“Live Over Europe” is the first live release featuring the current line-up of Prog Metal pioneers FATES WARNING. Featuring 23 songs in a playing time of 138 minutes, it was recorded at various European locations (Aschaffenburg / Germany, Belgrade / Serbia, Thessaloniki and Athens / Greece, Rome and Milan / Italy, Budapest / Hungary as well as Ljubljana /Slovenia) during their January 2018 headlining tour for “Theories Of Flight”.
After the great studio album “Theories Of Flight”, which made several lists of “album of the month” and “album of the year”) in various media outlets, it makes perfect sense to celebrate the momentum once again gathered by the band. The tracklist is quite comprehensive, and will equally please the fans of the early eras of the band, when they were a blend of Rush and Iron Maiden, as well as their mid to late period, when they incorporated more industrial/ambient elements into their sound.
The live-album features the stellar line-up of Ray Alder (Vocals), Jim Matheos (Guitars), Joey Vera (Bass and vocals), Bobby Jarzombek (Drums) as well as Mike Abdow (Guitars and vocals). And just like “Theories Of Flight”, "Live Over Europe" was once again mixed by Jens Bogren (Opeth, Kreator, Symphony X,Haken). Jens went through dozens of recordings of the band’s European tour to choose the best performances, or best parts of performances, and the end result is a collage which sounds surprisingly organic and cohesive. If it wasn’t for Ray Alder mentioning the name of each different city at the beginning of each track, one could easily assume that all tracks came from the same show. That is as much a testament of the production values as well as plain evidence of how rehearsed and locked in the band is.
It should be noted that this lineup has some particularities: Mike is a new addition to the band, who joined as a touring member after long time guitarist Frank Aresti scaled down his involvement. Frank has a steady career as a Product Manager of companies like Dunlop and D'Addario, and for the time being chose to only be involved in the studio releases. And although he joined in 2007, Bobby Jarzombek only had two releases with the band until this live offering, and is still widely known as “the new guy on the skins”, such was the hypnotizing presence of former drummer Mark Zonder. And while Mike is significantly faithful to Frank’s leads, Bobby takes significantly more creative liberty, adding his own touch to several of Mark’s original fills. Both of them left their mark in this release though, and for a long time fan like me, it is quite reassuring to see them carry on with the band’s legacy in such a respectful and yet expanding manner.
I fell in love with Fates Warning just before their concept album “A Pleasant Shade of Grey” came out, and one of the things that stood out for me was Ray’s voice. There’s no denying that his voice has changed with age, but the whole band did an incredible effort to accommodate the change and rearrange the songs. In some cases, such as “Silent Cries”, “Point of View” and most significantly on “Acquiescence”, the new direction adopted was rather beneficial, and these particular versions actually sound better than the original.
Jim Matheos (rhythm guitar, and main composer) and Joey Vera (bass guitar) are their usual reliable selves in this release, and I should praise Joey in particular for his timekeeping abilities in “Monument”, a highlight of this tour which I had the fortune to witness in Toronto. The perfect blend of old and new material should also be mentioned. Honestly, after A Pleasant Shade of Grey I somehow got alienated from the band, and never fully appreciated their releases in the mid-2000’s. But adding songs like Pieces Of Me” and “One” (from 2000’s “Disconnected”) or “Wish” (from 2004’s “FWX”) was a great move. I’m finally able to enjoy them as much as the material that made me fall in love with them – the albums “Perfect Symmetry”, “Parallels” and “Insie Out”, which are also represented here.
It’s also worth mentioning what a resurgence the band has been experiencing with the last two studio albums, and both are represented here. The lengthy “And Yet It Moves" sadly is the only track from “Darkness in a Different Light”, but many songs from “Theories Of Flight” have their live debuts. The only sour note for me in the tracklist was the omission of Part XI of “A Pleasant Shade of Grey”, one of my favourites off of that release. But that’s a minor quibble, and there’s already a full release where the whole “A Pleasant Shade of Grey” is represented. Never mind me!
“Live Over Europe” is meant to be a form of retribution for the fans, and whether you’re a new fan or someone who like me has enjoyed them for more than two decades, there’s plenty to enjoy and be proud of here. Grab you copy as soon as possible and join me in singing the “whooo” part of “The Eleventh Hour” pronto!
Mixed by Jens Bogren and mastered by Tony Lindgren at Fascination Street Studios, Fates Warning’s “Live Over Europe” will be released in June 29th, and will be made available as 2CD Mediabook (Limited to firstpressing!), 3LP Gatefold + 2CD and as Digital Album all across the globe via InsideOutMusic.
Ray Alder – Vocals
Jim Matheos – Guitars
Joey Vera – Bass and Vocals
Bobby Jarzombek – Drums
Mike Abdow – Guitars and Vocals
Fates Warning “Live Over Europe (137:56) Track Listing:
CD 1 (76:39):
1. From the Rooftops (Live 2018) (07:45)
2. Life in Still Water (Live 2018) (05:11)
3. One (Live 2018) (04:35)
4. Pale Fire (Live 2018) (04:10)
5. Seven Stars (Live 2018) (05:40)
6. SOS (Live 2018) (04:27)
7. Pieces of Me (Live 2018) (03:57)
8. Firefly (Live 2018) (05:04)
9. The Light and Shade of Things (Live 2018) (09:26)
10. Wish (Live 2018) (04:22)
11. Another Perfect Day (Live 2018) (04:18)
12. Silent Cries (Live 2018) (03:31)
13. And Yet it Moves (Live 2018) (14:05)
CD 2 (61:17):
1. Still Remains (Live 2018) (15:06)
2. Nothing Left to Say (Live 2018) (07:13)
3. Acquiescence (Live 2018) (04:21)
4. The Eleventh Hour (Live 2018) (08:12)
5. Point of View (Live 2018) (05:00)
6. Falling (Live 2018) (01:49)
7. A Pleasant Shade of Gray, Pt. IX (Live 2018) (04:17)
8. Through Different Eyes (Live 2018) (04:11)
9. Monument (Live 2018) (06:04)
10. Eye to Eye (Live 2018) (05:00)
Fates Warning online:
Night On Bröcken – 1984
The Spectre Within – 1985
Awaken The Guardian – 1986
No Exit – 1988
Perfect Symmetry – 1989
Parallels – 1991
Inside Out – 1994
A Pleasant Shade Of Gray – 1997
Disconnected – 2000
FWX – 2004
Darkness In A Different Light – 2013
Theories Of Flight – 2016
Live Over Europe – 2018
Lotosfmuzik continues to honour the mission statement of being curators of good music around the world, and we are pleased to present Brazilian prog rockers Maestrick. Their new album "Espresso Della Vita: Solare" is the successor of the acclaimed debut album, "Unpuzzle!", and the EP "The Trick Side Of Some Songs" which included new versions for classics of Beatles, Yes, Jethro Tull, Pink Floyd, Queen and Rainbow.
"Espresso Della Vita: Solare" is the first part of a conceptual album that makes an observation of the human life by the perspective of a train trip. The album was produced by Adair Daufembach (Tony Macalpine, Hibria, Hangar), who also recorded all the guitars of the album.
In Brazil, "Espresso Della Vita: Solare" will be released on June 28th during a closed event for journalists only at Central Panelaço in São Paulo. Two official release shows, one electric and one acoustic, will also be announced soon as part of the releases schedule. Maestrick is currently formed by Fabio Caldeira (vocal/piano), Heitor Matos (drums), Renato Montanha (bass) and Neemias Teixeira (keyboards).
Our contributor Rodrigo Altaf had the chance to talk to Fabio and Neemias via Skype, and the transcript of the interview can be seen below:
Lotsofmuzik: First of all, tell us a bit about how the band started, and the path you guys went through until the lineup was formed.
Fabio Caldeira: The band was formed in 2006. Myself and Renato Montanha (bass) have played together since we were ten years old, we had another band and were looking for a drummer. A common friend recommended Heitor Matos, and since our first rehearsal, I can say Maestrick was formed – the chemistry was undeniable, and we started to talk about ideas for songs straight away. On that same rehearsal we wrote a song that would be seminal for our sound and concept – it did not make it into our first album, but it gave the idea for the whole concept of our first album, “Unpuzzled”. That song was called Electroshock, and I believe we’re going to use it at some point. It talked about a man observing a painting and empathizing with it, and we ended up creating some characters who would have been in that painting and the whole concept of the Unpuzzled album was born. Musically though, it wasn’t in the same vibe as the other songs we had, so it was a common decision to leave it out of our first album.
