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 The Book of Souls by IRON MAIDEN album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.40 | 11 ratings

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The Book of Souls
Iron Maiden Prog Related

Review by The Jester

3 stars As most of you know, Iron Maiden is one of the greatest and most popular heavy metal bands since the '80's. During their very long musical career, they released some albums that can be characterised as the "cornerstones" of Heavy Metal. But all that happened a long, long time ago. Speaking for myself, I believe that the last decent album the band released was 'Somewhere in Time' in 1986. As for their last really good album, (always in my opinion), it was 'Powerslave' which was released in 1984. (Here I should mention, that after 'Somewhere in Time' I stopped following the band and its releases). Despite all that, here I am in 2015, writing this piece about their new album 'The Book of Souls'. What we got here is the most ambitious album Iron Maiden ever recorded since the start of their career in the late '70's. It is a double CD including 11 songs, and has a total running time of almost 90 minutes. I listened to the whole album a few times so far, and my first impression is that it will not be very much appreciated by the - hardcore - fans of the band.

In 'The Book of Souls' Iron Maiden are trying a big turn in their style and sound, reaching towards Progressive Metal for good! So far, the only really 'Prog Metal' song the band ever recorded was the really amazing 'The Rime of the Ancient Mariner' from the album 'Powerslave'. And now, almost 3 decades after 'Powerslave', Iron Maiden are trying a general approach to Progressive Metal, which is very interesting and mature, to say the least. Here I will give you a small example: Let's say, that a few years ago somebody would tell you that Iron Maiden will record an album on which they will include piano and violin in their songs. Most probably you would think that he's crazy, right? But as they say, never say never!

Let's start now with the album's first impression: Taking a look at the songs for the first time, you will be surely surprised by their length. There are 3 songs over 10 minutes long, with the longest one being the 'Empire of the Clouds' which is maybe the album's highlight. As for the song's duration, is no less than 18.00 minutes! On the other hand, the shortest song has a running time of 5.00 minutes, and it is 'Tears of the Clown' written for the actor Robin Williams who commited suicide in 2014, as you probably have heard of.

I wrote before, that the devoted fans of the band will not appreciate this album very much, and I stand by it. Because everything sounds different here in comparison with the band's previous works. Yes, the killer and "catchy" guitar riffs are still here in some ocassions, but the general pace is slower, the compositions are more complex by far, and there is no obvious "hit" song. Nothing like 'The Trooper', or 'Fear of the Dark' for example. As far as I heard, the album's first (and probably last) single is 'Speed of Light', which I didn't like if I want to be honest. Also, I should mention that Bruce Dickinson's voice is not like it used to be, and that's something more than obvious.

For me, the highlights of the album are the songs 'The Red & the Black' (13.30), Tears of a Clown (5.00) and of course the epic 'Empire of the Clouds' which is based on the 1930 R101 airplane crash.

I'll conclude this, saying that 'The Book of Souls' is an interesting album, which will need more than 3-4 listens in order to be appreciated.

My rating would be 3.00 out of 5.00 stars.

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 Mirage by SCHULZE, KLAUS album cover Studio Album, 1977
4.27 | 206 ratings

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Mirage
Klaus Schulze Progressive Electronic

Review by Mindphaser

5 stars Klaus Schulze's 70s albums are nothing short of amazing. All navigating around the realms of Electronic, ambient, and space music, Klaus Schulze has released has released many albums that were incredibly influential to the electronic music scene as they were also quite enjoyable.

Mirage is my absolute favourite from his albums. It has all that I ask for in an album of its kind. It compiles of two extensive pieces of dark, haunting ambient electronic music that gives you a very wintery feeling. As Schulze pointed out in the liner notes that the record reflects themes of ice, winter, stagnation, and death. One can tell these themes upon listening to this album even though there are no lyrics as the atmosphere can convey the dark emotions that are layered on here but not in the way you might get from a dark ambient album but instead a rather soft and more trancing way .

This album has the typical Schulze track format (two side-long tracks that go on for over 25 or so minutes) and in this case each track has six parts each that are merged into one long track.

