#47 Haken – Visions (2011)

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Number 47 on the list of Prog Report Top 50 Prog Albums, 1990-2015, is Visions, by Haken.  I found it on Apple Music.

This London based band, Haken, pronounced /heɪˈkən/, will delight your musical sensibilities with their array of sounds.  Relatively new to the scene, this band received a great response when they first broke in London in 2007, and today are enjoying much deserved success in the Prog world.

Visions, is a great addition to any listening repertoire, and I am happy to add it to my growing list of favorites.  I stuck to my tradition of listening at least three times, especially since this one was new to me, and did not regret one minute of it.  I completely enjoyed this album from beginning to end, with no dull moment.  The first track, an instrumental, opens the album with the energy that carries throughout and leaves you wanting more.

The second track, Nocturnal Conspiracy, might just be my favorite, but picking a favorite track was not an easy task in this case.  Nocturnal Conspiracy, develops beautifully, builds energy, and has a great vocal line that is almost nostalgic.  This track incorporates some retro sounds that work seamlessly well with the more contemporary heavy style.  I enjoyed the rich vocal harmony, as it adds a lot of depth to this track.

Track number 4, The Mind’s Eye, is very lyrical, and I loved it.  The vocal quality is wonderful, and this track also builds to an amazingly energetic and sweeping instrumental section.  Love the sounds in this track!

The next track, titled Portals, is a lot of fun to listen to, with its symphonic feel.

Then comes, Shapeshifter, a very mysterious sounding track, with a supernatural feel.  I absolutely love the guitar riff at 2:52!  This track has great drum fills/sounds, great forward motion and it’s deep and dark.  It ends with a soft whispering tone that adds to the mysterious vibe of the track.

Visions, the last piece of the album, is an epic track, longer than 22 minutes.  The drums have incredible feel and sound amazing.  I loved the vocal work, the middle section is amazing, with really cool fun rhythm.

I totally recommend you take a listen to Vision, by Haken.  Check out their band website at www.hakenmusic.com where you can listen to some of their tracks, and get familiar with this rising UK prog band.

#48 Mastodon – Crack the Skye, 2009

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Number 48 on the list of Prog Report Top 50 Prog Albums, 1990-2015, is Crack the Skye, by Mastodon.  I found it on Apple Music.

Crack the Skye is powerful, and from the first note I knew I wanted more.  The drumming is busy with great energy, and with so many vocalists on board, my ears were satisfied with harmonies, and a range of vocal colors.  The rock/metal/progressive blend, combined with the full heavy sound of the band, is consistent throughout the album.  The more I listened, the more I loved it.  I would very much recommend that you take a listen to Crack the Skye.  I am confident it will take you on an emotional and intense musical journey.

The title of the album, with its unusual spelling of the word “Skye”, was very curious to me.  I learned that Skye was the sister of drummer Brann Dailor, who committed suicide at age fourteen.  The song, Crack the Skye, as is the title of the album, is a tribute to Skye, and features vocalist Scott Kelly of Neurosis.  This powerful song examines the emotional complexity associated with loss, and I found it particularly compelling.  Of course, the title, could have so many meaning.

Crack the Skye is one of my favorite tracks.  Other favorites from this album include:

***Quintessence – the instrumental section is heavy and cool, reminds me a little of Porcupine Tree.

***Ghost of Karelia – reminds me of Tool.  Amazing depth and energy.

***The Last Baron – the last track is long and builds intensity in an amazingly effective way.  Great vocals.  I love the frantic feeling the song creates as it builds up.

Crack the Skye was new to me.  I would definitely recommend some focused listening so you can grasp the depth of this band.  Also, check out the lyrics for this album.  Super cool.

50 Days of Prog

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Progressive rock is the answer to my quest for challenge that it both intellectual and technical in nature, but also highly emotionally stimulating and rewarding.  I will always cherish my classical training, but I remain curious about what’s around the corner.  A band I haven’t heard, a singer I am awed by, exciting harmony, an inspiring guitar or drum solo.  And then there is the intricacy of the changing time signatures, and the thought provoking lyrics.  To top it off, a lot of bands sound uniquely different, my musical taste buds continue to crave more.

This winter brought with it a cold, no one likes those.  As I am nursing my voice back to health, and getting ready to record with my band, Season of the Crow, this spring, I was looking for a way to get inspired to jump back into my practice with vigor.  And so it happened, that my eye caught a title of an email right before I hit the delete button – – “Prog Report Tweeted: Our List of the Top 50 Albums from 1990-2015 from Earlier This Year.”  A quick scan of the list brought the excitement I was looking for.  What better way to start a new year than to listen to 50 best prog albums, many of which I never heard before?

The first album is playing as I write these words.  Want to know which one it is, and what I think of it?  Read my next post.