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 Ecliptic Plane by BAKER, AIDAN album cover Studio Album, 2015
5.00 | 1 ratings

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Ecliptic Plane
Aidan Baker Progressive Electronic

Review by admireArt
Collaborator PSIKE Team

— First review of this album —
5 stars Dream like Cosmic electronics, from a rarely pure prog electronic mastermind.

Electric guitar in hand, Aidan Baker released "Ecliptic Plane" in 2015. For ground breaking news as such, as told, this one can undoubtly be pinned down to its common address, yet Post/Math Rock, a newer genre, could well be mentioned. Main reason to do so, is that the electric guitar alongside flowing synths compositional structures are raw and sophisticated simultaneously as some Post/Math structures.

Anyway in this (un)controllable taggings, Aidan Baker's style has always stepped indiferently wherever his creativity leads on and the real deal about Ecliptic Planes goes beyond all this info.

Hypnotic, uninterrupted, strangely beautiful, addictive musical structures display shamelessly the altitudes Baker's self made musical idiom has reached and holds no quarter in doing so.

Rating this work on a purely Prog Electronic basis feels uncommonly satisfying and defying. Needless to say the droning/shoegazing electric guitar based compositions are mostly its main feature, which is quiet welcomed in a world where synths abound. And it is not only that all music structures found in each mili-second of this obscure masterpiece are totally inspired and perfectly threaded, but above all its inherent and addictive nature certainly sets it above the highly respectable 4 stars rating alone.

***** 5 "small wonder" PA stars.

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 Sixty Minute Zoom by ZOLTAN album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.13 | 4 ratings

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Sixty Minute Zoom
Zoltan Progressive Electronic

Review by admireArt
Collaborator PSIKE Team

3 stars That retro feeling lingers on.

UK's ZOLTAN conformed by keyboardist Andy Thompson, bassist/keyboardist/guitarist Matt Thompson and drummer Andrew Prestidge, released in 2014 "Sixty Minute Zoom". This trio announces proudly its conection to film oriented music rootings but for us prog electronic followers, a guitar less Heldon's like style will turn out to be a close to home best reference. In fact if such a thing as a French Progressive Electronic sub-genre existed in this PA's electronic archives, this release certainly will fit in. Kind of strange and funny that a UK's band goes French.

Anyway, cinematic music, in my opinion has got to have drama, yet be enticing at the same time. Too much ado about nothing certainly adds nothing. So let me introduce you to this work, Zoltan's second release.

Music composition wise, as they adverise, do not expect a unique or detached from influences musical language. Its creative energy is focused into performing already done ideas and blending this influences into an entertaining, unpretentious, somewhat innocent electronic Rock trio album.

The good news is that now you privileged reader would think twice to aquire this work if you do not find French Electronic Proggers that engaging, the bad news is that this band is on the making and it still sounds like that more than once. Nevertheless some amusing and creative sounds are found here and there, yet far from essential, it still promises a better release in some way or another.

***3 PA stars.

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 Jam It! by JAM IT! album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.00 | 2 ratings

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Jam It!
Jam It! Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by admireArt
Collaborator PSIKE Team

3 stars JAM IT! , damn it!

Heavy prog played as Jazz in a kind of fashionable manner. In some way to introduce you to this Russian jazz rock band from St. Petersburg first release, I will certainly throw some famous names as Return to Forever or Jan Hammer's electronic keyboard progressions as Jeff Beck's jazz/fusion tainted era or the 80's Al Di Meola's releases (without the abundant "Latin" flavors, thank the gods!). In this JAM IT!, 2010, you will encounter a tight musical outfit, which adds up to a unique an explosive metal/jazz performing combo.

The improvisational expectations such a band name provokes, are not that apparent or unfocused, opposite to that music wise, their performances work like a clockwork and maybe in this you will find and feel JAM IT! 's "Jam It!" Waterloo and Wellington. A technically tight but kind of mecanique feeling overshadows some of its own best highlights, oddly the acoustic piano sections suffer the most among others.

Now considering this a first release in this modern days, where over releasing is a sign of the times, this effort does promise a freer and more heartfelt creation in the future. I do own their next 2 projects, but I am going by the numbers as for now.

***3 "good and fun" PA stars.

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 Tweez by SLINT album cover Studio Album, 1989
3.18 | 17 ratings

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Tweez
Slint Prog Related

Review by LearsFool
Collaborator Post/Math Rock Team

5 stars They say that first impressions are everything, but in the case of "Tweez" it's context that's been everything. You'll probably remember "Tweez" as the diminutive brother of the stone classic post and math codifying opus "Spiderland", described as prototypical and paleful, for listeners an afterthought. But context!

