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 Psykisk Testbild by MESHUGGAH album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1989
2.77 | 8 ratings

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Psykisk Testbild
Meshuggah Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

2 stars While Europe pioneered the extreme metal scene with bands like Venom and Hellhammer with the help of the hardcore punk scene from artists such as Discharge and Amebix, the USA actually fostered in the most successful bands that developed a new form of metal called thrash. Slayer, Anthrax, Medgadeth and Metallica, the big four, launched an entire new metal paradigm and it was time for new bands to follow in the footsteps of a new American strain of extremity.

Scandinavia would become the hotbed for even stranger forms of metal and in the coastal city of Ume', Sweden, one of the future bands that would deliver one of the strangest forms of technical metal of all. MESHUGGAH formed all the way back in 1987 by guitarist Frederik Thordenal and vocalist Jens Kidman and were no doubt influenced by the American thrash scene given its world dominating presence.

Before the band would become world famous themselves for the unique hybridization of death, thrash and progressive metal with jazz elements, MESHUGGAH was clearly in full Metallica worship mode on their early albums and after the two founders recruited bassist Peter Nordin and drummer Niclas Lundgren, the band would release the first eponymously titled EP in 1989 but has gained the nickname PSYKISK TESTBILD for its hypnotic black and white psychedelic album cover.

While only an EP of three tracks that slightly exceeds the nineteen minute mark, MESHUGGAH proved they had the chops to be the best Metallica clone in the biz. Copping the staccato riffing bravado of the ''And Justice For All' album with the heavy thrash of 'Masters Of Puppets,' this EP was certainly a grand declaration that this Swedish band was well on its way to be reckoned with. The only problem at this stage was the overt lack of originality despite the decent production job and outstanding musical talent.

While the introduction to MESHUGGAH was only issued as a 12' vinyl record limited to a1000 copies it's very unlikely anyone will come across this unless they are a true collector willing to shell out some dough however the tracks were later reissued and included on the compilation 'Rare Trax.' This short debut is also the only release to feature drummer Niclas Lundgren before long time member Tomas Haake would take over as drummer. While showing great promise, this is really one for the collector's only. Despite the great musicianship displayed, this is a Metallica clone all the way.

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 Stranger Heads Prevail by THANK YOU SCIENTIST album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.05 | 190 ratings

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Stranger Heads Prevail
Thank You Scientist Crossover Prog

Review by kohntarkosz1001

5 stars Ok, here it goes, my official first review on the site after almost 10 years of milking from this community's knowledge. And the chosen album is Stranger Heads Prevail, the latest effort of the weird ensemble of Thank You Scientist, an album that shows advocates of classic prog that the current scene is well nurtured and thriving.

I will begin with a personal anecdote: I was studying abroad by the time of this release (Sep-Oct 2016) and that was the first time I travelled outside my home country and this album reflects somewhat my experience abroad: I was eager to meet new people, speak other languages, be part of another culture; and while I was living that life, I came across this band, who, as I back then, took risks, had a good time and turned this album into something not seen very often.

To put it simply, this album's feel is refreshing, at times quirky, then jazzy, then melancholic and sometimes even aggressive; this is because of the band's unique blend of a funky bass, a cool brass section, a dramatic violin, some harsh and metallic guitars, prolific drums and of course, the awesome and energetic voice of Salvatore. If someone asked what genre this belongs to, one would probably argue that it is jazz rock with a spoonful of pop and a hint of metalcore. You have such variety, from the A Capella/Vaudeville pieces of Prologue and Epilogue, to the metallic Sonambulist to a groovy Rube Goldberg Variations. The best trait of this record is the flawless interaction between brass, guitars and vocals, often yielding powerful but melodic and intricate lines backed up by a rock solid rhythmic section.

This is not perfect by any means though, it can sometimes feel a bit repetitive and drag a little too long, and I would have liked more brass and a little less guitar but these aren't deal-breakers and I can live with them.

So, to conclude, this a refreshing and modern album with enough variety to appeal to any prog or jazz fan, so listen to this, specially if you like stuff such as Snarky Puppy, Coheed and Cambria, Anathema, or any prog in general really.

