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The best new prog albums you can buy this month

Jo Kendall on the latest releases from The Early Years, Epica, Glass Hammer, Archive and Teksti-TV 666

The Early Years band photograph

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. (810)

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. (610)

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. (710)

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. (710)

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. (610)

Epica's track by track guide to The Holographic Principle

Glass Hammer: Norse mythology and videogames

Jo Kendall
Jo Kendall

Jo is a journalist, podcaster, event host and music industry lecturer with 23 years in music magazines since joining Kerrang! as office manager in 1999. But before that Jo had 10 years as a London-based gig promoter and DJ, also working in various vintage record shops and for the UK arm of the Sub Pop label as a warehouse and press assistant. Jo's had tea with Robert Fripp, touched Ian Anderson's favourite flute (!), asked Suzi Quatro what one wears under a leather catsuit, and invented several ridiculous editorial ideas such as the regular celebrity cooking column for Prog, Supper's Ready. After being Deputy Editor for Prog for five years and Managing Editor of Classic Rock for three, Jo is now Associate Editor of Prog, where she's been since its inception in 2009, and a regular contributor to Classic Rock. She continues to spread the experimental and psychedelic music-based word amid unsuspecting students at BIMM Institute London, hoping to inspire the next gen of rock, metal, prog and indie creators and appreciators.