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PROGPOWER EUROPE 2008
www.progpower.eu
SATURDAY PART 2 BELOW
DATE:
VENUE:
Friday 3rd October - Sunday 5th October 2008
Sjiwa in Baarlo, Netherlands
FRIDAY
SATURDAY
CYNIC; ZERO HOUR; ALARUM; WOLVERINE; SUN CAGED; CILICE
SUNDAY
THRESHOLD; WOLVERINE; SUSPYRE; THE AURORA PROJECT; PATHOSRAY; 21 EYES OF RUBY
PAGAN'S MIND; ATROX; DIVISION BY ZERO
CLICK HERE FOR SATURDAY PART 1
CLICK HERE FOR SATURDAY PART 2
CLICK HERE FOR SUNDAY PART 1
CLICK HERE FOR SUNDAY PART 2
Reviews & Photography by Mark Holmes
CLICK HERE FOR OVERVIEW + FRIDAY
SATURDAY PART 2 ABOVE
CLICK HERE FOR SATURDAY PART 1
CLICK HERE FOR SATURDAY PART 2
CLICK HERE FOR SUNDAY PART 1
CLICK HERE FOR SUNDAY PART 2
Reviews & Photography by Mark Holmes
CLICK HERE FOR OVERVIEW + FRIDAY
ALARUM
www.alarum.com.au
First on after the diner break with an hour and a quarter set are Australian technical death metallers Alarum. Unafraid to bear their influences, frontman Mark Palfreyman is attired in an Atheist 'Piece of Time' t-shirt, to which the band have previously covered that album's title track. This is when I first encountered their music upon hearing news that the legendary Kelly Shaefer appeared on stage with them in Florida as guest vocalist on said cover in 2006. Beyond the discernible Atheist influence in their songwriting (and Palfreyman's vocal style), Alarum's music also pertains to early Death, Watchtower (albeit not vocally!), and a quasi-grind element la 'Necroticism...'-era Carcass. With the crowd significantly diminished in size compared to Wolverine's large audience, the Australian quartet deliver a technically accomplished performance that, although spectacular and breathtaking in its musical virtuosity becomes a little tiring after half an hour or so. This is not to say that I don't enjoy their set, but am more impressed by the displays of fretboard wizardry than actually being affectively moved by any of the music. A case of music being overly technical at the expense of songwriting that will involve the listener? Perhaps, and apart from Palfreyman's dynamic performance, the band's two guitarists remain largely static throughout which deprives Alarum's overall performance of visual interest. Technically brilliant, although I am left feeling unfulfilled and a little disappointed after what seems like a long hour and a quarter.
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SATURDAY 4th OCTOBER - PART 2
ZERO HOUR
www.zerohourweb.com
Penultimate band of the day are Pleasanton's Zero Hour with their unique style of technical prog metal. My first experience of this band was at last year's Headway festival, and I recall being blown away by their performance and general high level of musicianship. With a large crowd already gathered in anticipation of the American metallers' appearance, the curtains are pulled back to reveal a refreshingly well lit stage for the first time on this second day of ProgPower - it appears the lighting guy has eventually woken up! With the loudest sound through the PA so far today, it is apposite for conveying the technical heaviness of Zero Hour's music. The Tipton twins, Jasun and Troy, orchestrate bursts of cacophonic intensity in wild displays of fretboard virtuosity with scalar progressions that defy belief - 'virtuoso' is a term all too often bandied around by journalists unjustifiably, although the Tiptons are indubitably masters of their respective instruments on a level above the majority of their peers. It is even more astonishing that bassist Troy is in a degree of pain as he plays due to an ongoing tendonitis condition for which surgery is imminent (which is why the band cancelled their forthcoming appearance at ProgPower Scandinavia at the end of this month). Chris Salinas, now with a drastically different hair-do since seeing Zero Hour last year, also impresses me with his vocal abilities; the high-end of his voice reminiscent of both King Diamond and Watchtower's Alan Tecchio. I remember commenting in my review of the band last year that Salinas' vocals are perhaps a little displaced and unfitting for some of the more cacophonic passages of music, although I don't find this to be the case today; rather the contrary, it lends Zero Hour's songs an original edge over many other technical prog metal bands. Overall, an incredibly powerful performance that receives vociferous crowd reactions from the large number of people in the Sjiwa who are evidently equally as impressed as myself. And all of our best wishes and hopes here at Metal Discovery go out to Troy for successful surgery and a full recovery.
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CYNIC
www.cyniconline.com
The last couple of years have seen some very welcome reunions within the scene - Atheist; Carcass; Sabbat; At The Gates, Emperor, Nocturnus and, of course, Cynic. After a series of demo releases from 1988 to 1991, the band unleashed their seminal work, and only album to date, 1993's 'Focus'. Generally labelled as technical death metal by the media with comparisons rife to their contemporaries Atheist and Death, I always found this to be an unjust classification of Cynic's sound. For me 'Focus' is, in essence, a prog-metal album with some death metal influences. Technical death metal it most certainly is not. With bassist Sean Malone absent from 2008's live incarnation of Cynic (although he has played on forthcoming new album 'Traced In Air'), the position is filled by Robin Zielhorst. Founding members Paul Masvidal (vocals/guitars) and Sean Reinert (drums) remain the key driving force behind the band, and the lineup is completed by newly recruited guitarist Tymon Kruidenier who also performs death growls (far more preferable to the backing tracks of Tony Teegarden's vocals used during the initial reunion shows in 2007). So, can Cynic cut it live in 2008? The answer is a most definite yes, as over an hour and a half, perhaps their longest reunion set thus far, the band astonish and bewilder ProgPower's audience with varied progressive soundscapes that switch between mesmeric psychedelia, technical metal aggression, and passages of John McLaughlin inspired rock-jazz fusion with consummate ease. Having never seen Cynic in the early nineties, it is a sheer unmitigated joy to hear the 'Focus' material live for the first time. The new material aired tonight also demonstrates Cynic are still capable of composing genuinely progressive music 15 years on from 'Focus', proving the band's reunion to be a musically relevant venture rather than a money-making exercise. Frontman Masvidal's largely static presence is a little jarring at first in that he seems entirely disinterested in performing live, although after a few minutes I gather this is simply his understated onstage persona, as his laid-back, witty between song banter testifies. He states at one point his fondness for Baarlo, describing it as some sort of retirement village, which engenders much laughter from regular ProgPower attendees. His use of a vocoder is a vital element to the entrancing qualities of Cynic's often captivating music, and this 'robotic' style of vocal is effectively contraposed with Kruidenier's growls. Reinert's drumming is awe-inspiring, as he pounds his way through a whole array of rhythmic styles while maintaining the finesse that a skilled sticksman should have to pull off such complex and incessantly changing patterns. And Zielhorst proves his worth as a live stand-in for Malone with some skilled playing and lively performance. Collectively, Cynic are stunning, and worthy headliners of ProgPower's second day. I shall now look forward to both 'Traced In Air' and seeing them again with their support slot on Opeth's forthcoming European tour.
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