When discovering rock back in the very early 70s as a teenager, the exploding hormones certainly found a haven within loud and crunchy power riffs, being raised on Deep Purple, Sabbath, and Led Zep, to name only the obvious. Yes, banging heads was fun and more enjoyable than taking a sauna to clear out the pores in torrents of perspiration. Fifty years later, the thrill is not quite the same, as a sense of musical subtlety inevitably takes root and the metallic chords sound a bit redundant, only occasionally adding much needed zest to a track. Hence, not a big follower of prog metal, in general but there have been exceptions, such as the Cyberiam, Ghost Toast, Lalu, Leprous, Esprit D’Escalier, and the incredible Hackberry, among a few others. LA multi-instrumentalist Scott Mosher reached out to the Rogue and suggested his new album, which threw all my preconceptions to the wind, and it require a few listening adjustments to really dive into the music, which is described rather amusingly (talk about polarized) ambient-metal but its not pureed or blended into a sonic smoothie but rather well structured into the modern rock sensibility by adding immense daubs of atmosphere that set up the instrumental and vocal onslaught that naturally progresses from one track to the next . Most prog-metal bands use various keyboards on occasion to create organ rushes or huge bombastic orchestrations, but the source is not vintage Tangerine Dream or Klaus Schulze! Oceans of Night (with Alan Smithee handling the kit) offers drum thunder, guitar lightning, the bass very very frightening and Figaro or Galileo manning the magnifico synthesizer onslaught, whilst four guest vocals adding their expanding lung power to the mix. Not exactly Bohemian Rhapsody, but close.

“Servants of Shadow-New Dawn” is a perfect introduction, a rising sun of sequencer-crazy synthesized rays shining through the power chords, rustling into an ever-growing atmosphere, the temperature rising into a new sunlit universe. It also features a keyboard solo from the afore mentioned Vivien Lalu as he duels with Scott, whipping up quite the Hillage-era Gong frenzy.  From that moment on, the journey truly begins with a thrilling vocal from Scott Oliva on “Before the Fall” and its choppy/twirly fretboard flurry that will ‘open your eyes’. On the flowing “Siren”, bubbly synths introduce Nina Hirten’s sophisticated voice, acting the part of a bewitching call from the sea, while Scott agitates the throttle into a colossal vortex of spiralilng rhythms and leads, as the tension ebbs and then rises like the tidal waves of a nocturnal ocean.

The instrumental masterwork that is “Vast and Infinite” was the exact moment where I really fell under the spell, a moody bass sea serpent slithering along, egging on the other instruments, bright colliding electric guitar expanses merging with the sleek synthesizer colorations in a seamless delivery that fears no reaper, elevating the grandiloquence to epic heights. Thunderous track.

Pablo Zuccala handles the microphone on “Closer to the Edge” (pun intended?), with an intricate delivery on a more conventional metal piece, yet still adorned with a fair number of varietal inflections. On the mystical instrumental “Obelisk”, the arrangement deviates once again into sonic realms that underline a keen sense of discovery, a highly cinematic platform with contrast, brightness, and balance, tossing some awe-inspiring shifts and technical prowess. Think ‘La Villa Strangiato’, from the three Canadians proggers.

“Man Clothed in the Light of the Sun” slows down the frantic pace into a somewhat calmer expanse, still threatening in the background, but definitely moodier and more inquisitive, with the focus clearly on the synthesized melodies. A welcome continuation in the onward trek, heading to the title track, where vocalist April Rach seizes the sonic rains with a clever display, as Scott unleashes a torrent of sizzling notes that scour the mind with echoing conflicts. The epic 9 minute + “No Turning Back” is perhaps the highlight of the night, an unhurried, well-structured aural evolution with a cosmic introduction, and the return of Pablo’s exalted voice as the haunting choir raises the hair on the extremities. The angelic mid-section is like a mandarin fantasy, an oasis of sweeping synthesizers conjuring a series of flickering mirages in a mind’s eye, Scott’s glittering fretboard solos becoming the only possible salvation. The accelerator pedal is pressed back into action, returning to another vocal expression that finishes on an ideal extended note. No turning back indeed.

The Aztec god of death “Mictaltecuhtli” governed the underworld, here presented as a skull-fracturing assault on the senses, owl feathers swirling, broken bones, and death-defying leaps into the unknown. Nina returns on “Distant”, her superlative vocals spent on long haunting notes within a suavely sung melody and a more accessible, almost gothic structure. A great segue into the final number, the resplendent “Event Horizon”, where an electronic arrangement sets up the increasingly fizzy guitar slashes, bubbling into a tornado of shimmering dust, a tranquil disclosure of perception and a truly magnificent culmination.

On the whole, the instrumental parts are all top notch and original, in that its not the same riff repeated ad nauseam, with attention to flow, and intensity, melody and technique. I really enjoyed all the vocalists, as they all differed from the other, a most welcome diversion.

4 brain cyclones