TOP 10 MODERN PROG-DJENT ALBUMS OF 2012

2012 was a year filled with massive albums, massive eps and massive controversies as well (yes, im talking about Rings Of Saturn and Attack Attack!). But the overtly saturated djent scene did see some star studded releases which can easily call this year as ‘Year of Modern Prog/Djent Metal’.  The debate that djent is a genre yet or still just a guitar sound over power chord play , is still unresolved but there is no denying that the bands incorporating this sound INNOVATIVELY , do sound amazing.

It took quite a few days, opinions of friends and tons of album spins and digging into the scene deep – Presenting the top 10 Modern Djent albums of 2012.
10.Cloudkicker : Fade

Starting the descending list with one of my most loved ‘one man projects’ is B.M Sharps Cloudkicker. Each release kicks you in the sweet spot with a unique production and theme each time.This album musically is more inclined to mellower landscaping. Certain songs like ‘Seattle’ and ‘From the balcony’ have really groovy ,proggy and contain emotionally stirring sections. Categorizing Cloudkicker is nearly as impossible the music is largely based on what goes on in Sharps mind before he makes it, but one thing is for sure- you DON’T miss out on a Cloudkicker release because it will be in every top 10 list.

9.Elitist : Reshape Reason

Their previous Ep titled ‘Earth’ had the most amazing guitar wizardy at display and the eyes were set on their new record. The expectations were met precise as their record goes into the depth of synth laced ‘core’ .
Reshape Reason could’ve been the ‘death/djent-core’ record of the year if they actually were an instrumental project. The vocals are top notch no doubt, but apparently, after their EP, I really felt they could do better wo vocals.

8.Intervals : In Time

Canadian badass project, which blew up the minds of prog fans with their debut Ep, are back and how. With guest solos by David Micic of Bilo fame and Olly Steele of Monuments, the album boasts of heavy djenty sections and warm clean ambient parts. Especially the track Epiphany has been written in a completely unique way, which makes you pleasantly surprised at this bands abilities. And the best part – it’s a 100% instrumental project!

7.GlassCloud: The Royal Thousand
Joshua Travis makes an entry 2nd time into the list with GlassCloud. Basick record’s most amazing find from the saturated death-core scene, it takes you to through the clean-growl-clean trip with elegance. ‘White Flag’ is how I found them and there is no stopping since then. The band boasts of catchy choruses coupled by sick breakdowns all packed in a very concise album. Joshua does his ‘tones’ a lot more justice in this record as it blends more easily I would say than the Tony Danza record.

6.The HAARP Machine : Disclosure

This band. Musicians go extremes in finding weird instruments and add them in their albums under the pretext of making an ‘experimental release’ and ruin the foreign instruments repute and sound. THM on the other hand, did the simpler deal, they took the usual western scales and played it the Eastern way. The bands trump is Mike Semesky who has heavenly cleans and shuddering growls . His other project Vestascension is equally a treat to the ear. THM has elements of thrash, experimental, eastern music and ofcourse prog and super techy production holds the songs as one.

5.The Korea : Chariots Of The Gods

The Korea’s reciepe includes : take some nice straightforward grooves, mix a pinch of deathcore vocals, add strategically placed super-catchy high pitched cleans and you have a winner. Mass appeal and class appeal combine on this immensely talented album, yet ridiculously underrated. The language comes across as a surprise (Russian) but kicks in like their Vodka.

4.Skyharbor : Blinding White Noise 
hailing from the league of Internet-bred bands, Keshav Dhar picks up on of his best songs written in span of 4 years and makes them even more epic with collaborations from Dan Tompkins (ex Tesseract) , Marty Friedman (ex Megadeth) Vishal J Singh (Amogh Symphony) and Sunnieth ‘sunny’ revankar of Bhayanak Maut (Check these lads out).
Warm landscaping guitars with Dan’s soulful lyrics capture the essence of life n beyond on ‘Illusion’ CD . Sunny lends his angst and powerful growls and screams on ‘Chaos’ CD to complete this epic , two part concept album.

3.Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza: Danza IV
‘Give a black man a guitar and he will make it purr’ .
Tosin Abasi and Joshua Travis do exactly the same. Joshua has gone full throttle on this epic release. Its gorgeous and its heavy. The 8-string madness with his signature motor-sound has made this THE heaviest release of this year in my opinion. If you are going for an interview or a break-up, make sure you plug this in for jumpy grooves, battering brutality and short sweet clean sections.

