Strange Land
Gig Seeker Pro

Strange Land


Band Metal Rock


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"M.A.R.S. Festival"

This was a new band, but it consisted of others we had already seen that day. As it turns out, the lead singer, Chad Novell, played the keyboards in Orphonic Orchestra. He may have put his hair in a ponytail, but he wasn’t fooling anybody. Most of us knew it was him. The remainder of this outfit consisted of the Gill/Klotz duo, only this time Gill’s guitar was electric while Klotz utilized a more extensive set of drums.

After going to bed at 2 AM the night before and getting up by 9 AM for a two hour drive, I couldn’t keep up with the pace of song-after-song/band-after-band. I required a short break, and as a result, I missed ten minutes from their set. It appeared that Gill and Klotz were iron man musicians and didn’t mind playing whether they were on offense or defense. They were comfortable on either side of the field.

Unlike the earlier shows, they set up quick. Bands, in general, did a lot of their own rigging and these guys were fast at hooking, trapping, and gathering their cords.

Early in their set, Strange Land went into the centerpiece of their most recent album, which was entitled, “Cause and Defect.”

Strange Land’s package consisted of bass, keys, and drums, but it was different from Kopecky. Elements of this band reminded me of Pallas and King’s X. So far, these guys were the best the festival had to offer.

With a fan blowing from behind, Novell’s hair could be conceived as an elfin angel, the bringer of life, or the angel of death.

These guys were very tight and provided surprisingly good harmonies. They obviously understood the technical aspects of music and in turn, executed well. Likewise, they had an ear for what could be deemed appealing. On top of that, they were capable of changing the tempo with ease.

One song reminded me of “Mother” from Danzig (now featured on the video game Guitar Hero). They went from an inevitable crash landing to an airborne coast within seconds. All the while, they plastered the audience with some great riffs. I could also hear aspects of Testament in the mix. Whatever this song was, it was long.

By this time, I was in thought, pondering how this festival had exceeded my expectations tenfold. This band in particular increased the enumeration.

They performed the back half of the first album, Anamoly. One of their biggest fans was in the audience. They knew he’d like the next song and looking in his direction said, “John, keep it in your pants.” The inside joke was crude, but it was still funny. The child in us had laughed out loud, and it could be heard throughout the theater.

The next song was bitter and filled with hate. “Sorry... Was this a Death Metal Fest?” Novell asked. At the same time, Lou Ferrigno would have thought his body wax was stolen when Gill put on a guitar painted in Incredible Hulk green. In this song, it was hard to make out the lyrics, but the underlying theme was definitely nasty. Novell enunciated each word, but it was impossible to hear what he was singing over the heavy beats. It wasn’t all appalling as I really liked Klotz’s drumming in this piece.

Even with the lateness, I got my fill and appreciated the balladic portions interlined with denser metals.

Around this time, Novell, the head honcho, saw me taking notes. This wise guy of sorts stated that he didn’t know he was being graded. When I looked behind me, I realized I was front and center, and all by myself. The rest of the participants were too shy to take a closer seat once it was underway. I was in my own world and must have stuck out like a sore thumb. Later when approached in the lobby, you could tell they were intent to find out if they were going to get supportive press. As for this indeterminable instance, he exclaimed, the next song counts for 65% of our grade. Lucky for them, they did well in the midterm.

As an aside, I wonder if the name comes from Robert A. Heinlein’s book Stranger in a Strange Land.

Anyhow, they eventually got louder and angrier. They teetered between progressive, metal and rock, and a wall of sound. In addition, they did this abruptly cool switch between bass and keys.

Towards the end, they provided another selection from the first album (I got the impression that this one was better rehearsed). They chose a song they hadn’t played in awhile, but had pulled it out and worked out the kinks over the course of the last couple gigs.

The climax was called “Distorted Grandeur”, and it incorporated terribly interesting melodies alongside a rhythm guitar. This was probably their all-around best song, or at the very least, it was their most practiced. You could say they were proficient with this piece as it was both played and sung well. There were lots of smooth segues in this melodic power rock. Parts of it made me think of Dream Theater’s “Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence”. Brilliant harmonies and changeups were bestowed upon us before the conclusive wrap up. At one point, Novell’s lone voice swam in a passage a-cappella before the big finish.

In hindsight, Strange Land might not have been familiar, but it was intuitive to my ears. I vote to see this act again in forthcoming years.


"Blaming Season"

American proggers Strange Land's debut album Anomaly was a great mix of progressive rock, metal and hard rock, displaying well crafted songmanship and impressive musicality. Quite some time has passed since Anomaly, but thankfully they've arrived with their second album. It's great to see they've been carrying on, unlike most independent bands who have to call it a day for various reasons.