Lotsofmuzik: What’s the story behind the name of the band?
F.C.: That’s a funny story, because even if we consider the beginning of Maestrick in 2006, the name came a bit later, when we started to record our first album. We were thinking a lot about it, because the old name we had was Ramses II, and it didn’t exactly match the songs and style we wanted to have. When we recorded our first EP in 2010, we started asking ourselves: “do we REALLY need to use this name?”. We had several meetings to discuss the band name – some VERY long ones, in fact – and one of the names we suggested was Maestry. We also used to talk about our shows being theatrical and with lots of tricks, so another name we had was Trickycal. In one of the meetings to discuss the band name, I had just read Maestry and the next on the list was Trickycal, so we agreed on Maestrick. It clicked instantly, and we wanted a band that represented us as people and artists. I think the name has the pomp and seriousness of a maestro, and the sarcasm and irony of a trick. It’a perfect name for what we do.
Lotsofmuzik: From listening to your new album “Espresso della vita: Solare” I could probably guess, but what are some of the main influences you guys have?
Neemias Teixeira: I have many influences, but the main ones I should mention are Dream Theater, Haken, Leprous which I’ve been listening to a lot recently. I also listen to many other things that don’t necessarily have to do with our sound, such as Porcupine Tree, Steven Wilson, Opeth etc.
F.C.: My favourite band is Queen, and I really like post-Peter Gabriel Genesis – not the pop phase, but the proggy side of them: Wind and Wuthering, A Trick of the Tail etc. I also like Gentle Giant, a band that I started to research and discover this year. I also like a lot of more recent European prog bands; Haken, Circus Maximus, Seventh Wonder. When it comes to Brazilian music, I like Novos Baianos, Tropicalia, Mutantes. Also Danny Elfman and Camille Saint-Saëns, soundtracks etc.
Lotsofmuzik: And I think that your preference for soundtracks is reflected in the new album right? Explain us the name of the album and the concept behind it.
F.C.: The concept of this album came when I was having coffe with my mother. We were talking and sharing sroties, and both my grandfathers worked in a rail company in the night shift in the beginning of the 20th century. I always heard stories from both of them, about ghosts but also good stories as well. At some point my mother said “life is like a train ride. When you’re born you hop on the train, then you meet other people on the same train whom you like but they need to get off before you at some point, while others you don’t like who follow you until the end of your journey, and so on. We started to develop this idea, but wanted to write the record in a way where we could express all kinds of emotions in the journey. We decided to make this album as a train journey lasting one day. “Espresso della vita: Solare” represents the first half of this journey, from 6am to 5pm. I was reading a lot about Dante Alighieri when we wrote this album, and his Divine Comedy is also a metaphor for life. The name of the album is in Italian as a homage to his work. We split the album in three parts: heaven, purgatory and hell. Our next album will be a follow up called Lunare, and will start in hell, go through purgatory and end in heaven, making both albums together a 24 hour clock.
Lotsofmuzik: Wow, that’s an ambitious concept for sure! So you’re already thinking of the next album?
F.C.: Yeah, we’ll start the pre-production as soon as we come back from Europe in October.
Lotsofmuzik: So what are the touring plans for now?
NT.: We’ll have a release party in late June, and in October we have a tour scheduled in Europe including a festival in Russia. We’ll also play in the Czech Republic, Estonia, Letonia, Lithuania, Switzerland, Germany and Italy.
Lotsofmuzik: Are you planning to play the new album in full on tour?
NT.: At the release party concert we will play the full album. We haven’t fully decided the setlist, but we’ll probably not play it in the same sequence – it will be a diverse setlist, with songs from our first album as well. In the European shows there will be more focus on the new album, but the shows will be shorter because we’re playing with other bands in festivals, so we’ll have around 40 minutes to play every night. The whole new album has over an hour, so we’ll have to think about that.
Lotsofmuzik: What is the connection between the name of the album and the cover art, and who Drew the cover?
F.C.: The artist who drew this cover has won international awards, and her name is Juh Leidl. She was responsible for the “Woman In Art Exhibition 2013” at the Ward Nasse Gallery in New York, and also sings in a band called Threesome. We sent her the concept and developed it through time. Not just the cover, but the booklet as well, is a great representation of the story we tell on the album.
Lotsofmuzik: Can we do a quick track by track of the album? By the way, I love the fact that you start certain songs in one place and end up moving in a completely different direction.
F.C.: Origami is an overture, which is influenced by soundtracks. The idea was not to do a complicated instrumental, but to have an opening track that sounded like a Broadway music score. “I a.m. Living” is the sequence, and it’s influenced by funk, which is a rhythm our bass player is influenced by, and it is quite cinematic. “Rooster Race” has a “Hot for Teacher” vibe, and also what we call “country metal” [laughs]. It has animal sounds recorded and local rhythms like catira and vaneirão. “Daily View” is our “Pet Sounds of the Opera”, with tinges of Sgt. Pepper [laughs], and with acid lyrics but sonically it has a great feeling. “Water Birds” is also “country metal”, with influences of the music of the state of Minas Gerais. It’s a song where we used an actual orchestra, as opposed to other songs where we used keyboards.
NT.: “Water Birds” has a lot of mood changes – it starts in a joyful mood, but transitions into a dark vibe.
F.C.: Next up is “Keep Trying”, which is rooted in the 80’s, with a lot of synths and an AOR vibe, with influences of Toto and Journey. “The Seed” is an odyssey, probably the most complex one we did, with Asian vibes and a chorus of more than 32 voices, and it’s essencially symphonic prog metal. “Far West” is influenced by Ennio Morricone, who wrote soundtracks for many Westerns. It talks about being nostalgic about things we never experienced, and it also hints at Mr. Big. “Across the River” is a country song influenced by old gospel songs. “Penitencia” has lyrics in Portuguese and mixes influences of Chico Science – and the female voice in the middle of the song is from my grandmother! “Hijos de la Tierra” came from my perception that we are very isolated from the other countries in South America due to the language barrier. I felt impressed with the perception the Chileans have of themselves and how they are aware of political issues and so on, and after playing a festival there, and we spoke with one of the bands in the same bill called Crisalida. We invited their singer to participate in this song, which is influenced by Andean music. She was up for it, and in this song she interprets a shaman in this song who speaks for mother nature. “Trainsition” is a play on words between train and transition, and the lyrics talk about a friend of our drummer Heitor, who wanted to be a flight attendant, but suffered a car accident. This song starts with this person talking to the paramedic, and tells about her recovery, and the times when she dreamed she was flying. Towards the end we talk about her road to recovery. It means also transition because in the full story, we are transitioning from day into night.
Lotsofmuzik – And what would you say has been the highest point in the band’s career so far?
F.C.: I’d say the highest point is the release of this new album, because it has the state of the art of what we could do. In terms of production, arrangements, composition, we are much more mature and aware of what we can do, and being able to translate our confidence and self-awareness into these songs is certainly something to celebrate. We just received the news that Burn Magazine evaluated our new record with an even better score than Angra’s new album.
Lotsofmuzik – I’ve never listened to your first album, “Unpuzzled”, but from what I was told, the new one is clearly a step up in terms of quality and complexity.
F.C.: When we recorded “Unpuzzled”, our drummer was 19 years old and I was 20! It represented well what we were at the time, but we evolved a lot since then, and I think the step up is a consequence of how we developed.
N.C.: I joined the band not too long ago and got to know Maestrick after the release of “Unpuzzled”. When it was released I thought it was really good, but in fact the new album is certainly a step up, particularly in terms of production.
Lotsofmuzik – You also released an EP not too long ago, entitled "The Trick Side Of Some Songs", with some interesting choices of covers and medleys. Tell us about that release.
F.C.: We tried to avoid having a long hiatus between two albums, and in 2016 we knew we would take two more years until Espresso Della Vita: Solare" was released. So we thought about releasing a covers album. The cover is a homage to Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon and has our “mascot” tricker. The EP was meant for us to clear our heads and meant a vacation period for us. There’s very little editing on that album, and we wanted to get a feel for how it was done when The Beatles, Yes and Pink Floyd recorded their albums in the 60’s and 70’s. We added also the little vignettes that Pink Floyd used in their albums, to give a sense of beginning, middle and end to this EP, and it worked almost like a parody. We didn’t actually put it for sale, but made it available for free in our website. Aside from the Yes medley we already played all those songs live, and as a bonus track we added Rainbow Eyes from Rainbow, which we recorded with an orchestra and paid homage to Dio.
