Fragile Vastness: Perception (Self Released)
Athenian progressive metal band Fragile Vastness seem to go through vocalists in the same way Spinal Tap do drummers, this is their third full length album with their third vocalist switching things up from the previous releases by bringing the soulful pipes of Elena Stratigopoulou who I think has a similar expressive range as our own Christina from Magenta.
The band last released an album in 2005 and since then they have added guitarists George Thanasoglou and Vasilis Batilas to the base trio of bassist Vangelis Yalamas, drummer Babis Tsolakis and his wife keyboardist Evi Katsamatsa and along with Elena they have adapted their progressive style moving away from the Dream Theater style prog metal of their first album, to a more mature sound that features shorter but still insanely technical playing with Vangelis' basswork standing out with his fingerstyle playing guiding the creeping A Face In The Mirror.
This record is a concept piece I believe, there are instrumental joins, lyrical links and a spoken word piece that starts the final instrumental. The band's superior musicianship means that the songs each have their own identity, the title track is very modern prog with the cinematic keys and unusual drum pattern, I Am The Fire kicks of the record with a slow burning song built on a repeating Marillion-esque riff. Heaven On Mars meanwhile sounds like the sci-fi prog metal of Pagan's Mind. Fragile Vastness are immensely talented band with top flight playing throughout and a technical songcraft, it's must have for prog metal fans. 8/10
Primordial Flame: S/T (Self Released)
I think Gothenburg band Primordial Flame have been listening to a bit too much Yngwie Malmsteen, their melodic hard rock is driven by founding member Wílliam Marchesini's neo classical guitar playing. He is most definitely a fan of messrs Malmsteen and Blackmore with the Deep Purple and Rainbow themes creeping in on Pushed To The Limit and the folky Up In The Sky while Evil In Disguise is Rising Force Malmsteen. Elsewhere Patrik Prim tries to be Dio, Jeff Scott Soto and Ian Gillan all in one and manages Gillan the best. Still there isn't much else to this record it's pretty much just a neoclassical clone, the songs aren't particularly memorable so it's really only for hardcore guitar lover. 5/10
Badge: If It Hurts It Must Be Good (Perennity Records)
Badge call themselves a hardcore blues band from Sweden and that's a pretty accurate description, they have an album that expertly fuses the acoustic pre-war blues of Robert Johnson and Mississippi John Hurt with the electric fuzz of The Black Keys and Jack White, it's an interesting mix that has acoustic layers underneath the distortion heaviness, tracks like Trapdoor are the best evidence for this as guitarist Matti Norlin plays some mean bottle neck slide while bassist Lennart Zethzon rings the strutting bass riff.
In The Eye Of The Storm on the other hand starts with reverbed lap steel and just Fredrik Haake's bass drum before kicking in. The trio have released three albums in total (including this one) and they are constantly finding new ways to revive the old blues ways, for a lot of blues aficionados this music might be a bit of a step too far but personally I really enjoy the acoustic blues and almost stoner rock rhythms that slither through this record. Badge have a unique sound to them that will bewitch fans of both garage rock and blues. 7/10