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 Deadwing by PORCUPINE TREE album cover Studio Album, 2005
4.13 | 2145 ratings

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Deadwing
Porcupine Tree Heavy Prog

Review by A Crimson Mellotron
Prog Reviewer

5 stars 'Deadwing' is the eighth studio album released by Porcupine Tree and second overall on a major label (this one being Lava). Coming to life on March 24, 2005, 'Deadwing' quickly became the band's best-selling release, later on it was surpassed by its follow-up on sales, but none of this really matters here, since in the wonderful world of progressive rock the quality of the music and the joy of the album experience are the most valuable metrics for deciding whether an album is good or not. The history surrounding this record is quite interesting - it is a ghost story based on a screenplay written by Steven Wilson and Mike Bennion; Unfortunately (or not?) the project failed to find funding and the songs written with the purpose of being part of a soundtrack were left for the next Porcupine Tree album. Now, there are several versions of this album in the sense that the original European release only featured nine tracks, of fourteen in total appearing throughout the different editions of the release, while fifteen were written during the sessions, according to the band - quite confusing, right? However, no matter which edition of 'Deadwing' one gets, this remains a grandiose album that will certainly satiate even the snobbiest prog rock connoisseurs.

One could make the argument that since this one comes right after 'In Absentia' it should get some points taken off for originality, given that the heavier sounds prevalent on the aforementioned album mixed up with the experimental and emotive approach to songwriting, is also present on 'Deadwing', but Porcupine Tree's 2005 effort is just as excellent as the one coming before it - ambitious, avant-garde, unsettling at times and crushingly beautiful at others, coherent, memorable, having an unmistakable character, warm and embracing and simultaneously haunting and dark, it seems like 'Deadwing' really has it all, it has all the building blocks that make up this band, it has every texture that one seeks upon approaching Porcupine Tree's music. Not to mention the guest appearances by King Crimson's Adrian Belew and Opeth's very own Mikael Åkerfeldt.

Just listen to the opening 10-minute title track - haunting vocals, uneasy lyrics, no real chorus, massive, threatful sound, an almost grotesque and abrasive guitar solo by Adrian Belew and an all-encompassing warmth that Steven Wilson so successfully inject into all the music he produces. Then comes 'Shallow', a bit of an outlier for Porcupine Tree, with its straightforward rocking sound, but this one is also so well written, so memorable and impactful - another success on Wilson's side. 'Lazarus', or the lovely, romantic, beautiful side of Porcupine Tree, this one really has to be experienced, not just listened to. 'Halo' is one of these songs written for the film script, and it references religion, since this had been one of the topics found in the script - the chorus of it is just infectious. 'Arriving Somewhere But Not Here', or the 12-minute centerpiece of the record, this is one of the band's towering achievements, developing from an abstract soundscape-like intro to a very organic, devastatingly emotive, and cerebrally experimental piece of music, this is where the prog credentials of the band are the strongest. 'Mellotron Scratch' is a lovely and melancholic moment, I personally love this song, I find it touching and compelling, everything about it works so well. 'Open Car' is one of the most 'visual' tracks on the album, if I may use such a phrase, the images it evokes are quite strong and vivid, the sound is agonizingly angry, gnarly, and the playing is tight and straightforward. 'Start of Something Beautiful' is quite an essential and experimental song for Porcupine Tree, certainly a unique piece in their discography, and another one that has to be experiences. Then we have the album closer 'Glass Arm Shattering' that references some of the band's earlier works, rooted in the more psychedelic explorations of a group like Pink Floyd, a massive influence on Wilson, as it is well known.

As for the other tracks found throughout different releases of the album, one has to say that they are no less interesting that what is displayed on the main disc. 'Revenant' is a fabulous instrumental that reminds me of something like '.3' from 'In Absentia'; The same goes for 'Mother & Child Divided', while 'Half-Light' sounds distantly like 'Glass Arm'. A re-recorded version of 'Shesmovedon' appears on one of the versions of the album, as well as a track called 'So-Called Friend', subsequently replaced by 'Open Car' during the final masters on the original edition, a must-hear song, quite excellent, heavy, and progressive.

