since the beginning of the year although it’s “jumping” quite a lot. It gets me excited to see what else that the band has in store.

Grab a copy of the album here.

ART AGAINST AGONY to Release “Russian Tales” EP on July 22; Announce Tour

Germany-based collective Art Against Agony announce today their new EP titled Russian Talesscheduled for the release on July 22nd. The ensemble of musicians and artists combine different elements; their instrumental music evolves around progressive metal, experimental rock, jazz fusion and avant-garde.
Speaking about the forthcoming EP, the band commented: “The ‘Russian Tales’ EP gathers all of our experiences from our tour through Russia during the Siberian winter of 2016: Driving 12000km and playing 20 shows in 3 weeks was heaven and hell, with wonderful hospitality & delicious food, marvellous nature & wild animals, but also including insomnia, anxiety & social break ups.
To coincide with the release of the Russian Tales EP, Art Against Agony will embark on a tour across Russia in late July, followed by dates in Brazil in August. For the full list of dates see below.
Russian Tales is available for pre-order from Bandcamp (downloads) and Bigcartel (CDs). A video trailer for the EP can be seen below, and “Coffee for the Queen” single can be heard on Bandcamp here.
Russian Tales EP Track Listing:
1. Königsberg Präludium
2. Nothing to declare?
3. Tea for the Dragon
4. Coffee for the Queen
5. Saratov Incident

Art Against Agony – “Against All Odds Tour 2017” live dates:
29.07. Back Luny Festival, Russia
30.07. Kaluga, Russia
01.08. Yelets, Russia
02.08. Voronezh, Russia
03.08. Tula, Russia
04.08. Zelenograd, Russia
05.08. Saint Petersburg, Russia
08.08. Sao Paulo, Brazil
09.08. Sao Jose dos Campos, Brazil
10.08. Rio de Janeiro – Botafogo, Brazil
11.08. Petropolis, Brazil
12.08. Rio de Janeiro – Barra, Brazil
13.08. Sao Joao de Meriti, Brazil
Art Against Agony line-up:
the_sorcerer (lead_guitar, philosophy)
the_machinist (rhythm_guitar)
the_surgeon (piano)
the_heretic (bass)
the_malkavian (drums)
the_maximalist (mridangam)
the_architect (photography)
the_switch (live_visuals)
the_harlequin (merch)
the_glasses (japan_supervisor)
Art Against Agony online:

Review: URSA - nulla

How “live” this release is up for debate, yet URSA’s full-length “nulla” is as captivating as any live (URSA) performance this year. Building on high definition bursts of drum rolls and guitars and everything in between, “nulla” demands a lot from the listener. The release walks an uneasy line between the accessibility of modern rock music and the obtuse experimentation of artists like… I don’t even know.

Essentially a mix of a number of longer tracks that come and go, this “set” feels like a nightmare in a dance club from a future we’ll always be hypothesising about and never reaching. At times noisy, at times dance hall ready, yet always exhilarating and relentless, we can only hope that this release is the sign of more to come from this exciting “new” name in experimental rock.

Stream / get the album from here.

Review: Anubis - The Second Hand

The Second Hand is perhaps Anubis’s most fully-realized recording, a true concept record broken out into nine songs, one of which is a prog epic, with “These Changing Seasons” triptych scattered around the record. Needless to say,  and all of the songs exist as portions of a whole. The theme Anubis tackles here is pervasive—the influence of media on those who consume it. 

Each musician in the band is performing at their peak, especially vocalist Robert James Moulding, whose voice works to tremendous effect on the album. He sounds weary of the betrayal of egalitarianism, the worship of money and those who have it, and the acquiescence of those who don’t. And then, on a dime, he becomes ageless, summoning up something of a prophet and because of that remarkably flexible voice, he doesn’t come off as a scold.

Scolding is probably the least of the album’s content, actually. To provide context, Moulding has been for years one of the sunniest of performers on the contemporary prog scene. The other outsized personality on the recording is keyboard player David Eaton. It is more like he has written the score, and because the majority of the record follows a non-linear, non-formulaic construction, his sounds move from tenderness to sonic chaos to real anger at times.

Holding down an insistent heartbeat throughout are bassist Anthony Stewart and drummer Steven Eaton. From the edges, guitarists Dean Bennison and Douglas Skene add in texture here, patterns there, and at times these don’t call attention to themselves. But when the emotion demands it, their guitars erupt and their presence is irrefutable (just listen to the great solo at the closing “These Changing Seasons III”).

