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 ... And Justice for All by METALLICA album cover Studio Album, 1988
3.94 | 455 ratings

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... And Justice for All
Metallica Prog Related

Review by AndyJ

3 stars Metallica's 'And Justice For All' is my favourite album by the infamous thrash metal band, and not least of all because in my eyes its their most progressive release. I'll start by saying that I've never been a particularly big Metallica fan. When I was growing up as a teenager my music of choice was Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Black Sabbath. But I had friends through school who were absolute Metallica obsessives, including one guy who even bought a James Hetfield signature ESP Explorer and proceeded to learn almost the entire back-catalogue of songs from their first four albums. Some pretty serious dedication on show right there!

But for whatever reason I've never really loved this band, with the exception of this album right here. What I love about 'And Justice For All' is the song structure - you could almost call this "progressive thrash". There are some very clever song progressions on show in this album, no more so than in the title track of the record. Instead of taking a formulaic approach to song writing Metallica weren't afraid to experiment and write much longer compositions for 'Justice'. I remember reading an interview once with Lars Ulrich, the Metallica drummer, and he was talking about this record and how much the band hated playing it live due to how complicated and drawn-out the long songs were. Sounds like perfect prog then!

Now it wouldn't be a Metallica review without talking a bit about two things - the vocals and the drums... I'll start with the vocals - I've never really liked James Hetfield's voice. There isn't much variation in his vocal style, most of the time he just barks the lyrics at you in a gruff, uncompromising way. There are moments on this album where he sings a little bit more, and its not bad, but he'll never win an award for his vocal style.

Which brings us to the drumming of Lars Ulrich. This guy gets a lot of stick from reviewers and music experts, and I think with good cause. Just compare his drumming technique with that of Nicko McBrain (Iron Maiden), Neil Peart (Rush) or Mike Portnoy (ex-Dream Theater) and you'll see what I mean. His fills are largely just playing fast snare drum breaks. What doesn't help his case is the God awful drum production on this album. There is hardly any reverb from the drum strikes, it sounds way too sterile. Of course, it's no where near as bad as the infamous "pie-tin" production from their 2003 album 'St. Anger', but its still pretty bad, at least to my ears!

At this point I would talk about the bass guitar, but it doesn't appear to exist on this album. This has always been one of the biggest complaints about this album. Hetfield has gone on record to say that mixing the bass out was one of the ways they hazed the new boy, Jason Newstead, who joined Metallica after the tragic death of Cliff Burton.

But I said in my opening remarks that this was my favourite Metallica album and all I've done is bemoan Hetfield's vocals and Ulrich's drumming! So, some positives, and there are loads on this record. Hetfields rhythm guitar playing is brilliant here, very precise, crunchy and a great tone. The guitar solos when they come are drop dead gorgeous, no doubt about it Kirk Hammett is one of the best lead guitarists ever. The song structures are wonderful, as I said before, "progressive thrash". The lyrics are powerful, no more so than in their famous song 'One'. The songs are long and varied, and aren't just a wall-of-metal like you would have expected, far from it.

The real highlight of the album comes near the end, with the wonderful 10-minute instrumental piece 'To Live Is To Die', which continued the tradition Metallica had of including long instrumental songs on their first few albums. I think progressive metal fans would get a kick out of this album if they hadn't already heard it, but I'd be hard pushed to recommend this to the wider prog community. I'll give it 3.5 stars but round it down to 3-stars for the official rating.

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 Starfire by JAGA JAZZIST album cover Studio Album, 2015
4.00 | 6 ratings

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Starfire
Jaga Jazzist Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by BrufordFreak

4 stars What an incredible breath of fresh air! I am so glad to be reminded by an album like this of how much I love upbeat, happy-go-lucky groove tunes like these. From the first notes of the opening song, Starfire, I was gushing with a big grin across my face. After finishing my first listen I went back to listen through an "old" favorite of mine that I'd almost forgotten, 2010's One-armed Bandit.