With synths, sequencers, organs, and various electronic instruments, Mirage is a multi-layered wave of ambience that is much more abstract than Schulze's other releases (maybe except for Irrlicht) which makes it a little less accessible than his other popular albums like Timewind or Moondawn. Both tracks are generally slow in speed and they gradually change by adding more and more layers of sound to the mix. The first track, "Velvet Voyage", starts off with about 8 minutes of space drone and slowly starts growing an electronic sound while still maintaining a strong spacey flavour. It does feel like a journey as the title implies. "Crystal Lake" is a more electronic piece that keeps building up until the middle where it gets to a long ambient section up until the last few minutes then it gains speed as well as the electronic sound and the sequencers that were in the beginning and builds on that until the song fades out in the end.

Mirage is usually regarded as one of the most notable electronic music albums of its time, but for me it's the ambience that really makes this album work. It gives it the emotion and depth which makes the album so great for me. It is surely one of the best albums I have heard and it's a must-listen for any fan of progressive electronic or ambient music.

Further reissues have a 20 minutes long bonus track, "In Cosa Crede Chi Non Crede?" which is a different and more extended mix of "Destination void" (the final section of Velvet Voyage). It's a bit rough in terms of sound quality, but a great track nonetheless that captures the same atmosphere of the album tracks as it was recorded around the same time of the album. I find the intro to be similar to the song "Blanche" from his previous album, "Body Love" but maybe that's just me.

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 L' enigma della Vita by LOGOS album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.21 | 232 ratings

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L' enigma della Vita
Logos Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Windhawk
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Italian band LOGOS was formed back in 1996, and released an initial two albums the next few years before entering a lengthy phase of inactivity as recording artists, and from what I understand much of this period consisted of the band going through numerous line-up changes. Some thirteen years later Logos marked their return with their third full length production, "L'enigma della Vita", which was released through Italian label Andromeda Relix in 2014.

Logos initially started out as a band performing covers of progressive rock from the golden age of Italian prog I understand, and at least their earlier albums have seen them placed inside the context of those bands as well, a small niche in the progressive rock scene where certain bands are described as Rock Progressivo Italiano, abbreviated as RPI. The defining features of the bands placed within that segment is that they tend to be vintage symphonic in expression, have an eclectic stylistic register, and that if vocals are present they convey lyrics in the Italian language. Logos as of 2014 isn't a perfect match for that particular context to my ears, as their style doesn't revolve around the vintage or classic era sound, but apart from that this album fits quite nicely into this minor niche.

The symphonic qualities of the material is a mainstay throughout, and the band does have an eclectic take on it too. Arguably with a different scope than others, and the eclectic tendencies mainly so within a symphonic context. This isn't a band that incorporates multiple and vastly different style details into their compositions, but they do incorporate multiple variations of symphonic progressive rock into their brew.

The most common expression is a dampened, dark variety revolving around careful dark toned guitars, vintage keyboards and organ, with strong similarities to Pink Floyd, a band mentioned by Logos as influential. They do explore this sound in a more jubilant and expressive manner as well, on those occasions ending up with a mood and atmosphere closer to what German band Eloy did in the late 70's, and on occasion modern synths and electronics flavor the arrangements in a manner that sounds closer to a band like Porcupine Tree. Another variation see the band use more atmospheric laden keyboards, at times supplemented with the good, old Mellotron, for an expression that to my ears is a bit closer to what a band like IQ have explored over the years. All of these subtle variations over a style foundation, without any dramatic differences between them, but with nuances of a less or more easily defined difference that invokes different associations.

There's also room for darker, more brooding arrangements of course, the classic progressive rock bands from Italy in the 70's were at times employed to produce the soundtrack to thriller and horror movies, and the musical legacies of that expression is another feature that occasionally appears on this album, most likely to the delight of fans of bands such as Goblin. That Logos also find room for a couple of jazz-oriented lead motifs one of those additional details that will further delight those with a soft spot for the more eclectic Italian progressive rock bands I imagine.

Logos have made a good job of developing material that are compelling too, the compositions smoothly moves between various phases and arrangements with a natural, organic flow, always with a good ear for when some minor variations or tweaks are needed and with plenty of room for engaging solo sequences of various kinds. Occasional flute soloing adds a lighter touch to the material as well, and there's a good balance between the delicate passages and ones with more of a majestic general expression. A well made album all in all, and a production that may well find favor among fans of symphonic progressive rock and neo progressive rock just as much as it does to those with a strong affection for bands sorted under the RPI niche.