No weak spots on 'Deadwing', the album is simply a killer from start to finish, the band plays phenomenally, the quality of the songs is undeniable, it is packed with Porcupine Tree classics and it plays a cerebral part in the band's catalogue - this is definitely one of the most important progressive rock releases of the modern age, deservedly very highly recommended.

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 UK by UK album cover Studio Album, 1978
4.10 | 670 ratings

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UK
UK Eclectic Prog

Review by Dapper~Blueberries

3 stars So what if you combined the more jazzy and whimsical side of progressive rock with the danceable start of the age of New Wave that'd become highly popular in the 80s? Say you brought members from highly acclaimed groups such as King Crimson, Roxy Music, Yes, and Soft Machine and you take their sounds and abilities and give them a more straight-edged, almost pop twist. Well for one you'd get a supergroup, and for another one, you'd get the U.K.

Formed after the recording of Bill Bruford's first solo album, Feel Good to Me, he, Allan Holdsworth of Soft Machine, John Wetton of King Crimson and Family, and Eddie Jobson of Roxy Music formed the U.K. in 1977 creating one progressive rock's widely known, yet rather small discography supergroups, right next to the likes of Asia, and Emerson Lake and Palmer. They were around until 1980 when they broke up before in 2011 they would reform but only to break up again in 2015. Despite their short run, they have inspired many spin-offs from the group such as U.K.Z. and HoBoLeMa. So in 1978, U.K. would create their eponymous first album, U.K.

How I see this album is that the two sides are two different melodies where each song is practically important to one another due to how they intermingle with one another, creating a sense of movement from each of the songs from each side of the album.

Side A, which is a melody composed of the first four tracks of the album (In The Dead Of Night, By The Light Of Day, Presto Vivace and Reprise, and Thirty Years) showcases the band's unique sound, being a precursor to some of the more progressive pop acts of the 80s (say Kate Bush or even some post-punk stuff like Bauhaus). They go for more uniquely acquired tastes here, with a sense of familiarity between the members and their playing styles. You can hear a lot of influences from King Crimson and Yes, but almost some more fusion elements from Soft Machine, and again, a more pop-focused element from Roxy Music. It feels like a blending of the good stuff all these bands have created, merging them into one mass that can be enjoyably dissected. The highlight here is definitely In The Dead of Night for me, how it starts strongly and keeps up the pace and rhythm laid down by the bass and drums that get washed over by synths and John Wetton's vocals. It paints a solid picture of these guys' sounds that they grew into throughout the 70s. The rest of the tracks on side A are also really solid as well, especially Thirty Years giving an epic finale to this melody that can be highly appreciated. I do think, however, that they have a problem with those keyboards. The sound they create with them is way too high-pitched and clashes with the overall sound the band has going for, almost to the point where I'd say they can create an almost annoying experience for me.

Side B's melody of Alaska, Time To Kill, Nevermore, and Mental Medication is the weaker part of the album, and I'd say carries different problems from side A. While I do say every song on the second side is still pretty good, they do not have that drive side A had. This is their more experimental side where they try new things and new styles. While I do appreciate them for trying new things, it does come at the cost of creating a less enjoyable experience for me since it feels like a forward-minded experience, and more like throwing stuff at the wall and seeing what sticks. You can hear them experimenting with more jazz sounds with Time To Kill, more symphonic progressive rock on Nevermore, a tiny bit of new age on Alaska, and rounding off with a traditional Canterbury Scene sound on Mental Medication. This site is all over the place, and for better or for worse it takes the listener on an interesting journey of new elements the band has a knack for, after all, they are a progressive rock group, and it is a given to hear a band trying new things and seeing what works and what doesn't, and for me, I think they seem to not work as well as they might have hoped for.

While this can create a fun and interesting listen I cannot say it is required. I recommend checking out In The Dead of Night first and if you might like that then go into the album. I'll say for this album expect the unexpected because that is what the album is all about, the unexpected.