2.Periphery II: This time it’s personal
Words cannot express how much the periphery lads have progressed in one album. The vocals have gone a level ahead, with inclusion of Mark (Mraky) from Haunted Shores on guitars and Nolly from Red Seas Fire made this band beyond perfect.
With guest solos from Guthrie Govan and John ‘jesus’ petrucci , it was bound to hit the sweet spot. The album boasts of sick groove with electronic interludes that mix perfectly and give you a djenty,heavy yet proggy trip .

AND FINALLY THE ALBUM OF THE YEAR!!!

1. Monuments – Gnosis 

The band which has John Browne , has to be special. After all,most of the rip-off bands ‘FELLSILENT’ when asked where their djenty riffage came from (pun intended). The pioneering modern djent band Monuments , after a painfully long wait after their EP , came out with an album that smashed all charts.
With one listen catchy choruses and yet prog influences, the album is a delight from start to end. Although the inclusion of their new vocalist did gather a bit of mixed reviews, the overall album is on top of many lists.
It was obviously difficult to choose the first position because ‘this time it’s personal’ (yes pun intended) but these guys go up solely because of the edgy production. To be honest, it was really impossible to pick between Monuments and Periphery but HEY! there can be only one winner and i chose them solely because they started as a heavy band, and maintained that root direction, whereas Periphery experimented and kind of let me down with more clean vocals (my opinion).

Notable mentions
1.Meshuggah– Koloss

2.Chimp Spanner – All Roads Lead Here

3.Sithu Aye – Invent The Universe

4.Sectioned – Monotonne

5.Novallo – Novallo EP

Music – Do we really ‘grow out’ of it ?

The Oxford Dictionary defines Evolution as the gradual development of something.Well we can always replace that ‘something’ with matters more relevant to us.In terms of music this term is probably the most ‘thrown around’. Be it the ‘scene’ or entire fraternity, genre irrelevant.The second most thrown around term would be the term ‘Poseur’ which is something more subjected to the heavy-metal genre/sub-genres.Evolution in terms of music is exactly the way Darwin would have put forth if he was in the death-core scene and not the science ‘scene’.

The drum kit that we all see now is an amalgamation of different smaller instruments which were used in the orchestra of the early days.The bass guitar that we enjoy being slammed and plucked was first a huge instrument which needed one person to hold and one person to play.So basically the change or ‘compactness’ that was induced in the music fraternity was to ease the making/playing of music. So is Evolution in the music fraternity solely subjected to making everything easy? 90% of us would disagree saying that the drum kit is now even more complex as well as a limitless instrument in terms of variation. The advent of electronic samples/programmed instruments and recording wizardy makes the making of music easy but subsequently difficult to churn out something worth cherishing.

So does Evolution mean ‘to grow out of something’ ?How many times have you heard someone making a straight face and saying ‘Oh i was into this band/artist ,but then i grew out of it’ .Or the shame that engulfs when you find a old-school track in a new-age playlist and the person defensively says – ‘ baaah! long time back bro! ‘The time when Linkin Park hit Indian shores everyone was engulfed into the Nu-metal rap-rock marriage that the guys brought.Korn which is credited to lot of nu-metal along with Limp Bizkit are also loved by all and equally scorned at for going ‘dub step’.With the modern music desperately trying to go more ‘different’ and going ‘odd-time’, how many times have we gone ballistic on bands which ‘sucked at production’ or ‘are a thing of the past’.knowingly or unknowingly we all have done it. We may not accept it but masking our rants under the word ‘Evolution’ we ruthlessly bash out bands who’s music we once relished and downloaded for free.

Music is definitely evolving. But this evolution is like different people in different parallel universes.Categorizing people (although it is a wrong ritual) , into Musicians, Listeners and Producers – each have their special share in shaping up this evolution in their own universe.While some may shed a tear going back to a band which carry nostalgic memories , some may laugh at their musical choices they nurtured few years ago – all in their own space.

The moral of the whole term is how you use it. Defaming bands/musicians/artists just because they have not gone ‘new’ or staying ‘old school’ is wrong. Calling new-age crusaders as ‘stupid and art destroyers’ is also wrong.But if we actually look at Evolution of Music as a gradual process similar to the Human Life-Cycle it would do nothing but benefit the fraternity.Its like , music is made, music dies, but the ones who made a mark – are always remembered and cherished.

