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Thursday 3 August 2017

Reviews: The Tangent, Shaman's Harvest, Eagleheart

The Tangent: The Slow Rust Of Forgotten Machinery (InsideOut Music)

The Tangent are a long established prog group with fluctuating line up. They are still led by founder member Andy Tillison who takes the keyboards, guitars, drums and lead vocals, who along with co-founding member bassist Jonas Reingold are forging ahead with this the bands eleventh album, not bad when you consider this was supposed to be a one-off thing. The line up of The Tangent has been fairly fluid through the band's existence this record features such talents as jazz sax player Theo Travis playing all manner of wind instruments, along with Maschine members Luke Machin on guitar and Marie-Eve de Gaultier on keys and haunting female vocals.

It's a classic prog sound but with intelligent modern politically, morally and socially conscious lyrics. The massive The Rust rallies against the binary nature of computers, politics and the world in general, before moving into longing ballad about the plight of the refugees from Syria. Tillson shares a political stance with his compatriot Roger Waters, the singing is in places along spoken word like Waters best low, deliberate and soft. He takes aim at the extremism on A Few Steps Down lambasting the rise of the extreme right, the vote to take back a country for it's people and the blatant lies fed to the public to see foreigners as a threat a coda on Jerusalem sardonically rounding the track off as the revelation that all is not as it seems is made.

Then he really nails the ridiculous idea of Brexit on the pulsating Basildonxit localising it with great effect. The Slow Rust Of Forgotten Machinery is yet again perfect British progressive rock music, double keyboards giving a thick sound, Machin's guitars soaring with unmistakable style. Fans of King Crimson, Van Der Graaf Generator and Roger Waters will lap this up, a masterstroke in progressive music. 9/10

Shaman's Harvest: Red Hands, Black Deeds (Mascot Records)

You can take the boy out of Missouri but Missouri will always be in the boy and Shaman's Harvest's six album is one that was conceived in the swamplands surrounded by witchy women and possessed men, the title track is an intro built on gospel claps and stomps as the repeated lines build the spookiness. Then riffs kick in and Broken Ones starts the record proper as Matt Fisher's bassline the heartbeat of the song as Josh Hamler and Derrick Shipp build the riffs. Shaman's Harvest have been lumped into the alternative/post grunge bracket and it;s easy to say why with a sound akin to Shinedown or Pop Evil vocalist Nathan Hunt having the low register of Shinedown's Brent.

Adam Zemanek powers the hip shaking The Come Up and the pace drops on the introspective A Longer View but this has is welcome after the thumping from the first to songs. Shaman's Harvest sit in the peripheral of acts like BSC and Shinedown but expect repeated plays on Planet Rock as their music is accessible, groovy and sprinkles the US hard rock with a large dollop of bluesy soul, which can be heard on Soul Crusher a track that Hozier could have played if he wanted to and they pull chicken-pickin off too with Off The Tracks. Shaman's Harvest's sixth record is a blues drenched modern hard rock album from a bunch of Southern boys who can play it like they own it. 8/10

Eagleheart: Reverse (Scarlet Records)

Czech power metal act Eagleheart come at you with the symphonic battery usually saved for Kamelot and Serenity. Reverse is their third record coming 6 years after their previous album Dreamtherapy since then the band have recruited new vocalist Roman Sácek who replaced original singer Vojta "Kai" Šimoník in 2012, on this record Šimoník returns taking four string duties for this record. Dreamtherapy was critically acclaimed and if this record is anything to go by those plaudits look to continue, Reverse is a galloping power metal record with twin guitar fury, it's a complex dynamic record that deals with the themes of reality, founding guitarist Michal "Mike" Kůs says that "while our previous record was about dreams and escape from the real world, this one is quite the opposite, it's a wake up call for reality".

As I've said before the band share similarities with Kamelot impassioned lyrics and shredding guitars bolstered by Blind Guardian-like symphonics. The record is produced by Roland Grapow (Masterplan, ex-Helloween) so it sounds huge through a good set of speakers, there is nothing revolutionary here but it's high calibre power metal that gets you head nodding. 7/10

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