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 Beyond the Beyond by INFINITOME album cover Studio Album, 2022
4.05 | 2 ratings

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Beyond the Beyond
Infinitome Symphonic Prog

Review by Rivertree
Special Collaborator PSIKE Team & Band Submissions

4 stars Here we have the new INFINITOME album coming our way, following one year after the release of the debut 'Voyage Home', that already was concipated with a distinct Sci-Fi story regarding the context. Important to know, the band is driven by brothers David and Richard Horn. Both are contributing concept, compositions and nearly all the main instruments. That means the bass, plus those other manifold guitars and keyboards. And besides some additional supporters they especially could engage Scott Higham again to play the drums for this production, a prolific and demanded musician from the UK. While listening to this multi-layered adventure, it's not really difficult to spot, with considerable reason the main stylistical frame should be assigned with the term Symphonic Space Prog. But hey, what is this all about actually?

A crew of five astronauts is on the first human flight to Mars. The narrative takes its run halfway between home and destination. At some point things won't go according to the plan anymore ... well, so much first ... in any case main protagonist Mae Dwight will be faced with a lot of challenges furthermore, that includes time travels and so on. But I'm not going to reveal the whole story, I'll leave this to the accompanying booklet. It's definitely worth it! According to that the predominantly instrumental music evolves in different phases too. Just like wandering between dramaturgy and calmness, straightforward and eccentric, soaring and grounded, melancholic and aggressive ... yeah, you're able to experience all of this during the course of the 'Beyond Mars' suite. While drawing on the symphony 'Mars, Bringer Of War', composed by Gustav Holst, this most probably marks the album's centerpiece.

It takes frequent attempts to capture those multiple impressions presented within the five movements. The lively piano impresses by way of example, and, contributed by Ilia Mazia, a rather exceptional instrument is incorporated here too, the Armenian duduk. By the way, a direct connection to their debut is manifested due to some shorter, let's say interludes, where all are initiated by the 'Fantasia' prefix. No drop in entertainment level furthermore, they are continuing with Baa Baa Goes The Sheep which magically sets some weird experience into music. Again solely one track contains lead vocals, featuring nice acoustic guitar and piano it's the closing melancholic ballad Day I Lost You. Based on a profound story this is an impressing statement in its entirety! Now at the latest Scott Higham should receive some extra kudos for his ambitious share. Also, the fine string arrangements will need some praise too. I already was impressed by their debut, but concerning song writing skills and musical execution this one is a step forward so much the more. I know, when evaluating brand new music, we should be careful to assign a masterpiece status all too fast. Okay, let's say time will tell, but it's definitely close to that.

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 Void Within by HOURGLASS album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2022
3.05 | 2 ratings

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Void Within
Hourglass Progressive Metal

Review by DamoXt7942
Forum & Site Admin Group Avant/Cross/Neo/Post Teams

3 stars Thanks Brick for recommending this epic. "Void Within" was released in September 2022 as an ep by a Utah-based metal act HOURGLASS. They say they have not launched any official release for 13 years since "Obvious To The Obvious" but finally come back to the scene with this wonderful creation. Forgive me but this is my first HOURGLASS but I am quite amazed at this 24 minute-long epic, that cannot make me feel so long nor lengthy. They obviously retain artistic melodic metal soundscape in the similar vein to progressive metal pioneers like Dream Theater, Threshold or Haken, and let me enjoy metal-art grandeur. Brick's gorgeous guitar explosions, Eric's fascinating keyboard potential, massive supportive perfection by John & Brian's rhythm party, and elastic, lyrical Yahosh's voices ... the combination drives me crazy joyful.

Wonderfully dramatic sounds open the curtain. Their instrumental technique is beyond description. It sounds like they would like to launch their intention strongly through such a beautiful but powerful sound collective. The middle part sounds pretty sensitive and a bit depressive, as if they would bump against a tough wall, but vaporization of 'hope' cannot be heard via their brilliant play. And in the latter part, deeply heavy but bright uptempo sound components encourage me. Really epoch-making.