I love the band's self-written tome on their history on their Facebook page:

Jaga Jazzist is:

(a) A jazz band; (b) A rock band; (c) A progressive rock band; (d) A hip hop group; (e) A rap group; (f) A reggae group; (g) A polka band; (h) A comedy band; (i) An electronica group; (j) A classical ensemble; (k) A choral ensemble; (l) All of the above; (m) None of the above.

with the answer being (l) and (m). Obviously a gang who are out to have fun, pure and simple. But talented, too! As a matter of fact, I'm beginning to think that the entire population of Norway must be made up of really interesting, fun-loving, laid-back, happy-go-lucky people! I need to get there! Anyway. Back to Starfire. (Can't believe I just missed JJ's North American tour!) The entire album plays out like some incredible soundtrack music, starting with the opening song, 1. "Starfire" (8:47), which sounds like the opening song from a light-hearted French murder mystery (yes: there is such a thing) from the 1970s. Nice syncopated rhythm making at a rather pleasant cruising speed with great guitar and tuned percussion work. There's even a cool MOTORPSYCHO sound & feel during the fifth and sixth minutes with the rising scale of musical progression. Then the odd synth melody/riffs take over for a while before the song mellows down for a brief bit with vibes before weaving all of the song's themes together for the final minute of awesomeness. (9/10)

2. "Big City Music" (14:07) opens by introducing us to its KLAUS SCHULZE-like electronica foundation--which sounds awesome--before the other keyboard and drums take over the establishment of the songs foundation. Sounds like LARRY FAST playing with BILLY COBHAM. At 2:46 the music breaks down to allow some hand drums and odd computer incidentals which establish a kind of odd rhythm before strummed guitar joins in. Then Martin Horntveth reenters with his jazz drumming for a bit before the song breaks down again to allow individual instruments to help fill a rather spacey, spacious soundscape--very OZRIC TENTACLES-like. A BLADE RUNNER-like moment at 6:30 opens the next section of the song as multiple melody lines are woven together for a minute. Another shift at 7:30 as vocals are used to mirror a new keyboard melody line--we are now into PAT METHENY GROUP territory, big time! A minute later everything shifts again, back to the opening electronica with some funky synth fuzz bass play, which is then joined by pizzicato strings play, again forming a weave of differently syncopated melodies into one fascinating tapestry of sound. The full band seems to come into play with a return to a PAT METHENY style of pulsing rhythm and sophistication. (9/10)

3. "Shinkansen" (7:43) is probably my favorite song on the album for the laid back groove set up and maintained throughout the song by the strumming acoustic guitars as well as due to the prominence of the flutes and myriad "windy" synth sounds. Just a gorgeous, breezy, Nature-celebrating song all around. (Shinkansen is, by the way, the word for Japan's network of high speed trains. How appropriate!) (10/10)

4. "Oban" (12:42) is also quite Asian/Japanese (think: "Ryuichi Sakamoto") sounding in its melodic and rhythmic approach--though the work of KRAFTWERK, GARY NUMAN, and PETER SCHILLING also comes to mind. Eventually, in the second half of the song, the sounds and stylings turn to sound more like early DEPECHE MODE--though the drumming always remains quite exceptionally a notch above any of the above mentioned. Mellow sax in the fourth minute is beautifully offset and accompanied by multiple other rhythm instruments and horns. Then a little slow down of delicate horns in the fifth minute makes way for an awesome display of electronica (OZRICS again) before the original ensemble return with the full weave of music. Another song that could work awesomely as a soundtrack. I personally would love to see this made into a video. In the tenth minute the DEPECHE MODE-like synth bass line is gorgeously offset by harp and strings melodies. Just an awesome song with so much to listen to! Every time I hear it I discover so much more than I had previously heard! Gorgeous little outro, too. (10/10)

5. "Prungen" (6:35) shows the band taking on some Arabian-like musical sounds and stylings. The song does, however, continue the amazing string of made-for-movies music that they have going here. The Arabian melodies become even stronger with wooden flute in the second minute and strings in the third. Sax in the third doubles up with the flute and then electric guitar takes up a variation of the theme while layer of layer fills the background tapestry. An Arabian "violin" joins in the melody making in the fourth minute until a scratchy saw-like horn synth takes over with a ROBERT FRIPP-like dissonant melody line. This dominates the song despite the rejoinder of the rest of the band and the addition of a horn section, until 5:45 when everybody falls into line, working with the original melody line. Great song though the use of that one "Arabian" melody line makes it a little less exciting as the previous songs. (8/10)

This is an awesome album of great mood pieces--all deserving of film soundtrack contracts. I'm not yet willing to give it full masterpiece status though I think it is, it's just a little at the edge of what I consider progressive rock music--which is really a good thing. It's like The Amazing or Five-Storey Ensemble: incredible music but perhaps not true progressive ROCK music. We'll see.

