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 Under Wraps by JETHRO TULL album cover Studio Album, 1984
2.23 | 570 ratings

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Under Wraps
Jethro Tull Prog Folk

Review by BBKron

1 stars This is the only Tull album that I would consider to be genuinely bad. This is mainly due to the horrendous production and arrangements. Ian made a terrible decision to use programmed drum machines throughout (no drummer at all), presumably to seem hip and modern, then compounded that error by featuring that awful drum machine prominently above everything else in the mix. Also used programmed synths and cut and paste arrangements throughout that just sound terrible. Should have been considered an Anderson solo album, as sounds like Ian just playing with his new electronic toys and digital software. The music was assembled, not really played here, and the '80's technology used just doesn't cut it. It's too bad, as some of the songs could have been pretty good with the programmed nonsense removed and real instruments and arrangements used, as exemplified with the two different versions of the song 'Under Wraps', one with all the electronic nonsense, the other stripped down. The production and arrangements here deserve only 1 star, but the songs themselves deserve higher, so I arrive at 1.5 for the album. No really good tracks (but the one song with a stripped down version, Under Wraps #2, gives an idea of what the album could have been like with decent production). Rating: 1.5 stars

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 Rock Island by JETHRO TULL album cover Studio Album, 1989
2.70 | 503 ratings

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Rock Island
Jethro Tull Prog Folk

Review by BBKron

2 stars Probably their heaviest album overall, with more rock-heavy and harder rock songs, with very little acoustic work. This may have been in response to the backlash they received after winning the Grammy Award for best hard rock/heavy metal album in the previous year for an album (Crest of a Knave) that was considered neither hard rock nor metal. So they came back with a more rock-heavy album To solidify their hard rock credentials. Unfortunately, the result is one of their least enjoyable albums, without much to recommend it. I really could not pick out the best and worst songs here, as all are just OK. Nothing really bad, but also just not that good either. Contains many familiar elements of Tull songs, but the songs just don't gel into anything substantial. Somewhat generic songs, mostly not very memorable. Rating: 2.5

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 J-Tull Dot Com by JETHRO TULL album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.02 | 472 ratings

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J-Tull Dot Com
Jethro Tull Prog Folk

Review by BBKron

3 stars Better than expected after all the dismal things I heard about this one, actually somewhat enjoyable. Ian and the band trying many different things here, so there is a variety of styles, which is interesting, but also what seem like some odd choices for the band. Not at all bad, there are several good tracks here, and some are quite fun, including a strong finish to the album, but also some very questionable tracks. Runs the gamut from harder rock songs like Spiral to a lightweight acoustic caribbean-themed ditty (Hot Mango Flush) that is unlike any other Tull song. Thus, overall, a pretty good, but somewhat uneven album. Does contain quite a lot of great guitar and flute work throughout. Best tracks: Dot Com, Hunt By Numbers, Far Alaska, The Dog Ear Years, A Gift of Roses. Weaker tracks: El Nino, Black Mamba. Rating: 3ó

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 Crest of a Knave by JETHRO TULL album cover Studio Album, 1987
3.23 | 644 ratings

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Crest of a Knave
Jethro Tull Prog Folk

Review by BBKron

3 stars Somewhat of a comeback album for the band, following the dismal Under Wraps. Brought back a harder rock edge on a few tracks, and received substantial radio play and acclaim. Notoriously won the Grammy for best hard rock/heavy metal album (beating Metallica), which was roundly criticized as it is not really considered a hard rock album, and certainly not metal. Overall, it is somewhat varied in style and substance, ranging from acoustic, pop and rock tracks. This album also marked the start of their 'Dire Straits period', in that multiple songs on this album, and at least one on most of the subsequent albums, bore a strong resemblance to Dire Straits, not only in the talk-singing vocal of Ian by this time, but also in the overall style and structure of the songs. Not sure if this was a conscious decision to emulate the band, but some of these songs sound like they could actually be Dire Straits songs (not that there's anything wrong with that). Overall, a nice direction for the band in the 80's. Good, but still not one of their stronger albums. Best tracks: Jump Start, Budapest, Part of the Machine, Farm on the Freeway. Weaker tracks: Steel Monkey, Mountain Men. Dire Straits-sounding songs: She Said She Was a Dancer, Waking Edge, Raising Steam. Rating: 3 stars

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 Catfish Rising by JETHRO TULL album cover Studio Album, 1991
2.63 | 476 ratings

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Catfish Rising
Jethro Tull Prog Folk

Review by BBKron

3 stars Surprisingly good album for this time period, one of their stronger later albums. Starts off with a couple somewhat generic rockers, but then gets much more interesting. More acoustic than expected (lots of mandolin), and more diverse. Very Bluesy, from bluesy acoustic numbers to slow blues to blues-rock. Probably their most blues-heavy album since Benefit, and overall, it works very well, as they change-up the various blues styles throughout the album. Best tracks: Roll Your Own, Rocks on the Road, Gold-Tipped Boots Black Jacket and Tie, When Jesus Came to Play. Weaker tracks: This is Not Love, Occasional Demons, White Innocence. Rating 3 stars

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 Roots To Branches by JETHRO TULL album cover Studio Album, 1995
3.60 | 564 ratings

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Roots To Branches
Jethro Tull Prog Folk

Review by BBKron

3 stars With this album the band adds a more of an International-World music style, with the first few tracks having a somewhat middle eastern vibe. The Rest of the album features many strong tracks that make this one of their best from the later years, and strongest album from the nineties, with a variety of styles, strong songwriting, and excellent musicianship throughout. Also includes another in their Dire Straits-like series from this period: Another Harry's Bar. Best tracks: Valley, Beside Myself, Dangerous Veils, At last Forever, Out of the Noise, Stuck in the August Rain. Weaker tracks: Rare and Precious Chain, This Free Will. Rating: 3 stars

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 This Was by JETHRO TULL album cover Studio Album, 1968
3.31 | 925 ratings

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This Was
Jethro Tull Prog Folk

Review by BBKron

3 stars Strong debut album. At this early stage the band had a very different lineup, with blues guitarist Mick Abrahams, Glenn Cornick (bass), and Clive Bunker (drums), and was primarily a straight blues-rock band, with jazz influences. The album is filled with excellent jazz-blues guitar, bass, and drums work, supplemented with Anderson's flute and vocals, but good UK blues-rock bands were plentiful at that time, and this is fairly straight-forward blues-rock. Although a good start, the band had not yet developed their own unique style, and compared to what the band would later become, this ranks as good, but not great. Best tracks: Beggar's Farm, A Song For Jeffrey. Weaker tracks: Moved On Alone, It's Breaking Me Up. Rating: 3 stars

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 Benefit by JETHRO TULL album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.91 | 1166 ratings

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Benefit
Jethro Tull Prog Folk

Review by BBKron

3 stars I know a lot of people love this album, but for me, it is somewhat of a step backward from the more unique and progressive Stand Up (1969), as the band has fallen back to a much more standard UK Blues-rock here, without the more innovative approaches and advances made on the previous album. Yes, they are very good at the blues-rock sound and style, but this does not best show their unique style and strengths that would make them a standout rock band. Also, some of the best songs from these sessions were not even included on the album, such as 'Teacher' (which was released as a standalone single) and 'Witch's Promise'. Thus, a very good album overall, but one that did not advance their sound and unique style beyond the blues-rock played by other bands. However, they would make tremendous leap into progressive rock with their next album. Best tracks: Nothing to Say, Alive and Well and Living In, Inside, Sossity You're a Woman. Weaker tracks: Son, A Time For Everything. Rating: 3.5 stars

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 The Broadsword And The Beast by JETHRO TULL album cover Studio Album, 1982
3.30 | 719 ratings

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The Broadsword And The Beast
Jethro Tull Prog Folk

Review by BBKron

3 stars More personnel changes, with Peter John-Vettese brought in on keyboards and synths and Gerry Conway on drums, along with Dave Pegg on bass. The band returns to more folk-style songs and themes here, and acoustic instrumentation, after the big changes in personnel and style for the previous album, A, but now also incorporating more synths and electronics as well. Thus, more synths and less acoustic guitar, but the songs and arrangements are quite good overall, although ends a bit weakly compared to rest of album. A fine album, certainly worth checking out and revisiting, but not at the level of their '70's output. Best tracks: Clasp, Fallen on Hard Times, Flying Colors, Slow Marching Band, Pussy Willow. Weaker tracks: Seal Driver, Cheerio. Rating 3.5

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 Sacred Baboon by YEZDA URFA album cover Studio Album, 1989
3.98 | 217 ratings

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Sacred Baboon
Yezda Urfa Eclectic Prog

Review by AJ Junior

4 stars Yezda Urfa is a prime example of a 70s prog band being to late to the train and not getting the love they deserve. Founded in 1973 Yezda Urfa was led by vocalist Rick Rodenbaugh and Bassist Marc Miller. They recorded their first demo album 'Boris' in 1975 and it was unofficially released. Their sophomore album 'Sacred Baboon' (recorded in 1976, with mostly versions of songs from 'Boris') was picked up by Syn-Phonic records in 1989 and only then released. This album contains some wonderful instrumentalism coupled with Yessian vocals and perfectly nonsensical lyrics!

The album opens with the off-beat, rambunctious, "Give em' Some Rawhide Chewies" which is a great choice for an opener. Lots of crazy Steve Howe-esque guitar work on this track. "Cancer of the Band" begins with a melancholic flute and piano intro. The motif from the intro is built up for a solid 4 minutes, then completely shifted to a fast paced section with crazy lyrics like "Nidulant sarcolysin fruit, a two and six were built where four and five have stood before."

The 3rd song "Tota in the Moya" is a 10 minute epic, and is definitely a highlight off of the album. Is seamlessly weaves through many different movements each of which being better than the last. They utilize use of obscure instruments such as Mandolin, Marimba, and cello. "Boris and his Three Verses" is the most notorious reworking from 'Boris' on the album, but unfortunately the reworking is actually much worse. The actual song is not that bad but its timespan has been cut from 11:00 minutes to about 2:00 minutes.

"Flow Guides Aren't my Bag" is very similar to the opener. Extremely fast, rhythmic, and off-beat. The musicianship is wonderful, but the singing on some of the harmonies is quite honestly repulsive. I prefer the vocals from "Caner of the Band" much more.

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 Innate Passage by ELDER album cover Studio Album, 2022
4.32 | 37 ratings

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Innate Passage
Elder Heavy Prog

Review by Negoba
Prog Reviewer

5 stars A delicious combo of post-rock atmosphere and proggy touches on a base of select stoner metal.

Over the last year, I have been exploring the breath of psychedelic hard rock and metal, wanting a sound that is a little more ethereal than the sludge of the doom side of stoner metal and maybe just maybe some musical flourishes of prog. That search led me to Elder and their most recent album Innate Passage which contains 5 songs clocking in at 53:53.

The opener "Catastasis" sets the stage, starting with echo-y guitars very much in a post-rock vein but quickly bringing in a heavy guitar groove and then the synths. Vocals finally enter at 2:45, and are definitely more of a textural layer than a lead element. Both vocals and the overall groove sits somewhere between Mastodon and Pink Floyd. In the Mid-point is a riffy guitar break compete with twin leads reminding us that this music has its roots in the 70's. The entire song lasts about 10 minutes and covers a lot of territory but the mood remains pretty ethereal throughout. Nothing is jarring or harsh. The band definitely knows their audience and delivers.

The rest of the album follows the formula and the vibe but keeps introducing new themes, new elements, new angles. In spite of the length of the songs and the consistent tone, I never come close to getting bored. The multi-layered sections vary from smooth to complex. Lots of rhythmic ideas, many composed lines, guitar leads, different types of keyboard tones, plenty of echo and reverb, you get the picture. If Motorpsycho went completely heavy psych, you would be pretty close to this sound.

The individual components of this music are not new. At the same time, I personally have not heard them combined in quite this way and certainly not this well. I would guess that one's response to this music would mirror your response to the many styles they are drawing from. For me, those are some of my favorite styles so finding this album was so exciting that I considered it a personal birthday present (I was born in November when it came out.)

So for me it's a 5 star. YMMV.

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 Other Things by PLINI album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2013
3.55 | 28 ratings

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Other Things
Plini Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Gallifrey

4 stars 28th January, 2023: Plini - Other Things (progressive rock/jazz fusion, 2013)

I can definitely see why some consider this Plini's finest moment, but I think for me it's just a little too short to hold that title. I always have felt he's been at his most convincing when he drops the metal, and this is by far his softest release, with the first two tracks being jazzy, fluid, passionate and lush, with the piano backing on the title track in particular being great. But then he does break out the metal, and it really works - "Selenium Forest" is perhaps one of the best examples of Plini gone heavy, and even the subtle djent bits work well. I still prefer some of his later work as there's a bit more of an identity - he hasn't quite crafted his very signature lick style on this release - but this is a very pretty little release, and I'd like to see him again return to making more jazz-focused music.

6.7 (4th listen)

Part of my listening diary from my facebook blog: www.facebook.com/TheExoskeletalJunction

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 The Music That Died Alone by TANGENT, THE album cover Studio Album, 2003
3.99 | 411 ratings

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The Music That Died Alone
The Tangent Eclectic Prog

Review by Argentinfonico

4 stars How can this music be dead?