Band Profile : Sectioned (Edinburgh, Scotland)

For ears like mine who would love the mere thought of sludgy rusty guitars and modern day tech-metal song structuring – Sectioned is here. The music is not just a refreshing turn to the constantly saturating, trend following bands that have been coming out lately but also a very good example as to how the right kind of music should have the right kind of production. Sectioned is one of the many bands that have come from Europe (Scotland precisely) which have truly revolutionized the way we look at music making, structuring and groove. UK is one particular country (along with Sweden ofcourse) – that has been churning out band after band with really top-notch music making skills . With Chimp Spanner,Tesseract and many more , Sectioned  is another uniquely sounding and yet pleasurably heavy band that has emerged in the recent years. The have recently released a 3-track EP called ‘Monotone’ which , according to me, is a very ironic name for their sound. The 3 track EP spells madness. The sound is unique in itself but distinctively has influences from Between Buried and Me, Sikth,Isis and a overall spread of Post-Rock feel (God Is An Astronaut , Explosions In The Sky) . The track ‘Dog’s Blood’ is a perfect example of the bands capability (and my personal favorite) to hold to the groove and yet induce heavy madness from start to finish. The tracks ‘Monotone’ and ‘Rot’ are punishingly heavy and have the signature rusty/sludgy guitar tone which works perfectly with the bands sound. Dillinger Escape Plan and Converge’s influences are most heard in these two tracks. The production value is perfect. Most of the bands spend months trying to figure out how to make it ‘awesome’ when the trick according to me lies in the fact that production should be ‘supportive’ of the sound and not overriding it. The bouncy transitions and post-rockish feel is tightly captured by Pedram Valiani who has deliciously produced the album. Talking about the band – formed in since 2009 , the band emerged as a fully touring ,5 piece outfit after the release of their first EP ‘Wake Up,Its Starting’ in September 2011. The band played with some really marinated bands in the scene like Textures,Aliases and Ocean Collective.

In conclusion, the year 2011 to the beginning of 2012 seemed a very eventful one for the metal fraternity and most of the unique music ive heard – is free and unsigned . Same applies to Sectioned and I am sure that record labels should definitely be signing bands like these and not rip-offs and trend-followers.

You can hear their tracks on their bandcamp page – Sectioned

Like their Facebook page –Sectioned

Introducing ‘Safar’

Safar (Journey) as a word – is a mashup of everything between good and bad. Journey of life , which can literally flash before your eyes consisting of bitter-sweet memories , is easily refreshed by this one word.

India’s latest offering is a band named ‘Safar’ which puts you into this very strange situation when you hear their debut single ‘Khoye Hain’. Musically speaking the band is three piece with a session drummer and taps on the feelings which everyone goes through at some point in their life.
Easy-listening , which is most of the time considered or looked at as ‘easy music making’ is entirely a myth.
The song Khoye – Hain is a soft yet trippy number which has an equally challenging solo, vocal variations .
It is really difficult to maintain the mainstream ,easy listening aspect of the track and yet make it extremely foot-tapping and musically strong at the same time.

The (obvious) reign of Pakistani sufi-oriented bands like Jal ,Junoon or even Strings might have a really tough competition when it comes to Safar. High expectations mounting on these guys after the release, the bands style and ease of making music which grows in you is a reciepe for success.
Im hugely influenced by prog-rock and prog-metal and love it when any particular song slowly makes its space in my head after few listens – and these guys have managed to do the same even though the music is not particularly heavy or proggy .

Whats striking is Jimmy Bhore’s vocals . Being the frontman of a successful groove-thrash band Zygnema (India) , his ability to ‘sing’ is really commendable. The song features his effortless approach and what i personally dug is the way he sings as to convey not to rule – there is no unneccesary variations or layering. Plain,simple melody .

The band consists of  Jimmy Bhore (Vocals/Guitar), Asxem D’lean (Bass) and Akash Sawant (Guitars)
They released a really captivating music video with gorgeous visuals and production with Ari Sam (Imaginarium Media) along with Shubham Kasera as the Director of Photography.
The band will be touring soon across the country to spread the music – which is available for free at
www.safarmusic.com

Music Video –

Review : Skyharbor – Blinding White Noise :Illusion and Chaos

Skyharbor is probably like the new textbook which is introduced in the ‘music fraternity’ – so pertaining to the analogy, it also will be at the receiving end of both accolades and rants. Nonetheless , the album which is hyped from such a long time needs to have a lot to sustain (marketwise) and amaze (music wise) , considering the amazing releases we had in the first quarter of 2012.

