Prog Round-up: May 2016

Geoff Barton on the latest releases from Headspace, Sendelica, Upon The Devil’s Request, ProgAtom and AngelSeed

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Headspace: All That You Fear Is Gone

Headspace? Mindfuck, more like. The second album from this prog-metal powerhouse is a very taxing listen, thanks in no small part to guitarist Pete Rinaldi’s unnerving, cluster-bomb playing style. Hard to believe he was a member of Justin Hawkins’ comedy band, Hot Leg. But he’s not the only star of the show. Step forward Threshold’s Damian Wilson, with his booming, theatrical voice (no wonder he once played the lead in Les Misérables) and Adam Wakeman, son of Rick, a true dervish of the keyboards.

A lot of bands of this ilk can obliterate the listener’s faculties with their overzealous instrumental prowess. Not Headspace.They know exactly when to take their foot off the gas, introducing multi-layered Queen-style harmonies and even the occasional ballad to ease the pressure-cooker nature of their music. The album standout is Secular Soul, an agonising, 10-minute-long religious rant. If Queensrÿche landed from another planet and the Roswell scientists pumped ’em full of dangerous experimental drugs, they’d likely sound a lot like this. (610)

Sendelica: Ziggy Stardust

Forget Lady Gaga’s karaoke at the Grammys and Lorde’s ill‐judged display at the Brits, this single is what a tribute to Bowie should be like: mysterious and bewildering, with scintillating space‐rock swirlings, mildly unhinged female vocals, backwards tape-loop FX and more. You get 15 minutes of music for £5, but hurry – only 600 coloured‐vinyl copies are available. (810)

Upon The Devil’s Request: Nightblind

From Little Rock, Arkansas, Upon The Devil’s Request are quite a find. Their music has the same other‐worldly groove, and creates the same epic, moody soundscapes, as Manchester’s Oceansize, who sadly split in 2011. Could they plug an Oceansized hole? Watch this space. (710)

ProgAtom: Sagittarius A

These Norwegians make no concessions to the English language; thus we have track titles such as Lys Fra Ei Stjerne (aka Light From A Star). Sadly, their brand of – and we quote – “Melodic symphonic prog with ambient tendencies” is all over the shop. Guitarist Mattis Sørum is clearly a big David Gilmour fan. However, he seems to think Gilmour plays guitar with his feet. (410)

AngelSeed: Crimson Dyed Abyss

From Croatia, AngelSeed relocated to Sweden, the home of symphonic metal, to make their debut album. It’s got a big, breathtaking sound but the success of records such as this hinges on the dynamic between the harsh male voice and the mellifluous female one. Sadly, neither convinces here. With more grunt and extra warbling, we might be on to something. (510)

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.