BUT: Check out the album! You will LOVE it!

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 Upon Darkened Stains by ANIMA MORTE album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.53 | 23 ratings

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Upon Darkened Stains
Anima Morte Symphonic Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars I picked this up some time ago based on the guest list as well as this band being described as being greatly influenced by Horror movie soundtracks, in particular Enio Morricone and GOBLIN are mentioned by the band. Well expectations can really put a damper on things can't they? This is rightly listed under Symphonic but the modern sounding guitar, synths along with the outbursts of power didn't do much for me. On the other hand the mellotron kills on this album and it's on every track. We get 12 short songs and oh yeah the guests include Mattias Olsson(ANGLAGARD), David Lundberg(GOSTA BERLINGS SAGA), Ketil Einarsen(KAUKASUS) and two other guests. As much as I enjoy this album except for some of the reasons listed above, quite a few songs seem to be extended just for the sake of extending them in my opinion.

"Blessing Of The Dead" opens with piano as mellotron, church bells, strings and drums join in. This builds and falls throughout. "Illusion Is The Catalyst" opens with piano and synths but it turns dramatic very quickly before settling in with synths and piano out front. Sudden outbursts come and go before it turns powerful. We get mellotron and strings as well as themes start to get repeated. Not a fan of the first two songs. "Ephemeris" is a top three though and it opens with flute, cymbals and atmosphere before the drums and more arrive. I like the sound of this one a lot. Some nice drum and bass work too. Gotta love the flute on this track as well. "Fear Will Pass Over Your Mind" starts with an eerie mood as drums, atmosphere and intricate sounds lead the way. It picks up before a minute and I really dig the mellotron choirs after 3 minutes. "Wakeless" is another top three for me. Picked guitar as the drums and bass join in then mellotron. The guitar starts to solo then the piano leads. The mellotron is back in full force. Nice. Then the guitar returns soloing and it's quite emotional a minute later. "Interruption" has some slicing violin before a minute and mellotron as well. I like the low end sound here.

"The Darkest Pattern" opens with intricate sounds and synths as the drums join in. Synths lead after a minute and some nice bass 1 1/2 minutes in. The guitar leads before 3 minutes then back to the synths. The guitar is back late. "The Carrion Crow" opens with picked guitar as drums and bass join in. Piano and more follow. A catchy beat here and the organ helps out as well. Mellotron 2 minutes in then piano and violin late. "Echoing The Red" picks up quickly with beats and pulses as the organ, mellotron arrive then the strings and guitar play over top. "Isomorphia" turns quite powerful with the guitar out front fairly quickly and the guitar is expressive here. "First Snow On The Last Ashes" is more like it as it's more relaxed, especially the mellotron a minute in and it will come and go. "Halls Of Death" is my final top three. Atmosphere to open as intricate sounds play over top. It picks up and there's an orchestral vibe because of the strings slicing away. It settles down with flute then picks up again.

I can see myself revisiting this album in a few years from now and wondering why I didn't give this 4 stars. Well, right now it's about expectations and it falls a little short. 3.5 stars.

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 Travelog by KINETIC ELEMENT album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.50 | 22 ratings

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Travelog
Kinetic Element Neo-Prog