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 Eyes Wide Open by KING CRIMSON album cover DVD/Video, 2003
3.72 | 113 ratings

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Eyes Wide Open
King Crimson Eclectic Prog

Review by rdtprog
Special Collaborator Heavy Prog Team

4 stars This DVD has been made after the recording of the CD "Power to Believe" and contains 2 DVDS. The first one is filmed in Japan in 2003 and was captured beautifully with a impressive live show. The set list is perfect, the only song that i would have replace is "One Time" from "Thrak", but maybe they included this song to change the pace of the music. There is a lot of songs from their last two albums. The surround sound is something incredible here, not clear who mixed this, but he should be hire by every Prog bands. The second DVD is closer to the quality of a very good bootleg with some extras songs in the improvisation mode, which is not the way i prefer King Crimson. It should please the hardcore fans of the band. Is there someone who doesn't know this band live yet, and want their best DVD, this is the one. You can't go wrong with this adventurous Prog rock that alternate between some lighter and more accessible songs with some that are twisted and tortured.

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 Hand. Cannot. Erase. by WILSON, STEVEN album cover Studio Album, 2015
4.37 | 676 ratings

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Hand. Cannot. Erase.
Steven Wilson Crossover Prog

Review by SteveG

5 stars How do you follow the souless plastic offering that was the Raven That Refused to Sing and Other Stories? By creating a more plastic facsimile of progressive rock music with a nifty title called Hand. Cannot. Erase.

A brilliant album title, is it not? Genesis once tilted an album with similar lackluster words called I Can't Dance. But Genesis were never the geniuses that Steven Wilson is. They would never had the creative intelligence to concoct a title that's punctuated with periods rendering the title as I. Can't. Dance. See the genius in that? If not, I'll expand on it further in my review.

This album starts off with the now familiar atmospheric background sounds that open a Brave era Marillion album, or any era Pink Floyd album, before we get into the music proper. Gentle and benign acoustic guitar strumming soon gives way to a galloping fast rhythm section that sounds like a combination of a Yes/Rush hybrid depending on what rhythm instrument you're focusing on. Swilson displays Squire-like bass tones and riffs while Minneman does his best Peart homage by hitting every ride and crash cymbal between the beats to ensure that no dead air is present in this frantic sound mix. A sludgy guitar solo is reminiscent of one of Lifeson's solos and the effect is complete.

This song titled 3 Years Older devolves into more acoustic strum and emotive less piano break before morphing into an ELP 'homage" with a ripping Hammond organ that is not quite sure if it wants to be a caustic Keith Emerson statement or an over the top comic embellishment from TAAB era John Evan. Wilson's bass displays less treble in this musical climax so I suppose he's honoring Greg Lake now. A slight musician that has always been underrated, so Swilson is finally giving this poor underappreciated chap his do. Bravo. Bravo.

The third track of this masterpiece starts with groundbreaking atmospheric percussive programming that renders the primitive Linn Drum Machine, so cherished by Collins era Genesis, totally obsolete. The LDM only vaguely touched on the soulless bleeps and dashes that Wilson's electronics take to a higher artificial level. Is there no stopping this man's quest to expand the boundaries of progressive rock music?

But wait, Wilson is not only the keeper of the prog musical flame, he also shows himself to be a deft lyricist with the profound and thought suspending lyrics of the album's title track. In a melody that would have taken the Collin's era Genesis all of five minutes to arrive out, Wilson shoehorns his brilliant lyrics into a jerky chorus with the profound words "Hand cannot erase love." Again, he's brilliant. Wilson did not say adversity or trials during wartime cannot erase love, or that time and distance cannot erase love, or even that common human failings cannot erase love. He said, quite plainly, that a hand cannot erase love. What a sumptuous treat for every budding lyricist that that genuflected over every lyric put down on vinyl by Ian Anderson, Peter Hamill, Roy Harper and Peter Gabriel, let alone stalwarts like Dylan and Lennon. They've simply been wasting their time. The silly buggers.

