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PROG ARCHIVES intends to be the most complete and powerful progressive rock resource. You can find the progressive rock music discographies from 9,965 bands & artists, 53,123 albums (LP, CD and DVD), 1,421,508 ratings and reviews from 58,556 members who also participate in our active forum. You can also read the new visitors guide (forum page).
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 Rendez-Vous by JARRE, JEAN-MICHEL album cover Studio Album, 1986
3.45 | 97 ratings

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Rendez-Vous
Jean-Michel Jarre Prog Related

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Originally composed as a tie-in with the Challenger shuttle mission before, Jean-Michel Jarre's Rendez-vous is a piece whose backstory ends up with a little extra poignancy due to the disaster which claimed the lives of the astronauts. Overall it's a long piece reminiscent of Jarre's breakthroughs like Oxygene and Equinoxe, the vocal experiments of Zoolook having been set aside. Aside from the last piece being subtitled "Ron's Piece", in light of the fact that astronaut Ron McNair was supposed to play the sax part of it from orbit as part of the mission, the mood of the whole seems rather untroubled by the tragedy it was associated with, and if I had any major criticism it would be the apparent lack of strong emotion altogether.

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 The Lost Broadcasts by CURVED AIR album cover Live, 2011
4.00 | 1 ratings

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The Lost Broadcasts
Curved Air Eclectic Prog

Review by Rivertree
Special Collaborator PSIKE Team & Band Submissions

— First review of this album —
4 stars I did not have the focus on this band in the early 1970's. Not sure why, maybe somehow because they simply were well ahead of time, not easy to pigeonhole anyway. So what, in the aftermath, more than 45 years later, 'The Lost Broadcasts' shows them on rather eclectic paths, while blending classical, symphonic, fusion and folk elements to their own approach of playing sophisticated rock music. Furthermore, of course versatile front singer Sonja Kristina, who for example also was involved in the London version of the musical Hair, marks a special trademark. And she's a real eyecatcher on top of it, you bet!

The band witnessed a lot of line up changes during the years. On this occasion, concerning the year 1971, we have a shift on the bass guitar to notice in any case. However, when following the band's official timeline, drummer Florian Pilkington-Miksa should be the correct listing when it comes to the second session, which took place some months later. But for me it looks like Jim Russell is involved here. Never mind, it doesn't matter in the end. The first song Vivaldi surprisingly sees Sonja sitting behind the keyboards. Darryl Way turns out to be the centre of attention due to some strong violin soloing. And again, differing to the studio version, Sonja is present with vocals too.

It Happened Today and Propositions are wellknown band songs played with a jazzy vibe. Especially the latter evolves to Francis Monkman's showpiece. Excellent! Both Back Street Luv versions then are somewhat peculiar, relatively short, because for what reason ever abandonded, just when Monkman is going to start some solo activity with his guitar. Piece Of Mind finally is their most complex and tricky performance. Taken from the original German Beat Club series and released on Gonzo Multimedia, this DVD/CD couple offers a song collection with acceptable audio and video quality. Quite a spellbinding documentation of the bands qualities.

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 1984 by PHILLIPS, ANTHONY album cover Studio Album, 1981
3.75 | 90 ratings

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1984
Anthony Phillips Symphonic Prog

Review by Progfan97402

4 stars Given my experience with Anthony Phillips has been hit and miss, I avoided 1984, assuming it would be pretty dreadful 1980s stuff. What I didn't expect was a progressive electronic direction he was going here! Imagine Tony Banks recording something more prog electronic, this is what you get. It's obvious that Ant did not shake off the spectre of Genesis, as the Genesis influence can be heard in many of his recordings (Wise After the Event is closest to late '70s Genesis, although side two has a bit of a Beatles thing going on). 1984 was obviously inspired by Orwell, and one might expect something more dark and ominous, he doesn't do that. It has a strangely more "positive vibe". One may complain about the '80s sounding synthesizers, but this is the early '80s, so no DX-7s, and I really like what he does with them here. Apparently he uses a PolyMoog and ARP 2600, just as Tony Banks had around the same time. I swear I hear a short amount of Mellotron flutes on "1984 Part 1". He's been known to use small amounts of tron, even as late as the apparently not-so-great Invisible Men, so I don't believe my ears are deceiving me. Also he uses a Roland CR-78 drum machine, I'm sure inspired by Phil Collins using on one Brand X's Product, Genesis' Duke and Abacab, and Phil's own Face Value. I was a bit put off by the pop-oriented "Prelude '84", sounding like Tony Banks during his more pop-oriented moments, but after that it moves away from that, to some really nice and beautiful passages. This album really took me by surprise. It's not The Geese & the Ghost, but it's a very good album in its own right, and I probably more recommend this for fans of progressive electronic than those used to his more acoustic-based stuff. He pretty much doesn't come near a guitar here, so that might disappoint many, but he's fully capable at keyboards as demonstrated here. Well worth having, especially for fans of electronic music.

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 Get Up With It by DAVIS, MILES album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.06 | 87 ratings

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Get Up With It
Miles Davis Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Progfan97402

4 stars Given Miles Davis has such a large discography, it'll be virtually impossible to know everything he's released, and I know there's plenty of titles, even in this day, that I'm completely unaware of. I only knew of Get Up With It around 2004. Another one of those neglected Miles albums no one talks about, unlike say, Bitches Brew. It was 120 minutes long, so it had to be a triple LP set. Wrong! It's a double LP set, probably the lengthiest double ever released. Given it was out of print for so long (Sony finally got to reissuing it in the States only in 2000) original LPs aren't always easy to come by. I finally got a copy, but I don't regret it. This album consisted of material recorded in 1973 and '74, plus Jack Johnson and On the Corner outtakes. He just couldn't get those fit on those albums, so I'm happy he didn't let them stay in the archives. I'm sure people were scared off by this album because it starts with "He Love Him Madly". A tribute to Duke Ellington, who just then-recently passed away, it's clear it really devastated Miles big time. That caused him to record a slow pace, spacy, eerie and ominous piece where the organ, rather than trumpet dominates. It does pick up some, but the tempo is pretty much slow, and I'm sure that scared off a lot of potential listeners back in the day. I get it: mood and atmosphere was what he was more concerned here, kinda like what Tangerine Dream did for Zeit, but unlike Zeit, there is at least drums and a bit of rhythm. But the album really picks up steam after, exploring funk, Latin, blues, calypso, you name it, and do it very well. "Calypso Frelimo" is cut from much the same cloth as Return to Forever's "Captain Senor Mouse", except it's 32 minutes long. It starts off with some calypso stuff on the organ, but then quickly goes into extended jams, with heavy emphasis on percussion. This frequently sounds, to my ears, if the Drum Tower at the Oregon Country Fair (Drum Tower is a space for people to play their drums at, that is, bongos, congas, Native American drums, darbukas, and so on) was occupied by professional jazz players, including sax and various percussion players, and an organist. (For those who don't know, the Oregon Country Fair is a yearly hippie fair held outside of Eugene, Oregon, and you know you nearing the Drum Tower when you hear a lots of hand drums playing). Of course, Chick Corea & Company would have never though to extend their "Senor Mouse" to over a half an hour long, but Miles did with "Calypso Frelimo". There are times the album gets experimental, like on "Rated X" while the blues influence is felt on "Honky Tonky" and Red China Blues". Apparently guitarist Pete Cosey had an experience in blues and R&B recording for Chess Records (Howlin' Wolf and Muddy Waters giving him blues experience), but his guitar playing here is much more rock-oriented than blues. I have often what compelled Miles to start the album off with "He Loves Him Madly", while I enjoy it, many may not. Regardless, I really love the variety covered on this album. Even Robert Christgau gave it an A- (given he was a big fan of Miles David to begin with), very much the same rating he gave for the much more popular Bitches Brew. It don't get the recognition of many of his other albums, but I very much highly recommend it. I can't give it a five star only because "He Loves Him Madly" can be a bit hard going.

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 Pepper's Ghost by BUCKETHEAD album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.12 | 7 ratings

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Pepper's Ghost
Buckethead Prog Related

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

3 stars After a few heavy albums dipping into the avant-garde world with progressive leanings and a few collaborative efforts that led BUCKETHEAD into calmer musical arenas, he shifted gears a little bit and created a more digestible "easy listening" for BUCKETHEAD anyway, type of album. No, it's not like one of the many lullaby albums that haunt the Pike output but it is more of a riff oriented album that sticks to a rather heavy blues rock style but keeps the tracks interesting by alternating the timbres, tones and dynamics. This was the chicken lover's 19th solo album and focused on more structured compositions. Along with the avant-garde one is Dan Monti who plays bass as well as handling the production and programming.

PEPPER'S GHOST is a fairly easy album to get into as it's riff-oriented tracks are quite easy to wrap one's head around as there are no shockingly disturbing time signature freak outs and jittery caffeinated whirlwind of ideas outpacing a tornado. On the contrary, this is basically a heavy rock that speeds up into full metal territory type of album that utilizes slower passages that offer clean guitar segments with cool echo effects and arpeggios. The tracks are all on the short side with the longest only hitting the five minute mark. While having been accused of producing a commercial album, PEPPER'S GHOST is anything but with its incessant shifts of styles and dynamics albeit adhering to a pre-set melodic development which makes it easier to follow.

Ultimately PEPPER'S GHOST seems a little restrained and held back for my tastes when it comes to BUCKETHEAD's adventurous output. This seems more like a demo album for possible band guitarist slots where he can prove his ability to tamp down his wild side and create a more commercial sound such as he did with Guns N Roses. In some ways it is interesting to hear BH do a more "normal" album that sticks to 4/4 timings and traditional guitar solos that don't blend too many elements simultaneously but at the same time i keep wanting him to push the envelope even further but rather he retreats into safer territory instead of kicking it all into higher gear which any hardcore fan knows quite well that he is capable of doing.

All in all PEPPER'S GHOST is a decent album and not a bad place for someone to begin their BH journey before delving into the esoteric and complex of his canon. While it certainly is more entertaining than the insipid ballad cheese that he also has a propensity for, it doesn't exactly take my heavy metal fantasies to the starts either. Add to the fact that BH doesn't really engage in any new ideas as pretty much everything has been done before and better whether it be those echoey guitar licks or the Van Halen inspired guitar riffs and a few interesting guitar runs that do briefly bask in the avant-garde off kilterness. Having said that, all of the tracks are catchy and well executed and could easily be spiced up with little effort. Perhaps not my most treasured of BH listening experiences but also at the same time not one that i will run to the hills to avoid experiencing again. In the end it's a nice mix of the mellow tinged with echoed psychedelia and the heavy crunch of metal riffs. The sole exception to this fairly "normal" sounding BH album is the finale "Emblaming Plaza" which is a percussionless ambient electronic track and a sneak preview to the Countdown To Halloween Pikes.

3.5 rounded down

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 Master Of Reality by BLACK SABBATH album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.07 | 669 ratings

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Master Of Reality
Black Sabbath Prog Related

Review by The Crow
Prog Reviewer

5 stars In my opinion Master of Reality is Black Sabbath's true masterpiece!

A (almost) flawless album with thunderous bass, incredible guitar riffs, an Ozzy in his best moment and great drumming too. The bass in the mixing of the album is almost too loud, but I love bass oriented bass so I just love the Geezer playing in this one.

The style of Master of Reality is more coherent and cohesive than the two previous efforts, achieving a very solid collection of songs with no real letdowns. They wanted to make a groovy yet heavy album, and they made a real milestone for stoner and heavy metal. Even more than Black Sabbath and Paranoid.

Sweet Leaf has a catchy, very groovy riff that together with its lyrics talking about smoking drugs defined the terms of stoner rock and stoner metal. The final part is great and the bass playing is really strong. A real classic!

After Forever starts in an ominous way, introducing a dynamic melody which ends in another anthological riff. The bass sounds even stronger than guitars! And I just love it. Just like a love Embryo, a little yet terrifying instrumental which leads to Children of the Grave, where Heavy Metal was really born in my opinion (together with Speed King and Bloodsucker from Deep Purple's In rock) It's incredible to hear a song which generated so much amount of influence through the years. A big part of the 80's heavy metal was already in this 1971 track!

Orchid is another good instrumental song, obviously very influential for bands like Opeth (the first album of the Swedish band was named just like this track and the acoustic sections sound similar) and Lord of this World introduces another great riff. The whole discography of bands like Sleeps come from this song! It's really difficult to measure this album's influence through the following decades, and Lord of this World is another good example.

Solitude is similar to Planet Caravan from Paranoid, but very much better in my opinion. An intimate and sad song with beautiful vocals from Geezer. And then comes Into the Void! Another incredible song which starts with a very groovy and funny guitar melody which soon derivate in a brutal riff, which also give way to another heavier and faster riff. And after the solo comes another different but also splendid guitar riff! The songwriting is really good, and so much improved since Paranoid... Just the best moment of this musician's career.

Conclusion: if songs like Black Sabbath supposed the birth of doom metal and other songs like Paranoid gave way to heavy metal, it's adequate to say that Master of Reality is the true birth of stoner metal. A bit of psychedelia, great and variated riffs and songs that talk about drugs and other obscure themes. And with such a great quality! Maybe Master of Reality lacks hits like Paranoid or Iron Man, but as a whole is the better album of the band. Just eight very influential songs which aged very well and a true pleasure for the ears.

Best Tracks: all of them (Ok, maybe Embryo and Orchid are not top notch, but also very good)

My rating: ****1/2, rounded up to five stars and masterpiece status.

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 Green Ray by ZANOV album cover Studio Album, 1976
4.25 | 42 ratings

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Green Ray
Zanov Progressive Electronic

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

5 stars This was love at first listen. ZANOV was the project of one Pierre Zalkazanov out of France and this was his debut from 1976. This is one of those Electronic albums that ticks all the right boxes for me. I really like the melancholic mood throughout and how darn spacey it is. We do get sequencers too at times but man this is just the perfect Electronic album for me. It's interesting how I have never been able to get into the more famous French Electronic artist in Jean- Michel Jarre, I find his music is light and poppy in comparison to this dark beauty, and I'm not surprised Jarre is more popular because of this.

"Green Ray" certainly starts off on the right foot with those spacey winds blowing over top of the other synths that form a base here. Sequencers kick in at 3 minutes giving this a different vibe for sure as the spacey winds die down. This is still really good though and those spacey winds do return.

"Machine Desperation" has this electronic beat with some incredible spacey sounds over top. That beat becomes more of the focus 3 minutes in as the spacey sounds continue over top. This is dramatic, then the loud beats calm down a minute later. I really like those spacey winds but as I listen closely I dig how it continually changes slightly over it's 10 minute length.

"Running Beyond The Dream" is the almost 20 minute side long closer. Distant sounds pulse, twitter and drift as it builds. It settles back but then turns louder after 4 minutes. After 5 1/2 minutes it's quiet, too quiet, but this song continues to evolve and change. Another quiet section 10 1/2 minutes in then it's louder at 15 minutes. I love how spacey it gets 17 minutes in.

This ranks right up there with some of my favourite RADIO MASSACRE INTERNATIONAL albums, it's that good.