Review by progrocks2112

4 stars I wish to first begin by saying I am only a fan of progressive rock. I am by all means an amateur in this field. I can say this. I know what I like and what I do not. I am not nor have I ever been a musician unless playing a trombone for 3 weeks in grade school counts. Saying that accept my "review" for what it is. My first real exposure to this band was a few weeks ago on The Waiting Room, a House of Prog weekly live internet radio program. While I was trying to listen to this, chat room interruptions etc didn't give me a clear vision of what I was listening to. So I had ordered during the program and finally I had the chance to really sit and listen to this cd today. During the interview of KE on HoP it was clearly understood that this band has had some trouble getting things rolling let alone getting it finished. The good thing is they did finish up and put out a very good cd. Travelog is filled with very good music. I won't dissect each track but will comment on a few pieces along the way. War Song is filled with great bass and vocals reminding me of a mix of Benoit David and Glenn McLaughlin. The title track is a pretty patriotic track as I believe the whole cd really is at its core. Into The Lair caught me off guard a bit as it started off with a gothic sound only to calm down with the beautiful vocals of Michelle Schrotz. Visons of a New Day I believe is the most ambitious track on the entire cd. It is also my favorite track. Overall I feel this is an important cd for all prog fans to own. It marks a completion of a process that was filled with some adversity. That alone is worth a listen. These guys, the core of the band, have something special going on and hopefully they will find their way into the homes of many prog fans. One can hear the heavy ELP influence on this cd which is a good thing. Mike Visaggio is a real pro at his craft I say he ranks among the greats. If I had to rate this cd, which I will it would be a solid 4 stars.

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 Joy by PHISH album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.50 | 21 ratings

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Joy
Phish Prog Related

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

4 stars After 5 years with no Phish album and a needed rest for the band to explore their own individual projects, the big question was, would this album reflect an improvement for the band or would it be similar to the last 2 albums which were disappointing, even to Phish phans, to say the least. "Round Room" and "Undermind" were the last albums that we heard, and they were underwhelming, and reflected the fact that something had to happen.

Well, joy of joys, "Joy" proved that the time off for the band was a good thing. Though not as good as the earlier albums like "Junta", "A Picture of Nectar", "Rift" and "The Story of the Ghost", this album was still better than what had come immediately before, and after listening to this album several times now, it seems as if part of the creative and cooperative spark had returned.

Personally, I am more of a fan of the studio albums than the live shows of the band, I'm not fond of the long jams that the band is famous for. Sure I admire the fact that they play off of each other so well, but to just listen to endless jams tends to make each song sound too much the same. I do love their earlier albums, most of them with longer tracks, but mostly because each song had it's own personality and there was a lot more variety. Each song had a life of it's own. The fact that this album has a lot more life to it is enough to raise it a few bars over the last 2 albums, but it is still missing that variation that the older albums had.

There are some great songs here, which help to raise the level of the album. "Backwards Down the Number Line" is a spirited opener with a great guitar solo, "Joy" is the happy number it is titled to be with a nice jazzy hint of improv which is a great set up for one of those long jam live songs, "Sugar Shack" has a more of a funky feel to it with vocals by Mike Gordon, with a great hook in the chorus and would make an interesting sing along for live performance. The 13 minute epic "Time Turns Elastic" is the highlight of the album and is the progressive piece of the album, and it is quite a turn from the "poppiness" of the rest of the album. It has a lot of rhythmic and meter changes with some great lyrics, multiple melodic turns and great instrumental interludes, but the driving force behind this track are the lyrics and Trey's vocals, which almost follows the pattern of vintage Genesis songs.

So, even if it really has nothing that stands out as much as some of the older albums did, with time, the better tracks here can become Phish classics. The biggest standout being "Time Turns Elastic" is worth the purchase of the album, but the stronger songs hold there own also. Because the element of variety and a lack of dynamics exists here, it does not make it to the status of an essential Phish masterpiece, but it is still an addition to your collection to be proud of. It is nice to have Phish back again and maybe, with time, their studio albums will take on the originality that they once had, but in the meantime, this album is a definite relief compared to the two previous albums. 4 stars.

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 Operation: Mindcrime by QUEENSRYCHE album cover Studio Album, 1988
4.21 | 870 ratings

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Operation: Mindcrime
Queensr˙che Progressive Metal

Review by AndyJ

3 stars Queensryche's 'Operation: Mindcrime' was one of the first metal albums I bought way back in my teenage years and it was a completely random purchase. I was sifting through stacks of heavy metal CDs at my local record store when this one jumped out at me. I freaked out over the cover and bought it immediately - I didn't even bother to ask the girl behind the counter if I could listen to it first.

I remember being blown away when I first put it on. Initially I didn't really know what to make of this album, it being so different from the other music I was listening to at the time. But it quickly became one of my favourites. I enjoyed the story of revolution and loss, and fell in love with Geoff Tate as a vocalist - some of those power notes he was able to hit in this album are out-of-this-world!