"The Music that Died Alone" is the recording debut of this ambitious "supergroup" project that combines members of The Flower Kings, Transatlantic, Van der Graaf Generator and other groups. The line-up of this band changes almost every time they release a new album, but this one is a serious contender to be the strongest they've ever had, and the proof, of course, is this album.

The album's signature suite is the one that kicks it off. "In Darkest Dreams" is divided into 8 parts and starts with frenzy and with the energy charged to the max, already squandering it from the start. "Prelude - Time for You" has an 8/8 tempo that makes the most of its space and charges the listener's ear with electricity in a matter of seconds. Very dynamic and potent, at times similar to the powerful instrumental sections of Dream Theater's previous albums - great start! The eclectic character is more than presented right from the start, changing style and atmosphere every few moments. Since the prelude is all instrumental, the second part of this suite "Night Terrors" features Roine Stolt, consistent as always, singing already embedded in his nocturnal demons from disgrace and loss of direction, as if he is close to death or already inside it. All of this exaggerated by the inherent drama of the night's hours close to sleep and heightened loneliness. The song drops down a gear but is still very rhythmic and leaves no room for respite. The instrumentation shines second by second and there is really nothing to put down. There are albums that require a gigantic predisposition from the listener, and this is certainly one of them. The third section "The Midnight Watershed" is again instrumental and faithfully continues the idea and purpose of the album, but doesn't stand out as a particular section. "In Dark Dreams" does. It enters from a fretless bass with calmer, more melodic melodies, and introduces Andy Tillison on vocals. With a spectacular, deep, and leading saxophone, the lyrics seem to connect with those of the second section, but in a very special way: Andy Tillison represents a sort of counsellor/angel who speaks to the protagonist of the second section from understanding and wisdom, while an airy instrumentation reflects on the skies of the auditory world the listener lives and flies over. "The Half-Light Watershed" is the fifth section, an instrumental that continues the end of the fourth section without a jolt. The sixth brick of this suite is entitled "On Returning (0:50)" and brings the third vocalist into the ring: Guy Manning (but very briefly as it only consists of one verse and lasts no longer than a minute). "A Sax in the Dark" is the seventh part and I don't think I need to explain what this sounds like. Just let yourself be guided by the visual image that the section title wants to create. The eighth and final section entitled "Night Terrors Reprise" brings Roine back, with his character of impaired vision at night and unbearable nightmares from which he tries to draw some strength. A wonderful (in the grand sense of the word) and fanciful suite, despite the darkness of the lyrics.

The second song is called "The Canterbury Sequence" and consists of 3 parts. The first, "Cantermemorabilia", begins with a keyboard riff that seems to be taken from a Gentle Giant song. This resemblance fades as soon as the other instruments enter. It sounds like light jazz, but it's weird, because at times it sounds like an Emerson, Lake & Palmer song. Andy's voice on this song is a perfect mix between Lake's and Sinclair's (Caravan). This album has serious influences from many great bands: Yes, TFK, Hatfield... A very particular section that works perfectly as a particular song, very volatile and creative! You can question some things about this album, but there is one thing you can't: the fluidity of its course. It glides as if oiled by some magical and unknown elixir. The second section "Chaos at the Greasy Spoon" is instrumental and flows over an equally jazzy and light 13/8. Great cover evolved from the very short song originally released by Hatfield. It's almost miraculous how successful the mix of styles is on this album. There is more than composition and theory here.... The melodies were given birth through a very particular and very musical inspiration. "Captain Manning's Mandolin" is the last section, and it is short and "cinematic". As if to relax a little after the concentration used in all the previous sections.

The third song is entitled "Up-Hill From Here" and is the only song on the album that is not divided into parts. Completely different from what you hear before. This album simply leaves no moment without surprises. The energy that inhabits this song (which for me is the lowest level) is similar to that of the first sections of side 1. It sounds like a jam where the solos seem to be improvised. It's another "rocking" piece, I just don't find the same essence as the others, and it seems to be a bit of a filler. I'm not saying it's bad! The truth is that the rest of the album sets the bar too high. It is also the least progressive song on the album.

The closing is provided by the 4-part suite named after the album: "The Music That Died Alone". The leap in quality is remarkable! The first part "A Serenade" is simply piano shimmering alongside ethereal arrangements. Again some jazz combined with symphonic rock. Andy again takes on the power of poetry in the second section "Playing On...", with lovely melodies. The character speaks as if he has little time left to die (or retire from his plane), remembering the good times and criticising the enormous amount of time human beings waste in life. "Pre-history" is a rather simple, funky instrumental section that closes the album. It's great to connect the composition with the sense of the end. Difficult to grasp as well. Sam Baine does a superb job here and throughout the album. The last section "Reprise" brings some scat singing from Andy and a repeat of lyrics from "Playing On...", as the name suggests. This works well as a closing to an imaginary and intense album. The instruments seem to say goodbye, giving the last of their strength and fading into an empyrean setting.

This album is a must for fans of eclectic progressive. Lots of interesting novelties. It falls short of being essential, but it is still spectacular and worthy of many listens and much enjoyment. Undoubtedly one of the greatest triumphs in each member's career!

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 Incidenti - Lo Schianto by NICHELODEON album cover Studio Album, 2021
4.21 | 49 ratings

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Incidenti - Lo Schianto
Nichelodeon RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by DangHeck

4 stars Delighted to finally be getting to this, the latest from Italy's NichelOdeon (2021). Vocal maestro-frontman Claudio Milano reached out to me here almost a year ago about this album and I'm so grateful they did. I was already going to listen, yet the answer as to when, as is often the case, was unknown. And even if I go backward, I'm excited to do so. Unmentioned below, I would say this should appeal to certain degrees to fans of Universe Zero, Slapp Happy and Art Zoyd.

We are thrown into Drama Italiana [Is that good grammar anyhow? haha] via the opener "Non Esistono", the soprano-capable vocals of Milano met with dark strings and, later, eerie and distorted electronic tones. Chilling track to start us off. Static frizzles as we pick up apparent far-off transmissions. The bass from Andrea Grumelli sounds off the next, "How Hard Tune!" Here vocals overlap with different timbres as the full ensemble lightly swings underneath. This is the sort of material that I would hope fans of, say, Serj Tankian (of System of a Down) would be happy to discover. Nearly percussion-less, the effect is striking and poignant. Rhythmic vocalizations at the start of "Variations on the Jargon King" evoked Ruins' own drummer-vocalist Tatsuya Yoshida. Here, Mimmo Frioli has a proper introduction via the drums, entering a mostly bleak musical landscape. In its latter half, this is what it's really all about. Spacy, devilish synths clash with relentless guitar (Stefano Ferrian); the groove remains.

"Il barbiere degli occhi" is like a dark waltz. A lot of emotion is explored across its 7+ minutes, from apparent melancholy to sweet nostalgia. What's really striking about much of this album, well displayed here, is the stark instrumentation. I feel it's a sign of extreme purpose and care. It's well arranged, with a wide variety of instrumentation heard as the piece breathes, ebbing and flowing. Bold juxtaposition once more, "Con dedica" is just Milano and keys. Timpani, perhaps, appears to be there, but I have a feeling this deep pulse on occasion is merely the lowest notes from the 88s. As a piece of the whole, great track. Distorted vocals clash--sometimes with an alien waver, otherwise choppy and broken--underlaid with what sounds like pipe organ on "Senza ritorno". Its effectiveness when compared to "Con dedica" is less of note to my ears.

We seem to turn the page with a piano ballad, "La scatola". And this piano falls away, replaced by a swirl of reeds (all performed by Evaristo Casonato). Classical then meets modernity, as reverberating percussion marches in approaching minute 2. Erica Scherl has a beautiful performance on the violin here. Even the moments of sparseness are full, and full of life. Definitely pay attention as you approach minute 4. This track is one of the most striking moments on the album. "L'ultima sigaretta - Fantasmi ad Argun" is certainly maximal (and therefore a challenging listen)... Clear already, this is one of those albums, and certainly not despite its appearances (huge production, as you can see), where you will want to devote your attention to all of its nuances. What I assume to be Pt.2, "Fantasmi ad Argun" features that same level of classic Horror as the beginning of the album. Some of the most provocative moments are from female musicians, here the zither (of all instruments) performed by Paola Tagliaferro. Terrific. And Milano likewise stretches himself to the max on this'n, delving down into throat singing.

We enter a dream-like state on "Idiota - Autoritratto (Tadzio's Death)". And just like many dreams, it's simultaneous wondrous and mysterious (or maybe 'mystifying' is a better word). We then get the return of Frioli on drums with "Ho Gettato mio Figlio da una Rupe perche non Somigliava a Fabrizio Corona", effectively contrapuntal in its irregularity to the vocals. This is our first of two mini-epics, as I'd call it, this one lasting 12 minutes. This is more or less the sort of feeling that I look for from Avant-Prog. We are thrown to and fro here, from a seemingly mocking children's song to a hilariously irreverent folk tune. The latter (lasting for longer than expected) was certainly a shock, and for the better! As the folk number falls away, the song slips into what I can only describe as 'nightmare' [a very specific term used to describe a female horse you might encounter after dusk /s], achieved by a great variety of voices--some tortured and anguished, others taunting my ignorant, English-speaking ears haha--constantly overlapping one another. Feels like a false equivalence perhaps, but this maybe reminded me of maudlin of the Well(?); I feel I'm once more slightly off base.

The spook continues with "Sabbia scura", though it eases slightly in the middle with an increase in vocals. There's an interesting whipping sound, if I can try to describe it, the track otherwise being sans-percussion. On the minute-long track "Del mondo gli occhi (New Moses)", we get one of our few vocal features, Coucou Selavy, interestingly attributed in the liner notes as 'one thousand voices/theatre'. Beautiful and operatic. This acts pretty well as an introduction then to "Nyama (Gettarsi oltre)", itself introduced with some of the best vocal performances in my opinion and bombastic instrumentation comes in harsh attacks. This is our second so-called mini-epic at just over 10 minutes. Interestingly, perhaps, some of the 'group vocals' remind me of the specific arrangement style of one of my favorites, Native Construct. Guitar enters, reminding me of "Mood For a Day" off Yes's Fragile. Then we get some spanky sax! We get another vocal feature, but I wasn't sure who it was. Beautiful, regardless. Great duet. It sort of lost me in the second half: its sparseness [both in the song and the album as a whole], sharing in surprise(?) maximalism, often did it for me (but not so much here). "La Montagna e il Trono" certainly made it all aright to me. Vocals are great, and we get another violin performance, met with a sort of wild scurrying from the other underlying instruments. And finally we have "Out Let - Viae di (s)Phjga)". We get our final statement here from guitarist Stefano Ferrian, and a fantastic way to go out. The orchestration as well was notable. Sort of a general effect found in the work of John Zorn or Trey Spruance (the quieter moments from his Secret Chiefs 3 project came to mind).

Overall, a striking release, highly cohesive in feeling and in its quality from track to track. Can't wait for the next one. Cheers!

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 Fireworking at St.Croix by GAZPACHO album cover Live, 2022
4.03 | 11 ratings

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Fireworking at St.Croix
Gazpacho Crossover Prog

Review by lukretio

3 stars What to do when you have a whole new live show rehearsed and ready to hit the road, but the entire world goes in lockdown mode and you are forced to cancel all your tour dates? That was the question that Norwegian prog rockers Gazpacho asked themselves when they realized that the tour for their latest studio LP Fireworker was just not going to happen.

Fortunately, Gazpacho are a creative bunch and decided to make the best out of the situation, by recording a show, documented on Fireworking at St Croix, which was a cross between a proper live event and a sort of "behind the scenes" documentary of their rehearsals. The band played a show that was streamed online to the homes of fans, but choreographed as if Gazpacho were playing during one of their rehearsal meetings. So, no big fake light show, no crazy stage antics (not that Gazpacho are renowned for this!), just simple music, played in an intimate setting that offers glimpses into the band's activities away from the limelight.

The concept is certainly interesting, even more so given that the LP captures the band's latest album Fireworker in its entirety (plus a handful of songs from their 2009 masterpiece Tick Tock and "Substitute for Murder" from Gazpacho's second LP). Fireworker is a difficult album, even impenetrable at times, that indulges in the band's cerebral, yet emotive approach to progressive rock and post-rock, with long-form compositions that ebb and flow incessantly, constantly mutate and swell up to big, cathartic climaxes. The intimate setting of the band's rehearsal space is a perfect match to the album's brooding atmosphere, in a way that a regular live show may have risked not to fully capture. The small imperfections of live music further enhance the emotional, at times painfully raw, motif of the album, which is exalted by the heavy distortion of Jon Arne Vilbo's guitar, the small cracks in Jan Henrik Ohme's voice, or the added emphasis on Kristian Torp's bold basslines.

At the same time, it is hard not to miss the energy and electrical atmosphere that runs through the stage when a band plays live in front of a crowd. Vibes are perhaps excessively sedated on this record, which can be especially taxing when combined with the cerebral and difficult nature of the material from Fireworker.

Ultimately, I view Fireworking at St Croix more as an "augmented studio album" than a proper "live album". If you loved Fireworker and want to listen to it in an edgier context than its original studio recording, this album is for you. If you are instead looking for an album that properly captures the live essence of Gazpacho, you'd be better advised to turn to their 2010's A Night at Loreley or 2011's London albums.