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 Cottonwoodhill by BRAINTICKET album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.79 | 160 ratings

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Cottonwoodhill
Brainticket Krautrock

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

4 stars There are some strange musical releases have emerged since the dawn of the recording industry but some are certainly stranger than others. It's always a fine balance, that is to find an utterly alien way of expressing oneself through the possibilities of sound and another matter completely to keep the alienating feel while adding just the right amount of elements that entice the listener to experience it unto completion. While formed in Switzerland with a diverse grouping of different European musicians, BRAINTICKET was the brainchild of Belgium born Joel Vandroogenbroeck whose study of classical and jazz went astray as the psychedelic 60s hit full force, leading him into temptation which ultimately led to the forbidden psychedelic fruit that led to his Krautrock infused band BRAINTICKET. The debut COTTONWOODHILL was famous in the psychedelic scene that the original LP sleeve carried the following warning: "After Listening to this Record, your friends may not know you anymore" and "Only listen to this once a day. Your brain might be destroyed!" While that may have been a nice gimmicky exaggeration and perhaps more true in the year 1971 when it was released, it does however portend to the listener that they are in for one demented, explorative and crazy piece of work.

By some COTTONWOODHILL is one of the trippiest records made of the era, however such claims are subjective of course depending which lysergic pastures one would graze in but unorthodox i believe is an adjective upon which everyone could agree and COTTONWOODHILL retains a distinct identity that sounds neither derivative nor copied decades after its release. It remains an utterly unique specimen tucked into myriad displays of psychedelic free form expression of the era. The album is essentially three tracks with the first two "Black Sand" and "Places Of Light" existing in a more "normal" plane of psychedelic and progressive rock that sounds like they could have even been playing on the stage of Austin Powers' warehouse in late 60s London. The tracks are surprisingly rooted in funk rock with a groovy bass, heavy drumbeat and prominent organ dominance with guitar licks adding the extra touch. While the album is filled with vocals, this isn't the normal type of vocal rock album as the vocals are never straightforward and directly sung. On the contrary they either emerge through the din of a processed electronic effect or are more commonly doled out in spoken narrative form especially by the psychotropic ranting freak outs of Dawn Muir.

While "Black Sand" is a heavy funk rocker, "Places Of Light" is light-hearted 60s sounding affair with Vandroogenbroeck cranking out pleasant flute melodies and keyboard runs. Muir begins her spoken word philosophical rants on this track and in a way the two openers are merely there to whet the appetite for the three part "Brainticket Suite" which takes up a whopping two thirds of the album and utilizes the same frantic groove for the majority of its duration. This groove is the combo effect of Vandroogenbroeck's hyperactive funk organ and the loop effect of Ron Bryer's guitar in sync with Werner Frohlich's slap bass guitar which serve as the anchoring foundation but pretty much everything else is fair game as everything from gargling water sounds, to atmospheric turbulence that sound like spaceships taking off to the seductive vocal rants of Dawn Muir come and go as the hypnotic groove creates a trancelike effect as all the accoutrements whizz on in a frantic flurry of activity. It is in effect an entertaining and skillfully crafted construction of order and chaos very much in sync with the visual imagery of the album artwork.

Upon my first experience of COTTONWOODHILL i was a little disappointed as i didn't find this as "trippy" as i had hoped it to be. There's something about the continuous and unrelenting groove loop that keeps this from taking me into the true lysergic lands of total escapism, but i have to keep reminding myself that this was 1971 when this came out and even so is still very much rooted in the 60s psychedelic scene that it was only a baby step removed from. It's better to look at this one as the mixing of not only the most psychedelic rock of the era but also of the ostinato musical elements that much of progressive rock was utilizing in order to allow various musicians to solo around. In this case, it's not the musicians who are doing the soloing but rather the sound effects, spoken word freak outs and collage of incessant swarms of noise that are the focus however the never changing groove loop with ever changing everything else is quite unsettling at first! While BRAINTICKET would continue to record with an ever changing lineup conquering new musical arenas with every release, COTTONWOODHILL sounds like no other, neither in their own canon or in any other band's for that matter. An utterly unique musical statement at the peak of psychedelic musical freedom. One that should be experienced to be believed :)

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 ObZen by MESHUGGAH album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.66 | 208 ratings

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ObZen
Meshuggah Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Something_Wicked

4 stars Obzen is a contraction of the words 'obscene' and 'zen', in that the music within is the heaviest, densest and to many the most brutal, yet it imparts a trance like state on the individual. One may get lost in the cyclic odd time rhythms, counting out the numbers like some kind of Buddhist's litany, or maybe caught in the gentle atmospherics that envelope the sheer anger and energy, transcending the filth, simultaneously detaching from and becoming one with the music. And after the fact, however many times you've made the journey through the music, you'll always want to go again, to revisit the plane in which you observed the mingling dance of dark and light, but each time is never the same.

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 Transparent (as Zos Kia / Coil) by COIL album cover Studio Album, 1984
3.00 | 1 ratings

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Transparent (as Zos Kia / Coil)
Coil Progressive Electronic

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

— First review of this album —
3 stars After COIL released their debut album "Scatology" in 1984, they quickly released a collection of their earliest primal and mind- altering sonic experiments from the early 80s from the brief time when they would be closely connected with yet another errant electronic band Zos Kia, a project of John Gosling which was an offshoot of John Balance's Psychic TV. The two groups were essentially the same at this point separated in identity only by name showing the complex revolving door policies of the early industrial sound collage movement in the early 80s. These tracks on this only album to be released with the ZOS KIA moniker attached contain some of the most horrific sounds ever to be recorded onto tape with bombilations so utterly unsettling that i can not think of another album that exudes the primal essence of fear and so successful delves deep into the psyche of the listener to locate the ultimate sonic methodology for evoking intense discomfiture.

Originally released by Nekrophile only on the cassette format, the collection would finally find a home on CD in 1997 (with a different track order) by Threshold House and in 1998 Eskaton would reissue a vinyl edition. Finally in 2016 these rough drafts of soundtracks for nightmares would undergo a remastering and released by Cold Spring with two bonus tracks that were recorded by the pre-ZOS KIA noisemakers AKE and show a glimpse of the live underground event played at the Equinox event on June 21, 1983. TRANSPARENT is a bona fide history lesson in the errant nihilistic origins of COIL when they existed side by side on various Rising From The Red Sand compilations with other avant-garde electronically leaning artists like Nurse With Wound, Attrition, Konstruktivists, Lustmord and the Legendary Pink Dots. Likewise these recordings point to the antecedents of COIL's rather eccentric and occult interests and how they relay them in sonic form which continued throughout their multi-decade career which include wax cylinder recordings of Aleister Crowley and inspiration from his disciples especially Austin Osman Spare.

After the somewhat synthpop oriented debut "Scatology" that showed a slightly normal side of COIL, the collection of tracks on TRANSPARENT is downright frightening in comparison. Although some tracks like "Rape" (titled "Violation" on original release) would find their home in a new packaging on a future album (can't pinpoint it), most of these tracks are non-musical and focus more on rhythmic bursts of noise punctuated by intense spoken manifestos or psychotic keyboard deliveries that makes most horror soundtrack music seem like a walk through Disneyland. In sync with the chaos that is the discography of COIL, some tracks are solely credited to COIL, some solely to ZOS KIA and others to both while the bonus tracks are credited to the earlier KIA outfit AKE. Often referred to as monochrome psychedelia, TRANSPARENT even utilizes of all kinds of freaky everyday noises to scare the bejesus out of you. The track "Silence And Sorcery" for example is nothing more than a background of rhythmic crickets chirping with industrial noises randomly jumping from the abyss to signify their presence.

Listening to TRANSPARENT is a journey into the darkest recesses of the mind that captures the most disconcerting sonic amalgamation of factors that create an aura of shock and awe. While COIL would continue on to add more musical elements to their unique style of psychic torture, they would continue to employ many of the same non-musical elements that were laid out at this early stage with some of these tracks being cannibalized and used for sound effects in later offerings. TRANSPARENT is an interesting historical artifact that clearly lays out the antecedents of COIL's ascension into the industrial underground and also displays the less than clear delineation between all the affiliated groups and sub-groups that existed in the fluid world of John Balance and Peter Christopherson. TRANSPARENT is a must for those who crave the shadowy sonic expressions of the underground industrial world of the early 1980s when strange new unthinkable sound combinations were codifying a new "musical" movement that would find more prominence a decade later but for the uninitiated this could be considered a sonic assault that may leave them shivering under their sheets for days.

3.5 rounded down

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 Paranoid by BLACK SABBATH album cover Studio Album, 1970
4.29 | 862 ratings

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Paranoid
Black Sabbath Prog Related

Review by Luqueasaur

5 stars The Band Who Progressed Beyond Prog Rock: 9/10

Following BLACK SABBATH's unexpectedly revolutionary debut (but harshly criticized by contemporaneous critics), the band crew wanted to continue exploiting their mojo releasing yet another state-of-art unpredictably heavy album only a few months later, PARANOID. Consequentially to Paranoid released as a single, it became a monstrous hit, cementing decisively the directions of the newly founded heavy metal genre. Of course, they weren't the only ones to bring up bone-crushing riffs and occultist lyricism ' LUCIFER'S FRIEND proves my point ' but their success made them the most influential act and consequentially the forerunners of the genre.

Worthy of note among all musicians is the guitarist Tony Iommi. He will not go down in history as a virtuoso player or amazing soloist; instead, his merit lies on his riff craftsmanship, manufacturing simple but outstanding licks that would remain in popular culture for years to come. To quote Ozzy Osbourne, '...Tony Iommi turned out to be one of the greatest heavy rock riff-makers of all time. Whenever we went into the studio we'd challenge him to beat his last riff ' and he'd come up with something like 'Iron Man' and blow everyone away.'

PARANOID also inaugurated BLACK SABBATH's creative method that would stick: Iommi would compose the riffs, followed by Ozzy's melody implementation, Geezer (bassist) providing lyrics and Ward (drummer) structuring the rhythm.

Originally, the album was more a little more Satanic: War Pigs and its festival of doom was originally Walpurgis ' a reference to Satanists' 'Christmas' ' where Iommi wanted to express his concern over Satanists, 'these people who are running the banks and the world and trying to get the working class to fight the wars for them'. The band intended on making this track the title, but the record company perceived Paranoid's commercial potential (simple, hard rockin' riffs, how not?) and preferred it instead, a wise move. Electric Funeral, the nuclear apocalyptic omen, is an interesting track ' mostly lugubrious and prophetic, yet featuring an electric midsection jam. Rat Salad, apparently, had a 45-minutes-long drum solo' Ward just can't get enough of jammin'. Fairies Wear Boots tells the tale of Ozzy's terrible encounter with skinheads.

Planet Caravan is an astoundingly soothing and unfit track for the album's atmosphere, being a mixture of psychedelic and space rock that floats beyond conventions for the time ' distorted vocals, bongo playing and a jazzy guitar intersection ' and delves much further into the trippy portion than Pink Floyd ever had. Telling the tale of intelligent beings voyaging across the universe, they eventually glance upon Earth, 'the crimson eye / of great god Mars', a beautiful metaphor for humankind's incessant warmongering nature.

PARANOID is a musical milestone in every angle visible. Its subversive approach to music ruptured with the epoch's 'lightheartedness paradigm', giving prominence to heavier sonorities and themes unlike anything ever before. Not only this, but it also defied the ascending contemporaneous trend, progressive rock, being its opposite in many ways: sepulchral rather than theatrical; succinct rather than complex; conventional rather than purposely eccentric.

I urge anyone who didn't experiment PARANOID to do so as soon as humanly possible: not only it is a great heavy metal album, it is one of the foundational (great) heavy metal albums. In a certain way, you'd have to thank BLACK SABBATH whenever you listened to a metal band like, say, OPETH; well, thank them by listening to their magnum opus. I'm sure Iommi will be happy to know you're woke about the Satanists' true nature.

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 We're Here Because We're Here by ANATHEMA album cover Studio Album, 2010
4.04 | 835 ratings

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We're Here Because We're Here
Anathema Experimental/Post Metal

Review by The Crow
Prog Reviewer

4 stars We had to wait seven years for Anathema to come back... And they returned with one of their best albums!

Taking the deep and mature sound of the underrated A Natural Disaster, Anathema developed their sound a steep further with the help of the mixing of Steven Wilson, achieving not only their best sounding release to date, but also their most homogeneous in terms of songwriting and quality.

Thin Air opens We're Here Because We're Here energically, with beautiful lyrics and enough progressive moments to satisfy the most demanding fans of the band. The general ambient of this song is a less dark and melancholic the in previous albums, offering a surprising change in the band's direction, a lot more optimistic and bright. Just like the cover of the album!

Summer Night Horizon brings back the best moments of A Natural Disaster with mellow melodies but intense drums and a precious duet between Vincent and Lee, confirming that this album of 2003 was an advance of what the band would later do. Dreaming Light is even better, and a tremendous proof of how Vincent Cavanagh improved his voice through the years. Maybe the lyrics are a bit corny, but that's not so important while we are hearing the marvelous guitar and keyboard solo.

Everything was a single that we heard years before We're Here Because We're Here was released, and a great song despite its obvious Coldplay influences. It's also a very good act in live performances of the band. Angels Walk Among Us is my favorite song of the album. Another sentimental lyrics with splendid guitar melodies in the background. Prodigious!

Presence is musically a follow up of the previous track, but it contains some kind of philosophical speech in consonance with the mood of the album. A Simple Mistake is a bit more melancholic, a bit in the vein of Judgement but without reaching the best moment of this album. A good track nevertheless, with strong guitars towards the end.

Get Off Get Out is the most experimental moment of the album, and also one of its lowest moment. Is not a bad song, just anodyne? Luckily Universal is a better. A orchestral song with beautiful singing from Vincent and a very powerful second half. This should have been the ending of the album, because Hindsight is just pleasant, but not brilliant. And also a bit too long, making a good second half of the album, but not so outstanding as the first five songs.

Conclusion: despite its weak moments, We're Here Because We're Here is a very good Anathema album. Sometimes even excellent. It introduced a brighter and more optimistic stage for the band, which would encounter an excellent follow-up on Weather Systems. It has also a very competent production and mixing (the hand of Steve Wilson is there) and even the sometimes showy lyrics can't ruin the excellent songwriting that the band achieved during its almost seven years without releasing an album.

Best Tacks: Thin Air, Summer Night Horizon, Dreaming Light, Everything, Angels Walk Among Us.

My rating: ****

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 David Gilmour by GILMOUR, DAVID album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.49 | 285 ratings

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David Gilmour
David Gilmour Prog Related

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

3 stars PINK FLOYD is a good example of a band in which the musical magic is a sum of many parts, and the relatively modest solo discography of its members underlines that fact. Think of Rick Wright: Broken China (1996) is sonically pretty interesting but in the end terribly boring. The winner of the foursome is undoubtedly the main songwriter Roger Waters, even if there had been only Amused to Death (1992) and the new album. And what about David Gilmour then? russellk's two-star review of this eponymous debut hits the nail by saying that Gilmour offers Pink Floyd "accessibility, professionalism and excellent guitar skills", and that this album "also shows us that Gilmour hasn't got a lot to say".

