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 Nemrud by NEMRUD album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.23 | 4 ratings

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Nemrud
Nemrud Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by vega

4 stars This album follows the same space rock model as Nemrud's previous albums Ritual and Journey of The Shaman, but shows a great deal more confidence on the part of the band. Nemrud's career is dominated by concept albums with a somewhat gentle space rock vibe. There is a concept here to tell us their own creation story. This is hard psych to be sure. Drums kicks scream through walls of distortion and the guitars are turned up to eleven. Levent Candas, the band's new bassist, might enjoy some of the credit for them tightening up their act, since the rhythm section this time around attains the compelling, hypnotic intensity that the likes of Hawkwind were enjoying at the time. In all though, a superb collection of tracks, and certainly one of Nemrud's finest albums. Pink Floyd and Camel influences are undeniable, and the band make no attempt to disguise them. There are though some majestic sounds and fine compositions here. Nemrud easly deserve 5 stars without question, recommended not only for Nemrud fans but for those who listen to good spacey progressive music in general. Excellent.

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 Kontinuum by SCHULZE, KLAUS album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.80 | 61 ratings

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Kontinuum
Klaus Schulze Progressive Electronic

Review by Atavachron
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars

date: Unknown

parsec interval: .0009

vector: Just past Sol, veering at Centaurus

day 1, solar - Survived impact of biswift Tanaka, must've been superparticle. Damage catastrophic. Moving through space in E-suit, comfortable but shaken. Not a lot of hope for rescue. Inert movement OK, spatial kinetics proving a challenge. Fields check-out but now getting something unusual on, of all things, my exterior receiver. Sounds like solid waveform with pulse. Pleasing, layered with corrected forms creating "echo". Patterns are regular but comp says no; comp says varied. That's odd. Hold on ... hold on ... form alters. Repeat; form a l t e r s. Off for now -----

day 2, solar - Most peculiar. Altered form held for second day and now vox mimic. Repeat vox mimic. *New alteration*, slight increase in temporals, comp now reading multiple source transmission. Source signal lost, flares-- flare interference. Background vibratories, a shadow?

day 3, solar - Shadows developed, extraordinary. Much like music, expansive, sedate but vast, reminds of the Tuvan throat singers, overtonal, tangible. Beginning to help relax me, pass some time, emotionally stabilize. I actually got five hours sleep(!). Most gratifying. Getting more now, becoming part of my reality. Tapering off. Sounds like thunder.

Transmit now ;: Transmit now :;

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 The Muse Awakens    by HAPPY THE MAN album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.58 | 91 ratings

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The Muse Awakens
Happy The Man Eclectic Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

4 stars The late 70s and 80s may have been the greatest test for progressive bands to weather out the storm with some, mostly neo-prog bands holding out and carrying the torch against hurricane force winds but the 90s saw a calm in the storm with bands like Anglagard and Dream Theater unapologetically reviving the complexities of 70s prog traditions and updating their sounds. The second generation of prog was born! and that coupled with digital technology making it infinitely less expensive to produce music and the popularity of the internet to by-pass record company whims was the perfect recipe for old school bands of the 70s to re- emerge from their slumber. HAPPY THE MAN was one of those bands who emerged just a little late in the game in the 70s to really garner a huge following. Their only two studio albums of the 70s came out in 1977 and 78 just when 'Saturday Night Fever' and the Sex Pistols were crashing the party and changing the musical soundscape. The band was, frankly, lucky to achieved what they did at that period but it is a testament to the outstanding musicianship that the band engaged in and it's no wonder they have kept a cult following after all the years that have passed.

Fast forward to the year of 2004 and HAPPY THE MAN finally, at long last, graces the world with a third full-length studio album. Forget all those demo and archival albums ('3rd - Better Late,' 'Death's Crown,' 'Beginnings') which are fine and dandy for collectors but not what i'd call real albums that you can just get lost in. THE MUSE AWAKENS is the real thing that stylistically fits somewhere between the band's 70s studio releases with an updated sound and production that suits the band sound, oh quite well! THE MUSE AWAKENS features only three original members, those being Stanley Whitaker (guitars and vocals), Frank Wyatt (saxes, keyboards and woodwinds) and Rick Kennell (bass). The newbies are David Rosenthal on keyboards and Joe Bergamini on drums and percussion. HTM had the Spinal Tap complex with all three studio albums having different drummers. As far as i know, there were no bizarre gardening accidents or spontaneous combustible moments! One of the first things i noticed is the use of much more prominent guitar making itself heard above the symphonic touches.

