2+2 Reviews: Mother’s Day Weekend Edition (The Night Flight Orchestra, At the Gates, Kataan, Book of Wyrms)

Welcome to the Mother’s Day Weekend Edition of 2 + 2. I think every track here is PERFECT for every mom out there. At bare minimum, I expect every mom to jam hard to “White Jeans” from The Night Flight Orchestra, our first track to cover today. Stay tuned for tracks from Book of Wyrms, Kataan and At the Gates.

The Night Flight Orchestra – White Jeans

BH: If this song doesn’t make you want to put on a neon leotard for a workout, followed by a quick change into your finest pair of, well, white jeans for the evening, I don’t know what will.

I’ve been following The Night Flight Orchestra for a little while now, primarily because they have a terrific roster of metal musicians including Björn Strid of Soilwork and Sharlee D’Angelo of Arch Enemy. Check out my discussion of their album, Aeromantic, here:

They also have some of the catchiest AOR songs since Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger”, Asia’s “Heat of the Moment” and Devo’s “Whip It”.

Tongue is firmly in cheek with this group.

It’s really a blast to see these musicians clearly having so much fun both in the songwriting and the music video they’ve made during the pandemic. It’s also clear they really enjoy this particular subgenre.

Even lyrically, this song in particular, fits perfectly for the time period they’re inspired by.

Here’s an excerpt of the chorus:

She wore white jeans
On the cover of a magazine
Now she’s standing here in front of me
White jeans, white jeans, white jeans

All I’m saying is this could have easily been in the film, WEIRD SCIENCE.

Anyhow, George, I’m curious what your take is on TNFO and their song “White Jeans”. Are you a fan of AOR or any of the synth-driven 80’s rock groups? Does this track remind you of any other songs?

GF: It’s funny, because as I was listening to this, I feel like it DID remind me of something very particular, but I just couldn’t recall it. They’re painting with a very particular set of 80s brushes for sure, and as you said in your comments, their tongue is firmly in their cheek.

That’s what I enjoyed most about this, actually: the fact that it allowed itself to be silly.

I love metal, and I always will, but when it allows itself to detour into something like this, something that’s self-aware, and fun, I’m all for it.

Re: 80s AOR and synth driven rock, that’s not necessarily something I’ve really made a great effort to explore. I’ve heard all of the standards that pop up on the radio, but I feel like the 80s stuff I enjoy tends to lean heavier towards the weird, or the new wave? When it comes to metal from that decade, Van Halen is great, I love Iron Maiden, those few first Slayer, Metallica, and Megadeth albums, but outside of that, I’m more in the lane of Talking Heads and King Crimson.

I’d not heard of these dudes at all, and I’m appreciative of you putting me on to them. Hearing this reminded me of how I felt when I first heard The Darkness, all those years ago. I expect I’ll be diving into their last album, later this week.

At the Gates – Spectre of Extinction

BH: At The Gates. What hasn’t already been said about this classic melo-death band? They can do no wrong in my book.

Their new song, “Spectre of Extinction” has just been unleashed and I’m an instant fan of this song. I’ve dug the band’s last two albums since reforming but if this song is any indication, we may be in for their best album since Slaughter of the Soul.

The intro reels us in with a softer, acoustic section and then hits you like a sledgehammer with that nasty lead guitar hook. This is very “Blinded by Fear” and that is a very good thing.

Also, Tomas is now in his 50’s (!) and his vocals sound as ferocious as ever.

“Spectre of Extinction” is one hellish, towering inferno of a song and will be a perfect live show opener when the band can tour again.

Kataan- Erase

GF: This song sounds evil.

And I love it for that.

Singer Nicholas Thornbury singers like he’s screaming into the most terrifying, rigid, scorched-earth canyon known to man. He’s in hell, and we’re right there with him.

It’s exciting.

Who do I hear in this song— shades of Scott Kelly, Wolves in the Throne Room, Deafheaven, and maybe a little Slayer too?

I don’t know. What I do know, is that I love it.

While it’s a somewhat understated part of the song, there are some clean vocals that crop up in a couple of sections that sound straight out of a monastery— a very particular contrast to the hellscape visuals that the rest of the song conjures.

Brandon, I know that you’re familiar with Brett Boland’s work outside of this collaboration, as you mentioned Astronoid, when last we spoke. Was this release on your radar at all? How does it stack up in comparison? Was there anything in particular about the song that stuck out to you, or if you felt like the music was painting a picture for you, what did you see in your mind’s eye?

