Haken – Fauna

Fauna Album Cover Art

Haken – Fauna
Inside Out Music 
Release Date: 03/03/2023
Review by Alex Swift
Running Time: 62:06

Through their ability to wrap stories of human struggle into their multifaceted compositions, balancing technicality with an astute eye for detail, and knowledge of how to tell a story, Haken have become distinguished in progressive metal. “The Mountain” – my jumping on point for them – was unique in the way it told stories of the beasts becoming the new masters, while the companion albums of “Virus” and “Vector” explored the idea of scientific knowledge’s ability to liberate or enslave animals and humans, to amazing effect. Now, with “Fauna”, they’ve taken that idea one step further, being something of a concept album drawing parallels between the animal Kingdom and the human world. Musically, it continues this band’s trend of making each album somewhat more challenging than the last. Still, like “Virus”, while my initial reaction was to be perplexed, I grew to appreciate this more for the way it tested my ability to comprehend and understand music. 

Haken establishes highly contrasted sounds as a defining characteristic of ‘Taurus’. The track opens with loud abrupt harmonics, dominating rhythm guitars, and caustic tones. To provide a peaceful aspect, Ross Jennings’ voice cut through the frantic backdrop. Both the migration of wildebeast and the dislocation brought on by the war in Ukraine are effectively drawn together in this track. Meanwhile, the uplifting chorus stands out for its beauty and craftsmanship among the contradictory portions of calm and ferocity. It’s a seductive balance of opposites, releasing a dark weight in the collapse. Non-linear sections with a strong impact and a discordant edge emerge from ‘Nightingale’, which explores the worlds of dreams and nightmares. Birdsong and gentle piano leads are joined with an unsettling atmosphere while the musical and vocal patterns in the verses combine fascinating jazz elements. This album uses dark and light to create juxtaposition, but also fluctuates with different melodic layer intensities.

The Alphabet of Me’ took me a while for me to appreciate. Incorporating electronic stabs and pulsating bass rhythms, before returning to the brief but increasingly sophisticated electronic segment, the piece bursts with complex subtleties. With a saxophone entering the mix and providing brilliant brass tones, the track’s strong bass, rhythmic percussion, and soaring choral supporting voices become more and more apparent. This pairing brings the song to a fascinating close. I must admit I was disappointed to learn that this song is not, in actual fact, about Doctor Who. Rather, the words “It’s time to wake up and die or regenerate,” allude to survival instincts, drawing parallels between the ability of a snake – for instance – to shed its skin with the perilous choice each of us have probably at some point faced to reform and change, or else find ourselves trapped in toxic relationships or lifestyles. The band’s ability to write effective yet intriguing compositions is continued on to ‘Sempiternal Beings’. The song’s expert guitar playing demonstrates Haken’s command of each of their particular instruments as well as the band’s overall musical intent. High-speed tapping intensifies the track’s increased and more tense tempo as it approaches its climactic final chorus. “The ocean between us is where we find inner peace. When will we cease to convince ourselves we’re sempiternal beings?” Ross Jennings questions here, perhaps as a reminder that we are not eternal and everlasting, and the strong civilizations we have built could just as easily be consumed by the water that surrounds us and gives us life. 

‘Beneath The White Rainbow’ continues the environmentalist message evoking images of “cinder cascades” and impressive structures falling to the rivers below. The piano on this track enhances the listening experience by conveying a sense of weight and significance. They are sufficiently integrated with the low range sounds to avoid feeling out of place, yet it is still heard occupying a distinct space. The track’s eerie aspect truly shines in the bridge when the cavalcade of noise is stripped back, allowing the keys to evoke melancholy and sombre emotionality. ‘Island in The Clouds’an anti-war song condemning the animalistic instinct to kill – stuns with its ethereality, as the piece begins on a bass-led groove before transitioning into a majestic piece of disturbing psychedelia. The harmonies and guitars work in tandem to summon an image of a menacing precipice at the end of existence, that far too many fall over before their time, as a consequence of our devaluing of life. 

From this point, the album gets strange. ‘Lovebite’ is perhaps the closest this band has come to writing a power ballad. The fast-paced guitars explode with a frenetic character. When the verse begins, the variable extremes of velocity abruptly dissipate, intensifying an already potent impression. Meanwhile, in keeping with the concept, love is compared to a wild animal with lines like “I see you’ve eaten somebody else, won’t let my jealousy affect us, is too much not enough for you?” returning to the concept of our desire and obsession to consume being abusive in our relationship with the rest of the natural world. Following this, ‘Elephants Never Forget’ bears a huge dollop of Devin Townsend influence in the discordant rhythmic patterns and zany theatricality, crafting a magnificent pairing of lead guitar and piano in a fluid melodic performance, contrasted with the darting melodies. Several genres and musical styles are incorporated, causing the tune to change moods and convey an unsettling undertone. “Does it have an elephant mother? Should we take it over to the gallows? Why’s it hiding in the shadows?” runs one line, reminiscent of our tendency to treat outsiders with suspicion. In that sense, moments like this being hard to comprehend, act as a challenge – should we be curious, or shun that which we don’t understand?