Lotsofmuzik – With only one guitar player, it must be challenging to reproduce your songs live. How do you guys get around that challenge?
F.C.: For the rhythm part, our bass player holds the fort – sometimes I think there could be an additional guitar, but mostly I’d say we handle that pretty well.
N.T.: Yeah, even Dream Theater – hen they record an album, John Petrucci records rhythm guitar underneath, but live John Myung fills that gap quite well, along with Jordan Rudess. We try to do something similar.
Lotsofmuzik - On Saturday Fabio is travelling to Italy to record his vocals for the international project Holy Tide, which he is already the vocalist and Will include other big names of the rock/metal scene – What can you tell us about this project?
F.C.: I was caught by surprise with the invitation. Joey Caputo is the bass player, leader and main composer of this project. He already had a guitar player in mind and was looking for a singer. He’s playing with a band called Sunrunner, and they’re managed by our same agent, Som do Darma. Through that connection we were introduced and that’s how I was invited for it. I’m travelling to Italy this week to record it, and the sessions will last around nine days.
Lotsofmuzik – And Neemias was the winner of a contest launched by Dream Theater’s Jordan Rudess – what kind of contest was that?
N.T.: In 2013, Jordan released an app called EarWizard, which works as a training for musical perception – I think it’s still available at the app stores. At the time I was studying music theory in college, and I went through all the levels of the app. Soon after he put up a contest in which whoever finished all the levels would get a half hour class with him. I had already finished and sent it, and won the contest. The class ended up lasting a lot longer, and he was very considerate. We kept in touch after that, and we met in person in 2014 in one of the Dream Theater concerts in Brazil, and met again at NAMM in 2016.
Lotsofmuzik – And how can the fans follow the most recente updates on Maestrck?
F.C.: Our website is being updated, so the best source right now is our Facebook page. Also our management at Som do Darma.
Lotsofmuzik – Thanks for your time, and I’m hoping you guys book a tour in North America.
F.C.: Our hope is to be there in September next year.
Lotsofmuzik – Fingers crossed. Take care guys!
F.C.: You too, thanks for the interview!!!
Songs / Tracks Listing1. Origami (2:13)
2. aI .m. Living (6:29)
3. Rooster Race (6:10)
4. Daily View (2:31)
5. Water Birds (4:32)
6. Keep Trying (5:02)
7. The Seed (15:34)
8. Far West (4:31)
9. Across the River (5:12)
10. Penitência (4:48)
11. Hijos de la Tierra (7:50)
12. Trainsition (11:07)
Total Time 75:59
Line-up / Musicians- Renato Somera / Bass
- Heitor Matos / Drums
- Fábio Caldeira / Vocals, Keyboards
- Adair Daufembach / Guitars
The first album of The Sea Within is set for release on June 22, and by now you’ve read all about it in our thorough review. If you haven’t, check it out here: https://lotsofmuzic.weebly.com/home/the-sea-within-the-sea-within-album-review-by-friedrich-stenzel
An ambitious mix of each members’ style and influences, The Sea Within may not be an album that grabs your attention at first. Like many great prog albums, it is best digested in small doses, where you can enjoy its twists and turn properly, and allow yourself to be slowly engulfed in their harmonies, riffs and melodies. Give it a spin and let it all sink in, then try again. We guarantee this will be a rewarding experience.
Lotsofmuzik’s Rodrigo Altaf had a chance to discuss this new release with their guitar player Roine Stolt. He spoke about the other band members and special appearances on the album, as well as his other plans with Transatlantic, Anderson/Stolt and many other endeavours. Check out the interview below:
Lotsofmuzik: First of all, congratulations on the release of The Sea Within’s first album – I’ve been enjoying it non stop since I received it. Tell us how the choice or scouting of each member of the band was made?
Roine Stolt: Let’s put it this way. I have played on record and live with three of The Sea Within members. Jonas (Reingold, bass) has been a member of The Flower Kings for a very long time, Daniel Gildenlow was also a member for two years, and he also was a touring member of Transatlantic around the time we did The Whirlwind. Most people know Tom Brislin (keyboards), from touring with Yes Symphonic, and he’s also played with Meat Loaf and Camel. He also has his own band called Spiraling, which is piano-driven pop music with touches of prog. We worked together in the Anderson/Stolt album, which we did two years ago. Marco Minneman I had never played with before, but we met in North America at some point, and we were in contact to discuss some touring before Felix Lehrmann joined the Flower Kings. He had some other touring commitments, I think with Joe Satriani or Steven Wilson at the time. It didn’t work out then, but we kept in touch. I was talking to the record label about doing something new and take a break from The Flower Kings for a while. Also, there wasn’t anything going with Transatlantic at the time, and I’m working with a second album with Jon Anderson right now, but as you know Jon is touring with his version of Yes, with Rick Wakeman and Trevor Rabin and they’re making a new album. So it seemed like a good time to try something new – new writing partnerships and playing with other guys on stage, so this is basically how this band was put together.
LOM: It’s an interesting blend of talents for sure. Was there any situation though, where there were conflicting ideas or opinions about songs? How to balance the egos and overflow of ideas?
RS: Definitely! We all have egos, no doubt (laughs). This is bound to happen when you put five people in the studio. I can’t think of a band that I’ve been in where everyone was totally on the same page. Sometimes it’s a bit more smooth, and sometimes it’s a bit more difficult to get to a point when we can all agree on something. I would be lying to you if I said that this time we agreed on each and every detail of the lyrics, the album cover, the mix…we didn’t. But at the same time it’s interesting to have a little bit of friction and to have someone stand up for their opinions. When we were recording the basic tracks in London, we had some great times and great dinners, and everyone got along really well, so that’s a great foundation to build on. If a band can play together but can’t be on stage together, then we have a problem, but this time I think we got along just fine.
LOM: You recorded almost two hours of music – did anything NOT make it to the album, and if so, has it been kept for a second release, or has it been discarded completely?
RS: I think we recorded a lot. There was something we did towards the end – possibly the last day – we worked on an experimental track that we didn’t use on the album. And I think we didn’t use it not because it wasn’t good, but because we didn’t finish it really. It was probably too experimental, so there was too much work needed to get all the pieces of this theme together and make it sound coherent. But we used everything else and experimented a lot. None of us really had a strong conviction when we finished those songs about them being in the album or about the sequence in which they’d be presented in the album. We got together, experimented a lot and played as best as we could.
LOM: The songs are split in the first “main” disc and in a bonus disc as well. What was the rationale behind having disc 2 not as part of the album?
RS.: To be honest, that was entirely the record company’s decision and recommendation. I wasn’t against it or for it, I thought they probably had a good reason to present the album that way – they kno the market better than I do. The four songs on the second disc are not second grade, it’s just the order in which they placed after we decided on the order of songs, and they ended up on the second disc.
LOM: You wrote the songs through a span of six months, and not always with everyone involved present – I guess this is the modern way of recording albums, but it still very much an organic effort, right?
R.S.: I think it is because we went to London together and sat down in the studio and played, jammed and recorded. Some bands these days are recording things on a computer and sending files to one another. I spoke to a journalist the other week and he said he spoke to a musician about a band, and this guy didn’t even know who the other musicians in the band were! That’s kind of weird – playing on an album when you don’t know anything about the other guys in the band. I’m not saying it can’t be made that way and be successful, but we’re slightly older and like to make records in the old fashioned way. The bulk of the album was finished in London and certain bits were finished at a later stage – some vocals and acoustic guitar here and there. But the bulk of the album was done together.
LOM: Of course we’re saddened by the news that Daniel will not join you guys for the first run of shows. At what point did you guys realize or discuss that he would not be available for the first run of shows?
R.S.: It was in London when we first got together and started to discuss the album. Once we sat in the same room we started to talk and realized that he’s planning a tour and some studio time with Pain of Salvation. He also has a young family – three boys at home. It’s a different case for me – my oldest son is almost 30 years old and they all have their own lives – but in Daniel’s case it’s understandable, he as to be there for them. He has Pain of Salvation which is essencially his band. And once we sat together and started to talk about touring, his preference was to continue with Pain Of Salvation, and I do understand that.
LOM: Did you invite Casey Mcpherson to sing on the album already in preparation for Daniel’s absence?