Best tracks: The Sonambulist, Rube Goldberg Variations, Mister Invisible, Automatic Blue

Final Veredict: Obviusly, 5 stars for an awesome record

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 A Change Of Seasons by DREAM THEATER album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1995
3.68 | 660 ratings

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A Change Of Seasons
Dream Theater Progressive Metal

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Dream Theater's EP 'A Change of Season's' definitely is an EP even though the entire run time is over 57 minutes. The reason for this is there is only the one original track on this EP which runs over 23 minutes, a suite that was originally written for inclusion on the album 'Images and Words', but for some reason, it was left off that album and released this way. The rest of the album, after this suite, is a 'bonus' and contains several covers that were recorded live at Ronnie Scott's Jazz club in London, England on January 31, 1995. The decision to release this album this way was a strategic one since the real reason for the release was the original suite, but DT didn't want to disappoint fans by releasing a short album or EP (because you know someone was bound to complain, even with the cheaper price point), so the live cover fan club show was added to this album.

Let's start out with concentrating on the suite 'A Change of Seasons'. The basic story line here deals with an individual's experiences leading from birth to death. The suite is made up of 7 subsections, so each one is actually quite short, none of them reaching the 4 minute mark. Starting with the instrumental section 'The Crimson Sunrise' you get a nice electric, but soft introduction involving guitars, piano, keyboards which suddenly erupts into the full band and heaviness halfway through, and the band lives up to it's Progressive Metal style as the section continues. 'Innocence' continues with the heavier sound, but with a noticeable meter and style change as the guitars take hold of a melody and vocals start soon after. The music is a definite progressive sound with a 4 / 4 meter, that gets manipulated and played around with so that it isn't just standard. Soon other meters come in making this more complex and the vocal melody refrains from dropping into any singular theme. 'Carpe Diem' slows things down quite a bit as the rhythm section drops out and we have acoustic guitar and dramatic vocals. The last part of this section works as a vocal build up which intensifies to the next section which is the instrumental 'The Darkest of Winters'. This section is full of ever changing meters and instrumental solos which flawlessly move through tricky rhythm changes and styles, going from heavy to jazz fusion and rapid guitar riffs that approach tech metal riffs with hardly misstep and ending back to a stately theme that moves into the next subsection 'Another World'. When the vocals come in, the rhythm drops out again with only organ accompanying before minimal bass comes in, later accompanied by piano and soft guitar. Things intensify again as in the 'Carpe Diem' section so we end up with a lovely mid- tempo guitar solo and later, emotional vocals. The next subsection is instrumental and called 'The Inevitable Summer' which starts more atmospheric, but continues the moderate tempo from the previous section along with a nice guitar solo that borrows from an almost UK style, that suddenly moves to a fast rhythm and a cool keyboard solo then heavy guitars driven by changing rhythms and broken up meters. We return to the beginning theme from the first section 'The Change of Seasons', this time with vocals following the thematic elements from the beginning of the suite. It all ends as it begins, with soft guitar. This track is one of DT's epic works that many consider one of their best.

The rest of the album is a lot of covers done live as mentioned before. You could end the EP right there, but the band thought it would be nice to add this live fan show. So, this all starts with Elton John's 'Funeral for a Friend / Love Lies Bleeding', which is Elton's only real progressive track, and it is a 5-star classic. But how does DT fare with it? Well, it is quite faithful to the original, but with more guitar filling in some of the extra keyboards and instruments that Elton has on the original. It's a decent rendition especially for being live, but doesn't add or take away from the original. The next cover is Deep Purple's 'Perfect Strangers'. I like the DP version well enough, but there really isn't anything added here except for a longer guitar solo. Next is a Led Zeppelin medley featuring 'The Rover', 'Achilles Last Stand' and 'The Song Remains the Same' all crushed down to 7 minutes. This is bad. So, so bad. You only get the introductory riff from The Rover and it slips into a shortened introduction to Achilles with some shaky vocals, and you can tell that DT is in too deep with this complex song and besides, you are entering sacred territory here. After a few verses and an attempt at part of the Achilles instrumental, they slip into 'The Song Remains the Same' but the vocals are just out of is range, so they end on that quickly before he tears a larynx or something. The last set of covers is a medley of various classical hits; 'In the Flesh?' by Pink Floyd, 'Carry On Wayward Son' by Kansas, 'Bohemian Rhapsody', 'Lovin' Touchin' Squeezin' ' by Journey, 'Cruise Control' by Dixie Dregs, and 'Turn it on Again' by Genesis. It's like a Reader's Digest version of condensed 70's rock hits. It's as bad as it sounds.