Track number four starts off with more stunning electronic pulses and digital dashes before an honored female guest vocalist speaks her part. Wilson could have had her sing this narrative with vocals that contain spine tingling high octives, soulful timber with an incredible pitch perfect delivery. But Wilson just let's her simply talk. Again, the genius of this move almost humbles me.

When Wilson does actually sing himself on this number, his guest vocalist backs him with harmonies so shrill that's its actually an attempt to give Wison's thin vocals some heft and body. It's an old trick that failed as badly for those that tried it some 40 plus years ago. Even Phil Spector called it stupid.

And here's where my ride on the Swilson propaganda train comes to end. I tried to stick around for a few more lackluster songs before my attention wandered into more important concerns like putting out the evening trash. So, I got about this far at my first listening to his album some months ago, and I really doubt that three times will make it a charm.

Wilson is not a plagiarist. There's never a single note, chord or guitar riff that I think that he's lifted from another artist. But he is an imitator of other artist's styles. After his morbid fascination with old era KC on the Raven, I was hoping that Wilson would finally arrive at a style all his own. It's not impossible. Nearly everyother modern prog artist evolves past the imitation stage at some point, but not Mr. Wilson, he continues to dig up the corpses of old prog for more Frankenstein monster reanimations. I have two things that I'm racing against: failing eyesight and a failing heart. So there's a good chance that I will expire while listening to music in my study. One reviewer opined that this music should be allowed to wash over the listener. I disagree, as it will be a cold day in hell before I let this stagnantly polluted bathwater wash over me, as it may be the last thing I listen to on this earth.

So 5 stars for Swilson's great swindle. A con man of this caliber should be greatly celebrated for pulling the wool over so many eyes, or ears in this case, and celebrate him I will.

As B.T. Barnum once said, there's one born every minute. And Mr. Wilson, no doubt, heard him loud and clearly. So did I and I'm heading in the other direction, just as quick as my sound mind and ailing body will allow me.

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 The Breaking Of The World by GLASS HAMMER album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.94 | 79 ratings

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The Breaking Of The World
Glass Hammer Symphonic Prog

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

4 stars It's hard to believe that American symphonic prog band Glass Hammer are now sixteen studio releases into their career after forming in 1992, and with no signs of slowing down, it's even more impressive that they're still as exciting, inspired and creative as ever. 1995's `Perelandra' was the first to hint at true signs of great potential, and each album since then has shown the group and the various musicians that contribute to the core line up of bass player Steve Babb and keyboardist Fred Schendel becoming more ambitious, gradually growing in maturity and musical intelligence. `Chronometree', `Lex Rex' and the double CD `The Inconsolable Secret' (which just may be a true modern symphonic prog classic) were all big leaps forward for the band, and the addition of future Yes frontman Jon Davison for the trio of albums `If', `Cor Cordium' and `Perilous' certainly lifted the profile of the band. But with Jon busy with `the other fellas' and another reworked line-up of the band in place since previous album `Ode to Echo', 2015 brings one of Glass Hammer's most deceptively complex, lavish and sophisticated works to date with `The Breaking of the World'.

This current version of the band is now led vocally again by Carl Groves, making this his third contribution after fronting 2009's `Culture of Ascent' and returning with last year's `Ode to Echo'. Considering this might be Glass Hammer's most vocal dominated release to date, thankfully Carl remains the very natural and expressive singer he always was, and is more than up to the challenge of so many different kinds of vocal passages here. In addition to Steve Babb, simply one of the most distinctive and dynamic bass players in modern prog, Fred Schendel's variety of colourful keyboard flavours and Aaron Raulston's elaborate drumming, two other musicians help make this one of the most exotic Glass Hammer release to date. Guitarist Alan Shikoh is now six albums into his career with the band, and this time his warm acoustic guitars especially are given more prominence than ever before, and guest Steve Unruh of Willowglass and the Samurai of Prog offers crucial and exquisite flute and violin contributions that really help define the identity of this particular Hammer release (although the violin here shares similarities with Carl's first album with the group and its use of the string trio, the heavy guitar sound of that one is absent). Finally, of course, the sensual, compassionate and evocative voice of Susie Bogdanowicz made a very welcome comeback on `Echo', and in her few lead moments here she reminds in an instant why she has become one of the truly essential, defining elements that makes up the Glass Hammer sound.