R.S.: Yes and no. Casey was in the plan even before Daniel, actually. I wanted Daniel in – I knew him from Flower Kings and Transatlantic as I said. I didn’t know Casey before this project, but he came on recommendation from other friends. When we realized that Daniel wasn’t going to be able to tour, Casey was fast in responding and helped us finish a few songs on the album, so that’s how things developed over time.
LOM: On many songs there’s a significant change from the starting point – there’s the saxophone solo on Ashes of Dawn and the jazzy breakdown on “An Eye For An Eye For An Eye”, just to mention a few examples. It makes it difficult to categorize the band, right?
R.S.: There were a lot of things that we weren’t in agreement about, but there was one thing we WERE in agreement about: we didn’t want to be a stereotype progressive rock band. We didn’t want to be another Yes clone or a Genesis or King Crimson clone. So we mixed all kinds of things together. Sometimes we sounded like a new age band, other times like a jazz band, a folky or psychedelic band…we mixed everything together, and out of the mix comes something hopefully a little bit more unique. We didn’t put any lids or limits on anything, and our composition was not by the book. If someone suggested a piano solo, like we did on “An Eye For An Eye For An Eye”, we went for it – it sounds like a crazy idea because that’s a very upbeat and rocking song, but it worked. I think that’s the case with great prog bands. King Crimson was the mother of all prog bands, and they wrote “21st Century Schizoid Man”, which is probably one of the first metal songs, and in the middle they have this crazy fusion jazz thing going on. The Beatles were also masters of that towards the end – they mixed a bit of everything.
LOM: Funny enough, the one song I thought was the most “straight ahead” songs of the album is Broken Cord, and it’s the longest one with almost 15 minutes – did you guys made a conscious decision to write one long song, or is this just how it turned out to be?
R.S.: That song was even longer – I think it had 25 minutes at least. This was something I sent in the beginning to Jonas and we were trying to make more concise songs. I remember working quite a bit on that song to try and make it more cohesive.
LOM: Let’s talk a bit about what I think is the secret weapon of the band - Marco. Are you used to working with a drummer who’s so prominent on guitar? He recorded some guitars on the album, right?
R.S.: The guitar he plays on this album was on the song “An Eye For An Eye For An Eye”. But if you listen to Marco’s own albums, he plays a lot of guitar. He has a style, and he varies between heavy riffs and some twangy 60’s sounding playing as well.
LOM: Jordan Rudess played on “The Hiding of Truth”. How did you guys think of collaborating with him? He’s in Levin Minneman Rudess with Marco, so I’m guessing that’s how the connection was made, right?
R.S.: Jordan was actually in the plan for the band in the beginning. He was asked to join and accepted to be in the band. But I think he was probably on a flight to Europe with Dream Theater, and the management team, when he dropped the news, someone was a little bit upset – I don’t know, but I guess that too many commitments for a guy like Jordan may not be a good thing, so he had to decline. And he has other commitments, he’s involved in developing new synthesizers and things like that, so he’s a busy guy. So he said he couldn’t commit to recording an album or touring and offered to play something on the album, and we accepted it. I’ve known Jordan for a long time, I thought it was a good time for us to do something together, and he played piano on one song, which is great. We’ll probably have a chance to play this song together on Cruise to the Edge, because he’s also going to be there, and hopefully he can join us.
LOM: And of course there’s a VERY special appearance by Jon Anderson which you mentioned earlier on, and I guess it stemmed from the fact that you already collaborate together, right? What can you tell us about the next album you’re working on with him?
R.S.: We started working on album number two about half a year ago, and we’re making good progress, but because of my commitment with The Sea Within, this has been put on ice. I also know that Jon is putting a live album and a studio album with Trevor Rabin and Rick Wakeman, so for the time being that’s where we are. Jon even brought in his son and they wrote a song together – a really beautiful song which has almost hit single potential to be honest. I hope we can carry that song all the way to the finished product, but I can’t really say when we’re going to finish it. I guess that once we do the first tour with The Sea Within I’ll get a bit more time and will be able to finish it – we’ll see.
LOM: Regarding disc 2, I think the most surprising one is “Denise”, which I thought was going to be a ballad, but it’s so dramatic, very tense in feel and execution – what can you tell us about that song?
R.S.: The initial idea for that song came from Jonas. He had the melody and some lyric ideas. I can’t remember now how developed the lyric idea was – if it came all from him or not. I remember I took the lyrics and rewrote some of it. The general idea was that of farewell – a father who committed some crime, went to prison and was going to the electric chair, so there was a dramatic effect to it. So we worked on that, and when Daniel came in he added some melody lines towards the end and started to build on the song. When we were in London to record we found this old keyboard – a harmonium, which has a distinctive sound, more like an organic sound rather than a sample. It was slightly out of tune and we used it anyway. I think this song works like a compliment to the more “streamlined” songs on the album so to speak.
LOM: The album has a beautiful cover art, done by Marcela Bolivar. What kind of input did she get from you guys to design that cover?
R.S.: Actually the cover was finished before we came along, and we were looking at a potfolio of the art she had done over the years. I don’t know Marcela personally, it was something we found on the internet. I found her some time ago and pointed it to my friend Nad Sylvain who now sings with Steve Hackett, and he used her art for an album called “The Bride Said No”. We were looking around for something that would work for the music we were making. In this case the cover works well on an LP cover and also on a backdrop.
LOM: I’m surprised that you guys didn’t give Marcela any direction, because the cover fits the name of the band and the sound so well!
R.S.: Yeah, and I think exactly like you, and this is what I said to the guys – it works almost like magic. I think that once you connect with the music, ten or fifteen years after you’ll look at an album cover and you’ll think that it fits with the music, but most of the time it’s just a coincidence. Why did The Beatles choose Klaus Voormann to design the Revolver album, or why did Yes choose Roger Dean to draw their covers? He made a career out of it and was connected to Yes forever with these wonderful covers. So I think you can’t really predict that, and there’s a little bit of magic involved. So I said to the guys: let’s not be too picky – look at it and see if it fits and if you get a good feeling and think about our music. If you get a gut feeling that this works, let’s go with it!
LOM: What can you tell us about the live set - will you prepare other songs to play live, or will your set be comprised of songs from the first album only?
R.S.: I think it will be the songs from the first album, and we’ll take certain sections of some of the songs and we’ll expand them a little bit. With wonderful musicians like Marco, Tom and Jonas, we can expand certain things to make them even more adventurous and interesting live. Once you have someone like Marco playing drums it sounds like a symphony on drums! We can play a few chords on guitar, and if Marco plays on top of it, it just sounds like a symphony (laughs). I think it would be stupid not to use these fantastic musicians to do something unique for our live performance. And we won’t be using any backing tracks. Without naming names, there are certain successful prog musicians touring out there who have everything on click track, pre-recorded vocals, people counting for them in their inner ears…for me personally that’s weird. I’m not speaking for the other guys in the band because they may have a different opinion, but I think the magic happens when you play for real on stage and take chances and risks and stretch and improvise – eventually you play a wrong note here and there, but it’s all about taking chances and inbetween the wrong notes, the magic happens.
LOM: When it comes to writing songs and lyrics, how do you know where it’s going to fit, since you’re involved in so many different bands and projects?
R.S.: I don’t actually, and I don’t think in terms of who’s going to perform it. All the time, I don’t know if I’m writing for Transatlantic or the Flower Kings. I remember writing something for a Transatlantic album which ended up on a Flower Kings album. Then one time on a tour bus someone put on the latest Flower Kings album and Mike Portnoy turned to me and said “hey, that’s OUR song!”. And I said “no, that’s a song that we rejected and I used it for The Flower Kings!” (laughs). So that’s how I do it, I just write music and present it and see whoever accepts it, and then I shape the music to fit whoever will be playing it, and they make it their own.
LOM: One question a lot of fans have been wondering about is – does The Sea Within mean the end of Transatlantic, or is another album in the cards?
R.S.: That’s impossible to tell really. I think that as it is now, Neal is busy with his stuff, Mike is out with Sons of Apollo to try to build and establish it as a new band, and he has a lot of other things too. So I can’t really see anything happening in the next year or two. For me, let’s keep it open – never say never! (laughs). I’m actually meeting Neal in Stockholm soon – he’s playing a concert in Stockholm soon, so I’m going to join him on stage and we’ll play a few songs. So we’ll meet and talk, and let’s see If something comes up.