The album pretty much continues where the last two left off. The beginning track 'Contemporary Insanity' humorously lets the listeners know that HTM is quite aware of its current timeline and yet opts to anachronistically take us to that point in time in that imaginary universe where 'Crafty Hands' was a huge success and this was the much anticipated followup release. And yes, the energy, the jazz-fusion meets symphonic prog leanings, the syncopated rhythms and time sigs gone wild are all on board dictating to the world that true 70s prog is back and this is no joke. Is this album really good? Well, yes it is! However, it doesn't take long to prove that this album doesn't have a really good flow pattern to it. Starting with the second track which is the title track we get the first of some really slow 'soft' jazz-fusion tracks that as always bring The Weather Report to mind, however at least this one picks up the energy level after a bit. The track is redeemed by its intensity build-up. The one thing that keeps me from giving this album a higher rating are the smooth jazz moments that are counterproductive to the overall feel of the album.

The band can rock like nobody's business but there is a deliberate holdback as found on the mellower tracks like the title track, 'Maui Sunset,' 'Slipstream,' 'Adrift.' I should emphatically state that mellow doesn't mean boring. Tracks like 'Stepping Through Time' are mellow yet awesomely effective in carrying out a successful progressive rock inspired fusion that blows the mind utilizing all the members on boards to create an addictive atmosphere. Tracks like 'Psychedelicatesson' are magical and i truly wish the album was stuffed with these kinds of tracks and my absolute favorite HTM track of all time 'Barking Spiders' which takes their jazz- fusion approach and REALLY marries the rock really make this album worth the price of admission alone including the most guitar oriented track of the band's existence.

Yes, this sounds like a collection of tracks composed through the track of a couple decades and yes, this doesn't flow as nicely as a 'true' organic album should and yes, this may have more mellow tracks than it should, but i am quite enthralled with not only the diversity of the album but by the compositional skills involved and the fact that a 70s band created a really beautiful album that still resonates into the 21st century. Given all the obstacles placed in their way and the fact that this is not the most perfect album that could ever exist, i'm still very pleased with its achievement. When all is said and done, this album has more than enough to deliver to the hardcore HTM fans who were craving the top notch musical deliveries with a pleasing retro feel and musical repertoire that could transport the listener to the classic days of prog albeit the latter tracings. Perhaps a worked for 4 star appreciative effort but after many listens, one that i have found it to be

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 Guns by CARDIACS album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.44 | 47 ratings

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Guns
Cardiacs RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Lewian

4 stars A number of people don't seem to love Guns as much as pretty much all other Cardiacs albums. Why is this? Certainly it's a fully valid Cardiacs album with excellent Cardiacs music on it.

Well, one explanation may be that the album is off to a somewhat weak start with Spell with a Shell, and people may not then be able to shake off the first impression. This comes with a fairly thin sound, a not particularly interesting rhythm, a single chord for quite some time and just two for some more time and some not particularly catchy singing from the first moment. To be fair, at some point it takes off into a more intense chorus and actually starts to make some sense.

Anyway, from then on things go uphill. With There's Good Cud the album certainly hasn't yet reached the peak. It's a fast and hard rocking punk orgy which will appeal to headbangers. Wind and Rain is Cold is the first highlight, more folky and poetic, with typical Cardiacs theatre spirit and some rare but great and dreamy Sarah Smith vocals; she returned for this album and is extremely welcome. Cry Wet Smile Day is again rocking harder and has one of these iconic crowd singing choruses, ah, the choruses! You want to join in so much but it's not that easy. OK, then Jitterbug (junior is a). This starts like a typical energetic Cardiacs song and then from the 3 minute mark get caught in a strange slow outworldly succession of chords in spacey sound over which Tim's voice meanders around, for almost 5 minutes. Depending on your mood this may be very annoying or genius; I'd be interested in whether anybody has followed this often enough to know exactly where it's going in the next moment, this is probably a half life's project. Sleep All Eyes Open is another fast rocker; nice how they already start fast and then give you the feeling of ever getting faster, wait, there's some illusion somewhere in it, like Escher's stairs that go upwards all the time. Come Back Clammy Lammy is again fast and quite straight for a Cardiacs song. It has another addictive crowd chorus but the Cardiacs can be accused of recycling some of their own older ideas in places (also in the odd other song).

The band then calms down a bit; Clean That Evil Mud Out Of Your Soul doesn't go for speed generally, although it has a weird and fast guitar melody in its instrumental bridges, but also they wind it down at some moments, this is melodic and rich in contrasts. Ain't He Messy Though is also about the melody and the chords, it's very nicely crafted with the typical twists, a strong keyboards sound and some very nice sax by Sarah.

