Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Dante

Hello and welcome fellow progheads!  The return trip from Oslo was quite an excursion, allowing for a surplus of listening time and the opportunity to fine tune the GPS...which means this week's search for all things prog finds me in yet another time zone I have not frequented nearly enough; Germany. The prog garden is scattered with some outstanding bands hailing from Deutschland; I need to check the latitude and longitude and make this journey a more regular occurrence.  In the meantime let's simply enjoy the prog sounds of Dante...

 


Dante profess to be a progressive metal band in the style of Dream Theater and Porcupine Tree...company that is worthy of note and particularly impressive if not somewhat juxtaposed...
So to satisfy my curiosity and quench a thirst for something atypical, I amble to the prog buffet to search out something to make this trip worthwhile...

First sound to fill the headphones is a tune called "The Taking" from their 2008 debut "The Inner Circle."  They say you never forget your first, and understandably so.  Dante lays down a tune here that rubs smooth across the ears, flowing with soft piano and violin...but under the surface you feel the sting of a wool sweater in June.  Once the melodic vocals start, you just know the headphones are about to detonate...wait for it...ahhh yes.  There is a majestic ornateness to the song, as though the grandest estate in the Hamptons suddenly burst into flames and everyone gathered to make s'mores. For first growth in the prog garden, this piece is well produced and reflects a bit of Pendragon perhaps...

Continuing to peruse the Dante section of the prog garden, I found a dark crystal among the underbrush, "All My Life."  This song is from their 2010 release "Saturnine."  The atmosphere is dark; the tension mounts as soon as laser touches disc.  You feel an energy that will either strangle you or guide you through the hazards, so best to not let your guard down.  This piece evokes an essence of Seconds Before Landing  and top notes of the many moods of Peter Hamer.  Dante crashes all around as if lifted from a Quentin Tarantino film and catapulted into traffic...

Liner Notes...Dante hails from Augsburg/Munchen Germany and is comprised presently of Alexander Gohs on vocals, Julian Kellner on guitars, Markus Maichel on piano and keyboards, and Christian Eichlinger on vocals and drums.

While Dante is firmly planted in the metal section of the prog garden, they bring a full basket to harvest.  Markus' piano can envelope you like a warm blanket fresh from the dryer while Julian rides up and down the mood elevator with his guitar work, hammering you from the inside out on one track and gently caressing you on the next.  Alexander's vocals can be cheerful or haunting, dancing across the top of the song or breaking through the window to bounce around your skull a bit...


Dante has been active and busy, coming into being in 2006 and releasing the first of their four albums in 2008.  In addition to those I mentioned previously, Dante's resume also includes "November Red" released in 2013 and "When We Were Beautiful" from 2016.  The band is also releasing a live DVD/double CD "Where Life Was Beautiful/Live in Katowice" later this month.  Dante recorded this during a May 2016 show in Katowice, Poland.  You can follow the band on their website http://www.danteband.de/, Facebook page Dante FB, and Twitter @danteprog.  You can purchase any or all of their albums and pre-order the DVD/double CD at the website and Facebook page...and without going into my usual rant I simply ask that you please do.

My final selection for review this week is a cut from the WWWB album, "Beautiful Again." Christian grabs your attention immediately with a strong drum intro and is quickly joined by the rest of the band as this song pours forth like hot lava burning through a forest.  Dante brings the prog metal front and center on this cut with the drums sitting like a rock solid foundation holding the guitars and keyboards afloat as they pound their way down your auditory canals, grab your spine, and flow through your entire body.  The maturity of the band is evident as the sound is much crisper; the guitars sting a bit more and the keyboards poke you right in the ribs.  Dante paints dark, strikes fast, and hits hard...but they are willing to offer you a hand back up once they've bowled you over...

The cut posted below is the title cut from "November Red."  The opening bass line is almost reminiscent of Roxy Music but quickly makes an about face and runs headlong into Dream Theater territory.  Dante is incredibly adept at walking a fine line between the prog "ballad" and a full on metal diatribe.  Vocals bring you back up for air after you've been water boarded by enormous hits of alternating guitar and drum...the canvas isn't black so much as bruised, and over time the purple breaks up into bizarre shades of green and yellow...never offering the same look twice...  

                        

And once again fellow progheads, seven days worth of sand has trickled through the hourglass as we bring another week to a close.  Dante has a sound that unifies the heavier metal section of the garden with the smoother, toned down sections that are home to Psicolorama and Atlas Volt.  One more piece of evidence that highlights the beauty and diversity of all that encompasses the prog garden...guitars and drums can reign down like mortar fire until a gentle piano interlude breaks the surface and settles in like rose petals floating on a pond.  The canvas is filled with as many hues as you can imagine, one bleeding into the next while a plethora of sound as grandiose as Keith Emerson's stage set up and intricate as a Phil Manzanera guitar riff waft over you.