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 Fluid Existential Inversions by INTRONAUT album cover Studio Album, 2020
4.08 | 42 ratings

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Fluid Existential Inversions
Intronaut Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Dapper~Blueberries

5 stars So I wanted to review an album, but I had no idea what album to review. So instead of thinking long and hard about it, I figured to have a little fun and do some randomness. I went to RYM recommendations and selected a random number between 1 and 200 and I had to listen to and review the album it chose. With that, this was the album that I ended up having to review, and from the cover alone I was pretty excited to check it out because it gave me some awesome black midi or Ashenspire vibes. However, what I got instead was also equally amazing.

So, a little history about Intronaut. They are a California-based progressive metal band formed in 2004 with the lineup of Sacha Dunable, Leon del Muerte, Danny Walker, and Joe Lester. Throughout their career, they have released several albums with styles ranging from more sludge metal approaches to nearly post-metal acclaims, plus they went on tour with some notable acts such as Animals As Leaders and the great band Mastodon. This album is their 6th studio record after their 2015 release of The Direction of Last Things, released on February 28th, 2020. Before making this review I had never heard of this band, but after listening to this album I cannot deny that like a fisherman and their fish, I got hooked onto their boat with many other fishes, because this album is so freaking good.

For me, this album begins with a really strong prelude, that being Procurement of the Victuals. Now I do not particularly like talking about tracks that are more or less just small and quick openers for the album to begin with, but here I think I should because this one opening movement does bring to light the band's more cacophony appeal to progressive metal. It doesn't waste any time getting you into what the band wants you to hear, and what they want you to hear is some intensely immaculate metal. While not my favorite song here, I cannot deny that without this album it may be in an odd place for me.

Likewise, with the prelude, the first real track of Cubensis doesn't waste any time and gets right into the freeway of some tightly knit metal. This band knows how to stir its flavors in its pot. I am getting stuff that harkens to the more technical side of metal, while also going deep into the more sludge metal approach that bands like Mastodon would set a stage for in the early 2000s. Not only does this song rock, but it is a headbanger, even in the later half where things are a tad more like post-metal and thus quieter. It is an impressive and great force of heavy metal that shouldn't be underestimated.

However, that was merely an appetizer for the other great songs off this album, especially in retrospect to The Cull. If you really wanna hear that more sludge metal crossover between post-metal then this is the song for you. It gives a textural experience that a lot of post-rock music loves to do, but still retains that toxic waste like sludge in the mix, especially with the vocals. Sacha's and Dave's vocals on this album do give that good mix of that soft and clean metal appeal, and that grimey and sloppy appeal, similar to how the instrumentation has that divide of the mellow post-rock and the meaty sludge metal. I am a big fan of this approach because it mixes a ton of flavors so well that I cannot stop listening to it no matter what. There is always something new to expect and I love it.

One of the best things about this album is that it consistently delivers on what I have said before on The Cull. The next track of Contrapasso shows off more of that fun division of soft and hard metal, and not only do they deliver a ton with their music, blending a bit more ambiance with this song a bit more, they still retain that head bangy sound that I cannot help but fawn over. It is just that great.

Now while I would say that this consistency can be somewhat of a downfall for most albums, the band tries to spice things up by employing some more influences. Speaking Of Orbs is a great example of that. Not only do we get that same ol' awesome sludge metal the band has established, we even get a mix with a more Between The Buried And Me sound, specifically with their softer moments like with Desert of Song or the beginning half of Monochrome. As a BTBAM head, this was a very pleasant surprise to hear from what I'd expect to be another track that takes the same notes as the last four, so the experimentation on here is much appreciated. It is also probably one of the prettiest tracks on here, with the softer vocals and the use of atmospheric guitar melodies rather than riffs and growls. It is the stand-out highlight of this album for me.