Then Signs, which alone is strong enough to justify buying Guns; it's my no. 2 favourite Cardiacs song (behind Big Ship) and has the most memorable and intense chorus of them all, which is most effectively build on some very calm and vulnerable almost standing still ballad parts in between. I can listen to just this song for ages.

Song of a Dead Pest is a rather straight keyboard oriented melodic song, which sounds rather uplifting and relaxed, in stark contrast to its title and the lyrics. Will Bleed Amen is again a fast and hard finale with once more fascinating melodic turns. Attached to it is an epilogue that has Tim singing to the organ, leading up to a closure by the full band.

Perhaps I shouldn't have written that much on the individual songs, ultimately it's the Cardiacs and they totally defy description. Anyway, overall this has developed into something pretty strong again. OK, in the context of the Cardiacs universe it may not be seen as one of their peaks and there are some self citations in this one, and also (as usual) one can criticise the mix at times. On the other hand, when it comes to memorable addictive (but still twisted) melodies and choruses, Guns is second to pretty much no other Cardiacs album, with some real crackers on it, notably the stunning Signs. So this is the real deal, not some kind of second rate album, just if you test-listen to it, don't start in the beginning.

Get well soon, Tim, you're missed!

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 Like It Is - Yes at the Mesa Arts Centre by YES album cover Live, 2015
3.59 | 35 ratings

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Like It Is - Yes at the Mesa Arts Centre
Yes Symphonic Prog

Review by Guillermo
Prog Reviewer

3 stars I think that this is the last YES's new official release on which Chris Squire appears. But in fact it was released shortly after his death in June 2015.

It is good to see Squire playing with the band during his last tour with them in 2014. This concert video / CD was recorded in August 2014 in Arizona with the band playing all the songs from two of their most popular and successful albums from the early seventies: "Fragile" (1971) and "Close to the Edge" (1972). From which is considered the "Classic Line-up" of the band which recorded both albums (Squire, Steve Howe, Jon Anderson, Rick Wakeman, Bill Bruford) only Squire and Howe remained by 2014. Alan White replaced Bruford at the very last moment in 1972 for the "Close to the Edge" tour, and with Squire, Howe and White being by 2014 the members of the band which had a lot of years of being playing with the band since 1972 (with Howe being out of the band for several years). Since 2012, the line-up of the band had Squire, Howe and White joined by another "old" member, Geoff Downes, and by new lead singer Jon Davison. They had the idea to tour playing some of their old albums in full. In 2014 they previously played in full in concert their "Close to the Edge", "The Yes Album" and "Going for the One" albums. The songs from the "Going for the One" and "The Yes Album_" albums appear in their live album "Lke It Is - Live at the Bristol Hippodrome" which was released in late 2014.

If their concert in Bristol lacked some power and some good playing by the band as a whole (particularly in the songs from the"Going for the One" album), this concert in Arizona shows the band in a better shape, playing the songs with energy and better, even if the management of some tempos is not very good by the band as a whole. Anyway, the band sounds like they rehearsed better for this Arizona concert, and maybe the songs from the "Fragile" and "Close to the Edge" albums were not as demanding from them as some songs from the "Going for the One" album could have been, on which particularly Downes seemed like having some problems on songs like "Awaken". Or maybe "Fragile" and "Close to the Edge" are among Downes's favourite albums from YES (he and Trevor Horn said that both were fans of the band when they joined the band in 1980 for their "Drama" album).

All the members of the band played very well all the songs from the "Close to the Edge" and "Fragile" albums. Maybe the member who shines more is Jon Davison, showing a very solid voice. His voice is somewhat different to Jon Anderson's, but Davison reaches the original very high notes without apparent problems.

"Siberian Khatru" is really played very well, with Downes playing very well the harpsichord parts. He also plays "Cans and Brahms" in a very similar way as Wakeman played it. But in this song I think that he used some programmed keyboard parts to play it properly. In "South Side of the Sky" he also does a good job with the piano parts and the synthesiser solo at the end of the song. The band also used some pre-recorded vocal parts in "We Have Heaven", and in "The Fish" they also used some pre-recorded bass guitar parts apart from Squire playing his bass guitar on stage, having a lot of fun. In "Heart of the Sunrise" Downes played the song in a very similar way to the original studio recording (something that even Wakeman never did in concert!). In the "Close to the Edge" album title song Downes plays a different but very good organ solo.

As a whole, this live album and DVD is very good, showing the band playing and singing very well and having a lot of fun. Something which is not the same in their concert video and CD from Bristol. So, being this Arizona live recording the last official release from the band with Squire playing during his last tour with the band, it is good to see the band playing very well and the audience also having a good time. The recording and mixing of the sound and the quality of the images of the video are also very good.