BH: Yes! Love Astronoid and Brett’s work in general. I actually heard about Kataan just recently because Brett had posted about it on Facebook. Honestly, Kataan and Astronoid are really different and if I hadn’t known the connection already, I wouldn’t have likely figured it out from a first listen.

Whereas Astronoid is more airy and progressive in the riffs and songwriting, Kataan is more intense, darker and oppressive. Both are very atmospheric but on different sides of the fence.

I have to agree that this track is pretty evil. Not sure if it’s evil in a lyrical sense but certainly in the mood that it conveys.

Also, I have to say the second half of the song is where I really got hooked in. The meaty lead riff is great but man that break after the second round of clean vocals is insane. It makes me want to run into a stack of Macaroni boxes at the grocery store and not apologize for it. You know, something real nuts.

Anyhow, I can’t wait to hear the other songs on this EP and it’s great to see Brett trying something different.

Book of Wyrms- Albironlilly

GF: Okay, okay— I know it’s a little weird to highlight an interlude off an LP for a column like this, but this song has to get some shine.

As someone whose formal metal education involved a lot of early Black Sabbath, I feel some kind of way about acoustic numbers finding their way onto old school-sounding metal releases.

Outside of being sonically fascinating, considering how heavy everything else is, they can serve as a really cool warm-up (or, follow-up) to whatever was just heard, or, is coming next.

For example, on, “Master of Reality,” would, “Into the Void,” hit as hard as it did, were you not lulled into a false sense of security by, “Solitude,” beforehand?

The answer is 100% no.

For the most part, Book of Wryms is riding in the lane of contemporaries Pallbearer and Elder. They’re making some old school metal with stoner flavors, and maybe a little synth and or prog stuff thrown in for good measure.

That makes a song like this stick out like a sore thumb.

The music found here is completely instrumental, and effortlessly gorgeous— like a forgotten medieval tune, that could probably lull a baby to sleep, or conjure up memories of your greatest heartbreak.

At only two minutes, I wish it went on for another 5, but so it is.

I expect I’ll be putting this on playlists for many years to come. It’s wonderful.

2+2 Reviews: Late April 2021 (Perturbator, Epica, Spirit of the Beehive, Dry Cleaning)

Perturbator – Dethroned Under a Funeral Haze

BH: Perturbator’s first full length album in five years, Lustful Sacraments, is dropping in June.  The two singles that have hit so far have been some of his bleakest and darkest synthwave tracks to date.  

I was first introduced to James Kent AKA Perturbator with a super cool remix he did for Cult of Luna.  

His style contains notes of John Carpenter meets Vangelis a la Blade Runner.  You know, think pitch black sky, neon signs, big city synth-y vibes.

“Dethroned Under a Funeral Haze” feels like an expedition through the dreary, rain soaked streets of LA in 2040.  It feels futuristic but not too far away.    

The vocals used sparingly here remind me of Robert Smith’s on a particularly depressing day.  

The songwriting overall on this track is still very much in line with what Perturbator has been doing on his other releases, but also injects a bit of what makes some of the post metal groups like Cult of Luna tick.

I do think this is a grower of a song but I’ve given it probably fifteen spins so far and it has only continued to become more interesting on each listen.  I can’t wait to hear the full album.

George, are you familiar with Perturbator’s work?  Are you a fan of dark synthwave in general?

GF: You were actually the person who put me on to them! I think it was March, or February of this year that you sent me their music? 

In any case, you hit the nail on the head with your descriptor of, “John Carpenter meets Vangelis a la Blade Runner.”

This is not especially uplifting, or happy music, but that’s okay, because ooh, boy– the atmosphere, the atmosphere, the atmosphere.

I can appreciate the Robert Smith comparison too. Strangely enough, when I first heard this, it kind of struck me as like a very dark detour for the James Bond theme song, “The Living Daylights,” that 80s superstars A-ha, did?

I’m sure absolutely no one else is going to feel that way, but yeah… if Morten Harket was having a real bummer of a day, I feel like he’d be singing something along the lines of this.

Regarding dark synthwave, I can’t say that it’s a genre I’m super familiar with. We might have to have a sidebar conversation where I get some recommendations from you, because both of the tunes that you’ve shown me from Mr. Kent hit nicely for me.