Tripolar goes back to the sludge metal aspects that the band posed at the start, but we get a tiny bit of thrash and death metal on here that I think adds some great use of that more experimental side of metal. However that is merely for the first half, the second half continues that atmospheric side of their music that I have been loving ever since the first track. This second half soon loops back around to where the first half ended off, with that more death metal approach. Amazing progression throughout that I cannot help but adore.

If you want some more of their more heavy stuff then Check Your Misfortune is a good one to look into. Unlike most songs here, the more atmospheric moments are just as heavy as the harder moments on this song which I think allows the band to stretch their legs in that heavier side of music that they have an affinity for. How the song keeps up with this headbanger style of music but still progresses towards a clear-cut movement is how I like my progressive metal. A clear-cut forwarded movement that builds up and changes throughout.

I think the grandest song off of here has to be Pangloss. It carries the last few songs of this album in such a way that I cannot help but love it. It goes into the sludge metal the band dabbles with a lot, getting deep and dirty with that style of music on here, almost to the point where they almost dabble in stoner metal. With this track, you still have that progression, but the heavier side of the coin getting a lot dirtier just adds another layer to this immaculate lasagna the band has cooked up for my ears.

Rounding everything off is Sour Everything. I think this track not only is a great closure for this amazing album, but it goes back to what the past songs did and utilizes those same techniques here, experimenting with a wide range of influences from sludge metal, to post-metal, to even the more heroic feeling technical metal they had on Speaking of Orbs. It all builds up into this wide range of sounds that then get cut off by this soothing keyboard melody that is dim compared to the light show that we just experienced on this record. While it ends differently than how the album began, I do see it fits well with the sound the band painted here, thus creating a proper finale to this album that I think is a clear, and focused masterpiece.

When I jumped into this I expected something wild and crazy, but what I got was a mix of beauty, grittiness, and awesomeness rolled into one package. This has become one of my favorite metal records, and it happened by chance. If you haven't already then do yourself a favor and check this out. Run, don't walk to it, because not only is it one of the best progressive metal albums that came out this decade, I bet it can stand the test of time and be regarded as an instant classic in the music community. Give it a shot, you won't regret it.

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 Hinten by GURU GURU album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.70 | 100 ratings

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Hinten
Guru Guru Krautrock

Review by DamoXt7942
Forum & Site Admin Group Avant/Cross/Neo/Post Teams

5 stars Cool bluesy psychedelic rock structure blended with electronic junky fuel. Sounds like their second album "Hinten", despite such a nasty jokey sleeve pic, should be filled up with everything they want to do and want to provide for the audience. This crazy musical structure gets more and more attractive than their brilliant debut creation "UFO" and drives us into another dimension. Impressive and innovative is the combination of sticky, complicated drone electronic agents and funky, freaky, simple rock perspectives. We can feel their massive tolerance for Krautrock that broadens the outlooks of German young generations. And at the same time they straightly launch their big respect for the rock pioneer ... The third track "Bo Diddley" is full of their positive mindset for blues rock. Not so complex nor weird for Krautrock the song is, but colourful sound variations and deep heavy musical development can be heard. Simplicity is also good.

And do not forget they definitely play with much pleasure and enjoyment here and there. The former part of the second one "The Meaning Of Meaning" possesses kinda quite lazy dazy dizzy lizzy atmosphere but in such a sound- polluted air we can find apparent innocence and amusement via their play. And the latter throws us heavy deepy shoegaze-y composition and dark-guitar-based psychedelic vertigo. Of course the rhythm bases strictly support the background. The epilogue "Space Ship" is another perfect space rock featuring drone electronica and improvised guitar discharge. Dynamic, serious, sticky, repetitive sound potential and the very last electronic madness should take the audience into dreamy inorganic space. What a hell.

But I consider that their real masterpiece is the first bullet "Electric Junk", that involves quite magnificent electric (guitar) energy and impressive rhythmic position. Only a few phrases in the beginning of this song have enough power and energy to kick our b**t strongly and to notify us they are really cool. The middle wondrous slowertempo steadiness is also tremendous. And the final run with uptempo dignified rock rigidity encourages us. No suspicion we can notice their innovative soundscape should be sorta vanguard in the early German Psychedelic Rock Scene.