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 Tony Patterson & Doug Melbourne: Dark Before Dawn by PATTERSON, TONY album cover Studio Album, 2022
3.25 | 5 ratings

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Tony Patterson & Doug Melbourne: Dark Before Dawn
Tony Patterson Crossover Prog

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Heavy Prog Team

3 stars The first release to come from Tony that I've heard since his 2016 solo masterpiece, Equations of Meaning.

1. "Maybe" (3:48) good opener. The music is a little more insistent and then pop-jazzy than I was expecting. Nice vocal sound. (I like it when Tony sings in his upper registers: it's just very soothing/comforting.) I don't really like the chorus, thought. (8.75/10)

2. "My Happy Place" (4:53) nice synth orchestral sound/arrangement. This is not the only song on the album that conjures up the feeling of the presence of jazz stylist MICHAEL FRANKS. (8.667/10)

3. "Flags" (3:40) sounds like the same chord progression as the previous song, only using Spanish guitar instead of keyboard synths. Nice background vocals and synth strings arrangements.(8.75/10)

4. "Leaving" (3:32) a very nice song that builds beautifully. (8.875/10)

5. "Old School Tie" (4:10) a fun little romp back into the pop sooth jazz of the late 1970s/early 1980s in the vein of NARADA MICHAEL WALDEN and others of his ilk. (8.75/10)

6. "Burn the Skies" (5:06) nothing very special here. Even the presence of the ChapmanStick offers nothing very exciting.(8.5/10)

7. "Stopping Time" (4:05) an electric piano-accompanied song that sounds very much like it came out of a PETER GABRIEL song. Nice but rather ordinary. (8.25/10)

8. "Reach Out" (6:55) despite the "Eminence Front" rhythmic keyboard pattern, this is another song that never really climbs out of its rut of second gearishness: three and a half minutes of intro before it clicks into third as a PETER GABRIEL clone! The chorus is pleasant, but the PG similarities are rather annoying--as much for their lack of originality as for their sappy-syrupy quality. (12.5/15)

9. "Dark Before Dawn" (5:00) another song that is way too close to PETER GABRIEL's musical past. (8.33/10)

10. "Come Home (for Angela)" (2:20) sounds like Peter Jones---in voice, music, and lyrics. (4.25/5)

Total Time 43:29

Definitely an album of synth pop / dream pop / jazz pop. Too bad Tony's voice is sounding so much older than he did on his 2016 masterpiece, Equations of Meaning. The vulnerability of his now-frail-sounding voice sometimes works as an advantage but the soundscapes miss the lushness his vocals and multi-track, reverbed voice had on Equations.

C+/3.5 stars; an enjoyable album that I would only recommend to lovers of melodic Peter Gabriel-like prog pop.

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 Over and Out by COLLAGE album cover Studio Album, 2022
4.12 | 108 ratings

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Over and Out
Collage Neo-Prog

Review by WJA-K

2 stars This album starts with the epic Over and Out. I think it starts strong, but I am not fond of the part where they sing "I can see the light" over and over. It sounds dated and overdone. 7/10

What about the pain is well played, but also doesn't sound very refreshing to me. I especially have issues with the corny lyrics. 7/10

One empty hand is solid but not surprising. 7/10

A moment a feeling is the moment I start to think all songs on this album are very much alike. 7/10 an in the middle confirms this notion. 7/10

I have heard better versions of this type of music long ago. I'm not impressed. I rate this 2 stars and fans only.

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 With a Little Hell from My Friends by BASTIÁN, GRECO album cover Studio Album, 2022
4.18 | 38 ratings

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With a Little Hell from My Friends
Greco Bastián RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by WJA-K

2 stars Music may be to your taste, but also may not be. I think here we have an album that I can't enjoy as others may.

Proteo Revampirizado - starts frantically and it never lets go after this. The playing is superb, but I don't like to be thrown off all of the time. 7/10

Zidane Racist - What's with this title? Am I missing the joke? The track wears me down 6.5/10

Zeuhlito Lindo - another frantically paced track. I certainly hear how well the musicians play. But it doesn't gel for me 6.5/10

Oniontown - the most cohesive track until now. I give this 7.5/10

Aclowntrenós - this is simply way out of my zone. This is not the type of music I want to listen to, ever 6.5/10

My First Metal Swing Set - every track sounds like they have to rush. As if they have to pay the studio by the minute 6.5/10

Da.S. - More according to my taste, because it's more structured 7/10

Don't open till Christmas - their version of Jingle Bells. Sorry, I hate that time of year. 6/10

Exit filming for a muse - Best track on the record for me. 7.5/10

I give this one 2 stars. In my opinion, this is music for fans only.

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 Heart Full of Sky by MOSTLY AUTUMN album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.52 | 127 ratings

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Heart Full of Sky
Mostly Autumn Prog Folk

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Review Nº 611

"Heart Full Of Sky" is the seventh studio album of Mostly Autumn that was released in 2006. It's the only album of the band to feature the multi-instrumentalist Chris Johnson, at the time, and the first to feature Olivia Sparnenn as an official band's member. It's also their last album to feature Angela Gordon who left the band for personal reasons and Andrew Jennings who left Mostly Autumn, at the time, due to other commitments. This is a bit different work of them.

The line up on "Heart Full Of Sky" is Bryan Josh (lead vocals, lead, rhythm and acoustic guitars, bass guitars, piano, keyboards and drum programming), Heather Findlay (lead and backing vocals, 12 string acoustic guitars and percussion), Chris Johnson (lead and backing vocals, piano, keyboards, electric and acoustic guitars, glockenspiel and drum programming), Liam Davison (slide guitars), Angela Gordon (backing vocals, flute, clarinet, piano and recorders), Olivia Sparnenn (backing vocals), Andy Smith (bass guitars) and Andrew Jennings (drums). The album had also the participation of Troy Donockley (Uilleann pipes and low whistle), Peter Knight (backing vocals and violin), David Moore (Hammond organ) and Anne-Marie Helder, Roger Newport and Mark Gordon (backing vocals), as guest musicians.

I must say that I'm reviewing the normal CD Version and not the 2 CD limited version. "Heart Full Of Sky" has eleven tracks. The first track "Fading Colours" written by Josh is a wonderful track, very powerful and full of great vocal harmonies and with a wonderful job by all band's members. This is the great highlight of the album and one of the best compositions ever made by the band, until now. The second track "Half A World" written by Findlay is a very beautiful song in the typical and traditional line of many Mostly Autumn's songs. It's a wonderful acoustic ballad beautifully sung by Heather and with a magnificent guitar solo. The third track "Pocket Watch" written by Josh is a less catchy song and less good than the previous two. It's a nice rock song very well performed that flows in a medium tempo with its roots on the influence of the traditional style of the band. The fourth track "Blue Light" written by Johnson is another extremely beautiful ballad once more superiorly sung by Heather. It's a very good melancholic composition with nice keyboards, gentle guitar and good flute work. This is a song that reminds me the pop rock folk band The Corrs. The fifth track "Walk With A Storm" written by Josh is a slow rock song with heavy guitar performance and nice flute work. It's a harmonious song with good lyrics and melody, magnificently sung by Josh and Findlay, as a duet. This is probably the darker song on the album and one of its highlights. The sixth track "Find The Sun" written by Josh and Findlay is another song with some dark atmosphere that begins with thunderstorms and features a dramatic violin performance and a classic guitar work. This is another dreaming song with great melody and musicianship. The seventh track "Ghost" written by Josh is another song that begins with a mysterious dark atmosphere but that turns suddenly into a great dense musical ambient very well supported by a powerful choral work. Josh sings the lead parts and Heather sings the choral parts. The eighth track "Broken" written by Josh and Findlay is a nice and pretty good song very sad, sentimental and melancholic only performed by the voice of Heather and a lonely piano. The ninth track "Silver Glass" written by Johnson is a wonderful song with a catchy melody and a mellow dark musical atmosphere. The song opens with the voice of Heather very well accompanied by piano and acoustic work, which flows beautifully until the end. The tenth track "Further From Home" written by Josh has a Pink Floyd's melancholic opening where the guitar of Josh sounds like Gilmour as never sounded. Suddenly the song explodes with the same melody heard earlier on the opening track, giving us the feeling that we are in presence of "Fading Colours - Part 2". This would be the perfect way to close the album. The eleventh and last track "Dreaming" written by Josh is the lengthiest track on the album and is another powerful song with lots of tempo and time musical changes. It's an excellent rock song that moves from the mellow to high energetic parts. It's a song with great vocal performance and heavy guitar riffs that shows the other side of Josh.

Conclusion: "Heart Full Of Sky" is, without any doubt, a great album from a great band. Who knows very well, like me, the musical career of this great band, knows that Mostly Autumn has made a great musical progress since the band was founded. And this album is no more than the continuity of a great musical career. It's true that "Heart Full Of Sky" isn't probably their best musical effort. I think the best is "The Last Bright Light". However, I'm perfectly convinced that it was very close of being a masterpiece and that only failed by some few details. This is a band at the top of their game with first class musicianship, singing, song writing and production. The music has depth and diversity and the delivery is assured and confident. So, "Heart Full Of Sky" is the darkest and most symphonic Mostly Autumn's album, until now. The band departed from the Celtic folk influences and had moved to the symphonic rock, which isn't fatally a bad thing.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

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 The Yes Album by YES album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.31 | 3187 ratings

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The Yes Album
Yes Symphonic Prog

Review by WJA-K

4 stars This is a remarkable album from a remarkable band.

Yours is no disgrace is one of the perfect songs from Yes 10/10

The Clap is nice but no more than filler for me 6.5/10

Starship Trooper is the second masterpiece of the album 10/10

I've seen all good people is great but not up to par with the masterpieces 8.5/10

A venture is well played, but doesn't do it for me 7/10

Perpetual Change is the third masterpiece 10/10

This 4-star album is a valuable asset for any prog fan. It has three brilliant tracks, but also some filler. This is why I can't give the 5-star rating.

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 A Peaceful Nacht In Hell by ONE OF THESE DAYS & THEE HEAVY RANDOM TONE COLOUR LAB album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.98 | 7 ratings

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A Peaceful Nacht In Hell
One Of These Days & Thee Heavy Random Tone Colour Lab Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars These Spaniards certainly have a sense of humour with the name of their band and the album's title including the German word for "night". And I know a few people who feel this is a Krautrock album, it certainly has that spirit. Four long tracks over 41 plus minutes then a bonus track worth talking about bringing it to 47 plus minutes. Some horns too but this is keyboards, bass, guitar and drums with the guitarist being the singer and adding Rhodes and synths. Lots of organ mainly from the keyboardist but he also adds moog, synths and theremin.

Two things I've come to realize over the past year and that is that 2013 is a great year for me when it comes to Space Rock and also that Spain has produced some killer psychedelic albums over the years. So this recording has both of those features and it does not disappoint in the least. The Third Movement is interesting the way they integrate a movie scene audibly of course with their music. An intense movie scene between a male and a female goes on for some time.

Vocals on the opener but a killer instrumental section around 8 minutes in with guitar and keyboards leading the way. Before this some good contrasts between the powerful and laid back sections. That second track is pretty cool the way it drifts along with keyboards leading and spacey sounds. It turns intense with horns 2 minutes in then a dark calm 3 minutes in and then it will turn heavy after 5 1/2 minutes.

I really like the 70's vibe to this recording this is one that will get some time from me in the future. A solid 4 stars.

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 Spirit of Ecstasy by IMPERIAL TRIUMPHANT album cover Studio Album, 2022
4.73 | 7 ratings

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Spirit of Ecstasy
Imperial Triumphant Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

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

5 stars Hard to believe that once upon a time metal music, then simply existing as heavy metal was considered immature and deemed just an adolescent phase that gullible minds fell victim to. Of course it was a plot by ole Satan himself to lead us away from a good Christian ethos. Fast forward some four decades and there is no denying that metal music has conquered the world and like a sordid slut with rampaging hormones has spread its libertine legs open wide for virtually every other musical genre to impregnate its contemptible corruption of the rock music paradigm. And here we are in the early 2020's where it seems there is no end in sight with new strains of avant-garde metal usurping the world of prog, jazz, ethnic folk and just about every other musical expression throughout history.

As metal has become more extreme it has also become more confident with the knowing that no musical expression must go unconquered and on the top of the list for unfathomable musical colonization strategies is the New York City based IMPERIAL TRIUMPHANT which has declared with a thundering decree that metal music is your master now so bow down and smell the glove! Formed as far back as 2005 by mastermind lead vocalist / guitarist and avant-garde connoisseur Zachary Ezrin, IMPERIAL TRIUMPHANT started out as a somewhat typical black metal act albeit with a propensity for adding technical death metal chops and unhealthy doses of dissonance. The 2012 debut album "Abominamentvm" showcased a restless unsettling mix of the technically adept in the midst of swarming angsty chaos and ominous dissonance.

The following "Abyssal Gods" followed suit only the creative pangs were churning and the addition of piano, cello, trumpet and choir seeped into the mix. The floodgates were opened but with 2018's "Vile Luxury" the dam truly burst and the true IMPERIAL TRIUMPHANT reared its ugly head as a bizarre brutal chimera of blackened dissonant death metal with New York City jazz club sophistication. The world would never be the same. Fast forward to the following year in 2019 and Colin Marston of Behold?The Arctopus / Dysrhythmia / Krallice / Gorguts fame entered the scene. And then so too did Trey Spruance of Mr Bungle / Secret Chiefs 3 / Faxed Head prestige. Yep, things were about to get weird and i when i say weird i mean sky's the limit weird where fertile creative bat [&*!#] crazy weird meets the world of technical complexity. The real IMPERIAL TRIUMPHANT was born!