Epica – The Skeleton Key

Epica is a band I’ve known of for years and despite loving Nightwish, Blind Guardian and others in the symphonic metal scene, I just haven’t ever given them a proper chance.

Enter “The Skeleton Key”.  

This track really puts the epic in the band’s name.  This is a super catchy, well written and orchestrated track.  

It does bring to mind a song like “Nemo” from Nightwish but with some harsh vocals, mixed in with the beautiful operatic vocals from Simone Simons.  I really like her vocal lines here and she has terrific range.  

The piano intro is strong and a great way to start off the song.  Really beautiful stuff.

There’s also some solid riffage in here too, especially towards the back half of the song.  It’s a nice balance of both light and heavy.  

If I chose one song to listen to while slaying some orcs in a forest, this might be it.  In all seriousness though, the chorus in particular has a way of staying in my head for days and I’ll definitely be returning for some more Epica.     

Spirit of the Beehive – There’s Nothing you Can’t do

GF: Full-disclosure, I was fully ignorant to this band’s music until a day ago or so, but I’m pretty much 100% on board now that I’ve discovered them.

This doesn’t fall into the confines of what we usually write about over here as it’s ostensibly a pop song, but I’m inclined to include it, because of how experimental and outright… WEIRD it is?

It also, low-key, shifts into an almost NIN-type dirge for the last third of the proceedings– one that includes some shouted vocals, so I feel like it gets some credit in that department.

In any case, what drew me to the song outside of its generally experimental nature is the fact that it flirts with, and perhaps, outrights LEANS into dissonance in some of its melodies.

A guitar figure that runs through about the first two thirds of the song has a few chromatic notes in it that plays against the really pleasant vocal leads in an mildly uncomfortable, but delightful way. 

It’s like an appetizer to the full-on chaos and terror that defines the song’s home stretch, and I appreciate the subtle nature of that build.

Brandon, I know you hadn’t heard of these folks either, so I’m curious to hear what your knee-jerk reaction was to hearing their music. What elements immediately stuck out to you, upon first listen? In terms of the song’s structure, do you think the payoff of the closing section was earned? What were your favorite moments or elements?

BH: I think right out of the gate I appreciated just how weird this song is.  

As you mentioned, it’s pop but only kinda.  It’s not really structured in a traditional way and there are some experimental almost avante-garde touches here.  

I didn’t quite know what to make of it all initially but I dig what they’re doing.  After several spins, it started opening up a bit more to me.

Regarding your question on the payoff, I do think it was earned and like you, I greatly appreciated the subtle build and the shift right at the end.  The song is unsettling throughout but as it gets towards the climax, it gets damn near terrifying.  

As in, I could totally see this being a jam for Buffalo Bill.

The songwriting actually reminds me a little of what Greg Puciato is doing at the moment with some of his solo work.  There are some abstract pieces in here and it can feel a bit uncomfortable at times, but it comes together in a satisfying way. 

Dry Cleaning – New Long Leg

GF: So, this is the title cut from, “Dry Cleaning’s,” debut album, released by legendary label 4AD. Previously, I’d not heard of them, but I’ve liked what I’ve heard.

The band’s sound occupies a lane that seems inspired equally by Blondie, Talking Heads, and 80s King Crimson. The guitars here sound almost exactly like Adrian Belew’s and Robert Fripp’s work circa 1981-ish, and you’ll find no complaints from me.

Structurally, some of the riffs flirt with what those gentlemen were doing too, but not in a way that’s derivative. The rhythms don’t ever get knotty in the way that some of those King Crimson songs did, and they’re propulsive in a way that makes me want to cook something?

I feel like that probably sounds strange, but hearing this, I feel like it’s kinda what I want to have playing in the kitchen if I’m trying to groove while I chef.

The vocals, courtesy of Florence Shaw, are delivered without any real sort of enthusiasm, but that strikes me as very intentional. To be clear, it’s tremendous, as she’s able to make droll delivery gel so successfully with the rest of what’s going on. It kinda reminds me of some of what Lou Reed used to do, the difference being that Shaw is British, so you get that accent in there too, which gives things a nice added bit of dimension.

Bottom line, it’s a great tune, and I can’t wait to dive further into the rest of their album.