Which indeed doesn't mean it wouldn't be a fairly pleasant listen. Gilmour, practically teamed only with the rhythm section, does a good job as a musician and producer. The weakness lies clearly in the songwriting. The opening instrumental 'Mihalis' sounds good but it doesn't really go anywhere. Nor the sung songs are very memorable. Perhaps the most solid one 'There's No Way Out of Here' wasn't even written by himself. The strong lyricism of Waters is deeply missed here. The typically tidy Gilmourian blues flavour is well audible, for example on [another song!] 'No Way'. By the way, a Finnish-language adaptation of 'Short and Sweet', co-written with Roy Harper, appeared three years later on the album of singer-songwriter Hector.

The progressive aspect of this album remains sadly quite minimal. The relationship to the music of Pink Floyd can be recognized. On the nicely named instrumental 'Deafinitely' one hears some echoes from 'Sheep', or to be more precise, from its fanfare-like final section. (I happened to hear it live last Saturday on a wonderful prog covers -oriented gig, in which that composition was actually the least interesting one.) All in all, "David Gilmour" is a justified, if rather forgettable, addition to your Floyd-related stuff, but I'd rather recommend the more atmospheric On an Island (2006). 2½ stars rounded upwards.

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 Terminal Redux by VEKTOR album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.94 | 107 ratings

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Terminal Redux
Vektor Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by The Crow
Prog Reviewer

4 stars A brutal travel through space and death!

Hearing Terminal Redux is like being propelled through light years of heinous wars, apocalyptic starship crashes and obscure mythologies. The concept of the album is obtuse and difficult to understand, but also an adventure to discover, just like the music of Vektor. They proudly carry the banner of technical death metal today. And they deserve it!

The production of the album is also very solid, leaving space for every instrument. I would mention the guitars, which sound piercing and pristine, and also the powerful drums. Maybe the bass is a bit low for my taste, but that's usual in thrash and death metal anyway. But let's talk about the songs!

Charging the Void introduces us in a very powerful way in the style of the album. A very technical and fierce death metal but with tons of epic melodies, really catchy for adventurous listeners. The DiSanto vocals are pure black metal nevertheless, and they are accompanied in this song by splendid clean female choirs. A very solid, progressive and surprising song!

Cygnus Terminal is a bit more melancholic and melodic, but also powerful and it contains incredible drumming from Blake Anderson. LCD is even faster, with brutal lyrics with helps to define the concept of the record. And then comes Mountains Above the sun, a very wise track which introduces variety while being just an introduction for Ultimate Artificer, a song which is a bit more classic death metal, but it contains some of the best riffs of the album.

But hey... The second half of the CD is even better! Pteropticon is one of the most complete songs of the album with its devilish speed and brutal melodies. Is one of the best written tracks. Psycotropia increases the craziness level and it contains one hell of a bass solo. And Pillars of Sand follow the more straightforward line of Ultimate Artificer... At this point we start to feel again the album needs a change.

And then we find Collapse! A semi-acoustic and beautiful track with clean vocals which increases its intensity progressively bringing a beautiful moment when clean vocals and growls unite, making a very original and catchy section. The final part of the song is a bit more conventional, but also great. Another marvelous bass playing from Frank Chin!

Recharging the Void... If I had to introduce Vektor to someone, this would be the chosen song to do that. Over 13 minutes of epic melodies, haunting clean choirs, brutal guitars and incredible riffs. It's arguably the best song of the album and one of the highlights in Vektor's career. Just a must hearing song for every prog metal lover! Just like the rest of the album.

Conclusion: Terminal Redux has a pair of not so brilliant moments where the music can be a bit repetitive. But as a whole is just one of the best metal albums of this decade. Superb songwriting, cryptic concept and impressive instrumental skill which brings to mind the best technical death metal moments of the 90's while it achieves to sound different and very actual.

If you are not scared by extreme metal and black metal vocals, you should give Terminal Redux a chance. It's a very impressive release from which confirms that Vektor are not the future of metal anymore. They are the present!

Thank you for this great experience, guys.

Best Tracks: Charging the Void, Pteropticon, Psycotropia, Collapse, Recharging the Void.

My rating: ****1/2, rounded down to four stars.

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 The Second Brightest Star by BIG BIG TRAIN album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.94 | 60 ratings

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The Second Brightest Star
Big Big Train Crossover Prog

Review by axeman

4 stars I actually like this more than Grimspound. I consider the versions of the songs London Plane and Brooklands what they *should* have released on Folklore. So the redone songs don't bother me near as much as hearing the tracks "in full" (as I consider them). And quite enjoyable. A lot of kudos were lobbed at Plane when Folklore came out, but I never saw much in it, Brooklands having always been my favorite prog epic on that album--but given the versions on this release I could easily ash can the Folklore versions and just play the ones here. It's a pleasure to hear more development in these songs.

But, the main reason I prefer this to Grimspound, as many times as I've listened to the latter, I can't remember much clear *division* in the album--other than Brave Captain. Meanwhile, with fewer listens to this release, I can crisply remember the differences between the title song, Leaden Stour, and The Passing Widow. Also, it doesn't wear out its welcome with the "Aren't we artists special" self-indulgence that Grimspound seems to suffer from. Although a huge BBT fan back with Gathering Steam, I could not write a review of that release is I still don't know what it exactly is. Interesting music? No doubt. A pleasure to listen to? Yeah, outside of the air of self-congratulation I mentioned before.

Anyway, I can unabashedly say that I consider this release to be the superior release this year, even with the sort of utility drawer and re-release feel of Star. The title song and Leaden Stour are standouts, and have stuck in my head much quicker than anything from Grimspound. The title song is a an orchestrated ballad, with a slight torch song feel to the bass (Manners?), with segments of soft piano accompaniment to flute and violin, cascading to a Gregory solo accompanied by bright brass. Just a subtle and muted, smoothly flowing arrangement.

Haymaking is a song that moves them into a definitely thicker folk vein, a violin dance of sorts, joined in parts with the flute, and all grounded with a nice melodic bass line. Only broken up toward the end with an interlude of discord from synths, before ending with the spritely violin. Skylon, the third track moves back to the sort of smooth, torch song feel, which seems to suit Longdon's voice. This track moves to a minor key much quicker than the title track-- but still in my opinion differentiable from it. London Stone is an interesting acoustic instrumental, totally takes place between the piano and classical guitar (Sjöblom?). Quite a nice contained piece. The Passing Widow goes back to the piano ballad, and is probably the most poppy song on the album. Well done and listenable, even if I can't say that I'm glad that it's on the release. (Who knows though. Telling the Bees was my least favorite on Folklore, but became a sing-along favorite). It also sounds like there's nary an electric instrument on it as well as the previous piece.

Leaden Stour carries much in the same vein, but it seems the guys knew that they couldn't do another pure piano ballad thing, so there some nice soft jazz guitar and a bass line behind this one. Plus it has a brass intro into their upbeat bridge, a sort of jazz ensemble feel to it. But what's really irresistible is the jazz outro 7 minutes into it.

And as I mentioned before Brooklands and London Plane redux will be the versions of these songs that I'll be playing hence forth.

If there's anything lacking in this release, to me it's what BBT has been increasingly lacking over time. Di Virgillio is from a band that was on Metal Blade records, one of Sjöblom's last albums with Beardfish was pretty heavily rock, Spawton could blaze away on guitar on Difference Machine's Perfect Cosmic Storm and Pick up. I really like the sophisticated variations on pop of the ages these guys are putting out, but would it kill them to just rock out some time?

But one thing that's nice to hear on either albums this year is that they seem to have corrected the mistake on Folklore of burying D'Virgilio down in the mix.

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 Voices In My Head by RIVERSIDE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2005
3.60 | 201 ratings

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Voices In My Head
Riverside Progressive Metal

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

3 stars After RIVERSIDE released their debut album "Out Of Myself," they were met with unexpected critical acclaim and became the next best thing in the progressive rock world with their Steven Wilson / Porcupine Tree inspired take on emotional atmospheric rock with the extra oomf of metal elements popping in from time to time. The band set out to release what they called the "Reality Dream Trilogy" which would conclude with their second and third albums "Second Life Syndrome" and "Rapid Eye Movement." Tucked in between the first two album though the band decided to slip in a little EP called VOICES IN MY HEAD which is a collection of things to come as well as things that have been. While originally released in 2005 through Mystic Production, the band soon became singed to InsideOut Music where it has been released ever since.

VOICES IN MY HEAD contains five studio tracks and three live tracks from their "Out Of Myself" debut release. The studio tracks are mostly acoustically played with a few electronic and distorted guitar effects added in from time to time making this one a lot mellower of an experience than even the already chilled out debut. The tracks "Us" and "The Time I Was Daydreaming" would be reworked and partially reappear on "Rapid Eye Movement." On later releases there is also a video for the song "Acronym Love." Despite emerging in the middle of the "Reality Dream Trilogy" series, VOICES IN MY HEAD is not officially considered a part of this sequence but instead can merely be deemed a supplemental fan extra for those who can't get enough of this stuff.

Four of the tracks are in a mellow acoustic mode with clear inspiration from Porcupine Tree with progressive rock melodies and those tricky vocal counterpoints with the instruments. Mariusz Duda while sounding distinct in his own right nails the Steven Wilson stylistic approach as does his guitar combo effect with Piotr Grudzinski who at any given moment could easily slip any of these tracks on any Steven Wilson solo offering and no one would blink an eye. The track i find most interesting is the downtempo a la Massive Attack's "Mezzanine" album sound as heard on "Dna ts. Redum or F.Raf" which means who knows what but has a cool chilled interplay between the hypnotic groove, strong guitar riffs and Duda's rollercoaster ride of emotional vocalizations.

The live tracks show how easily RIVERSIDE connected with audiences and that their charisma wasn't limited to the studio. All those vocal harmonies and syncopated progginess were just as powerful in a live setting. The title track to "Out Of Myself" is by far the strongest track of this lot with that infamous stellar bass groove and strong melodic hooks that give RIVERSIDE their own sound if only for a while and should rightfully be called "Out Of Porcupine Tree" territory. Personally i find this music beautifully performed with a superior production job that allows every little swish and swirl to be heard in a crystal clear haze. My main gripe with VOICES IN MY HEAD is that it unfortunately prognosticates the fairly early burnout of creativity with the band and points to the day when they would slowly remove the heavier elements and fall completely within the derivative sounds of Steven Wilson, which is completely admirable in how well they accomplish that no small feat, but just not want i want to hear another band pulling off. One Porcupine Tree is fine, thank you. Overall a decent EP but i really only find their first two albums essential and then they lose my attention.

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 Terra Ancestral by CRISÁLIDA album cover Studio Album, 2015
4.00 | 7 ratings

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Terra Ancestral
Crisálida Neo-Prog

Review by memowakeman
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars This a wonderful album!

Last year I had the chance to meet the Crisálida guys while visiting Mexico City, I witnessed a great intimate show where they played several songs from their repertoire, focused on Terra Ancestral, which is their latest album and in my favorite so far. Besides listening to them in concert, I could know them better since we spent a day together with some friends, taking the band to some nice places in Mexico City, so it was a pretty cool experience and I hope to see you guys sometime soon.

This Chilean band has brough some folkish tunes on their discography, however, in this album we can notice a clear tendency to the heavy side of prog, touching the prog metal realm. The album has 7 songs that make a total time of 40 minutes in which Cinthia Santibáñez enchants us with her voice, while Atilio Sánchez gives his always accurate and powerful drum playing, perfectly accompanied by young prodigy Damián Agurto on guitars and the great Octopus-man Braulio Aspé on bass. A great combo! This record opens with "Cabo de Hornos" which is a great first track because since the first two minutes they give us a hint of how powerful their music can be in both, instrumental or with vocals. I love the bass lines here (I once was a bass player, in another life), and also love the guitar solo in the last part of the song.

"Morir aquí" works as the perfect single of this album. It starts soft with a kind of post-rock feeling and then when vocals enter it becomes heavier and powerful, Santibáñez is a wonderful singer indeed. This track might be catchy, since it is easy to learn the lyrics, but the song itself makes you feel part of it. Great! "Bosque triste" is a nice track that confirms they are into the heavy side of prog rock. The balance between instrumental passages and the ones with vocals is wonderful, so in the end the four musicians are equally important. "Hidromachi" is very melodic, beautiful in some moments, disarming in others, I love the lyrics here, very touchy. In the last part Aspé provides delicate bass lines which later will be accompanied by funeral-drums and nice guitars.

"Lágrimas negras" is one of the softest track of the album at least for the first three minutes which are delicate, with nice guitars and a sense of tranquility, but beware, after those three minutes it explodes and becomes heavier, like a wave of rage for a brief moment. Later it becomes more and more emotional, and it includes a piano that can be heard softly as background. Great track! "Kawesqar" is the longest track. It starts again with a kind of post-rockish guitars, making let's-say-a-modern-prog-sound that I like a lot. This song brings lots of passages and atmospheres, it is a very nice musical journey that has a climax after four minutes where an outstanding guitar solo appears. The album finishes with "Violeta Gris", the shortest composition and also the softest of them all. The sense of goodbye is evident here, one can feel the melancholy.

Great album by Crisalida, very solid that even opened them the gates to perform with Orphaned Land in an European tour. This is a great band, believe me.

Enjoy it!

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 Banquet by LUCIFER'S FRIEND album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.98 | 124 ratings

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Banquet
Lucifer's Friend Heavy Prog

Review by Luqueasaur

3 stars Heavy prog? More like light jazz: 6/10

What do you think that would be the world's reaction if BLACK SABBATH, on their fourth album, decided to swap their sonority to jazz fusion? In short terms, this is what happened here. Heavy & doom metal (too) forerunners LUCIFER'S FRIEND took no time to abandon their dark style and opt for freaking jazz. Doing something like this in the 70s naturally got them criticized; it was an era where familiarity was fundamental for a band's success (no one would buy BLACK SABBATH hoping for jazz fusion) after all. Actually, they did this swap earlier - on their second album - but it was with BANQUET they departed from everything they represented hitherto. A highly venturesome move and progressive indeed.

Sadly, they don't do so well. BANQUET is a mountain peak album. It climaxes rapidly, but its captivation dies equally quickly. There are no flaws found in Spanish Galleon, the album's peak: John Lawton's vocal performance is intense, the guitar is virtuoso, the piano is smooth and quick-paced, and Herb Geller's brass sections sounds terrific. Simply put, it is a perfect multi-layered allegory for what a band can achieve with jazz fusion pretensions. Thus Spoke Oberon - the edge of the cliff - lacks the instrumental eclecticism, being more guitar and piano oriented, but is nonetheless good.