‘Eyes Of Ebony’ is a stunning and melancholy conclusion that has delicate clean guitars, soft percussion, and ambient elements. This varied record features  orchestral soundscapes, daring rhythmic patterns, and captivating riffs. Haken aim to utilize each instrument, tone, and atmosphere to the fullest. The idea of “Fauna”—connecting happenings in the animal realm to increasingly poignant situations in our human domain—creates an exciting bridge over the chasm between these two fields. We end on a wonderfully touching note as, like with the last record, Haken end by referencing their landmark release, reminding us that ambition can set us free but what matters is how we use our strength. “You left your footprints in the sand. Immortalised, you’ll never walk alone. You gave me the power to dream. As we strode to the mountaintop”. 

01. Taurus
02. Nightingale
03. The Alphabet of Me
04. Sempiternal Beings
05. Beneath The White Rainbow
06. Island In the Clouds
07. Lovebite
08. Elephants Never Forget
09. Eyes of Ebony


Ross Jennings – Lead Vocals
Richard Henshall – Guitars, Keyboards, backing vocals.
Raymond Hearne – Drums, backing vocals.
Charles Griffiths – Guitars, backing vocals.
Conner Green – Bass, backing vocals.
Peter Green – Keyboards, backing vocals. 


Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Alex Swift and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Riverside – I.D. Entity

ID Entity Album Cover Art

Riverside – I.D. Entity
Inside Out Music
Release Date: 17/01/23
Running Time: 53:11 
Review by Paul Hutchings

Deep, thought provoking and utterly absorbing. The latest album by Polish progressive legends Riverside has arrived and it’s another special piece of work. Where do you start with the band who have been making quality music for over twenty years. If you are already a fan of them, then trying to explain their combination of ambient rock, electronica, progressive rock, and new wave synth is probably wasted on you, for the band have a unique style that reaches each fan in different ways. If you are new to Riverside, then there is a whole host of music to explore and what better place to start than their eighth full-length release, “I.D. Entity”. 

Riverside have ridden turbulent waters, rocked to the core with the death of guitarist Piotr Grudziński who passed away in 2016. The band’s response was dignified, as they sought to remember their founder member and battled with the challenges of continuing the musical journey without him. It took until 2018 for seventh album “Wasteland” to arrive. Set in a post-apocalyptic world, it continued in the melancholic vein of its predecessors “Love, Fear and the Time Machine” and “Shrine of New Generation Slaves”. With “I.D. Entity” Riverside have returned to a style and sound that is more reminiscent of their first decade together. As band leader Mariusz Duda comments, “we really wanted to say goodbye to the decade of sadness and melancholy, which dominated our recent releases”.

It’s evident that the band are now in a happier place, the grieving process complete, time having healed those raw wounds. That’s not to say that this is a happy album in any way, for the subject matter is definitely a mirror on our broken and fractured world. “We live in times of huge lack of trust, social divisions, uncertainty, lies, propaganda, and invigilation,” says Duda. “We live in times of anger and helplessness. In times dominated by Big Techs, populists, conspiracy theories, hatred, greedy corporations causing the planet and human nature to die at an accelerated speed. We live in times when one country can attack another out of the blue just because they think they are more deserving of something. These days it’s simply hard to sing only about love, friendship, and escapes into imaginary worlds”. 

The opening song ‘Friend or Foe’ brings together the very essence of Riverside. With guitarist Maciej Meller, an official member of the band since 2020 but contributing to his first album with the band, Riverside are a highly cohesive unit. Their organic sound is captivating, from the clever lyrics that Duda crafts with such apparent ease, to the high level of keyboards and synths of Michał Łapaj through to the live sound of Piotr Kozieradzki’s drumming rhythms. Opening with an uplifting keyboard riff which is balanced by Duda’s bass and some deeper synths, the words classic are already forming before the band fully launch into their first song. The electro beat combines with a thumping bass line before the Depeche Mode feel of the song kicks in. From there it’s a joyous musical journey that you can bob along to, or deep dive into the more meaningful lyrical content. Either is acceptable – you take your choice. 

At 53 minutes running time, and only eight songs, one expects some longer tracks. Riverside have managed the balance well, blending shorter songs like the punchy ‘Landmine Blast’ ‘Post Truth’ and ‘I’m Done with You’ alongside some more extended pieces. Now, if you want to experience Riverside, then you must accept that their kaleidoscope of musical interplay will be expansive. Indeed, it’s expected and even demanded. Diving deep is part of the experience with this astonishing band, and you are invited to do so on ‘Big Tech Brother’, with its brass section intro that switches to a darker, sinister feel presenting yet another new dimension to their sonic soundscapes.  Aptly capturing the dread that most of us feel about the world of technology, the tracking and monitoring that we have generally accepted without challenge, Duda’s lyrics are chillingly accurate. 

Standing as the central pillar of the album, ‘The Place Where I Belong’ is a compelling 13-minute piece. It opens with a calm, acoustic passage, Duda’s haunting vocal enhanced by some subtle keyboard work. You sense that the song is slowly going to increase in tempo, passion, and emotion. It takes a while, the build-up tight, the art of capturing the tension perfected as the band launch into an almost 1970s prog workout. It’s not as raucous as might be anticipated, with subtle guitar licks part of the overall composition, whilst Łapaj’s keyboards play a central part. There are fleeting soaring moments, reflective segments, and an overall beauty that few can craft. Just sit back and listen.