2+2 Reviews: March Edition (SION, Svalbard, Insomnium, Liquid Tension Experiment)

Welcome to 2+2 with BPMHill and George Folz.  Thanks for coming back or joining in for the first time and hope you will continue to check out our posts through the year.  We’re expecting a lot of new tracks/albums to come from the summer through fall 2021 as bands start to unleash what they’ve been sitting on during the pandemic.  In the meantime, we have terrific new tracks from SION, Svalbard, Insomnium, and Liquid Tension Experiment to discuss.

The Blade- SION

GF: I’ll admit, until the first chorus hit– I was a bit nervous.

Instrumentally, the opening section initially brought to mind some unfortunate characteristics of early 2000s nu-metal, and the parts of, “djent,” music that I don’t especially care for.

That said, when Howard Jones hit the switch, and starts, “singing, singing,” I realized what time it was, and now I love this song dearly.

For the record, I believe Howard Jones to be his generation’s defining voice within metal.

Every vocal theatric that comes with the genre he can do just as well or better than most of his peers. His howls, his growls, and lordy, lord– his singing voice?

Everyone else eats his dust.

His partner in crime here, Jared Dines, was someone whom I was unfamiliar with, until I came across this tune. My cousin, Andy, informed me that he’s a legendary metal musician on YouTube, and I certainly found myself impressed with some of his guitar work here.

His solo towards the end of the song is short but sweet, and does a magnificent job of splitting the difference between melody and shredding. 

In constructing it, he effortlessly manages to weave a tapestry that is equal parts Zakk Wylde, Dimebag Darrell, and Eddie Van Halen. Naturally, this means there are a couple of DOG-WHISTLE pinch harmonics in there that probably pulverized a few of my ear hairs.

Brandon, how big of a Killswitch fan are you? Are you jazzed that Howard is pursuing new music outside of the band, or do you wish Killswitch featured a twin vocal attack, now that Jesse Leach is able to perform with his band again? What was your knee-jerk reaction, when you heard this?

BPMHill:  That’s a fair point in regards to the start of this song.  I’m not a huge fan of the 2000’s nu-metal scene at all BUT I do love both djent and metalcore.  Once Howard’s vocals kicked in here though, I was pretty hooked.  

Killswitch Engage was actually one of the first bands I began to listen to in the metalcore scene, alongside Unearth and Atreyu.  I’ll admit that I got into them with “The End of Heartache” so Howard’s vocals have always been a big part of the appeal for me with the band. 

Quick side note, “The End of Heartache” is a special one for me.  I left high school early the day of release with some fellow metalhead friends so we could buy a copy at Best Buy.  I wasn’t so much into drugs/drinking but new albums could absolutely lure me away from being the “good kid” at school.

Anyhow, The Blade is a banger!  I do like what’s going on here instrumentally but honestly Howard’s vocals are what seals the deal for me.  He sounds ferocious when he needs to and his clean vocals during the chorus are hooky and really sound great.  

To further answer your question, George.  Since Howard has been out of KSE for over a decade at this point, I’m all for hearing new tracks from him.  I would love to hear more tracks like The Signal Fire from Killswitch Engage’s 2019 album “Atonement” which featured both Jesse and Howard and was a damn good song.  If I’m really dreaming here, yes a permanent twin vocal attack with Jesse and Howard would be pretty badass but anything Howard does outside of KSE, I’ll gladly check out.  Definitely looking forward to hearing more from Sion. 

Silent Restraint- Svalbard

GF: Okay, so two things–

  1. Those screamed vocals in here? That’s a lady throwing those down, so three cheers for women screaming in metal. We need more of it.
  2. Have you ever heard a more perfect fusion of turn-of-the-century At-The-Drive-In and Thursday?

With regards to the second question, I’ll admit that I’m fully and 100% biased towards both of those band’s output from around that time.

I was 13 when I heard both, “Understanding in a car Crash,” and, “One-Armed Scissor,” for the first time.

Both of those songs encapsulate a very, very, particular moment in time that was my generation’s last gasp of air before the attacks on 9/11.

The summer of 2001 was a very special, and very particular slice of time, and this song recalls that time for me in a way that no other modern piece of music has (or, perhaps, ever will).

This is something for the skate park, or late afternoon sessions of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2, in your friend’s basement.  

This song is a blast of MOLTEN sun, and the pain of the pavement when you crash. It’s the dazed feelings that comes along afterwards, combined with the laughter, and the desire to get up and try again.

