March 2019’s Featured Band is… Contrarian!

Guys! Dave’s letting me do my first featured band! How dope is that!

It’s been a minute since TMR has done a band close to home, nonetheless one that has enough material to saturate an entire month’s worth of social media posting without repetition. That being said, there aren’t a lot of bands in this area that I’m so smitten with. Not like Contrarian, anyway. And even if you’re new to TMR, I think you should know that by now. Are you sick of it yet? Because I think Contrarian are already sick of it.

But like, it’s perfect, man. Rochester’s progressive death elite are just about to release their third full length, Their Worm Never Dies on the 15th. And guys, it’s a positively phenomenal album. I seriously cannot wait for everyone else to jam this album. I think it’s impossible to be disappointed with this one, as Contrarian do not produce sub-par music. But they have certainly pushed their musical prowess to new levels with this one.

Earlier this year, guitarists Brian Mason and Jim Tasikas were kind enough to let me pick their brains about a whole mess of things, including their upcoming release, why they play progdeath to begin with, and their other musical endeavors. There’s some good stuff in there, and I absolutely encourage you to take a few minuets and check that out.

Ahhhhh and check out this sweet feature in January’s Decibel magazine!

And on top of all that goodness, Brian and Jim have recruited a stellar live lineup for an upcoming tour run. Bassist Bill Bodily (Inhumatus), former vocalist Cody McConnell (Goemagot, ex-Abdicate) and Patrice fucking Hamelin (Gorguts, Beneath the Massacre) will be joining our Rochester natives for an outstanding tour (regardless who else is on the lineup). It’s definitely been a minute since Contrarian have played out live, so this tour won’t be one you want to miss.

You have 31 days to fall in love with this band. And if you give them some time, you will.


February 2019’s Band Of The Month is…..THE RITUAL AURA!

Technical/Progressive Death Metal Titans The Ritual Aura are making waves in the community with the wildly impressive library they have, and promoting their upcoming release “Velothi”.  You may have noticed recently we tried to help the band by promoting their puzzle solving game shit.  There is some sort of prize in the end….I’m not sure what it is, but you may still want to check it out and get on it if it’s not too late.  The band’s guitar work is absolutely obscene, led by mastermind Levi Dale.

Levi and company have created a wildly melodic, atmospheric and diverse sound that every tech/prog metal band doesn’t always accomplish.  He’s found a perfect median between technicality and songwriting, without going overboard.  That can’t be said for a lot of technical and progressive bands, because you can’t always have it both ways…..unless you’re the Ritual Aura!

This band is composed of musicians from around the world (some in Australia), so playing shows will be wildly difficult unfortunately…..but don’t worry, they’ll be releasing music until they die! Levi has another project, and his own record label! Click on the interview in the first paragraph for more information!

I’ve been into this band for a bit since 2016’s offering “Taether”.  They have 2 full lengths (the first being Lanikea) under their belt and “Velothi” will be their third.  Stay tuned for a release date on that behemoth, but its been said 2019 will definitely have new music from TRA camp.  I hope everyone enjoys this wildly talented, diverse and technical band that’ll definitely blow minds.  They were one of the bands I chose last April for that contest I ran for the site’s followers to choose for the next 3 months of featured bands…..They more than deserve the promotion and appreciation, so let’s make it real special for the guys.  Let’s drive up their social media accounts and introduce more people to this vastly underrated band!



January 2019’s Featured Band is….Fractal Universe!



The first featured band for 2019 is the ever so awesome Fractal Universe!  The French group caught my ears when I heard “Sons of Ignorance” off their full length “Engram Of Decline” and I’ve been hooked ever since.  This hard working independent prog/tech death band was also just recently signed to the Metal Blade Records roster as well! I think this band is a force to be reckoned for a multitude of reasons. I say so because they blend the right amount of tasteful work and complex songwriting along with great groove and soulful guitar leads (not wild 400 BPM arpeggios, sweeps and tapping on repeat!).  They’re the total opposite of Spawn Of Possession, Necrophagist and Archspire but they’re just way too good to not be heard of. What can be summed up from my fanboying is they are extremely tasteful songwriters, and are a welcome addition to a genre that can be overdone. The band has been working hard as can be in their own country with their debut offering an EP called “Boundaries Of Reality”.  They’ve relentlessly toured throughout their country and other places, as an independent band.  I’ve known of them for almost 2 years now and it has been great to see the guys progress as a band and artists.