A 3.5 stars rating for this album from me.

As everybody knows by now, YES still is playing on tour in 2016, but with Billy Sherwood replacing the late Chris Squire since their 2015 tour.

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 Fantasy Absent Reason by OVRFWRD album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.88 | 15 ratings

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Fantasy Absent Reason
Ovrfwrd Heavy Prog

Review by memowakeman
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars The second and most recent studio album by US band Ovrfwrd arrived to my ears thanks to the kindness of keyboard man Chris Malmgren, who I thank for it. This second album has the name of Fantasy Absent Reason and has just as the debut, five tracks, the first is a long 17-minute epic, tracks 2 and 5 are the shorter ones, while 3 & 4 have that 8-9 minute range that the songs of the first album had. The running time is around 46 minutes here.

And well, they decided to open with the majestic title track "Fantasy Absent Reason", an ambitious composition full of energy, explosions, changes and loads of prog rock elements. The first two minutes are bombastic, first with a harpsichord, and later a heavy and powerful sound produced by Malmgren's keyboards, who seems to be free to create whatever he wants to create, which means keyboard followers will have a feast here; just before the fourth minute arrives, an extraordinary guitar solo appears, taking the leadership for a while, while bass, drums and organ keep low profile as background. Just as I learnt on the first album, their instrumental music is full of contrasts so one can be listening to soft and delicate music but a minute later it turns out to be aggressive, heavier, but always enjoyable. There is a clear Crimsonian feeling on some moments here, but well, which band does not have King Crimson blood? And well, the song progresses, increases the energy, decreases the rhythm, makes a lot of changes but it is always (I repeat, always) interesting, so those 17 minutes run without any piece of trouble, everything good.

"Brother Jack McDuff" is one of the shorter tracks here, and again what first caught my attention was the sound of keyboards, its sound has that 70s vibe but I believe it is clear the band comes from the XXI century. Some bluesy hints here, but the lush keyboards keep the symphonic spirit, though later guitars appear with a marvelous solo. This is a wonderful song that due to its length could be named as single and could work as an introductory track to Ovrfwrd's world. "Dust Nova" has a much softer sound, delicate guitars, bass and drums for the first three minutes, just before they become more aggressive and provide much power. Guitars create several notes and sounds, always producing nuances that make the listener pay attention until the very end. The drumming here is also wonderful in all parts, in the aggressive ones and also in the softer ones. Great track!

"Utopia Planitia" brings a new element to the road: flute. And man, thank you for it! The addition of the flute brings new textures and colors than let the listener explore into different musical realms, so the band took advantage of that new element to create a magnificent composition, where Wobbler meets Anekdoten meets King Crimson. As usual, there are different passages or episodes in this one song, so later we can enjoy another great guitar solo than when it finishes, it opens the gates to keyboard fiesta. The song has in fact elements of several bands of the scene, besides the previously mentioned, I could say some Opeth and Porcupine Tree hints are perceived here. An exquisite tune, indeed! The album finishes with "Creature Comforts" whose first minute has electric piano giving a jazzy feeling; later it becomes rockier and the song takes a new direction, and though it is great as always, I could say this is not my favorite at all.

What a great surprise has been listening to Ovrfwrd, so if you have the chance, please go and discover their music because it is worth it and a great addition to your prog rock collection. My final grade would be 4 stars.

Enjoy it!

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 Beyond the Visible Light by OVRFWRD album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.72 | 10 ratings

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Beyond the Visible Light
Ovrfwrd Heavy Prog

Review by memowakeman
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars One of the advantages of the internet, is that now it is easier to know new bands and projects because people recommend them to you, or because the same artist contacts you in order to introduce you to their music. This was the case of Ovrfwrd, a band from the United States that is entering to this prog rock realm and aims to be heard around the world, which is why keyboard player Chris Malmgren contacted me and introduced me to their two albums, thanks Chris. The debut album is entitled Beyond the Visible Light, released in 2014 which features 5 solid compositions that range from 8 to 11 minutes, making a total time of 47 minutes.

They create interesting instrumental prog rock that of course has some influences from 70s bands, however they have managed to create a fresh sound that purely belongs to this millennium. The album opens with the aggressive 'Can We Keep The Elephant?' which shows since the beginning that the band has a prog orientation and that the members are great on their respective instruments. It has several changes but always keeps a fast and exciting sound which in moments explodes and becomes even more powerful. They let us know their compositional skills here, because the song is simply great, a wonderful introduction to their music.