Since the inception of Keshav Dhar’s (writer,producer ,head honcho of Skyharbor) solo project Hydrodjent , a lot of metalheads in the indian scene were exposed to Djent/experimental/heavily odd-timed music. This happening more on general terms, international acts who were far ahead in their game were quickly absorbed by the indian fans and thus relative comparison resulted in discussions/rants regarding Hydrodjent’s music as well as future.But in the four years which Keshav took as a musician and producer to craft his dream into a fully blossomed project as well as a total band (original was with programmed drums etc), his unperturbed determination becomes now evident after you hear the entire album.

Coming to the album,it is just impossible to do two things as a listener – find Keshav’s influences and categorize the album into a genre/sub-genre . Prog-metal can be the closest it can get.The album is primarily divided into two aspects – ‘Illusion’ and ‘Chaos’ which are like Yin-Yang in the album, but musically. The thunderously layered guitar work in the songs coming under the ‘Chaos’ shelter is like the exact opposite of the soothing distant melo-chugging of the songs spanning the ‘Illusion’ shelter.Since the dawn of musicians making ‘Concept’ albums, bands like Eluveitie(New wave of folk metal) , Vildjharta(Djent/experimental) or even Skyharbor , the musical wow-ness has exponentially   rocketed . But not all nail it the way Skyharbor has done it, the songs flow like seasons of india, turbulent and soothing alternatively. The musical genius shows when Keshav does this ‘weather-change’ effectively in each of the ‘illusion’ and ‘chaos’ tracks.The title track ‘Dots’ has the most peppy intro riffs iv heard in recent times. Sounding unique is one aspect but creating a distinct sound right from the first note is no cakewalk.My personal pick off the entire album is ‘Aphasia’ – the track is a maddening adventure with soothing  clean layers perfectly moulded.  Sunneith Revankar(Sunny) of ‘Bhayank Maut’ (India) features as the growling vocals on the album – by far the best growls from the Indian Subcontinent ,he shook my ground with his clean sections on ‘Aphasia’ . The intensity which is created because of the vocal layering is just too overwhelming. As for the tracks featuring Dan Tompkins (ex- Tesseract,Absent Hearts) , the less said (more heard) the better.First off he has completely chucked ‘Autotune’ on all the tracks which add a raw edge to his highs and bring out a very unique listening experience. Most of the fans are loving this approach and tracks which have ridiculous vocal variations like ‘Catharsis’ and ‘Celestial’ sound mind numbingly smooth yet impossible to replicate. Out of the ‘illusion’ shelter – ‘Catharsis’ and ‘Maeva’ stand out as unique pieces both for their progression and chug-work.

Speaking about the guest-guitars, Marty Friedman (Ex-megadeth) and Vishal J Singh (Amogh Symphony,India) deliver the required punch to their respective tracks.Friedman’s solos quite honestly feel dated but Keshav’s production makes them sound amazing and has placed them at places which truly bring out the best in tracks. Vishal is a well-known virtuoso in india and his contribution plays an importantly role if you view the album from a producers perspective. Anup Sastry , the prodigy of a drummer did a fantastic job as the bands first ‘real’ drummer (since the original drums were programmed) and set the stage on fire at the NH7 Weekender gig Skyharbor played for the first time as a complete band. Moreover the machine-gun double bass patterns or the silent high hat plays, Anup nails every task Keshav set in the programmed drums with ease and finesse.

Speaking of production value – no 0ne in the indian production scene ,and i mean no one, makes guitars sound ‘warm and delicious’ at the same time. Keshav’s prowess as a producer outshines his musical genuius to be honest. The ambient tones of ‘Celestial’ and ‘Aurora’ are work of art.Skyharbor’s album is undoubtedly the most production-wise outstanding album . The only indian band which matches this is Providence and that too because their album is mixed/mastered by Keshav himself.The album art is equally intriguing . With an instragram churned picture of a calm ,serene ocean – the cover art with the name is enough to give you a calming feeling when you see the CD or hear the album, although the calm before the ‘CHAOS’ is also my own interpretation of the album art.Keshav Dhar = Skyharbor is a wrong equation since the ideas need concrete and fitting pillars which are provided by all the supporting artists. The mastermind undoubtedly is Keshav.