`The Breaking of the World' is a continuation of the sound of the previous studio disc, and like all of their albums, listeners will find a strong collection of unpredictable symphonic vintage flavoured prog rock with wondrous melodies from soaring vocals and complex energetic instrumental displays, along with those couple of standout moments that go on to become something of classic Glass Hammer pieces. An energetic blast of spiralling keyboards, busy drumming, driving guitars and buoyant bass charge through the three-part opener `Mythopoeia', and an acoustic passage simply backing Carl's plaintive voice in the middle interlude is a thing of fragile beauty. Although it starts with prancing flute and regal organ pomp with a sprightly spring in its step, the lyrics of `Babylon' about the `stench of morality, real or imagined, reeking like burning hair' and `Pious Judases, let them all burn in the world they hold dear' takes things to darker and more confronting places.

Despite a cutting and biting lyric, energetic vibes race through the peppy and infectious `Bandwagon', the closest the band comes to a Yes-style piece here with some added frantic violin, and `Northwind' floats on mellow dreamy uplifting breezes. The band's quirky sense of humour is firmly on display on `A Bird When It Sneezes', a barely thirty second glimpse of an addictive instrumental jazz/fusion spasm! Come on, Fred and Steve, give us a full album of the Glass Hammer interpretation of jazz/fusion sometime in the future! Actually, the band come close anyway on the album closer `Nothing, Everything', which moves in and out of gently grooving jazzy instrumental runs in between Mellotron/Hammond flights of fancy and a very spirited joyful chorus.

But as for those classic Glass Hammer pieces that appear on every disc, `Third Floor' is already a bit of a firm favourite among GH fans, and with good reason! Endless symphonic instrumental passages jumping back and forth and a lovely variety of vocals from Susie, Fred and Carl convey a baffling fantastical story about a (wait for it!) sentient elevator and the man travelling inside her! It's oddly sadly romantic, slyly humorous and perhaps even a little darkly obsessive, lines such as `I feel you in my circuits, but it's fleeting, and now you're gone. Use me and complete me then just leave me all alone' and `All encompassing, I stand in the heart of her, she takes me higher and higher' are all delivered with tragic conviction!

While Prog bands, and Glass Hammer themselves, are certainly no stranger to fantastical lyrics, it's when they move beyond that and offer something more grounded that true magic can happen. `Sand', with a deeply personal and quietly reflective lyric written by Fred and mostly carried by his sparse warm piano, is one of the most genuinely heartfelt moments to appear yet on a Glass Hammer album, beautifully sung by Carl. Later in the disc, the sublime `Haunted' is a melancholic standout not only for Susie's voice, but it shows the band playing with careful restraint, knowing when to keep things simple and just deliver a piece with great taste. It feels like it could have easily fit in on the second disc of `The Inconsolable Secret', and is truly a very moving solo showcase for Susie.

Is this one of Glass Hammer's best albums to date, to place alongside those above mentioned standout titles from their back catalogue? As always with this band, it's a little too early to tell, but a few years and more releases from now will likely answer that question. Yet there is no doubt it's one of their most varied, intricate and joyful works, and is the embodiment of the sort of album that really needs time devoted to it, the kind that always ends up being the most rewarding in your collection. But for now, there's no denying `The Breaking of the World' is another superb release from one of modern prog's leading symphonic groups.

Four stars.

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 Fuchsia II: From Psychedelia...To a Distant Place by FUCHSIA album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.96 | 8 ratings

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Fuchsia II: From Psychedelia...To a Distant Place
Fuchsia Prog Folk

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

4 stars Obscured by the obscure, beneath the vault of unlikely one off releases, stoically lies the vault of unlikely sequels to those unique denizens. Among those, few could rival this 2013 effort by FUCHSIA, on which only original leader Tony Durant remains. The 1970s version offered an appealing folksy take on Canterbury, and its followers were few. The CD re-releases probably did more to advance the steps towards reformation than any fan groundswell, as many became aware of the group for the first time. Since most sequels suffer by comparison, and 40+ years had passed, what could we expect? Not a lot, right?