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 The Secret Garden by ARLEKIN album cover Studio Album, 2021
3.53 | 10 ratings

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The Secret Garden
Arlekin Neo-Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

3 stars Arlekin is the name of the project by Ukrainian multi-instrumentalist Igor Sydorenko, who brought in drummer Yuri Kononov while pianist Vadym Lazariev assists on two songs and flautist Eugene Manko on one. Igor sent this to me last year, long before the war started, and playing this now I can't help but wonder how he and his family are doing. Igor had been playing and writing music before he came across 'Script For A Jester's Tear' in 2003, which had a major impact on him, and he started putting demos out on various forums until he released the debut album, Disguise Serenades', in 2014. Since then, he has been busy with his other band, Stoned Jesus, but has now revisited those demos and reworked them to create the second album.

Igor is primarily a musician as opposed to singer, but his vocals work perfectly well in this more rock-oriented style of prog. He has captured that Eighties/early Nineties sound to a tee, with the naivety which comes with it, and I feel as if I have been transported back 30 years while he sometimes brings in keyboard sounds and styles which Mark Kelly was using 40 years ago. There are moments where there is simple beauty, such as on "In The Possession of the Moon" which is fragile and delicate, while "It Wouldn't Lost" is far more Simple Minds in approach. There is variety within the songs, which may be due to them being written at different times, and it truly never comes across as a mostly one-man project but very much of being a band.

I truly look forward to a time of peace when Igor can again devote himself to his music, but until then this is a solid slice of neo-prog to enjoy.

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 Omnia Sunt Communia by GRUPPO AUTONOMO SUONATORI album cover Studio Album, 2021
4.42 | 17 ratings

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Omnia Sunt Communia
Gruppo Autonomo Suonatori Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by andrea
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Gruppo Autonomo Suonatori came to life in La Spezia in 1998 on the initiative of Claudio Barone with the aim of re-interpreting the classic pieces of the Italian prog masters from the seventies. After many years spent playing covers and trying to shape their own sound, some personnel changes and a good live activity, in 2021 the band finally released an interesting debut album containing their original compositions, entitled "Omnia sunt communia", on the independent Black Widow Records label with a line up featuring Claudio Barone (vocals, bass, bouzouki, mandolin), Andrea Imparato (sax, flute), Simone Galleni (guitar, bass, bouzouki), Valter Bono (drums, percussion), Thomas Cozzani (synthesizer) and Andrea Foce (piano, electric piano, flute) plus the guest Andrea Cozzani (bass). In some way this work summarizes the history of the band and its roots, as represented by the art cover...

The opener "Alice Spring" is an interesting instrumental track that starts by a strong ethnic flavour with tribal percussion and a didgeridoo-like synth in the forefront, then the rhythm takes off and the music veers in another direction evoking exotic landscapes and adventurous rides under a sunny Australian sky...

"La regina" (The queen) is divided into two parts and begins by a delicate piano passage and a section entitled "Il sogno" (The dream). Then the dreamy atmosphere gives way to a strummed acoustic guitar that introduces a different mood and a quasi Medieval atmosphere. In the second part, entitled "La regina", the music and lyrics evoke a court dance. Eventually, through a short narrative vocals part, we learn that royal palace where the imaginary court dance has place is just the little home of a little girl who dreams of living in a fairy tale...

Next come two beautiful instrumental tracks, "Preludio I" and "Preludio II". The former could recall Le Orme of albums like Florian or Piccola rapsodia dell'ape with its acoustic, classical inspired feeling while the latter is darker, with melancholic synth notes soaring from a slow acoustic guitar arpeggio...