So now we run into the problem of whether the covers were bonus tracks and don't count towards the final score of the EP, or, since in reality they are part of the whole album and actually take up more time than the suite does. I think you have to listen to it all when you are reviewing and decide if the bonus material adds or takes away from the main feature here, and since this is an original recording, and not one where the bonus covers were added later, then it definitely counts to the overall EP. The suite is great, but by the time you get to the end of all of the covers, you have forgotten about how good the suite was, so it takes away from the EP. Yes, I am saying they would have been better off leaving the covers off of this EP. I'm not a huge fan of DT anyway, but this is one of their better suites, but the covers are not great and sometimes laughable. So with the covers added on, they managed to turn this into a 3 star affair.

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 Are You Sitting Comfortably? by IQ album cover Studio Album, 1989
2.74 | 298 ratings

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Are You Sitting Comfortably?
IQ Neo-Prog

Review by Zoltanxvamos

5 stars Second best IQ Album, Keep in mind iQ is a Neo-Prog Rock Band. Nostalgia and Falling Apart At The Seams are extremely oldschool prog, especially Nostalgia being a very Steve Hackett piece, being compared to Please Don't Touch. Falling Apart At The Seams is a complex piece of music with odd time, lyrical beauty, oldschool prog sound and mix, writing and other wise. Sold on you is a brilliant piece as well, as well as Wurensh, War Heroes, Through My Fingers and Nothing At All. The only song I can live without is Drive On, it's a fairly good song but it doesn't fit the album in terms of consistency to the theme of the album, but overall a good song. This album is a masterpiece in iQ's continuing history.

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 The Route Through The Canyon by SONORA SUNRISE album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.98 | 3 ratings

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The Route Through The Canyon
Sonora Sunrise Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Rivertree
Special Collaborator PSIKE Team & Band Submissions

4 stars This topical Trail Records move represents an album produced by a band hailing from the Russian Altai region, geographically bordering to China and dominated by diverse highlands. Well, to entitle their debut album 'A Route Through The Canyon' therefore marks a reasonable consquence, or what? And yes, if you will expect psychedelic space stuff arranged with a special dose of melancholy, atmosphere and ethnic vibe, you're on the right trail here indeed. First of all, I was confused for a while because they have updated the band name, which originally was 'Sonora' solely. Eventually this means there are also three EP's existing, as well as a live album, which they all had self-released beforehand.

The album's flow may match an entire day being underway across the highlands, on this occasion unexpextedly starting with an atmospheric sundown though, including some narrative for a transition. Oh, I wished I already had the opportunity to listen to this when I stayed at the Baikal Sea some years ago, not really far away, at least in Siberian terms. Pure nature, as far as the eye can see. Awe-inspiring. The band is able to convey it, with instinctive certainty. Welcome To The Sandland then may open a new day with a fantastic dreamy flow including some shamanic singing at the very end. Spheric keyboard/synth patterns furthermore, relaxed drumming with a jazzy touch, hypnotic bass lines, soaring guitars all over.

Katya Zlobina will decorate some songs with georgeous ethereal vocals in the vein of Sky Cries Mary and Rada & Ternovnik. Even acoustic guitars are used, when it comes to the charming ballad Roadside Picnic, somewhat mirroring a situation sitting round a twilight campfire with elevated position while preparing for the night. The circle closes for now, no repetition, perpetual change. Very inspiring. SONORA SUNRISE offer a fine psychedelic space tune collection for your entertainment. An album ideally suited for an hour of relaxing control. Just start the journey and then close your eyes. Four and a half stars so far.

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 Flowers At The Scene by BOWNESS, TIM album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.92 | 11 ratings

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Flowers At The Scene
Tim Bowness Crossover Prog

Review by admireArt
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Flowers At The Scene (2019) displays Tim Bowness´relentless music composition maturity clearly and for good.

In this release, as he usually does, he surrounds himself with a great cast of collaborators and as always Tim Bowness sounds like Tim Bowness and no one else.

I could tire you out with Mr. Bowness credentials, but I have done that in other reviews.

In this album there is an energetic feel which renews his heritage, like new blood, and it is all his and it happens all way through from track one to track eleven.

Simplification has been one of Tim Bowness guidelines and he does this without cutting off musical ideas (which he has plenty, both very good & unique), opposite to that this is done by solely displaying the essentials in his compositions, performances, recording and production even in his very intimate lyrics.

So expect diversity in all of Mr. Bowness´ musical language´s scope and a storm of memorable moments compressed in great songs.

