For this Triple Feature, I’m offering short reviews for three releases from bands or projects I have reviewed in the past. All three of these artists have been featured on the site in the past, and I like to see that continuity. Check out my thoughts on Joel Kent, Dario Montanino, and Drowning Steps.
Joel Kent sent me his Ghost Ship EP back in 2019. At the time, I felt that the music showed potential. It was crisp and clean with great guitars, not to mention some funky twists. Now’s he is back with a full album, Paper Dragon, which released on May 15th.
My thoughts about this release are pretty straightforward. Joel sounds more like Plini than ever, even venturing into the jazzier stuff that Plini has also recently been exploring. Joel does throw in some spice and salsa on a couple tracks, such as “Pathways”. However, much of the album sounds like a Plini record, only not as interesting.
And that’s about it. I get a thousand promos a year that sound pretty much like this. I do like a few songs, such as “Pathways” with its interesting groove, “Autumn” with its serene and gentle goodness, and “Molly” with its classic rock accents. I don’t feel like Joel has found his own identity yet, though. And even though this album is competent and melodic, it still does feel a bit generic.
Dario sent me his Watermarks EP back in 2017. Stephen was writing for the site at that time, and he reviewed it. He found it to be heavy and satisfying, leaning greatly into Petrucci and Satriani for inspiration. Dario is back with another EP, Empress, which released on August 6th.
This is a very short EP at only 3 songs and roughly 10 minutes. It’s very easy to blow through it without thinking. The music is again progressive metal in bent, though I think there are some twists to break that up somewhat. The title track, for instance, is a classic prog metal instrumental, and it is quite engaging. The following track, however, is “Lacriment”, and it has a gentler gait and a soulful sound to it. I really like that one. “Dying Sight” ends the EP with an urgent and heavy two-minute track. It sounds great, almost brutal.
In the end, Dario has a solid release here. It isn’t anything new or sparkly, but it is fun and the atmosphere of each track is different. I would love to hear what he can do with a full album.
Drownings Steps sent me their full sophomore album back in 2020. I found it to be lush, melodic, and dark—just how I like it. I specifically liked the song “Where Is My Life”, which still shows up in my playlists often for how beautiful the melody is. They are back with an EP called Dark Nostalgia, which released on November 5th.
This EP offers shadowy, reserved music that could almost be labelled as post-prog. This music seems to aim more for ambience and eerie sensations than for rocking hard. The band gives us gorgeous keys, excellent vocals, and serene vistas to cherish, all with a darkened and cinematic aura.
I like all four songs. “Childhood Shadows” has a pleasant first half, and then a percussion-heavy second half that is awesome. “The Fear Comes Up” feels something like a masquerade at points. I love the keys that drift slowly into the mix near the end. “If You Were Not Here” has some folk tendencies, and the cello and flute on this track are beautiful. Finally, “At Least For Today” is a floating and tender closer. Overall, the quality of each track is high, and the reservation and musical space available are impressive to me. I am looking forward to their next full release.
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