In 1989, this was revelatory music. At the time, there were many proto-math bands, post-hardcore rockers deep underground who felt it best to crimp Crimson for odd time signatures to spice up their riffs. Now, these bands don't have a snowball's chance in Tartarus of getting into PA, and for good reason: their stuff was barely into the kind of face melting forms that Crimson themselves perfected with the likes of "Fracture" and the title track to "Discipline"; exhibit A is "Umber" by B*tch Magnet. But then a handful of math obsessives, such as the members of BM, got their hands on this little puppy straight outta Louisville, and were blown away. Here was a faceless, mysterious band that weren't afraid to rock hard and weird. We're talking the kind of math that wouldn't be seen again until Don Caballero. They were ahead of their time and timeless.

The album starts out strong with "Ron", tumbling through the embryonic form of "Nosferatu Man" fast and hard as someone complains about their headphones. This epic display leads into a quick moving and flowing sequence of tracks, sometimes rather short, blistering with speed, heaviness, and signature shifts. The album as a whole feels triumphant yet boxed in, dark, and unknowable. The vocals are the only thing here prototypical to "Spiderland", coming out randomly and strangely, not yet in line with the dour first person narratives of the follow up. But that matters not, as the music continues to bend and excite for a half hour - my only complaint is that there isn't more of it.

Excepting "Discipline", this is the founding document of math rock, socks knocking and worthy in its own right.

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 Twilight Alehouse  by GENESIS album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1973
4.04 | 61 ratings

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Twilight Alehouse
Genesis Symphonic Prog

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Another Gabriel-era Genesis rarety. It was never recorded on any of their official albums, although it did get official release as a b-side of the I Know What I like single (UK only, I guess). This original version is slightly different from the one released the box Genesis Archive 1967-1975 (on that boxset it was remixed and had some guitar parts added). It was an old song, and it was part of their live repertoire for years (a live on the studio version is available on youtube as part of their famous TV show in Brussels, Belgium, 1972). Although a much more elaborated song than the other obscure bside like Happy The Man, it is easy to tell why it remained a non lp track: the song does not have a memorable melody line nor the great build up that made others, like The Musical Box, so engaging. At almost eight minutes, it does have some fine parts, with all the right things that made Genesis famous (chiming 12 string guitars, haunting organ bits, nice flute, fairy tale lyrics and so on), but it simply comes up as something unfinished, just a bunch of ideas thrown in without much care for the whole. A good "b side" indeed!

Rating: as anything Genesis released in the early days, this is not crap. It is still interesting, specially for Genesis fanatics like me,. But it is still also not really essential in any way., 3 stars.

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 Following The Unknown by JAM IT! album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.72 | 8 ratings

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Following The Unknown
Jam It! Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by DamoXt7942
Forum & Site Admin Group Moderator

3 stars At first I've got interested in their combo's name "JAM IT!", and the next moment amazed at their jazz rock with obvious tendency toward heavy texture (actually I assumed they would be a Heavy Prog outfit).

Their ability of composition along with improvised phrases and skills to manage tunes might have got concentrated and squeezed into this album needless to say. Konstantin's heavy guitar riffs tend to go excessively forward, without any suspicion upon the basis of their strict, splendid, supra-neat rhythm section formed by the bassist (Dmitry) and the drummer (Alexey). And yes, Roman's keyboard movements are really gorgeous and romantic.

Dealing with simple (one by one) but pretty complicated melody lines drenched in multiple rhythmic appearances makes us shout the word "excellent" and feel their instrumental technique and their musical compounding sense both perfect indeed ... Just as if King Crimson's Larks Tongue would meet Next Order. On the other hand, their superiority upon building sound architect is quite different from musical innovation or progressiveness.

For so-called typical rock quartets with strong intention to do improvised music aggregation there is not so many choices but to play in the same vein of improvisational / experimental vanguards. It's beyond criticism. And let me say I have massive hope they will be able to create more of innovation and completely JAM IT! This "Following The Unknown" is no doubt my favourite stuff, and stumbling upon such a superb one is really my pleasure.

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 The Continuing Story of Radar Love by GOLDEN EARRING album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1989
4.00 | 8 ratings

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The Continuing Story of Radar Love
Golden Earring Prog Related

Review by uduwudu

4 stars If you need to start and maybe finish your Golden earring representation in your music collection this is probably the best start. First you get all the well known material and in full versions e.g. no single edit of Twilight Zone here.

Earring are not a prog rock band in the vein of classical fusion but they do have some sophisticated moments. She Flies on Str\tange Wings is both Part 1 and 2 if you ever had the single. I think I had quite a few from many, many years ago. But Strange Wings is a rocking, lyrical, dramatic intricate number.

I've no problem (don't want to be a snob) with arena rock in which Earring really belongs. Classic rock is a sales format not a style and arena hard rock is the Golden Earring area of expertise. So a couple of the last few numbers fit into this category.