I’m super excited to dive into the album as a whole, and I’m so excited to have discovered this band.

The Conjurer- Insomnium

BPMHill: Finland’s Insomnium have been cranking out great tracks since the late 90’s when their first demo was released.  I have to say though that their more recent material has really been what’s kept me coming back to the band.  

Their creative output since “Shadows of the Dying Sun” has been very consistent and tracks like Pale Morning Sun from 2019’s “Heart Like a Grave” and of course the entirety of “Winter’s Gate” have paved the way for a song like The Conjurer.  

The band has been seemingly busy during the quarantine.  Not only have they done a few livestream shows but they’ve got at least one new song (and perhaps more to follow).  

The Conjurer starts with a beautiful acoustic riff and some delicate piano that makes me feel like I’m wandering through the snowy peaks of Ridnitšohkka at dawn. 

Then there’s a terrific break at close to the three minute mark that really makes the song stand out for me.  I really like the riffing here and the choral arrangement underneath.  Niilo Sevänen’s raspy harsh vocals are always a treat too.  

According to Niilo, The Conjurer is a “tragic tale of jealous and searing love…”  The new music video that goes with the song certainly showcases this storyline and blends it with some truly stunning and chilling visuals.

George, I’m curious if you were already familiar with Insomnium?  What stands out for you.  Also, are you looking forward to hearing more from their particular melo-death style and sound?

GF: This is my first introduction to them, and I must say, I’m pretty impressed.

The purely instrumental opening of the song is indeed, truly stunning. 

I’ve never been to Ridnitšohkka, but the picture you paint up there sounds right on the money. When the music really kicks into gear after the intro, I imagine one of those hyperspeed ramping things occurring only to slow down when the sun is perfectly peeking over the mountain, extra radiant.

Some Zack Snyder shit, basically?

In any case, I definitely appreciate their particular brand of melo-deth. Strange as it may sound, I actually found myself wanting the vocals to be more harsh? I feel like that’s such a strange thing to say, considering my tastes, but I found myself wanting just a little more scream action– something a bit more intense.

Musically, I thought the song was flawless. There’s a great warmth amongst the guitar sounds, and I thought the solo was a lot of fun. Melodic death metal is not something I’m super familiar with as a genre, but I really appreciate just how stunning some of the music is in here. This is a great song to be enjoying, as spring kicks off.

The Passage of Time- Liquid Tension Experiment

BPMHill: It’s kind of insane that we haven’t had a full studio album or track from Liquid Tension Experiment since 1999 so the hype is at an all time high for the aptly titled “Liquid Tension Experiment 3” coming out in a few weeks.  

If you’re not familiar with the Liquid Tension Experiment basically this is a fully instrumental side project with several Dream Theater members/ex-member (Mike Portnoy, John Petrucci, Jordan Rudess) and Tony Levin from King Crimson on bass.  They did two albums in a row in the late 90’s and those two albums cemented them as one of the best prog groups of all time.  At a minimum, Acid Rain is an absolute MUST listen for any prog fan and a song that has stuck with me since release.  

The Passage of Time is the first single released for the new album and it’s a doozy.  It took me a few listens to really see what the band was creating here and there are a TON of layers to uncover.  

The song feels not only fresh but simultaneously feels like an appropriate follow up to their last album, which is no easy task.  

Every member is in peak shape on this track. It seems the excellent John Petrucci solo album featuring Portnoy from last year was just getting the party started.  The Passage of Time showcases the incredible chemistry between Portnoy and Petrucci but is spacious and leaves room for each member to shine.  

My absolute favorite part of the song is the absolute barnstorming solo at just over four minutes.  Petrucci has such a great guitar tone here and I love the jazzy fusion mixed in here.  Really stunning.  Portnoy also continues to be one of the most tasteful and brilliant drummers around.

Anyhow, check the music video out here:

2+2 Reviews: VOLA, Steven Wilson, Tribulation, and Mogwai

New Indie Pong Column!

We’ve been scheming on putting together a collaborative Indie Pong column for awhile now, and this last week, we decided to bring 2+2 into the world.

So, what is 2+2?

Basically, this will be a bi-weekly column to highlight new offerings from the world of metal, prog, and post-rock music. For each entry, bpmhill (BPM henceforth) and I (STMG henceforth) will both choose two songs that we’re feeling, and write about them. Of those four total songs, we will choose two of them to write about together, so you’ll be getting two different takes on the music, for half of the songs that we feature.