The music and lyrics of the following "Il sacco di Bisanzio" (The sack of Constantinople) conjure up the image of a man on the walls of Byzantium. He's looking with dismay at a threatening army marching towards the city. There's a sense of doom and surprise, what are they doing under the sign of the cross? They're crusaders and they're very far from the Holy Land that they were supposed to reconquer... It's the year 1204 A.D. and the Fourth Crusade takes an unexpected turn on account of money and power, a turn that will drive the Crusader army to capture, loot and destroy parts of the capital of the Byzantine Empire. Byzantium is burning with all its Christian tradition, it's the advent of the ephemeral Latin Empire of Constantinople...

"Beatrice" portrays in music and words a charming woman with the eyes full of tears and love. She's the muse of Dante Alighieri, prematurely passed away leaving the sommo poeta in mourning. She appears during the poet's journey into the afterlife evoking sweet memories and regrets, strong emotions and an everlasting love... Then it's the turn of the excellent, suggestive instrumental "Il richiamo della sirena" (The call of the siren), a dynamic piece full of Mediterranean flavours and dreamy atmospheres. You can set you imagination free and let the waves cradle you on a spellbound marine landscape...

The last track, "Omnia sunt communia" (All things in common), begins by a prayer, the Pater Noster recited in Aramaic language. Then the music and lyrics conjure up a battlefield. A commander looks at an army of poor peasants on the other side of the front and declares that they are nothing but a bunch of ragamuffins talking about equality and freedom led by a madman. They can't subvert law, order and power. The slaughter begins... This long, complex piece evokes The German Peasants' War, a widespread popular revolt in some German-speaking areas in Central Europe from 1524 to 1525. The revolt incorporated some principles and rhetoric from the emerging Protestant Reformation, through which the peasants sought influence and freedom. Radical Reformers like Thomas_Muntzer instigated and supported the uprise while, in contrast, Martin Luther condemned it as the devil's work and called for the nobles to put down the rebels like mad dogs. Eventually, the rebel's motto "omnia sunt communia", a Latin phrase and slogan that can be translated as "all things in common", becomes just the mark of another massacre perpetrated in the name of God under the sign of the cross, of a utopia suffocated by sword and hatchet...

On the whole, an excellent work and a must have for every Italianprog lover.

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 Surrealistic Pillow by JEFFERSON AIRPLANE album cover Studio Album, 1967
3.63 | 229 ratings

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Surrealistic Pillow
Jefferson Airplane Proto-Prog

Review by Progexile

3 stars The Airplane's second album and one that introduced Grace Slick and Spencer Dryden as their new singer and drummer respectively. Both were good acquisitions.

The cover once again (as per their 1st album) shows what looks like a group of college kids carrying odd instruments (nothing too" rocky") as if they were waiting for their music teachers to appear and had a photo taken to pass the time.

Slick brought with her the 2 best songs on this effort and the one that switched me on to this great band. More of that soon.

Again, Balin dominates this album with some of his best vocals (he was always better in the studio) and he co-penned the opener "She Has Funny Cars" with Kaukonen. This song opens with a Dryden drumbeat before Balin takes on the lead vocal with the choir backing him well.

But then comes the tune that first made me an Airplane passenger - "Somebody To Love". Driven by Cassidy's bass line Grace belts this out as if she means it - so much better than the version she used to sing with the Great Society. Kaukonen's guitar also excels.

"My Best Friend" is a twee little tune before Balin and Kantner's "Today" which quietens down the album at this point. Sadly, the closer on the original Side 1, "Comin' Back To Me" is an overlong dirge to my ears. I often feel that Balin's songs with the Jefferson Starship's backing were better arranged (Listen to "Miracles" or "Caroline"). This one loses me less than halfway through as it seems to have the weakest melody on the album.

"3/5 of a Mile in 10 Seconds" opened side 2 on the original and points the way for REM's wierd titles (The Airplane loved strange titles) years later. Not bad as are the next two tracks "DCBA-25" and "How Do You Feel", the latter showing a relaxed Caribbean feel to it that would later also show on their live version of "Fat Angel".