This is an album that could not have been made in the old system of music-making. Aside from the previously mentioned aversion to the verse-chorus-verse song construction or the lack of an obvious feel-good single, the album is a protest, a eulogy, and a rather dark ride. It might have bit the hand that would have fed it. 

With this in mind, if you are not prepared to give the album your full attention, you may not be ready for it. As often beautiful, cathartic, and incriminating as it can be, if you are looking for bite-sized thrills to play in the car, you’re going to be perplexed. In order to get the full measure of the 16-minute “Pages of Stone,” you need to hear how it calls back from the opening title song or “Fool’s Gold,” and “While Rome Burns.” That requires an act of trust, and if you can’t relinquish that, the record’s not for you. It might be about you

Anubis arrive with an uncomfortable, uncompromising, but altogether magnificent recording. The Second Hand serves as a warning. What we break might take a very long time to repair, if repair is even possible, because it starts not with the corruption of the system, but the corruption of the soul.

The album is available here.

Interview: Machines of Man

Machines of Man is a prog metal quintet hailing from Salt Lake City, who recently released their debut single "Fractals," produced by Jamie King. The band is currently putting final touches on their debut album, and about this we talked with singer Austin Bentley.
Alright, first thing is first. Before we dive into all the music stuff, how's life?
Life’s good! It’s starting to warm up around home, which makes me anxious to get back up into the mountains again. 
Speaking of new music, you have a single titled “Fractals.” What can people expect from it?
From a sort of conceptual point of view, Fractals is the idea of taking a step back and examining yourself, or more-so the idea of yourself. The thing that makes you, well, you. Call it the ego, spirit, whatever you want, but truly becoming aware of oneself and one’s own mortality can be a totally remarkable, and yet also absolutely horrifying experience. Am I me? Do I even exist? The song represents acknowledging those unknowns, those fears, those walls, and accepting that those elements have always been there in your life, with or without you knowing it. Change comes and goes, we’re just along for the ride. 
I suppose that “Fractals” is an introduction to your debut full length album. Do you have a release date for it?
There is absolutely an album, and Fractals is the last track. We haven’t officially set a date, but are aiming for a release this summer of 2017.
What was it like working on the album?
Working on this album was a surreal experience. I have known everyone in this project for many years, so not only is there a strong sense of family in the band, the musicianship and dedication to the material is totally humbling to me. Each song has grown from an abstract idea into an illustration of complex thought, and self. I’ve never found something more fulfilling in my life. 

Are there any touring plans?
In the works! We’re hoping to stretch out around the western US region, see some new faces, some old, in late 2017 or early 2018. 
Who and what inspires you the most?
The people that inspire me the most are the ones who have passion. True, unfiltered, undying passion for what they do. I know that’s super cliché to say, the whole “follow your dreams” coin. Really, it’s been said. But to hear someone say that, and feel it, are two totally separate things. As I grow older and see friends being caged into complacent lives, it is the ones that hang on to their creativity, their artistry, and their drive that really inspire me to keep moving. 
What other genres of music do you listen to? Have any of the other genres you listen to had any impact on your playing?
I try to listen to as broad a spectrum of genres that I can. I never want to limit myself to any kind of ideology of what good music should be, but I do think I tend to fall more towards metal naturally. However! I love and should mention artists and projects such as David Maxim Micic, Plini, Devin Townsend, Sianvar, Eidola, Between the Buried and Me, that kind of thing! I definitely think anything I listen to is going to have an impact on my writing, whether I like it or not!
I really appreciate you giving us your time today. Is there anything else you would like to tell us and the fans before we wrap things up?

Like a total self-preserving harlot, I would happily encourage any and all to come visit us online, or on the road. I absolutely love seeing new people, collaborating, and seeing fresh ideas. Thanks for your time. 

Stream "Fractals" on Bandcamp here.

Review: Monolithic Elephant - Self-Titled

Just read the press release for Monolithic Elephant and you’ll learn there’s a lot to like about this trio from Milan, Italy. There are the stock-in-trade quotes about what the band is and what they want to be. There are all the conformist comparisons to who the band sounds like and allusions to who inspires their composition. All of that is informative and helps give some tangible frame of reference to the band, but it doesn’t speak to the band’s desire or heart.

