Aisles - Hawaii album review

Aloha to an agile span of classic and modern prog.

cover art for Aisles Hawaii album

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Music without borders has always been the prog way. Certainly Aisles never feel at all constrained. The Chileans have come up with something special on their fourth album, stretching out sounds in all directions. On your first listen to these 80 minutes, you’ll rightly pick up the influences of Camel, Rush, Barclay James Harvest and Van der Graaf Generator. These all coalesce beautifully on the epic The Poet Part I: Dusk and The Poet Part II: New World. But as you delve into Hawaii and its explorative, eclectic style, then more contemporary notations start coming through, from Dream Theater to Steven Wilson and Anathema.

There’s a clear‑sighted ability here to connect all these elements on tracks like Pale Blue Dot and Year Zero, but none of this would matter if all Aisles did was concoct a series of songs that merely rehash what these artists have previously done. The reality exceeds expectation though, with a distinct and joyous expression of individuality throughout that lifts this album into an elite position. Hawaii might be lengthy but the ideas that are contained within never feel thinly spread, making this one of the year’s highlights.

Malcolm Dome had an illustrious and celebrated career which stretched back to working for Record Mirror magazine in the late 70s and Metal Fury in the early 80s before joining Kerrang! at its launch in 1981. His first book, Encyclopedia Metallica (opens in new tab), published in 1981, may have been the inspiration for the name of a certain band formed that same year. Dome is also credited with inventing the term "thrash metal" while writing about the Anthrax song Metal Thrashing Mad in 1984. With the launch of Classic Rock magazine in 1998 he became involved with that title, sister magazine Metal Hammer, and was a contributor to Prog magazine since its inception in 2009.