It’s an album that is thought-provoking from start to finish. How do you explore the concept of identity in one album? Riverside are provocative, they want their fans to think and consider. ‘I’m Done with You’ does just that, and it’s a song that’s most typical of the “Riverside sound”. And then the album concludes with ‘Self-Aware’, which initially bounces along with a hook and riff that will hang around for days. It bears similarity to REM’s ‘The One I Love’ but works fabulously. As it progresses it takes many twists and turns; it’s the epic finale that this album threatened. 

I’m about a dozen plays into “I.D. Entity” and I’m still only a fraction into unpacking the complexities that are hidden away. I’ve not fully got to grips with the overall meanings; that’s going to take more time. But what a joy that task will bring. As 2023 slowly grinds into gear, Riverside have set the bar mighty high. It’s an album of stunning quality. And will remain on the playlist for many months to come. 

‘Self Aware’ Official Video

01. Friend or Foe? 
02. Landmine Blast 
03. Big Tech Brother 
04. Post-Truth 
05. The Place Where I Belong 
06. I’m Done with You
07. Self-Aware 

Mariusz Duda – vocals, basses, electric and acoustic guitars
Piotr Kozieradzki – drums 
Michał Łapaj – keyboards and synthesizers, Rhodes piano and Hammond organ 
Maciej Meller – electric guitar


Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Paul Hutchings and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Devin Townsend – Lightwork

Lightwork Album Cover Art

Devin Townsend – Lightwork
Inside Out Music
Release Date: 28/10/22
Running Time: 55:59
Review by Simon Black

First off, apologies on the lateness of this. We normally try and get reviews out in advance of release date and not look back, but we promised to do this one and when the planned reviewer ended up having to focus on a family emergency, yours truly stepped up. That would be a monstrous helping of serendipity, right there…

I have come to the Devin party somewhat late in general, having only really started listening to some of the recently released lockdown fillers in the Devolution series, but I am familiar enough now to know that whatever you are going to get from this prolific and creative powerhouse could pretty much go in any direction. This direction though, has a change here with Townsend actually working with a producer for a change (GGGarth Richardson). Now, they’re good friends anyway, but that doesn’t mean that Devin has not been challenged throughout this process, which to be honest every musician needs from time to time – musical genius or not. We’re also used to Townsend working on his own musically, but there’s an impressive array of guests too, and the overall feel of the record is expansive and epic as a consequence.

The just short of an hour’s runtime of this record positively flies by, with music that is more Prog Rock than Metal this time out, with the kind of huge mood and key change shifts that masters like Pink Floyd (snorting Frank Zappa) would pull off when at their peak. It’s moody, yes; it’s heavy, yes – but not in the crushingly down-tuned way that one would expect. Neither is it as aggressive vocally, and although Townsend does add more extreme vocal layers in there, the singing is nearly all in a much cleaner register, which being Devin Townsend he pulls off as effortlessly as everything else he touches. The subject matter feels dark and moody, but this ain’t the sequel to “Empath” (let’s face it, nothing could be), but neither does it go down the crazily experimental and somewhat unlistenable route of last years’ “The Puzzle / Snuggles”. But then when you are as prolific as this man and generally able to put out several releases of new or live material a year, then sticking to one direction or formula would quickly get stale, and that’s not gonna happen here.

Relaxed and melodic, but still roaringly and soaringly powerful when it needs to be, this is a positive triumph. 

‘Heartbreaker’ Official Promo Video

01. Moonpeople
02. Lightworker
03. Equinox
04. Call of the Void
05. Heartbreaker
06. Dimensions
07. Celestial Signals
08. Heavy Burden
09. Vacation
10. Children of God

Devin Townsend – Vocals, Guitar, Bass, Synth, Computer, Orchestrations, Co-Producer, Mixing
Anneke Van Giersbergen – Vocals
Ché Aimee Dorval – Vocals
Morgan Agren – Vocals, Drums & Percussion
Mike Keneally – Guitars
Steve Vai – Guitars
Darby Todd – Drums
Federico Paulovich – Drums
Diego Tejeida – Keyboards
Nathan Navarro – Bass
Jonas Hellborg – Bass
Elektra Women’s Choir – Choir


Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Simon Black and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso – Orlando: Le Forme dell’Amore

Orlando Le Forme dell'Amore Album Cover Art

Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso – Orlando: Le Forme dell’Amore
Inside Out Music
Release Date: 23/09/2022
Running Time: 01:15:55
Review by Chris Galea

Out of all the Italian Prog Rock bands of the 1970’s, Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso (BDMS) have been one of the most prolific. And the band’s quirky virtuosisms return once more with studio album number 16. It’s called “Orlando: Le Forme dell’Amore” and is a concept inspired by an epic 15th century poem by Ludovico Ariosto. Without a doubt, the subject matter is quite intriguing. Essentially the poem is about the difficult choices that love forces you to make.