"Embryonic Journey" is a Kaukonen driven short instrumental and is the best track other than "Somebody to Love" and "White Rabbit" on the album.

Then comes the innovative and haunting "White Rabbit" with Grace again bringing this from her old band and making it an Airplane classic. Wonderful atmosphere created by Kaukonen and Cassidy allowing Slick's vocie to dominate an unusual tune - great stuff.

Balin's "Plastic Fantastic Lover" concludes the album solidly.

The instrumental side of the band was definitely more prominent than on their debut and the presence of 2 early Airplane classics makes this a good album to have but I feel the term "Not Bad" applies to too many items on it for it to be better than 3 stars.

The Airplane were to make better albums than this.

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 Spirit of '67 by VANILLA FUDGE album cover Studio Album, 2015
2.74 | 14 ratings

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Spirit of '67
Vanilla Fudge Proto-Prog

Review by Mortte

2 stars Haven´t got any idea before this day also Vanilla Fudge made comeback and even four new albums! Of course it isn´t any surprise, because most of the old bands have done it. 1967 is one of my favorite music years, so I was curious, but also suspicious to hear this album. Vanilla Fudge was those bands whose album my brother had in his shelf in the eighties when I really started to listen music. "Near the Beginning" became soon one of my big favorites, so I bought also "Renaissance". I understood later, that Vanilla Fudge really created the base of heavy metal, specially those very high vocals were their invention, not Deep Purple´s or Uriah Heep´s. As many bands in rock history, they were ahead of their time, so those others put to account their invention a bit later. Anyway band has returned many times from the eighties, but not still achieved lots of attention. In this album there were three original members, only bass player Tim Bogert left 2009 and his place was given to Pete Bremy.

At first it sounds to me Vanilla Fudge had decided to make funk versions of every piece in this album. What really irritates from the beginning is plashing drums, totally out of sixties spirit. In "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" you can´t recognise the song from anything else except lyrics. It´s very boring groove piece. "The Letter" was originally unknown song to me, so I listened also The Box Tops version of it. Original wasn´t the greatest song in the world, but anyway it has good sixties sounds instead of pompous sounds in Fudge version. First it was pain to hear "I Can See For Miles" as funk version because it´s one of my favorites from the Who-songs. When first shock is over, this piece sounds decent and becomes the best one in this album. The Doors classic "Break On Through" starts promising. It´s the first one that really has in the beginning psychedelic feeling. But of course there comes those plashing drums in the middle and in the end song is more Whitesnake than the Doors or anything from the 1967.

"The Tracks Of My Tears" is again unknown to me. Both Johnny Rivers and this album version are really mediocre, so you can wonder, why they pick this song. "I´m a Believer" is the first one that has arranged in the same method as they did in 1967. But again they sound more Whitesnake than Vanilla Fudge. "Gimme Some Lovin" is made as rhythm and blues song. Not bad, but again it sounds like Coverdale and co. Finally in "For What It´s Worth" they achieve something that made them interesting in the sixties. Their version of that really hippie song is really dark and all the way totally different song, reminding their great version of Donovan´s "Season Of the Witch". Sadly they return to "Whitesnake"-mood in "Ruby Tuesday". If they had done something to those plashing drums, their version of "Whiter Shade Of Pale" would have been decent. "Let´s Pray For Peace" is only own piece in this album, it´s sympathetic ballad with it´s universal message.

It´s sad my suspicios were right. When thinking only music in this album, this really is only one stars album. But guys anyway play really good, so that rises it into two stars. I believe they had fun in the studio, but I think best solution would have been this had been never released. There are old artists like Faust, Roy Harper, Gong, Magma, Van Der Graaf Generator, King Crimson and Haikara, that has made really great albums after seventies. When listening this album I don´t think Vanille Fudge is. Not yet heard those other albums, I guess as old fan I have to listen them at least once. Anyway young people who haven´t got any idea of sixties music, don´t listen this album! Instead put on original albums of the Jimi Hendrix, the Doors, the Who etc. In this album there is no spirit of ´67.

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