Aghora Formless

Aghora Formless
After seven years, Miami prog metal masters Aghora have released their magnum opus, Formless. Produced and mixed by guitarist Santiago Dobles and celebrity knob-twiddler Neil Kernon (Spiral Architect, Nevermore, Skinless), the album introduces new singer Diana Serra, whose vocals fit the music better than former chanteuse Danishta Rivero’s. They’re no longer Cynic or Atheist clones; they’re still metal but with fewer teeth. "Atmas Heave” and "Moksha” are total prog workouts of Dysrhythmia-styled fret board mayhem densely woven with massive polyrhythms and soaring vocals. The hyperactive beats of "Open Close the Book” come courtesy of Cynic/Aeon Spoke drummer Sean Reinert. Instrumental "Garuda” begins with breathing room for exotic guitar chords, cymbal washes and finger percussion then rips through with Dobles’ wailing solos and dive-bombing leads. "Dual Alchemy” phases through furious Testament-like thrash and acoustic Opeth-flavoured passages; "Dime,” dedicated to Dimebag Darrell, is a mini-tribute to Pantera’s most essential solos; and "Mahayana” sports Serra’s Egyptian vocal effects, ending with a King Crimson-like chord progression. The title track is the best example of their current sound: Serra’s the Gathering-like vocals over complex, intricate guitar and drum work, sounding like Hemispheres-era Rush with ample amounts of Tool mixed in. Book ended by exotic ethno-ambient tracks like Trial of the Bow, Formless is a landmark of progressive metal, and since Season of Mist just signed the band, Aghora will incontestably turn up on many year-end "best of” lists. (Dobles)