'Stones of Temperance' has a softer start, however little by little the intensity increases, adding some dark and somber motifs that create a dense atmosphere splendidly played by the piano. After three minutes there is a moment of silence, a stop, and then a new structure begins to be built up, adding some highs and lows with nice atmospheric keyboards contrasted by raw guitars. It is once again a great song that would appeal to any prog fan. The longest track is 'Raviji', a song that has some spacey atmospheres, heavy prog moments and even a sound that reminds me of Rush, mainly due to the guitars. This is a true progressive rock song, and there are parts that it will make you remember some older acts of this genre, also, Ovrfwrd manage to make several changes without losing the path, I mean, they never break the song to make it less interesting, no, all the changes keep us interested and waiting for a new surprise.

'The Man With No Shoes' is truly interesting, a salad of sounds, a roller-coaster of emotions exquisitely represented with energy and cadency, creating textures and notes that are closer to the jazzy side of rock, but also using some psych elements that give as a result this intrepid heavy progressive rock music. The last song is 'Darkest Star' which starts soft with guitar and synth, reminding me of some Crimsonian impros, or Fripp-alike soundscapes. Later as usual, the song morphs several times, giving us a great mixture of sounds that in the end could please any progressive rock fan.

An excellent debut album from this US band whose music has to be heard by more and more people, I hope so. My final grade, 4 stars,

Enjoy it!

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 Following The Unknown by JAM IT! album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.83 | 16 ratings

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Following The Unknown
Jam It! Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by memowakeman
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Once again I feel satisfied for the recommendations that I receive via web. This time, I was asked by Nikolaj (who already introduced me to the amazing Pandora Snail) to listen to another Russian band whose music would not let me down, this band was Jam it! A band whose music was unknown to me but that right now I appreciate a lot, simply because the music is great. So Jam it! Is a four-member band that was formed back in 2006 inspired by Mike Portnoy and Dream Theater's music; they have so far released 3 studio albums being Following The Unknown the most recent one, released in 2015. The music can be easily categorized as jazz fusion, and though it does have some metal-like or heavier tunes, I can say this album does not sound like Dream Theater of its offshoots at all.

It features seven songs making a total time of 58 minutes. The opener is "Following The Unknown", an amazing progressive-jazz-fusion song with an outstanding guitar work, though I must say the four members create awesome music, all playing their instruments doing their best but working for the band, so it is evident that at least musically speaking, they get on well each other so the result is pure bliss for the listener. This is a solid song that perfectly works as the opener for this album. "Sea Breeze" is a bit friendlier, I mean, the sound is catchier for prog fans and even for pure jazz fans. After a couple of minutes the song introduces heavier tunes that talks about that influence bands such as Planet X could have had on Jam it! This is a nice song but not my favorite of the album.

"Through the Forest" is a great track, exquisite jazz fusion more in the jazzy side than in the metal one, definitely, with even some 70s nuances that remind me mainly of Dixie Dregs. Great bass lines and amazing drums, complemented of course by the "leading instruments" such as guitar and keyboards. "Mountain of Solitude" is a longer track, reaching almost the 10-minute mark, this one is not that bombastic like the opener, here the sound and rhythm are softer, much softer but enjoyable as well; and though later it progresses and implement new nuances and atmospheres, I think there is something missing, so I could never fall in love with this track.

In "Avalanche" the instruments that caught my attention at first were drums and bass, but mainly drums and that is something not common on me, I actually use to give less importance to drums because they are not my favorite instrument, so when I notice it from the beginning is because they must be awesome, just like they are in this song. I like how the band makes those nice changes, from a soft melodic tune to heavier and rockier moments, all played with delicacy and ambition, always taking care of details. This is one of my favorite tunes here. "Into the Mist" is a softer and shorter track, but man, it is a delicious one. Here its delicacy matched with me, so since the very first time I listened to it I loved it. Music for my senses!

And finally the longest one: "Random Name Hero". A progressive metal / jazz fusion epic with several contrasts, passages that go from soft nuances to heavy and powerful textures. Here I love the work of keyboards and how the band dedicates every single minute of the song to bring different experiences, passages that might tell a story guided by the lead instrument in turn and by the intensity of the sound. Of course, the guitar riffs are also amazing, so it was a great decision to finish the album with this epic track, summing up the best face of Jam it!

The album is wonderful, the musicians are incredibly talented and since I first listened to the album I like it overall, however, I think there are some uneven moments, some passages that I did not love and that in a bad day, I might skip (it has not happened, but might happen), which is why I will give this album 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Enjoy it!