What happens next is that LUCIFER'S FRIEND bluesy sides, which weren't properly exorcised, start to speak louder. The frenzied energy begins to fade, turning mostly into piano tracks a la Elton John (with, uhm, 'jazz', I suppose). High- Flying Lady is an absolute buzz killer after the first two excellent tracks. Sorrow is as large as Spanish Galleon but not nearly as interesting. Dirty Old Down is almost boogie-woogie, if I recall correctly.

The supposedly defunct band, thanks to the internet, hit the road again since 2015. LUCIFER'S FRIEND released an (apparently) good album in 2016. They are also actively searching for their old record songs' lyrics. For as much as BANQUET failed to impress me as a jazz fusion album, I recommend trying it nonetheless. The first two tracks (which by themselves are roughly half the album) suffices to make it a worthy purchase. Well, worthy enough to make me interested on its creators' interesting historic after all, especially now they've been brought back from the dead.

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 Si On Avait Besoin D'Une Cinquième Saison by HARMONIUM album cover Studio Album, 1975
4.35 | 1148 ratings

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Si On Avait Besoin D'Une Cinquième Saison
Harmonium Symphonic Prog

Review by Queen By-Tor
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

5 stars I recently came across a copy of this on vinyl in pristine condition at my favorite record store. I had purchased it on CD many years ago as a young progressive rock rookie and had been completely enamored by it then. So, at a price that suggested the store probably didn't know what they had, I picked up this album and excitedly gave it a spin for the first time in years.

My goodness, how I have missed this exquisite francophone masterwork.

Si on Avait besoin d'une Cinquième Saison is Harmonium's 2nd of three albums and while not their most ambitious, certainly their most accomplished. Translating to "If We Had Need of a Fifth Season" (just let that paint a picture for you for a second), the album is a concept work featuring five compositions, each representing a season, with the final track representing the imaginary Fifth Season. Like many classic symphonic works of the day, this album makes use of a myriad of music performed on a variety of instruments with effortless coalescence. The difference here is the unique flavor that this Montreal group is able to bring to the fray. Mandolin, grand pianos, mellotron and synthesizers, piccolo and zither harp along with the standard rock outfit of instruments paints each season with care, personality and precision while managing to keep the overall tone of the album upbeat to the point of being soothing.

Vert opens with a perfect introduction of how the music of the album is going to treat you, Soft flutes build with vocals that eventually become soaring. I also recommend translating the lyrics for this one because the music with the accompanying imagery of the opening of flowers "who are remembering their colors" is nothing short of spectacular. Dixie is unmistakable as Summer's track. It's jangling and fun guitars join with more soothing vocals that lead into a bouncy, intricate trade off in extended soloing between multiple instruments that join in conclusion to one of progressive rock's most upbeat songs. It's here that, in tandem with the first track, the band finishes working with musical themes presented on their debut album and wet the palate for the symphonic that is about to come.

Starting with Depuis L'Automne the band expands their sound into something lush and consuming. The delicate vocal intro builds into mellotron spiced harmonies with the rest of the players coming in gradually and organically building this soft and intricately structured suite. The lush sounds continue onto side two with En Pleine Face, a song that captures the essence of a cold winter while still maintaining the warm atmosphere that permeates on the album.

But it's Histoires Sans Paroles that really steals the show here. Representative of the fifth season, this 17-minute epic builds with the band's unique francophone flavor supported by flute and mellotron, mixing melancholy with trance-inducing instrumentals. Cinematic passages towards the end of the song providing a contrast between the otherwise utopian themes with something a little more realistic and dark that gives the album a thematic edge above and beyond "this is a happy album". It gives the audience somewhere to think and reflect, to be grateful for the happiness without pushing too far into depressing territory. It is a symphonic-instrumental masterpiece, reaching levels that contemporaries like Yes were able to attain.

I was shocked when I drifted past PA to check out my decade-old review of the album, only to discover that I never actually reviewed it. This is an absolutely essential piece of the progressive rock canon. If you see it, get it, especially if you can find it on vinyl. The artwork and the full gatefold are just as lush as the music within. Stream it if you want a taste before you dive in headlong, but by all means, give this album some of your time and attention. If symphonic prog is your thing and you don't already know this album from cover to cover, listen to this as soon as you can.

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 Valleys Of Neptune by HENDRIX, JIMI album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.20 | 51 ratings

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Valleys Of Neptune
Jimi Hendrix Proto-Prog

Review by AZF

5 stars This album is the closest we've had commercially released of The Jimi Hendrix Experience (Until the excellent West Coast Seattle Boy) than could be thought of as The Beatles Anthology. Or even the closest to the recent Pink Floyd studio boxset. It contains three tracks of Mitch Mitchell and the legend Noel Redding overdubbed in 1987, under the watchful eye of Chas Chandler. It predates "Free As A Bird" by many years and is more satisfying than the final two Beatles singles made from Lennon's gifted tapes. Possible legalities negated as all the personnel involved are no longer on this planet to hear the 'Valleys Of Neptune" as it was released in 2010.

12 tracks and excluding the three tracks not mentioned as in introduced, there is enough material of the Experience that together with some of the highlights of the second disc of "West Coast Seattle Boy" would have made an impressive stop gap and final word on the band had it been compiled and released in 1969 and what an insight into Jimi's perfection the album is. And what an oversight of management my fantasy outtakes album never happened in 1969.

One interesting part of the album for me are the time snaps of Noel Redding in 1969, sounding flippant and bored with yet another play through of a life staple "Hear My Train A'Coming". My preferred version is the BBC version if not his single acoustic filmed. Despite how bored Noel sounds, Hendrix paints a canvas and sounds so relaxed but confident. Compare that to the post-9/70 Redding on the final track "Crying Blue Rain". A snapshot of Jimi recorded in London self produced that in June the 5th, Noel and Mitch added their parts that not just pick up from where they left off with the slow blues, they keep up and follow Jimi as he has an instrumental freakout of chord sequences. Leaving the album and listener left alone in the stratosphere to descend back to your lives.

Although some material was reworked by the driven Jimi, the fact that Ezy Ryder got the riff means we were robbed of "Lullaby For The Summer" being associated with the greatest way the band could have bowed out of.

It sounds great listened to in full on these bright warm nights, the studio take of Red House is better than the version on the US Are You Experienced?. But it sounds more lived in. You can hear the fact Hendrix wanted to get the sound bigger. You can hear the band having everything they could possibly do just give expert performances that make the wrong notes and off beats hard to notice at first.

As excellent the recent live CDs of Hendrix have been, this studio album is as essential as First Rays Of The New Rising Sun and even Axis : Bold As Love. (Despite it being recorded after Electric Ladyland). When he lets the guitar do the taking there really is no other. Stripped away from the endless retakes and attempts intended to be optimum, Jimi's messages still sound like they could have been made today.

5

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 The Slow Rust Of Forgotten Machinery by TANGENT, THE album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.07 | 18 ratings

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The Slow Rust Of Forgotten Machinery
The Tangent Eclectic Prog

Review by javajeff

4 stars I always expect a high quality progressive rock album with every release from The Tangent, and The Slow Rust Of Forgotten Machinery is no exception. Andy Tillison is one of the best keyboard players in the business, so I always describe his playing as electric. Like other Tangent releases, The Slow Rust Of Forgotten Machinery has a heavy infusion of jazz that takes the listener on a journey of unexpected turns. As far as compositions go, this is a stellar work to enhance his usually witty lyrics, and exceptional musicianship. It is nice to hear some female vocals mixed in to provide some harmonies, and there is also some spoken narration for variety. The entire band sounds great, and I am always happy with a new release from The Tangent. From the excellent cover art to the satisfying, old school, jazz infused rock and roll arrangements, this should please any progressive rock fan. This will be in my heavy rotation for quite a while.

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 Lost In Translation by THRESHOLD album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2017
5.00 | 5 ratings

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Lost In Translation
Threshold Progressive Metal

Review by Progrussia

5 stars This is apparently a lead-off song from the upcoming album, Legends of the Shires. And judging from it, after the more subdued and AOR-oriented For the Journey, we'll see a lot of the classic mid-period Threshold sound - epic hard rock with Pink Floydian breaks and melodic solos. And Threshold may also hold the distinction of having not only one, but two former vocalists returning to the mold (this time - Glynn Morgan). But despite the differences, they all suit this kind of music well. The 10-minute Lost in Translation may be the quintessential Threshold epic, if not for all the others. But despite the formulaic structure, it sure is catchy.

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 Awakening of the Elements - Revisited by LOST WORLD BAND album cover Studio Album, 2014
5.00 | 1 ratings

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Awakening of the Elements - Revisited
Lost World Band Crossover Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

— First review of this album —
5 stars

Back in 1990, three friends at music college formed a band, calling themselves Lost World. It took until 2003 for the debut album to be released, 'Trajectories', and after 'Awakening of the Elements' in 2006 the guys made a slight change to the name, and added 'Band'. Although there had been some slight changes over the years, the original three, Vassili Soloviev (flute), Andy Didorenko (acoustic and electric guitars, bass, acoustic and electric violins) and Alexander Akimov (keyboards, percussion, programming, sound design) are still there (and indeed all played on the most recent album, 2016's 'Of Things and Beings'). But 2011 saw the guys working with a new drummer, Konstantin Shtirlitz, and Andy's thoughts started to turn back to their second album, and wondered what it would sound like if they re-recorded the drums, added violins and then remixed it.

Well, it came out so well that they released it. I don't think I ever heard the original Musea CD, but I am so glad that Andy thought that I might like to hear this version! Russia has produced some amazing progressive rock bands, and Lost World Band have been a strong favourite of mine since I was sent the debut all those years ago (and looking among my racks I see I still have it). Influenced by the likes of King Crimson and UK, they can easily switch lead instruments from electric guitar to violin or flute, and given that they met at music college it is of course no surprise at all that they are all masters of their instruments. But, it is the arrangements and interplay that makes this album such a delight to listen to. There is a confidence and maturity that is pervasive, and Konstantin knows exactly what to add to provide emphasis and contrast to the melody. It can't have been an easy task taking on the role he was asked for, but the result is something that is complete, fresh, and totally enjoyable from beginning to end.

They can be bright and energetic, or laid back and thoughtful, while the opening title cut comes across as a mix of Kansas and Jethro Tull, with some more rocky guitar and a delightful Seventies feel as well as leads from both flute and violin. This is a great album, that flows and moves, so much so that the listener is never really sure where they are going to end up, but it doesn't matter as the journey is always so interesting. If you've never investigated Russian progressive rock then you should, and Lost World Band and this album are a great place to sta

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 From Here To The Impossible by KARIBOW album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.96 | 5 ratings

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From Here To The Impossible
Karibow Crossover Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

4 stars

I don't often receive CDs these days, a combination of many labels now using digital downloads for promotional purposes and living at the bottom of the world. So, I was pleased to firstly see a padded envelope, and even more pleased when I saw what was inside it as this is a beautifully put together release. A digipak, with great artwork, there is also a twelve-page booklet with all the lyrics, even more art, and details of who played on what song. This time Karibow have brought in some guests, but to all intents and purposes this isn't a band release but a project being run by Oliver R'sing, who on some numbers provides virtually all the instrumentation as well as the vocals. The clear majority of the songs feature Oliver and just one or two others, but as he is involved to such a high degree it does mean that there is continuity and a band feel.

The seventy-two-minute-long concept album is a neo-progressive masterpiece with great songs, wonderful vocals, and lots of different styles being displayed, with influences from IQ and U2 through Porcupine Tree and Steve Hackett. From the beginning to the end there is a feeling of direction and depth, with different effects being provided to provide emphasis. This could be the delicate use of saxophone, or wonderful duets between Oliver and Monique Van Der Kolk (Harvest). The result is a well-produced modern progressive rock album that will appeal to all fans of the genre.

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 Following The Unknown by JAM IT! album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.75 | 19 ratings

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Following The Unknown
Jam It! Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

3 stars

I feel incredibly fortunate at present, as I am being introduced to many Russian progressive rock bands, and here is yet another that has passed me by in the past that I am grateful to hear now. Formed in St. Petersburg in 2006, they have been operating as an instrumental outfit since 2010 and this 2015 release was their third (and latest) album. The quartet of Alexey Vostrikov (drums), Dmitry Medvinsky (bass), Konstantin Ilin (guitar) and Roman Savelyev (keyboards) are obviously influenced by the jazz rock fusion boom of the Seventies, but here it is firmly within the realm of progressive rock, and there are also some metallic influences which bring it right up to date. There should also be a special mention here of the treatment of the drums within production, as it often feels that instead of four instruments being blended together, that it is three plus one. The drums and cymbals are vibrant, bright and direct and given the versatility and musicianship being displayed by Alexey there is a major impact on the overall feel of the album.

Normally one would expect the rhythm section to be more controlled in this style of line-up, but here just Dmitry has the that role, with Alexey doing his thing, and then Konstantin and Roman both taking it in turns to provide melody and lead lines. It certainly never feels like a self-released album, as it is vibrant and fresh, never too self-indulgent but twisting and changing in a manner that is always interesting and fascinating. The metallic approach that is brought to bear at times is never too over the top or intrusive, but has a part to play in creating dynamics and emotion. Overall this is an enjoyable album that is well worth discovering.

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 Armed Observation by DOCTOR NERVE album cover Studio Album, 1987
4.30 | 14 ratings

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Armed Observation
Doctor Nerve RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Progfan97402

5 stars Found a used LP copy of this in a nearby Eugene, Oregon record store, and it really blew me away! I've been aware of Doctor Nerve since 1996, seen them described as something like "For those who no longer find Henry Cow challenging enough". I wouldn't say that, but it's still a wonderful and challenging listen like all the best in RIO. Armed Observation came out in 1987, on Cuneiform Records, a label which RIO seems to be a specialty (and it's nice to see Cuneiform Records is still around cranking out goodies). I remembered 1987 very well, being 14/15 that year. Mainstream music was pretty much a wasteland, you only needed to turn on to MTV or local rock station and get inundated with cheesy hair metal or synth pop. Debbie Gibson and Tiffany released their debuts, and Whitney Houston released her second album, which was equally popular as her debut. If, in the prog world, the best you can do is Big Generator by Yes, you're in trouble (Big Generator was a disjointed mess, and if you enjoyed 90125, you know that Big Generator just wasn't up to snuff). And of course Genesis still riding high from the previous year's Invisible Touch (but then Genesis hadn't really been prog since about the time Steve Hackett left, although you could argue about parts of Duke, though). Anyways, Armed Observation is just what I needed to hear from a 1987 release! Really twisted jazz-influenced RIO, that at times bring to mind the instrumental Zappa and Gentle Giant, both at their most "weird". The King Crimson influence has itself felt towards the end of the album with Fripp-like guitar. What I really love is the jazz approach. In the 1980s there was just way too much fuzak and smooth jazz infecting easy listening radio stations, and you can tell these guys wanted absolutely nothing to do with that, going for more of a late '60s/early '70s jazz influence. There's also a reminder of how Univers Zero may have ended up like if they were more jazz rock inclined. RIO is a genre that I don't always dig, as there is just way too much nonsense and messing about (too many groups trying to be "weird" for "weird's sake"), but I know good RIO when I hear it, and Doctor Nerve is one of those. This is just some crazy and demented stuff. The one Zappa song this album reminds me of is "The Eric Dolphy Memorial Barbecue" from Weasels Ripped My Flesh, which was clearly Zappa going full-on RIO before it ever existed! I also really appreciate that Doctor Nerve avoided synthesizers like the plague, as much as I enjoy the sounds of synths, you have to bear in mind this was 1987, and pretty dreadful digital synths were the rule of the day, and these guys clearly wanted nothing to do with that. So much '80s music ended up dated, and these guys avoided those dreaded '80s production tricks that dated so much of the music of the era badly. I can see why this music was called "Rock in Opposition" (I realize the name was coined by Chris Cutler for some 1978 music festivals featuring Henry Cow and similarly like- minded bands), as it was truly "in opposition" to what was popular, where they refused to dumb-down their music to follow fads. Anyways, Armed Observation is truly one of the best albums I have heard from the 1980s and if the description sounds great to you, this is a required album in your collection!