I’m trying not to post any music, so you can check out their songs all month long.  For a new and young band, their music is well crafted and down to a legitimate science.  Fractal Universe should be heard and known about by more people and bands, and deserve a great opportunity at this point.  Getting signed to a great label should be the start of an even brighter future for the band, and couldn’t be any more excited as an avid fan of Fractal Universe.  I wish the guys the best of luck on their new endeavors with the label.  Also, that photo shows there is a new album due out in a few months!   They have been in full promotion mode for “Engram Of Decline” since it’s release two years ago and have recently been recording between shows.  If they gave us a solid offering a few years ago, I highly doubt they’ll disappoint anyone.  To anyone that doesn’t know Fractal Universe…..I hope you do now and will give their music a legitimate shot.  That is the point of these monthly showcases (with possible interviews, whenever I get around to them).



Vale of Pnath is December’s 2018 Band Of The Month!



Well howdy folks! Time for the last feature of 2018 and I summon VALE OF PNATH! I’ve been into Vance Valenzuela’s band for a few years now and despite the wild number of lineup changes the man has impressively kept his band together.  The melodic technical death metal band is out of Colorado and has branched out from their original death metal sound to more prog and tech realms in their most recent efforts….by the way I am proud to share that the band finished recording a new album! In case you didn’t know, they happened to bang that out before supporting The Faceless on their Planetary Duality 10th anniversary tour (being the huge Michael Keene fan that I am….let’s hope for many people’s sakes The Faceless doesn’t drop off).


If you want to make an attempt to go to these shows…..that’s at your own discretion.  It’s good to see Keene showing up, hopefully making positive changes.  Now let’s see some consistent shows and great outcomes for the sake of his band.


I don’t know how I found out about Vale of Vance….er Vale of Pnath.  I stumbled across this great band somewhere but don’t remember where or how.  I’m just lucky as hell that I did, and know of the Pnath.  Vance’s band deserves a lot more recognition starting with the wild and impressive library of his band, let alone the perseverance to keep his band going and never giving up.  Overall they’re a band that is full of potential and a force to be reckoned with.  I hope more people check out VOP as a result of this and if you have already heard their music and know of them then you’re a smart chap.


Now I will leave you with my favorite Vance song “Blacker Than”.  The latest album is my favorite, but I can’t be blamed as that was the first record I checked out by Vale Of Pnath. Stay tech my friends!


The Surrealist Is November’s Artist Of The Month!



To change things up and also promote a very talented and unheard of band, Roopam Garg’s brainchild The Surrealist is TMR’S November Featured Artist.  They’re a very cool prog/pop/kinda fusion/experimental instrumental band out of Boston.  If it could get any cooler he graduated the Berklee School Of Music this year as well.  I first heard of The Surrealist over a year ago, and was totally intrigued.  I haven’t heard much, if any guitarists like him so far in my life.  The context of the music of the Surrealist is very intriguing.  The songs that have been released so far are heavily layered in some parts, and have some wild techniques that will make your jaw drop as far as it ever has.  I think he is such a brilliant guitarist that he will eventually be on Tosin Abasi’s level as an artist…..the style is so unique and refreshing you crave more music! Since I’ve known about the band, they’ve been releasing singles periodically and to my knowledge there’s five songs so far.  Every time there’s a Surrealist clip posted, I’m generally watching it possibly foaming at the mouth.  Oh, and to boot in their short existence….they had a slot in England’s UK Tech Fest this past summer! I believe that was their first show? I’m totally not sure….but that British festival I NEED to go to before my time on this earth is done.

I hope my website’s followers take advantage of this opportunity and dive deep into The Surrealist if they have not heard of this new band yet.  I had an interesting time thinking of a solid, newer band to promote for November that isn’t extreme.  I racked my brain and after a few days BOOM goes the Surrealist to the forefront! The artwork for their covers for the singles are equally as mind-blowing. I am forever grateful for the awesome music that they have gifted the world and hope this month of November in 2018 generates the guys some more traffic and more fans discover their music.  I hope you enjoy their music and Roopam’s guitar clips as much as I have.



From their Facebook profile:

It all begins with a deep desire to explore the unconscious mind and its infinite creative potential. This is The Surrealist. The Surrealist is an American Experimental Progressive band based out of Boston, MA. The band is composed of guitarist Roopam Garg . and drummer John-Marc Degaard Synthesizing sounds from a multiplicity of genres—metal, ambient, minimalism, electronic and film soundtracks—The Surrealist is a reflection of the new era of modern instrumental music. The Surrealist paints upon the canvas of silence and operates on the endpoints of the spectrum of human emotion. Featuring sweeping, whirling guitar lines that cascade over blankets of plush, droning soundscapes, intricate modulating polyrhythms, The Surrealist breaks new grounds and transcends the separation of genres, leaving nothing but a pure sphere of sound. The Surrealist is: Roopam Garg Austin Rockman



October’s Artist Of The Month is….VIRVUM!