4 PA´s stars.

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 White Crow by ANUBIS SPIRE album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.09 | 4 ratings

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White Crow
Anubis Spire Crossover Prog

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Annubis Spire is a US Crossover Prog band formed in 1998 who has released 8 full length albums since that time. Their 8th studio album "White Crow" was released in March of 2019, and features the current line-up of Bill MacKechnie on vocals and guitars, Michael Leo Brothers on vocals and guitars, Tim Costley on bass and Mick Loher on drums and percussion. The album has 11 tracks, none of which break the 6 minute mark, except for the opening track "Sentimental Prison" which has a nice combination of guitar and synth, but is a fairly straightforward and mid-tempo track that has shades of Floydian influence.

Bill's vocals are in the mid-range and are pleasant enough, but not really emotional either, however, he makes the lyrics quite easy to understand. As the album moves into "Captain I Need a Mission" we pretty much start off with the same sound as the previous track, but before 2 minutes, the entire feel of the track goes to a more upbeat rhythm for the rest of the track. There is still nothing really amazing here though, its all pretty straightforward with some okay solos. Interestingly enough, the next track "Love in the Time of Madness" is an instrumental which moves along quite well, but doesn't really develop into much. "Hindu Kush Newsreel" is a bit heavier with some nice sounding guitar work, even though it is a bit overproduced. This song would have been much better, but there is some spoken word going on throughout it which supposed to be like a news program, but it sounds a bit convoluted and ruins the intensity that is apparent in the background that only really stands out when the spoken word "verses" stop.

"Full Thrust" is sounds like a bad electonica track that tries to be stately but sounds a bit washed out. Nice for variety, but it doesn't sound very believable. "White Crow" goes back to a track where the lyrics are supposed to be important about a cult leader's bad habits. It's another heavy song, but it just seems flat and fake. "The Loneliness (at the Center of the World)" is a nice guitar instrumental, but is pretty standard and nothing stands out at all. "Damn Sick and Tired Blues (for Whiteboy Slim)" is a combination of acoustic and electric guitar with gruff vocals. The track is a combination of blues and rock, but again is a bit unbelievable and a tad silly.

"Sabbadelic" is another guitar rock instrumental that has a Hendrix vibe to it, but doesn't really deliver. "From That Window" is a soft track with tacky spoken word passages that later grows in intensity. "Falling Over Me (Like Stars)" is a nice slower guitar led instrumental, probably the most interesting on the album. Even then, it has all been heard before.

There is nothing wrong with variety on an album, in fact, I am all for it. But to pull it off, you have to be good at it. Variety can exist even when an artist or band has an overall specific sound by incorporating traits from other genres into their own style. But when a band tries to just hit every genre they can trying to sound like other artists besides themselves, it can feel unauthentic, as is the case here. The tracks are decent, but when its all said and done, it is all just mediocre, and nothing stands out. They did hit several genres in this album, but none of it is progressive. As such, it's all pretty standard music, average sounding and it receives an average rating.

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 Close To The Edge by YES album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.66 | 4243 ratings

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Close To The Edge
Yes Symphonic Prog

Review by jamesbaldwin
Prog Reviewer

4 stars "Close To The Edge" is the number ONE in the ranking of Progarchives. Is it the best progressive rock album of all time? My personal answer is no.

The Lp includes three songs: "Close To The Edge" (side A), "And You And I", and "Siberian Khatru" (side B).

"Close To The Edge", the song: Everybody here knows this suite very well... But is it a real suite? How is his structure? After having heard this suite for many years, here's to you my evaluation.