Back for the attack in 2022, IT releases its fifth installment of musical terror SPIRIT OF ECSTASY with a star-studded cast of musical freaks. While still very much the baby of Zachary Ezrin who handles guitars, vocals and orchestrations along with partners in crime drummer Kenny Grohowski better known for jazz-fusion bands like Abraxas as well as bassist Steve Blanco, this one features an impressive guest roster of Colin Marston on drums, guest lead guitarists Max Gorelick, Testament's Alex Skolnick and Trey Spruance. Add a few guest vocalists, a choir, trombone and trumpet and we're ready for a riot in the Big Apple. If that's not weird enough the album also finds a cameo appearance by, um, are you ready for this??. Kenny G! Yeah, for those not familiar with smooth jazz from the 80s, this guy was the heartthrob of post-menopausal housewives all across the USA with his smooth inoffensive elevator jazz musical style. Told ya this was a weird one!

OK get to the friggin music already! SPIRIT OF ECSTASY is a brutal bestial affair of disso-death metal cranked up to the max but set to the compositional flair of avant-garde jazz. Add some spoken word samples and unorthodox, well everything and you are guaranteed to experience something that could only find avant-garde masters like Marston and Spruance on board! With a total of eight tracks that just miss 55 minutes, this one is a wild ride and a grand declaration that screams disdain for any pesky conventional labeling systems and while jazz-infused extreme metal is hardly anything new under the sun, this chimeric hybridization has never really been carried out to its logical conclusion with such finesse and equanimity.

As this thundering stampede of blackened disso-death ferociously delivers an avant-exodus from the status quo, IMPERIAL TRIUMPHANT delivers a veritable bizarre pendulum swing from the darkest and most inaccessible extremes of modern metal to the unexpected swanky club action of jazz-fusion savoir-faire. What sounds like a train wreck in Grand Central Station in reality unleashes some of the most competent musicianship forging new unifying forces between hitherto totally separate opposing musical forces. Through the album's run we experience not only unrestrained metal mayhem but also superb excursions into jazz-fusion plenteousness but also eerie off road journeys into dark ambient episodes of mind-fuc.kery that would sit well in the golden years of Krautrock but metalheads don't fret!? the cacophonous din of distortion and adrenaline fueled percussive outbursts are never too far in the distance.

In many ways SPIRIT OF ECSTASY sums up the world we find ourselves in at this point of the 21st century. Cacophonous din from every direction laced with tangible moments of short-attention span motifs that fluctuate like a kaleidoscope for the ears as angsty riffs and metal bombast pummel the senses. Metal dressing for an otherwise atmospheric avant-jazz album is what SPIRTY OF ECSTASY inculcates and the spirt of valiant vanguard is in full display here. I mean where else in the universe could you truly find the crazed intractability of Colin Marston sitting side by side with the mainstream as it gets 80s vanilla smooth jazz king Kenny G? This is a true work of art on so many levels showcasing the fact that extreme metal truly is the new prog of the modern era. Definitely not for the feint at heart. This is difficult listening music at its finest as it will take many years to wrap their head around this one. All i can say is this one is quite TRIUMPHANT in its unorthodox approach and doesn't hold back one iota.

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 The Last Great Adventurer by GALAHAD album cover Studio Album, 2022
4.08 | 69 ratings

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The Last Great Adventurer
Galahad Neo-Prog

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

4 stars One of the original British neo-prog bands from the 80s that sat side by side with the bigwigs of Marillion, Pallas, IQ and Pendragon, GALAHAD was formed as far back as 1985 but didn't release its debut album "Nothing Is Written" until 1991. It would take even longer for the band to master the neo-prog sound with a few early clunkers but once the new millennium arrived GALAHAD has been instrumental in releasing a series of excellent neo-prog classics with 2006's "Empires Never Last" remaining a fan favorite.

Always willing to take risks and dive into something new, 2021's "Soul Therapy" under the GALAHAD ELECTRIC COMPANY moniker threatened to ditch the world of neo-prog altogether and adopted a bizarre hybrid of downtempo and synthpop as its medium of choice. Startled prog stalwarts were in utter shock and honestly i didn't care for that album too much as it jettisoned all the characteristics that made this band stand out amongst the competition. Luckily lessons were learned and GALAHAD made an abrupt retreat back into classic hook-laden neo-prog catchiness of yore. Much of the material actually predates the "Seas Of Change" album so it's no wonder why the album has bit of a retro feel preceding the later experiments.

THE LAST GREAT ADVENTURER returns GALAHAD to its classic pop-hook fueled neo-prog that has kept the band relevant for its lengthy career but something about this band seems to just get better as these veteran neo-proggers become seasoned elders. The album sees the return of Twelfth Night bassist Mark Spencer who played with the band between the "Beyond the Realms of Euphoria" and "Quiet Storms" albums but never appeared on any album himself. The lineup retains the classic long term members vocalist Stu Nicholson, keyboardist Dean Baker and drummer Spencer Luckman. Former bassist turned guitarist Lee Abraham is also still around and has become as proficient on the six string as his former instrument.

Like many contemporary neo-prog albums, THE LAST GREAT ADVENTURER features bonus tracks on the CD version making a total of seven whereas the vinyl LP release has five. With the extras the album is just over 55 minutes and showcases some of the band's best work in a while. While resurrecting their classic neo-prog hooks with the accompaniment of feisty guitar work, GALAHAD has also employed an ample use of electronic wizardry on this one with lots of trippy keyboard extras behind the usual piano, synth and atmospheric contributions with even some progressive electronic sophistication seeping into the mix.

The album opens with the super-catchy "Alive" which finds the band in perfect neo-prog form. The track showcases the classic sounds of the 80s with strong catchy verse / chorus almost new wave sounding post-punk tendencies with all the musicians sounding at the top of their game. Clearly the years have been kind to Nicholson's voice as he remains dynamically soulful with each performance and honestly has one of the best vocal styles in the world of neo-prog. The band's sense of pacing is polished like a diamond in the rough with the pop sensibilities dominating but augmented by the more complex layering of prog tendencies. In many ways GALAHAD and similarly minded neo-prog acts have taken the 80s sounds of bands like Asia, GTR and other AOR / arena rock acts and given them true prog credentials.

While the opening track is the most in-yer-face flirtation with mainstream 80s new wave, the album ratchets up the progressive rock aspects with "Blood Skin and Bone" and the 10-minute plus title track taking the musical experience in advanced prog technique territory. The title track is a tribute to Stu's father and covers a lot of ground with the most interesting compositional changes on the album's run. The track ends with an interesting loungy jazz club saxophone cameo.

As far as the CD bonus tracks are concerned they are set on ballad mode with the tempos and dynamics slowed down for an emotive vocal dominance. While a bit sappier than the rest of the album, it almost sounds like these tracks are supposed to be the "singles" so to speak and a mixed bag really. "Normality of Distance" is a bit too sappy for my liking but "Another Life Not Lived" holds up pretty well with a better mix of electronics, guitars and compositional fortitude. While GALAHAD has never been total top tier neo-prog band in my world due to inconsistencies, i have to say that these guys are as good as it gets when they're hitting a high note and THE LAST GREAT ADVENTURER is chock filled with such higher octave moments. After nearly 40 years on the scene it seems that GALAHAD is like fine wine that only becomes better with age so i'm sure we can look forward to more excellent music from these UK neo-proggers.

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 I Have Little to No Memory of these Memories by TOEHIDER album cover Studio Album, 2022
4.58 | 27 ratings

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I Have Little to No Memory of these Memories
Toehider Progressive Metal

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Heavy Prog Team

5 stars The soundtrack to a comic book artist's story line by Aussies Michael Mills and Andrew Saltmarsh, respectively.

Line-up / Musicians: - Mike Mills / everything

1. "The Hoarder" (single version) (3:13) reminds me of The Psychedelic Ensemble's sound used to put together a "Bohemian Rhapsody"-inspired Queen song. (9/10)

2. "I Have Little to No Memory of These Memories" (47:47) What starts out sounding like a more-manically re-invisioned MOON SAFARI's Blomljud turns into Devy TOWNSEND's Ziltoid the Omniscient 3.0 via the instrumental sounds used by Berklee College's NATIVE CONSTRUCT on their 2015 revelatory Quiet World. Later familiar themes, styles, and sounds come in the form of early and classic RUSH, THE BUGGLES' The Age of Plastic, AC/DC, QUEEN, IRON MAIDEN, POISON, STYX, THE POLICE, BON JOVI, QUEENSR?CHE, OPETH, ARJEN LUCASSEN, PAIN OF SALVATION, and so many more. The instrumental sounds so often bring me back to The Psychedelic Ensemble. Unfortunately, the way Mike has strung together so many seemingly unrelated musical styles into this one compact homage to musicians past reminds me of one of my most detested musical products of all-time: Edge of Sanity's (highly-acclaimed) release from 1996, Crimson. I do think it a bit misleading that the very-clearly delineated musical motifs aren't individuated and given separate titles as they so easily could. Heck, there's even dead-air space between many of the songs! Some of the ideas are so derivative that I can't help but think "why?" And the linking of such divergently different motifs (or what I'd call "songs") is quite a bold and, frankly, odd decision--despite the story's (supposed) continuity. The music is very well-composed and "performed" despite it all having been "performed" by one lone artist on one single track. (Just kidding. We must assume that Mike used some kind of computer program to create and/or record each individual instrument's track.) The sound engineering and final mix is quite well-executed. (Again, we must assume that the engineering and mixing also occurred on a computer.) Impressive skills (at least compositionally if not instrumentally). On YouTube most everything you find about Mike/Michael make note of his extraordinary vocal talents/abilities. I have to agree: the man is quite talented and has obviously worked hard to hone his skills; his voice (and stylistic choices) seem quite adaptable to many styles and ways of expressing his emotions and lyrics. (89/95)

Total Time 51:00

An album that draws together many different sound themes from many bands through history (many of whom I have cited above). I highly commend the collection of styles Mike has so lovingly (and accurately) imitated in this, a composition that is very much his own. The sound and production are both excellent with clear delineation between instruments yet blended seemlessly together to make "complete"-sounding "songs" all. Also, the humorous lyrics and storyline are enjoyable (especially as they are delivered by such a gifted vocalist), even if the ideas they're based on are not so very original. As mentioned above, I am not so confident commending the musicianship of the sound we hear due to the question of how much of the instrumental performances are computer generated and how much were actually played by Mike. Also, noting how I've never been a big fan of music that strings together motifs from other historically significant (or recognizable) songs and artists, despite how serious and well done are the tributes, I am naturally inclined to want to not like these kinds of "homage" projects. Despite all of this, I cannot deny the fact that I like this album: I walk away with its sounds and ideas reverberating in my head; I find that I very much enjoy each time I return to the album. Also, I cannot, and will not, deny the genius of the man who pulled all of this together. Mike, you deserve all the accolades the critics are willing to throw your way. The bottom line: this is good music; this is an enjoyable, fun listen.

A/five stars: a masterpiece of progressive rock music; an album worthy of inclusion in any and every prog lover's music collection. I have a feeling that as this album gains traction (as more people hear it) it will eventually establish itself as one of prog's all-time classics.

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 Les voyages de Christophe Colomb by VANDER, CHRISTIAN album cover Studio Album, 1992
2.00 | 5 ratings

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Les voyages de Christophe Colomb
Christian Vander Zeuhl

Review by bartymj

2 stars Are you sitting comfortably children? Then we'll begin.

One of Christian Vander's many side projects. If you're looking for Zeuhl or Jazz move along. Here, Vander narrates the story of Christopher Columbus, with accompanying background composition entirely performed on synths and programmed by wife Stella. Programmed in are an assortment of orchestral instruments, without percussion, and always to create a background atmosphere for the narration. Weirdly in the second track towards the end, presumably its supposed to sound like being at sea but it actually sounds more like he's been abducted. Maybe a Kobaian link after all.

As a non-French speaker, there's not a lot for me to work with here. Being self-released too, it feels very much like a pet project not to be taken as a serious fully fledged solo album. It shows. Definitely one for fans only, but it would be wrong of me to say its poor.

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 Cause & Consequences by ANASAZI album cover Studio Album, 2023
4.21 | 5 ratings

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Cause & Consequences
Anasazi Progressive Metal

Review by Steve Conrad

4 stars So Much Blood

So Much Darkness

French progressive metal trio anasazi (always lower case, I was told) here releases their sixth full length album (also 4 EP's, and a special instrumental release), titled "cause & consequence".

It's a fine example of complex and dark progressive metal from this band whose members have been intact since 2018, although the history of anasazi stretches back to 2003. So in a way, this celebrates 20 years of anasazi (means 'ancient enemies' in the Navajo tongue).

Line-Up on "cause & consequence"

- Mathieu Madani / vocals, guitars, keyboards - Brunos Saget / guitars - Anthony Barruel / drums; and guest -Tristan Klein/ guitar and Hammond organ.

Themes

I didn't have access to lyrics, but from what I learned in band information, lyrical themes range from "...animal suffering "trapped" and "space between", to depression "324" and "into the void", panic attacks "disheartening", mourning "the mourning", assisted suicide "exit life" and cults "death was (her) name"."