As a heavy metal album I consider 'Mindcrime' to be very good, but as a progressive metal album I'm a little bit underwhelmed. I never really considered this particular record to be all that progressive. Sure, it has the long story concept running throughout, but the individual songs by and large follow a fairly conventional rock/metal song structure. Intro, Verse, Chorus, Verse, Chorus, Solos, Chorus, Outro. Or variations of that... Queensryche put out more proggy albums after this one, specifically the 1991 album 'Empire', which I personally think is better than 'Mindcrime'.

The only particularly progressive song on the album is 'Suite Sister Mary', and if I'm being honest its the one song on the album I've never particularly liked and I have a tendancy to skip it more often than not. The reason being the vocals are just too shrill and over-the-top for me. I find that song just a touch overpowering for my ears - I've never been one for opera!

Musically the performances on this album are solid. As already mentioned Geoff Tate is a wonderful vocalist, and his voice is so full of emotion and power in this album. The guitar riffs are memorable and melodic, and there are some nice instrumental solos. Scott Rockenfield is a total powerhouse behind the drum kit in this album, and his chops really drive a lot of the music on.

The problem I have in assigning a rating to this album is I'm on a prog site, not a metal site. As a metal album this probably deserves 4-stars, but as a prog album I can only give it 3-stars. Queensryche are a progressive band, but I'd argue less so on this album than in their later releases...

Stand-out tracks are 'The Mission', 'Eyes Of A Stranger' and 'Speak'.

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 Elegia Balcanica by ALOGIA album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.45 | 4 ratings

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Elegia Balcanica
Alogia Progressive Metal

Review by Angelo
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

3 stars A few months ago, I got sent an album by Serbian band Alogia, called Elegia Balcanica. I hadn't heard of the band before, and was surprised to learn that their guitarist Srdjan Brankovic is behind Expedition Delta, a musical project that involves or has involved quite a few renowned musicians, like Erik Norlander (Rocket Scientists), Rene Merkelbach (Ayreon) and Gary Wehrkamp (Shadow Gallery) that found a place in my music collection ages ago.

In Alogia, Srdjan plays together with his brother Miroslav (guitar), Vladimir Ranisavljevic (bass), Srdjan Golubica (drums), and vocalist Nikola Mijic.

Keyboards and synths are played by Vladimir Djedovic, who unfortunately had to leave the band after recording the album to pursue other activities.

These six musicians delivered an album with powerful metal that shows both great musicianship and a couple of very clear influences. Sometimes there's a hint of early '90s progressive metal, then power metal, and always two guitars and a keyboard ready to add some fast, whirling or mixed melodies over the metronomic rhythm guitar and drums. The high pitched vocals are well executed, although the Serbian lyrics may be a bit of a hurdle for an international audience.

On the album, this leads to a mixed variety of tracks. On tracks like Almagest, Callis Ad Astra and Galija we find rhythmic riffing that reminds of early 80s prog metal (Dream Theater) mixed with late 80s melodic keyboards and guitars (Halloween, Gamma Ray). In other places, the prog metal element disappears in favour of power metal, which is the case on Vreme je and the title track Elegia Balcanica.

Of a completely different nature are the tracks Us Tisini, which is slower and more keyboard heavy than the rest of the album and Intentionally Blind, a thrash metal bordering track. The latter is a worthy tribute to Death founder Chuck Shuldiner, who died of cancer in 2001.

Production wise, the album could have benefited from a slightly lighter mix. The bass is hard to be found, because the low end is dominated by drums, keyboard and rhtyhm guitar, and the drums sound a bit 'woody' in places.

Overall, this is a well executed power metal album, by a capable band, but with room for improvement. Given that this is the bands fourth album, and especially the previous two received good reviews, there is more to check out than just this one for who's really interested.

Also published on my blog www.angelosrockorphanage.com

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 The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway by GENESIS album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.28 | 2249 ratings

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The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway
Genesis Symphonic Prog

Review by AndyJ

4 stars Genesis's 'The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway' is an album which can divide opinion and create debate like no other...Everyone who listens to progressive music probably has their own opinions regarding 'The Lamb', its impossible not to. Judging from the reviews on Prog Archives there are definitely a lot of strong opinions about this particular Genesis album, and I'd expect no less! Unlike 'Selling England' or 'Foxtrot', which are easily identified as masterpieces of prog, with 'The Lamb' it isn't so clear-cut. Is this album a masterpiece? Perhaps...