Various musical elements find their way into this album…. Jazz, Prog, Tango, Funk, Rock… giving the album many shades and colours. To give a few examples, tracks such as ‘La Pianura Rossa’ (‘The Red Plains’) and ‘Il Paladino’ (‘The Paladin’) have elements of Liquid Tension Experiment. ‘Non Credere All Luna’ (‘Don’t Believe In The Moon’) makes a great use of saxophone while ‘La Maldicenza’ (‘The Slander’) is very synth-heavy. The album is quite long with numerous instrumental parts and songs which tend to segue into one another.

On the odd occasion the music does get a bit tedious but there are also several inspired moments. An example of the latter is ‘Moon Suite’, an epic song that’s more about the Earth than the moon. It’s a composition with a number of mood and tempo changes that perfectly encapsulates the band’s musical ethos.

“Orlando: Le Forme dell’Amore” is only the second album from BDMS to have Tony D’alessio on lead vocals. While he’s undoubtedly a talented and powerful singer, I felt that in this album he isn’t always on the ball with the material’s little nuances. 

I happen to be fluent in Italian, but I do believe that the album has a lot to offer even for fans unfamiliar with the language. “Orlando…” marks the fiftieth anniversary since BDMS’s formation while keyboardist Vittorio Nocenzi is the only founding member with the current line-up. 

If, despite the band’s longevity, you’re as yet unfamiliar with BDMS, think of Jethro Tull, Yes, Emerson Lake & Palmer… but, with an added zesty flavour.

‘Cadere O Volare’ Official Video

01. Proemio (cover version) 
02. La Pianura Rossa 
03. Serve Orlando Adesso 
04. Non Mi Spaventa Più L’amore 
05. Non Serve Tremare 
06. Le Anime Deserte Del Mondo 
07. L’isola Felice 
08. La Maldicenza 
09. Cadere O Volare 
10. Il Paladino 
11. L’Amore Accade 
12. Non Credere Alla Luna 
13. Moon Suite 
14. Come È Successo Che Sei Qui 
15. Cosa Vuol Dire Per Sempre 

Tony D’alessio – Vocals
Vittorio Nocenzi – Vocals, Keyboards
Filippo Marchegianni – Guitars, Vocals
Nicola Di Già – Guitars
Marco Capozi – Bass
Fabio Moresco – Drums


Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Chris Galea and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Lonely Robot – A Model Life

A Model Life Album Cover Art

Lonely Robot – A Model Life
Inside Out Music
Release Date: 26/08/22
Running Time: 53:57
Review by Paul Hutchings

“Making “A Model Life” was very much a lifeline and indeed wakeup call at the end of a particularly personally challenging couple of years. Creating it made me realise that ultimately, life is impermanent and the one true thing that gives me a focus and anchor is and has always been music. Long may that be the case.So says John Mitchell, main man behind Progressive artist Lonely Robot, whose latest album “A Model Life” can rightly stand alongside Marillion’s “An Hour Before Its Dark” and Porcupine Tree’s “Closure/Continuation” in the best of Progressive Rock for 2022. 

Mitchell has featured in a plethora of Progressive and forward-thinking outfits, including It Bites, Frost*, Arena and Gandalf’s Fist, as well as with Lonely Robot, for who this is the fifth album in seven years. I was relatively late to the Lonely Robot party, not picking up on the quality of the beast until 2019’s “Under Stars.” 2020’s “Feelings Are Good” continued the interest and now we have another perfectly crafted and delivered album that leaves you gasping for breath at the sheer magnitude and scope of the record. 

“A Model Life” features drummer Craig Blundell (Steven Wilson), Liam Holmes (Touchstone) on keyboards and bassist Steve Vantis (Fish). With such Prog alumni, you’d expect something a bit magical, and the quartet don’t let you down. Drawing on personal experiences, Lonely Robot’s latest runs for fifty-three minutes, with most tracks around the six-minute mark. This allows time for expansive soundscapes that sweep you along, the rich layers of music combining with Mitchell’s gorgeous warm vocals to sublime effect.

Although Mitchell’s delivery varies and is instantly distinguishable, there are some reference points which it’s impossible not to notice as the album progresses. Echoes of Peter Gabriel and Fish are among those who come to mind, whilst the music resonates with many of Lonely Robot’s peers. Flourishes of Hard Rock, flashes of Electro (‘The Island of Misfit Toys’) and introspective melancholic melody are all present. The title track is dark yet full of light, whilst ‘Digital God Machine’ is a take on the media police. 

There’s the gentle interlude of ‘Mandalay’ which is short but reflective, and the song that mostly resonates with Fish’s current output. There’s nothing here which I can fault. Each track stands on its own, each weaves its own story, and each is delicately constructed. ‘Rain Kings’ features a simple loop which forms the backbone for the song, allowing it to develop and progress. 

Mitchell’s guitar work is immense, simple, and effective yet devilishly detailed and intricate. Backed by such a stellar team, the music at times finds you catching your own breath in delight and awe. 

“A Model Life” is everything you want in a Progressive Rock album. It’s quality on every level, a sonic experience that demands repeated plays. Beautifully constructed, it’s albums like this that remind you why Progressive Rock can be the most incredible of genres. A work of masterful perfection that should have you diving to discover more from this incredible set of musicians. 