The album is captioned by Basick Records (Record Label of Skyharbor) as ‘India’s brightest hope’ and is quite apt to a certain degree. Keshav’s efforts are appreciated worldwide and he deserves every bit of it but to any label reading this review i strongly urge you’ll to step inside and hear the indian bands which infuse a lot of elements catering to variety of emotions and new musical ‘needs’.If you are an indian listening to this album- right from the oceanic artwork to the guitar work – every moment will make you realize how strangely the album relates to our roots in some way or the other whereas for a global listener , its a treat catering to his (almost) every expectation of how a Skyharbor album should sound like.

Prog-metal fan or not, the ambience and warmth from one end and relentless surge of adrenaline from the other converge perfectly and will make you hear this album now and 20 years later with the same zeal – timeless in every sense.

Rating 9/10

Animals As Leaders : Weightless

Animals as leaders (AAL) take instrumentalism to another level. The amount of emotions and genre versatility the band pours into their albums is unmatched.

Their first release which was produced by Misha ‘Bulb’ Mansoor of Periphery was less of a band effort and more of showcasing Tosin Abasi’s (Lead ‘8 string’ guitarist) guitar skills. It also had programmed drums which made the album worth relishing but leaves a bit of a want to hear something with the real thump .

Their second offering called ‘Weightless’ was more of a test than a release. It tested the sound and feel of the band with a REAL drummer. It tested the production value since their prior work lacked heavily on production terms. It also tested on how AAL sounded as a band together and not just Tosin showing off his skills.Amazingly, AAL passed with flying colors.

Right from the first track AAL takes you on a journey which is ‘weightless’ in true sense. You do not have the confines of a genre or theme or even time-signatures (sick swings between tracks). Tosin not only brings out the best in him but also merges successfully with the band and becomes one when it comes to creating ambient drum-riff combos or just tapping when the drummer takes charge.

The album starts with ‘An Infinite Regression’ which is one of the ‘Best First’ tracks I’ve heard since a long time. Tosin doesn’t fill in solos just to please – he fills in emotions which turn out to riffs. The solo in this song makes you realize what Tosin is trying to convey without even the need of words.
‘Somnarium’ is one such gem – classical songwriting layered with modern groove , the song is a roller coaster of crackling riffs one after the other.
‘Isolated Incidents’ which was released as a single and the finest track in the record in terms of grip,guitar work,songwriting and song structuring. The guitar virtuoso baffles you with a single riff which loops itself after almost 20 seconds in the song.
‘Do No Go Gently’ has a trippy feel to its whole structuring and showcases probably the best rudiments by the drummer in the whole track.
The tracks transition as if there is a storyline told musically. Ex – the track ‘To Lead you to an overwhelming question’ is a mad track with sick time signatures and suits the title and then sinks into a dark ,broody and ambient ‘Weightless’ in a way that is unreal even to seasoned ears.
The culminating moments of the track ‘Weightless’ has one of the best riffs/solos iv heard in recent times – it twists you from the inside and spills out Tosin’s magic and your admiration at the same time.

All said and done, AAL is not a band for listeners who wish to tap their feet 20 seconds in the song ,neither it is for people who are looking for growls which take you beyond brutality  .It takes its time and beautifully lets you grow into it ,never to come out.The band is a boon for people looking forward to hear something musically baffling and at the same time de-stressing the minds which get torn and tattered in todays fast paced world.Put this in your iPod/phone/music player and go on a  long journey – you will have two journeys in one – one of your own and a musical one by AAL

Rating – 9/10

Alcest Review Response!

A late night email like this made me fall off my chair.

” thanks for your contribution to the Alcest review . we want to honour your efforts, we’d like to send you a “Les Voyages De L’Âme” poster and a buch of Alcest postcards for free. If you would like to receive this as a “thank you” from Alcest and Prophecy, please give us your postal address. ”

Alcest is nothing short of brilliance but it reached out on a completely different level by this gesture.🙂

The review link on the blog – https://metalmyreligion.wordpress.com/2012/01/27/alcest-les-voyages-de-lame-2012/

Providence : Vanguard EP (2011)

