Prog Round-up: February 2016

Geoff Barton on new releases from Vly, Ashby, Effa Lente, Reptiel and The Pyramidis Project

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Vly: I/[Time]

Featuring two former members of Crippled Black Phoenix – guitarist Karl Demata and bassist Chris Heilmann – Vly’s dense, immersive debut is very much in the CBF vein. The band’s ace in the hole, however, is charismatic New York-based vocalist Keith Gladysz; he doesn’t so much sing as recite poems and intone prayers, thus intensifying the spectral nature of the music.

The album imparts a veiled, hypnotic listening experience; everyday happenings are made to sound other-worldly and mysterious. Time, a tale of a simple bus journey, seems to be narrated by a serial killer on the verge of a nervous breakdown (‘You’re not the only outlaw on this ride’); Hypnotic doesn’t so much dissect the break-up of a relationship as perform keyhole surgery on it. This is such a challenging record that you relish the occasions when Vly break free of their shackles and rock it up a little (the relentless Out Of The Maze; Dark Days, with its mangled southern-rock riff). By the end you’re glad it’s over but, perversely, can’t wait to play it again. (710)

Ashby: Fragmental

Bands of this ilk are usually called (cue symphonic-metal name generator) Iridescent Delirium or Vengeful Tranquillity, so all credit to these Germans for choosing the endearingly unremarkable moniker of Ashby. Comin’ atcha like a Bavarian Nightwish, big-lunged frontgal Sabina Moser delivers an exquisite performance. No surprise to hear she starred on Deutsch TV’s The Voice in ’14. (710)

Effa Lente: The Effa Lente Configuration Parts 1-4

The brainchild of David Alfred Reilly, former guitarist with Irish doom metallers Graveyard Dirt, this ear-bashing experiment mixes brutally heavy prog with moody Vangelis-style orchestration. By turns it’s remorseless, directionless and self-indulgent. Effa Lente? He’s having a Gir Affe. (410)

Reptiel: Hobbitozz… A Land That Never Was

As the title implies, this is a psychedelic prog-rock fairytale that takes place in a fantasy world somewhere between JRR Tolkien’s Middle Earth and the Land Of Oz. San Francisco-based Reptiel rise above that rather contrived scenario to deliver a quirky, enchanting listening experience in the manner of a toytown Black (Come To The Sabbat) Widow. Recommended. (610)

The Pyramidis Project: Emotional Distances

The Pyramidis Project claim to have invented a pristine new sonic genre: ‘soundscaping’. This Alan Parsons-esque offering may be impeccably produced but the vocals are disastrous and often hilarious (check out the farcical Joe Walsh-style talk-box on Secrets Of Ocean Life). (410)

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.