First off, Blaming Season is no sophomore jinx. It is quite different from the band's debut offering though. This album is a lot more mid-paced and marked by more distinctive musicianship focusing on remarkable bass and guitar playing. Vocalist Chad Novell's voice has improved significantly and his bass playing simply makes this album. Though not quite in a melodic sense, he reminds me of the great Doug Pinnick of King's X, employing both gripping vocal harmonies and stand-alone bass lines that characterize much of Strange Land's compositions. On some songs, he sings the way Pinnick does on his last solo album Emotional Animal. His nasal delivery on the somewhat grunge-inflected opening cut "Obliquity" immediately stands out for its sludgy guitar work and Rush meets King's X type of bass drive. The song is rather midtempo and brings Novell's great voice to fore before things take a 180 turn on the following number "Cause and Defect", the longest and most engaging song on the album. After hearing this amazing tune, I had to visit the official Strange Land website to check the band members' influences. The rhythmic drumming and ever-changing riffage in the intro evoke Zero Hour's finest moments on The Towers of Avarice album. Honestly, I wasn't surprised to see this disc listed in one of the members' profiles. This song, with especially its independent bass motif, is so uncannily Zero Hour it's almost electrifying. No cloning whatsoever, it's just obvious these guys were influenced by Zero Hour's amazing chops. Halfway through, the complex riffage is reduced and in comes a beautiful acoustic section where Novell's emotional voice once again takes the lead. Even his vocals could be likened to Erik Rosvold's, except that Rosvold has a wider range. The last 30 seconds or so of this song features a sick guitar soloing that proves these guys have improved a lot since their debut, both songwriting-wise and technically.

On the following tracks, the album retains its dark and brooding tone that was set right off the bat by the first song. Raw and grim acoustic guitars kick "Marionette" off enveloping thick bass chords and striking rhythm guitar. A fiery instrumental passage unites everything a prog listener seeks in a good prog band before it segues into another solemnt acoustic section. It is amazing how much acoustic guitar is used on this album and how well it works. Keys are minimal on the other hand. They're just added in the brief intro of the moving "In a Mind" and the short instrumental track that precedes the creepy and wicked "Alone We Go". Along with the keys, the band incorporates gruelling bass tones, strange sound effects, whispered and out of sync voiceovers before Sean Gill cuts right through the piece with an amazing guitar solo that is formulated by long, sustained notes. It is really uplifting. Moreover, Gill's fretwork on "Dear Helena" is a bit akin to Ty Tabor's bluesy jam sessions on both his solo album and earlier King's X material. There is a lot of guitar to enjoy here. One minor complaint could be made about the drumming which is rather flat and even a bit too straightforward to match the spontaneity of some of the songs, and I guess that's because the band enlisted the services of a new drummer for the recording of Blaming Season. Nothing too serious though, as there is still a lot of good cymbal work and even pounding rhythms to boot, especially on the closing track "Below the After".

With Blaming Season, Strange Land have secured their place in prog circles, and one can only expect good things to happen on their third album.

"Anomaly Review"

Of course, my first reaction to the name of this band was that it was some sort of Dee Snider tribute band. However, deep down I knew that nobody would form a Dee Snider tribute band. Strange Land is a progressive metal band. This is a band for people who like Dream Theater, Fates Warning, Savatage, Queensryche, Rush, Kansas and Triumph. The label "progressive" hardly seems appropriate for a band that sounds like they are still in the 80s, but insofar as they have pulled off almost every progressive rock cliché, I have to give them credit as a bona fide progressive rock band.

Strange Land is a good band and, although they are a little rough around the edges, they have put out a really good album. Anomaly is a full-length CD with twelve tracks and is almost 70 minutes long: that's less than six minutes per song. I guess no one told them that Dream Theater writes 40 minute long epic songs. Thank Satan! Strange Land actually tries to write catchy songs. Yes there are lots of parts in odd time signatures and lots of long scalular guitar passages. There are also lots of clean electric and acoustic guitar passages, clean vocals and lots of keyboards. The only prog trick they didn't try is quoting a Stravinsky lick.

Strange Land managed to avoid the most common problem with bands that put out their own CDs, which is to make a really bad CD. Often bands do not have enough material to fill an album or do not have enough time and money to properly record all the songs. Overall, Anomaly is well recorded and well produced. Upon my second listening, I begin to discover some quality musical moments. I might even go so far as to say, I like this CD.

Although I generally prefer my progressive metal to be more progressive and more metal, I like Strange Land. In some ways Strange Land is a Dream Theater Lite, which I think would appeal to people like Abyss who claims he would like Dream Theater if they played shorter, catchier songs.

On the other hand, some people might be turned off by Strange Land's less aggressive sound and style. I think Strange land still has lots of room for improvement but are on the right path; they write catchy songs that are musically interesting. I hope that they continue along this path.
Average Rating: 5/5

"Blaming Season (Review 2)"

