Megacone – Fondle Fantasy

Digital EP:

Reviewed by:
On 9 March 2015
Last modified:9 March 2015


Irish instrumental prog metal fusion upstarts Megacone released their debut EP, titled Fondle Fantasy. Reviewed at PlanetMosh by Iris North.

Megacone - Fondle Fantasy - EP album cover art

Irish Metal 2 The Masses semi-finalists Megacone have released their debut EP, titled Fondle Fantasy. Like many bands who play instrumental music, particularly fusion, Megacone enjoys putting forth plenty to listen to. There’s a lot to ingest and process here: a lot of time swings, a lot of tempo changes, a lot of ideas, and a heck of a lot of notes. Some of the progressions and ideas are really interesting, and the impressive “chops” displayed by these guys show a lot of investment in time learning and perfecting their instruments.

For as much flack as heavy metal guitarists take for playing too fast too often, progressive rock fusion players are often just as guilty. As a genre, progressive fusion becomes an escape hatch of sorts at times for the guitarist who wants to play fast, but without the ‘metal’ stigma. Like the best restaurant in town, it becomes an insider secret: casually and carefully concealed shreddery offered for those in-the-know. Nicely mixed and balanced, Fondle Fantasy is pleasant and amusing to hear.

In a pure listening situation, with three guitarists, it’s impossible to pick out who’s playing what lead line and who’s carrying harmony at any given point. Contributions from Ross Kelly, Podge Murray, and Conor Callan are all equally weighted and valued in the songs.

“Astatine” is 5:20 of mellow fusion, played in odd time at a relaxed tempo, which has a nice overall balance. Bala Blake‘s bass line is nicely composed and audible; Nimai Blake‘s ‘rock’ drums are solid, varied, and not overpowering. Some of the chords are probably a bit ‘highbrow’ for the average metal listener, but this is still accessible enough for the average rock listener to at least be able to grasp. “Ouncy Castle” is cheerful from the start. It’s a peaceful tune with great adventures in tone and effect – some genuinely awesome little glimpses of sonic flexibility or dexterity. This song starts to pick up about a third of the way through, and features lots of 8th notes. There’s not a lot of phrase breaking: listeners are treated to a lot of long, indulgent, and fun passages. Plus, the polka / country / folk adaptation as the song’s coda is great! “The Accidental” takes on accidental notes – cleverly incorporating both the classical and colloquial meanings of the term. The song is very uptempo and nicely melodic. It throws listeners for a curve when it switches abruptly to a bass guitar lead, and again to more uptempo metal-flavored work, complete with the Zakk Wylde false harmonic “pig squeals”. This song seems tailored a bit towards “metal listener’s fare”. At 4:20, “Aliens Unsealed from the Future (What If)” is the shortest tune present. If you wondered how an instrumental, progressive fusion band got into a metal competition, this song is “it”. Heavy from top to tail, “Aliens…” features odd time, a fairly driving mid-tempo foundation, and is “done on 11” with plenty of burly chops and riffs on show. The waltzy motif around a minute into the song is fantastic. Like the other tunes, this one is crammed with ideas, but most of them pass very quickly…

As a critique, the easiest factor to point out is the mix: don’t allow the music to become a victim of the volume wars. Overcompressing the music, sacrificing some detail in favor of volume, especially in this genre where detail and nuance are so important, wins the battle and loses the war. While the overcompression could be an unavoidable digital artifact based on looking at and listening to lossy mp3 files, it could also be from the actual mixing and mastering, which would be really bad. The second critique is in idea development. On Fondle Fantasy, Megacone puts forth lots of great ideas, but many of them are so fleeting that they are lost to the listener’s memory. Really developing some of these motives, giving them some bite, and allowing listeners to spend more then two to four measures with them (in the case of “The Accidental”, literally – and yes, the same thing can be said of riffs in Slayer‘s Reign In Blood) is going to pay off in the long run. A band doesn’t need opera length songs to get all of the ideas developed – taking two or three ideas, then developing them into a verse, chorus, and bridge (or, a “head” in jazz lingo) in a three or four minute tune will suffice. With modern digital delivery and the listener habit in cherry-picking singles, releases don’t have to be ten songs anymore. Fans will happily live with more songs if the songs are great, so, the same number of ideas can be explored on an album.

Fondle Fantasy is interesting. It’s not as quirky as some prog or fusion releases. It doesn’t really get so far out there as to distance itself from listeners before the band has a chance to make their name known. For ‘purist’ or elitist metal fans, about half of the EP will be of interest; for metal fans willing to branch out, the entire EP has remarkable moments of brilliance. This band will be one to ‘keep on watch’, to see where their musical muses and whims take them next.

Track Listing:
The Accidental
Ouncy Castle
Aliens Unsealed from the Future (What If)

Band Lineup:
Ross Kelly – Guitar
Podge Murray – Guitar/other stuff
Conor Callan – Guitar
Bala Blake – Bass
Nimai Blake – Drums

Official Band Facebok Page
Official Band Soundcloud Page

Irish instrumental prog metal fusion upstarts Megacone released their debut EP, titled Fondle Fantasy. Reviewed at PlanetMosh by Iris North.

About Iris North

My formal position is: editor and music reviewer. I joined the PlanetMosh army in 2012. I enjoy extreme metal, 'shred' guitar, hard rock, prog rock, punk, and... silly pop music!