‘The Island Of misfit Toys’ Official Video

01. Recalibrating
02. Digital God Machine
03. Species In Transition
04. Starlit Stardust
05. The Island Of Misfit Toys
06. A Model Life
07. Mandalay
08. Rain Kings
09. Duty Of Care
10. In Memoriam

John Mitchell – Guitars & Vocals
Craig Blundell – Drums
Liam Holmes – Keys
Steve Vantis – Bass


Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Paul Hutchings and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

SiX By SiX – SiX By SiX

SiX By SiX Album Cover Art

SiX By SiX – SiX By SiX
Inside Out Music
Release Date: 19/08/22
Running Time: 46:48
Review by Simon Black

Generally, hear at Ever Metal we get hit with about 300 album review submissions a month, which sadly we can’t ever hope to fully service, since none of us actually does this for a living. Every month I would estimate that a good ten per cent of these releases entail some kind of what PR companies insist on branding as a ‘supergroup’ projects. In reality the bulk of these are either actually a solo project from a named artist on sabbatical from their main band (or indeed, at the beginning of the end of that particular band and/or said artist’s involvement with it), or one of the seemingly endless pot pourri projects from Italian label Frontiers, which take one or more largely faded heroes of yore and mix them up with an Italian house band / producer / studio on an almost industrial scale (the results of which can be very hit and miss). Whilst there’s some cracking and unique stuff that comes into the slush pile like this, the vast majority simply cannot be classified as a “Supergroup” despite what they PR blurb says. 

For that, what we listen to has to be, well ideally a bit … super

SiX By SiX are a collaboration between Saxon’s formidable drummer Nigel Glockler, Saga’s six-string wizard Ian Crichton and the endlessly versatile Robert Berry of Emerson / Palmer side project 3 on Bass, Vocals and Keys (with Chrichton and Berry handling the bulk of the song-writing duties). The three of them have worked together independently in the past on other projects it seems, but the coming together of three such experienced professionals at first seemed a bit of an eclectic choice, given their diverse backgrounds.

Yet this is as much of an honest homage to the bands they love from their youth, and what we get from this process is a frankly formidable conjugation of players and writers that, yes, is more than a little bit on the super side. Musically, I’m in classic Prog Rock heaven, with the strongest influences coming from an awful lot of 70’s classic Rush and inevitably a huge dollop of ELP, plus a twinge of 80’s YesWest era Yes. 

Glockler is on the kind of form that you wouldn’t expect here. Whilst I have nothing but respect for him and the vast majority of Saxon’s output, musically Saxon are straight ahead traditional NWOBHM, so to hear him fluidly turn his hand to the way more technically demanding and Progressive material here, and deliver it so effortlessly is a credit to what must be one of the most underrated and underutilised drummers in the business. Given his pedigree, it’s not surprising that he delivers his parts with the kind of heaviness and power you would expect of a Metal tub-thumper, but he does so whilst still delivering the technical wizardry and musical fluidity of the more Progressive end of the game. 

And he does it soooo, well….

Crichton’s guitar work is incredibly varied and fluid, as you would expect for a man of his Progressive pedigree, but he makes it work with that deep heavy undercarriage effortlessly, and despite the varied  style and musical mix in here, he responds beautifully, and, more importantly subtly, to everything this rich gamut of songs runs. This isn’t Prog Metal, it’s Prog Rock, so don’t expect shredding, just lovely, fluid and beautifully delivered melodic wizardry with the right mix of acoustic and electric touches at just the right points to make you stop and notice.

Then there’s Berry’s contribution to everything else. His bass work perfectly compliments Glockler’s drums and the first thing that strikes you is how tight this rhythm section is; yet a living breathing fluid entity interacting with every other instrument at the same stroke. Vocally Berry’s voice is in the clean register, but with enough of a soulful lived-in tinge to cross the aisles from the Prog Rock to the more Metal world as well.

With the kind of musical foundation that should be capable of withstanding an earthquake, the stage is set for some really incredibly well written and crafted songs. It’s not clear whether this material was written and recorded remotely, given that this project came together at the tail end of the pandemic, but it certainly has the rich unwritten sub-text of a group of players who have developed that anticipatory chemistry, and this is where the project scores over the multitude of collaboration projects that cross my des, where everyone seems to have been forced together at the behest of either a label or in support of one person’s solo dreams.

The highlights for me included the two singles ‘Yearning to Fly’ and ‘China’, which are clearly crafted to make sure the Planet Rock audience sits up and listens, but the album gently snowballs with its conceptual story with increasingly well-crafted and subtly complex material, with the final trilogy of crackers that close the album ‘Skyfall’, ‘Battle Of A Lifetime’ and the catchy ‘Save The Night’ really proving to be top notch Prog heaven.

So, are SiX By SiX a true Supergroup? Categorically yes. I mean there’s even an accompanying graphic novel to support the concept, and that’s not something you see from a budget spin-off or hopeful solo effort. This is a band of brothers first and foremost and feels like a proper band in its own right.  The fact that they have garnered major label support from Sony’s Inside Out and are gearing up for a proper tour says it all, and I for one intend to be done the front for that show. Super…? Damn straight…

‘China’ Official Video

01. Yearning to Fly
02. China
03. Reason to Feel Calm Again
04. The Upside of Down
05. Casino
06. Live Forever
07. The Last Words on Earth
08. Skyfall
09. Battle of a Lifetime
10. Save the Night 

Ian Crichton – Guitar
Nigel Glockler – Drums
Robert Berry – Bass, Keyboards and Vocals.


Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Simon Black and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Charlie Griffiths – Tiktaalika

Tiktaalika Album Cover Art

Charlie Griffiths – Tiktaalika
Inside Out Music
Release Date: 17/06/2022
Running Time: 53:00
Review by Rory Bentley

Ah the old guitarist’s side-project, eh? Untethered by the confines of saving the Shreddy bits for their allocated solo sections in the band, the Metal guitarist is free to widdle away to their heart’s content and finally show the world their musical chops, without their bandmates reining them in and the singer hogging all the attention. At least that’s the way it goes a lot of the time. Haken fret wizard Charlie Griffiths has thankfully taken an alternative stance on this and served up a mind-bending Prog Metal opus that’s heavy on melody and hooks while still showing off his virtuosity, so let’s dive in!

A prehistoric themed Prog Metal album could not be more up my street, particularly if you know the kind of band I sing for, especially when the roster of guest performers is like a tapas menu of Prog legends. “Tiktaalika” begins with the ambient catchiness of intro track ‘Prehistoric Prelude’ before the unmistakable vocal mastery of ‘Between The Buried and Me’s Tommy Rogers sets the pace for the wonderful ‘Arctic Cemetery’. This is a huge guest spot and his soaring cleans and demented growls add finesse and gravitas to an exhilarating soundtrack that is both head-scratchingly and heart-racingly cinematic in its eclectic grandeur.

‘Luminous Beings’ is a jazzier number, with lush guitar textures and the smooth vocals of Textures main man Danïel de Jongh and provides the perfect change of tone from the previous song’s chaos while still feeling consistent with the album’s sonic landscape. It’s nice to hear a Prog Metal album that doesn’t just play heavy riffs in weird time signatures, but embraces the full musical breadth of the genre, including its 70’s heyday. King Crimson is a recurring influence throughout and a great reminder that Robert Fripp has been a monstrous force in audio insanity long before he started doing silly lockdown videos with his wife.

The core band of Dream Theatre’s keyboard wizard Jordan Rudess, Devin Townsend Drummer Darby Todd and Steve Hackett’s sexy sax man Rob Townsend are, of course, terrifyingly proficient here and elevate the album to an elite level masterclass in virtuosity while making tasteful contributions that steer wide of noodly fret wankery. Of course, main man Charlie is also a force of nature when he lets loose. Some guitarists inspire you to pick up your axe and give it both barrels and some make you want to put it the fuck down and leave it to the adults in the room. My guitar will definitely be gathering dust after having my face sanded down by the title track’s final two-minute rampage.

On ‘In Alluvium’ Organized Chaos frontman Vladimir Lalić takes the already sky-high vocal bar to another level with a mesmerising operatic performance that lends a human heart to the borderline cyborg level of instrumental mastery going on, and it is perhaps the album’s most stirring moment. Almost veering into Power Metall were it not for the fact that it’s good and I like it. Sorry couldn’t resist, y’all know me by now. Likewise Luna’s Call mic monster Neil Purdy brings his own unique charisma to the suite.

Speaking of vocal chops, it turns out Charlie is one of these bastards that can do anything with any instrument, including his impressive turns on the mic, perhaps most prominent on ‘Digging Deeper’ which is once again refined and tasteful despite the undoubted ability of everyone involved to give it the kitchen sink treatment if the mood took them. Deep into the album’s runtime the compositional discipline and diligent self-editing are such a welcome surprise from a genre so prone to self-indulgence.

After the feral assault of ‘Crawl Walk Run’ conjures the Tech-Death exploration spearheaded in the 90’s by Cynic and, to put it bluntly, beats the absolute shit out of your ears, it’s time for the colossal closet ‘Under Polaris’ to put a bow on things. The recurring musical motif first heard in the prelude returns stronger than ever and once more demonstrates the amount of thought and care put into the album. As the acoustic guitars that lit the fuse on the opening track wrap up proceedings, the temptation to hit play again is overwhelming. I can’t remember my Hardcore-loving brain feeling that way about many guitarist’s solo projects which should tell you everything.

Whilst traditionally this type of music has a more selective appeal, there are so many ideas, killer hooks and examples of supreme song writing nous on “Tiktaalika” that it will be a travesty if it doesn’t make a huge splash that registers far beyond the niche core audience of guys with more pedals than friends. This is high calibre adventurous Metal for everyone to enjoy and despite its prehistoric theme and its often retro pool of musical inspiration, this is a fiercely modern and vital release. Jurassic Park!