A successful relationship  between great production and great musicianship is very rare.Even most of the top-league bands mess it up with being too bassy on the albums or transitions being weak.
It is not an unknown fact that an album with a strong production value gets more appeal even if there are greater rival albums but with tacky production background.
Providence is a beaming example of how a  bunch of talented musicians grab an equally competent producer/mixing engineer and churn out a winner.
The reason im stressing on the production value is because the amount of Indian Metal/Rock i have been subjected too lately lacks badly in terms of production value. Bands do have to face financial hurdles when they are in their early stages and access to good studios in developing countries can be a problem,but it is certainly no excuse to let your musical talent be scorned at just because it is not good on the ear.
The situation is definately changing with more and more indian bands reaching out to better studios (even international) and Providence achieves their crisp sound from Skyharbor’s acclaimed musician and india’s first Djentleman – Keshav Dhar who has mixed/produced their EP alongwith Providence themselves.

For people new to Providence they are an Indian Supergroup – with each member being an already established musician in their other bands. The members carry with them immensely diverse influences which shows pretty nicely on this EP.
With members hailing from popular  indian bands like Sceptre ,Chronic Phobia,Bhayanak Maut and Bloodshed , the band takes a groovy yet heavy approach to their song writing which is their biggest strength.
The beauty of Vanguard is that if you let your ear focus on individual musicians , you can easily pinpoint their influences and also realize how strongly the member has embedded the style in the collaborative effort.
On the contrary, if you hear the tracks from a birds-eye point of view in music, you realize that along with individual influences , as a band these guys sounds completely unique .
For instance , the drummer(Aaron Pinto) incorporates his blast-beats and thrashy rudiments seemlessly into tracks and yet have them sounding completely unique from a listeners point of view.
Most of the ‘Core’ bands (Metalcore,Deathcore etc)  focus on vocals as a separate entity ,mostly showcasing and at moments, showing them off.
Very few bands like Providence treat and blend vocals as part of the groove and integrate them tightly into every deserving part of the track/album which is a notable and striking aspect of Vanguard.
Sunny Revankar (Vocals) does immense justice to every track with his punishing presence and yet groovy undertones.

The Ep opens with an explosive and ‘In-your-face’ track titled “Talk Shit Get Hit’ which is a menacing and probably the most apt ‘Opening Track’. With punch-like choruses and overall thrashy approach , the song proceeds to equally heavy climax. The guitar solo is a brutal shred-fest and stands out yet blends in nicely with the whole track.
“Watch Them Fall” relies more on the groovy element of the bands forte. The song has Sunny’s long brutal screams which end on a thunderous drum rudiment.The song is probably the most sinister of the lot.
Even though the band focuses on groovy brutality my pick from the album is “Glass Eye Dawn”. An interlude like track which fits snugly between the hard-hitting numbers and features some gorgeous ambient guitar tones.The track which features the clean and distorted guitar parts by Shezan and also tonal inputs from the man himself – Keshav Dhar,is by far one of the best ambient tracks i have laid my ‘ears’ on.The track closes with Charan’s delicious solo,thus connecting it even to listeners who want a combo of heavy and ambient.
“Source Code” which was released as a single for the EP promotion is the brutal best of the whole lot. The track has breakdowns and moments at literally every few seconds.It ends on its highest point which even makes it a track you would hit the repeat button for.
The closing track “Prosthetic” is where you can hear the musical prowess of the band. The opening seconds of the this track have one of the most unique sounding song structuring i’ve heard from Indian bands. Prominent bass tap and drums to support make the early onset of the song ridiculously catchy. The track also features the other band members adding bursts of ‘vocal’ moments to Sunny’s already piercing presence.
A special mention of the Bassist (Shrikant Rao) who plucks and taps at the most creative spots in all the tracks. For example, at spots where the riffs end, you hear his off-time tap and pluck which is orgasmic for listeners like me who are on a look-out to hear something unique.

Providence is promising and with this EP they have raised the bar to a height which they need to keep up with every subsequent release.
The band is a refreshing change in the clogged Indian metal scene which has bands exploiting subgenres which are reigning as for now or simply similar sounding.
Be it the smashing Album CoverArt ( A huge robot from the Gundam series) , or the constant gigs , Providence surely knows how to make good music and present it equally well.
In conclusion, i would go far by saying this but this release is by far the best Indian album my ears have heard in terms of production value.
Hope the band comes up with a equally (or even more) groovy and brutal full-length release soon because i am sure that Indian metalheads – including me – have a new favourite band.