There have been times in my own life when I have held up 'The Lamb' to be the single greatest piece of music in all of recorded human history. But equally there have been times when I've been far more sceptical about the record and regarded it with only a passing interest. The truth, like so many things, probably lies somewhere in-between these two extremes. In my opinion 'The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway' is the perfect example of the flawed masterpiece.

But in sitting down and writing my review for this oh-so mysterious album I can already feel it tugging at me, calling to me, wanting to be listened to once again. One thing is certain, 'The Lamb' has never been far from my thoughts at any given time. I still get excited when I listen to it - it's intoxicating, not least of all because I still haven't got the slightest clue what its all about! It's almost like a puzzle or a mathematical equation which demands to be solved. The lyrics are clearly a metaphor for something - I've just never figured out what! I've tried reading other people's thoughts on the matter, spent hours digesting notes on the Internet of interpretations and theories, but nothing seems to feel right to me. In a way it doesn't really matter. The biggest joke might be if Peter Gabriel doesn't even know what it means, and the words were just chosen because they made good lyrics and fitted together well...!

But what perplexes me more is why has this album taken up so much of my time, after-all, the previous Gabriel-era Genesis albums are far superior to this one, right?... 'The Lamb' doesn't have the long and highly enjoyable progressive instrumental passages from previous albums, it isn't as experimental or I might argue as progressive as the bands previous records. In many ways its a bit more straight-forward than the previous Genesis records.

In 'The Lamb' all attention is on Peter Gabriel and his vocals, with little room for musical freedom from the rest of the band. Now there are a few songs on the album which buck the trend and allow for a bit more musical exploration, like the track 'In The Cage' or 'Riding The Scree', but those songs are few and far between. What I find even more perplexing, however, is that a good 25% of the album is more-or-less filler, especially on the second disc. In fact I sometimes even find myself skipping the odd track in the second half when I sit down and listen to this. How can this be a masterpiece then? Well as I said its a flawed masterpiece...

...but I wouldn't change a second of it!

I initially set out to write a 3-star review for this album, but how can I? There may be a a good chunk of filler on here, but there are also some absolutely fantastic Genesis songs which deserve, even to this day, to be listened to by everyone. The good on this album more than does enough to wash away the bad. Is this the greatest record in human history? A few years ago I might have said yes, but really its not 'the greatest'... I'm not even sure I'd put it in my top 10, but regardless it is still absolutely essential for any prog fan though... But you all already know that, right? Reviewing this album isn't anything ground-breaking, in-fact I doubt anyone is going to read yet another review for this already over-reviewed album. I'm not going to change any opinions with my review of this album, I just felt like I wanted to add my own voice to the mix regarding this album.

'The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway' gets a very solid 4-stars from me, as its probably the fairest rating I can think of... Now if you'll excuse me I'm off to listen to 'The Lamb', maybe more than once!...

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 Crimson II by EDGE OF SANITY album cover Studio Album, 2003
3.67 | 85 ratings

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Crimson II
Edge of Sanity Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by AndyJ

4 stars Edge Of Sanity's 'Crimson II' is the follow-up album to the 1996 prog-metal classic 'Crimson', and is a different take on the original 40-minute death metal epic. Released in 2003, the record was released under the banner of Edge Of Sanity, but in reality this is a Dan Swano solo album. Swano resurrected Edge Of Sanity for this album only, and then swiftly killed it off again, never to be seen again.

When reviewing 'Crimson II' you can't help but refer to the first album. There are a number of differences between the two 'Crimson' albums. In 'Crimson II' there is a much greater use of keyboard synths which tend to give the album a more upbeat feel to it. This is extenuated by the use of more melodic guitar riffs, making 'Crimson II' feel brighter and somehow happier or bouncier than the original. The drums are punchier, clearly having been triggered in the studio, which again makes the album sound brighter and detract from the atmosphere of the production. Musically 'Crimson II' is probably even more varied than the original. There are chunky death metal riffs, acoustic guitars, pianos, operatic clean vocals, guttural death metal screams.