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 Pourquoi Es-Tu Si Méchant? by SUPER FREEGO album cover Studio Album, 1982
3.23 | 7 ratings

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Pourquoi Es-Tu Si Méchant?
Super Freego Zeuhl

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars I'm not too surprised that there's no written reviews for this one as it is quite rare. Released back in 1982 this particular album was advertised as a Zeuhl/ New Wave cross and that's a pretty good description. I took the plunge because I am a fan of both, especially Zeuhl so I was intrigued to say the least. SUPER FREEGO were a French band with male and female vocals which are shared quite evenly and often singing together. The biggest surprise for me was seeing that the Guillard brothers are both on here playing sax and trumpet respectively. They certainly give this some authenticity in Zeuhl circles as these two guys played with MAGMA and were part of WEIDORJE as well.

The music is often hyper which I have never liked. It's why I have had trouble getting into some of the Avant and Zeuhl bands from Japan who like to go a million miles an hour, just not my scene. Anyway it's mostly the vocals that turn me off especially when they turn theatrical and they are often the focus. Now having said that the instrumental work is faultless. Man the bass player kills on here as well as the drummer. Some inventive guitar playing here as well but as I said earlier it's hard to get past the vocals at times. It's catchy and uptempo with vocals in French.

Keep in mind this is rated fairly highly by a lot of music fans who know a lot more about music than I do, but all I know is that it doesn't suit my tastes more often than not despite being impressed many, many times throughout this 35 plus minutes of music. I just get irritated with the frenzied vocals and sound at times. And on a final note the album art is just plain bad in my opinion. Glad I got to finally spin this though.

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 Ride The Lightning by METALLICA album cover Studio Album, 1984
4.09 | 537 ratings

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Ride The Lightning
Metallica Prog Related

Review by Luqueasaur

5 stars So let it be played, so let it be heard, it was sent here by the chosen ones: 9/10

To call RIDE THE LIGHTNING revolutionary is an understatement. It is one of the most meaningful thrash metal albums, not only for its unmatchable quality but also for its genre-defining characteristic. Up to this point, thrash was an undefinable mishmash of violence and speed metal; now, thanks to those lads, it meant much more, requiring meaningful lyrics and more sculpted arrangements rather than raw aggression. Finally, thrash diverged from "the quick and craziest, the better" mentality.

It also represented METALLICA's maturation: no longer were they the "let's trash this hotel while drinking beer" as of KILL 'EM ALL. Starting here, some of their most celebrated characteristics began to develop: unusual complexity in their sound; rich lyrics that go beyond the usual (for the genre) "venting" purpose: rather than just expressing visible indignation, they are rather metaphorical and psychological about it; most importantly, we begin to see a shyly gritty sonority - no, not angry sonority, like death metal, neither a suffocating sonority like black metal. Gritty.

Honestly, all those characteristics, exactly for not fully ripening, are on point. RIDE THE LIGHTNING doesn't sound overly pessimistic as MASTER OF PUPPETS and neither as aggressive like in KILL 'EM ALL. Instead, virtus in medium est.

The most meaningful characteristic of RIDE THE LIGHTNING for me is the absolutely killer riffage and presence anthemic songs. Not a single track fall shorts on inspiration and energy, the title track and Creeping Death being unparalleled thrash hymns. METALLICA's unexpected burst of innovation brought us a gem. HIGHLY recommended for metal fans. If you didn't give this a shot, you should do. You will be...

... thunderstruck.

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 Starcastle by STARCASTLE album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.13 | 142 ratings

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Starcastle
Starcastle Symphonic Prog

Review by Luqueasaur

3 stars Unoriginal, YES, but not uninteresting or bad: 7/10

STARCASTLE is a controversial band; there is no way to deny that. It was born in 1969 in the United States, the nation that observed ecstatically the progressive juggling in progress in Europe. Many Americans looked to British bands as inspirations for their progressive attempts, STARCASTLE being perhaps the most? vigorously 'inspired'. They didn't spare any effort to mimic YES' sonority. The result was that, yes, STARCASTLE mirrored YES; but no, they didn't downright copy them.

The way I see it, it's really superficial to dismiss STARCASTLE as merely a copycat. For as much as both bands do sound alike, they are composed of different members. Therefore, the outputs are naturally different. STARCASTLE, roughly, is a diluted YES. They don't possess even one bit of the technical virtuosity or amazing composition creativity, yet they still resemble it. More than that, though, they add their own twist to their music ? you will, undoubtfully, think of YES through the entire album, but in the same way, you'll easily acknowledge it's a different band with different nuances. They created something similar, at best.

They're not just a copycat, no, because copycats often sound poor; this being the point that STARCASTLE fall shorts on the definition. They conserved YES' joviality, cheerfulness, lustful keyboards, and most importantly, enjoyability; they're far from poor. Their tracks are lighthearted and fun, with pinches ? exaggerated pinches ? of CLOSE TO THE EDGE and FRAGILE. In my opinion, Elliptical Seasons and Sunfield are the best demonstrations of STARCASTLE's potential. Potential translated into even a good attempt on Squire's unique bass line!

Terry Luttrell's voice has little to do with Jon Anderson's, whose vocal range is naturally more acute, whereas Luttrell clearly opts to remain on lower octaves. His voice sounds delicate as you'd expect from Anderson but still not imitative, which is one characteristic that also hinders to simply call them a bad replica.

Since they used an established band's music as foundations for them, they fall short on "progressive", being instead at best a symphonic rock band. I think it would be unfair to go anywhere above three stars on a band which doesn't put anything new on the table. Were it not for this, I would've solidly rated much more, because it is just so fun to listen to. Fans of FRAGILE and CLOSE TO THE EDGE, there's little reason why to avoid STARCASTLE's debut. Don't get scared by the "blatantly crappy replica" ? I think that's just (somewhat reasonable) outrage, being voiced over actual musical analysis.

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 Pike 268 - Sonar Rainbow by BUCKETHEAD album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.00 | 1 ratings

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Pike 268 - Sonar Rainbow
Buckethead Prog Related

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

— First review of this album —
3 stars BUCKETHEAD (as Bucketheadland) / Pike 268 - Sonar Rainbow / 25th release of 2017 / All instrumental / Contains 4 tracks / Clocks in at 29minutes 35seconds / everything played by Buck-buck-buckethead.

"Sonar Rainbow" (11:27) the longest track begins with an ambient flow and echoey clean guitar which insinuates a possible non-rock type of album but lo and behold a guitar jumps in and then like lemmings so does the bass and drum section. It continues to jam on building up a melody but slightly before the three minute mark slows down back to the echoey guitar type of intro but only for a while as a guitar solo erupts for a while. As it continues it becomes a repetitive sequence of guitar chords with a bluesy guitar solo around it. The production is pretty cool as the guitar sounds are processed in interesting ways that give a crisp unusual type of distortion to them, however the music is just like a gazillion other PIKEs that have this same jamming around a repetitive chord sequence. Personally i find it a bit boring

"The Maddening Of Mercury" (6:56) begins with a heavily distorted guitar riff that is downtrend and sounds rather monstrous with a few little squeals stuck in and then a guitar solo sputters all around it. The riff becomes a bit more chaotic. This one has a really cool hellish sound as it's all murky and highly cacophonous. When a guitar solo erupts again the riffs take a break but they come back soon enough. I like this one a lot. It has a rather loose compositional style with all kinds of different counterpoints that aren't predictable unlike the previous track. The bouncy distorted riffs have some jittery time signatures that seem a bit erratic as well. Half way through it changes it up and creates a more frenetic riff meets solo sequence. Lots of changes and dipping into strange surreal segments. Nice.

"Debris" (2:37) is a jittery little number that hops, skips and jumps around like a decapitated chicken but then settles into a steady beat and rhythm with crunchy guitars but also deviates into little dissonant segments that last a while before moving on. There is a dissonant relationship between the riffs and the lead guitar. Also very progressive in its time signature run. Another cool track.

"Venomous Fog" (8:35) starts out ambient like the first track but then jumps into a heavy guitar riff. After it properly introduces itself it quiets down for a few seconds. This one sounds much like the beginning track with a repetitive sequence of chords that allow the lead guitar to wank over although they appear less often at first and let the riffs simply do their rhythmic thang. It basically alternates between the heavier passages and then quiets things down for a while. The melodic development remains constant for the entire track. Another been there, done that a million times before type track. Not bad but fairly meh.

The first and last tracks are meh but i love the second two enough to give this three stars.

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 Beteigeuze by KARAKORUM album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.00 | 2 ratings

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Beteigeuze
Karakorum Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by JohnNicholson

4 stars M'hldorf, Germany-based retro proggers Karakorum have been around for a few years now. The quintet heavily relies on the 1970s progressive rock, but they also borrow from other styles such Krautrock, psychedelia, classic rock, etc. In March 2016, the band released a self-titled demo album, and three compositions from that recording is what make their full-length titled Beteigeuze available in a vinyl format from Tonzonen Records.

The lengthy tracks simply titled as 'Beteigeuze Pt. I,' 'Beteigeuze Pt. II,' and 'Beteigeuze Pt. III' bring floating ominous keyboards and ethereal guitar work which dominate all around the record. 'Part 2" has a majestic soundtrack feel with some lazy distorted Manuel G'ttsching-like guitars accompanying the tripped-out keyboards. "Part 3,' clocking at around 23 minutes has it all, it is mellow, but complex and deep, very reminiscent of vintage King Crimson meets Yes. There is a mesmerizing keyboard madness that could have been lifted from any of the 1970's prog records.

Now that I've got you intrigued enough to check out an incredible obscure album, head over to the Tonzonen Records website and make sure to get it in a LP format, because this kind of record deserves to be heard in all its glory in an old-fashioned way.

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 The Bride Said No by SYLVAN, NAD album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.01 | 69 ratings

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The Bride Said No
Nad Sylvan Crossover Prog

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

4 stars Nad Sylvan is of course the latest incarnation of the archangel Gabriel, providing a myriad of prog bands the ability to step up to the microphone and sing. To be fair though, his original voice is way more nasal and high-pitched than either Peter or Phil, so please, lets us forego the usual copycat platitudes, as it's simply not true. 'The Bride Said No' is his 5th solo album and quite possibly his best yet, garnering worldwide praise for his efforts. A cooperative effort between Nad and a slew of good friends to help, as some of the prog royalty deigned to show up on the menu. Steve Hackett, Roine Stolt and Guthrie Govan are among the top guitarists in rock period. Some interesting pairings on the rhythmic side with Tony Levin and Doane Perry on one set of tracks and Jonas Reingold bonding with Nick D'Virgilio on another series of pieces . These tandems do not get any better!

After a brief sonic intro, the whistling 'The Quartermaster' lays down the mood quite effectively, a modern prog ditty with thrash rhythms and a hard ass demeanor. Jonas carves the low end, Nick bashes persuasively and Nad sings his heart out, aided by some siren vocals from the ladies. Shimmer, shake and shambles, this is a rowdy adventure that owes a great deal to classic prog stories, flushed by some strident synth colorations.

A mammoth track like 'When the Music Dies' will win anyone over with the sheer magnificence of the melancholic melody, the glorious chorus and the intricate buildup to both. Nad's vocal delivery is not only deeply heartfelt but it's also overpoweringly impressive. Levin and Perry really do the modern rhythm tandem rather well, pulsating forward with glee. I love the similitude to the Bond theme of 'You Only Live Twice', a perfect melody and a genial arching chorus. This my friends, is the real deal. Killer!

More upbeat and very 'Genesisian' is 'The White Crown' with Reingold and D'Virgilio leading the process, involving some spooky synth passages, a high-pitched duet develops between Nad (who can hit the high notes) and backing female vocalist Sheona Urquhart, a very convincing piece of complexity.

On the sultry ballad 'What Have you Done', Nad tells quite the sweet story, trading vocals with Jade Ell and luxuriating in the breeze, sliced open by a long passionate Hackett solo followed by a patented Govan scorcher that smolders like phosphorus. This is another timeless piece of brilliance that cannot and should not escape awareness.

Another nugget is the bold and convincing 'Crime of Passion', with Roine Stolt conducting the proceedings with his slippery guitar rants, Jonas and Nick propelling resolutely and monstrous symphonic keys icing the cake. The orchestrations add a dramatic dimension to the arrangement that elevates it from its rather humble origins. Hackett makes another cameo as only he can, immediately identifiable and mesmerizing.

Tony Levin proves again why he remains the master of the 'basso profundo' (a live quote from the Gabe), manhandling the electric bass as well as the Chapman stick with genial bravado on the romantic and cinematographic 'A French Kiss in an Italian Caf'. Allied with splendid backing vocals from Urquhart and Ell, sliced by some more Hackett , Nad overflows with bittersweet ''l'gance' and 'amore', deliberately emoting on the highest plane. Urquhart blasts a very Roxy Music-ish sax solo to finish off.

The title track is the epic 12 minute+ cliff-hanger that infuses drama and vocal gymnastics from three busy lead vocalists (Nad, Jade and Tania Doko), thus performing a mini-opera of sorts with a story of unfulfilled love and the yearning for freedom. While highly progressive and theatrical, there is a soulful feel that is immediately apparent, not just in the vocal mannerisms but also in the sensual musical instrumentation, that span the slick and sultry to the bombastic and delirious. The instrumental proficiency on display here is ridiculous, by any standard, Jonas in particular proving his reputation as a maestro of the bass guitar. The dynamic storytelling is compelling and convincing, forcing Hackett to blast a tortuous solo off into the stratosphere. Great imagery, fabulous words and a dramatic delivery wins me over immediately, as the white crown makes a reappearance in the lyrics. Slick dude, you are Nad. You go, guy! The mid-section is distinguished by a wailing aria from Tania that will shake your universe, soulfully emotive and overpoweringly impressive. The bride then says no, which leads to a 2 minute silence and a hidden 5 minute bonus track called 'Black Sheep'.

A very entertaining release from an artist that I admired from afar but did not really comprehend. I do now. He is not just another pretty face or a musical box. He is Nad Sylvan.