LOM: So far there are only two confirmed appearances - Night of the Prog Festival 2018 at Loreley, and Cruise to the Edge in early 2019. What can you tell us about the other touring plans?
R.S.: There are touring plans, and we have a booking agent working on it now. Once we have the tourig plans set up we will announce the dates. We’re looking into Europe first and then North America and possibly South America. And there are also plans for Japan too. But that’s for next year. The general idea within the band was to release the album and let it sink it, and let people really get to know the songs, and then we’ll tour next year. That’s a new way of thinking – I’m used to just releasing an album and go on tour, but I guess this is how it’s done nowadays.
LOM: I think it makes sense, because it took me at least four or five listens to properly understand this album, and I still find new things here and there at every listen.
R.S.: Absolutely! I think there are songs on the album that probably stick faster – you listen to them two or three times and you start loving them. But there are other songs that will take ten or fifteen listens, and in time they will grow. Thinking back on music from the 70’s, how many times have you heard those songs until now? Think about Queen – when I first heard Bohemian Rhapsody, I wasn’t crazy about it, but every time you hear it, you start noticing all those little details, and it has a different impact than something you just heard last week. So it makes sense for us to let those songs sink in with the fans and then tour to support the album.
LOM: To finish off, where can the fans be aware of all things The Sea Within?
R.S.: We have a website set up, but it’s still under construction – www.theseawithin.net. Around mid summer it will look more like a complete website, with the band member’s bio, merchandise, links to the social networks etc.
LOM: Thank you so much Roine, I wish you all the best with the new release, and I hope to catch you guys on the road soon!
R.S.: Thank you, bye!
Ladies and gentlemen, Lucifer is amongst us. But before you run to the nearest church and ask for cover, let me clarify: rather than talking about an evil entity, I’m referring to the amazing 70’s revisionist band originally formed in Berlin, which are now experiencing a second incarnation. Fronted by Johanna Sadonis (ex-The Oath) and with her now-fiancée Nicke Andersson (The Hellacopters, Entombed) on drums, they are influenced by Blue Oyster Cult, Steppenwolf and Black Sabbath, and are ready to release their sophomore album, entitled “Lucifer II”, in July 2018.
Lotsofmuzik’s Rodrigo Altaf had the chance to catch up with Johanna S and Nicke, and they spoke about how the second incarnation of the band came to fruition.
Lotsofmuzik: Johanna and Nicke, nice talking to you! To start things off, tell us how Lucifer was formed.
Johanna Sadonis: I formed Lucifer right after The Oath ended, because I wanted to do music right away and thought I had something to give. I had a concept for Lucifer, which, honestly has more to do with what we’re doing now on the second album. Then Gaz Jennings was recommended to me and he was up for it, so we released the first album.
LOM: How did you chose that name, and are you aware that there are other acts called the same – have you guys been in trouble for that yet, are you expecting any kind of trouble?
JS: Of course there are other bands named Lucifer. If you look into metal archives, any word you might be interested in as a potential band name, there are twenty bands who already used it! With Lucifer I found five or six. And just after we recorded the first album, I got a message from a German thrash band saying that THEY would change their name. Honestly, I didn’t find any other band who could be bigger than us at this point, only bands that didn’t even exist anymore. I just thought it was a great and catchy short name that begged to be taken, so I used it!
LOM: The first thing that came to mind when I looked at the material was that the font in Lucifer’s name is EXACTLY the one used on Rush’s first album – has anyone else made that connection? Are you Rush fans in particular?
JS: Not in particular, just the first album. And that was kind of on purpose – I like the songs and the artwork of Rush’s first album. I contacted Alan Forbes, he’s a screeenprint artist from San Francisco and asked him to use that in the same font in our logo. But at the same time, there are other bands who used a similar font!
Nicke Andersson: Yeah, it’s also on Elton John’s self titled album – it was a pretty common font then, but the on that sticks out is the Rush one.
LOM: Lucifer II is a very different animal from your first album, so tell us a bit about the lineup changes that occurred between the two releases.
JS: After the last European tour last year Gaz left, and I had no songwriting partner. Meanwhile, Nicke and I saw each other the same day that Gaz said he’d leave, and pretty much there and then Nicke asked if we could write together.
LOM: Nicke, when you started writing for this album did you refer back to the first one as a starting point, or did you start from scratch?
NA: Well, first of all, since we started seeing each other, I almost interrogated Johann about the process of writing together, because I always wrote songs on my own. At some point during a Lucifer show I even asked Gaz how that worked, because I was generally interested – it seemed like something I’d want to do but simply didn’t know how to do it. When we started writing together, we discussed a lot about the direction the band was going to go and Johanna’s vision of it. I understood what she wanted, and agreed that we would stay down tuned to C#, which is the classic Black Sabbath tuning, and not change things dramatically.
JS: And after the initial surprise when Gaz left I took this as an opportunity because I thought “ok, now I can rethink what Lucifer should be”. I guess we are now reshaped to reflect what Nicke and I like musically – it’s diving deep into the music crate of the 70’s. At the same time we don’t steer away too far from our approach on the first album, because you don’t want to alienate fans completely. I’m really happy with how the album turned out, and I think it’s a step up.
LOM: What do you intend to play live when you go on tour? Any material from The Oath?
JS: No – Entombed doesn’t play Hellacopter songs, so why should Lucifer play The Oath songs, right? (laughs)
NA: We played four shows so far with the new lineup, and we mixed the first and second album in our set.
JS: I wanted to focus just on the second one, but Nicke said that we cannot leave the songs form our debut behind, because a lot of fans still want to hear those songs. So we balanced it out.
LOM: Tell us about the video for the first song on the album, “California Sun”. I couldn’t help but think about that movie Death Proof by Tarantino – was that the intention?
JS: Not really. Tarantino is great, but I think he’s too contemporary. My idea was more to draw inspiration from the videos that Deep Purple and Steppenwolf did in the 70’s with the green screen and the primitive special effects of that era, with all the psychedelic motifs. It was also a good opportunity to let loose and not seem too serious or dark. We had fun and to me it was a good chance to show that Lucifer is not all doom and gloom.
LOM: And Johanna, you directed the video yourself, is this something new for you, and did it come naturally?
JS: Well, I had the idea in my head of how I wanted it to look, with the motorcycle, and we hired one guy who had all sorts of different ideas that weren’t what we wanted. Eventually we decided to do our own thing. And Nicke and I have a very strong and similar vision of the aesthetics we want. That’s why we decide everything concerning the artwork by ourselves
NA: Also because we can’t afford to hire someone else! (laughs)
JS: That’s for sure! (laughs)
LOM: One of my particular favourite songs of the album was the cover of the Rolling Stones, “Dancing with Mr. D.”. In your version it has a distinctive Black Sabbath vibe, right?
JS: Yeah, it was my idea to cover that one, which is on Goats Head Soup. It has a creepy vibe – Mr. D is the devil of course, and Nicke picked up right away that this could sound like a Black Sabbath song with the right tuning.
LOM: Faux Pharaoh is another song you seem to be particularly proud of – tell us about the title of that song and what it’s about?
JS: I think it’s maybe the heaviest and doomest of the album. A pharaoh is a king in Egypt of course, and I made this expression “faux pharaoh” up, about someone who takes himself too seriously.
LOM: Nicke, you played most of the instruments on the album – did you feel challenged in any way to do that, or did you feel comfortable to do it?
NA: I am a bit of a control freak, so I guess it has its advantages sometimes. We were really eager to record the album, and instead of auditioning guitar players and bass players, we thought “let’s work with what we have so far” – that was me, Johanna and Robin on guitar. I love playing all instruments and it was in no way to show off, but just to get the album ready.
JS: And nowadays I live with Nicke in Stockholm, but when we recorded the demos for the album, every time I came to visit him we used the studio in his house and it was just much quicker to do it that way.
LOM: And now you have new members in the band for the upcoming tour, right?
JS: Yeah, after we recorded the album we knew we had to get more members, because we have to play live. And now we have Martin Nordin on guitars and Alexander Mayr on bass, Robin Tidebrink on guitars and Nicke is taking on drums. They are permanent members of Lucifer now, and for the next album we’ll record everything together.
LOM: Revisioning the sound of the 70’s seems to be a trend these days, with many bands not just paying homage to that era, but almost acting like we’re still in the 70’s, with the clothing, the looks, the tones…why do you guys think that that became a trend?