Close To The Edge (18:42) begins with country noises and a carpet of keyboards that gradually increases the volume, then comes an instrumental intro guided by Howe's guitar, which works on two lines: one does the solo, the other an underlying phrasing at great speed, which in fact marks a faster pace than that of Bruford's drums, which he prefers, with his creative jazzy style, not to beat too much on the snare drum, but works the rhythm at the hips. Meanwhile, Squire throws slashes with his mixed bass very high. The impression is therefore of listening to a polyrhythmic piece, without true melody, very well chiselled, refined, sophisticated, produced by the virtuosity of the musicians, which lasts about two and a half minutes, when Anderson's singing arrives to signal that it is time to start with the serious part, the storytelling. It is always Howe's guitar that leads, this time painting the melody, flanked by Squire's bass. The melody continues for a minute (up to about 3:50), then the rhythm stops and, punctuated by Bruford's drums, begins the hyperspeed rhythm that characterizes the verses of this long song. This time the keyboards of Wakeman arrive to support Howe's guitar, and together with Bruford's drums they beat the rhythm, while Squire produces some turns of bass to make it more lively. Anderson's singing begins, with its glacial timbre, and the very high, contralto tone, which somehow transcends the rock music in the background, turns off the heat like covering it with a white, pure, celestial liquid, and this it is the contradiction of Yes, well-marked by the critic Scaruffi: the romantic, warm, sentimental rock base is accompanied by the vocals of Anderson, cold, celestial, like icy water that extinguishes the fire. Therefore, a discrepancy is created, a conjunction of opposites, which produces a conflicting result, because Anderson's voice would be more suitable for slower, fluid, rarefied atmospheres of air or water, such as some kraut rock music (Hosianna Mantra) or some Canterbury (Wyatt's Rock Bottom) or the more recent post-rock. Instead this voice is associated with a melodic rock music, with a good rhythm, which tends to act more on a corporal than an astral level. All this produces conflict but also fascination, leaving in the music of Yes something that clashes, conflicts, but that makes it at the same time more fascinating, more stratified, less univocal, less simple, because it moves simultaneously in two opposite directions.

It is clear that Anderson's voice really characterizes the music of Yes and not everyone likes it. The fact that it goes on another level with respect to the music, combined with its super-high tone, almost falsetto, it could irritate or tire many listeners. Personally it took me several years to get used to Anderson's vocals, since I come from the classic (heartland) rock. I know that many lovers of classic rock don't tolerate Yes more for the voice of Anderson than for their songs, convoluted and full of virtuosic instrumental pieces.

But ... Let's go back to the song! The singing arrives: verse, second verse and immediately the chorus that then fades into a short solo by Howe that connects it to the bridge, at a more relaxed pace, then again comes the refrain, which in the final salt of tone touch a solemn epic climax ("I Get Up, I Get Down").

This structure, in fact an easy-listening melodic pop (beat style) song, represents the backbone of everything in Close To The Edge.

A piece of connection follows where Squire's bass is in evidence, then the keyboards report to the main melody: verse, second verse, chorus. All played with a different rhythm by Bruford and with greater use of the bass. In the refrain, more Wakeman's keyboards begins to be heard. Then bridge (where Howe's guitar feels good and there is an intermittent super high-pitched sound, I don't know if it's still produced by Howe or by Wakeman), then new chorus, which ends when we're at 8 minutes.

Following is a piece centered on low tones that introduce us to the instrumental break dominated by Wakeman. The music slows down, the rhythm section disappears, the song is deconstructed, leaving only abstract landscapes dominated by keyboards. It seems to be in a cold cave and in fact you can hear the sound of drops falling. Wakeman combines the sound of the synthesizer with that of organ and mellotron, and comes the singing of Anderson, in a doubled voice, at ease in this ethereal atmosphere. He starts again from the bridge, sung with slow rhythm, alternating with choirs of the chorus. This time Anderson's singing is intimate, confidential, and alternate to the choirs: my opinion is in this context that gives the best of himself, when his singing is confidential, and does not stand on the high notes ... or alternatively, when it grows on the high notes, if it is flanked by a melodic musical crescendo, and it's just happening now: the vocals "I Get Up, I Get Down, I Get Up" push the music to its peak, a marvelous epic, majestic, solemn climax after the long bridge / chorus; the voice rises in tone, and then the Wakeman church organ follow the vocals, and it sounds perfect for this musical juncture. We are a little longer than 12 minutes, and finally the song touches one of the highest peak of quality in the entire Yes's discography. Still Anderson, singing: "I Get Up, I Get Down", he leads the organ to lower notes, and after just over 14 minutes, the rhythm of the melody returns, with Bruford distinguishing it again from jazz preciousness.

The keyboards come back, and finally the singing starts again, on the hyperspeed rhythm with which it started the song: verse, second verse, bridge this time before the chorus, and finally again: "I Get Up, I Get Down", which closes in fading returning to the initial country noises.