So too, the search for all things prog goes off on many a tangent.  Following a path whose only boundaries are the outer limits of the prog garden, the journey continues...until next week...

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Fatal Fusion

Welcome once again to the confines of the Closet Concert Arena fellow progheads!  Last week's sojourn to the UK was a great intro to spring; as we move deeper into the equinox, I believe it is time for a road trip...a long road trip.  So let's load up the Concert Closet, set the GPS, and settle in as the search for all things prog heads to Norway and some quality time with Fatal Fusion...



The name seems quite apropos; Fatal Fusion is an amalgamation of sorts...musicians from short-lived bands coming together and redefining themselves with each new step through the prog garden. Crediting influences that range from King Crimson to Deep Purple and Marillion to Camel, Fatal Fusion has spent time wandering many a section of the prog garden, gathering the makings of what should be quite the mulligan stew...

Fatal Fusion has three albums on their resume and to get the buffet started, I dig right into a healthy serving of "The Ancient Tale," the title cut from their 2013 release.  The song opens gently; there are aromatics of The Strawbs emitting from the headphones.  An elaborate semi-symphonic interlude breaks out as the tempo picks up, but this is an emotion filled roller coaster ride.  Fatal Fusion pours sound over you like Hollandaise ladled over a perfectly poached egg...you taste it with all your senses and you want more.  The keyboards lead the narration as the music ebbs and flows through the telling of a Norse myth; you feel yourself being swept away by the surprising pull of the tide...

Wandering across the buffet to Fatal Fusion's debut album, I dig right into another title cut. ; "Land of the Sun."  This song has more of a jazz fusion feel...a bit "Weather Report meets Spyro Gyra" as the tempo climbs the ladder.  The guitars hit like a series of velvet hammers...reverberations echoing inside your cranium...the gentleness giving way to percussion that starts to elevate, then almost as suddenly relaxes into a nightclub smooth sound that coats rather than whacks...



                                             
                                                                                           
Liner Notes...Hailing from Oslo, Norway, Fatal Fusion is Knut Erik Grontvedt on vocals, Erlend Engebretsen on keyboards, Stig Selnes on guitars, Lasse Lie on bass, and Audun Engebretsen on drums.  Fatal Fusion has walked much acreage in the prog garden, laying roots in scattered sections as they trod.  The players crossed paths playing in several bands along the journey starting in 1986. Fast forward to 2008 and from the ashes of persistence has risen Fatal Fusion.  The band released its debut "Land of the Sun" in 2010, following up with their sophomore release "The Ancient Tale" in 2013.  "Total Absence," the third charm on Fatal Fusion's album bracelet, made its debut in 2016.

Fatal Fusion paints with dark colors--but they seem to enjoy folding in red, yellow, and green highlights to brighten the scenery.  The music almost comes alive as you lie still under headphones waiting for the fateful crash and/or animated explosion...it really doesn't matter which; you are emotionally packed for the journey whichever road it takes...

Being logical-minded and a fan of consistency, my final serving from this smorgasbord is Fatal Fusion's latest title cut, "Total Absence."  If albums number one and two were but the labor and effort expelled to stake claim to membership in the prog garden; the blood, sweat, and tears were not in vain. There is a "Camel/Radiohead" melange to the aromatics wafting through the air. Fatal Fusion washes over like foamy waves after an ocean storm...the beach is littered with driftwood and shells as you step gingerly...

Learn more about Fatal Fusion and buy the music at Fatal Fusion.  Of course there is a Facebook page Fatal Fusion FB and even a MySpace page Fatal Fusion MS.  The band can also be found on Twitter @FFprog.  Fatal Fusion may be a latter day addition to the prog garden but their DNA runs rich with the classic sounds of the standard bearers.

The clip below is another from "Total Absence" called "The Emperor's Letter."  An ornate, intricate opening leads the listener through a whirlwind ride fueled by high octane keyboards.  Fatal Fusion has painted a piece rich with elegance and proudly hung it on the wall for all to see and interpret.  Let your imagination walk the trail alone, gathering thoughts and ideas as your mind is filled with wonder...


So fellow progheads, we come to the end of another week.  One more collection of seven days compartmentalized and taken from the calendar.  As spring continues her attempt at rising from a long slumber, the Closet Concert Arena continues sprucing up the prog garden.  New growth and additions to existing acreage are but some of what to expect.  Fatal Fusion has a strong sound that continues to progress and mature across their body of growing work; artists who are strong students of the genre.  When album number four makes it debut, The Concert Closet will be there.  In the mean time, the search for all things prog continues...until next time...