Music News Blog

What’s happening in the world of prog and other related scenes. News about gigs, record releases, new videos and band changes.

Mantra Vega announce album release and launch party

Mantra Vega & Dave Kerzner Poster

Mantra Vega announce the release date of their long-awaited album “The Illusion’s Reckoning”

After almost 2 years in the making, Monday January 25th 2016 will see the release of The Illusion’s Reckoning from transatlantic project band, Mantra Vega co-founded by Heather Findlay and Dave Kerzner  (Sound of Contact).

“The Illusion’s Reckoning album features lead vocals from Heather Findlay; keyboards and vocals from Dave Kerzner whilst at the band’s core is rhythm section Alex Cromarty on drums and bassist Stu Fletcher along with lead, rhythm and acoustic guitarists Chris Johnson (Halo Blind) and Dave Kilminster.

Joining the project for special guest appearances are Nightwish‘s Troy Donockley on vocals and lead guitar; Arjen Lucassen (Ayreon) lead guitar; Irene Jansen (Star One/Ayreon) on vocals; Angela Gordon (Mostly Autumn/Odin Dragonfly) on recorders and vocals and Dutch woodwind player, Remko de Landmeter on Bansuri.

“The Illusion’s Reckoning is a concept album flowing more like a film score than a more typically linear piece. The album’s journey is painted with far reaching audio moodscapes which in their diversity, purposely echo thoughtful lyrical themes. The album is delivered in a predominantly progressive rock package, but at times takes on a hard rock, contemporary, retro, and even acoustic, folksy twist…”

And there is to be a “Moorland Gathering” the celebrate the launch

To celebrate the release, there will be a very special pre-release party gathering at The Lion Inn, Blakey Ridge (spiritual home of many of the band’s musicians) on January Saturday 23rd January. There will only 60 tickets available which will include a meal, one off acoustic performance from Heather, Chris, Angela, Stu and Alex (and may also feature one or two very special guests!) Slightly ahead of the scheduled release date, this event will be a chance to buy and hear the album for the first time!

Making this event all the more special is the fact that this will be a one off for the now retired, legendary moorland venue too!

Tickets for the event will be just £20 and will go on sale on Monday 30th November at 9am from

Depending on number wishing to travel via this option, there may be a coach/bus which will run from York across the North Yorkshire Moors and back for those wishing to travel from the nearest city.

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Secrets and Lies

Luna Rossa have released a video of the title track of “Secrets and Lies” ahead of their mini-tour in December.

The band will be played The Gate in Cardiff on Friday December 4th, The Chattery in Swansea on Saturday December 5th, and The Robin 2 in Bilston the following weekend on Sunday 13th.

The band will again be a four-piece lineup with the core duo of Anne-Marie Helder and Jon Edwards joined by Sarah Dean on Celtic harp and Andy Coughlan on double bass.

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Mantra Vega announce January album release

Mantra Vega & Dave Kerzner Poster

Mantra Vega have announced that their long-awaited album “The Illusion’s Reckoning” will be will be released on 25th January, with pre-orders taken from 7th December from the Mantra Vega website.

The album is a collaboration between Heather Findlay and Dave Kerzner, with a band featuring Dave Kilminster, Chris Johnson, Alex Cromarty and Stuart Fletcher, with guest appearances from Angela Gordon and Arjen Lucassen amongst others.

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Good on Mostly Autumn, confirming that this coming weekend’s gigs in Verviers and Zoetermeer are still going ahead despite the attacks in Paris.

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RIP Phil Taylor

Sad news to hear of the death of Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor of the orginal classic lineup of Motörhead.

Motörhead are Britain’s equivalent to The Ramones; the stripped-down distilled essence of the spirit of rock’n'roll. They were always more than just their iconic frontman, Lemmy. Phil Taylor’s drumming was a vital part of their sound. Just listen to his playing on “Overkill”, perhaps his finest moment; his drumming can only be described as a force of nature.

Now we’re in an age where too many metal bands allegedly use programming for drum parts so impossibly fast no human can physically play them, Phil Taylor shows what a flesh-and-blood drummer could do.  In the late 1970s he was way ahead of his time, a huge influence on the next generation of metal than would come along a decade later with thrash.

Phil Taylor was a legend. And there aren’t many musicians you can honestly say that of.

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Ritchie Blackmore’s new Rainbow

Rainbow Poster

Classic Rock are reporting Ritchie Blackmore’s touring lineup for the recently announced live dates in Germany and Birmingham next June.

Aside from Blackmore himself, the band will include, Lords Of Black singer Ronnie Romero, Stratovarius keyboardist Jens Johansson, Blackmore’s Night drummer David Keith and bassist Bob Nouveau.

I have seen some disappointment voiced on Twtter that former singer Joe Lynn Turner will not be part of the band. While there’s got to be a question mark over how a relatively unknown singer might handle being thrust into arena-level gigs, we may still have dodged a bullet. The singer might have been Doogie White (have you heard Black Masquerade?), or Dio forbid, Graham Bonnet.

The Birmingham show is sold out, and tickets are already appearing on tout sites at vastly inflated prices. One does wonder exactly what proportion of the better seats actually went to genuine fans.

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Silver Fragments In The Mind of the Departed

A rather splendid live improvisation from Chantel McGregor’s recent gig in Brighton. Reminds me of some of King Crimson’s work from the Starless and Bible Black era, which starts sounding like tuning up, then a theme develops and builds.

Thanks to occasional commenter Steve Hughes for sending me the link, and Chantel herself for letting me post it here.

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Panic Room Weekend!

Panic Room Weekend

Panic Room have announced the Panic Room Weekend, a two-day event at Bilston Robin 2 on the weekend of 21st and 22nd May 2016.

Full details will be announced in due course, but the weekend promises two full-length headline sets from Panic Room themselves with completely different songs each night. There will also be performances from the acoustic side-project Luna Rossa and a host of yet-to-be announced guests with connections to the band. I would be very surprised if we didn’t see a solo acoustic set from Anne-Marie at some point. It all promises to be a great gathering of the band’s fandom.

Tickets cost £40 for the full weekend, with day tickets for £25, and doors open at 3pm each day, so there will be a lot of music. Tickets are now on sale from The Robin 2 website.

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Jess Cope’s heartbreaking animation for Steven Wilson’s “Routine”, a song covering themes of loss and denial, that was projected onto a screen behind the band during this year’s live shows.

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Rob Cottingham to leave Touchstone

Touchstone at the 2012 Cambridge Rock Festival

Touchstone have announced that the two farewell shows for Kim Seviour in November will also be Rob Cottingham’s final gigs with the band. As quoted in Prog:

“It’s been a privilege to see the band grow from the very early days when I kicked the band off with a totally different line up in a small village hall.

“After recent discussions, however, the time is clearly right for me to bow out gracefully at the same time as Kim. I want to thank my bandmates old and new for everything, and wish them every success in their exploits going forward”.

The band had previously announced that they’d be going on indefinite hiatus while various members worked on individual projects, but this announcement implies that the three remaining members intend to continue to work together under the Touchstone name. It’s a case of “watch this space”.

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