‘Arctic Cemetery’ Official Video

01. Prehistoric Prelude 
02. Arctic Cemetery
03. Luminous Beings
04. In Alluvium
05. Dead in the Water
06. Digging Deeper
07. Tiktaalika 
08. Crawl Walk Run
09. Under Polaris

Charlie Griffiths – Guitar, Bass, Keyboard, Vocals
Darby Todd – Drums
Jordan Rudess – Keyboards
Rob Townsend – Saxophone
Tommy Rogers – Vocals (Tracks 2,9)
Danïel De Jongh -Vocals (Tracks 3,8)
Vladimir Lalić – Vocals (Tracks 4,5)
Neil Purdy – Vocals (Track 5)


Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Rory Bentley and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

James LaBrie – Beautiful Shade Of Grey

Beautiful Shade Of Grey Album Cover Art

James LaBrie – Beautiful Shade Of Grey
Inside Out Music
Release Date: 20/05/22
Running Time: 48:17
Review by Simon Black

Although I’m hugely appreciative of Dream Theater and the wave of Progressive Metal they have spawned all the way back to the early 1990’s, I have to confess that I haven’t taken the time to listen to any of lungsman James LaBrie’s solo records. It’s always interesting when a distinctive band and a major contributor to their overall sound does step sideways, because you get a window on the kind of material they might chose to listen to away from their day job. In LaBrie’s case there is nothing particularly different going on here with his vocal style choices. The music is firmly in the Melodic Hard Rock, with enough Progressive flourish to keep it interesting, but which allows the voice to lead. 

When they do such outings, two things usually happen. Either it’s the same as the band they are best known for (but without the politics of that line up) or it’s the singer plus an acoustic guitar for the majority of the songs (something that often happens with solo efforts because the material comes out of hotel room isolation and tour boredom). I understand that the former was more prevalent on his first three solo outings, but “Beautiful Shades of Grey” doesn’t go to the other extreme, instead employing a lot of semi-acoustic work but with a full band in support, with the electric and overdriven guitars used sparingly. That allows LaBrie to mostly do what he does best, which is belt out loud and proud, but with enough moments of subtlety and softness to make for an interesting mix. 

The song structures are far more straight ahead Rock, but that’s fine as they don’t distract from what’s going on and whereas you may not get to unpick the musical complexity like skinning an onion on layer at a time that you do from his main band, it still works because the focus is on mood, tone and catchy and enjoyable song-writing. It’s a bit like 70’s Yes when they were focussed on getting something short enough to get played on the radio. In fact that 70’s root couldn’t be more clear than the only cover here, which is a stomping rendition of Led Zeppellin’s ‘Ramble On’. The other high points are the lead song ‘Devil In Drag’ (and check out the electric version included on some versions of the record), the dark and moody ‘What I Missed’ and the mellifluous instrumentals and catchy melodies of ‘SuperNova Girl’.

Tonally this makes for a mellow, but emotively charged album which I am appreciating more and more with each listen. Worth a check out, as Dream Theater fans are going to see another side of James, and detractors may be pleasantly surprised.

‘Am I Right’ Official Video

01. Devil In Drag
02. SuperNova Girl
03. Give And Take
04. Sunset Ruin
05. Hit Me Like A Brick
06. Wildflower
07. Conscience Calling
08. What I Missed
09. Am I Right
10. Ramble On
11. Devil In Drag (Electric Version)

James LaBrie – Lead & Backing Vocals
Paul Logue – Acoustic Guitars & Bass
Chance LaBrie – Drums & Percussion
Christian “Chrism” Pulkkinen – Keyboards
Marco Sfogli – Lead Acoustic & Electric Guitars


Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Simon Black and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Leprous – Aphelion

Aphelion Album Cover Art

Leprous – Aphelion
Inside Out Music
Release Date: 27/08/2021
Running Time: 56:02
Review by Beth Jones

Certain areas of the world seem to have an outstanding ability to produce astonishing musicians, Norway being one of them. Maybe it’s the dark nights, rugged and vast scenery, or temperamental and often tempestuous weather that inspires the melodies out of their composers, maybe it’s the diet or way of life that feeds the creative mind or perhaps it’s purely coincidence, who knows. But the goodness of whatever it is, that brings forth such art, makes me an incredibly happy Beth indeed.

Leprous, one of Norway’s more recent, and arguably one of its finest, musical groups have been releasing music since 2009, and their most recent offering, “Aphelion” has just been released. Now, I’m a little behind with my reviewing, so bear with me, and nod in agreement, if you’ve already purchased this album. If you haven’t, please read on, and then go and purchase this album, because it is something very special.

You can tell from the first few bars of opener ‘Running Low’ that this album is going to be an expressive and emotive listen. Dark cinematic piano and sparse percussion set the opening, with the powerful but delicate vocals of Einar Solberg cutting through above anything else. Ebbing and flowing like the swelling of the incoming tide, this intriguing and masterfully written, and played, song lets the listener know that this album means serious business. It will challenge your mind, as well as your musical appreciation, with its intricacies.

And this is really how the whole album works. At the forefront, delicacy and intricate thought, coupled with immense skill and musical maturity, create a sound that really is stunning. I am in complete awe of Einar’s vocals. His voice is so unique, with a pure and crisp sound that he controls superbly well, so nothing is ever over or under-done. It is almost as if his singing is entirely controlled by his emotions, which in itself is paradoxical, as emotion is so uncontrollable. The inspiration for most of the compositions on this album have come from Einar’s own personal struggles with anxiety and depression, and every song does have a deep connection to feeling, whether it’s through the composition, instrumentation, or lyrics.