October’s featured band is the very potent & young talented prog death metal monsters VIRVUM! These guys grabbed my attention and kicked me in the balls when I heard “Tentacles Of The Sun”.  What makes this newer band so damn great? Well, their guitarists are pretty damn good to start.  They are the type of progressive death metal band that thinks outside the box, and really sticks to melodies and a song rather than showing off with receptive sweep picking patterns on guitar and tapping bass strings constantly.  They focus on creating a soundscape and cinematic experience, rather than just putting together songs.  The songs transition well on their debut “Illuminance” and really set the mood. Their bassist Arran really, really kicks ass.  He adds many great tasty bass leads throughout their only album to date “Illuminance” which is most likely the best release from 2016.  Fear no more techers: they ARE working on a follow up album while monstrously promoting their album and band.

Virvum is from Switzerland.  Europe just has such a great knack for all sorts of metal bands, as evident by many.  I think these guys will only keep getting better, creating great music that will fill the void of some of the genre’s greats who are done (Necrophagist and Spawn of Possession, unfortunately).  They are very underrated and very talented, and my logical choice for October’s follow up in comparison to a totally different prog death band last month in Burial In The Sky.

Enjoy the music from these masterful musicians all month long of October! Buy their shit! Play their album loud! Hear them roar motherfuckers!  And let’s hope we get a new single soon from that aforementioned second album.


Bryan Berger – Vocals
Nic Gruhn – Guitars
Arran McSporran – Bass
Diego Morenzoni – Drums
Toby Koelman – Guitars


Oh, and enjoy the wild bass work on that track that drew me to Virvum…..That freaking chorus, man.

Burial In The Sky is September’s Artist Of The Month!

Burial In The Sky band photo_preview


That’s right people! Psychedelic Prog Deathers BURIAL IN THE SKY are my featured band  for September of 2018! Why? Because they’re DIFFERENT! Having a little bit of talent helps, too.  I love the fact they recruited Zach as their bassist and sexy saxophone man.  He gained extra metal credentials for smoothly shredding sax on the proggy Rivers Nihil masterpiece released earlier this year “Where Owls Know My Name”.  Oh, and Brody from Rivers of Nihil had a guitar solo on the title track of BIT’S 2018 album “Creation Et Hominus”.

Burial In The Sky:

James Tomedi – Guitar

Zach Strouse – Bass/Saxophone

Sam Stewart – Drums

The band released one of 2018’s cooler albums “Create Et Hominus” a few months ago(you can check out more information on the album and the band in my interview.) One of the highlights is James’ smooth, silky and melodic guitar playing.  I love how the band nods to a classic time period for trippy classic rock and MAKES IT WORK.  BITS is not a one trick pony and have consistently proved it since the bands inception.


Smaller or independent bands have harder times reaching new fans and networking other bands.  My goal is featuring said bands monthly, hoping to show new music to my website’s followers and also hoping the return the favor talking about them to others by buying their music and merchandise!  Burial In The Sky also works their asses off as stereotypical Average Joes and not a band that tours 9-10 months of the year.  They have heavily promoted “Creatio Et Hominus” with at least 10-15 shows or maybe even more since its June release. I hope my followers enjoy Burial In The Sky as much as I do! Buy their shit!


Al Di Meola is TMR’S August Artist Of The Month!



Legendary jazz fusion guitarist Al Di Meola is the website’s artist of the month for August! I first want to thank my favorite guitarist who inspired me continuously Zakk Wylde.  If it wasn’t for him putting up a photo online with Al, I may have never known about the man and his great music! Ironically, the same thing happened when Tosin (Animals As Leaders) put a track online saying how great Gilad Hekselman is…..once your musical influences recommend others, you listen without hesitation! And as a result, Gilad is my favorite modern day jazz guitarist since Tosin praised his talents online years ago!


Al is not only a jazzy player, but quite a shredder too…..very in tune with himself and how to put together great songs.  He has great feel and is a very smart artist.  “Race With Devil on Spanish Highway” is a classic from his vast library of music he’s created over the years. I think it was time to promote great music that isn’t an instrumental or tech death style band as much as I love the genres.  I’ve had a growing interest in the experimental and fusion genres the last handful of years, and have been getting my feet wet in the midst of discovering great talent along the way.  Elegant Gypsy is the “Back In Black” (commercial comparison) of jazz fusion….it’s an instant cult classic.