Rating : – 8/10

Chimp Spanner : All Roads Lead Here EP (2012)

Chimp Spanner never lets you down – be it the musically diverse and rebellious ‘At The Dream’s Edge ‘ or the latest offering ‘All Roads Lead Here’. As a listener, i always wanted and imagined music breaking the barriers of genre – how bands would one day come up with music that is just impossible to classify into a particular genre. Something that music lovers could just absorb , and find something new to savor with every listen,relate to their own taste.

With bands like Animals As Leaders and Chimp Spanner making music which isn’t just musically advanced and brilliant , but also spans an array of sounds and musical elements.Paul Ortiz a.k.a Chimp Spanner does exactly this with the latest release.While recent bands who are cashing on the ‘Djent’ scene go haywire with the ‘low tuned’ guitar sound – Chimp Spanner sticks to standard tuning , incorporates ‘Djent’ and yet does full justice to other elements which are used in the songs , all at ease.In terms of production value – its priceless.

The album starts off with ‘Dark Age Of Technology’ which travels to your ear from a distance (Literally!) and comprises of Paul’s guitar wizardy backed by some amazing bass grooves. To be honest the first track sounded like an Animals As Leaders track and got me thinking of how the rest of the EP would sound like .But to my surprise , it proved to be amazing.’Engrams’ is an relaxing interlude that follows and builds up for the ‘Mobius series( Parts I, II and III).Mobius – which mathematically means a 3D rectangular strip which starts from one point and ends at the same point.

Why the need for the above statement? The sheer brilliance of the 3 track series lies in the fact that Paul creates a musical ‘Mobius’. The series is aptly ( and intelligently) titled ‘Mobius’ – where Mobius Pt I builds up the tempo with a constant and looped shred-fest. Mobius Pt II is where the same sound builds up into a beast and has some really insane time-signature swings.The track culminates into a mellow ambient sound and the Mobius Pt III combines best of both. Notable is how Paul manages to keep the riffs looped in the same tempo and yet travels through each track ,varying the ambience and heaviness effortlessly.I would go far by saying this but musically it does rival Tesseract’s ‘Concealing Fate’ series.Paul leaves the best for the last – the closing track ‘Cloud City’ is by far the most ‘musically delicious’ track my ears have bit on. The tones ,the riffs the song structure is worth million praises. It is a cocktail of jazzy atmospherics and Paul’s unique style.
Though it is an EP , ‘All Roads Lead Here’ does have the presence of a full length record. It encompasses such variety in so little time which is also something not every artist/band can do.

For the fans of Chimp Spanner – this is an album which takes you into a completely different mystical and orgasmic world and does not sound anything like Chimp’s prior works.
For the new ‘Chimps’ – finding bands from a similar genre and then listening to each is mostly the strategy all of us follow ,but if you wish to hear something that is practically ‘beyond genre’ and fits every mood of yours into one tight album effortlessly, then – ‘All Roads Lead Here’.

Rating – 8.5/10

Interview : Anup Sastry (Drummer – Intervals , Skyharbor)

Anup Sastry – Drum Wiz-kid, Protege , ‘Next-Big-Thing’ – has many aliases but stands out as a ‘Young- Adult’ making waves in the music industry.
Anup started his drum pounding pretty early and secured his own unique playing style which shows clearly in the two bands he plays for – Intervals and Skyharbor( With Keshav Dhar).
He flew down to India to perform with Skyharbor on their NH7 gig in Pune (India).On the tour he grabbed many eyeballs and showed effortless mature playing.
The Debut EP of his band Intervals earned many accolades and Skyharbor signed with Basick Records in the last year – making him a sought after drummer.
In between his hectic schedule i managed to grab few minutes for an interview.

Hey Anup! glad to have you on board, so whilst you are beating the hell outta your kit – tell us how did you and Drums meet ?

Hey! Thanks a lot for having me on board! I was 11 when I first started playing drums! I actually played the clarinet in my middle school band… My best friend at the time played drums. I remember him playing a really simple groove on a kick and snare one day in class. I turned around to look at what he was doing (because it was pretty groovy), and it completely blew my mind, hahaha!!! I immediately asked my band director to switch me from clarinet to drums… and so it began! haha!
A peek into your studio – what gear do you use Anup ?
As far as drumming gear, my kit is a Shine Custom. Its a satin lacquer baldwin black dull rub finish with powder coated off set tube lugs. I use a Pearl Masters Studio Birch snare, which I absolutely love. I use a 19″ Paiste 2002 Wild Crash, 19″ Paiste Signature Series Power Crash, an 18″ Paiste Rude China, 14″ Signature Series Sound Edgde Hats, and my stack usually changes frequently… And I also use Pearl Demon Drive pedals.
As far as recording gear, I use the Anima pre amps by Prodigy Engineering. I actually recently became a proud endorsee of Prodigy Engineering! I use Aurora Lynx converters. My interface is a DigiDesign 003 Rack +. My microphone collection is pretty basic. I have a few SM 57’s, some 98 D/S’, a Beta 52, and AKG 414 silver face, a pair of SM 81’s, and a pair of MXL 604’s. I also have an Axe Fx Ultra!