4 dead rings

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 Pollution by BATTIATO, FRANCO album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.65 | 84 ratings

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Pollution
Franco Battiato Rock Progressivo Italiano

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

4 stars Before FRANCO BATTIATO ventured off into minimalism and eventually new wave pop to become one Italy's top performers, he released a couple experimental progressive rock albums for his first two releases. FRANCO BATTIATO's second release (as simply BATTIATO) pretty much follows in the footsteps of his unique style as heard on the debut "Fetus" except that this one lies more in the electronic world and a clue as to where he would take his music, that meaning that the compositional layout of catchy hooks is still present with abrupt changes in genre styles, tempos, timbres all within the confines of keeping a strong melody going, although there are a lot more synthesizers on this one along with the bass, guitar and drums. BATTIATO and three other band members also contribute to a barrage of sound effects on the VCS 3 Synthesizer which leaves a very rich sounding album filled with all the cutting edge technicalities of the day including Rick Wakeman inspired synthesizer workouts.

Starting out what sounds like period piece classical musical from a previous century, it sounds as if we've visited a ball in the 17th century with Mozart as the headliner but after an explosion signals a change over it quickly becomes a jittery guitar riff followed by a haunting organ run that builds up to heavier rock. Once again an explosion changes over to a VCS 3 Synthesizer run that wouldn't sound too far off on an 80s new wave album although this one is kept within a classical music context. By the time the album gets to "Beta," it slows down with a groovy Floydian bass line along with a crafty piano run and freaky background vocals that create a seven minute plus space rock track but ends with a reprise to the classical ball music as the album begins.

POLLUTION is anything but dirty! It is a really pleasant experience to let unfold around you as one addictive track cedes to the next. There are lovely arpeggiated guitar sections such as on "Plancton" that add atmospheric keyboards and once the purely Italian vocals enter the scene sounds much more like the Italian kings of the scene such as PFM or Banco reminding from whence they emerged in the world. Again replete with daring keyboard solos kept within the context of the melody but creating synthesized polyrhythms that complement each other beautifully. The title track has a rather Krautock type intro with UFO type flying sound pulsating from synthesizers while waves crash against some unseen shores while echoey guitar strums gently stroll in as the synthesizer sounds short circuit out. What a way cool intro! It becomes a nice folky guitar piece as the vocalists all begin to sing to the heavens!

This is one of those albums that has all its ducks lined up in the right rows. It has just enough melody to reel you in and keep you hooked but so many surprises and unexpected twists and turns that it's impossible to lose your attention. While firmly placed in the Italian scene during the vocal parts, the beauty of POLLUTION is how pan-continental it sounds during the instrumental parts as BATTIATO takes all the magic of bands like Pink Floyd, Roxy Music, Yes and even Ash Ra Temple and Tangerine Dream and puts it all on the work table for a new sort of musical beast making. Just as good as the debut in a totally different way and somewhat points in the direction of the next album "Sulle Corde Di Aires" that really took the plunge and went completely in the progressive electronic arenas.

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 Everything Beautiful In Time by I AM THE MANIC WHALE album cover Studio Album, 2015
4.13 | 35 ratings

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Everything Beautiful In Time
I Am The Manic Whale Crossover Prog

Review by Albert H

5 stars Wow! This is described in the booklet as "an unashamedly progressive" album. They're exactly right. The musicianship is of the highest order, the songs are lengthy and complex - not tricksy or overblown, but well crafted, There is an element of the experimental in some of the songs, which brings a freshness and originality to the compositions. This is British Symphonic Prog at its very best!

I wouldn't single out any of the musicians for particular praise (though the guitar is frequently stellar!) - they work really well together as a unit. The amount of rehearsal necessary to get these complicated arrangements to work flawlessly must have been truly staggering. Considering that this is a privately released CD, there are no evident limitations in recording, It sounds great! Some of the words used in the songs must be difficult to sing - the lyrics are pretty "wordy"!

The first track - "Open Your Eyes" - really made me sit up and listen when I heard it for the first time on the Chris Hunter Show on RaidersFM.com - I decided that I must buy the CD based on just that one track! His review was also very favourable. The whole album stands up to repeated plays - there's so much there that I keep discovering new elements to these complex arrangements. I particularly like the use of classical guitar as a contrast to the electric sounds - they're not afraid to put the acoustic guitar to the front of the mix - and the overall recorded balance is excellent throughout.

A superb first album - I hope that they can keep up the high quality of song writing, musicianship and production for their next release! I couldn't quite rate this as totally "essential" - but it's really close at about a 4.8, so I will give it the special 5-star rating.

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 Elementals by ASTURIAS album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.71 | 19 ratings

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Elementals
Asturias Neo-Prog

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

5 stars First of all, this is NOT neo-prog in any sense of the term, wrong label and labels suck when they are patently false. Japanese veterans Asturias released "Elementals" , a 2014 album that was very highly rated and having already their first two albums ("Circle in the Forest" and "Brilliant Streams") in my collection, I was intrigued enough to take a slight gamble on their newer stuff and spend the money. I am very delighted in my foresight though I had a pretty good idea of what was going to be in store. Masterful instrumental performances from a slew of ridiculously talented pros, led by the enigmatic multi-instrumentalist Yoh Ohyama. "Elementals" leaves very little to complain about, a blistering fusion of powerful jazzy compositions, spiced by some creative meanderings that hearken back to more classical styled experimentation, namely the prominence of the violin, that absurdly majestic instrument that defines so many different styles of music from all around the globe. Yoh handles the bass guitar with gusto, my favorite anchor in all forms of expressive music, and he certainly keeps the low end interesting and exploratory.

While evidently a jazz-rock outfit, there are numerous influences at play here, the leadership of the Tei Sana's luxurious violin notwithstanding, there are plenty of King Crimson-styled moments that keep surfacing here and there, armed with scorching guitar pirouettes from Satoshi Hirata, dexterous piano additions played by Yoshihiro Kanagoe and polyrhythmic beats from masterful drummer Kiyotaka Tanabe. They have the chops, believe you me! For technical music like this to be successful, the composing needs to be first-rate, deliberately steering away from rambling noodling tendencies and focusing stringently on mood creation. Keeping sections vibrating and fresh, with occasional and unexpected instrumental sniper fire from the soloists, is what makes or breaks an album like this.

All the tracks from the scorching opener "Deadlock Triangle", as well as 3 follow-up tracks that prepare for the 4 part Elemental Suite that spans , are blistering compositions played with perfection as well as deadly speed , that will leave the listener enthralled, mystified and utterly spent. That does not mean that it's all 'strum und drang' bombast, as the violin in particular takes a few romantic exits from the whirlwind and wallow in some deep romanticism, as expressed on the second track, the voluptuous 9 minute "Time Traveler", that veers off into some delicate piano work before morphing into the classic King Crimson 'bicycle' math-rock, clicking with intricate guitar phrasings that defy logic or gravity. The jazzy onslaught is pure hard-fusion, perhaps closer to fellow Japanese proggers Kenso but ornamented with some softer pools of reflection and groove.

Falsely creating the impression that this might be a Tangerine Dream-like electronic workout, "Tangram Paradox" is a tortuous, polyrhythmic convulsion that hurls at Mach 3 speed, both into conventional and experimental zones that gain defy the norm. Again, this is no Neo, sorry Matrix fans! The sheer delirium espoused by all soloists is mayhem, but of a controlled kind. The bass and drum work impress to the nth degree and the 3 soloists are just all guns ablaze! "Honeycomb Structure" is a musical maze of labyrinthine proportions, fluid violin in the lead, screeching while the guitar scorches, rambling organ undertow, while the bass and drum duo wallop and bruise. Another piano solo takes this straight into Chick and Herbie territory, very jazz and very much controlled fury. But the clincher is the rollicking, blues- infested guitar flip out from Satoshi Hirata, a pure marvel to behold.

Things get decidedly more orchestral and symphonic with the nearly 29 minute suite, as the violin continues to guide the pack, a flawless example of how 5 rock musicians with classical and jazz backgrounds can compose music that is both vivaciously contemporary, yet still retain all the qualities of timeless classical legend. Defiantly effortless and concise, heavily loaded up on melody and technique, the quintet smolders like a radioactive fire, sizzling fusion of styles and sounds that mark their muse with incomparable gusto. Hard then soft, majestic and sub-atomic, swift and measured, this is simply phenomenal, whatever your musical taste might be limited to. Funny how a repetitive piano chord can provide the platform for a sumptuous violin waltz that is easy to master in terms of accessibility, yet still complex and technically proficient. The second part (the aptly named "Salamander") flies straight into the darker clouds of heavy symphonic bombast, with trilling synthesizer runs, fiery violin forays, brooding organ runs and monster rhythmic gymnastics. A roller coaster of rippling notes and dense arrangements make this quite a breathless ride. Dive into the volcanic flow and come out on the other side, unscathed but exhilarated. The third section is "Sylphide" and it showcases the gentler romanticism of melody and passionate musical discourse, an arsenal of keys keeping the carpet rolling for some gorgeous violin runs from Tei Sena, enveloped in mellotron waves and ethereal beauty. Occasionally playful, often serene, the soloists keep the tense fusion of sounds within a very linear furrow that refuses to back down and kneel at the shrine. The bass guitar takes over and leads with uncommon valor and spunk. Just beautiful.

The finale "Gnome" chooses a more playful theme, altering the melody only slightly, thus providing reassurance and yet adventure on a different plane. Choppy, intense and explosive, the masters empty their creative juices with abandon , giving the impression that this complex music is only second nature to them, a true sign of genius, in my opinion. This band played on the 2014 and 2017 version of Cruise to the Edge and blew the audiences away, same at Rosfest 2013. Perhaps the most underrated artist in the prog world, Asturias deserves huge recognition and massive applause. Getting "Fractals" next!

An easy 5, my dear Watson!

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 Underwater Sunlight by TANGERINE DREAM album cover Studio Album, 1986
3.82 | 155 ratings

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Underwater Sunlight
Tangerine Dream Progressive Electronic

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Considering the sheer mass of material Tangerine Dream cranked out in the 1980s between studio albums, live albums, soundtracks and archival releases, it's easy to feel swamped by it all, and there's some justification to the idea that Edgar Froese and his cohorts spread themselves too thin. Underwater Sunlight, however, is a highlight of their mid-1980s torrent of material, with Froese and Paul Haslinger trading soaring guitar solos over an impeccably composed and produced synthesiser backing. It's a bit New Age in terms of both theme and execution, but if all New Age music were like this then we'd be lucky, lucky listeners.

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 Disconnected by FATES WARNING album cover Studio Album, 2000
4.08 | 321 ratings

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Disconnected
Fates Warning Progressive Metal

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars As with A Pleasant Shade of Gray, Disconnected had Fates Warning working as a core creative trio of Alder, Matheos and Zonder, with Joey Vera and Kevin Moore working on a guest musician basis. Whilst some prefer the preceding album, I admit that I quite like this release.

On the surface, it comes across as one of those millennial "Oooh, the Internet is scary, will it truly offer us a closer connection to each other or will it all leave us more disconnected and isolated?" concepts that proliferated back in that slice of time after the Internet had become ubiquitous but before Facebook and other social media platforms had definitively answered the question. ("Yes, the Internet will connect you to other people and their innermost thoughts and feelings. You will quickly get sick of them.")

The genius of the album is that rather than approaching the subject like they have an axe to grind, or limiting themselves to that narrow concept, Fates Warning instead take it as a jumping-off point to explore all sorts of different types of interpersonal connection and disconnection, being wise enough to realise that actually, interpersonal connection tends to pan out differently for different people. Some songs, such as One, outright celebrate the emotional bonds between people - others note how they can be mentally draining and sometimes you *need* your alone time to recharge your batteries, whilst others are sung from the point of views struggling to reach out.

It's kind of like its Rorscharch blot of a cover. Some might see it as capturing two people seeking intimacy but being blocked from it by the very devices they have chosen to apply to themselves (or have been forced to by circumstance); I see it as a happy scene of two gasmask fetishists finding each other in a world where it's never been easier to find someone who shares your kinks.

Musically, we're dealing with a nicely matured version of the 1990s Fates Warning sound, the band entering the new millennium with the confidence to simply sound like themselves and not worrying about then-current trends in metal. (Then again, given the rise of nu-metal between Pleasant Shade and this, deciding not to go down that route may have been a no-brainer - I've got nothing against nu-metal, but I can think of few styles less compatible with Fates Warning's approach). The combination of all these features makes Disconnected, for me, the best Fates Warning album since No Exit.

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 Mekanïk Kommandöh by MAGMA album cover Studio Album, 1989
3.67 | 97 ratings

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Mekanïk Kommandöh
Magma Zeuhl

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

3 stars After a pair of wild and unhinged jazz-rock fusion albums that introduced the world to the strange world of the fictitious world of Kobaia invented by the fertile mind of founder and drumming leader Christian Vander, he and his band MAGMA streamlined their sound significantly. Although their self-invented zeuhl sound had emerged already on the first album, it was a subordinate element surrounded by a smorgasbord of a million others. On their third album "Mëkanïk Dëstruktïẁ Kömmandöh" the band created their first album that totally fit in with their new found focused sound and in the process created their most acclaimed record even ranking as 33rd greatest French rock album of all time according to Rolling Stone. Despite those impressive creds, the album didn't start out so perfect and the band originally turned in a more stripped down version in early 1973 but was refused by the record company and who sent them back to the drawing board which would end up finally being released in December of the same year.

MEKANÏK KOMMANDÖH is that stripped down first version of "Mëkanïk Dëstruktïẁ Kömmandöh" and was released in 1989 at the tail end of a decade of laying low when the progressive rock world trickled down to a mere pittance of its former 70s heyday. The similarities between the two releases is obvious but the differences are staggering in their impact. While the second rendition contained a whopping 13 members which included brass, flute, bass clarinet and seven vocal parts, the first version MEKANÏK KOMMANDÖH included a modest seven members with only three of them uttering vocalizations of any sort. One of the greatest differences in this version is the introduction where Christian Vander offers some sort of Kobaian speech that sounds like some sort of declaration of war in their invented language which was nixed from the more famous "Mëkanïk Dëstruktïẁ Kömmandöh."

Despite being a good decision to release it in a more perfect form, MEKANÏK KOMMANDÖH gives a clue to the intent of the music somewhat. This album in its stripped down form really sounds like some sort of Teutonic march across the lands on their way to plunder, pillage and lay waste to any village that stands in its way. This is more pronounced as Vander's virtuosic drum antics are more in the forefront minus the inclusion of the smoothing out effect of the horn sections. While more dramatic in nature, this version also has the tendency to become a bit monotonous as well as somewhere around twenty minutes into the thunderous march the vocal tradeoffs tend to seem a little silly as the call-and-response effect carry on and on and on a wee bit too long and with minimal instrumental distractions to be found makes it all the more prominent. While the instruments are scarce by comparison, Zander rocks the house as expected but also of high caliber are the combo effect of bassist Jean Pierre Lambert and Jean Luc Manderlier's phenomenal piano and organ segments.