That's right, dark. And lots of blood. Suffering. Despair.

Can life in Grenoble, France be so grim?

Music

For me, the scorching, complex progressive metal tracks, in which the band lets loose with powerful, gritty riffs, and some amazingly inventive vocal arrangements, work best. I'd say the first two-thirds of the album sizzles, while the last third has its moments, without the flash and flair.

But in each track, multi-instrumentalist/ lead vocalist Mathieu Madani- the only original anasazi member- outdoes himself with vocal creativity. This is an album highlight, in my opinion. There are harmonies, vocal give-and-take passages, distant and close voices, intense, mournful, passionate, heartbroken, and other emotive voices. He uses a capella passages, and shows a lot of inventiveness.

In several places, orchestration is suggested, and the Hammond organ is also a highlight- I'm a sucker without a doubt when it comes to that.

Gritty Riffs

But probably the real star of the show, are the heavy, downtuned, gut-bucket riffs; the album is filled with them. They make me bang my head, shake my booty, rejoice, and stamp my feet. Bass guitar tones were great too, rich and round and rough, the way I like them.

My Conclusion

The album seems to lose momentum about two-thirds of the way through. The music has merit. Themes are so dark as to be oppressive sometimes. Musicianship is superb. Compositions show sophistication and intelligence. And those vocals!

My Rating

3.5 out of 5 blood-tinged stars, rounded up to 4 thanks to the stellar vocal arrangements.

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 The Single Factor by CAMEL album cover Studio Album, 1982
2.65 | 560 ratings

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The Single Factor
Camel Symphonic Prog

Review by Hesedingking

3 stars WE WILL BE GEARED TO THE AVERAGE, RATHER THAN THE EXCEPTIONAL

With the rise of commercial pop c*** the qualitiy of music has started a downward spiral. Some bands of the 70s have maintained their standards, running the risk of becoming 'irrelevant'. Many of our favoured acts of the time have adapted to the ever changing moods of the broad mass, bringing us 'masterpieces' like Big Generator, Giant For A Day, Love Beach, ABACAB, etc., etc...

Like the examples mentioned above, Latimer fronted Camel was forced into this musical abyss as well. Pete Bardens left after the previously released 'Nude' (excellent album btw.). He propably knew what was about to happen. Ward also discontinued his collaborations with Camel after a tragic and (thankfully) unsuccessful attempt to take his own life. With only one original member left, Decca demanded hit singles.... Loads of them...

Recording started along with some high quality guests. Members of the Alan Parsons Band, Simon Phillips, Dave Mattaks (Fairport Convention) and others joined Latimer during the recording sessions. The songs recorded were shorter than usual. No Lady Fantasy Pt. 2 for you today, kids!

The music didn't nearly reach the quality of the song mentioned above. Most of them are dull, uninspiring and lack even the nesessary hooks to be a good pop song. 'No Easy Answer' for example is just annoying. But while some of the songs are dull, there are some true highlights to this album. 'You Are The One' is a fun and catchy little song, that'll play in your head over and over. 'Sasquatch' really is the best track on the album, being a nice instrumental with Pete Bardens on the keys. 'Manic' also is a good song with a catchy synth riff.

Aside these highlights the rest of the album feels a bit mediocre. Most tracks are not bad, but lack the strength to stand out. Overall the album is not bad in any way, but still it does not exceed the status of being 'good'. I think the reason why people hate this album is, because Camel has made so many great albums, that this album seems like a dud. But it isn't bad. Not at all. It's just a little too mediocre: Good, but not essential.

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 Scissorgames by GHOST OF THE MACHINE album cover Studio Album, 2022
4.03 | 19 ratings

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Scissorgames
Ghost Of The Machine Neo-Prog

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars British prog band This Winter Machine has had a revolving line-up throughout their albums and "the Tower of Clocks" crew left the phone booth 'en masse', leaving Al Wynter to revamp his robots. The pause did not last long as the instrumentalists added singer Charlie Bramald and morphed into another musical 'machine' adding a clever spectral element to their name that is open to interpretative imagination but by all accounts, it was a gentle mutual decision. The new band had seemingly a lot of material, as this sparkling debut has over an hour of music that contains no filler! Charlie was familiar to me via his stellar work with Nova Cascade, a current pet favourite of PROG ROGUE and this union of like- minded artists seemed to have their stuff together. "Scissorgames" comes across as a refreshing take on both virtuosity and accessibility, neatly combining to enchant the finnecky prog fan looking for some aural deliverance. The initial response from the global prog community has been ear-opening, to say the least. My esteemed colleague Lazland has given this top debut top marks as well as an interesting interview (see www.lazland.org). The stunning cover art is often a clue at how detail-oriented a prog artist's music may be, and that initial hint comes across with great gusto.

Immediately impressive decision to kick off a debut album with a mammoth epic 17 minute + track, just to set the story straight from the get-go with "Scissors". Guitarist Scott Owens ('Sixstrings' to his friends) powers into the synthesizer lead played by Mark Hagan with fellow axeman Graham Garbett in tow, a dual guitar attack that will be one of the many hallmarks of this group. Charlie Bramald has an expressive voice , forcefully navigating the power crests as well as the pastoral whispers that characterize this stunning opener, taking into account that there will be a 10 minute + reprise to close out the album. There is a simply marvellous instrumental mid-section that is all restrained melodic beauty of the finest pedigree, before the whirling synth and dual guitars kick the arrangement back into a pulsating overdrive, coordinated by bassist Stuart MacAuley and drumster Andy Milner to energetic heights. The passionate voice expresses a touching yearning that hits the heart strings with intensity. The upward vortex adds backing vocals that bring this revealing piece to the loftiest elevations. An ornate piano flurry and a grand bombastic ensemble finale only sets the stage for the eventual finale that will put this album to rest. The menu remains punchy with the raucous "Mountain", surely a perfect live number as the tune is a bulldozer gone berserk, crunchy rhythmic pounding that only relents briefly with a smoother piano-led mid-section letting Charlie "find my way back home", and quickly rejoining the exhilarating climb with a vigorous axe solo, the riffs solidly backing up the mood.Change of pace with a sultry affair, "Just for Reference" tingles the senses with jangly guitar phrasings (hints of Jamie West-Oram from the Fixx) and that majestic piano, setting the stage for the solemn lead vocal that wanders magically from sigh to roar, always in control. The fluid lead guitar only adds more charming delicacy to the whole, the track ending on that wonderful clanging melody. Acting almost like a companion piece in terms of stylistics, "January's Child" is a more upbeat piece with a romping bass line and punishing drum propulsion, the onus is on accessibility and their progressive creativity comes from unexpected lulls in the maelstrom , generally a piano and voice duet does the trick with a impassioned repeated lyric and the subsequent revert to expected bombast. With a title like "Mercury Rising Parts 1 & 2", one kind of anticipates a proggy affair and the band happily obliges. Mood and atmosphere are always excellent barometers and this is always my preferred option, as contrasts, twists and surges need some form of sonic counterbalance, refining the obvious and exploring a wider palette. Yes, this gets hustling and bustling but there is more than enough substance and certainly a great vocalist always helps, as Charlie navigates emotion like a silky kimono. The instrumental prowess on guitars and keys fits the jester's script flawlessly, as this track sounds the most like classic IQ/Marillion, a tear shed to nostalgia is never a bad thing.

Maintaining that early 1980s vibe , "Dead to Me" keeps the foot on the pedal. Mark Hagen's habitual use of piano is a crucial element here , as well as throughout this debut, as it adds a pleasing coloration to the occasionally rampaging onslaught. This is a moody, smoky, and vaporous ballad with a lavish vocal, combining with a slithering lead guitar foray that oozes pain a la Rothery, perhaps my favourite piece here, as the mood is quite fascinating. The "Scissors Reprise" closes out this fine first volley with the same high quality progressive sheen, as I really admire musicians who feel the need to take their time in developing their musical ideas and as such, I find myself enjoying the 'unexpected' tracks more than the 'expected' ones, having heard perhaps way too much of the latter for the past half century! Regardless, this band has a plethora of first-rate attributes that clearly point towards a potentially majestic future career, with talented instrumentalists and a damn fine singer. I hope they stay together as a unit and develop even further. 4.5 Phantom Mechanics

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 Milk Time by YANAGIDA, HIRO album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.97 | 26 ratings

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Milk Time
Hiro Yanagida Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars This is Hiro Yanagida's debut released in 1970 out of Japan. He would release three more studio albums and a compilation recording all in the early seventies. He was the keyboardist for FOOD BRAIN's only release also in 1970, as well as the keyboardist for LOVE LIVE LIFE + ONE who released one album in 1971. Here Hiro continues with the keyboards playing organ and harpsichord while five others add guitar, drums, bass, flute and violin. I would describe the music as psychedelic at it's base but folky and jazzy too and it's all instrumental. Hit and miss for me to be honest but an enjoyable listen but certainly not a 4 star record in my musical world.

The album cover makes me smile but it was the title of the album that brought back some memories I had forgotten about. Back in the late sixties and yes 1970 the year this was released I was in elementary school and at lunch time the teacher at one point would yell "Milk time!" and those of us who had parents who paid for this would get chocolate or white. I never got white. Half the songs are short pieces plus we get two long ones here just under 9 minutes and of course it's the two long ones where we get some substance. There is a drum solo late on "Running Shirts" and the other lengthy track "Fingers Of A Red Typewriter" is quite jazzy even the guitar style and walking bass.

I have a lot of keepers from Japan but this one just doesn't click with me enough to go 4 stars. Talented man though.

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 Man It Feels Like Space Again by POND album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.65 | 31 ratings

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Man It Feels Like Space Again
Pond Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars 3.5 stars. I generally prefer dark and serious music to light and fun but if you like the latter then you need to check this album out. I mean just look at the picture of the band on the bio here in sunny Australia. We get two TAME IMPALA guys along with three others making this a five piece and four are multi-instrumentalists so three guitarists, three keyboardists, two bass players, well you get the picture. This band has released nine studio albums between 2009 and 2021 and many feel this is their best.

The biggest revelation when I started to spend some time with this album was how much I was reminded of KING GIZZARD & THE LIZARD WIZARD. The setup of multi-instrumentalists, the vocals, the sound at times. It got me excited because this is the first band that reminded me of KING GIZZARD and fellow Ozzies POND had to have been an influence. The opener "Waiting Around For Grace" you know the one with the pretty face along with the title track that closes the album standout head and shoulders above the rest. Two killer tunes but the rest is hit and miss for me hence the rating. Glad to have finally spent some time with this one and yes TAME IMPALA fans need to check this band out.

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 Anthropods by ANTHROPODS album cover Studio Album, 2022
4.00 | 2 ratings

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Anthropods
Anthropods RIO/Avant-Prog

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

4 stars American turned Austrian Mark Holub is best known in the world of avant-jazz for his work with the critically acclaimed Led Bib which has been in existence since 2003 and has released seven albums. His newest project is cleverly called ANTHROPODS which continues his love of the world of avant-free jazz and mixes it with a little third stream, sonorism, spectralism and chamber music. All of this comes into play on the band's self-titled debut out in January 2022.

Holub handles drums and percussion and is joined by cellist Clemens Sainitzer who has worked with Artejui, e c h o boomer and Sain Mus, violinist Irene Kepl and bass clarinetist Susanna Gartmayer of Broken.Heart.Collecot and the band Dirac. Also on board is tenor saxist Jakob Gnigler and together this team of expert jazz players delivers a cool mix of chamber rock and avant-jazz with nice atonal passages and occasional outbursts of rock energy. Sometimes the violin and cello offer a bit of avant-gypsy swing to the mix.

The band is based in Vienna and this eponymous album offers nine tracks that add up to about an hour's playing time. This is completely instrumental and easily considered difficult music listening. Chock filled with crazy time signatures run amok and atonal skronkiness, the music is also pacifying and adopts many characteristics of modern classical music. The band plays together quite well offering bizarre contrapuntal variations around each other and at other moments create complete breakdowns of cooperative efforts resulting a very random free jazz style.

The lengthy "For Charles" takes a detour into a transcendental journey into sonorism and spectralism which evokes the stochastic music of Iannis Xenakis and pointillistic impressionism of Karlheinz Stockhausen. While there have been many styles of avant-jazz since the 1960s, i can't say i've heard a band that mixes these avant-garde forms of classical music with free jazz, chamber music and occasional motifs reminiscent of avant-prog. Although this band somehow gets lumped into the world of avant-prog there are really no rock aspects at all expect for some drumming patterns that could be considered as such.

While many avant-jazz releases can be too abstract for their own good, this one has a playfulness to it despite existing in that alternate universe where anti-melodies and improvisational craziness take precedence over constructed compositions. This is fairly complex music so no instant fuzzies with this one. It takes a few spins to wrap your head around it but once properly acclimated it's amazing how things fall into place. It's almost like an invented musical language is going on here. Initial exposure left me indifferent but i've grown to like this one a bit. Not even sure what to call this. Although it has aspects of classical, jazz, chamber rock and avant-garde, it's in a category all its own. Weird but satisfying.

