Hang on, this is going to be a bit of information overload, Portland, Oregon band Project Nightscape's debut album is based upon the supernatural thrillers of writer/director David W. Edwards, this is a progressive hard rock concept album based around Grammy-nominated guitarist Tony Gaglio. The album’s story concerns an itinerant, nineteenth-century doctor who encounters a blind boy in communication with the dead. With those buying the album on a pre-sale receiving a free digital copy of tie-in novel Nightscape: Early Darkness. To Sin Against Our Mercies is a record based upon a book that is all part of a bigger multi-platform media entertainment project that takes in supernatural thriller films, books and video games.
Gaglio has some top flight help for this record with Vinny Appice taking the drums on Occulted (that unsurprisingly sounds like Dio-era Sabbath), Mirabi Peart contributing violin throughout, Tobin Sprout (Guided By Voices) duelling with Gaglio on Only Reason while Pete Trewavas duels on the title track. These contributions the already powerhouse performances by the rest of the band vocalists Holland Andrews and Rich Ray work in perfect unison of light and shade telling the story while David Conigilo is the pace of the record anchoring all of the flights of fancy that Gaglio's guitars and Craig Bidondo's keys and Hammonds take you on.
The music on this record is complex and spans many genres, the soundscapes move from gospel-flavoured rock (Living In) Sacred Time, through the jazzy Inmortuorum Memorias, the pop-laced prog of Only Reason before the 10 minute plus Starlost finishes the record in epic fashion with a string section, layered keys,synths and organs, guitar solos galore and the beautiful vocal harmonies that fill the record. It can be overwhelming at times but give it a few spins and some time and you will be richly rewarded, behind the complicated musically dexterous music there are subtle undertones that link the songs but let them all speak for themselves. Classic sounds throughout To Sin Against Our Mercies is a spectacular concept record! 9/10
Pareidolon: Aporia (Self Released)
Following on from the the female fronted prog rockers Project Nightscape, Pareidolon are a.7-piece Canadian progressive rock band formed in Nelson, BC by bassist/songwriter Lachlan Tocher in 2015. The band is made up entirely of graduates from the Selkirk College Contemporary Music & Technology program. Featuring three girls and four guys yet again there are dual female and male vocals, but unlike Project Nightscape, Pareidolon have a much more classical sound taking their influences from Marillion, (early) Genesis, Camel and most importantly King Crimson the first song Abducted! especially owes a lot to Robert Fripp, albeit with more female vocals from Brittany Keller.
It also has hints of Bigelf in it too due mainly to the massive organs and Jonathan Kwak's wild-eyed vocals. For a band with seven members nothing ever seems rushed or overwhelming, the songs are actually quite concise but obviously played with a technicality of a group of virtuosos meaning that there is a strong mix of musicality and accessibility.
The six songs on this record are all different in approach, some are big, loud celebrations, the synthy, poppy Modern Romance others however like the atmospheric The Tunnel and the devastating Leave are more restrained and beautiful taking cues from emotive sounds of Mr Wilson or Anathema. For a debut record of a young band this is of the highest quality, indulgent, mesmerizing songwriting, superior performances and their influences worn proudly on their sleeves. 2017 is shaping up to be a very good year. 9/10
Book Of Wyrms: Sci-Fi/Fantasy (Twin Earth)
It's quite fitting really that Book Of Wyrms debut record is called Sci-Fi/Fantasy seeing as they hail from Richmond Virginia, the landing ground of Intergalactic Scumdogs G.W.A.R. Whereas the notable Virginian monsters play their sci-fi loving thrash Book Of Wyrms are more groove heavy trippy sounding prospect marrying science fiction and fantasy lyrics (thus the self explanatory album title) with slabs of heavy stoner metal that often creeps into knuckle dragging doom.
Six of the seven tracks on this record clock in at over 6 minutes with All Hallow's Eve and Sourwolf the records longest efforts. The entire album clocks in at a hefty 53 minutes but the record keeps the attention of the listener by pairing the slabs of riffage with the hazy female vocals of Sarah Moore-Lyndsey. It's relatively standard fare but good enough to last the distance what separates it from much of the other stoner metal bands around are the lyrical flights of fancy and the female vocals. It's a valuable addition to the stoner metal scene. 7/10