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 Romantic Warrior by RETURN TO FOREVER album cover Studio Album, 1976
4.23 | 501 ratings

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Romantic Warrior
Return To Forever Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Modrigue
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Progressive fantasy jazz rock

Often considered as RETURN TO FOREVER's best album, "Romantic Warrior" is more avant-garde and less funky than the band's previous efforts. Featuring a more important usage of electronic keyboards and rocking guitars, the musicians also incorporated symphonic/heavy prog elements from bands such as YES or KING CRIMSON in their music. Combined to the strange and charming synthesizers of Chick Corea, the result is quite original and inspired, while remaining accessible. The question is: what's the relation with the title?

"Medieval Overture" (by Chick Corea) is in fact not really medieval. Instead, this composition is a rather retro-futuristic spacey jazz/rock with various keyboards in the style of YES. Very nice, and sets the tone for the rest of the disc. Lenny White's "Sorceress" is the funkiest track of the record. Opening with a calm and groovy bass line, it contains a few guitar and keyboards interventions with a slight flavour of McCoy Tyner. In contrast, the title track (by Chick Corea) is fully acoustic. Majestic and delightful, however a bit too long.

Despite its title, the cool "Majestic Dance" is not very dancing but rather the rock-iest passage of the disc with its distorted guitars. This is logic when you know this was composed by Al Di Meola. Stanley Clarke's "The Magician" is the most complex composition, and also my least favorite track. Quite odd and changing, it incorporates fun small melodies. Ironically this song is the only one truly related to the album thematic, as it sounds a little medieval by moments. Once again by Chick Corea, "Duel of the Jester and the Tyrant" is the longest composition. Contrarily to the previous song, the music is more accessible and built around a nice melancholic melody as a main theme, with a few surprises inside...

Only after the listen can you understand the album title. "Romantic Warrior" do not naively refer to love or martial metal songs. Instead, it should rather been taken as an oxymoron that corresponds to the musical style: both calm and turbulent, light and ferocious. Everything is a matter of contrast. Unusual, original and with an unique sound, this 1976 opus is one of the proggiest and greatest achievements of its genre.

Very recommended to jazz rock / fusion aficionados or hard rock fans wanting to discover the style!

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 Lost and Found by SAMURAI OF PROG, THE album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.48 | 12 ratings

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Lost and Found
The Samurai of Prog Crossover Prog

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Multinational virtual band THE SAMURAI F PROG, steered by bassist Marco Bernard, continue tirelessly their pilgrimage into the 70's epic progressive rock. The core trio is again accompanied by a big cast of international prog musicians, and this time to the fullest extent keyboardist Stefan Renström and guitarist Johan Öijen (whoever they are). As you may remember, TSoP's first two albums contain covers of mostly well-known prog classics, and the music on The Imperial Hotel (2014) was composed by the keyboard-playing collaborators such as Robert Webb of ENGLAND. I was pretty enthusiastic for that work, but now I feel sort of exhausted and I'm not completely convinced of the material that originates from the mid/late 70's.

Actually my initial listening was coloured by negative thoughts of pretentiousness, the kind of "prog for prog's sake" that screamed for the table-cleaning tsunami of the punk movement. That is, these long and complex compositions left me rather cold emotionally (just like TULL's A Passion Play does). I even thought very cynically: what else to expect from originally shelved and unfinished works by relatively minor followers of YES, GENESIS and ELP, such as LIFT, CATHEDRAL and QUILL? On my second listening I began to admit the possibility that the closer you learn these tracks, the more you like them. For sure, all the musicians give their best, as if these pieces really were lost masterpieces that criminally never before were given a full treatment. It's the vocal department that I'm permanently least satisfied with.

'Preludin' is a complex instrumental originally written for PAVLOV'S DOG, featuring its guitarist Steve Scorfina. It's a bumpy ride, but Steve Unruh's flute and violin are used effectively. 'Along the Way' is a brief piano piece by David Myers, continuing the tradition of all TSoP albums. 20-minute 'Inception' originates from the archives of the US band LIFT. I don't much like the nasal voice of Unruh, but the Genesis/Yes/ELP influences are interesting to say the least.

'She (Who Must Be Obeyed)' - originally composed for ODYSSEY of which I have no specific knowlegde - features vocalist Jon Davison, whose high-pitched Jon Anderson imitation becomes a nuisance on this non-YES context. Anyway the sound is nice & warm with lots of Mellotron and Hammond. When we get to 'Plight of the Swan' sung in a Gabrielish manner by Unruh, I really begin to wish other kinds of vocalists. This one's probably going to remain as my least favourite here.

