Hybridism Self Titled EP

Instrumental djenters Hybridism have released their debut EP last week.  The band brings a lot more to their sound than just being heavy.  In the new era of metal where extended range guitars of 7+ strings tend to be of larger use to the younger crowd, a lot of those bands tend to have the same rhythms and ideas to an extent.  I’m glad to report these guys are far from that.  They’re artistic, melodic, and solid composers especially for a debut EP.  I heard lots of great melodies paired with their dynamic rhythms, some more subtle than others that stuck out more.  The fluent guitar is one big aspect that drew me in.  All the licks man, all the licks. The feeling in the guitar leads is really worthy of repeating. Lots of players tend to get lost in speed and forget about putting emotion and mood into their guitar work.



Guitars – Jeffrey Wallace
Guitars – Alex Kpp
Bass Guitar – Mulli Mulles
Drums – Lucas Billon


The band’s empowering rhythm section really drives their sound.  Jeff and Alex are stellar guitarists, but are lucky to have a stellar drummer and bassist to keep them on point.  Hybridism has that laid back western USA Animals As Leaders vibe, which isn’t a bad thing by any means.  If you aren’t really into the genre, try these guys out for size.  They’re not your stereotypical djent metal band, and they’re instrumental to boot if you’re not one for an aggressive vocal set.  They pack a lot of atmosphere into there sound, and a little bit of synth too.  Hybridism has a fairly expansive sound, and brings that wall of sound directly to those ears of yours.




Hybridism is really a good band, and in my opinion is off to a great start in their short existence with their self titled debut EP.  Check it out below and if you live within the realms of Belgium what is there to lose? Go check them out live!


Dream Theater- Distance Over Time

One big reason why I was swayed into the progressive realms are the legendary lads of Dream Theater.  Now before I state my opinion on this album, I’m gonna blabber whether you agree or not. Mike Portnoy IS an amazing songwriter and artist, and does have a huge impact on songwriting.  Was his ego getting worse wanting to make money with Avenged Sevenfold as a fill in? He suggested a “break”, but ended up helping out those guys…..so was it for the better? That’s up to you, as we all have a right to an opinion.  For the sake of chemistry, yes.  There were so many great drummers that auditioned in the likes of Marco Minneman, Derek Roddy, and their current drummer Mike Mangini.  Portnoy isn’t coming back, and has even hung out with guitar master John Petrucci on many occasions stating they’re still friends.  Yeah it sucks, considering the wild amount of songs he’s written and talent he possesses but that’s life.  Mangini himself was/is a drum teacher at Berklee of Boston, as most of the band was originally attending that college in it’s early days.  Portnoy isn’t coming back, they’re getting older and we have to appreciate the time they have left on this earth as musicians let alone as humans.  For all you know, they could bow out gracefully like the mighty Rush did with Neil Peart’s health issues.  I for one, hope they keep going and composing stellar music. Another thing I admire about Dream Theater is their split tours, as they’re all family men.  We all need time with our spouses and children, and don’t go on crazy lengths of tour cycles.  They’re not reckless alcoholics or addicts who just live it up to their fullest for that high.  They’re gentlemen, and respectable ones at the least for that.

Now for the people in the back……this is their best album since Mangini joined the band.  WHAT? Let me explain my opinion before you all freak out. I loved Dramatic Turn of Events, but there was an internet (can’t believe everything you see on it!) rumor that Portnoy had his parts composed.  Mangini came in, and played Portnoy’s finished drum parts that the guys showed him to.  Is that true? I don’t know, it’s just one of those dumb rumors.  It was still heavy, pretty melodic and the lyrics had some stellar meaning.  It wasn’t too over the top, and still a well written album.   On the first album where Mangini composed his own drum parts was the self titled album.  That album was pretty cool, especially the huge ass song “Illumination Theory” with that emotional middle section of the keyboards and rainforest sounds.  It’s a wild, beautiful and epic 23 minute ride.  I think it’s better than some people give it credit for.  And for the black sheep in the room…..the only time I personally put disappoint and Dream Theater in the same sentence was for 2016’s “The Astonishing”.  They have put together a few of the better concepts of the last 4 decades, and well this concept album just bored the hell out of me. The music was okay, and the storyline was a bit boring to me…..I tried several times to get into it, believe me.  When there’s “Scenes From a Memory”, that last album was nowhere near in the same realm as “Scenes”.

