A Formal Horse – Made In Chelsea (Apocalypse in 15​/​8)

When an apocalypse in 9/8 isn’t nearly enough.  A track from the new album by A Formal Horse released in March, and now available for pre-order in both digital and physical formats.

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Last Call for Class B Tanks?

Revolution Trains 35t Tanker

Last year RevolutioN Trains announced the Class B tanker as a new crowdfunded model. With the prototype spanning the steam/diesel transition era and the blue diesel era, which ran both in block trans and in twos or threes in mixed freights, it ought to have had broad appeal. Unfortunately pre-orders so far have been disappointing,

Ben Ando posted this on RMWEB a few days ago:

We are still a few hundred short of the minimum number we need to reach to be confident about starting tooling.

By contrast, the HOA hoppers are already well beyond the minimum and CADs are now being drawn, with tooling work to follow soon afterward.

We still can’t understand why these wagons are struggling. They fill a useful gap, can be used in block trains or in twos and threes, and are the same prototype as the iconic Airfix kit many of us remember from yesteryear. What’s not to like?

They will continue to take pre-orders until February, and if the model is still well short at that point it won’t be going ahead. So if you still want one, or a full train of them, get your pre-order in now.

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Tilt and Voodoo Vegas added to Winter’s End

Winters End Full

TILT and twin-guitar hard-rockers Voodoo Vegas join Touchstone and Chantel McGregor alongside headliners The Answer, Toseland and Inglorious on the bill at Winter’s End in Poole on 24-26th February.

The emphasis is on hard rock with a bit of blues and metal, and it’s looking like an interesting bill.

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Iamthemorning play Ramblin Man and Summer’s End

Ramblin Man Fair posterRussian chamber-prog duo Iamthemorning have been added to the Prog Stage on Sunday 30th July at The Rambiin’ Man Fair. And though not yet confirmed on the website, Summer’s End have posted on Twitter that they’ll also be the Friday night headliners on October 6th

Disappointingly for many prog fans, especially those who bought full weekend tickers before the bill was announced, the Prog Stage at RMF is just on the Sunday this year, with a hard rock stage taking its place on the Saturday. Fortunately single day tickets are available.

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Emerald Mind – Astronaut In Her Space

As the press release says:

Emerald Mind plays a unique mixture of power and progressive metal with one of the most professional female vocalists on the Russian metal scene Svetlana Vysotskaya.

The band released a new video for the song “Astronaut In Her Space” from their second album “Civilization”. This song draws parallels between the depths of the universe and a human mind. One person explores the other one like a spaceship, drifting among the space. Anyway even if you are far from philosophy you can just enjoy powerful riffs, catchy melodies and exceptional vocal of beautiful Svetlana!

Give it a listen, and see what you think. Catsuits seem to be back in fashion again. I blame Space Elevator.

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Erja Lyytinen announces new album “Stolen Hearts”

Erja Lyytinen Stolen Hearts

Guitarist and singer-songwriter Erja Lyytinen releases her new studio album “Stolen Hearts” on 7th April 2017, and occompanies the release with a five-date UK tour.

In the meantime, she’s released a music video for “24 Angels”, taken from the album,

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Cairo announce London gig with special guests Kyrbgrinder

Cairo Promo Photo 2017

Cairo will be playing Boston Music Rooms on 31st March with the prog-metal power trio Kyrbgrinder as support, billed as “Scarab Spring”. The band also confirm that Lisa Driscoll, who stepped in at very short notice for the November launch shows is now a permanent member of the band.

We are pleased to be playing this London show in advance of the Nineteen-73 Promotions Stephen Lambe Birthday Special at Bilston on 2nd April.

We are even more pleased that the mighty Kyrbgrinder, who are enjoying something of a renaissance, will be launching proceedings with their powerful sound and massive drumming from one of the best in the business – the inimitable Johanne James, also, of course, of Threshold fame. With Lisa Driscoll now a permanent fixture in Cairo – this will very much be a ‘Beauty and the Beast’ show, although whether that reflects band playing order will be for others to decide…!”.

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Angela Nagle on the self-flagellating left

Good post from Angela Nagle on the self-flagellating left. As well as mentioning some very obvious usual suspects such as Laurie Penny and the reliably ridiculous Arthur Chu, she quotes this much-ridiculed Tweet from Michael Moore

“No women ever invented an atomic bomb, built a smoke stack, initiated a Holocaust, melted the polar ice caps or organized a school shooting.’ (This is false. The Manhattan Project had its unsung female heroes, there are plenty of female oil and gas executives, and female school shooter Brenda Ann Spencer inspired the 1979 Boomtown Rats hit “I Don’t Like Mondays.” Ironically, Moore erases women’s history by neglecting its greatest villains.)

Though in fairness Michael Moore has said many far more sensible things since that.

Nagle makes comparisons with 70s Marxist and Maoist cults with their “self-correction sessions”, but this sort of lefitst reminds me strongly of something else: 1980s Evangelical Christians. There was the same sort of competitive holiness involved; you gained status depending on how much of your record collection you publically destroyed because it was “Satanic”. You gained even more points if you purified your friend’s record collection without their permission.

It’s a completely different ideology. But it’s a very similar mindset.

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Saga call it a day

Sad news for fans of Canadian pomp-rockers Saga; the band have decided to call it a day after 40 years. Their current 2017 tour will be their last, and their appearance on 2018′s “Cruise to the Edge” will be their final show. They put this announcement (sorry, no accessible version) on their web page.

Saga Farewell

I’ve only seen Saga live the once, at an early 80s Reading Festival very early in their career, and their swirling keyboard-heavy science-fiction music made a pretty strong impression. It’s always sad when a band reaches the end of the road, but 40 years is a good innings by anyone’s standards. And it can’t have been an easy decision to make.

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Firewind – Immortals

Firewind - ImmortalsPower-metal can be a funny old sub-genre. With so many of the common tropes teetering on the edge of self-parody, some bands can easily end up on the wrong side of portentousness; Sonata Arctica, I’m looking at you. Others, most notably Scotland’s excellent Gloryhammer, avoid that fate by taking a deliberately tongue-in-cheek approach.

With their eighth album “Immortals”, their first for five years and first to feature mew frontman Henning Basse, Greece’s Firewind are neither of those things; their approach is simply to be extremely good at everything they do. Featuring song titles like “Ode To Leonidas”, Firewind sing about ancient Greece in the same way their Scandinavian comrades-in-arms sing about Vikings. They fight the beast for Zeus rather than for Odin.

All the expected features of power-metal are here; there are razor-sharp riffs, big singalong choruses, spectacular shredding solos based on classical scales, gallopingly fast tempos and the occasional epic cinematic intro complete with occasional scenery-chewing spoken word parts. All of which would mean little if the band didn’t have the songwriting chops to back them up, but Firewind have that in spades.

There is absolutely no filler on this record; There are face-melters like “We Defy” with its incredible spiralling guitar line, “Back on the Throne”, and the pyrotechnic instrumental title track. “Ode to Leonidas” and “Live And Die By The Sword” with its extended classical guitar intro aspire towards the epic. And “Lady of a Thousand Sorrows” is the obligatory power-ballad.

Henning Basse acquits himself well on lead vocals, with a classic old-school hard rock voice, but this album really belongs to mainman Gus G, his incendiary guitar playing lighting up every track. While there is a degree of showboating in his gravity-defying runs, this being a power-metal album after all, the pyrotechnics are never allowed to overwhelm the songs.

If you’re into power-metal, this album is strongly recommended.

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