Courtesy of Travis Barker’s cultural renaissance and the prominence of artists like Machine Gun Kelly …
2020 may turn out to be one of the finest years in the history of Australian prog. Just consider some of the names that have either released, or will soon put out, new material: Caligula’s Horse, Ne Obliviscaris, We Lost The Sea (ok, putting out an anniversary release, rather than new material), Vanishing Point, sleepmakeswaves, Alithia, to name but a few.
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From the dark and gloomy to the mellow and serene, these names represent a wide spectrum of what the prog world has to offer, and yet they all point to one universal truth: Australia puts out some bloody good prog.
The Long Dream I by Ballarat’s Ebonivory is another release that you can add to the 2020 prog treasure trove. It’s the first of a two-part concept release (hence the slightly ambiguous “I” in the title) metal and rock platter where opening track Introduction, a short instrumental that’d be at home in any recent Devin Townsend album, immediately establishes what to expect.
Single Patting The Black Dog feels like a multi-faceted beast, almost as if it were a showreel that encapsulates what Ebonivory can do in one song. Gentle synths and bouncy riffs accompany a mood that readily flows from menacing to uplifting, but which doesn’t break character.
It’s music that is complex but not needlessly technical, that likes to walk into different rooms while changing its mood and pace.
Follower Cats may come across as too sedate and loungey for an album that contains metal riffs. Or at least it feels that way until the song builds and progresses into a climactic display of vocalist Charlie Powlett’s range. There’s an epic feel to the second half of this song but at 4:13 it feels like it’s over too soon. Explosions After Dark, another single, begins in readily recognisable metal riff territory. Then it throws a curve ball of quiet, before catching you unawares again with some screechy vocals.
As you might surmise from the song descriptions, variety is the constant characteristic on The Long Dream I. When things mellow, they don’t remain there long enough to become boring; and when they intensify, they bring you back before you’re overwhelmed.
The shifts in moods, time changes, loud and quiet dynamics, and the overall vibe–these things tend to be sudden, tight, and unexpected. The overall feel is that of an album where the direction is pushed on a whim into faster, lighter, slower or heavier places, but never seemingly without purpose. It’s music that is complex but not needlessly technical, that likes to walk into different rooms while changing its mood and pace. Mastered by Karnivool’s Forrester Savell, it’s a credit to the band that something so musically ambitious was otherwise self-produced. Kudos must also go to Powlett’s unmistakeable Aussie accent shining through many of his vocals. Indeed, it’s another reminder that 2020 may be a magnificent year for Aussie prog.
STANDOUT TRACKS: Tales of Termina, Patting the Black Dog, Cats
STICK THIS NEXT TO: Caligula’s Horse, sleepmakeswaves, Voyager