However, the critical information that grants true insight into Monolithic Elephant is seeded in plain sight throughout the release: this is a band started by guys who are inspired by organic sound of rock music, and this album establishes the love and pure, unwavering fanhood for the classic rock and heavy metal that Monolithic Elephant worships. The production of the record is rough around the corners and downright frayed in some portions, but somehow the clouds deferentially part and “Monolithic Elephant” feels like “Kill ‘em All” in the sense that they are both gleefully unpolished labors of adulation (and before someone puts words in my mouth, I am not suggesting that Monolithic Elephant is the second coming of Metallica…not yet, anyway.) The dog-eared edges of the simple riff from the opening “Moloch” take you back to the building blocks of rock and metal, that solid crossroads where Black Sabbath planted a flag so many decades ago. This riff is custom built for guitar solo to spring forth like a viper. The solos and exhibitions throughout the album aren’t technically overwhelming or supercharged with insane velocity, but they fit, damn it, and sometimes that’s more important.

There is an intrinsic, instinctive likeability in the music of Monolithic Elephant, particularly for those well-heeled in the sludgy fuzz rock of the late 1970’s. Not so different from bands from the Orange Goblin school, Monolithic Elephant utilizes that warm, rounded guitar tone. Obviously, this is an excuse to listen to “Monolithic Elephant” as loud as possible. Just scope out the two-part “The Unbaptized and the Virtuous Pagans” and as the bass thuds by you’ll find it nigh impossible to not feel the rhythm projecting through the notes as though through a wall of Marshalls. At the very least, you’ll tap your foot. There’s a lot of groove to be had here, as Monolithic Elephant demonstrates a fanatical understanding of the relationship between heavy metal’s power and rock and roll’s traditional sensibilities.

Listen to throwbacks like “Carnival of Souls” or “Spleen Mountain's Giants” and you’ll find yourself transported to a hazy din of a basement dive bar somewhere, buried where the uptight building owner doesn’t want the upstanding general public to associate with the counter-culture detritus of rock and roll. It’s about 115 degrees in the basement and yet it’s stuffed to the gills with people who want to feel the release of a great night out at a show. It’s louder than hell and no one can hear themselves think above the crushing weight of power riffs; attractive women dance unencumbered while friends nod in unison to the beat. This is (is it?) the dream of Monolithic Elephant, and it’s what they burned into their record.

Monolithic Elephant did a hell of a lot of great things for their debut record, and their passion for their musical paradigm is an ever-present reminder of why we all feel so connected to our music in the first place. With a little refinement, big things could be down the road for them, and you should hop on the bandwagon now.

Interview: Mute Prophet

"Nightwish meets Periphery, Mute Prophet plays a unique brand of symphonic metal combining intensely technical guitar and infectiously catchy melodies." This is how a symphonic prog metal trio from St. Louis, Missouri, Mute Prophet, describe their sound. The band recently re-released their debut album "The Unheard Warning," and we talked with them about that.
What made you go for the name Mute Prophet? 
Kevin Goetz: I think Chris and I were literally just throwing names back and forth in high school, and that was just the first one that resonated in any meaningful way. Over time, it evolved into a kind of symbolism we really connected with, but at first it came up kind of randomly.
Chris Tompkins: From my perspective, we were looking for something that sounded kind of contradictory, or that could mean a couple different things depending. Is it someone who wants to say something but is choosing not to for one reason or another, or are they literally being silenced? 
How do you usually describe your music?
Kevin Goetz: Nightwish meets Periphery. It's like a combination of the melodic focus, keyboard and orchestrations of mid-2000s symphonic metal, with a vocalist who can handle both singing and growling/screaming, and the complex guitar riffs and crazy shred solos of modern progressive metal. 
What is your writing process like?
Kevin Goetz: I usually start out by writing in Guitar Pro. I use this for the drums, the orchestra and the vocal melodies. Those are then exported as MIDI files, which I plug into EZDrummer and my various orchestra plugins, which are all run through Reaper, where we'll then record the guitars, bass and vocals. 
Adrienne Odenthal: A lot of the time I'll free-write whatever lyrics pop into my head, and if any of them will fit into Kevin's song structures, he'll take them and work them in. I think we usually end up with about a 50/50 split on lyrics. 
Who or what is your inspiration, if you have any?
Kevin Goetz: Alexi Laiho, Misha Mansoor, Rusty Cooley, Tuomas Holopainen.
Chris Tompkins: Periphery's really inspiring for me – they're just a bunch of dudes writing what they want to write, and not worrying about whether people like it or not. Children of Bodom, Nightwish, Paul Gilbert.
Adrienne Odenthal: Simone Simons, Floor Jansen, Tarja Turunen, and Angela Gossow.