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 Other Side by ARS DE ER album cover Studio Album, 2021
4.10 | 10 ratings

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Other Side
Ars de Er RIO/Avant-Prog

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

4 stars Arseny Ershov (Арсений Ершов) or better known as the shortened ARS DE ER is a one-man project out of Minsk, Belarus who has been quite prolific in his 13 years on the scene he has released a total of 20 full-length albums in that time. Over the years he has cranked out several dark minimalist ambient recordings as well as adding the more challenging complexities of avant-prog to his mix. He has also been quite generous in offering his music for free for anyone who wants to download it. Of course donations are accepted.

Since 2016 ARS DE ER has released two or more albums per year for the most part and 2022 was no different with "Attacca Subito" and this one L'ADIEU AU MONDE. This is a completely new artist to me so i have zero references to any of his other works but after seeing his name pop up here and there lately i thought i'd better take the plunge and start diving into some of his music and what a surprise it is! This guy loves it weirdly dark and gloomy with darkwave in the cosmic dance with challenging angular avant-prog freakery.

L'ADIEU AU MONDE is a single near 32-minute track that reminds a lot of classic Univers Zero meets Art Zoyd in the period of UZ's debut "1313" and the even freakier sophomore unit "Heresie." After opening up with a gloomy atmospheric ambient haze the chamber rock aspects slowly ooze in until they become the dominate force. While no instrumentation seems to be listed anywhere this chamber prog appears to consist of a violin, viola, occasional saxophone, keyboards, piano and a bass. While a guitar seems absent for the most part there are moments when it's clearly a part of the equation. I'm not sure how typical this album is in comparison to the others but if somebody told me this was a long lost Univers Zero from the first phase of the band, i would totally believe them!

While originality isn't the strongest suit here, excellent musicianship and sense of composition clearly is. As the post-rock styled cyclical loops slowly build steam throughout the half-hour plus run the piano rolls become more proggy and music alternates between melodic sombre moments with knotty hairpin turn segments that offer satisfying avant-progginess. No vocals to be heard on this one as it is a gloom and doom procession down Lugubrious Lane. Clearly ARS has done his homework in studying classic Univers Zero, Present, Miriodor with ominous woodwinds adding brooding tones to a haunted string section. The darkwave atmospheres are anxiously surreal and mysteriously apocalyptic, something i haven't really experienced in the avant-prog world since UZ's "Heresie" itself which is the clear chief force of inspiration here.

It's not just a UZ / Art Zoyd clone though. ARS offers some stellar classical piano runs and more diversity with brooding moments of contemplation and dread followed up thunderous rock uproars that offer startling contrasts. The atmospheric backdrop serves as a sort of droning effect while the piano tinkling and swarms of strings improvise soundtracks of ominous suspense. ARS has mastered the art of contrapuntal elements perfectly with militant percussive drives and saddened string slides all conspiring to craft the perfect witching hour freak-a-thon. This music is actually brilliant even if it does follow a little too closely in the footsteps of classic UZ. The whole thing comes off more Belgium than Belarus.

From the looks and titles of ARS DE ER's other releases, it appears that his entire canon delves into the cold darkness of a similar effect. While this was my first stop in the canon it certainly won't be my last. Nobody's really replicated the classic Univers Zero sound so effectively so i'm beyond impressed with L'ADIEU AU MONDE as it sounds totally organic and not manufactured on a computer. And to think that every instrument is played by just one guy who seamlessly melds all the parts together like a real chamber orchestra. One of the biggest surprises of 2022, a year in which there have been too many great musical release to keep track of.

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 Asceta by ASCETA album cover Studio Album, 2022
4.02 | 6 ratings

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Asceta
Asceta RIO/Avant-Prog

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

4 stars What a weird, mysterious sleeve pic. Yes this appearance explains much for such a wondrous album. "Asceta" was launched in late 2022 as the debut album by a Santiago-oriented chamber rock octet ASCETA. Thanks to a suggestion by one of ASCETA founders Rod and my prog friend Ian, I could bump into such a fascinating creation (thanks both!). I don't know if 2023 would be a happy year or a tough one, sadly under covid pandemic situation in Japan, but this album has healed me enough from the beginning of the year.

Such a deep, tight combination of melodic lines and rhythmic bases comes up on us. "Fobia" should be phobia in English I guess, and a complicated dark theatrical sound readout is pretty suitable for the meaningful title. Complex phrases created with various instruments, especially weird strings and fragile winds, catch our heart strictly. Unearthly silence amongst the melodies would drive us into another madness. Repetitive incarnations of anxiety and impressive intonations are lyrical and somewhat predictive. The following "Virusmosis" might claim the current situation as mentioned above ... Quite critical viewpoints tinged with uptempo sound potential can be heard, but contrary to the crisis, their plays cannot be disrupted nor warped at all. Guess around this track is their strong intention for stabilizing their mental, physical, and musical condition. "Gigante Microscópico" gets started with an eerie, mystical sound / noise collective. Wondering what the song title means but their tightly junctional sound discharge blows such a query out completely. In the middle part a battle of clarinette and bassoon is well matured and splendid. We are relieved and encouraged by some balanced melody lines between dissonant avantgarde phrases. More painful soundscape can be felt via "Los De Afuera" but every player should be merged and united with others perfectly, not be assertive nor explosive. And the latter part of "Ameba" is pretty as sensitive and elegant as Chilean wine (my love). Such a smooth acoustic expression is also one of their brilliant characteristics, methinks. "Movimineto Estático" is another gemstone featuring synthesizer-based dream collection. Swinging jazzy atmosphere flavours incredibly charming. There should be our comfort deeply in this track. On the contrary, we can enjoy the most critical movement in the last track "Sistemas Alterados", that consists of dangerous noisy punctures and tighten-up enthusiastic sound collectives of dissected melodies and deeply heavy rhythms. Massively appropriate for the epilogue is middle-tempo high-profile sound energy itself.

ASCETA's magnificent creativity and dynamic mentality should be appreciated by all chamber rock fans. Finally a happy new 2023.

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 iNtroVert by RETROSPECTIVE album cover Studio Album, 2022
3.61 | 15 ratings

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iNtroVert
Retrospective Progressive Metal

Review by ElChanclas

4 stars A nice piece of Polish Neo Prog, with presence of puncturing guitars in the vein of Clepsydra with tons of dark melodic soloing, the constant invading pianos and keys with a lot of Mark Kelly influence to them, heavy and tight rhythmic section resembling the music of bands such as IQ and Riverside, and the presence of female vocals accompanying the male lead, specially on the opener song "Log Out"? very atmospheric and dense at spots. "New Perspective" reminds me of a heavier version of the Norweian band OAK, with a heavier punch and a more symphonic approach, the piano work is superbly catchy and is definitely key to their sound, as is the sharp and heavy riffing rounded by the keys. Perhaps some of the darker moments of the album, both in music and lyrical content can be found in "Invincible Man" and "Intoxicated Generation", with edgy melodies that seem to take the listener to brighter shores but it never happens? "you will never find relief, you already lost"? or "I really want to close your eyes" are some examples of a deeper darkness laying under the soft and warm vocals and the psychedelic pop found in the surface, with a slight touch of PF's The Wall and Riverside teasers, a cool mix indeed. "Self Control" is the perfect example of that heavy Neo Prog sound the band has developed, haunting keys intricately maneuvering alongside the heavy guitar riffs, the tight rhythmic section, and the atmospheric wall of sound that support the melodic content of the composition. Retrospective sounds like so many progressive rock acts but at the same time so unique and easy to identify, and Introvert a very interesting and enjoyable album. Cheers

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 Super-Sargasso Sea by CARNICELLA, LEO album cover Studio Album, 2022
3.31 | 4 ratings

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Super-Sargasso Sea
Leo Carnicella Crossover Prog

Review by ElChanclas

3 stars Leo Carnicella is an Italian-Venezuelan producer and keyboardist, and SSS is his first full-length studio album. The cast of musicians for the debut is Leo on keyboards, Mellotron, Moog and vocals, Tony Franklin on bass (fretless and fretted), Beledo on acoustic and electric guitars, and Jan-Vincent Velazco on drums. Fellow Venezuelan singer Alexis Peña contributes with lead vocals on the opener song, and Sir Martin Barré acoustic and electric guitars on the last song of the album.

Out of the bat, "The Place Where Lost Things Go" opens the album on a high note, with a beautiful and melodic bass-keyboards duet later enhanced by some tasty guitar licks? as a fellow Venezuelan I'm excited, Alexis Peña joins the magic on vocals and the song loses some majesty. Is not Peña's fault, is more in the harmonies and the tonality? I'm assuming parts of this album were put together remotely, perhaps the vocals would have sounded better otherwise? Well, is still a very good song, well chosen to open the album. "Conundrum" is not an easy song to describe, the Floyd-sounding opening gets a little blurry when the vocals hit, this time it seems is Leo himself in charge of the task for the rest of the album, and then some uptempo Afro Caribbean bass lines lead to the body of the song, cool keys and guitars, but the honorable mention goes to the rhythmic section, excellent? perhaps of the more well-balanced songs in the album.

Carnicella starts to lose my interest with the boring college-sounding balad "Tell Your Mom I'm Not Coming Home"? hast to be said Beledo's guitar work almost rescues the moment, but not quite? "Balance" is a song I don't get, the lyrical content improves as do the vocal melodies, but the arrangements are odd, like the "wooooooi" shout interrupting the cool sounding keys, or the heavy synths riffing under the Spanish acoustic guitars, stuff that doesn't make much sense, at least for me? cool Moog use towards the end. One of the best moments of this album is the too short instrumental "Oblivion", I would love more of this, pure and melodic, guitars, synths and bass, pristine. "The Place Where Lost Minds Go" is the unquestionable masterpiece of the album, proof of that is Martin Barre's collaboration, immense by the way. Very well crafted multipart epic that would be a perfect 13 plus minute song if it wasn't for another bad choice on the arrangements, this time too obvious with the haunting-robotic- menacing-off sounding vocals that unfortunately damage the jazzy and symphonic segment I was enjoying so much, and this happens halfway through the song, so it's difficult to jump on board back again after that? however, the intricate playing between Martin and Leo truly builds something beautiful and gracious, so it conquers me again, and thankfully the albums closes just the same way it opened, on a high note. There's nothing really memorable here, but there are multiple segments and moments that if treated the right way (including more fitting vocals) could deliver great things in then future. Cheers

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 The Monster Roars by MAGNUM album cover Studio Album, 2022
4.00 | 2 ratings

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The Monster Roars
Magnum Prog Related

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

4 stars There are few bands who I can say I have enjoyed for 45 years, but Magnum is one of them. True, there have been line- up changes but when all songs are written by guitarist Tony Clarkin and sung by Bob Catley, who together formed this band back in 1972, does it really matter? They have created their own pomp sound, and are unmatched in the UK (and probably Europe) not only for their style but longevity. This album was released at the beginning of 2022, which means it was recorded when Bob was 73 years old yet his voice has none of the fragility or frailty one might expect. I have only seen the band four times, and probably not in nearly 30 years, yet I was always amazed at how powerful and on point he was in concert and in the intervening years nothing has changed.

Is this album as immediate as their classic early albums? No, not at all, but it is a grower in the way of many of their later ones. Clarkin has a way of crafting great songs with wonderful hooks which rarely have a need for a solo, as it is all about verse/chorus/bridge and Catley's delivery. This is the second album with Rick Benton (keyboards), Lee Morris (drums) and Dennis Ward (bass guitar, backing vocals) and somewhere in the world they will be on tour, shaping the songs, and let us hope they find room for quite a few of these in the set along all the others the fans will want to hear. Magnum are a force of nature, and have no idea on how to release a bad album, and while 'On A Storyteller's Night' might seem like a millstone to many that was 38 years ago, and they are still going strong. Only death or disability will stop the Brummies from giving it their all, and yet again us Magnum fans are going to enjoy yet another totally enjoyable album from beginning to end.

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 Let Me Be a Ghost by GILDENLÖW, KRISTOFFER album cover Studio Album, 2021
3.94 | 32 ratings

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Let Me Be a Ghost
Kristoffer Gildenlöw Crossover Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

4 stars Born and raised in Sweden, multi-instrumentalist Kristoffer now lives in The Netherlands, playing in Kayak. Many people still think of him as being associated with his brother Daniel, and he played on the first six Pain of Salvation studio albums but since leaving in 2006 has built a reputation working with many different artists. 'Let Me Be A Ghost' is his fourth solo album, released towards the end of 2021, following on from 'Rust' (2012), 'The Rain' (2016) and 'Homebound' (2020). I reviewed the last, and I was intrigued at just how much at home he sounded with the one cover, Leonard Cohen's "Chelsea Hotel #2"

I many ways this is a logical extension of that album, as it is melancholic, and is something which really needs to be played on headphones. The songs are more like soundscapes, with a huge use of space and a slow tempo which really lets the listener into what in many ways feels likes quite a private world. Yes, there are a few additional singers and a drummer, but for the most part this is one person sat quietly, crafting something which is magical and mystical. "Lean On Me" is a case in point, gentle percussion, acoustic guitar, electric solo, and loads and loads of vocals including a wonderful high female from Erna auf der Haar who provides the perfect cut through.

This is not something designed to be played on the radio, nor can I imagine it ever being played in an arena, but is designed for small places, in the dark where the listener can really let their mind wander where it will. This is a marvellous piece of work and I look forward to the next album with great interest indeed.