Close To The Edge, in my opinion, is not a real suite. It is a song verse-chorus dilated to no end, which repeats the chorus (refrain) 6 times in total. Yes have created a new song format, they take a commercial easy-listening pop song with a verse-chorus (refrain)-bridge-chorus (refrain) structure and then they dilate it, speed it up, slow it down, accompany it with changes of rhythm and arrangement, support it with instrumental digressions and get to almost 20 minutes: and here's to you a beat song disguised as a classical suite. The (high-class) operation unites a simple substance: an easily accessible music, to a complex form: its clothing with a high quotient of virtuosity, refined arrangement, polyrhythmic instrumental pieces.

Rating high: 8,5/9. Successful song.

Now side B. Will side B be able to maintain the same level of quality?

"And You and I" (10:08) begins acoustically with a pastoral guitar phrasing, then comes the singing of Anderson, who sings two verses with a folk background, marked however by Wakeman's synths. The melody is pretty, but nothing more. Bruford's drums come together for a nice bridge "in crescendo", where Squire's bass performs numbers on the bass. The verse returns, which ends by raising the tone, and introducing a multi-level Wakeman solo, which brings the song from pastoral-folk to almost psychedelic-space rock, until the singing of Anderson returns, on the notes of the bridge, to making this orchestral crescendo celestial which, in effect, tends to rise towards the sky. In this way a nice climax is reached, which ends around 6 minutes. The music stops, the acoustic guitar phrasing returns, quite similar at the beginning, it comes to support it the rhythm section, then again a solo of keyboards / synths, this time a digression on the theme, above which the voice of Anderson returns, accompanied by the choirs, for the third bridge. The music rises for the "great finale", but again it stops, and Anderson's voice returns for the last 40 seconds. They should have avoided closing by repeating the verse, as the song has already repeated itself too much.

The song was virtually finished after 6 minutes, after reaching the climax. The remaining 4 minutes do not add much in terms of musical material, and would at least be cut by a minute. In this case, in expanding the song to get a mini suite, Yes don't get the same remarkable result achieved in Close To The Edge. As a quality, the song would have been better if it ended after 6 minutes. But even if they wanted to repeat the initial folk melody, they would have to end the song in an instrumental way without extending it so much. Rating: 8.

"Siberian Khatru" (9:00) brings the atmosphere back to the initial guitar rock, with more emphasis on keyboards. From the beginning the song appears quite repetitive and less inspired than Close To The Edge. Also in this case, the melody is pretty but not excellent. Anderson prefers to be accompanied by choirs, but it is above all the instrumental work that is more repetitive and less inspired than the first two pieces. After two verse-chorus pieces, the instrumental solo arrives, left first at Wakeman's celesta and then at Howe's guitar. The piece, however, does not sound with the same conviction as the other two. After 4 and a half minutes, Anderson's crystalline voice comes as fresh air to invigorate the piece, then starts the refrain, with Bruford beating drums and cymbals like a madman and Squire making the numbers. Again a slowdown, the singing of choirs, Bruford to make the numbers, and finally an instrumental queue that is too long, two and a half minutes, since it doesn't add anything particularly new compared to the repeated rhythm as a possessed from beginning to end. The Yes add a syncopated piece of percussion and vocals to break the rhythm. But on the whole, like "And You And I", the musical material is too little to justify the 9 minutes of the song, and Yes can't always do miracles, as in "Close To The Edge", to make original simple music that could be compressed in three minutes. Here, in fact, they try, and they are to praise, not to make the song dull, between percussion and the slashes of bass by Squire, which characterizes the ending of the piece, but overall the result is not compelling, and in short the song seems in effect, compared to the other two, a filler pulled too long. Rating: 7,5.

Side A: Rating 8,5/9. Side B: Rating 8. Rating album: 8,5 for the quality, 8,5/9 for his unity and coherence. Four and a half Stars.

Is "Close To The Edge" the masterpiece of progressive rock? Not in my opinion. It is an almost masterpiece, in terms of quality. The first part is a masterpiece, the second is not. In my personal ranking the rating is 8.5 / 9 that is four and a half stars. Even if it were 5-star, it would be a small masterpiece, which remains a bit far from the peaks of King Crimson and Van Der Graaf Generator. Close To The Edge has the characteristic of being the emblem of the canons of progressive rock that in 1972 had its greatest flowering. It has one side filled with just one suite, and the other with two mini-suites or long songs: the maximum (for prog) would be one suite per side, as Yes will do in the next, double album "Tales From Topographic Oceans". Here the songs are not real suites, but very dilated melodic pop-rock songs (while on Tales and Relayer Yes will compose real suites). Then Yes provide a great rate of virtuosity, rhythm changes (or polyrhythmic rhythms), instrumental variations on the main melodic theme; they add baroque arrangements (the church organ and the celesta played by Wakeman) to the songs that have a simple rock or folk structure; in short: in this album Yes exemplify with the maximum coherence the canons, the schemes, the patterns of progressive rock. And they put, in the first side, and partly in And You And I, excellent sound content, musical progressions coupled with singing that reach climax, a high rate of pathos.