Now for the latest album, “Distance Over Time”.  I think the guys wanted more clear, concise music without as much of the wild instrumental sections that took up a couple of minutes at some points.  And, maybe LaBrie wanted more consistent vocal sections rather than a few sections of around 4 minutes then another 5 minutes of epic instrumental sections.  It’s a more melodic and tamed album from a wildly innovated and experimental band.  Is it for every Dream Theater fan? Maybe not.  I think they crammed a perfect amount of music and notes, and not too much to where it’s overwritten (if you know what I mean, musicians).  Sometimes music needs room to breathe, and doesn’t need to have a billion notes played per minute.  There were actually some quicker sections rhythmically, believe it or not.  Petrucci’s guitar solos were stellar, as usual.  The more I listened I think he went for a similar mission…..the younger John would have shredded his arse off with some feeling.  I think the older he’s gotten, he’s grown accustom for feeling and emotion rather than speed.  Sometimes you need the right style and melody of a guitar solo that connects a song, rather than a sweet “Lines In The Sand” solo that’s like a whole song within itself.  I was all over his “Rock Discipline” effort and constantly jammed to it as a fellow guitarist, which his chromatic influence in his guitar leads inspired me to use that style.  Playing along to his exercises then influenced my style in that sense, to say the least.


John Myung (bass), Jordan Rudess (keyboards), James LaBrie (vocals), Mike Mangini (drums), and John Petrucci (guitars)

The complaint I’ve seen is people think Mangini’s drumming is robotic…..well, I don’t really agree with that.  I think he’s doing a stellar job, and this latest release proves it.  He has some great fills, and also does what a really good drummer does…..keep the groove. Sometimes less is more, and sometimes more is needed.  I fully believe Mike Mangini understands that, and has damn near perfectly executed that on “Distance Over Time”.  His partner in crime in the rhythm section the ever so talented John Myung on bass really shines, as he normally does.  The extremely quiet human being is awfully loud on this album, methinks. Album after album he consistently keeps a great groove, and some sweet fills to keep their music spicy and flavorful.

LaBrie’s voice was pretty good, and the one thing I’ve always dug about him was his ability to portray the right emotions at the right time.  He has the right tone and melodic ideas vocally over their mellow and quieter parts….a stellar vocal performance.  Jordan’s keyboards weren’t as upfront lead wise, and took a different direction with the band as well.  John and Jordan have a few sweet harmonies on the record, which is always killer to hear.  Rudess went more into the background, enhancing the melody and backing up John during his wild guitar solos (like during “At Wit’s End”…..just great keyboard work, as usual).  It was weird to hear from such an expressive keyboard player, but you know it’s Rudess based on his style.  Don’t worry, his keys were the main instrument of the ballad “Out Of Reach”.  Overall, I think the band blended that more controlled yet still melodic and progressive style they have always had.  They had a better grasp at it, and really refined that sound.  Similar to when Rush refined their sound after the 1970’s going into the 1980’s.  Is it bad? Again, that’s up to you but I think it’s as cool.  All they did was fit more music in shorter 5 to 9 minute songs instead of a handful of songs for a 75 minute progressive offering.  “Distance Over Time” is definitely a more mature and precise output from a generally wild Progressive Metal band, who has put out their best album since “A Dramatic Turn Of Events”.  I might even be willing to say close to the same level (of my favorite modern era Dream Theater of the last 15 years) as the great “Black Clouds And Silver Linings”.  Give this album a shot, and understand the band’s vision.  It’s a great album that shouldn’t be picked apart negatively and passed on just because one main cog isn’t in the band anymore.  Listen to it with open ears and minds please.  It’s a fantastic album.  Thanks Dream Theater, for another stellar output! And thank you for getting me into the wild world of progressive music, as well.