In any case, without further ado, let’s get into our first track selection this week:

Vola- Straight Lines

STMG: Coming into this, I was 100% unfamiliar with VOLA or their work.

I loved this song though, and I’m curious to seek out more of what they’ve done.

The song’s standout moment comes pretty early on, specifically, when the chorus hits. After a very djent-y verse, the pre-chorus shifts gears to something else entirely, building towards a VERY dramatic key change.

Actually, I can’t remember a previous moment as a music listener in which I heard a key change and was so startled. You really take a step back here, as said key changed is paired with an isolated vocal treatment, and a vocal octave pop for extra, “oopmh.” 

It’s brilliant.

The vocal treatment itself is pitch perfect too, with the clean leads taking up about 85% of the mix, and the harsh vocals back-mixed, so they come across more as a textural thing.

Hearing the specifics of all this for the first time, it’s almost a little disconcerting, as the gear shift is so powerful, but when you’ve fully processed what you’ve heard, I guarantee your eyebrows will be lifted, and you’ll find yourself feeling impressed.

Another highlight is the track’s synth solo which… kind of comes of nowhere. Listening to this for the first time, I was very much expecting some sort of standard half-diminished and/or modal tech-y guitar solo, and what we get instead is very different. There’s a real emphasis on melody here, and nothing in the way of typical metal shredding. It’s a solo that’s marked by restraint, and I both dig and appreciate that decision.

In any case, I’m all for this. Brandon, what was your knee-jerk reaction listening for the first time? Any specifics highlights for you, or what do you feel are the song’s strongest parts? 

BPM: I’m in the same boat as you, George.  I had heard of Vola on one of the Reddit channels I follow but never gave them a listen.  Glad you sent this track my way as it’s about time I had a proper introduction.

I’m loving the synth solo you mentioned along with just the general synth parts that add texture to the song.  I also love that “Straight Lines” hits you in the face right out of the gate with a really exciting synth build/djent-y moment leading into the first vocal line.  

Which speaking of, the vocals are strong here and I too appreciate the harsh vocals in the back of the mix. I’m not familiar enough with the band just yet to know if this clean/harsh vocal mix is something they normally do or not but it’s tastefully done.  I would love to hear some more harsh vocals within their songs and personally would dig them further up in the mix or in the lead too.

Vola’s sound here is reminiscent of other artists in the scene such as TesseracT, Leprous and certainly Voyager but I appreciate their songwriting on this track which is creative and shows they know how to write catchy riffs and melodies.

I’m looking forward to further exploring their back catalogue and will check out their upcoming full length album.

Steven Wilson- Man of the People

STMG: I think this is the first Steven Wilson solo cut that I’ve heard. 

I’ll be back for more.

Brandon informed me that this album has been a little more divisive amongst his fanbase, but considering what I know about him (as both an esteemed remixer, and a member of Porcupine Tree) I feel like this is probably a very natural progression.

At first blush, my reaction was, “huh, this sounds like 80s Phil Collins by way of modern production techniques.”

That might sound like a knock, but it’s not. 

Before Collins was a hit solo artist, he sat behind the kit in Genesis, performing a number of drum parts that people hold in very high esteem. As the singer, songwriter, and a guitar player in Porcupine Tree, Wilson also has some monolithic prog credentials. Like Collins though, he’s eschewing that here, in favor of something much closer to pop music.

To be clear, this isn’t, “In the Air Tonight.” It’s much more restrained, but infectious as an earworm, in the same way as Collins’ mega-hit is. I found myself nodding along before we hit the minute mark, which is always a good sign.

This is something I’d probably put on while I’m drawing, as it’s catchy enough to inspire me, but also, somewhat unobtrusive. There’s no real bombast to be found here, and the song manages to stay pretty consistent throughout.

Brandon, as someone who is more familiar with Wilson’s work, are you excited to see him continue in this direction, or, are you hoping a tune like this is a one-off itch that he just had to scratch? Did the song instantly connect with you, or, did it take a little time for it to grow?

BPM: George, I didn’t realize you hadn’t heard Wilson’s solo work before!  