But all this is affected by the excessive expansion of duration of the songs, especially in the second side. As often happens, the main representatives of an artistic movement, those who shape the patterns, have more historical importance than a universal recognition for the quality of their works. That is, it is often those who are inside an artistic movement without respecting all the canons to be those who, subjected to the scrutiny of the historical judgment, come out better. Yes are the quintessence of the progressive rock of the golden age. Certainly they weren't just gifted musicians, they created an imaginary, they have always been visionaries, both musically and narratively. However, the quality peaks achieved in their albums, in my opinion, are not the highest achieved within the progressive rock movement. This Lp got high, but not very high quality, in my opinion. This record, in fact, represents the artistic peak of Yes discography ("Fragile" and certain parts of "Tales" are close to its) and, as my critical judgment, while praising the first side, which gives me great pleasure in listening, the pleasure ends up arriving at sixth minute of And You and I. The rest is not ugly, on the contrary, it is of good level, but not of great level. And this justifies my rating of four and a half stars. If "Heart of the Sunrise" had been here instead of Siberian Khatru, "Close To The Edge" would have been a real masterpiece that could be close to the top results of Van Der Graaf Generator and King Crimson.

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 Monster Movie by CAN album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.80 | 330 ratings

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Monster Movie
Can Krautrock

Review by Kempokid
Collaborator Prog Metal Team

4 stars For those who listened to Can's later work and admired their amazingly groovy repetition in places, I feel like you'll enjoy this album greatly. While Tago Mago and the like may have had hypnotic, repetitive beats throughout the songs, this album takes it to another level in that regard, with each song almost solely being dedicated to a single rhythmic pattern and hook, and then repeated ad nauseum throughout the length of the song. As well as its extreme simplicity which ends up working wonders due to the highly groovy, hypnotic nature of the tracks, there is also a certain energy and manic quality to the songs, the latter definitely provided by the bizarre, unhinged nature of Malcolm Mooney's vocal performance.

Father Cannot Yell immediately sets the precedent for the kind of music thi album will consist of, starting off with a high pitched beeping noise while the instruments are all quickly introduced, with a creeping bassline, drumming like clockwork, and simplistic guitars. The aspect of the song that most catches my attention is the extremely irregular vocal rhythm that's present, seemingly going all over the place with little regard for tempo and time signatures, which is honestly really interesting sounding here. The only majorly shifting instrumental element of the song is that of the guitar, which sometimes becomes near cacophonous at points, with a constant ebb and flow providing for an interesting listening experience further heightened by the wonderfully quirky vocal breakdown halfway through. Mary, Mary So Contrary displays an entire other side of the band's sound, still applying the simplistic, repetitive and rhythm focused songwriting approach, but being much softer and with some more melody put in. The main thing I love about this song is that high pitched wail of the guitar, as it provides a nice bit of sonic depth to the song while the metronimic drumming continues on and on, making the back half of this song absolutely wonderful. Outside My Door, while less memorable and impressive than the previous two tracks, definitely has its own unique identity, with a surf rock style as well as a harmonica, so it's far from a complete write off. You Doo Right makes up the bulk of this album, and is definitely a strange song, taking the mentality applied to the rest of this album, but then stretching it out to 20 minutes in length, essentially providing a 20 minute long jam centred around key vocal hooks. I feel like it's pulled off quite well overall, being able to remain entertaining throughout, more or less exploring the furthest reaches of this particular groove and melody.

While some of Can's later works are definitely where I would gravitate towards, especially their excellent Tago Mago, I really love the stripped back simplicity here, and find that it's executed extremely well. Malcolm Mooney's vocal performance provides a certain charm to the albums that Damo Suzuki couldn't replicate, despite him being a far better vocalist and definitely having moments of further insanity than anything that they could dream of here. All in all, I do thoroughly enjoy this album and would strongly recommend giving it a listen after hearing the Damo Suzuki material from the band.

