The Early Years - II
Having reluctantly packed the spotted hanky and tied it to the stick for the long trudge home from this year’s Liverpool Psych Fest, at least there’s a new release from scene champs the Early Years to welcome us back.
It’s taken 10 years for the London/Manchester four-piece to follow up their debut, and in that time their neo-Kraut thunder could have been stolen by any one of the new swell of swirly shirted, skinny-jeaned-and-winkle-pickered spacemen and women currently out there. But II is an assured return; a glorious tableau of Eno ambience, Joy Division imperiousness and Cluster exploration.
Introduced by the dynamic rapture of Nocturne, there are soon flavours of Spiritualized (Hush, Memory Case), woozy guitar-spiked motorik (Do It Again) and gorgeous minimalism (Hall Of Mirrors). Whether on a squelchy analogue wig-out or swaying in the breeze of apocalyptic desert rock, this is a Brit-psych absolute peach. (8⁄10)
Epica - The Holographic Principle
On their seventh album, the Dutch symphonic metallers descend on us from another dimension, compositionally and conceptually. Grandiloquently cinematic, it’s Dream Theater’s The Astonishing mixed with Les Mis, gnarly tech pummelling underpinning Simone Simons’ sweet lead vocals, borne aloft by fiery orchestral flourishes. Watch your backs, Nightwish. (6⁄10)
Glass Hammer - Valkyrie
Compared by fans to their feted concept LPs Lex Rex and The Inconsolable Secret, the Tennessee sextet aren’t letting the fact that people like Yes keep nicking their singers distract them on their war-themed 16th release. The classic symph template remains, accented by post-rock, jazz fusion and Crimson-like abrasion. Backing vocalist Susie Bogdanowicz’s promotion up front is a smart move. (7⁄10)
- Symphonic Prog Quiz
- Glass Hammer premiere No Man’s Land
- The Top 10 Greatest Prog Album Covers Ever
- How did Epica discover heavy metal?
Archive - The False Foundation
Thought Steven Wilson was the master of nu-prog melancholy? Meet London’s cult crew Archive. Similar to Wilson in selling out stadia everywhere but here, their avant-electronica forms an even more sinister underbelly to the heads of Portis and Radio. On TFF, NIN and Cab-Volt industrialism nag at Rileyesque rave while referencing The Beatles’ Because. Clever. (7⁄10)
Teksti-TV 666 - 1,2,3
Meanwhile, somewhere in Finland, a guitar army is trapped in a Telepod with Hawkwind, the Ramones and the Jesus And Mary Chain, exploding in the frantic cosmic garage-punk Brundlefly that is Teksti-TV 666. Writing one song title alone from this euphoric three-EP comp would take up the rest of this precis, but let’s just say ‘biker gang’, ‘Thee Oh Sees’ and ‘EARPLUGS!’ as a steer. (6⁄10)