"Bardo Travel"

By Dr. Abner Mality

If you're a fan of Tool or A Perfect Circle but are tired of waiting for new material from them while Maynard James Keenan plays silly games wth country music, relief is at hand. Proghma-C is a Polish band obviously greatly influenced by Tool and APC, but instead of coming across like a bad imitation, they seem more like a sincere homage of that particular sound.

All of the Tool trademarks are present in Proghma-C but in addition we have some hammering Meshuggah-like polyrhythms to add an extra layer of heaviness as well as some ambient drift and drone. The vocals of Bob Gibner range from that sensitive croon so reminiscent of M.J. Keenan to bellowing roars. The template for "Bar-do Travel" is set up in first track "Kana", a wandering meditation featuring crushing down-tuned riffs mixed with delicate guitar tones and sonic meanderings. Some cuts favor a more aggressive take while others linger on minor key sounds. It's all very Toolish (in a couple of spots, a bit too much so) but there's a surprise with their cover of Bjork's "Army of Me" which adapts very well to their style. But avoid by any means necessary the "Hervy Mix" of "Kana",a drawn-out caterwauling of electronics and noise.

The album's title refers to passages from the Tibetan Book of the Dead involving the soul leaving the dying body. So these guys are dealing with some heavy subjects. Since there's not a ton of Tool-influenced bands floating about, Proghma-C is actually a welcome new name. I hope they develop a bit more of their own style in albums to come.