CD 1 approaches 53 minutes, but CD 2 is even longer with its sole track, an epic dealing with an adventurous quest for magical book (practically worth of a lengthy concept album of its own). The American band QUILL were heavily influenced by ELP and YES. The members are as usual, featured as guests. Sadly this 36-part piece plays as a single track on the CD player... There are beautiful instrumental passages, but again the vocals are the weak link IMHO, and frankly I have no big interest towards the extremely pretentious dramatic context. In the end, for me this monstrous epic is an exhausting time-stealer instead of an uplifting, magnificent listening experience that a prog epic ought to be.

All in all, the grandiose and complex prog itself gets only 3½ stars with all my negative remarks considered, but the lavish artwork of Ed Unitsky easily dictates how I round my rating!

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100 MOST PROLIFIC REVIEWERS

Collaborators Only

ratings only excluded in count
  1. Mellotron Storm (3853)
  2. Sean Trane (3159)
  3. ZowieZiggy (2929)
  4. apps79 (2629)
  5. Warthur (2246)
  6. Easy Livin (1928)
  7. b_olariu (1909)
  8. UMUR (1906)
  9. Gatot (1811)
  10. Conor Fynes (1592)
  11. SouthSideoftheSky (1566)
  12. Evolver (1400)
  13. Windhawk (1363)
  14. Bonnek (1332)
  15. Tarcisio Moura (1308)
  16. AtomicCrimsonRush (1272)
  17. snobb (1216)
  18. erik neuteboom (1201)
  19. Finnforest (1127)
  20. kenethlevine (1068)
  21. ClemofNazareth (1010)
  22. Cesar Inca (928)
  23. loserboy (895)
  24. tszirmay (889)
  25. Matti (877)
  26. Rune2000 (867)
  27. octopus-4 (846)
  28. kev rowland (844)
  29. memowakeman (835)
  30. Marty McFly (834)
  31. Guillermo (770)
  32. BrufordFreak (754)
  33. Chris S (753)
  34. Eetu Pellonpaa (722)
  35. siLLy puPPy (706)
  36. greenback (685)
  37. Rivertree (675)
  38. progrules (666)
  39. Neu!mann (654)
  40. Seyo (638)
  41. Epignosis (624)
  42. Prog-jester (623)
  43. lor68 (601)
  44. Ivan_Melgar_M (555)
  45. Prog Leviathan (544)
  46. philippe (539)
  47. hdfisch (492)
  48. friso (486)
  49. stefro (480)
  50. Chicapah (480)
  51. Dobermensch (462)
  52. colorofmoney91 (459)
  53. admireArt (456)
  54. Aussie-Byrd-Brother (454)
  55. zravkapt (451)
  56. J-Man (449)
  57. russellk (435)
  58. DamoXt7942 (434)
  59. Atavachron (418)
  60. ProgShine (417)
  61. Menswear (413)
  62. Sinusoid (402)
  63. Queen By-Tor (396)
  64. andrea (396)
  65. TCat (377)
  66. Greger (365)
  67. Nightfly (363)
  68. tarkus1980 (363)
  69. Zitro (359)
  70. fuxi (353)
  71. Cygnus X-2 (353)
  72. Andrea Cortese (348)
  73. EatThatPhonebook (326)
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  75. Guldbamsen (321)
  76. Negoba (316)
  77. richardh (314)
  78. Tom Ozric (306)
  79. Kazuhiro (299)
  80. Flucktrot (293)
  81. Proghead (289)
  82. OpethGuitarist (287)
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  84. Second Life Syndrome (267)
  85. daveconn (266)
  86. Trotsky (264)
  87. Muzikman (263)
  88. Slartibartfast (256)
  89. Modrigue (255)
  90. clarke2001 (254)
  91. The T (254)
  92. Andy Webb (237)
  93. Bj-1 (235)
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  95. 1800iareyay (225)
  96. js (Easy Money) (222)
  97. aapatsos (221)
  98. poslednijat_colobar (220)
  99. Raff (217)
  100. The Crow (216)
Remaining cache time: 629 min.