The album works as a brief (2LP or 1 CD) introduction to Earring. Possibly a 2 or 3 Cd anthology might be more appropriate to get a picture of the band's work. However, this is a fine compilation and if you were not aware it was one you'd think you were listening to one fantastic effort. Which it is.

Oh by the way, if you want a little more Earring for your pleasure I'd throw in the '77 Live album as well; it underlines the very high quality arena rock standard, and this one emphasizes the generally best writing. Here's probably the best place to start.

cheers

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 The First Breath by WHITE RAVEN album cover Studio Album, 2015
4.00 | 1 ratings

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The First Breath
White Raven Crossover Prog

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

— First review of this album —
4 stars White Raven is another new addition from Poland, a different style from the usual Neo/Symph prog this country seems to espouse, choosing a more electronic keyboard genre that is reminiscent of Geoff Downes' efforts with the celebrated New Dance Orchestra project or some of Vangelis' more proggy releases. Keyboard fans will be blown away by the sheer magnificence of the piano and the barrage of multi-layered synthesizer work that clearly astound. The focus is on crafting memorable melodies and adorn them with sweeping arrangements that wander between electronica and symphonic. Piotr Wojciechowski is a tremendous artist from Lodz, with impeccable skills who fully has mastered the multi-instrumentalist one-man show challenge. This first endeavour has a wide variety of compositions, longer epic 9-10 minute pieces interspersed with short intermezzos as well as some more 4-5 minute tracks, all in order to keep the suspense honest and unexpected. The style is cinematographic, perhaps a bit like fellow Polish band Lebowski in that each piece is like some movie soundtrack, though the latter is a more conventional gt-k-b-drs outfit.

The title track utilizes its wide girth to expand immediately on the talent that is wielded so masterfully , a whopping 12 minute mini-symphony of discovery and adventure that goes way beyond just a mere introduction, showcasing a suave determination to keep things interesting and yet enchanting. The first 2 minute interlude is the sizzling guitar-driven 'Second' and its incessant obsession with mood and atmosphere. Another short one in the 3 minute range tosses in some Arabic chanting, as 'Abandoned Dreams' swoons over the dunes with sweeping melodic splendour, once again creating ultimate sonic escapism. The slightly longer 'Be Different' is another highlight piece, propelled by a sequenced melody that hints at old school Tangerine Dream, circa Exit or Poland (Surprise) and will please even newer electronica fans , trembling synth patches emitting modern tendencies. A return visit from the Arabic chanting shows the grander design at work here, everything intertwined and yet holding its own. This segues nicely into 'Silence' featuring a piano motif that verges on genius and utter beauty. This could have been a Vangelis 'hit', a well-defined, immediately ravishing melody that will hook the listener immediately. Hints of orchestral Michael Oldfield abound on pieces like 'In the Deep Dream', where glittering keys combine with ethereal choirs and pulsating electronic percussion to vividly create surreal visions. Sublime piano characterizes an epic track like 'Eclipse', which not only amazes throughout its near 10 minutes but showcases elegant piano musings that wink at masters like Rick Wakeman, Eddie Jobson and John Hawken. The evolution of the track aims at evolving towards more electronic realms, with robotic rhythmic patterns still fueled by the same gorgeous melody. The slippery synth solo is heard bursting at the seams, intricate and relentless, absolutely first class! On a track like 'Follow Me', the onus is more on the electronic percussion and thus providing a more bustling rhythmic expanse to work over the slithering melodies. While some interval parts are clearly dreamy and ambient, the vast majority of the material is bold, vivacious and creative. The immediacy of the melodies are of paramount importance, the sounds connecting right from the get- go, a relatively rare event in the electronic prog world.

Like any great opus, the album ends with another bookcase epic, an 11 minute+ mastodon entitled 'Last but Not Wasted Breath, the First Breath finale' which seeks out grandiose and bombastic heights, with soaring symphonics and orchestral leanings that defy categorization. The impression is one of infinity, time and space, endeavour and pleasure. This was one hell of a surprise that caught me completely off guard and I have been suggesting my progpals to check this out.

4.5 Initial Inhalations

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 The Tide, the Thief & River's End by CALIGULA'S HORSE album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.99 | 152 ratings

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The Tide, the Thief & River's End
Caligula's Horse Progressive Metal

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars CALIGULA'S HORSE are a Prog-Metal band out of Australia and this is their second release from 2013. They remind me of fellow Australians ARCANE with the way they contrast the heaviness with the mellow and also both bands have very emotive vocals. This is a concept album about isolation, exodus and the human spirit overcoming insurmountable odds.

"A Gift To Afterthought" opens with guitar that reminds me of IRON MAIDEN but then it turns heavy before that guitar line returns along with vocals and drums. Man these guys can change the tempo and mood so quickly and often over the course of a song. "Water's Edge" is a really enjoyable tune with it's laid back sound with vocals. Double tracked vocals before 4 minutes with acoustic guitar in this feel good section. Then it all hits the fan 5 1/2 minutes in without vocals at first with some killer guitar over top. It stays heavy to the end.