MEKANÏK KOMMANDÖH can only be taken as supplemental MAGMA material for as good as it is, it pales in comparison to the more MAGMA-nanimous "Mëkanïk Dëstruktïẁ Kömmandöh." I feel the original record company made the right decision to put these guys back to work as this version in its proto-scaffolding form sounds way too much like the Karl Orff cantina "Carmina Burana" which has always provided a wealth of influence in the overall Magma sound. Without all those jazzy brassy instruments adding extra layers of atmosphere and counter-bombast, the overall feel comes off as a bona fide Orff tribute album albeit more in a rock context. While personally these kinds of releases from the vaults type of albums don't usually do it for me, this one is an interesting way to hear how the ideas were layered over time.

I came across this one in a very strange way. This was my first MAGMA album which i mistook for "Mëkanïk Dëstruktïẁ Kömmandöh." My initial reaction was a scratching of the head because i couldn't figure out why it was deemed in such high regard. Once i figured out that this was nothing more than a rough draft / first edition and finally heard the final cut, it all made sense. I avoided this one for a while simply because of that bad taste involved but now that i'm checking it out in a fresh clean slate, i have to admit that it's actually a pretty good album in its own right, it's just not on par with the much improved second rendition. Definitely a must for MAGMA fans but certainly not the place to begin exploration of their discography and eccentric career. Just be careful and don't assume that everything with the two invented words MEKANÏK KOMMANDÖH in the title are the same. Even the bonus track of the same name on newer editions of "Mëkanïk Dëstruktïẁ Kömmandöh" is a different version. Now how's that for confusing? Ugh.

3.5 rounded down

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 Falling Into Infinity by DREAM THEATER album cover Studio Album, 1997
3.33 | 1419 ratings

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Falling Into Infinity
Dream Theater Progressive Metal

Review by martindavey87

4 stars Most fans of Dream Theater will know what was going on behind the scenes during the making of this album. If you don't, I'll give you a moment to quickly research it.

Done?

Never mind, I'll explain it to you.

The bands label, Atco Records, had been bought out by the Warner Music Group. The fine people at Warner didn't know anything about Dream Theater, their music or their market, but had only one thing in mind, and that was hit singles. Musical integrity aside, Dream Theater were being forced to write "hits", and it was putting the band in a situation that almost tore them apart.

With all the industry nonsense getting in the way of this album, and with the change of sound giving it a stale taste of a band "selling out" to make a quick buck, 'Falling Into Infinity' often finds itself being overlooked. It may not be as musically technical as 'Images & Words', or as heavy as 'Awake', but this album still maintains a lot of Dream Theater's trademark sounds, but with a lighter tone that might appeal to fans of old progressive rock, or even hard rock fans in general. In this regard, it's actually a pretty unique release in the groups discography.

As always with this band, the musicianship is unmatched. Petrucci, Portnoy, LaBrie (who damaged his vocal chords prior to recording this album) and Myung are all masters of their respective instruments. Keyboardist Derek Sherinian, making his only studio album appearance, may have seemed like an odd choice to replace Kevin Moore, but his style, mixing elements of hard rock and jazz fusion, makes him a perfect fit. And his flamboyance and showmanship really shines through on some of the more upbeat songs.

There's hard rock tracks such as 'You Not Me' and 'Burning My Soul', pop singles like 'Take Away the Pain' and 'Hollow Years', and all-out prog gems like 'Peruvian Skies', 'New Millennium' and 'Lines in the Sand'. With such an eclectic mixture of songs, this really is an exceptional album, which shows a band that can adapt to any circumstance, and overcome any challenge.

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 Astra by ASIA album cover Studio Album, 1985
2.57 | 217 ratings

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Astra
Asia Prog Related

Review by The Crow
Prog Reviewer

2 stars A short-lived new phase for Asia!

After the fiasco of joining forces with the missed Greg Lake and parting ways with Steve Howe, Asia tried to retrieve the right path with Astra, joining with the young and talented guitarist Mandy Meyer. But the result was an uninspired and very foreseeable album with some of the lowest moments in the band's history.

Meyer's heavier approach to prog gave some of the song a litter "heavier" feeling, but that was not enough to recover the energy and strong songwriting that Asia had on their first album. Let's talk about the songs...

Go is a lousy attempt to make another hit, just very predictable. Voice of America lacks some kind of hook, and its chorus is a just shameful. Hard on Me is better, a good AOR song with strong riffs. One of the highlights? of the album. It strangely remembers me of what John Payne would make in this band years later.

Whishing opens with a beautiful keyboard arrangement, but after that it turns into a poppy AOR tune which lacks real interest beyond its beautiful guitar bridge. But while Rock and Roll Dream is an obvious attempt to make something progressive and symphonic, is by far the best track on the album. And the funniest moment despite its repetitive chorus.

But then comes Countdown to Zero, a pitiful ecological song with bad songwriting. And so, the album goes on till the end... Love Now till Eternity is just uninspired, Too Late is another lousy attempt to make a hit, and Suspicion is far from being memorable despite its good keyboard solo.

After the War is another attempt to sound progressive and symphonic, but it's just pompous. But it contains a good guitar solo and good guitar melodies, giving an idea of how good Meyer really was and how wasted he was in this record.

Conclusion: the first Asia album were by no mean great records, but pretty enjoyable nevertheless. But this Astra does not reach the good copositive level of Asia and Alpha, despite its good guitars and lavish production, making hearing this disc a boring and uninteresting experience, despite a pair of good songs. For this reason, I consider this album worthy just for fans of Asia's first era, is there are still some out there.

Best Tracks: Hard on Me, Rock and Roll Dream.

My rating: **

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 Out Of The Silent Planet by KING'S X album cover Studio Album, 1988
4.04 | 66 ratings

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Out Of The Silent Planet
King's X Prog Related

Review by The Crow
Prog Reviewer

4 stars After almost 30 years after its release, Out of the Silent Planet still sounds fresh and surprising!

King's X are not strictly progressive. They are an alternative hard rock band from the end 80's which decided to mix their Rush and progressive influences with a strong song-oriented songwriting, a bit commercial but complex enough to appeal the prog fans. It's like Saga meets Rush but with a touch of grunge and alternative rock in the vein of Pixies or Sonic Youth. That makes the sound of King's X kind of unique and interesting.

The sound is the album is also pretty good, with emphasis on the strong Ty Tabor guitars and the outstanding voice of Doug Pinnick, one of the best prog singers of all time in my opinion. Jerry Gaskill is also solid on his drums, making King's X a true power trio in the best tradition of the mentioned Rush.

Out of the Silent Planet opens with In the New Age, a powerful and modern song with great guitar sound making a very good alternative hard rock tune. But Goldilox is even better with its great lyrics and the impressive vocals from Pinnick. A mellow and catchy song, and a real King's X classic. Power of Love is a bit more conventional, typical hard rock from the 80's very well sung.

Wonder is maybe the lowest point of the album, despite its good chorus. Just too repetitive! But the album gets better with Sometimes, funnier and with another good chorus. King is even better with its distorted bass line and good choirs, while What is this? offers interesting psychedelic voices together with an impressive singing on the choir.

Far, Far Away is the most progressive track of the album and one of my favorites. Great guitar melodies! A song which influenced in the progressive sound of the 90's. Shot of Love remembers me to the best Extreme with its vocal melodies, and it has surprising folk melodies in its riffs. Visions is a mid-tempo with an accelerated final section, leaving a very good impression.

Conclusion: Out of the Silent Planet supposed a great debut for King's X. A band which sounded just great despite its youth, with powerful guitars, an impressive voice talent who also plays bass pretty well, together with a strong drummer. This album is a very stimulating mixture of hard rock, alternative rock and some prog elements, with full of splendid songs, catchy chorus and great songwriting. Recommended!

Best Tracks: In the New Age, Goldilox, King, Far Far Away.

My rating: ****

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 The Hay-Man Dreams by COSMOGRAF album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.84 | 16 ratings

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The Hay-Man Dreams
Cosmograf Neo-Prog

Review by shaunch

4 stars It is winter here in New Zealand but I am a teacher with two weeks off in the school hols and time to listen and absorb this new offering from Robin Armstrong and guests. I have to say that I would probably give" The Hay man Dreams" 4.5 star rating with a view to maybe the full 5 stars in the future. I don't think this is supposed to be a masterpiece, unless you can accept that a "less is more" approach is enough to warrant any album this title. This collection of songs flies in the face of the overused term "progressive" and it is reassuring that it does. I have been frustrated by much of the anticipated music over the last 7 months and if it wasn't for a recent UK trip which momentarily side stepped market towns, castles and fine ales to an IQ concert and the Marillion weekend, I would have some serious withdrawal symptoms. Personally, I would say that any music that has twists and turns and darkness and light alongside thoughtful ideas, concepts and lyrics does it for me, it doesn't need to progress beyond that. There is not a weak moment on this album and is a great follow up to last years "unreasonable silence" although they are different but equally effective. One thing that I have enjoyed is the confidence in the singing of Robin Armstrong which was not always present in the past. He is able to convey his emotions in a number of guises ranging from that quiet almost spoken word of Ian Anderson or Fish to the melancholy of Steve Hogarth to the angst of Roger Daltrey. The minimalist approach of the music is it's strength as it doesn't try too hard to be anything but a solid rock album, this is most evident in the tracks; "Trouble in the forest", "Cut the corn" and "Melancholy death of a gamekeeper" which is the main catalyist for the theme of the album. How could the themes, I guess, of loss and yearning be better portrayed than with restraint and melancholic beauty. This restraint is all over the album, in the offering from guest musicians who never try to take over , the backup and lead vocals from Rachel Hall which just add a sense of dreaminess and almost ghostly affect, to the narration which is never guilty of over staying it's welcome; instead it actually adds to the overall feel and continuity, not unsurprising as these are words are spoken by David Allan who was the BBC continuity announcer for almost 30 years.

A teacher who must save their best verbal attacks for the best possible affect, this is also apparent in this album, which let's loose on three occasions, opening with "Tethered and bound", the raucous rock build up in 'The motorway" and during the climax in the title track before restraint is resumed. The feeling built up is frustration and a longing that has become too much for the Hay- man, and you can feel it.

This album is not the best by Cosmograf but not the worst either,it is just different, does that make it progressive for Cosmograf? I am more than happy to keep listening to this style of music and thumbs up to Cosmograf who have given the first album for a while that has had me going back to it on multiple occasions for quite a while.

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 Blue (Jack Hertz & Wolfgang Gsell) by HERTZ, JACK album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.00 | 1 ratings

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Blue (Jack Hertz & Wolfgang Gsell)
Jack Hertz Progressive Electronic

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

— First review of this album —
4 stars Electronic sound experimentalist Jack Hertz could never be called predictable, and along with numerous solo releases to date throughout 2017, each completely different to the last, he has also found time for some fascinating collaborations. Equally inspired ambient/electronic artist Wolfgang Gsell has previously teamed with Jack on several occasions (the most recent being back in January with the superior and intelligent `Sleeping Trees on Earth' disc in conjunction with the Trees for the Future project), and here they deliver an ode to the great blue bodies of water that cover a large majority of our planet. Thankfully we're not talking some bland new-age release with pretty and comfy acoustic guitar strums around lapping water sounds, instead `Blue' is a hypnotic fusion of immersive prog-electronic and enveloping ambient that somehow remains accessible without becoming too lightweight or insubstantial.

On the opening nineteen-minute title track `Blue', the pair weave a shimmering crystalline soundscape of undulating electronic caresses, full of lulling ambient rise-and-falls, fuzzy pulses and twitching, unravelling washes with only the faintest of percussive teases flitting in and out, mostly relegated to the final minutes. There's almost a drowsy, more subdued (submerged?!) take on the soloing-heavy approach of Klaus Schulze on his early Seventies works throughout, and some darker twists near the climax, but overall the languid atmospheres take on an blanketing bliss that stretches on for eternity.

`Ripples' is a relatively punchy interlude in comparison between the two near-twenty minute bookending pieces of the disc, where pristine electric piano ruminations ring with mystery around hypnotic electronic fuzziness, and some sparse programmed beats help ground the piece into a more compact arrangement that stops it drifting into pure ambient breezes. Hallucinogenic closer `Tides' invites complete immersion, a slow to unfold spacey sweep of unceasing approaching/retreating liquid caresses that lap around fizzing synth ripples and serene cascading swirls.

It might still be a little too freeform and directionless for some prog-electronic listeners, but the album refuses to grind to a halt by settling into static drones, and is too full of colourful movement to be mistaken for solely airy ambient music. Both Jack Hertz and Wolfgang Gsell are too clever the artists to deliver something so predictable or obvious, and instead they present `Blue' as a lightly psychedelic, completely encompassing and mellow dreamy soundtrack to float away to.

Four stars.

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 Paranoid by BLACK SABBATH album cover Studio Album, 1970
4.29 | 862 ratings

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Paranoid
Black Sabbath Prog Related

Review by The Crow
Prog Reviewer

4 stars An essential album in rock music history!

But also not a perfect one, of course. For that the sound and production should be better, and the overall songwriting stronger. Don't get me wrong, there are true classics in here, but also a pair of fillers which not deserve the status or masterpieces.

Black Sabbath forgot a bit their blues-rock roots in this second release and they increased the importance and weight of the riffs, achieving this "heavy" and sound that together with albums like Deep Purple's In Rock would plant the seed of heavy metal.

War Pigs starts with sirens and heavy guitars, which introduce one hell of a riff and vocal melodies from Ozzy, who sings a critic and apocalyptic text with dark passion. The riffs salad towards the end of the song is just magnificent! Just like Paranoid, another milestone from this album despite its repetitiveness. Sadly Planet Caravan comes with its boring psychedelia, making a true setback, which vastly dismisses with Iron Man, maybe the best song in the whole record and with the riff in Black Sabbath's history. And there is a lot of riffs in Tommy Iommi's career!

Electric Funeral is together with the song Black Sabbath the birth of doom metal, mixed with some very heavy passages towards the end. It's also a pleasure to hear how the stoner rock was born with songs like Hand of Doom, despite being not so remarkable like other classics from this disc. Rat Salad is forgettable in my opinion, despite the grandiose Bill Ward's efforts on drums.

Fairies Wear Boots, like the previous track bring back the style of the debut album, constituting a solid ending for Paranoid.

Conclusion: Paranoid is one of the best albums from Black Sabbath. Is not my personal favorite, but I recognize the sheer importance of its heavy riffs, slow hard passages and accelerated rhythms in the creation of heavy metal, doom metal and stoner metal. It has three outstanding songs, three very good ones and two just passable. Excellent overall and maybe not so important for prog, but necessary to understand modern rock music.

Best Tracks: War Pigs, Paranoid, Iron Man, Electric Funeral, Hand of Doom.

