Progressive rock music has been somewhat in the local limelight recently with the news that Fuseboxx was in search for a new vocalist, while American act Dream Theater performed to a highly acclaimed show in Manila.
Now Anhura, that six-piece band featuring Monika Preysler on vocals and flute, Darwin Venus and Mark Ryan Malalay on guitars, Christian Igna on bass, Dimson Venus on samples, and Don Rodriguez on drums, recently released their independent third album, “Illnity – A Journey Within.”
“Illnity – A Journey Within” is modern prog rock and like any good band worth its salt, it features a high fantasy theme of an empire facing annihilation from an evil threat. In the album’s storyline, the Empress Geidel is under assault from a dark lord, Xanthos. And answering the call for succor of Geidel is the warrior, Uldveg. If you were weaned on J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings epic, this is right up that alley except it’s told in song.
The album is basically one long track that clocks in at close to 64 minutes. This long track is broken down into eight stand-alone tracks that tell of the coming storm and the climactic battle that nearly tears apart the entire reality. Yet, it seems nebulous at the end, and possibly, Xanthos and Uldveg are mere figments of Geidel’s imagination and sub consciousness. Shades of the late great American prog rock band, The Mars Volta, whose second album, “De-Loused in the Comatorium,” tells the story of a man in a drug-induced coma battling the evil side of his mind!
It’s ambitious and brilliant. But definitely, this one is acquired taste and definitely not mainstream.
As a fan of prog rock, I think the genre makes one truly focus on the entire album from the vocals to the performance and to the lyrics. Having listened to “Illnity – A Journey Within” several times, I like how Anhura brings an operatic and neo-classical bent to their brand of prog rock that at times reminds me of goth metallers, Sirenia and Nightwish. I believe though that having a second vocalist will provide a counterpoint to Preysler’s operatic pipes. I think for the themes they sing; a second vocalist definitely works.
Speaking of works, if you are into progressive rock and waiting for the next Fuseboxx album is like waiting for Godot (Fuseboxx’s Abby Clutario and Eric Tubon make a guest appearance on track two, “Prologue to an Odyssey”), you should check out Anhura’s “Illnity – A Journey Within.” It’s grandiose, epic, and well, darn interesting. Even the album artwork, illustrated by Preysler and Darwin Venus is fetching for its line art and distinctly Filipino fantasy.
The album is on compact disc form and can be availed of from the band’s Facebook page. It is also on iTunes, Amazon, and Spotify.
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