What is your favourite piece on the “The Unheard Warning” album?
Kevin Goetz: Picking a favorite is really tough for me. We made a point to write them with something unique about each one, so they're all great for their own reasons. I guess I'd have to say Comprehension, the final track. It's an 11-minute beast that goes through several different moods and concludes the concept album's story.
Chris Tompkins: Yeah, it's really hard to pick one. I think I'd say Limits of Myself, the first song. It's a strong and straightforward opener that really defines our overall sound for the listener.
Adrienne Odenthal: For me it's a tie – Choke on the Smog, For the Blind, The Unheard Warning and As You Fall. I feel like those are all the most challenging, vocally. Choke on the Smog and The Unheard Warning have a lot of change-ups and aggression, For the Blind has a certain attitude that I don't use much, and As You Fall is tough because there aren't too many opportunities to take a breath, so it requires basically perfect timing. 
What makes “The Unheard Warning” different?
Kevin Goetz: I think the big thing for me is the fact that this is a genre combination that's basically never been done before. At least, if it has, I've never been able to find it. There really don't seem to be any bands creating symphonic metal that's driven by technical, modern guitar playing.
Adrienne Odenthal: I feel like it keeps all of my favorite elements from different metal sub-genres without overshadowing anything. It all blends together in a really unique way.
What should music lovers expect from “The Unheard Warning”?
Kevin Goetz: Variety. I know I've talked a lot about the crazy guitar work on this album, but the truth is it covers a lot of different sounds and a lot of different emotions. It's a concept album, and it does aim to tell a story from beginning to end, so it moves through different vibes as it goes.
Chris Tompkins: Yeah, in terms of styles and arrangements, it ranges from blues, jazz, classical, power metal, death metal...there's something for everyone. There's definitely at least one song on the album that every type of metal fan will like, so if you don't like the first song you hear, keep listening. 
Adrienne Odenthal: Emotion delivered in an unexpected way. It probably takes at least one listen through the whole album, but when someone starts dissecting the actual story of it, the message can come out of nowhere and be really surprising. It hits hard.
What kind of emotions would you like your audience to feel when they listen to your music?
Kevin Goetz: I'd hope that the listener can connect with the emotions that are inherent in each song, whatever we were trying to communicate when writing. Especially considering that the album has an overall story to it – I'd really hope that listeners enjoy it and are in someway or another moved by it. 
Chris Tompkins: Whatever emotions they need to feel, if that makes sense. If they relate to a song and its message and it makes them angry, sad, happy, whatever, then that's what I'd like them to experience. 
Adrienne Odenthal: I think everyone will have a unique experience based on what they personally need, but will probably generally share similar themes throughout the album.
Which do you like most, life in the studio or on tour?
Kevin Goetz: Well, we haven't had the opportunity to tour yet, so I guess studio life wins by default! That said, we did all our recording from a home studio we put together in the basement, so that's gonna be pretty hard to beat.
Pick your three favourite albums that you would take on a desert island with you.
Kevin Goetz: Once by Nightwish, Sinthetic by Shade Empire, and The Divine Conspiracy by Epica.
Chris Tompkins: Follow the Reaper by Children of Bodom, Iconoclast by Symphony X, and Select Difficulty by Periphery. 
Adrienne Odenthal: Follow the Reaper by Children of Bodom, The Jester Race by In Flames, and Oceanborn by Nightwish.

Get "The Unheard Warning" from Bandcamp here. Stay in touch with Mute Prophet via Facebook.

Interview: Aydin Zahedi of BURNT CITY

I have already wrote about Burnt City and the project's debut EP "Resurgence" here, but it's always great to know more about what it took to come up with a release, and Aydin Zahedi, the mastermind of the project, was kind enough to give us more information about the project, the release, inspiration.

What made you go for the name Burnt City?

There are few reasons, it’s the name of a 5000 years old mysterious city recently discovered in south of Iran, they have found an artificial eye which belonged to a woman (that’s why we put an eye in the cover art, if you look closely you can find it) and also a bowl which has sequential painting and by spinning it we can see an animation, I don’t want to go to details, readers can read about it online it is fascinating, I thought it is a good name for a band, also it was a name which hasn’t been taken so I could use it without any copy right issues, it is easy to remember because it is easy to visualise a burnt city.