Cognitive/Monotheist/The Machinist/Alukah/Sastruga 2-9-18 Casa Di Fransesca’s

So we helped keep this show in Buffalo, and we got assigned jobs.  Vick was running doors and collecting teh monies, and for some reason they trusted Dave to do sound.  It went okay, unusually enough! Dave took some crappy pictures but was right on stage side, so we just won’t put them up on here out of respect for these solid bands.  And some of the mosh pits kinda made it tough……so yeah no fuzzy pics.


For some reason, Vick and myself asked like 10 (close to!) bands and NOBODY could hop on as local support.  We were legit fishing for a couple weeks….so fucked Vick even memed us on our journey looking for a local band.  After we cast a line to at least 8 closing on 10 bands, we FINALLY got a bite…..from Rochester tech freaks SASTRUGA.  We both love the band, and they chomped at the bait.  I first saw them open up for Seplophile and was beyond blown away.  Buffalo couldn’t pull off a band as technical, heavy, and entertaining as Sastruga.  Vick is a Sastruga veteran and has been harping about them for so long I’ve finally seen the light this time was the convincing show. The fret work is absolutely blistering, technical and also well written…..not Brain Dill wild, but enough that you won’t be lulled to sleep or feel like they’re repeating the same licks.  Sastruga not only is a technical powerhouse, they put on a hell of a show to backup their enormous talent.  Alex’s drumming is an absolute treat to see live, and their bassist Dan has some tasty licks when the guitarists aren’t going batshit crazy.   Guitarist and Vocalist Dan (YES THERE’S TWO DANS!) voice is as stellar as his fretwork, having them consistent gutturals almost like Steffen of Obscura who is kinda like these Rachacha tech powerhouses…..wait did I just type that? According to my colleague Vick, the guys are working on an actual full length which will be wild. The guys made Western New York proud that evening…..and even Cognitve embraced them at the end of the night, who headlined the show.  If that’s not respect, I don’t know what is. The demo doesn’t do them any justice but at least you have some tunes to backup these wild words until that full length is done.


Vick being Vick HAD TO CHOOSE the photo I put online of wearing the poop emoji hat I won at a local fairground a few summers ago.  She’s good at these memes.


This band was a last minute add-on, literally a few days before the show.  They were supposed to play somewhere in Rochester and the show fell through is what I remember hearing? Either way, they put on a powerful performance and didn’t slack one bit.  This death metal crew from Baltimore brought the extended range pain, and really proved their worth in my opinion. The brutal 5 piece kept the train a rollin’ that Sastruga started earlier in the evening. I talked with their drummer Dan before they played (ANOTHER DAN HOW ODD!) and was as nice as could be.  The rest of the band was thankful for the show, and even got some props for running the sound board. You can check out their EP and one of their newest tracks below!




Enter New York City’s THE MACHINIST……..yeah, wow.  This progressive metal band really, really grooves. And, they really tore the roof off. The energy this band was just absolutely influential and radiating.  I did my homework and checked out one of their albums a few weeks before the show, and dug their interesting sound.  I wasn’t totally familiar with them and they totally surpassed any expectations I had.  Very, very solid live band to say the least.  The energy started from their vocalist Amanda and was a constant force to the rest of the band their whole set, and to the crowd as well. I didn’t even know their vocalist was female, until I listened to the album and checked out the band! Without even looking up any info, you’d think it was a guy with how heavy her voice is……and yeah I’ll say it’s even BETTER live. Way to go against the stereotype.  Her stage presence was probably the best of anyone that evening. If you want to try a new band and has the talent to back up the show (rhythmically speaking, as well!) give The Machinist a try if they every play near your neck of the woods.   TOTALLY WORTH your time, trust me.  Check out their music below and TRY not to break your neck, I dare you.




