Music Blog

All the music-related posts gathered together in one place.

Eschaton – Sentinel Apocalypse

Eschaton - Sentinel ApocalypseEschaton have been described as progressive metal. Progressive metal when done well combines the scope and ambition of progressive rock with the power and energy of metal. Unfortunately Eschaton fail to achieve this with their début album “Sentinel Apocalypse”. It’s very easy to imagine this is what all metal must sound like for people who really can’t abide metal.

Pretentious song titles like “Achromatic Reign” suggest that they don’t know what “Achromatic” means, while “The Beast Is Embedded” and “The Beast Has Awoken” suggest follow-ups “The Beast Has Nodded Off Again” and “The Beast Has Got Up To Go To The Loo”. It appears to be a science-fiction concept album of sorts, though what the concept might be is anybody’s guess, since it’s next to impossible to make out a single word of the tunelessly screeched lyrics. Maybe it’s about Roko’s Basilisk? There are vocalists who can do the cookie-monster thing exceptionally well. But Eschaton’s singist is no Mikael Åkerfeldt; after a couple of songs it starts to get quite painful to listen to.

This is a band who really need to hone their craft before they try to make another record. Every song sounds exactly the same, giving them an utterly one-dimensional sound. And it’s not even a good sound. The drummer batters away at his kit without ever developing any sense of groove, the guitar solos are formless flurries of notes without melody or structure, and there is absolutely no use of dynamics. As a sheer wall of noise it lacks the visceral fury of the likes of Napalm Death. There is evidence of some technical instrumental ability here and there, but they’re failing to do anything worthwhile with those chops.

In the hands of a band who know what they’re doing, metal can produce wonderful life-changing music. But as Sturgeon’s Law famously states, 90% of everything is crud, and this record sadly falls far below the Sturgeon threshold.

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Cambridge Rock Festival takes a gap year

Chantel McGregor at the 2014 Festival

Announced today by The Cambridge Rock Festival.

To all CRF’s volunteers, crew and dedicated festival goers.

As I announced at CRF14 in my closing address CRF would be different in 2015 due to a major family wedding. My aim was to create a simpler event, possibly across earlier dates maybe even a different venue to allow us to run the festival without creating too much stress for the family by avoiding noise control issues we have been rather unreasonably hit with in earlier years.

My last few months have been spent working on plans for 2015 and negotiating with several possible venues. Sadly the outcome has not been as desired, so I have to announce that we will now be taking a gap year!

CRF will be running a variety of fundraiser events and small festivals throughout 2015/16 which I would ask you to support if you can, so that CRF16 can be set on firm foundations. A crowd funding project may also be forthcoming shortly to aid the fundraising project.

The committee met on Tuesday night and after much discussion we decided the next festival will be August 2016. I will publish dates and prices for 2016 tickets very shortly.

Please accept my apologies for not announcing this sooner but I had high hopes of bringing the CRF to you in 2015 right up to Tuesday afternoon this week but alas it was not to be. The CRF team would not wish to serve up anything less than a top notch event so we have decided to take a break and use the time to raise much needed funds.

Thank you all for your support, without your participation we would not be even considering running a festival again next year. I hope too see you at Springfest 15 in Haddenham or one of our other fundraisers and of course CRF16.

This will be disappointing to some, but isn’t totally unexpected, and is probably for the best. Even the biggest of all festivals, Glastonbury, has the occasionally gap year, and CRF should be back, better and stronger, in 2016.

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Touchstone Announce Farewell Shows

Kim Seviour at HRH Prog

After their roof-lifting performance at HRH Prog in March, Touchstone have announced the dates of their two farewell gigs with Kim Seviour, who is stepping down for health reasons.

They will be a Boston Music Rooms in London on November 20th, and the following night at The Assembly in Leamington Spa on the 20th. Full details will be announced on the Touchstone website.

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Ayreon’s Human Equation on Stage

Ayreon Human EquationAyreon’s prog opera “The Human Equation” is to be performed on stage, with a cast including Heather Findlay, James LaBrie and Anneke van Giersbergen, all of whom appeared on the original concept album.

The concerts take place at the Nieuwe Luxor, Rotterdam, on September 18, 19 and 20 this year.

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The 2015 UK Marillion Convention

Steve Hogarth at the 2015 Marillion Convention

This isn’t really a review as such. Because by the end of each of the three nights there’s not much more you can say beyond “Wibble”. A total of seven hours of some of the most emotially moving and life-affirming music in rock, including the albums “Anoraknophobia” and “Marbles” played in full, and a remarkable greatest hits set on the last night.
Continue reading

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Cloud Atlas to play York in November

Heifi Widdop of  Cloud Atlas at Fibbers, York

Cloud Atlas will be playing a home town headlining gig at The Post Office Social Club in York on Saturday 14th November. The support act will be Chris Helme of Seahorses fame.

This is the day after Mostly Autumn’s showcase gig at The Grand Opera house, which is all the more reason for travelling fans to make a weekend of it.

If you can’t wait until then to see them, they’re also playing an acoustic show supporting the always excellent Jump at the Wesley Centre in Maltby on 25th April, and headline shows in Norwich and Bilston Robin 2 in July and August. Full details of these on the Cloud Atlas gigs page.

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Farewell, The Top Rank

The former Top Rank Suite in Reading.  Venue for my first ever gig, Hawkwind in 1980.

The sad sight of the long-closed Top Rank Suite in Reading being demolished.

It was the venue for my very first gig, Hawkwind on their Levitation tour, with Ginger Baker on drums, and NWOBHM power trio Vardis as the support.

Another memorable gig was Gillan and Budgie a few months later. Gillan are one of those bands music history seems to have forgotten; though their albums were often patchy and always sounded rushed, they really came in to their own live. And at that gig Budgie’s performance was closer to that of a co-headliner than a support.

Those were the days.

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David Hasselhof lays down a challenge to Power Metal

One of the most ridiculously hilarious music videos ever made? Dinosaurs? Hitler? Whoever directed it is either a mad genius, or has access to an awful lot or drugs…

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Ritchie Blackmore, 70 today

Guitar legend Ritchie Blackmore turns 70 today. To celebrate, here’s one of his finest hours, Stargazer, featuring the vocals of the late, great Ronnie Dio and the drums of the late and equally late Cozy Powell.

The album Rainbow Rising, released in 1976 is an acknowledged classic. It would be one of my desert island disks without question.

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Steve Hackett – Love Song to a Vampire

Official video for the song from the album “Wolflight”.

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