I think what I’ve really enjoyed about his solo work is that each release has managed to blend what I loved about his work in Porcupine Tree, including the haunting, yet hooky songwriting and adding a new twist so it doesn’t feel formulaic.  The Future Bites, which is Wilson’s sixth full-length solo release, is a departure from say 2013’s The Raven That Refused to Sing or 2015’s Hand Cannot Erase.  Both of those albums are more traditionally progressive rock.  

2017’s To The Bone had a mix of prog with some pop and electronic elements and also featured Wilson’s first major step in a truly pop direction with the track “Permanating”.  Depending on who you ask in the fanbase, this is either a track they really love or find to be his absolute worst.  Personally, I found it very catchy and I was able to see him perform it live, which added to my love for it.  “Permanating” also pointed towards the direction Wilson is now in for his latest album.  

“Man of the People” might be my favorite song on The Future Bites.  The album as a whole, though Wilson’s shortest, is not the easiest to digest upon first listen if you’re set on hearing his typical 70’s prog influences.  In fact, as you mentioned George, this song (and album) is clearly inspired by 80’s pop and Collins lead era Genesis along with his solo output came top to mind for me as well.  I’m a huge fan of that period of Genesis’ music and happy to see Wilson channel it here. 

To answer your question George, I’m excited to see him continue in this direction and I could see him perfecting what he’s doing on this album on the next one.  “Man of the People” was an instant favorite for me personally.  I also want to point out that though this may not be your dad’s prog rock or Wilson’s usual output, I still think it is progressive.  Wilson is refusing to stay in one gear and naturally progressing to the next stage of his evolution.  I think that keeps his music refreshing so I can’t wait to hear what he concocts next.   

Tribulation – In Remembrance

BPM: I started my journey with Tribulation a few years ago when they released Down Below.  Both that album and their previous one, The Children of the Night, had received major accolades from most metal publications and Decibel in particular convinced me to really give them a listen.  

I love their blend of gothic tinged black’n’roll, doom, death metal and some seriously catchy guitar riffs.  In fact, if you removed the harsh vocals, Tribulation would be fairly in line with a band like Ghost.  Personally, I really dig Johannes Andersson’s vocals though so I’m glad they’ve kept them in place through the years.

The bands latest album, Where the Gloom Becomes Sound, just released and with it, several very worthy tracks.  While “In Remembrance” wasn’t one of their initial singles released, it certainly could have been.  

I’m a big fan of that slow build intro that crawls into your head and then about a minute in, the guitar and drums fully kick in.  The chorus that hits at nearly three minutes in feels like stadium rock played at a funeral.  I mean that as a major compliment.  It’s catchy as hell and I really want to hear this song live at a venue like The Forum in LA.  It feels really big and deserves a bigger audience too. 

I’m really curious where Tribulation will go next.  Their guitarist, Jonathan Hulten, just left the group so time will tell if the band will continue in this same direction or shake things up on the next one.

Mogwai- Pat Stains

STMG: I knew Mogwai was releasing one more single before their full album debuted this week, but I didn’t realize it happened on Friday!

Needless to say, when I found out that it was available to stream/download, I dropped everything, and gave it my undivided attention.

I like it quite well.

The band isn’t re-inventing the wheel here, but they are cruising very comfortably in a lane that they know well, and when they begin to open up the throttle, things get very pretty, very quickly.

As a midwesterner listening to this in the dead of winter, during a polar vortex, it’s hard not to draw parallels to what I’m bearing witness to outside my window.

I’m curious to see if I feel differently when nicer weather rolls around, but this is indeed a song for winter, and snowstorms.

The song begins and ends with quiet, with the loudest section of the song arriving around the ⅔ mark. The lead up to that section is gorgeous. More-or-less static guitar and drum figures hold things down, while every other instrument in the mix shapeshifts, and bubbles. As this is a Mogwai tune, you know that we’re in for some highly-considered, and melodic basslines throughout, and Dominic Aitchison more than delivers here. The bass here has a great warmth actually, which helps to soften the visions of wind and snow that otherwise, came to my mind.

While the song’s climax is all well and good, the song’s most impressive section may well be the closing minute or so– the calm after the storm, so to speak. An exercise in striking, absolute serenity, it brought about a very true, and humbling peace within me as I listened to it. 

I was super impressed.

Anyhow, thanks for joining us on the first edition of 2+2.  We look forward to bringing you the coolest tracks to put on your playlists for 2021.  If you like what you heard, drop us a note in the comments section and please support the artists.