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 Elysium by GRACE AND FIRE album cover Studio Album, 2021
4.00 | 2 ratings

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Elysium
Grace and Fire Progressive Metal

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

4 stars As is my preference when listening to music, I read the press release only when it was time to write the review, so when playing this I was intrigued to hear the neo/melodic rock crossover sound of this new band and my thoughts immediately when to late Nineties Galahad. The keyboards are an important part of the overall sound, the guitars crunch nicely, and there are great vocals while the production is superb. I soon realised why the latter was the case as Karl Groom (Threshold) was involved, and I have been a fan of his skills behind the desk for 30 years. Then I looked at the band itself which was formed by André Saint (vocals) and Aaron Gidney (guitars, Chapman Stick) who then brought in Tim Ashton on bass and drummer Graham Brown. I know Brown from the excellent Cairo, but Tim Ashton? I first heard Tim on Galahad's wonderful 'Nothing Is Written' and saw him play a few times back then before he moved to Japan, only to return later and rejoin the band for 'Seas of Change' before departing again. I honestly thought Tim had left music behind, so to see him on this was somewhat surprising. He was not in Galahad during the musical period this band reminds me of, but there are some obvious influences. No keyboard player though, even though it is important to their sound (and their website shows five members), so we have guests in Gary Marsh (Tiger Moth Tales/Red Bazar) and Derek Sherinian (ex-Dream Theater/Sons of Apollo) while there are also two additional guest singers in Göran Edman (Yngwie Malmsteen) and Mark Boals (Yngwie Malmsteen among many others).

Given the background of all those involved it is no surprise whatsoever that this is a polished release, what is more surprising is the lack of reviews for it on PA! True, this is a hybrid and it is possible it is too prog for those who enjoy melodic rock, and too rock for those into prog, but to me it is a very fine album indeed. This never comes across as a debut, but from a seasoned band who have been honing their craft for many years. It is a very easy album to listen to, and I discovered the more I played it the more layers there are to discover. At times we have both piano and keyboards, and virtually no guitars, while at others that is the instrument which is right in your face. All singers take lead roles, with André obviously being the main, but they use the different vocal styles to great effect to add harshness or take the music in a slightly different direction.

This is an album which I am sure is going to be even punchier and more dramatic in a live environment and is something which fans of this music hybrid is sure to enjoy as it is forceful, powerful, dynamic and packed full of real songs with great hooks.

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 Brian Eno &  David Byrne: My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts by ENO, BRIAN album cover Studio Album, 1981
3.93 | 172 ratings

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Brian Eno & David Byrne: My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts
Brian Eno Progressive Electronic

Review by DangHeck

3 stars The first of just two collaborative releases by these two moments-defining icons, My Life in the Bush of Ghosts was released in 1981, released the same year as David Byrne's debut solo album, The Catherine Wheel (featuring Eno, as well as Bernie Worrell and Adrian Belew), and in between Brian Eno's Ambient(s) 3 and 4. This was likewise released a year after Talking Heads' beloved fourth, Remain In Light (1980), which was itself produced by Eno. Naturally considered on the site as 'Progressive Electronic', I'm sure we can all agree, at first glance, Bush of Ghosts is bound to be much more. And indeed, in that alone, it delivered. [The rating for this review will be solely based upon the (nearly) original album tracks.]

From the get-go, with "America Is Waiting", the specific focus of the whole album is revealed: Sampledelia, in this song's case a joyfully maximalist (if not chaotic) mish-mash of seismic Funk and apparent 'World' sonics (I'm pretty ignorant of Worldbeat at large, I'll add). Also owing to the strength of the track is Bill Laswell on bass. Killer opener. "Mea Culpa" is a wild supposed back-and-forth with an undisclosed politician and an on-air radio caller. The percussion is phenomenal. I can imagine Brian Eno in particular being inspired by the many No Wave bands which he encountered and helped showcase from New York's initial Punk movement, and I think what Byrne brings to the table is unsurprising (though not because of predictability; I'm quite happy with this). In a likewise delightfully unsurprising fashion, the sampled vocals have a definite rhythmic quality that drives the song from the start. Some of the sonic choices, in particular little trills and dings heard in the middle, strike me as Industrial, but these elements are diminished by Eno's own Ambient panache [Seriously, am I a huge Muso douche? haha]. Lebanese singer Dunya Younes is sampled on the next, the Funk-forward "Regiment", which adds a legitimately modern sound. I mean, this is still so fresh. Nice synth solo from Brian here toward the end, which itself I might guess was, at one time or another, chopped up.

Finally back to some of the excitement I felt with "America", "Help Me Somebody" has that groovy Funk and super bright guitar which is a perfect match to the sampling of the excited Southern Baptist preaching. I definitely have to put myself in a different mindset when listening to this sort of thing (and, plenty of the time, to Eno specifically). "The Jezebel Spirit" is very much of the same expression (this time sampling audio from an exorcism), but is far more straight. It picks up big time, at least, with the addition of almost phone-dial-like clangs. We initially return to a softer inflection on "Very, Very Hungry" (not "Qu'Ran", as was helpfully noted in the album details). Some guitar work nearing the end is a winning factor. "Moonlight in Glory" keeps us cool, another stronger showcase for percussion, but all in all a little too calm and singular for my tastes. Itchin' for more. "The Carrier" next begins with a chilling thumping bass, met with increasingly more elements: from spacy, haunting tones to softer (more overtly) ambient flourishes. Near the midpoint, we hear a second Younes sample (though from the same source as "Regiment").

We stay haunted [haha] on "A Secret Life", in great part thanks to its selected sample, from yet another Lebanese vocalist, Samira Tewfik. Eerie... And for that alone, one of the best on the album. To my ears, we have another No Wave-esque salute on "Come with Us". I hope the album continues to scare me till the end. That would be nice haha. [SPOILER WARNING FOR FOUR SENTENCES FROM NOW: It did.] In a broad sense (which is the position I try to take), this is assuredly Prog. Wonderful. For the original track listing, we then have our original album closer, the ethereally understated "Mountain of Needles". Effective closer. Methinks very Eno. Onto the bonus material!

With the exclusion of "Qu'Ran" as mentioned above, the bonus tracks were made available on a 2006 edition. "Pitch to Voltage" is first, with a distinctly Eastern feeling. "Two Against Three" happened; the apparently chopped up keyboards(?) is purty noice. Happy to receive up next some "Vocal Outtakes", a very quick 36 seconds of dog-like vocalization. Naturally following is "New Feet", another relatively maximal track with whooping and wailing vocals and over-the-top snare-like percussion. "Defiant" was another with less to offer, in my opinion; no crescendo, and with less-than-exciting additions as it progressed. I had no feelings for "Number 8 Mix" until the bright chiming of strings in its second half. Finally finally we have "Solo Guitar with Tin Foil". And if there was a title that made me go 'Hmmm...,' it's this'n. What does it mean? It's certainly beautiful. The warm, melodic attacks from our titular "Solo Guitar" are accompanied solely with its soft reverb. No regrets there. Another interesting selection as 'closer'.

True Rate: 3.5/5.0

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 Child Of The Future by MOTORPSYCHO album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.60 | 63 ratings

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Child Of The Future
Motorpsycho Eclectic Prog

Review by Dapper~Blueberries

4 stars With Motorpsycho's 13th studio album, and to celebrate the band's 20th anniversary, the group would make an album that'd be a lot more celebratory for their psych and alt rock roots of Timothy's Monster through It's A Love Cult. This resulted in the creation of Child Of The Future.

If there is one thing that stands out from this album, it is the highly appealing psychedelic and space rock structure that the band has mastered through their 20 years of rocking out. This, to me, is one of the album's best regards as each track has this very fun, Hawkwind type feeling that never quite gets boring. It is a wild and crazy experience in of itself, being very much in-line to their more grunge type works, whilst also showcasing more neo- psychedelic influxes that I savor instantly.

I also really like how the band sometimes goes extra hard, sometimes dipping into metal territories with wild drum movements and powerful guitars that get my blood pumping. If there is a possible album that could be classified as psych metal, this would be one of them as this pumps the breaks and creates for an absolutely insane experience.

The more I get into this album, the more I end up liking it, though, there are some things that I am not the hugest fan of.

For one, it is a vinyl only release. The only way I could hear it was through youtube, which honestly sucks since that means there were annoying ads in-between the tracks, which kind of soured my taste. I feel like the album should've been released digitally or on other mediums because, while I like records and the act of collecting them, most of my music I hear is digital, and it sucks that I have to resort to other, less optimal sources just to hear it.

Not only that, but I feel like the production and mixing is kind of muddy. It seems a bit more monotonous then other releases, and there seems to be some grit in the sounds that is a bit annoying to get through. This album is kind of like a swamp in that regard. You may see some cool crocodiles and frogs, but it is still a bit murky to get through and walk in. Even though all of these songs are excellent, I just think the production doesn't allow them to truly shine.

This album definitely needs some polishing up, but even then I find it to be another pleasant experience from the band. They certainly mastered a style and feeling in some regards, and each time they manage to still sweep me off my feet. Child Of The Future is another banger from my favorite Norwegian contemporary group.

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 Playgrounds by SIEGES EVEN album cover Live, 2008
4.18 | 40 ratings

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Playgrounds
Sieges Even Progressive Metal

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars "Playgrounds" is a live album release by German progressive metal act Sieges Even. The album was released through SPV Records/Inside Out Music in July 2008. It succeeds the release of the band's seventh full-length studio album "Paramount" from September 2007. It was the last release by Sieges Even before they disbanded. They split-up in mid-2008, so they were probably already disbanded when "Playgrounds" was released.

The material featured on the album was recorded during the tour supporting the release of "Paramount" (2007), and the 10 song tracklist features no less than 5 tracks from the album. The remaining part of the tracklist comprise 3 tracks from "The Art of Navigating by the Stars" (2003) and 2 tracks from "A Sense of Change" (1991). So "Playgrounds" only features material from three out of the band's seven full-length studio albums, and predominantly focuses on the last two studio releases. The show is incredibly well performed. All instrumental performances are brilliant and lead vocalist Arno Menses delivers his lines with great conviction and skill. It's sometimes to a point where you're in doubt if this was truly recorded live, but there are some audience noises here and there to make sure this sounds like an authentic live release. Menses also speaks to the audience on a few occassions, telling which song they are about the hear, making a joke about one of the songs being a hit in Lichenstein, because it sold 3 copies...etc.

The track selection works fine and there is a focused red thread throughout the show in terms of flow. While the tracks from the two preceding studio albums work well it is still nice to hear "The Waking Hours" and "These Empty Places" performed by this lineup of Sieges Even. I'm temped to say that these versions are better than the original studio versions. "Playgrounds" features an organic, powerful, and well sounding production, which suits the material perfectly, and upon conclusion it's a high quality swansong release by Sieges Even. Hopefully one day I'll be forced to revisit this review and delete the word "swansong". A 4 star (80%) rating is deserved.

(Originally posted on Metal Music Archives)

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 Hotspell by AYERS ROCK album cover Studio Album, 1980
3.14 | 15 ratings

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Hotspell
Ayers Rock Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by sl75

3 stars I haven't found myself a proper copy of this album yet, but someone has uploaded all bar one track on to Youtube (albeit in the wrong order), so I'm basing these comments on that).

There's been a fairly major change in personnel by the time of this album, although three members of the classic line- up are still there, and some of the replacements have strong Aussie prog credentials (Steve Hogg from Bakery, Andy Cowan whose keyboards provided the proggiest element in Madder Lake). With this album, they still have very strong jazz-rock leanings, but in the context of songwriting with a more commercial soft-rock edge - somewhat like Steely Dan. That's not completely a break with their past, since some of the songs on Beyond arguably pointed in that direction, but there's not so much of the harder-edged rock element that was present in their earliest work. The arrangements are all very sophisticated, and it's all well-played - I certainly can't say I hate it - but the prog-focused listener won't find a lot to interest them there.

I've given it three stars, though there'd be an argument for reducing that to two. If it ever comes out on CD, I'll buy it, or if I ever see an affordably-priced vinyl copy; but it's not an album I'd want to spend big bucks on.

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 Astray by PARMENTER, MATTHEW album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.97 | 91 ratings

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Astray
Matthew Parmenter Neo-Prog

Review by Gallifrey

4 stars 22nd January, 2023: Matthew Parmenter - Astray (progressive/art rock, 2004)

Discipline are one of my favourites from the throwback prog scene of the 90's, probably because the band they were throwing back to were Van Der Graaf Generator, not Yes or Genesis, and the aging of that kind of angsty old school prog was a little better. It's easy to forget about Matthew Parmenter's solo project, because that usually comes with connotations of being stripped-back, and Discipline at their best were anything but. This is actually not too far from the main band's sound, and any changes are pretty welcome ones - it's got a more Floydian focus on melody over technicality, and there are bits that really just sound like progged-up indie rock. I even hear some allusions to the slowcore scene. Parmenter's voice is the real star, tortured and passionate, and it carries most of the record alone. Time will tell whether I consider this as high as the Discipline records, but it's definitely worth checking out for anyone who likes those, since it's stylistically not far removed.

6.9 (2nd listen)

Part of my listening diary from my facebook blog: www.facebook.com/TheExoskeletalJunction

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 Bay Leaf and Singers by HENRYTENNIS album cover Studio Album, 2022
4.00 | 1 ratings

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Bay Leaf and Singers
Henrytennis Canterbury Scene

Review by arymenezes

— First review of this album —
4 stars For a really under-rated band such as they are, it can be surprising to know that they reached four albums. Yes, this japanese group released works from 2006 to 2022 and yet is very unkwown even amongst the connoiseur. I think it would help for them and for many other japanese artists, if the physical CDs were more accesible for the rest of the world.

