Tuesday, March 31, 2015


Good evening once again fellow progheads!  Spring is nudging her way onto the calendar and into the atmosphere, while Winter seems to have a death grip on the thermometer...but alas, I fear not! My search for all things prog is heating up and the Concert Closet has been traveling at warp speed in search of  something fresh and stimulating to ring in the season.  The Mighty Bard was a brilliant way to ring out the cold and mark my exodus (for now) from the UK.  This week finds the Concert Closet back on domestic turf--escaping the final icy grasp of winter--in sunny California listening to the multi-layered sounds of Epoch.

Referring to themselves simply as "...an original prog rock band...," Epoch makes a bold statement with just five words.  Knowing that many an "original" band tries to take cover under the prog umbrella, I feel compelled to check out the definition of original as defined by Epoch.  So if I have to take the Concert Closet to a warmer climate for seven days, then suffer I will (he said sarcastically)...

Cutting a path to the buffet for my opening round, I come away with a vibrant first serving, "Colossus."  The song opens with an auditory curtain being drawn back to reveal something macabre at first, but repeated listening exposes a piece of music that is complex, explosive, and yes--original. There are strong top notes of Dream Theater and Black Sabbath permeating this piece.  Guitars don't so much explode as much as they simply pour a thick coating over the music; much like the chocolate dip you enjoyed on your ice cream cone as a kid.  The drums hit hard and strike fast, bringing the song together with a solid foundation.  These seven days are off to a metallic start so you'd better get ready for a bumpy ride...isn't that right Barbara?

The next offering from the prog buffet is a song called "Terran Tula."  The carnival-like keyboard opening is extremely short-lived as once again Epoch hits you square in the cranium with a piece of darkness that pulls you inside yourself.  I sense aromas of Tool and Liquid Tension Experiment with a dose of Opeth added to the mix just for the fun factor.  Epoch takes you on an abstract roller coaster ride that punches through to the dark side without leaving you in hell.  Every note is crisp and tight, while echoing vocals wrap around your ears and squeeze until you feel as though you've been turned inside out.

Liner Notes...calling San Jose, CA home, Epoch is Randall Cieri on lead guitar and backing vocals, Mike Underwood on bass and backing vocals, Brad Mayol on lead vocals and keyboards, and Tim Franks on drums and electronic percussion.  Epoch has been cultivating the metallic darker corners of the prog garden since 2010 and working hard to become masters of their craft.  Having earned individual music awards and degrees as well as performing in several other prog/metal bands, the members of Epoch together are now carving their own progressive rock identity...with a chainsaw...

Selection number three--the final morsel from the buffet this week-- is another explosive piece called "The Red Dragon is Under the Queensboro Bridge."  The seemingly obligatory dark opening leads to a door from which guitars and drums are only too happy to leap once you turn the knob.  Oddly enough however, once the demons are exposed to the light the bitter edge becomes a bit more palatable.  Don't get too relaxed--Epoch is poised to bore through your ear drums and explode dead center in your brain...listen closely as this piece leaps through mood and tempo changes like Bugs Bunny eluding Elmer Fudd.

The clip posted below for your personal consumption is "Calling the Spirit."  This piece starts out more melodic than previous songs.  Epoch is still able to go for the throat; they just decided to make the attack more subtle this time around.  The guitar fills your head just enough to leave room for a bass line Chris Squire would be proud of, while keyboards and drums occupy your subconscious much like the need to breathe occupies the automatic section of your brain.  Epoch leads you on a road trip across the prog galaxy with this tune...think Dream Theater meets Marillion meets Yes for a game of Truth-or-Dare...learn more about Epoch at http://www.epochband.com/index.php.  You can also follow the band on Twitter at @EPOCHBAND.  Look for more of Epoch's music at https://myspace.com/epochrock/music/songs

It can be difficult if not downright impossible to not be compared to or labeled with peers or forerunners of any genre.  However;  Epoch seems to take that in stride and wear the badge with honor. Comparisons to the heavy-hitting standard bearers sets the bar high...the better to challenge yourself with.  Spending seven days with Epoch revealed a different side of prog metal...and one must peel back the armor plating to get a glimpse. The metal section of the prog garden has fertile soil; Dream Theater, Opeth, and Led Zeppelin are but three offshoots that have flourished in the "dark sunshine."  Epoch is following the lead and unfurling their own banner..staking out their own territory.

As the saying goes, never rest on your laurels.  The search for all things prog continues to unearth the dark stones that need polish and the bright shining gems that burn a lasting image.  Time for the Concert Closet to continue the quest...until next week...

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