Over the years I've often had the debate with a close friend of mine as to which is the better album, this one or the first one... It's often an interesting debate, even if we both know the outcome before we've started arguing! I've always come down on the side of the first album, where-as my friend has always sided with this one, and we both have our reasons. Don't get me wrong, 'Crimson II' is a worthy successor to the original classic and it is a very good album indeed, but in my opinion it just doesn't have the same muddy atmosphere as the first record - in some ways it comes across as a bit too polished and a bit too upbeat. When it comes to progressive death metal I like atmosphere - I'm not a big fan of highly polished triggered drums, for example.

But it isn't just the production standard, I also feel that 'Crimson II' is a little bit more disjointed than the original album. While 'Crimson II' is marketed as a single 43-minute song, the reality is that the music is segmented into 9 distinct sections which have less relation to each other. This is an album where it could be split up into its constituent sections easily enough. The only thing binding this album together is the concept and story, which is carried over from the first 'Crimson' album. Particularly interesting is to note is that none other than Clive Nolan is the author of the lyrics in this album. That's right, Clive Nolan of Arena and Pendragon fame wrote the lyrics to this album! This is something I only discovered as I was writing this review - all these years I always assumed Swano wrote the lyrics to this!...

...You learn something new every day!

Anyway, onto the rating. I'm torn between 3 and 4 stars with this. I do really love the work of Dan Swano, and this is a worthy successor to the original 'Crimson' album so I'm going to give this one 4-stars. Definitely recommended - you just might enjoy the first one more!

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 Once There Was A Time When Space And Time Were One by MY BROTHER THE WIND album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.32 | 31 ratings

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Once There Was A Time When Space And Time Were One
My Brother The Wind Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

3 stars A collective comprised of members of a diverse range of bands such as Anekdoten (Nicklas Barker), Magnolia (Ronny Eriksson) and the Gösta Berlings Saga (Mathias Danielsson), Swedish band My Brother The Wind deliver their third album `Once There Was a Time When Space and Time Were One', and it's another fully improvised, reliable collection of heavy psych rock, space music and immersive Krautrock sounds. The results are always enjoyable, if sometimes lacking something truly thrilling, but genuinely lovely moments still emerge throughout the disc.

After an opening `Prologue' of psychedelic drones, phasing sounds and backwards effects, the meandering yet joyful `Song of Innocence - Part 1' smoulders with slow-burn electric guitar embers and murmuring bass in the manner of the most mellow moments of Agitation Free and the Oresund Space Collective. After being sucked into a whirling vacuum of spinning feedback, the band crash back to Earth with `Ufo'-era Guru Guru-esque howling raggedness driven home by incessant pounding drums from newcomer to the group Daniel Fridlund Brandt. `Into the Cosmic Halo' lurches back and forth in tempo with scuzzy early Hawkwind-like charm, but it's really just a framing for aimless guitar soloing. The more meditative `Misty Mountainside' is an Indo/raga rock- flavoured droning acoustic guitar respite, with hypnotic flute ruminations reaching for the heavens.

`Garden of Delights' is a slowly building twelve minute guitar jam that grows in intensity with nice middle eastern themes slowly emerging, but although the piece is probably twice as long as it should be, the blanketing of unsettling Mellotron choir in the finale satisfies. `Thomas Mera Gartz' is a groaning sustained-note electric guitar and chimes drone, the title track is another dreamy acoustic guitar raga with thoughtful bass interjections, and `Epilogue' is a brisk and sumptuous up- tempo Mellotron soaked beauty. Spirited acoustic guitar races alongside sprightly drumming, warm relentless bass and glorious Mellotron rises and falls on clouds of hallucinogenic bliss.

`Once There Was a Time When Space and Time Were One' ticks plenty of the right boxes in the genres mentioned above, but some stretches get a little monotonous or fail to truly engage. It also has to be said that the shorter, ambient and reflective moments are more interesting than the heavier overlong jams, and they're also disappointingly the shorter pieces on the album. Still, this is a nice album, and the fanciful hazy cover artwork just lifts it that little bit higher still!

A solid three star album.

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