Best songs: Father Cannot Yell, You Doo Right

Weakest songs: Outside My Door

Verdict: Extremely repetitive, rhythm focused music with great energy in parts, while also being able to make it all sound extremely enjoyable. I'd definitely recommend starting off with the peak material of Can before moving on to this, but I do find it to be an album you should definitely listen to if you enjoyed the minimalistic nature of those albums.

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 Revolution: Underground Sounds of 1968 by VARIOUS ARTISTS (CONCEPT ALBUMS & THEMED COMPILATIONS) album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2019
4.00 | 1 ratings

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Revolution: Underground Sounds of 1968
Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations) Various Genres

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

— First review of this album —
4 stars The era of psychedelic rock in the late sixties has been compiled many times. This new Esoteric Recordings 3-CD box approaches that innovative era from quite a fresh (and definitely prog-minded) view, by concentrating on the year 1968 only, on British music.

The 2-page introduction by Mark Powell is in itself an excellent summarization of the most radical artistic development of rock that took place within a few years. The changes really started in the spring of 1967. The Beatles had a leading role, and all of a sudden bands that had been playing r&b changed their style, e.g. The Moody Blues, Pink Floyd, Cream, Procol Harum.. "The emphasis was now on 'serious' rock music. The single was not seen as an adequate medium to express one's artistic ideas, albums were ambitious and often conceptual in nature and tracks were up to twenty minutes long catering to the demands of an eager 'underground' audience." The terms underground and progressive "came to encompass many different musical styles that were all listened to and purchased by the same social group comprising mainly of hippies and students. Styles such as psychedelic rock, jazz-rock, space rock, folk rock and blues-rock all became classed as 'Progressive' or 'Underground'", Powell writes. The year 1968 is perhaps the most fruitful year ever in the development of rock. There were also various media supporting the new artists, and Powell gives a lot of credit to the legendary DJ John Peel.

The 48-page illustrated booklet introduces each artist in alphabetical order (not the running order) which is wise. I'd preferred the print to be slightly larger. The texts are well written and contain a lot of information in an economic space (roughly one page per artist). Many of the artists aren't that well known by even an advanced listener, so the set is very worthy also as a reference source. Well, especially in the case of GENESIS (represented by 'One Eyed Hound' and 'That's Me') the band's latest phases are a bit irrelevant in this context... About the selection of artitsts; anyone with a good knowledge on early prog can easily name several important bands that are missing: Pink Floyd, The Nice, Family, The Moody Blues, Soft Machine. The best known prog acts included here, besides Genesis, are JETHRO TULL ('My Sunday Feeling'), CARAVAN ('Place of My Own' and 'Magic Man'), VdGG ('People You Were Going to'), PROCOL HARUM ('Shine on Brightly') and BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST ('Early Morning' and 'Mr. Sunshine'). TRAFFIC's here too, and so is GILES, GILES & FRIPP ('Suite No. 1').

Of course this set isn't particularily about [proto] prog, nor about psychedelic rock even though a part of the contents naturally naturally can be pigeonholed into psychedelic rock: TOMORROW (featuring Steve Howe), PRETTY THINGS, SAM GOPAL... First and foremost the set showcases the diversity of styles. There are folk rock acts such as PENTANGLE and JOHN MARTYN, blues-rock such as FLEETWOOD MAC ('Black Magic Woman'), STATUS QUO ('Paradise Flat'), JOHN MAYALL ('Fly Tomorrow') and JEFF BECK ('Shape of Things'). DEEP PURPLE both starts and ends the whole set ('And the Address' and 'Mandrake Root'). BRIAN AUGER & JULIE DRISCOLL's 'This Wheel's on Fire' and ARTHUR BROWN's 'Fire!' were the ones I'd replace for being so often compiled. Examples of musicians that found fame in their later bands are Jeff Lynne and Roy Wood (of IDLE RACE and THE MOVE respectively) before they joined forces in ELO. Also the Shulman Brothers of Gentle Giant are here: Simon Dupree & the Big Sound released the psychedelic single 'We Are the Moles' as THE MOLES, which was rumoured to be The Beatles in disguise!

Well, my review turned out to be more like an overall introduction to this set, but understandably reviewing separate songs would be slightly unfocussed in this case. This is exactly the kind of a compilation of which one doesn't have to like each song, and it's extremely unlikely anyway. But despite having some tracks the average listener probably has already, this gives a wonderful and deeply educational slice of rock history.

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