NA: I’ve looked the same for twenty years, maybe even more (laughs)! I think that trends come and go, and like you said this is trendy right now, but for me it has nothing to do with it – I’ve always prefered this type of music – as a sound engineer, I think the sound of the albums from the 60’s and 70’s are better than any other decade.
JS: Yeah, in modern recording technique, everything is so slick and polished, there are click tracks, and to me it’s horrible, because it takes the life out of music, it loses its charm and doesn’t sound organic. For us, looking back at the 60’s and 70’s is not a trend, this is a timeless thing. Even the bands who are not engaged in this “retro” thing, even more modern-styled bands, mention other bands from the 70’s as influences heavily, because this is where good music was. There aren’t many bands out there than can match up the craftsmanship of the late 60’s and 70’s.
NA: I have many albums in my collection which are from the 70’s, and they’re so dramatically superior to anything that came before or since! And I guess the secret is that you shouldn’t try to emulate that if it’s not in your heart – if it doesn’t come from within and you’re doing something just because it’s a trend, you’re always going to be late.
LOM: What would you say is the secret to achieve that perfect vintage tone? Is it about the pedals or effects you use, and/or how the recording is made, or the mix?
NA: I think it’s a combination of everything and even more so the mindset. I don’t go for the tone or the mix with a specific frame of mind, I just do it and to me it sounds right. My sonic preference usually falls into that, and that’s what I usually try to achieve. With guitars, I think it’s more the style of playing rather than the right use of pedals. I have tons of pedals, just because I’m a nerd (laughs), but they won’t help you if you don’t play the guitar a certain way. There are no shortcuts really. If you wanna sound like Ace Frehley, you gotta play like Ace Frehley!
LOM: You’re playing Hellfest this year – what are the expectations for the festival, and what other bands are you eager to see while you’re there?
JS: We’re excited, and we just booked our flights to that festival! I can see The Hellacopters, because we’ll play and then I get to see other bands. But Nicke will play drums with us and then he’ll play with The Hellacopters, so he won’t get a chance to see much.
NA: We heard it’s going to be really hot because it’s in the French desert (laughs). And one of the bands I’d like to see if I get a chance is Gluecifer, because they’re having a reunion.
LOM: What else is planned in terms of touring this year for the band?
JS: There’s gonna be quite a few festivals. We were invited for a show in Las Vegas and we’re planning an European tour in the fall and then maybe Japan later in the winter. We want to go to the U.S. and Canada, but not this year, because it’s really expensive and time consuming to organize the visas and flights over there. But we’ll make it happen!
LOM: How can the fans become aware of news about Lucifer?
JS: We’re on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and the addresses are:
LOM: Thank you so much guys, and all the best with the new album!
JS and NA: Thanks!
Lucifer’s second album “Lucifer II” comes out on July 06th via Century Media. The lineup and tracklist can be seen below:
LUCIFER II tracklist (42:00)
01. California Son (03:26)
02. Dreamer (04:46)
03. Phoenix (05:47)
04. Dancing With Mr. D (04:11)
05. Reaper On Your Heels (05:06)
06. Eyes In The Sky (04:30)
07. Before The Sun (03:38)
08. Aton (05:05)
09. Faux Pharaoh (05:25)
Johanna Sadonis - Vocals
Nicke Andersson - Drums
Robin Tidebrink - Guitar
Martin Nordin – Live Guitar
Alexander Mayr – Live Bass
Haken has evolved into a strong force in the genre of progressive rock. Their debut album was already too perfect to be a debut album, and every following album has explored something new, without missing that typical Haken sound. The band has reached a first creative climax with their critically acclaimed 2013 effort The Mountain, only to improve themselves with the following album, Affinity. This 2016 release connects the band’s poppy vocal lines and heavy rocking, slightly djent-influenced guitar riffs with newly incorporated influences from the 80's to form a combination that I never would have thought would work. Affinity was the first compositional group effort, while the former albums were mainly written by Richard Henshall. Especially keyboard wizard Diego Tejeida and drum monster Raymond Hearne provided loads of crazy sounds and insane rhythmical pattern that made me wonder if all of this was even possible to reproduce during concerts. Of course, a visit to one of the band’s following concerts proved those doubts unnecessary, because this is Haken we’re talking about. Everyone who has seen one of their concerts knows that they’re definitely worth visiting. The band not only plays with perfection, but with a lot of passion and contact with the crowd. Fans have been waiting for an official release of live music for quite some time now, and it seems the band has heard their wishes.
The L-1VE package includes the last show of their tenth anniversary tour in Amsterdam on CD and DVD, as well as a few songs from their performance at the Prog Power Festival 2016 and three music videos on a second DVD. As it should be at an anniversary concert, the setlist covers each of the band’s albums. Even the long debate between fans if either Visions of Crystallized is the better encore has been solved by including the latter’s performance at the Prog Power Festival on the second DVD. The minimalistic design of the package clearly follows the 80's oriented flair of Affinity.
Haken started each of these tour’s concerts with the „affinity.exe“ intro and the opener „Initiate“ from their last studio album. When the first sound effects kicks in after the barely audible morse codes, the band goes on stage and the crowd greets them with a big applause. As the rocking Initiate heats up the place, I wondered if this was just the studio version dubbed with some audience noises. Especially the Affinity songs „1985“, „The Architect“, „The Endless Knot“ and the mentioned „Initiate“ are performed extremely close to their respective studio recordings, which of course is a huge effort, with respect to performance and to recording and production. Even the insanely complex „The Architect“ (probably my favorite Haken song overall) is played with sheer perfection and holds some of the best moments of the concert. Still, these songs don’t miss the typical live atmosphere. The heavy bridge in „Initiate“, the infamous A-Team part in „1985“ and the dubstep section in „The Endless Knot“ find a lot of resonance within the crowd and are appreciated with lots of applause and cheering. During the latter one, there is even a moshpit evolving, which is happily appreciated by singer Ross Jennings. Speaking of Ross Jennings. When the first single of the album, The Mountain’s „In Memoriam“, was released, some criticism were expressed about Jenning’s voice having been overdubbed or edited in the studio. I have seen nights where Ross pulled off a performance just as good as this one. There are non-processed live recordings of the band all over the internet in which he sings just as brilliantly. And even if there was some editing done, that’s nothing reprehensible. It’s the band’s first live release and of course it’s supposed to be a good one. Ross Jennings delivers a stunning performance, as do all the others. Although everyone is concentrating on their respective instrument, they all seem to pull off their performance without any effort and still find time to smile to the audience or make some jokes with the other musicians between all the whacky riffs and complex solos.
The songs from The Mountain seem to have developed an individual live dynamic. Especially „The Cockroach King“ is always met with the crowd cheering and joining in with the Gentle Giant inspired vocal sections. The song has evolved into the band’s signature song and is an absolute highlight at every Haken concert. The mellow „As Death Embraces“ represents the only ballad and is positioned cleverly in the middle of the concert. While not being my favorite ballad of the band, it creates a welcome breather between the epic „Aquamedley“ and the progressive openers from The Mountain.
And this brings us to another highlight of the concert. The band decided to celebrate their debut album during this 10th anniversary tour and rearranged the whole thing into a 23 minute long „Aquamedley“ that features important parts from six of the album’s seven songs. The songs keep their order, but some sections are repositioned to fit into the flow of the medley. Since Aquarius was a concept album and themes were constantly reprised, this shortened version works very well.
The concert is being concluded by the opulent „Visions“, another fan-favorite and majestic finale for every Haken concert. The song’s bombastic end is truly breathtaking and frequently brings tears to the listeners’ eyes. I have attended several concerts where the crowd would just continue singing the final singalong-chorus after the band finished the song. Sadly, the recorded concert wasn’t one of those. Still, „Visions“ is the optimal closer for this progressive tour-de-force and I personally even prefer it over Crystallized.
But fans don’t have to worry about that. Because along with „Earthrise“ and the two 10 minute monsters „Falling Back To Earth“ and „Pareidolia“ from The Mountain, „Crystallized“ is included on a second DVD. Unfortunately, my promo version of the album only includes the main concert, but I have the feeling that the performances from the Prog Power Festival aren’t any worse than the ones from Amsterdam.
