481. KOPECKY – BLOOD – 2006
The Kopecky brothers keep putting out solid releases and “Blood” from 2006 is no exception. The band continue to hone their chops with crisp instrumental interplay featuring guitar, drums and bass with the occasional Sitar thrown in for good measure. The compositions here are complex yet melodic. A few favorites include “”Windows”, “Infernal Desire Machine”, and the album closer “Opium” with it’s almost ambient closing section. If you like what these guys have done before you should enjoy this album. If you have never checked them out this would be a good place to start.
482. NIGHT AREA – THE SUN ALSO RISES – 2004
Knight Area is a band that sprung out of Holland with this their debut album in 2004. It is primarily classic / neo prog in nature, but with a fresh approach that turned a lot of heads in the prog world when it was released. The album was quickly followed by an invitation to the North East Art Rock Festival in the U.S. a rather heady achievement for such a new band. The album is a concept piece with lot of soaring guitar, wall of sound keyboards, and epic sounding vocals. Pretty much everything you would expect from classic progressive rock. The band never strays too far from this formula, but what they do they do very well. If you are into classic 70’s sounding prog or more modern neo prog you should eat this one up.
483. KRAAN – LIVE – 1975
Kraan are a band that I had never heard of prior to seeing them at ProgDay a few years ago. Turns out they have been around since the early 70’s and have been a mainstay of the German progressive rock scene since that time. The band was incredible live and I have since had the chance to see them a second time. “Kraan Live” was their first live album released in 1975 and really shows off what this band was all about. They had put out 3 studio albums by this time, but in a live setting the band really cooked. The performances on this album are stellar and many Kraan fans consider this their finest work. Kraan’s music is a mix of rock, progressive rock, and jazz. All of the musicians are first rate, with bassist Helmet Hattler particularly standing out. The vocals are all in English and although nothing spectacular are at least passable. Instrumentally is where these guys really get to show off, and several of the track feature long jams. “ Nam Nam ”, “Kraan Arabia”, and “ Holiday Am Matterhorn” all clock in at over 12 minutes. Every track on this disc is great as this recording really seems to have captured the band at their peak. If you have never discovered Kraan this would be a great introduction.
484. KRAAN – SOUL OF STONE – 1991
By the early 90’s Krann had gone through some significant personnel changes that had moved their sound in different directions through the 70’s and 80’s. The lineup on this album would consist of Peter Wolbrandt on guitar and vocals, Jan Fride on drums, Joo Kraus on trumpet, sequencing, drum programming and vocals, and Helmut Hattler on bass and vocals. This is the only full studio album from Kraan that I own and I like it quite a bit. The songs seem to be a bit more commercial oriented than some of their previous stuff, but overall it is good quality and retains most of the trademarks that fans of this band have come to love. As usual the instrumental stuff is all fantastic and the vocal songs range from just ok to very good. The band seems to use more funk and R & B influences here than on previous works, but this works to the band’s strengths especially with a bassist like Hattler in the band. If you are a fan of Kraan and do not have this album it is worth checking out.
485. KRAAN – THE FAMOUS YEARS COMPLIED – 1998
When I first found out I was going to see Kraan at ProgDay I wanted to get an introduction to their material so I picked up this compilation. The album covers the band from 1972 up until 1991. For a single disc that covers so much ground there are obviously going to be a lot of good stuff left off, but for an introduction / overview of what Kraan are about this is a great starting off point. Most of the tracks are studio, but there are also several live taken from various live albums. Kraan are at their strongest when they let their instruments to the talking and there is plenty of jamming to be found throughout this disc. All of their best known material is here and many of these tracks have been part of the band’s live set for many years. This is a great little overview if you are looking to explore Kraan.
486. KRAAN – LIVE 2001 – 2001
Kraan has always been known for their incredible live shows, and have put out several very well received live albums over the years. For all practical purposes the band ceased to exist during the mid to late 90’s finally getting back together at the turn of the century much to the delight of the band’s fans. The lineup for this one is the same as the “Soul Of Stone” album with the exception of Joo Kraus being replaced by Ingo Bischof on keys. The emphasis is on the band’s more fusion oriented material here with a range of selections from the band’s entire catalogue. It is doubtful that this band will ever be able to top their first live disc release back in 1975, but “Live 2001” shows that there is still a fire in the furnace and these guys can still tear it up on stage.
487. KRAAN – LIVE AT PROGDAY 2002
This is not an official release, but a soundboard recording of the band’s incredible American debut at ProgDay 2002. The performance remains one of the festival’s all time highlights for me and the music on this disc brings it all back. Kraan were really on fire during this show and I honestly think these two discs rival the band officially released live albums. Unfortunately this is not available to the public, but for those of you who were there yes it was as good as you remember it.
488. LA TORRE DELL ALCHIMISTA – LA TORRE DELL ALCHIMISTA – 2001
This was the debut album from this very talented Italian progressive rock band. The album seemed to make quite a splash when it was released and many in the prog rock world were heralding these guys as the next big thing in the Italian progressive rock scene. Unfortunately they seemed to drop off the radar after this, and to my knowledge they never put out another album. This is progressive rock in the grand symphonic Italian style. The lyrics are all in Italian so I am not sure if this is a concept piece or not, but the music is all very good with plenty of lush keyboards and guitar. If you are a fan of classic Italian prog such as PFM, Banco, or Le Orme these guys should be right up your alley.
Next up is Lacuna Coil. A few quick words about this band. I have all of their albums but they tend to frustrate me. They have one of the best lead vocalists in rock today in Cristina Labbia. I have seen the band live twice and she is truly one bad ass front women with a truly incredible set of pipes. They also have a male vocalist who has the easiest job in rock n roll. The guy can just barley sing and basically rides Christina’s coattails and has somehow remained employed with the band. My main problem with Lacuna Coil however is they never really get out of their formula. There is nary a guitar solo to be found, even though they have two guitarists, and although I think they are capable of it, they never really stretch themselves too far which for a progger like me I find frustrating. Still I enjoy what this band does and live they just keep getting better. Christina is simply incredible in a live setting.
489. LACUNA COIL – IN A REVERIE – 1999
Lacuna Coil is one of the main members of the new wave of progressive metal that features crunching guitars, epic songwriting and powerful female vocals. Similarities to bands like Evanescence and Stream Of Passion are very evident. “Reverie” was the band’s first full length album and shows the promise that this band would go on to bigger and better things. Overall the album is somewhat evident of a band in search of a sound. They try different things here and there and to me this is a good thing. I honestly wish they would do more of this with their later material, as lately they have really locked themselves into a formula. The band is Italian and all of the lyrics here are in English. Christina has a definite accent to her vocals that would be polished up significantly on later releases. The songs are for the most part good. Highlights include “Circle”, “Stately Lover”, and the title track “Reverie”. Epic sounding metal with just a hint of progressive rock. The band would go on to do better albums, but this one was a very good debut.
490. LACUNA COIL – UNLEASHED MEMORIES – 2001
The bands second full length album finds Lacuna Coil refining their sound a bit with Christina Scabbia’s incredible vocals leading the way. I think this one is on a par with their debut disc. The songs are all strong although there is nothing that really blows me away. Some of the lyrics and ideas on this one are slightly overused and the band still keeps to a fairly rigid formula. The band do two tracks on this disc in their native Italian and both are really good songs. This album is not as good as their next one “Comalies”, but remains a solid 4 star release an overall and I like it. I still wish the band would take a few more chances with their music, but this is another solid release from the band.