List of all PA collaborators

TOP PROG ALBUMS
  1. Close To The Edge
    Yes
  2. Selling England By The Pound
    Genesis
  3. Thick As A Brick
    Jethro Tull
  4. Wish You Were Here
    Pink Floyd
  5. In The Court Of The Crimson King
    King Crimson
  6. Foxtrot
    Genesis
  7. Dark Side Of The Moon
    Pink Floyd
  8. Red
    King Crimson
  9. Animals
    Pink Floyd
  10. Godbluff
    Van Der Graaf Generator
  11. Fragile
    Yes
  12. Nursery Cryme
    Genesis
  13. Pawn Hearts
    Van Der Graaf Generator
  14. Larks' Tongues In Aspic
    King Crimson
  15. Moving Pictures
    Rush
  16. Per Un Amico
    Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM)
  17. Mirage
    Camel
  18. Hybris
    Änglagård
  19. Moonmadness
    Camel
  20. Hemispheres
    Rush
  21. Relayer
    Yes
  22. Darwin!
    Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso
  23. Io Sono Nato Libero
    Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso
  24. In A Glass House
    Gentle Giant
  25. Storia Di Un Minuto
    Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM)
  26. A Farewell To Kings
    Rush
  27. Si On Avait Besoin D'Une Cinquième Saison
    Harmonium
  28. Aqualung
    Jethro Tull
  29. Kind Of Blue
    Miles Davis
  30. Meddle
    Pink Floyd
  31. Crime Of The Century
    Supertramp
  32. Birds Of Fire
    Mahavishnu Orchestra
  33. Hot Rats
    Frank Zappa
  34. Still Life
    Opeth
  35. The Raven That Refused To Sing (And Other Stories)
    Steven Wilson
  36. The Silent Corner And The Empty Stage
    Peter Hammill
  37. Ommadawn
    Mike Oldfield
  38. H To He, Who Am The Only One
    Van Der Graaf Generator
  39. Depois Do Fim
    Bacamarte
  40. Images And Words
    Dream Theater
  41. Permanent Waves
    Rush
  42. Metropolis Part 2: Scenes From A Memory
    Dream Theater
  43. The Yes Album
    Yes
  44. Mëkanïk Dëstruktïẁ Kömmandöh
    Magma
  45. The Grand Wazoo
    Frank Zappa
  46. The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway
    Genesis
  47. Scheherazade And Other Stories
    Renaissance
  48. One Size Fits All
    Frank Zappa
  49. The Snow Goose
    Camel
  50. Still Life
    Van Der Graaf Generator
  51. In a Silent Way
    Miles Davis
  52. Hand. Cannot. Erase.
    Steven Wilson
  53. The Power And The Glory
    Gentle Giant
  54. Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso
    Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso
  55. Octopus
    Gentle Giant
  56. Free Hand
    Gentle Giant
  57. A Trick of the Tail
    Genesis
  58. Rock Bottom
    Robert Wyatt
  59. In The Land Of Grey And Pink
    Caravan
  60. Zarathustra
    Museo Rosenbach
  61. The Road Of Bones
    IQ
  62. Second Life Syndrome
    Riverside
  63. Blackwater Park
    Opeth
  64. Ghost Reveries
    Opeth
  65. In Absentia
    Porcupine Tree
  66. Arbeit Macht Frei
    Area
  67. Emerson Lake & Palmer
    Emerson Lake & Palmer
  68. Fear Of A Blank Planet
    Porcupine Tree
  69. Viljans Öga
    Änglagård
  70. Acquiring the Taste
    Gentle Giant
  71. Misplaced Childhood
    Marillion
  72. Spectrum
    Billy Cobham
  73. Hatfield And The North
    Hatfield And The North
  74. The Inner Mounting Flame
    Mahavishnu Orchestra
  75. K.A
    Magma
  76. Hamburger Concerto
    Focus
  77. Space Shanty
    Khan
  78. Radio Gnome Invisible Vol. 3 - You
    Gong
  79. Pale Communion
    Opeth
  80. The Perfect Element Part 1
    Pain Of Salvation
  81. Rubycon
    Tangerine Dream
  82. Script For A Jester's Tear
    Marillion
  83. Remedy Lane
    Pain Of Salvation
  84. L'isola di niente
    Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM)
  85. Lateralus
    Tool
  86. Doomsday Afternoon
    Phideaux
  87. Voyage Of The Acolyte
    Steve Hackett
  88. Elegant Gypsy
    Al Di Meola
  89. If I Could Do It All Over Again, I'd Do It All Over You
    Caravan
  90. Grace for Drowning
    Steven Wilson
  91. Caravanserai
    Santana
  92. Felona E Sorona
    Le Orme
  93. Uzed
    Univers Zero
  94. Time Control
    Hiromi Uehara
  95. Part the Second
    Maudlin Of The Well
  96. Anabelas
    Bubu
  97. Bitches Brew
    Miles Davis
  98. Operation: Mindcrime
    Queensrÿche
  99. Leftoverture
    Kansas
  100. Uomo di pezza
    Le Orme

* Weighted Ratings (aka WR), used for ordering, is cached and re-calculated every 15 minutes.

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