He’s also very interested in classical guitar and flamenco (A Hispanic style of guitar).  The sound of nylon strings is absolutely beautiful, and he wields an acoustic as good as an electric! I think a great player like Al should be more prominent than others in the media but on the other hand such a unique artist should be for people that really appreciate his talents.  He’s been a growing influence on me and hope this brings his art to the forefront and people discover his music just like I did!


Yeah, I had to throw in a picture of him playing a PRS….my favorite guitar company.

Inanimate Existence July 2018 Band Of The Month!




Technical/Progressive Death Metallers Inanimate Existence is TMR’S July 2018 Featured Band Of The Month! As promised, they are this month’s showcased band as they placed third in total votes in May’s Battle Royale.  Plus, I fucking love this band.  The California Trio released their 4th album “Underneath A Melting Sky” last year and I am basically obsessed with it still a year later.  Good news is the guys are working on a follow up already.  I initially heard the band on Youtube I believe.  “Calling From A Dream” was when I heard them for the first time and I love the prog death metal mashup with the female vocals! I loved how diverse their sound was on their 3rd album with occasional clean sections and plenty of death metal too, mixed in with clean vocals and gutturals made it very appealing to me.

IE is not a one trick pony and that’s what I dig about the band.  Frontman and guitarist Cameron is a solid guitarist, to say the least.  The band’s latest album showcased his dramatic improvement as a songwriter and guitarist.  He knows how to harness his immeasurable talent, while making his leads very tasty and melodic…..far from boring and not necessarily repetitive.  Oh, and I get to see my homeboys in a few days on the 3rd when they come to town!


Left to Right: Guitars/Vocals Cameron Porras, Drummer Ron Casey, and Bass/Vocals Scott Bradley


In their short time, they have put out some very tasty passages and some great grooves too.  They’re one of the best bands out there on the scene right now, and a huge underdog.  The sky (HA!) is the limit for Inanimate Existence and if given a great opportunity I know they’d wow the masses of  a bigger festival or tour.  Ron Casey holds down the drums impressively every time he steps behind the kit.  Bradley keeps a great rhythm on bass, and also offers a second set of gutturals that gives the band two different voices in their songs.  The guys were initially signed with Unique Leader Records and within the last few years made the transition to the ever potent and rising Artisan Era record label.


I hope everyone digs IE, checks out their music and makes it to a show! They’re currently tearing it up with The Last Of Lucy and Fields of Elysium! Hope to see some of my local Buffalo metalheads at the show on July 3rd! Stay Tech bitches!








Divinex- June Artist Of The Month!


Divinex is the website’s June featured Band of the month! I have loved this band since they graced me with their presence opening up for CHON at the now defunct Waiting Room in Buffalo.  If you’re on a bill with CHON, it’s pretty damn impressive. The Rochester instrumental trio has earned their way throughout Western New York on many good bills and have recently gotten outside of the area playing many shows between New Jersey, Pennsylvania and other surrounding areas on the east coast.

The boys have gotten better throughout time with their writing….their debut EP “Movements” was absolutely amazing and very shredtacular. Event Horizon is a memorable song with so much melody and rhythm in its 15+ minute existence.  Their first full length “Create Affect Repeat” went against that although it has tons of melody and upped the use of electronics and ambience.  The guys wrote a great melodic album with great guitar duals, and is quite a step up for their impressive debut EP.

Oh, did I forget to say they opened up for Angel Vivaldi a couple times? That same shredder also played a guitar solo on their song “Collide” from “Create Affect Repeat” as well. The album’s artwork is pretty kick ass, as well! The Rochester boys have a very built up arsenal of talent and impressive pedigree so far in the band’s existence.  To boot, I’ve been to a handful if not close to 10ish shows so far of theirs not only are they great live but very cool dudes to boot…’s always good to talk to the band at the shows I’ve been to.  They have represented Western New York very well and continue to do so.

I really, really love Divinex I don’t hide it. They are equally as good as the modern day legends Animals As Leaders.  It’s great to see more instrumental bands, and great ones at that.  I’ve been very keen on that movement, some bands better than others and not every instrumental band sounds the same.  Divinex sticks out among many of their instrumental peers in the genre. I think the sky is the limit for the guys and look forward to the band’s future. You will be hearing a lot about the band all month, so prepare yourselves!


Jay – Guitar / Background Elements
Jon – Guitar
Pat – Drums