In the end, fans will get a great all-round package with L-1VE. The only thing missing is a vinyl release, which hopefully will follow one day after enough fan demand. The sound of these recordings is amazing for a live release, although Ross Jenning’s voice could have been a little louder in the mix. Richard Henshall’s and Charlie Griffiths’ guitars are spread to the right and left side, respectively, so listening with headphones is definitely recommended. It gives a good idea about which guitarist plays what and reveals a few details in the arrangement that wasn’t clearly recognizable on the studio records. The lightning is kept moderate but the changes perfectly match what the band is playing. While the camera work is not very spectacular, it mostly focuses on the respective main protagonist of the section and is well directed. I would have loved to see a little more of Ray Hearne though, for example by an overhead camera. His drumming on this release is insane and it doesn’t only deserve to be heard, but to be seen too. But the criticism I am expressing here is on a very high level, as basically Haken has once again managed to do everything right. Of course, this release doesn’t compensate for the ultimate Haken live experience, but it comes close, very close.
Personal favorites: Cockroach King, The Architect, Visions.
HAKEN - L1VE
Release date: June 22nd, 2018
L-1VE CD 1 (0:49:00)
1. affinity.exe/Initiate – Live in Amsterdam (06:00)
2. In Memoriam – Live in Amsterdam (04:42)
3. 1985 – Live in Amsterdam (09:21)
4. Red Giant – Live in Amsterdam (06:31)
5. Aquamedley – Live in Amsterdam (22:26)
L-1VE CD 2 (1:05:26)
6. As Death Embraces – Live in Amsterdam (03:50)
7. Atlas Stone – Live in Amsterdam (07:12)
8. Cockroach King – Live in Amsterdam (08:17)
9. The Architect – Live in Amsterdam (15:59)
10. The Endless Knot – Live in Amsterdam (06:34)
11. Visions – Live in Amsterdam (23:34)
L-1VE DVD 1 (1:54:31)
1. affinity.exe/Initiate – Live in Amsterdam (06:02)
2. In Memoriam – Live in Amsterdam (04:40)
3. 1985 – Live in Amsterdam (09:24)
4. Red Giant – Live in Amsterdam (06:26)
5. Aquamedley – Live in Amsterdam (22:33)
6. As Death Embraces – Live in Amsterdam (03:46)
7. Atlas Stone – Live in Amsterdam (07:13)
8. Cockroach King – Live in Amsterdam (08:18)
9. The Architect – Live in Amsterdam (16:01)
10. The Endless Knot – Live in Amsterdam (06:33)
11. Visions – Live in Amsterdam (23:35)
L-1VE DVD 2 (1:01:40)
1. Falling Back To Earth – Live At Prog Power 2016 (12:10)
2. Earthrise – Live At Prog Power 2016 (05:08)
3. Pareidolia – Live At Prog Power 2016 (10:20)
4. Crystallised – Live At Prog Power 2016 (20:14)
5. Initiate – official video (04:16)
6. Earthrise – official video (04:48)
7. Lapse – official video (04:44)
Ross Jennings – vocals
Richard Henshall – guitars, keyboards, backing vocals
Raymond Hearne – drums, backing vocals, tuba
Charles Griffiths – guitars, backing vocals
Diego Tejeida – keyboards, backing vocals
Conner Green – bass guitar, backing vocals
Here are a few things that can’t be mistaken: When Chris Squire plays that first mighty note, when Phil Collins introduces a song with one of his huge fills, when David Gilmour doesn’t need more than just a few notes to say it all. When Roine Stolt composes harmony sequences, when Marco Minnemann amazes with his insane use of cymbals, when Daniel Gildenlöw reaches unknown heights with his voice, when Jonas Reingold enchants you with his fretless bass lines. I wish I could say the same about Tom Brislin, but I honestly don’t know most of his work. And after hearing this album, I realized what a shame that is. Tom knows his craft extremely well and he has that incredible taste for retro-like yet fresh and organic keyboard sounds. He fits into this band perfectly and delivers flawless contributions. But so do the other members. And when these people come together to form one band, one can expect something awesome. You can hear everybody’s compositional and instrumental influence on this record. It doesn’t sound entirely like The Flower Kings, Pain Of Salvation or The Aristocrats, but you can definitely hear the personnel overlap of these bands at some bits and pieces of the album.
The band first came together last September to start working on material provided by everyone. Here lies the first of many qualities of the album: Everyone contributed, composed, played different instruments, sang, wrote lyrics and vocal melodies. According to Roine, the basic recording process took about six months, but the work on the album was not finished after that. Everyone added some nuances in instrumentation and arrangement later in their home studios. This is the second of many qualities of the album: It’s not rushed. It wasn’t written and recorded within a week; the songs were given time to be developed and listened to with some distance. Not one song is being faded out, every ending is composed and thought through. The arrangements are colorful and rich. But still - and that’s actually a third quality - it’s no Chinese Democracy, ideas weren’t overthought and overproduced, it still has some kind of spontaneity and freshness to it, with some parts even sounding like first takes.
The albums kicks off with a cannonball of a song. „Ashes Of Dawn“ evolves from a distant augmented chord and some sound effects, before Marco introduces the mighty main riff by one of his characteristic tom-tom rolls. The riff itself is one of the heaviest of the album, reminiscent of the Red-era King Crimson. The vocal line of the verse is quite simple, but it leaves enough space for the instruments to vary the arrangement with every repetition. Plus, Daniel can make every melody sound great. Jonas’ bass lines are far from just providing root notes, Marco’s cymbal use is extraordinary as usual and Toms hammond organ sounds retro and dramatic. The song’s chorus is catchy and a bit apocalyptic and reminds me of Pain Of Salvation’s Road Salt albums. A first climax is reached with Roine’s guitar solo, before Tom’s organ introduces a wild saxophone solo reminiscent of King Crimson’s „Starless“ and David Jackson’s saxophone escapades on the early Van Der Graaf Generator albums. It was provided by Rob Townsend from Steve Hackett’s band and fits so well into the music that I actually wish we had gotten to hear more of him on the album. „Ashes Of Dawn“ is the perfect opener that already shows a lot of the band’s potential, but doesn’t give it all away
The next two songs tone it down a little bit. „They Know My Name“ has one of those hooklines you won’t get out of your head for days. It builds up delicately with a simple, yet beautiful piano pattern, a fragile Daniel and a very mellow atmosphere. Marco adds an unconventional touch to the later verses by a shuffled, slightly busy groove. The chorus appears very often in this song, but each time it’s played, it’s concluded differently. Roine plays one of his very finest solos toward the end and Toms keyboard sounds are very versatile and tasty. „They Know My Name“ is one of the more unobtrusive songs on the album. Either its characteristic melodies appeal to you or they don’t. They definitely do to me.
„The Void“ lacks those appealing hooks, but it has that unmistakable melancholic, unsettling atmosphere that I only know from the mellow songs on Pain Of Salvation’s Road Salt albums. In fact, the vocal melody reminds me a bit of „1979“. Daniel’s performance is simply outstanding, reaching from fragile to mighty and ominous, sometimes within seconds. The song is constantly building up energy during verses and pre-choruses, but never unloads it in a hymnic or huge chorus. Instead, the only time the tune breaks out is yet another great guitar solo by Roine Stolt, before it returns to the fragile calmness of the beginning. The lack of the mentioned chorus gives the song the impression of a sketch, a short episode or the expression of a feeling.
„An Eye For An Eye For An Eye“ and „Goodbye“ are two perfect Retro-Progressive rockers, with the former as one of my personal favorites of the album. This impulsive, straight forward song starts off with a hectic tom-tom roll and a melody that - I could have sworn - has Stolt written all over it (remember the faster middle section from The Flower Kings’ „Love Is The Only Answer“?). But it was in fact written by Marco Minnemann, and he gets the chance to show what exactly he’s capable of by pushing the rhythm forward with his insane breaks and ride cymbal attacks. While having a slight Alternative rock vibe to it, the song completely changes its direction after a few minutes into a piano-driven uptempo swing section that is not only incorporated as a gimmick, but as an integral part that lasts for over two minutes. That’s exactly the amount of jazz I sometimes miss in prog music. Marco proves that he wouldn’t be out of place in a jazz trio (which is absolutely not a usual thing for a drummer of rock origin), and interlinks perfectly with Jonas’ walking bass. Tom’s open position chords and fast inside and outside lines remind me of the late Esbjörn Svensson and make me wonder what this guy is NOT capable of.
