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The best Prog you can buy this month

Album Review

Jo Kendall on the latest releases from Gold Key, Trojan Horse, Eloy, Nordic Giants and The Cravats

Gold Key - Hello Phantom

Who’dathunk that the future of alt.prog could a) lie in the mitts of a band from Watford and b) come from former members/affiliates of punk snarlers Gallows (with a little help from Sikth)? Well, hello to four-piece Gold Key, who’ve swapped the throat-shredding fury of former days in favour of impassioned, melodic swagger that borrows fulsomely from Radiohead and Muse, with no small measure of Mansun.
It’s a mix that’s evocative but instantly grabbable, vocalist Stephen Sears’s empyrean reach part electric goat, part Paul Draper howl, and former Gallows man Laurent Barnard laying shimmering guitar lines over darkly psychedelic rock, such as the Bond thematic Sneaker and The Shape. There’s a gutsier groove to singalongs Creep In Slowly and Circle The Moon and straighter rock rambunctiousness to Kerosene and Mess, but there’s always something subversive simmering away, such as the textured, techno glitch on Explode or the mandolin arpeggio on Falling Through The Middle. Overall, Hello Phantom is worth a proggy punt. (7/10)

Trojan Horse - Fukushima Surfer Boys

Trojan Horse have lost their long-time drummer but found a new, electronic niche. That’s not to say there’s none of their usual sparky, psychedelic guitarprog; How You Gonna Get By and I Wanna See My Daddy hammer that nail. With guests including Jimi Goodwin and Marillion bassist Pete Trewavas guesting, we’ll go with their freaky flow. (6/10)

Eloy - The Sword, The Vision And The Pyre

Eloy’s first album in eight years finds the veteran band honouring French heroine Jeanne D’Arc. Aptly dramatic, it packs synth-phonic surges and prog roiling a-plenty. Try The Call for some unsaintly medieval grind set to Alice Merton’s narration, amid the operatic swell of The Sword… and a Great Gig In The Sky -style miasma accompanying La Pucelle’s demise. (7/10)

Nordic Giants - Amplify Human Vibration

Yes, it’s those two Brighton blokes who look like Sweetums in a fog but sound like Sigor Ros. This time they venture into Public Service Broadcasting territory with an album’n’docco release that celebrates compassion in the face of adversity via devotional and bombastic post-rock, overlaid with inspirational spoken-word samples. Arty, yes, but tracks such as Spirit and Autonomous are honest and uplifting. (6/10)

The Cravats - Dustbin Of Sound

Fans of Beefheart, Pere Ubu and the Near Jazz Experience gather round – the first LP in 35 years from Redditch’s lairiest will scratch the prog-punk, Dadaist itch that other abrasive avant-gardists can’t. Growling, prowling and poetic, frontman The Shend is at his most frenetic on Blurred, going fruitily out of control on the jazz-swing assault of Bigband, a symphony of saxophonic devastation. (6/10)

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