Yet here we have one of the more fulfilling comebacks I can remember. I don't know how Durant has done it but he has managed to incorporate the slightly smarmy affect, acoustic whimsy, and vivacious strings of that long ago chestnut and modernized it without plasticizing it. The songs are more instantly appealing as befits the modern era, but the themes are more serious, with an unanticipated immediacy. The arrangements are less airy than those of long ago, reflecting a density that permeates our lives with time and responsibility. No more ditties about flying kites! One of the most enjoyable aspects is Durant's insistence in taking his time throughout this release; you either take your time too or you will miss out, and that's a life lesson I think.

The best tracks here are the first 4, all brilliant, tackling all manner of modern subjects, from urban alienation in "Melancholy Road" to the clash of women's basic rights with religious extremism in "Girl from Kandahar" to isolation amidst ultimate connectivity in "Lost Generations", all arranged sympathetically There is even an memoir of sorts in "Fuchsia Song", one that anyone old enough to look back through a smoky lens can appreciate. Still, it's probably "Rainbow Song" that not only attaches both eras but ties a chromatic bow around them. The final piece, "Piper at the Gates", is also noteworthy, including a searing guitar solo as Durant explores individual and combined legacies in the face of change.

This eminently enjoyable and, we can now say, long overdue, release does not so much fill in the gaps between where Mr Durant was and where he is, but instead includes us all as passengers and participants, whether we began our journey in wartime, boom time, the psychedelic era, in the internet age, or anywhere in between. Highly recommended..

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 Hand. Cannot. Erase. by WILSON, STEVEN album cover Studio Album, 2015
4.37 | 676 ratings

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Hand. Cannot. Erase.
Steven Wilson Crossover Prog

Review by lazland
Prog Reviewer

5 stars How do you follow up the sheer brilliance of The Raven That Refused To Sing? How on earth do you give us a rich and satisfying work based upon the impossibly tragic story of a lady who lay dead for three whole years, utterly unnoticed, and not, apparently, missed at all?

Well, it is a bit of a cliche to state that only the finest artists are capable of managing such a feat. Cliches can be true, you know, and it is absolutely a truism in modern progressive rock that one of the few, possibly the only, artists capable of giving us such a rich, song based, piece of art which satisfies, enriches, takes us on a massive emotional musical trip, is one Steven Wilson.

I know that there are many people reading this review who pine endlessly for a Porcupine Tree reunion. There are others who, with some justification, compare Mr Wilson with one David Gilmour of Floyd fame. I will go one better. I compare him with the other colossus of that band, namely Roger Waters. Not musically, as such, but in terms of an incredible song writer, organiser, producer, and emotional lyricist who has been absolutely freed from the shackles of a collective which had, quite clearly, run its course, free to surround himself with illuminati of rock music, and, make no mistake, Beggs, Govan, Minneman, Holzman ( just listen to that solo on Regret #9, quite incredible), and Travis qualify as this, and simply express himself. The fact that the end result of all of this has been wildly commercially successful is, to my mind, simply a bonus.

I have listened to this album many times prior to putting hands to keyboard to write a review. One of the issues I have found has been the Prog Archives rating system. Masterpiece, excellent, good, with knobs on?

Actually, with repeated listens I have realised the best way to review and rate is simply to allow the music to wash over one, in waves, appreciate this for what it is, that is a concept absolutely drenched in emotion, backed by some of the finest soundscapes it is possible to hear. Transience is one such example. A quite lovely Wilson vocal, with dreamy acoustic guitar, and dark wall of sound behind, provides us with a sad piece of beauty.

One of the reasons for this, by the way, is the staggeringly beautiful performance provided by Ninet Tayeb. Her vocalisation of the "heroine" ( subject is, perhaps, a better description) written and sung about is quite simply one of the finest ever put to record. She has a feel for the subject, with a lovely voice to accompany, and Wilson, once again demonstrating his intelligence, allows her more than sufficient space with which to express herself. The pair of them, with some deceptively simple rhythms backing, produce a simply staggeringly gorgeous piece of music on Perfect Life, which says more in just short of five minutes, than many a twenty minute epic. A wall of sound to equal no other in recent times.

Thence to Routine, which, again, highlights the points I make above. A song rooted completely in ordinary life, and bringing out the emotion inherent in such a life. As in life, the emotions swing wildly, and the band is allowed to shine. The exquisite Beggs bass line, followed by a delicious Guthrie riff, is a joy to listen to. Tayeb is utterly haunting in her recital. The denouement of the vocal duet is simply beautiful.