„Goodbye“ is introduced by long, spheric keyboard and guitar notes that imply the following of a soft ballad. But that expectation is soon smashed by a Chris Squire-like 7/8 bass line and a kinky main theme that sounds a bit like a darker version of „Monkey Business“ by The Flower Kings. For a second I was perplexed by the vocals, until I remembered that The Sea Within actually announced a second lead singer: Casey McPherson. While Daniel could have pulled this song off just as well (duh), Casey’s voice fits into „Goodbye“ perfectly. The song takes its time to build up after the main riff, only to fool the listener once again and NOT end up in a huge chorus. Instead, the following optimistic chorus creates a strong contrast to the darker verses and pre-choruses of the song. „Goodbye“ also benefits a lot from the musician’s instrumental performances, especially Tom’s romantic piano, organ and mellotron, as well as Marco’s hammering double bass drum and Jonas’ pumping bass. The song is somewhat cut off in the middle of a newly introduced bridge and ends with something sounding like an off switch. A very cool idea that rounds this song up in a weird way.
„The Sea Without“ is a short instrumental piece in which Jonas Reingold can finally shine at one of his signature fretless bass solos. It’s based on somewhat of a 7/8 variation of the famous march-like „Bolero“ rhythm by Maurice Ravel, which has already been given attention by several other bands of the prog genre, like Emerson, Lake & Palmer and King Crimson. Yet it sounds completely sounds like The Flower Kings (because, as indicated earlier, you can’t misinterpret a Jonas Reingold fretless line), if still with a slightly darker, more apocalyptic touch. Although the rhythms and harmonies of „The Sea Without“ are not reprised in the following „Broken Cord“, it functions well as an introduction for this 14-minute centerpiece of the album. It begins with a quite conventional verse-chorus section that, while clearly inspired by later Beatles efforts, can’t hide having had Roine Stolt’s hands in its harmony progression. The mixolydic-b13 based vocal melody with its simple, uplifting character is one of my favorite of the whole album, and so is Daniel’s job presenting it. Bass, piano and drums do a good job supporting the melody by adding accessory kicks and thrown in lines. The song shortly breaks down into a mellow section consisting almost completely of Daniels lone voice and revealing what later turns out to be the actual leitmotif of „Broken Cord“. Apart from this short interlude, the song keeps its poppy vibe for almost five minutes, before evolving into a crooked, triplet-based shuffle rhythm. A second breakdown completely changes the song’s mood into unsettling and mystical, and reprises the initial vocal line and the leitmotif, closing the first circle of the song and opening up another. Casey takes over the lead vocals here, and we can hear dozens of harmonizing Jon Andersons; a contribution that, while „only“ serving background purposes, is crucial for the vast, mystical character of the section. The band kicks in again, but doesn’t lead into a whacky instrumental section, that would have ruined the wonderful atmosphere. Another Yes-reference („Awaken“) is created by rich major chords ascending in fourths, before a newly introduced triumphing vocal theme preludes the finale of the song. During the slowly evolving closing section, Daniel’s vocals return, before the same ascending chords as before lead into a fading coda consisting of innuendos of the leitmotif and richly layered Jon Anderson vocal-chords. Truly beautiful.
„Broken Chord“ is not the usual „epic“ you’ll find plenty of in the prog genre. There is not one huge theme in the beginning that is reprised in a huge finale in the end. Themes are mostly presented by the two singers in a very discrete way or even just hinted, only to be continued and finished minutes later. I was a little disappointed in „Broken Chord“ at first listen, but once I recognized and re-recognized all the motives and themes in this piece, it grew to become my favorite song of the album.
„The Hiding Of The Truth“ evolves directly from the spheric coda of „Broken Cord“. Dream Theater’s Jordan Rudess is featured on piano here and it’s clearly audible. His characteristic voicings and fast arpeggios are all over the place and contribute to this bright and flowing song. It’s the only track on the album that follows a completely uplifting vibe. While it’s probably my least favorite one on the album, it does a very good job closing the first disc on an optimistic note.
But of course, the story doesn’t end here. Not unlike Spock’s Beard’s latest release, The Sea Within comes with a 26 minute long second disc. No statement on the purpose of this splitting has been made by the band or the label. The songs on the extra disc are just as good as the ones on the main album. In fact, it holds some of my favorite tracks of this release. „The Roaring Silence“ is a dark, straight prog-rocker, evolving from keyboard and wordless vocal layers. An 80s like, percussive keyboard pattern introduces the song’s rhythm and could have lead into a groovy artpop-song. The arrangement is very rich and versatile and dominated by Tom Brislin’s synths, organ and piano, as well as Daniel’s vocals. It’s probably also the song where the most background vocals by the other band members can be heard. This tune is very cleverly composed. Many different sections are introduced, but always lead back to the verse. While the actual chorus is introduced early, the song continuously works towards a catchy, hymnic closing section that has never been introduced before, but works perfectly as a finale.
A fragile piano pattern and what I believe to be Tom Brislin’s voice introduce „Where Are You Going?“. His fragile, almost wailing vocals makes the beginning sound a little eery. The Gildenlöw/ Brislin composition seems to be inspired by both The Beatles and Muse and is equipped with a melancholic, nostalgic, yet strange atmosphere. Tom’s keyboard arsenal is versatile and once again very tasteful, reaching from synth sounds, mellotron and Tony Banks-like piano to a George Harrison inspired cembalo solo. What I said a about „They Know My Name“ also applyies to this song: It lives off catchy hooklines that either appeal to you or not. And once again, they do to me.
„Time“ is a very dark song about the transient nature of life. While of course not being a cover, its thematic approach is similar to the 1973 Pink Floyd song of the same name. „Months turn to years, years turn to lives“, „This was my life - as if it really mattered“ - lyrics about one’s impact on the world that make you think. The music to these lyrics yet again sound like a mixture between the Road Salt albums and a darker version of The Flower Kings. While the chorus line has the potential to be presented in a big, vast gesture, a reggae-like bass line keeps the rhythm a little funky and unconventional.
The last song, „Denise“, is a hauntingly beautiful song that probably no one could have performed better than Daniel. He sings about a man saying farewell to his loved one, because he is leaving for a place he can’t come back from, probably a prison. A slow, march-like rhythm indicates regret, nostalgia, the sad, dramatic ending of something loved, just like in Pink Floyd’s „High Hopes“ and Pain Of Salvation’s „Sisters“. A soaring guitar represents sorrow, a continuously ascending bass line a glimpse of hope or a last look back. „Denise“ gives this great album the epic ending it deserves.
The Sea Within’s debut album is one of progressive rock’s finest efforts of the year. These musicians have come together to fuse their compositional and instrumental talents and create an album that I am not really able to compare to anything else. Of course, occasional influences can be heard, and some passages can’t hide their composer’s main formation, but everything is incorporated very well to form something new. It’s amazing to (finally) hear Marco Minnemann in a retro-progressive rock band where he can bring in his ideas or to know how Roine Stolt’s harmony sequences function in a darker context. I am also overwhelmed by Tom Brislin. I loved his work with Yes, but I did not expect this guy to completely comply with my idea of what a keyboard player should do and how keyboards should sound like. The guest musicians were not only invited to perform for their names, but add the last cherry on top of this album. Casey McPherson will take over the role of the lead singer on the band’s upcoming tour, since Daniel will be touring with Pain Of Salvation. While it might seem a little weird that a band goes on their first tour without their lead singer, I think that Casey will do a very good job performing those tracks live.
In the end, there’s only one thing left to hope: That this „amalgamation of talents“ doesn’t remain a one time thing.
Favorites: Broken Chord, Denise, An Eye For An Eye For An Eye
The Sea Within – The Sea Within (77:21)
1 Ashes of Dawn 00:06:00
2 They Know my Name 00:05:10
3 The Void 00:04:55
4 An Eye For An Eye For an Eye 00:07:00
5 Goodbye 00:05:30
6 Sea Without 00:02:27
7 Broken Cord 00:14:20
8 The Hiding of Truth 00:05:30
1 The Roaring Silence 00:08:00
2 Where are you Going? 00:05:50
3 Time 00:07:12
4 Denise 00:05:10
Marco Minneman: Drums, Percussion, Vocal, Guitar
Jonas Reingold: Bass
Tom Brislin: Keyboards, Vocals
Roine Stolt: Guitars, Vocals, Add. keyboards
Daniel Gildenlow: Vocals & additional guitar
Casey McPherson: Vocals (Broken Cord, The Hiding of Truth, Goodbye)
Jon Anderson: Vocals (Broken Cord)
Jordan Rudess: Grand Piano (The Hiding of Truth)
Rob Townsend: Soprano Saxophone (The Ashes of Dawn)
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