How do you usually describe your music?

Power metal with a dash of progressive. I didn’t push for complexity in ‘Resurgence’, and there was no effort to make it technical.

What was your writing process like for the debut EP “Resurgence”?

I improvise and I record the interesting parts, and when I like a riff I start playing it over an over again, and I think about how I can expand it, usually different sections of the song are variation of the same riff, for other instruments I used to play everything with Guitar and describing the type of sound that I have in mind, but that was for the demo, Gus wrote the vocal melodies himself, same as Bob, George and Mike. So I had these demos, I sent them to the guys and they recorded their parts and they sent them back to me. In order George, Mike, Gus, Bob and then me again (Guitar solos) recorded the parts.

Who or what is your inspiration, if you have any?

I have a very long list, but for this EP I name the bands that I was listening to at the time of writing, Annihilator, Megadeth, Helloween, Dream Theatre, Symphony X, Firewind, Ark, Judas Priest. But at the moment I listen mainly to western concert music and video game and film soundtracks.

What is your favourite piece on the “Resurgence" EP?

It is hard to tell since I have memories with each one of them, but I would say the title track Resurgence is my favourite. I enjoy playing it so much.

What makes “Resurgence” different from other prog-power metal albums?

I didn’t try to be different, and I don’t think it is that different to any other prog-power metal bands, but it has it’s moments, for instance vocals are heavier and more aggressive than most of the power metal bands, and it sounds darker than most progressive metal bands. the influence of each member can be heard vividly, and the combination is very interesting, the line up and their influence can be factor that might make it differrent to some audience.

What should music lovers expect from the EP?

Deep lyrics, powerful vocals, kicks drums, jaw dropping keyboard solos, detailed bass lines, good sound and catchy choruses and rhythms.

What kind of emotions would you like your audience to feel when they listen to your music?

Anything that they can relate to, I don’t want to dictate how they should feel, It happened to me before that I related to a song in a certain way and the song writer described it in a completely different way and couldn’t have the same connection with that song again. So I rather not to dictate anything, but I would love to hear how audience feel about each song.

Are there any plans to bring Burnt City on the road?

I am working on it, I don’t think gigging with the recording members is possible since everyone is touring on different schedule and they are extremely busy, at the moment I am trying to find local musicians to play some gigs and see how it goes from there. But touring is my goal, and if everything goes according to plan I will definitely do my best to play with these guys live.

Pick your three favourite albums that you would take on a desert island with you.

Underworld by Symphony X, Scenes from a memory by Dream Theater, Queen’s greatest hits (if I can take compilation) otherwise I go with a completely different choice which is Pink Floyd’s The Wall.

Visit Burnt City's official website for more info, where you also can order the "Resurgence EP." Burnt City is also on Facebook and YouTube.

Review: Cast - Power and Outcome

Hailing from Mexico, Cast instantly grabs your attention with a giant classic prog sound bolstered by surreal keys, giant vocals, intense bass, and skilled guitar.  They love long songs and concept albums. Their sound is big and vibrant; even colorful.

“Power and Outcome” is a concept album of sorts.  The lyrics, however, are honestly not a major part of the music, as most of the album’s playtime is instrumental.  This record shows that there are few musician ensembles as tight, skilled, or unique as the one here in Cast.

This skill shows from the very first track on the album.  “Rules of the Desert” is an 11+ minute instrumental epic that absolutely blows my mind.  The band has returned with a much darker, less celestial sound.  It’s almost overwhelming at first, putting your heart into your throat.  This first track is especially fierce and driving, containing greyish shades and more intensity than I’ve heard on some of the previous releases of the band. It begins with delicate piano and beauteous effects, but transitions into a dark, jazzy retro vibe.

Other tracks, like the title song, feature the same vibe, only the sound is more surreal and even haunting, using violin almost like a distorted guitar. “Through a Stained Glass” and “Illusions and Tribulations”, for example, are more vocally driven and closer to classics such Camel and Yes, but there ever remains a certain dystopian color that stains their atmosphere, not to mention larger than life keys.  “The Gathering” might be my favorite track, though, with its wonderful vocals and its genuinely interesting instrumentals. 

“Power and Outcome” is a thoughtful, fierce experience from Cast. This is an album that strikes me as inspired from beginning to end, through all the machinations, excellent vocal lines, and flowing emotions. This is true progression from an under-appreciated band that is close to my heart. Make sure you get the chance to hear it.