Next up is one of the biggest reasons I wanted us to help keep this show in our area.  If you remember I loved the band’s latest release “Scourge” from last year.  The Florida progressive death metal band by far had the most unique sound on this absolutely bonkers tour package.  Their heavy track layering, emotion, melodic guitar solos and interesting rhythms are just the beginning of the sound of this underrated band.   I wasn’t disappointed with the set by any means, being slightly new to the group for almost 2 years it just brought everything together.  I was so happy they made the trek to hit up my small town, coming from so far away.  They blend the perfect mix of technicality, melody and emotion to their songwriting.  Monotheist won’t go Necrophagist crazy on you, but there’s plenty of stellar riffs and beautiful guitar solos they’ll throw in your face.  And some pretty heavy vocals, as well.  The sound is absolutely comprehensive considering they’re a newer band (“Scourge” is only their 3rd album). You need more of a reason to check ’em out? There’s also some saxophone, flute and conga drums on the latest album as well!  I HIGHLY SUGGEST THIS BAND! If you desire an original progressive death metal band pushing the boundaries of the genre, Montheist will be a stellar choice for you.  You can check out their latest album below!


Enter the tour headliners, my Jersey boys COGNITIVE.  These guys have always been brutal and heavy as fuck, and did they ever prove it.  Their latest release from last year “Matricide” was absolutely head turning, if you never heard of the band.  I never, ever questioned the bands sound….but what really pleased me was they got a GREAT production, with more guitar leads and even better grooves than their earlier work! The mix turned out beautiful, and is a listenable record production wise.  Don’t need to question the band’s talents, the guitar work is absolutely flawless and a huge standout. An okay production can deter you from listening to a band and honestly may have been guilty of it with Cognitive, but man I’ve had “Matricide” on repeat for MONTHS now. The band overall has matured and on that album had better song structures. There are even greater vocals with an equally diverse range as well.   Their performance that evening was absolutely mind-blowing and tight as could be.  Ansh (Wormhole’s vocalist) filled in for their other guitarist on this tour, and seeing his talents well just put me through the roof.  I already know how stellar of a vocalist he is, but man he didn’t hold back playing guitar. Seeing him and Rob Wharton rip it up on guitar was one hell of a treat, I have to be honest.  You can check out their super impressive and most polished album “Matricide” right below.  DON’T FORGET TO SUPPORT THESE BANDS FOOLS!

Every band was a serious treat, and a diverse bill with something for many metalheads who are sub genre nerds (some tech, prog, death metal for everyone!).  For the price of admission, the audience got one heck of a show many people missed out on.  Every band was extremely nice and helpful, as well.   As much as I liked these bands, interacting with them and seeing their human side increased my respect for these artists.  Everyone was down to earth, and a great time was had by all.  Y’all done fucked up A-aron, if you didn’t show up!


Trayen Burke releases single “Gravity”

Constructs guitarist Trayen Burke has gone on his own adventure while his mainstay is recording a follow up to their EP “Shapes”.  He has been hinting at working on his own music and this GLORIOUS track dropped, and absolutely love it.  Constructs is an instrumental djent band, inspired by heavier atmospheric layers and melody.  But what I dig about Burke’s sound (based off one song) is it’s a bit more technical, and just as heavy as Constructs…..so it isn’t exactly the same.  Give your ears something different, tasty, heavy and soulful. Correct me if I’m wrong, but it looks like that’s Jared from Rivers Of Nihil on drums? Maybe my eyes are deceiving me? If “Gravity” is a sign of things to come, then wow……we’re in for a treat. If Constructs releases new music this year we will have two great releases from Trayen! Check out the awesome song below and pay attention to both of his projects!

Archaic Decapitator- The Apothecary

Progressive Melodic Death Metal outfit Archaic Decapitator is releasing their upcoming EP “The Apothecary” on April 19th and we have our extremely invaluable opinion on that upcoming effort! The band recently added Xenosis drummer Gary Marotta to their lineup as their drummer, and didn’t hesitate at all to get familiar with this band.  If anyone in Xenosis (their album from last year was totally overlooked) has a hand in a project, I’m sure as heck going to check it out.  And here we go!

The guys have a very melodic sound on their frantic EP, but add a little bit of progressive and black metal structuring to some of their sound.  A couple of the tracks are longer, with track length not in mind as they seamlessly put together a stellar effort.  If you love mixing your metal genres without sacrificing quality, Archaic Decapitator totally fits that to a tee.