Now, let me tell my analysis. It's similar to the two previous, mantaining that mature and elegante style of composing that was present on the second album and got a little better on the third. Yes, this is my way to try to convince those who like this last release to aknowledge other one(s).

It goes deep into Canterbury feeling, and deeper into a dynamic good mood spirit. Seems cleverly destinated to cheer you up, or at least try. Good choice to continue entirely instrumental. The highlite of this job is IMO the wind instruments, with beautiful, pleasent and clean harmonies. And it's interesting that they made it with two saxofones, this time. By a matter of comparison, on the previous disc they had also a flutist.

There aren't tracks who distinctively are better than others. But making a selection of the 11 tracks, I'd point tracks 7, 4 and 9. Tracks 10 and 11 are the weakest part of the album.

3,7 stars on a scale of five.

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 Tale of the Lunatics by ANWAR, FARAZ album cover Studio Album, 2022
3.50 | 2 ratings

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Tale of the Lunatics
Faraz Anwar Progressive Metal

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

3 stars Pakistan is a geographical spot on the map that many of us Westerners are woefully ignorant of except for the occasional news blurbs casting this ancient region in a negative spin. This region of the world is actually quite fascinating not only for its multi-millennial history but as it turns out, for its modern contributions to the world as well. Musically speaking when one thinks of Pakistan (if one thinks of it at all), the immediate musical genre that comes to mind would be the qawwali with perhaps Pakistan's most famous musical export Nusrat Ali Khan as the nation's ambassador in the musical sense. While ethnic music is pretty much celebrated in every culture of the world, i have to admit that i wasn't aware of the fact that progressive metal has been a thing there for quite some time now.

Guitarist FARAZ ANWAR has been on the scene for quite a while as a member of the Karachi based Dusk and also his other band Mizraab. Both bands have been dabbling in the world of progressive metal since the mid-1990s and as a solo artist ANWAR released his debut "Abstract Point Of View" as far back as 2001. Although it took sixteen years between the last two albums, ANWAR returns only two years later with a followup. TALES OF THE LUNATICS is a concept album that tells the tale of a fictional angel named Afaiel who was sent to this 3D Earth by his master to be a human being. The album is an interesting mix of spoken word narration (in English) with ANWAR's stellar guitar works that range from a sensual Eric Johnson tone-rich blues oriented style to more aggressive shredding.

While primarily a guitar oriented release, TALE OF THE LUNATICS also features some excellent precision, divine choirs and chorus as well as some orchestration that is placed in the right places. While the term progressive metal can mean different things, in this case the album is very much a mix of slower symphonic prog moments with heavier prog metal alternating between intricate passages that allow ANWAR to showcase his guitar playing skills. Basically narrated vocals introduce an overarching theme and the instrumental interpretation ensues. Well i should say mostly instrumental because a few vocal tracks do occur such as on "Throw Your Swords." I should mention this this album is solely performed by ANWAR who handles not only guitars but bass, keys, drums as well as vocals.

Well i'm simultaneously impressed and underwhelmed at the same time with this one. While the concept is an interesting one and the narrative is pretty intriguing, i can't say the musical accompaniments match the magnanimity of the intent. No doubt that ANWAR is a gifted musician who can master all instruments set in front of him. My main problem is that the music doesn't convey the message of the storyline. Musically speaking this is a mix of Dream Theater, Kansas, other prog metal acts and a bit of Middle Eastern and local Pakistani flavors. There's even a few neo-prog moments however nothing really seems like it fits the narrative and therefore it seems like the whole concept was an afterthought than rather being the impetus for the entire album experience.

This is a fun album but i guess i expected more from the whole thing. It's really just an average prog metal experience with a better than average concept that doesn't quite gel with the musical performances. The most impressive track is the closing "Lap Lost" which features a more diverse roster of ideas and musical mojo. I'm torn between this album as i like a lot of what it represents and the musical skills showcased but i can't quite gel with the vocal performances nor can i get over the fact that i've heard this type of prog metal a million times prior. Overall this is a pleasant enough experience but not one that invites me to return time and time again. There is much room for improvement and i hope ANWAR continues to pursue a more sophisticated compositional development protocol. Good but not essential.

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 Jumping the Milestone by FLAMBOROUGH HEAD album cover Studio Album, 2022
3.54 | 24 ratings

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Jumping the Milestone
Flamborough Head Neo-Prog

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

3 stars While neo-prog bands from the Netherlands have been catching up to the English scene that started all the way back in the early 1980s, most of the bands emerged after the dawn of the 21st century but a scant few set up shop in the 1990s. As far as i can tell only Odyssice, Like Wendy and this band FLAMBOROUGH HEAD started that far back with this Dutch band from Leeuwarden forming as far back as 1993 however it would only be 1998 that the band would see its debut "Unspoken Whisper" joining the ranks of its British counterparts.

FLAMOROUGH HEAD had been pretty consistent in releasing seven albums from 1998 - 2013 even having released two in 2001 but then with the release of its previous album "Lost In Time" went silent for almost a decade. The band returns nine years later with JUMPING THE MILESTONE which finds the trio of Margriet Boomsma (vocals, flute), Koen Roozen (drums) and Edo Spanninga (keyboards) returning however guitarist Gert Polkerman has been released with Hans Spitzen and bassist Marcel Derix likewise has been replaced by Eddie Mulder.

Despite a near decade lull in activity the band picks up right where they left off with its classic neo-prog sound. JUMPING THE MILESTONE features six tracks all of a length exceeding seven minutes with two, the opening "The Garden Shed" and the closing title track both exceeding ten. Anyone familiar with this band will know what to expect. The classic neo-prog soaring guitar riffing techniques fairly ubiquitous in that nook of the prog universe along with some ambitious key workouts more reminiscent of Emerson, Lake and Palmer at times more than Arena or IQ. The band exists in a dreamy folky realm of the neo-prog world but isn't afraid to rock out either. "Start Of A Nightmare" showcases some upbeat rock guitar heft with some sizzling soloing as well.

Keyboardist Edo Spanninga is at the top of his game with a virtuoso's ear of layering synthesized atmospheres to the guitar, bass and drum rhythmic foundation along with some moments of bravado that allows some of those classic prog synthesizer melting antics. For the most part this is more on the folk side of the equation with a mellow nonchalant reserved display of down-home family friendly G-rated entertainment. Nothing ever gets too wild, no risks are taken and everything is pretty much neo-prog by the books that ticks off every aspect of the genre and carries it out nicely. The addition of the flute is what puts this squarely in the neo-folk-prog subcategory.

As much as i try this is a band i find underwhelming. Margriet Boomsma lacks the required vocal dynamics and charisma to be an engaging lead vocalist and sounds better suited for an American country rock band honestly. The weakest feature of FLAMOROUGH HEAD is the lackluster performances of drummer Koen Roozen who serves as a metrometer and never offers any style of percussion that differs from the mere basics. I was hoping that after nearly a decade FLAMBOROUGH HEAD would up its game but it seems that this band is content existing in its own world that is oblivious to the modern standards that make a great neo-prog album. By no means a bad album. If you enjoy more intimate sounding music then you will like this more than i do but as far as my enjoyment value is concerned i find this album average at best.

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 Electromagnets by ELECTROMAGNETS album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.58 | 20 ratings

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Electromagnets
Electromagnets Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by arymenezes

4 stars Here is an amazing example of what happens when guitar prog fusion riffs goes genius, and along with it there is an inspired team of drummer, bassist and synth players. Even though the compositions intend to give plenty of space to the guitar, it's easy to notice the width of the abilities and techniques of the other musicians. Elaborate and surprising harmonies, and also some different noises, notes and tones made by all of them gives this an uniqueness on the genre. I'd say that they put together the structure of jazz-rock prog, but using some spicy seasonings of canterbury musical school.

There are vocals only on one track, Salem.

4,7 stars for side A, more prog-rock oriented, 4,1 for side B, it has more jazz elements.

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 Electromagnets II by ELECTROMAGNETS album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.52 | 7 ratings

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Electromagnets II
Electromagnets Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by arymenezes

3 stars This 2nd and last album is quite similar to side B of their first effort. From the second track onwards, the tunes and interplay get a little repetitive. The energy on drums and guitar decrease before the half of the work, and it's when they even get closer, sometimes, to a soft jazz-prog, what IMO makes it a little annoying. There is a track that tries to bring some latin rythym to the album, but goes mechanically, therefore with no emotion at all. This material is supposed to be taken from a tape recorded in 1975.

It's all instrumental.

There is some good stuff. Track 1 is a brilliant effort. If you're a huge fan of the first album, you may feel the rest of the work is between great or good. But if you're not, I think besides the first track, you may have some interest on tracks 2, 4, 8 and maybe 7.

Biggest quality of this work? Eric's riffs and the interplay with the drummer. Biggest mistake? Too similar to the first album, but lacking creativity and energy; only sometimes they reach the dynamic force they presented earlier.

3.1 on a five-star scale.

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 A Model Life by LONELY ROBOT album cover Studio Album, 2022
3.61 | 29 ratings

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A Model Life
Lonely Robot Crossover Prog

Review by ElChanclas

3 stars What I know about Mitchell's work resides strictly on a few Arena and *Frost albums, no Kino, no It Bites, and certainly no Lonely Robot, so this is my first step into his poppier side. A Modern Life is the 3rd studio album under the moniker Lonely Robot, and John does basically everything here, except for the drumming, Jeff B is the responsible for those.

The great guitar work is very present, all over the place, as expected? particularly in songs like "Species in Transition", "Starlit Stardust", and "In Memoriam", but what really caught my attention were both his elegant and accesible songwriting abilities, and the warmth of his vocal style, a cross between Peter Gabriel and Seal? the music is very pop oriented and there's an obvious "look and feel" of a what a lonely robot would sound if singing his thoughts, sadness, and loneliness? at least to my ears?

Even though my favorite Pink Floyd music was recorded and released in the mid-late 70's, I've always been a fan of albums like The Division Bell and A Momentary Lapse of Reason, the melodic and less psychedelic Gilmour version, and this LR album sounds at times a lot like those PF records, so there's a lot of immediate and attractive flavors to its music. The opener song "Recalibrating" kicks things off in perhaps the fastest tempo of the whole record, and somehow reminds me of some passages from Day and Age (*Frost), cool song. The more melodic and catchy stuff can me found in songs like "Starlit Stardust", the title track "A Modern Life", and "Rain Kings", all sing-a-long tunes. The most interesting tracks, those where I find all the desired ingredients and my preferred mix of elements are "Digital God Machine" and "Duty of Care"? those two songs make my listening experience worthwhile? in sum, a solid output by a much loved guitarist and singer. Cheers!

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 11:11 by SUB ROSA album cover Studio Album, 2021
2.70 | 17 ratings

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11:11
Sub Rosa Crossover Prog

Review by ElChanclas

3 stars 11:11 is the second full studio album from Brazilian prog act Sub Rosa and released 11 years after its debut. At this moment the lineup consist of Reinaldo José on bass (mastermind, additional keyboards, guitars and vocals), Rudolf Pinto on guitars, Barbara Laranjeira on drums and vocals, and Alexandre Salgueiro on keyboards and vocals. Is a double concept album and its 22 songs talk about human development, in a Jungian approach to the archetypes of the 22 major arcana of the Tarot.

Before I do any assessment on the music here contained, I would like to honor the amount of work that Reinaldo José has put into this work, both musically and conceptually speaking, going the extra mile designing and creating an 11:11 Libreto with 22 beautiful ad custom made tarot cards, each representing one of the 22 songs of the album, a Libreto also available with the graphics, lyrics and spectacular visual content. Chapeau, definitely a work of art, I've seen it and read it, its truly pristine and overwhelming.

In regards to the musical content, there's a lot of good stuff here but a lot of filler too, to my ears. 11:11 is a monumental musical creation that clocks nearly 2hours of continuing music and I think it could have been trimmed a little to avoid the few boring moments, specially towards the end of the 1st CD and the middle section of the 2nd CD. I really like when the band approaches its spacey and cosmic Floyd/Eloy/Hawkwind influences but when they want to go the hard blues highway or the heavy prog route is when it gets somehow messy, perhaps intentional, perhaps intimately attached to the concept, but kind of disoriented to my taste. Opposite to what I experienced with their debut, The GIgsaw, the English vocals here work fine and the lyrical content is profound and well crafted, and I don't mind neither the male or female vocals when they are on their own, what gets me often distracted is when they harmonize the male and female vocals together, I tend to loose some of the cool arrangements that are being played by whom I consider the underdog in this band, Mr. Salgueiro, the keyboard player who's cosmic input elevates the musical atmosphere every time he is allowed to. I am very fund of rhythmic sections and their importance in a band's sound, and I truly think Sub Rosa could benefit with a more versatile drummer.

11:11 is a lengthy and obscure effort by Reinaldo José and the band, and it shows snippets of the underlying talent in most of its members but it was maybe too huge of a goal for a sophomore album, I hope they can pinpoint the best material here and evolve under that umbrella for their next album. BTW, the guitar work is really good throughout the whole trip, nice riffing when needed, amazing soloing and great tonality. The album art cover, another highlight here?

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