I would describe this band's sound as a cross between FATES WARNING and ZERO HOUR.That is all i would need to hear to know i would like this album.And i have to tell you this is one impressive release.I'm actually shocked that these guys aren't more well known after listening to this their sophomore album all week. To give you an idea of where their tastes lie,the bass/vocalist and keyboard player Chad Novell lists "Operation Mindcrime" , "The Towers Of Avarice" and "In Absentia" as very influential to him.While the lead guitarist Sean Gill lists "2112" , "Parallels" and "The Perfect Element" as very influential to him.A tasty list indeed. The record opens with "Obliquity" a slow and very heavy tune with a stuttering soundscape.ZERO HOUR-like precision between the bass,guitar and drums.The sound 3 1/2 minutes in is amazing! "Cause And Defect" opens with drums that quickly build as the rest of the band join in.Fantastic sound here.Vocals enter 1 1/2 minutes in,as we are treated to another heavy track.4 minutes in the sound lightens somewhat(still heavy) and i like it even more than the earlier melody,it reminds me of RUSH.Man these guys can play! The drumming is outstanding and the song speeds up 8 1/2 minutes in to end it. "Marionette" opens with strummed acoustic guitar for 30 seconds until it is trampled underfoot by a heavy sound.This contrast continues.I really like the mellower sections,actually i love the heavy parts too,it's all good! A killer guitar solo follows, with riffs right behind.It's as heavy as hell 5 1/2 minutes in followed by a galloping rhythm. "In A Mind" has an atmospheric intro including some rare keys.The bass and drums form a formidable team on this mid-paced tune.This is just a gorgeous song.The guitar solo 6 minutes in is pure bliss. "Dear Helena" may be the heaviest song yet! A wall of sound.Nice guitar solo 3 minutes in and the song ends with a lot of intensity. "Exordium" is really a change of pace,as we get a spacey soundscape with some strange sounds as this song blends into "Alone We Go" for 30 seconds.A great contrast in this one ("Alone We Go") between the heavy and mellow passages.The guitar solo 4 1/2 minutes in is in a different tone from the rest on the album.A lot of variety with the lead guitar on this record and he really hangs on to the final note of this solo. "Below The After" is a great way to end the album.Some tempo changes and riffs with some wonderful guitar melodies.I have to say that the vocals were very well done on this album as well,quite powerful, but not the range of some i've heard.Still he keeps within his limits extremely well. Anyone out there who is into the bands or albums listed above, needs to check this band out.4.5 stars.


Anomaly (2001)
Blaming Season (2005)

A selection from both albums receive regular airplay on stations such as Progulus Radio and WMSE.



Strange Land Biography
"Strange Land are a three piece who certainly like to make a lot of noise with their cerebral progressive rock/metal ... well, I said noise? Yes, but I meant it in a good way, as the Wisconsin-based band pays a lot of attention also to melody, not only to the complexity of guitar riffs." - Igor Italiani,
As with many original bands the sound of Strange Land is difficult to describe. In the most generic sense the band falls into the progressive rock/metal category, along with such bands as Fates Warning, Queensryche, Savatage, Rush, Zero Hour, Pain of Salvation, and Galactic Cowboys. Strange Land, however, prefers not to wear its influences on its sleeve. Rather, the members blend all of their past musical experiences and outside musical influences into one unique musical vision. Each member of Strange Land takes an equal part in the writing and arranging of its music.
Strange Land was established in November of 1998 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin joining together former members of Labyrinth (USA) and Fishboy. The members of Strange Land are Chad Novell on bass, keyboards and vocals, Sean Gill on guitar, and returning member Brad Klotz on drums.
Within the first six months of its existence, Strange Land had written and arranged eleven original songs, four of which appeared on the Foundation demo, whose title track reached #12 on's progressive metal chart. Gabor Kleinbloesem of Strutter Magazine said of Foundation: "Some more of these catchy and progressive tunes and this Strange Land may be counted as one of the latest sensations from the USA." The band has self-released its first full-length album, "Anomaly", with 12 tracks and almost 70 minutes of material. The album was recorded with drummer Brad Klotz, who left to pursue other career interests in the fall of 2001. In 2002 the band put the final touches on a 4 song demo of brand new material (with drummer Pete Schwarzenbacher) which was well received by fans at the 2002 Prog Power USA festival. The band finished its second full length album entitled "Blaming Season" in late 2004. The cd was recorded with drummer Esteban Gonzalez, who left after the recording was finished to pursue other career interests.
In 2003 the band landed a distribution deal with Nightmare Records for worldwide sales. The new cd "Blaming Season" has been well received by fans and critics alike since its release in early 2005. Besides America, Strange Land cd's have also been purchased by fans in Canada, England, France, Spain, Germany, Japan, Brazil and several other countries.
Strange Land has opened for national acts like King's X, former Marillion front man Fish, Three, shredder Joe Stump, fusion supergroup McGill/Manring/Stevens and Inside Out Prog-Metal band Event. The band has also played many Wisconsin P.R.O.G. (Progressive Rock and Other Groups) shows organized by Dimension X founder and bass player Dave Burkowitz. We were finalists in the 2005 Emergenza festival, among the top 14 acts out of a field of 200 plus bands drawn to Milwaukee to perform in that year's international competition.
In the past year we have played the M.A.R.S. Festival at the Miramar Theater (visit for more), Shank Hall, the Rave Bar, Vnuk's Lounge, and The Mainstage in Waukesha. Strange Land is honored to have participated in the the local progressive music scene and regularly performs with fellow local prog/metal acts Kopecky, Dimension X, and Far Corner.