You can check out the song they JUST released this week titled “Skyward” right below!



Kyle Quintin: Vocals 
Craig Breitsprecher: Bass & Backing Vocals
Yegor Savonin: Guitar 
Gary Marotta: Drums 
Christopher Ridley: Guitar 
Marotta’s drumming is a foreseen highlight on “The Apothecary”. Craig locks down the bass, adding a lot of depth and low end to the band’s sound. I really dig the guitar duo of Yegor and Chris, blending together a heavy influence of Opeth’s first 3 albums and classic black metal like Dissection that add some melody to their raw heaviness.  Kyle’s awesome vocals really stand out on this effort. The band will most likely fly under the radar with the plethora of music that gets released, but make sure you pin this band down and highlight them so you don’t forget! You can check out the band’s two previous offerings right here and also get your preorder in! Don’t worry, you have plenty of time with about 2 months until the release date.  I would do it sooner than later, to be honest. I loved this EP and highly suggest this to you metalheads!




Huelga is a one man instrument mathcore/death metal instrumental project by Mike Fonseca.  If you love your djent, mathcore with some sneaky melodies you’ll love his music.  The EP is expected to drop March 31st so keep your eyes peeled! The sound of the band is really tight, and isn’t boring at all.  It’s very groovy and gets melodic at times…..and isn’t repetitive.  Mike plans on releasing a cassette as well of this upcoming EP, which you can do so here.

The rhythms are pretty nice as well.  I think he totally stands out in the world of increasing instrumental projects.  If you enjoyed the one band I covered Pathos And Logos you’ll probably dig Huelga who’s similar to P&L but heavier.  Mike didn’t overwrite or overdo the music, and is at a stellar medium where there’s enough going on but your brain isn’t on overload trying to comprehend everything. You can check out an interview he did last month right here. He also derives a lot of influence from artists such as Frank Zappa and plenty of heavy metal as well.

The drums are pretty heavy and groove really hard.  Sometimes it gets quick enough that makes you think back to the 1980’s thrash metal days.  Overall it’s a stellar debut I think people should check out.  It’s not of the lighter side of instrumental bands like Intervals, but don’t expect to be lulled to sleep because this project is heavy.  Mike is awfully talented considering he also did the instrumentation for the songs.  Grab this bad boy once it’s released!


Warforged announce new album “I:Voice” album out May 10th with teaser video

Chicago’s progressive blackened death metal band Warforged announced their debut full length (they have an EP “Essence Of The Land” from 2014).  These guys have been on the road playing all kinds of shows, and been recording their first full length for a while.  In celebration of their accomplishment the band compiled a teaser video with their record label The Artisan Era.

This video was more unique than about every teaser video for an album, because it included quick snippets of guitar playthroughs of every song on the album……maybe they are also going to launch a FULL album playthrough? Either way you slice it, it’s a sweet way of promoting your upcoming album.

What is even wilder is the all star cast of musicians that lent their talents to this record…Dallas Toller Wade (Narcotic Wasteland, Ex-Nile), Christian Munzner (Ex-Obscura, Alkaloid), Dan Garguilo (Revocation, Artificial Brain), Steve Boiser (Tethys, Inferi, Equipoise, Ashen Horde), Kevin Hufnagel (Gorguts, Dysrhythmia), Will Smith (Artificial Brain), Poh Hock (Native Construct), Craig Bruenger (Ahtme) and even MORE GUEST MUSICIANS! I know, it sounded like a terrible middle of the night scam advertisement on TV…..but there really is a laundry list of seasoned musicians on this Warforged album.


This progressive melodic blackened death metal (i THINK i got every genre in there?) is set to release “I:Voice” on May 10th and can be preordered already for you early birds!