We have seen the obvious tilt towards Djent -what other genres do you love playing?

I am a huge fan of hip hop (9th Wonder, Gang Starr, Little Brother, etc.). I am also an even bigger fan of post rock (This Will Destroy You, Explosions In The Sky, Mercury Program)! I don’t think that I actually listen to as much metal as you would assume based on my videos…

Skyharbor – how did this wonder happen?

I had heard of Skyharbor a while before I had actually started talking to Keshav. I remember hearing his tunes for the first time and just being blown away. I believe we started talking about the possibility of me playing for Skyharbor if any opportunities were to present itself. Its pretty awesome that it happened. I started doing videos for Skyharbor tunes! My first video was for Aphasia, which to this day is one of the hardest songs I have ever had to learn. This was also why I wanted to knock it out first… hahaha! I guess the videos were my audition videos in a way. It was to show that I can and do want to play the material!


Your other band ‘Intervals’ gathered lot of critical acclaim – how would you describe the ‘sound and feel’ of the band to our readers who are yet to experience its awesomeness?

Well it is a good change of pace for sure. There is some pretty insane guitar work in the Intervals music. Aaron Marshall is a mad man… haha! There are a lot of tight grooves, and the drums and guitar really go hand in hand in my opinion with a lot of the riffs. Its almost as if I’m playing the guitar parts on the drums. The Intervals music is VERY fun to play and it has a lot of energy!!! Our EP if available for free, so I hope people do take advantage of that to experience the material themselves!

A little beyond music – tell us about the Anup we dont know ( don’t worry we will just print it ! :D)

Well, I’d like to think that Im a pretty nice guy and easy to get along with! Im pretty open minded too. I love dogs. I have a Shiloh German Shepard. He is huge (120 pounds) and all black, and extremely intimidating at first glance! haha! But then he turns into a big goof once he gets to know people! I like to go to the gym pretty frequently. I love coffee… I have already consumed two cups while typing up my responses to this interview!!! My parents are both from Bangalore. I was born in Maryland (U.S.) and have lived in Maryland my entire life. I record and produce bands whenever I can.

Young drummers worship you – who does Anup worship as a drummer? your role-models?

I am a huge fan of Tony Royster Jr., Eric Moore, Travis Orbin, Matt Halpern, and Chris Coleman! All of these guys are absolutely insane at what they do!

What was your biggest hurdle while you were in your learning stages as a drummer? any particular pattern,notes etc?

To be honest, I’m still in my learning stages as a drummer. And I hope I will continue to be in my learning stages until I physically can’t play drums anymore. I guess my biggest hurdle was phrasing. Once I kind of understood how to phrase fills and patterns in a musical way, that really allowed me to be able to flow. I would say another hurdle was independence. Its still a huge hurdle for me today. But I do feel like I am improving. Patterns, fills, and grooves weren’t really ever a hurdle because those are things you can learn fairly quickly (relatively) if you put forth the effort and dedicate the time. Larger concepts such as phrasing and independence are things you can always continue to improve on.

You performed recently in Pune at the NH7 Weekender , how was the experience like? Any indian bands which amazed you?

The NH7 was AWESOME! I met so many amazing people and musicians. It was an insane experience. I do feel fortunate for being able to play at the NH7 with Skyharbor. All of the bands that played were amazing. I really enjoyed Goddess Gagged and Scribe!

If you were not a drummer what would you have been?

I’ve always wanted to be able to play guitar and/or piano. So I think I would have eventually done either or… haha!

Any advice/message to the budding drummers/musicians ?

Be diverse in what you listen to and what you practice, regardless of craft. Its important to be open minded (not only with music) because I really do believe that it will help to create and shape your own unique style.Anup Sastry on facebook – http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1101039750
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