Every track on this album is simply perfection. Driven by piano and vocals – which are both hugely important to me – it explores heaviness in contrast with gentleness, pace in contrast with pauses, rhythm in contrast with freeform, and the full expanse of dynamics. It’s hugely cinematic, and symphonic, and would be fascinating to see performed live at some of the great opera houses around the world. I can only imagine how immersive it would sound in the likes of the Royal Albert Hall, or Sydney Opera House.

There are a couple of tracks that I’ll mention, even though this is an album of greatness in its entirity. ‘Have You Ever?’ is first. I love the low rumbling bass that sits in this track. It’s the sort of bass that makes your ribcage vibrate. This track also sits somewhere between Progressive Rock, Jazz, and James Bond theme music, which is just spectacularly bonkers, and very brave.

The other track that I want to mention is ‘On Hold’. Musically, it’s probably the most straightforward on the album. But its mastery is in the lyrics. A beautiful melancholy monologue about feeling stuck in desperation. A feeling that a lot of us can relate to, I think. I know I certainly can. It’s just so emotive… So breathtaking…

“Aphelion” is next level musical connection, and I’m completely blown away by it. Expect to see this album appearing in my top ten of the year… Thanks, Leprous, for creating music that provides solace. It is timeless, and genre-less, and reaches the next level of consciousness and healing. Slightly less thanks for making my job of picking an album of the year harder than it already was…But I’ll forgive you because this is sublime!

‘The Silent Revelation’ (Official Video)

01. Running Low
02. Out Of Here
03. Silhouette
04. All The Moments
05. Have You Ever?
06. The Silent Revelation
07. The Shadow Side
08. On Hold
09. Castaway Angels
10. Nighttime Disguise

Einar Solberg – Vocals, Keyboards
Tor Oddmund Suhrke – Guitars
Robin Ognedal – Guitars
Simen Børven – Bass
Baard Kolstad – Drums


Leprous Promo Pic

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Beth Jones and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Devin Townsend – Devolution Series #2 – Galactic Quarantine

Devolution Series #2 - Galactic Quarantine Album Cover Art

Devin Townsend – Devolution Series #2 – Galactic Quarantine
Inside Out Music
Release Date: 25/06/2021
Running Time: 79:32
Review by Beth Jones

“Don’t let the bullshit get you down”…Never a truer word spoken, and we are surrounded by some monumental bullshit right now, aren’t we?! It’s with that phrase that we are launched into “Devolution Series #2 – Galactic Quarantine”, the latest release in Devin Townsend’s Lockdown project. This album is a recording of a greenscreen lockdown concert given by Devin and a series of other musicians, all broadcasting from their living rooms, in different locations, during the initial lockdown in 2020. Unlike the first Devolution Series album, this one is up tempo and in-your-face right from the start. It’s full of some classic Devin, and the energy and joy are palpable throughout.

The fact that Devin is one of my absolute heroes might be playing a role here, but this album is monumental. The stunning musicianship of every player, along with Devin’s super powerful voice make it the uplifting experience we all need. It never ceases to amaze me that such a mild mannered and humble person can explode with the power that Devin does.

Tune wise, among my favourites are ‘Juular’, ‘Hyperdrive’, ‘Love?’, and ‘Kingdom’, all of which are not only brilliantly intricate compositions, but are also performed perfectly on this album, which is no mean feat, given the constraints that all the musicians had to work within. From the crunching guitars, to thumping rhythms, close harmonies, and sweeping synths, everything is 100% bang on.

There are two tracks that stand out for me though. ‘Deadhead’ and ‘Spirits Will Collide’. ‘Deadhead’ is one of the more melancholy, slower paced tracks that really lets emotions speak through the instruments. The guitar work at the beginning is full of passion, as are Devin’s screams throughout the song.

‘Spirits Will Collide’ is still my favourite song from the “Empath” album, and here it’s performed stunningly – I mean of course it is! This is Devin! Anything less than perfection isn’t within his vocabulary! The thing about this song is it’s full of hope. And its vast expansiveness, musically, always inspires me into somewhat of an existential crisis, but in a good way. What was it that Keanu Reeves said in “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure”? “We’re all just dust in the wind…” Something like that anyway – that’s the sort of higher plane of consciousness I end up on listening to ‘Spirits Will Collide’…

I digress, yet again. I don’t need to explain any more about this album. Just simply another smasher from a living legend. Not at all jealous that we’re not going to Bloodstock so won’t get the chance to see him this summer, honest…and I’m still not in the slightest bit upset that we didn’t get to see him in Manchester in 2019 for my 40th, because we were both ill…honest but, as advised by Dev, I will not let the bullshit get me down!

Buy this album. I promise you won’t regret it.

‘Kingdom’ (Virtually Live 2020 Audio)

01. Velvet Kevorkian
02. All Hail The New Flesh
03. By Your Command
04. Almost Again
05. Juular
06. March Of The Poozers
07. Supercrush!
08. Hyperdrive
09. Stormbending
10. Deadhead
11. Aftermath
12. Love?
13. Spirits Will Collide
14. Kingdom
15. Detox


Devin Townsend Promo Pic

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Beth Jones and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.