Left Eye Perspective Official Premiere of “Death Of The Sun”

Progressive Metal group Left Eye Perspective is premiering their single “Death Of The Sun” today through us and we couldn’t feel any more honored! These guys mix a sludgy, stoner sound with the melodic prog style that peaks its head out every now and then.  The song is taking from their upcoming EP “Defiance!” officially out March 2nd.  The band is a riff heavy prog band similar to my Mastodon boys. I love their dynamic guitar work, rhythms and eclectic vocals. I’ve been waiting on this project for a final product, and man am I glad the patience paid off.  There is so much emotion and mood packed into this 7 and a half minute epic you’ll be craving more.  But you’ll have to wait until March for that! For now, we hope you enjoy this new jam.

Denis Shvarts- Dreamology


Dark Matter Secret mastermind Denis Shvarts released his second solo effort “Dreamology”.  It’s a pretty different sound compared to his wildly technical instrumental band, but still has that trademark sound he’s achieved.  His first album “Through The Universe” came out in 2014, but the further I went into “Dreamology” the more I came to the realization it’s more polished.  His debut album was raw, yet still very heavy.  I feel his newer release is well written AND produced, his sound is wider and more melodic than the first album.  This guy is so underrated its sickening, and not many people know of his wild talents on guitar.


Lineup for “Dreamology”:
Denis Shvarts – Guitars & Music
Pavel Semin – Fretless Bass (Dark Matter Secret, Irreversible Mechanism)

Here’s a playthrough from “Dreamology”.  You’ll see another video below of how his projects differ in sound…..his own moniker is more melodic, a bit less wild and more diverse.  

Shvarts’ playing has caught my eye since I heard his band’s full length “Perfect World Creation” 2 years ago.  He has the talent where he makes music, not boring and annoying shred repeating the same pattern…..OVER, AND OVER.  Denis will surprise you at every chance he gets, and then some.  Give his second album a try, it’s extremely entertaining and a bit jazzy at times.  There’s a rock sound in here, that isn’t obviously present in Dark Matter Secret.  Pavel’s bass playing is absolutely flawless.  The two of them have a great chemistry and understand each other PERFECTLY.

And here’s the mighty Dark Matter Secret.  You can tell the total difference in sound right away…..much more technical, heavier, extreme and the rhythms are more complex and weirder than his solo project.  Either band is a stellar choice, but both don’t necessarily sound the same.

“Dreamology” is out now and available on his bandcamp.  It will eventually be on the Apple platforms sooner than later.  Check out the album below! Enjoy this amazing piece of music!

The Ritual Aura Official Premiere Of New Song “Elysian Flesh-Divinity”

How fitting that TMR’S 300th article is a premiere from an amazing band?! No disrespect to the awesome music I’ve premiered before, I didn’t know of those bands before we communicated.  This instance however…..I’ve been following The Ritual Aura shortly after the debut was released and have an emotional connection and already know the band.  I am extremely honored and excited with permission from the guys to premiere their first single from their upcoming album “Velothi” titled “Elysian Flesh-Divinity”.  The Ritual Aura still bring the heat, don’t worry people.  And how freaking sweet is that we got this track, just in time for their monthly artist showcase for this month? Dumb luck I gotta say, but awesome! What I dig about the band is their personal will, and listening to their own artistic desires and what to write…..their guitarist Levi personally told me that “this album has been no-rules so far as writing goes”.  Well hot dang, are they EVER accomplishing that.

Maybe you all might give them the Irreversible Mechanism treatment, but open your ears and minds people.  It took me a few listens to come around to “Immersion”, and to understand their sound and mission as artists.  I love “Infinite Fields”, but the second album is a different sound I legit had to “immerse” (HA HA) myself in it and be taken away figuratively to another world.

In regards to The Ritual Aura, it’s not as “tech” as their previous work….but I’ll be damned. It’s a progressive, melodic adventure with SO MANY LAYERS! Strings, singing, and shredly guitar work from their amazing duo.  There’s a bit of black metal influence here channeling their inner Immortal or Dissection and that raw black metal sound Opeth had on their first 3 albums.  I love it, because it’s different.  TRA never had a black metal sound I’ve seriously noticed until now…..and I love it.  I didn’t need a few listens to enjoy the new song…..I think it was a great change in pace from their wildly technical sound, and something more melodic with some black metal and strings mixed in for a wild song.  I hope you all enjoy the track as much as I did!