My rating: ****

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 We're All In This Together by IT album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.93 | 38 ratings

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We're All In This Together
IT Neo-Prog

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

4 stars Urgency greets the listener with IT's new album "We Are All in this Together", a sense of current desperation that is infused into the brash tracks, taking neo-prog to a much raunchier level than one might expect. Led by multi- instrumentalist, producer and vocalist Nick Jackson, this talented crew also includes co-producer Andy Rowberry on guitars and keys, a tight rhythm section of bassist James Hawkins and drummer Will Chism, as well as keyboardist and sax player Ryan McCaffrey. Toss in a slew of guests including the venerable Rupert Greenall of The Fixx fame and you get a tight album that has tremendous melodic warmth as well as loads of anger, frustration and genuine rage. The tracks are nevertheless smoothly thought out, packing a wide expanse in terms of musicality, but with a strong penchant for boundless vocal work from Nick as well as some tremendous choir and backing vocals. IT is definitely part of the modern version of new prog, contemporary themes wrapped in a tighter bundle, somewhat akin to bands line Deeexpus, Cairo, Touchstone, Final Conflict, Comedy of Errors, Drifting Sun etc?

The aptly titled Power" blasts ahead with a snivelling bass onslaught, garnished with sensationalist voice effects and a rough beat. Nick molests the microphone, spewing venom-drenched lyrics that illustrate the state of the world we live in. Tyrant rants, fake news, lies that lie beneath the veneer of self-loving truths, snarling tirades and jagged edged music are the details that make this progressive hurricane so appealing. Crunchy riffs that recall Porcupine Tree and Kyros, dabbed with slick synthesizer cascades that verge on techno (much like recent Galahad), the table certainly seems set for quite the prog ride.

Financial torpor is dealt with on "Born in Debt", a complex maze of increasing liability and tumbling quality of life that seems to be the norm, as the rich get wealthier and the masses get apathetic. Like a pleading sermon, the sequencer- laden piece segues rather brilliantly into the mesmerizing "the Working Man", a definite album highlight, a modern prog classic that owns all the marbles, with a magnificent chorus, whispering yet angry vocals and a slick arrangement that may conjure memories of Arena or Ayreon, in terms of melodic structure. This is what intelligent prog sounds like, a clever nugget that has appeal, worth and wealth, accessible yet brainy. And very contemporary! The wailing female voice (I am a total sucker for that!) is a massive highlight that transcends time and space.

Another timeless and whopping melody greets the listener on the equally appealing "Last Chance", a rather doomsday- like ballad that has meaning as well as proverbial bite. "Got nothing to lose, it goes on and on and on". The sheer quality of the piece says a lot about the continuing elevation of the neo/symph genre, as writing compelling music is not an easy a task, and adorning it with breathtaking pomp and ceremony simply takes this to a higher plane. "Together forever", Nick sneers!

Another bass-driven track is the punky "Gamble the Dream", a venom spewing affair that has an almost Stranglers?like drive, Nick belting out his rage with little respite or complacent modesty. Nasty, greasy and torrential. The Nine Inch Nails influence is front and center, adding some well-grounded angst to the proceedings, Nick even daring to growl. Short and hard. Love IT.

Throwing in some classic psychedelia on "Voices" gives this slower piece a strong Beatles-like feel, where dreamy, echo- laden pleading on the microphone elevates the track to a modern day rant against government and political confusion (Blair/Bush project), using a George Galloway speech to great effect (I do not agree with his self-serving pseudo-politics, which I find politically typical of hypocritical slicing dicing and outright lying). Music is great though!

How about a nice 11 minute epic to further the cause? "The Path of Least Resistance" stretches out their inspiration, incorporating a fine Floydian atmosphere of clanging and shimmering guitars, whispering voice and current affair commentaries. This is definitely the centerpiece monument, a towering arrangement that sets the scene and then glowingly wraps humongous melodies over the top, exhilarating in both depth and accessibility. Multi-faceted and constantly evolving, one musical step leads to another on the road to a clear destination, the brazen riffs come clambering out of the urban ghetto and Nick's heavily effected voice provides some much needed snarl and bite. A stupendous prog anthem that deserves a wide audience, rapturous applause and pumped fists!

If there would be a 'hit single' here, it would be "House", a finely chiseled jewel of a prog pop song, very near something The Fixx would create, with slashing West-Oram styled guitars and a Cy Curnin-like vocal performance that will astound the cognoscenti. I band I still adore, The Fixx often rode the fine line between 'alternative' and prog, to great studio effect and stunning live performance. You wear your influences well, I guess. The endlessly repeated title highlights the slick Rowberry guitar work, both rhythm flicks and lead licks. Crucify me! Wow! Rabid and quite pissed off, "Down the Hatch" infuses a vocally violent counteraction to the apathy that permeates the world, lyrics grabbing the jugular, forcing it 'down, down, down, down,"! Crisp, crunch, cringe and crave. Brutal. Dark. Defiant.

As an amateur historian, "Revolution" means a lot to me, having been victimized by one as a new-born, so I embarked on analyzing the concept throughout the ages. Dejectedly, some have succeeded only in regressing, instead of supplying the deliverance promised. It's a bold concept, mothered by societal frustration at being led by countless idiotic profiteers and hypocrites. Sadly, there is no such thing as a great leader, there is no such thing as a good human. The music offers pain, despair and anger. IT also shows understanding and the yearning for a better future. It's a revolution, an evolution in a primitive world.

Tremendous musical journey, full of sizzle and explosion. We are all in this together, indeed.

4.5 atoms

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 Fugazi by MARILLION album cover Studio Album, 1984
3.98 | 1202 ratings

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Fugazi
Marillion Neo-Prog

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Review Nº 129

'Fugazi' is the second studio album of Marillion and was released in 1984. In relation to their debut studio album 'Script For A Jester's Tear', 'Fugazi' shows some musical differences. Marillion streamlined the intricacies of group's progressive rock leanings for a more straight ahead rock identity. Still, it remains clearly a Marillion's album. We even can say that, in a certain way, 'Fugazi' remarks Marillion's consistency on its musical direction solidifying the group.

The line up on the album is Derek Dick 'Fish' (vocals), Steve Rothery (guitars), Mark Kelly (keyboards), Pete Trewavas (bass) and Ian Mosley (drums). The album has also the participation of Linda Pyke (backing vocals). This was the first album with the presence of Mosley after the departure of their drummer Mick Pointer to form Arena. The album was produced under difficult circumstances, with the group employing and ejecting several drummers in quick sessions.

'Fugazi' has seven tracks. All songs were written by Fish, Rothery, Trewavas and Kelly, except 'Punch And Judy' that was also written by Jonathan Mover and 'Emerald Lies' and 'Fugazi' which were also written by Mosley. The first track 'Assassing' is a very good song to open the album and became one of the classic songs of the group. This is a very interesting song because it sounds at the same time quite different and yet familiar compared to the songs of their debut studio album 'Script For A Jester's Tear'. It's a very energetic song with a touch of Islamic music, with a beautiful interlude, a good bass line and a very dynamic drumming. This is, in my humble opinion, one of the highlights of the album. The second track 'Punch And Judy' was the song chosen to be released as the first single of this album. The lyrics of the song are a very amusing subject on a married life and are about a marriage that gone bad. It's the shortest track on the album but is for me a very good song. This is a wonderful song although not very typical of their music until now. However, it features everything that's great in Marillion's songs, catchy riffs and melodies and their typical sound so characteristic of Fish's era. The third track 'Jigsaw' it's a bit slow rock song, very nice and I particularly like of it very much. This is probably a song partially obscured by the two previous songs. It's a song about everything in Marillion, their music, their audience and the accusation of being a Genesis' clone, what really bothered them. This is a very sensual song with beautiful lyrics that we want to sing as we take our morning shower and leaves us well prepared to begin our day's work. Definitely, I love this song. The fourth track 'Emerald Lies' is, in my humble opinion, a good song but it's also at the same time weaker than the previous songs. It doesn't represent a truly progression on their music and it even sounds a little bit na've in comparison with the other songs composed by them until now. However, it has a good bass line, great guitar melody, the vocal dynamics are very good and the lyrics are particularly simple and clever. So, it remains a good song. The fifth track 'She Chameleon' is the other weaker song on the album. It's a very simple song with depressing lyrics and with a very simple organ work, a tasteful guitar melody and some bombastic drums. This is still a very decent song but isn't as great as the others are and, in my humble opinion, this song and 'Emerald Lies' brought this album a little bit down. The sixth track 'Incubus' is fortunately the return of the band to the great songs. This is with 'Fugazi' one of the two epic tracks on the album. The theme of the song is about nightmares and has very good lyrics. It's a song with a very strong musical structure with a very melodic musical composition and different tempo. Its music moves dynamically all over the song with smooth musical transitions from one melody to another. This is really a brilliant song. The seventh and last track is the title track 'Fugazi'. This is another brilliant epic track. As with the previous debut studio album 'Script For A Jester's Tear' where the last track 'Forgotten Sons' is considered by many, the best song on the album and one of the best musical compositions made by Marillion too, with this song is the same thing. I completely agree with those who saying that this is a great song. It's a fantastic song with great mood and a melody that changes all over the song. This is, in reality, the ending of a great musical journey made by the group and an incredible way to closing this magnificent album.

Conclusion: Perhaps 'Fugazi' is the weakest album of Marillion in Fish's era. But saying this, it seems like a sacrilege. In reality, Marillion has no weak albums in that period of time, and so, 'Fugazi' is still a great piece of music. As I wrote before and, in my humble opinion, the album has two songs with musical quality below of the others, 'Emerald Lies' and 'She Chameleon'. So, for that motif, 'Fugazi' can't be considered a masterpiece, as happened with their preceding album 'Script For A Jester's Tear' and their following album 'Misplaced Childhood'. But, 'Fugazi' remains without any doubt a great album. 'Fugazi' is an excellent album that can be recommended to all progressive rock fans. Just simply don't compare it too much to the previous one, because there's music here for every progressive rock fan to love.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

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 Fight For The Rock by SAVATAGE album cover Studio Album, 1986
2.25 | 55 ratings

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Fight For The Rock
Savatage Progressive Metal

Review by martindavey87

2 stars Aw no... What happened here?!

Savatage were doing so well after the release of 'Power of the Night', an album that gave them real credibility in the metal community, so how do they follow it up? With a hard rock album!

Granted, there were circumstances in play beyond the band's power that forced 'Fight for the Rock' into being, and in all fairness it's not as terrible as it's often made out to be by fans, but it certainly sticks out like a sore thumb among the groups discography. And my God, that cheesy as hell cover doesn't help matters!

Despite the AOR-inspired compositions, Criss Oliva's trademark riffing is still firmly in place, and brother Jon Oliva's vocals still soar as powerfully as before. But for the most part, the songs just don't have that same spark that previous releases did. The "metal " energy just isn't there. And while some of the songs are still fairly decent, there's just a lot of generic 80's cheese to sift through first.

Let's try to be optimistic for a moment though, and look for the positives. 'Fight for the Rock' itself is a pretty good song, and a rerecorded 'Out on the Streets' is a nice treat, though not really one anyone in particular asked for. 'The Edge of Midnight' is a solid Savatage track, if you can just tolerate its awful keyboard intro, and 'She's Only Rock and Roll' has some vintage Savatage riffing going on. But there's also some complete drivel such as 'Day After Day' and the fact that almost every song has some incredibly God-awful 80's synths going on. Can't win 'em all, I guess.

Thankfully this would remain nothing more than a small blip on Savatage's radar, as they would quickly go on to return to their original metal sound and release some of their finest music. Buy this one if you're a collector, shut up, accept it for what it is, and let's all just get on with our lives.

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 The Dungeons Are Calling by SAVATAGE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1985
3.21 | 28 ratings

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The Dungeons Are Calling
Savatage Progressive Metal

Review by martindavey87

2 stars After the release of their 1983 debut, Savatage were quick to follow up with this EP, 'The Dungeons Are Calling', that consists of songs that were originally recorded for 'Sirens', but left off due to time restraints.

Overall the selection of tracks is good, but these are pretty much leftovers from the bands previous release, and that's exactly what they sound like. 'City Beneath the Surface' and the title track are standout songs that prevents this EP from being a complete waste, but the rest of the songs are pretty average, especially when compared with Savatage's later material.

As with their first record, the production could be better, but it's raw, grittiness suits the music perfectly, giving it a distinctive 80's metal sound.

'Dungeons' has since been released with 'Sirens' on one CD, "how it was meant to be", according to Savatage mastermind Jon Oliva, which is probably just as well, because as a stand-alone release, I don't think there's much worth picking up here unless you're a dedicated member of the Savatage Legion.

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 Power Of The Night by SAVATAGE album cover Studio Album, 1985
3.20 | 62 ratings

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Power Of The Night
Savatage Progressive Metal

Review by martindavey87

3 stars Savatage's second album, and third overall release, is an improvement upon its predecessors, with every aspect of 'Power of the Night' being a step up from what the band had done before. The songwriting was more confident, the musicianship was more mature, and the production was a lot more polished, giving the album that perfect 80's metal sound (and there's nothing wrong with 80's metal dammit!).

The most obvious highlight here is the title track, which not only stands on its own merits as one of the bands better songs before they went all "classical metal", but honestly, it's one of their finer songs period. And while other tracks such as 'Warriors', 'Hard for Love' and 'Unusual' may be standard 80's metal pomp and circumstance, they're still pretty kickass anthems that indicate the talent and potential within this band.

Guitarist Criss Oliva truly shines here, showing a mastery that should have put him on par with heroes such as Randy Rhoads and Eddie Van Halen, but whom sadly that legendary status had always eluded him. His flair for dramatic guitar playing is truly amazing to listen to, and fans of 80's metal (there's that term again), including subgenres such as power and thrash metal, will enjoy this shred masterclass.

If you're a Savatage fan (cheesily referred to as "Savafans", I believe), then 'Power of the Night' belongs in your collection. It's not the bands best work by far, but it's an early indication of the quality of music they were capable of writing, and would certainly establish them as a band worth keeping an eye on.

"Raise the first of the metal child".

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 Sirens by SAVATAGE album cover Studio Album, 1983
3.04 | 62 ratings

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Sirens
Savatage Progressive Metal

Review by martindavey87

3 stars Before they became comfortable releasing rock operas full of theatrics and orchestrations, Savatage were a straightforward heavy metal band, who's debut album 'Sirens' caused a small buzz when it was released in 1983, but has since been lost in time, swept under the rug of the then-rising thrash metal scene.

'Sirens' may not be as epic, complex or majestic as the bands later material, but it's raw and gritty sound perfectly encapsulates the energy of the bands performances. Song's like 'Scream Murder', 'Holocaust', 'I Believe' and the title track are all fantastic examples of early 80's metal, and it's an absolute tragedy that this album has become not much more than a hidden gem in the metal landscape.

The music, sound, and overall vibe of this album is very reminiscent of Randy Rhodes-era Ozzy Osbourne, with the production and songwriting just oozing everything 80's. Jon Oliva's shrill vocals along with brother Criss Oliva's guitar virtuosity puts them both miles ahead of all the young players coming out of the thrash scene of the time. What this albums lacks in aggressiveness and attitude, it more than compensates for with melody and enthusiasm.

'Sirens' is nothing groundbreaking or unique, it's just a straight-up metal album which spawned the careers of one of the genres most beloved cult bands, and should be in the collection of every metal fan.

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