Find us on Facebook!

To keep updated like our page at:

Or on Twitter:

Or E-mail us at:

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Reviews: United Progressive Fraternity, Starset, Black Trip

United Progressive Fraternity: Fall In Love With The World (InsideOut)

Formed from the ashes of Australia's premier progressive band Unitopia, United Progressive Fraternity features Unitopia founder member, Mark Trueback playing in a band for the first time without long-time collaborator Sean Timms who withdrew upon the collapse of Unitopia. He has taken some members of the previous band with him the most notable of which is guitarist Matt Williams, along with Williams he has drummer Dave Hopgood and percussionist Tim Irrang both coming from Unitopia. Trueback has also recruited several other progressive all-stars to the group, multi-instrumentalist Guy Manning, bassist Daniel Marsh, sax/keys player Marek Arnold and wind player Ian Ritchie all adding their skills to the group. As you may have noticed I've said UPF are a progressive group, not a progressive rock band, they incorporate all manner of sounds into their work, with orchestras, jazz, world music, rock and all manner of other styles thrown into the progressive melting pot. As the cinematic overture We Only Get One World opens the album, we can see that the almost shamanistic, hippie spirit of Unitopia still lives on through UPF as the songs are odes to the world with "thought provoking and meaningful lyrics with an emphasis on the human condition, the state of the environment and how we as the human race arrived at where we are today" so this is all very highbrow stuff but it is not pretentious, the music is melodic, inspiring and intensely musical. Choices starts off with a tabla backed beginning, some silky guitar playing, world music influences throughout, before moving into a wind instrument filled middle section and a short sharp solo from Williams before Arnold and Ritchie put their mark all over the tracks finale, before starting proceedings on the funky but rocking Intersection. Trueback's voice is fantastic, soulful and emotive carrying every lyric on his golden tonsils, this is progressive music for old-school prog fans, with elements of Yes, Spock's Beard, Pink Floyd, Pallas, IQ and even Toto. The albums two shortest songs are firstly the percussive The Water which has an environmental message about the bands drought prone country and features the unmistakeable vocals of  former Yes man Jon Anderson, which goes straight into Don't Look Back - Turn Left which is nice little break from the overarching progness of it all (it is a world). The albums Pièce de résistance is the 21 minute plus Travelling Man (The Story Of ESHU) which is the best song on the album steeped in majesty. This is a truly stunning album, can I rewrite my top 20 please? 10/10   

Starset: Transmissions (Razor & Tie)

Upon finding a mysterious signal from the Ophiuchus Constellation, that foretold humanities demise, the Starset Society commissioned a group of musicians and scientists to assist them in spreading the knowledge to a broader audience. This group are collectively known as Starset. This of course is the storyline (or is it?) for Starset's debut concept album and I will say they go all out with an official website dedicated to storyline, videos and updates on the official website all pushing the story forward. So with such attention to detail what is the music part like? Well the band are classed as cinematic rock and this is a very apt description of their music, for the most part the album is modern, American alternative rock, with electronic elements that make it sound symphonic and yes cinematic. The bands only named member is Dustin Bates who is the singer of alternative metal band Downplay and as the dubstep influenced First Light starts things off with an intro of sorts before the first real song is Down With The The Fallen which is pure alternative metal with heavy riffs, angsty verses and huge hooky choruses all sung with great power by Bates who alternates between melodic crooning and the occasional scream for good measure but the sound is fleshed out by the electronic elements that are present throughout. If I was to make a comparison the band sound a lot like latter period Linkin Park mixed with Muse or Biffy Clyro and Breaking Benjamin with huge measure of 30 Seconds To Mars thrown in; especially on the choruses which have the right amount of emotion and power to appeal to radio stations and harder rockers see one-two of the majestic Halo and the dirty electronic dub of CarnivoreTelescope is a bit of transition track which shows off the orchestral nature to it's fullest and straight into the second part of the record which starts with It Has Begun that is pure and orchestral and moves straight into the obvious first single the electro thump of My Demons before Antigravity once again sets a scene and splits the album in to segments with some thrusting orchestral passages that Hans Zimmer would be proud of. This is an album that will not be to everyone's taste, if you like your metal heavy then this won't be for you but fans of radio friendly American alternative rock/metal with a distinct theatrical flair then this will be for you, I for one think it's a great album and one that will get many replays on my stereo. 9/10

Black Trip: Goin' Under (Threeman Recordings)

Black Trip are somewhat of a Swedish metal supergroup with members of speed metal maniacs Enforcer and ex-members of both Exhumed and Entombed. However this album is not extreme metal neither is it leather clad speed metal, no Black Trip are stuck rigidly in the pre-Dickinson Maiden era, the songs are about dirty women, politics and the occult with Peter Stjärnvind and Sebastian Ramstedt's guitars echoing Murray and Stratton's original twin axe attack, see Voodoo Queen, Jonas Wikstrand's drums rumble like thunder and Johan Bergebäck's bass gallops like Steve Harris on amphetamines, see the bass intro on Radar. The album is engrained with classic early Maidenisms with the trademark riffs, progressive changes of pace, melodic guitar playing backed by the thumping rhythms which is especially prevalent on No Tomorrow which could sit on Killers perfectly. The early Maiden style is topped off by Joseph Tholl's DiAnno style vocals, he has gruff but strong voice that fits the music perfectly. With so many bands ploughing the NWOBHM furrow it's nice to have band not going for the siren scream style vocals but focussing on the very early days, still this album does lean more towards the pastiche than anything else albeit one that is done very well indeed. 6/10  

No comments:

Post a Comment