It all leads up to the tour de force that is Ancestral. This is just about the finest slab of progressive rock one will hear. The deceptively quiet intro leads us into a supreme Govan solo, and, from then, a band absolutely in tune with each other. Beggs is utterly monstrous, and is, to these ears, now vying strongly with Pete Trewavas as the bass exponent of our times. The emotional roller coaster this track takes us on takes the breath and mind away, and it is, perhaps, as heavy and thunderous as Wilson has been heard in more than a few years. It competes strongly, in parts, with the King Crimson Red era as perfect hard rock in progressive clothing, combined with emotionality. I have not had such a feeling since I first listened to Red, or Starless, all those years ago.

We try our best, after this, to come down on Happy Returns and Ascendent Here On... The former brings a tear to my eye. Just a lovely Wilson lyric, backed by piano, guitars, building up to a band in utter harmony. How does he do this.......? How are they so good......?

So, how to rate such an album? Is it worthwhile to simply reduce such a work to a number of stars?

For what it is worth from a personal perspective, I find something new in each and every listen. You know, when you still listen to those beloved classics from the glory years of prog, you still wonder at a particular Hackett lick, Squire note, Bruford pattern, or Fripp invention, to name but a few? This has that. A chill down the spine at a particular passage, and a different one, at that, on each listen. The power to move you each time that you concentrate. An album which, you know, will be played for as long as you are still on this earth, and, hopefully, beyond.

It is timeless. It is brilliant. It is, put simply, a masterpiece. That gives it five stars, as if it needed such a mark.

This is the epitome of modern classic commercial progressive rock (yes, commercial, because he is selling shed loads of albums), and it is rather difficult to imagine a prog rock world without Mr Wilson. He is a genius, and he has added a huge sum to my happiness in life.

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 On A Beam Of Light by STELLARDRONE album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.05 | 2 ratings

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On A Beam Of Light
Stellardrone Progressive Electronic

Review by admireArt
Collaborator PSIKE Team

3 stars Edgaras Zakevicius a.k.a. STELLARDRONE comes from Lithuania and has been recently inducted into these PA's prog-electronic archives.

Stellardrone was recommended to me by some fellow PSIKE members long before he was actually included in these pages, so I searched for his releases in his Bandcamp section and got some of them and listened attentively.

"On a Beam of Light", 2009, is, as far as it appears, his first release and the one that became my personal favorite. What caught my attention firsthand is Edgaras Zakevicius keen sense of composition without departing from the endlessly reffered electronic schools.

So as you might guess by the title and cover art of this project, this is in fact an "outer space" sonic journey. Consisting of 8 compositions, that add up to a bit less than an hour, in which Edgaras Zakevicius compresses his very well structured musical proposals and delivers a measured work highlighted entirely by his own music solutions to this, by now, so recurring cosmic trips.

Full of surprises and sparkling creativity this release is attractive as it proposing. It stays always at a safe distance from the always referred Tangerine Dream's idiom, yet it could be compared to the other "unnamed" referential, Klaus Schuze, in the sense of focusing on solitary melodic lines opposite to massive ones, but that is as far as the comparison works out.

A well threaded project whose persistent sparks of masterpiece moments really deserves to be given a try.

***3.5 PA stars.

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 Hand. Cannot. Erase. by WILSON, STEVEN album cover Studio Album, 2015
4.37 | 676 ratings

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Hand. Cannot. Erase.
Steven Wilson Crossover Prog

Review by Sweetheart

4 stars Wilson and T introduced me to progressive rock. I really like Steve Wilson's way of creating atmosphere a lot. On the other hand, sometimes a few more breaks and twists would be required to maintain interest for the whole duration. But sure this is criticism on a high high level. The production is wonderful, and though I think it would do the music good to have a more prolific singer, this is not really a minus for the cd. I am very thankful for the music being a bit pop-like. Else I would never have found out about this "genre" at all! In the end, this counts for a lot, although it might be a minus with reference to being "progressive ". Or maybe it really isn't?

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ratings only excluded in count
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Remaining cache time: 105 min.

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