Prog Round-up: December 2011

Geoff Barton on new releases from Torman Maxt, Nitewalk, Legend, From.Uz and Fruits de Mer

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Torman Maxt: The Problem Of Pain: Part Two, Book Of Job

Way back in the mists of time (the November 2007 edition of Classic Rock, to be precise) we reviewed part one of this ambitious project by Costa Mesa, California-based trio Torman Maxt. Now, four years later, the sequel finally arrives. As you may have gathered by the title, we’re in the midst of a bombastic rock opera based on the tale of Job, who (if you can recall your Sunday School teachings) found himself an unwitting pawn in an almighty God vs. Satan battle. Don’t be put off by the religious angle. This is an oustanding piece of work that makes Rush’s 2112 sound like a hit single by Chicory Tip. Like we said first time around, Torman Maxt’s Biblical leanings never get in the way of what is, after all, a rattling good yarn. You’ll be astonished by the quality of musicianship on display, and how jolting power chords can co-exist happily alongside lilting melodies. Somehow even clunky lyrics such as, ‘all of those who cultivate iniquity/Will also reap the same’ are perfectly acceptable. Songs of praise never sounded so good. (810)

Nitewalk: Darker Shades Of Gray

We’re not often baffled here at the Prog column, but Germany’s Nitewalk stumped us with this press-release claim: ‘The brought spectrum of miscellaneous sounds and the mix of styles paint a colourful scenery of noncept-Prog.’ Huh?! It’s actually like Maiden playing Frank Zappa: operatic Bruce vox mixed with a multitude of misshapen musical turns. (610)

Legend: Cardinal Points

Originally founded in Runcorn in 1988, Legend were one of the first bands to pit operatic female vocals against a hard rock template. Much as they’d like to be regarded as a Cheshire version of Nightwish, they’re actually more akin to an Anglophile Jefferson Airplane. Or possibly Jethro Tull with a female singer. There are even hints of Blood Ceremony. Good stuff. (710)

From.Uz: Quartus Artifactus

The clue is in the name. Yes indeed, From.Uz are truly ‘from Uzbekistan’. This beautifully packaged 2CD/1DVD set comes in a fold-out sleeve and features newly recorded songs from all three of the band’s previous releases. Prog with an Eastern European bent, the sound is gentle and understated, but somehow also retains the intensity of the original material. (610)

Various: Do Not Adjust Your Set

We keep extolling the virtrues of the Fruits de Mer label, and it doesn’t look like we’re going to stop any time soon. This genius EP has re-recordings of classic 60s and 70s TV themes, among them Fireball XL5, White Horses and Ace Of Wands. The highlight? A pulsing, robotic, Kraftwerk-style rendition of Robinson Crusoe by the delightfully named Frobisher Neck. (810)

Geoff Barton

Geoff Barton is a British journalist who founded the heavy metal magazine Kerrang! and was an editor of Sounds music magazine. He specialised in covering rock music and helped popularise the new wave of British heavy metal (NWOBHM) after using the term for the first time (after editor Alan Lewis coined it) in the May 1979 issue of Sounds.