"Atlas" has a relaxed intro then it's the drum show as it all turns powerful with the vocals in tow. Contrasts continue. An okay tune. "Into The White" opens with piano before reserved vocals, bass, acoustic guitar and a beat take over. It's building 2 1/2 minutes in but not for long as a calm arrives as contrasts continue. I really like the pastoral sound after 5 minutes then it's heavy again a minute later.

"Old Cracks In New Earth" is intense to start, complex and heavy. It mellows out before 3 minutes then it's building after 5 minutes as the heaviness returns. "Dark Hair Down" is heavy with riffs to start, love the guitar solo that comes out of that. A calm follows before it kicks back in with vocals. Another calm but it's brief. A guitar solo lights it up around 4 1/2 minutes then back to the heaviness. Great ending to this one.

"Thief" is a short ballad-like tune with fragile vocals, atmosphere and acoustic guitar leading the way. "All Is Quiet By The Wall" has this heavy duty intro with some ripping guitar before we get a calm with reserved vocals. It picks up and the vocals continue only more passionate here. Excellent instrumental section 4 minutes in as they are shredding it up. This section ends with a scream but it continues heavy until another calm arrives as contrasts continue.

This just hasn't clicked with me but the instrumental work is outstanding.

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 Pharaoh Overlord by CIRCLE album cover Studio Album, 2015
4.91 | 3 ratings

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Pharaoh Overlord
Circle Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

5 stars CIRCLE are a Finnish band that I've enjoyed over the years, I'd especially recommend "Prospekt" from 2000 and "Guillotine from 2003. Anyway this latest album is without question my favourite release by them. Now I'm not trying to be confusing but there is a companion album to CIRCLE's "Pharoah Overlord" record by a band called PHAROAH OVERLORD and it's called "Circle". They were released at the same time and it has to be known that a few members of CIRCLE are in PHAROAH OVERLORD which is like their Stoner Rock side project. This is different from not only anything I've heard by CIRCLE but really it's different from anything I've heard. I love Guldbamsen's description of the music on here as having those Navajo rhythms. And it was he who brought this album to my attention so thanks David! The music here has this melancholic and repetitive groove to it with chanting and mostly bass horns honking. It really sounds incredible as each song is connected by my description, then picture this leather wearing frontman who's into JUDAS PRIEST as he screams and yells several times which just adds to the enjoyment for me.

"Kostto" is laid back and melancholic as the guitar is picked while vocal melodies sing over top. This continues until before 2 1/2 minutes when the horn, bass and drums join in. Man this fuller sound makes this even more satisfying. A scream before 5 minutes. I like the way they'll add or subtract from the groove here as it plays out. "Kavelen Luiden Paalla" opens with drums as the horn starts to honk and distorted guitar joins in. Some yells 3 1/2 minutes in and this will continue for some time including some extreme vocal expressions. The bass arrives 6 minutes in and it's very upfront leading the way.

"Aavasaksa" has a catchy rhythm of guitars, bass and drums. Vocal melodies will come and go then it's the horn joining in. More vocal melodies before 3 minutes. "Aldebaran" opens with chanting, percussion, horn and bass then the vocal melodies start to come and go. Again it's quite melancholic here. "Madonna Of Viggiano" opens with horns, bass and drums as fuzzed out guitar joins in then actual lyrics instead of vocal melodies(chanting). Man, so much going on here with all these sounds. Great track!

One of my favourites from 2015 no doubt and my favourite from CIRCLE. I believe this is studio album number 27 for the boys so there's lots to check out with this band. 4.5 stars rounded up for the innovation that's on display in spades.

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 Grander Vision by RELAYER album cover Studio Album, 1994
3.18 | 12 ratings

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Grander Vision
Relayer Symphonic Prog

Review by maryes

4 stars Although the first album from North-American band RELAYER "Grander Vision" has the lower quotation between his discography in P A, I consider their more consistent work ! This consideration is intimately linked to the fact of more easy interaction of various musical parts that compounds each track from this album ( fact that I don't feel so easily in their next works). The music is filled by countless influences, as for instance YES, GENESIS, RUSH and some others in small scale. The first track "Anyone" is a theme mainly influenced by RUSH and their more heavy counterpart TILES, the guitar clearly influenced by Alex Lifesson' ( is enough listen RUSH's track "Subdivisions" guitar solo). the track 2 "Grander Vision" is a beautiful symphonic prog tune in YES/GENESIS musical construction and maybe the best track of the album. The Track 3 is a "nervous" ballad , where keyboards mixing Wakeman/Banks and Styx's keyboardist Dennis de Young style with detach. The last track " Wire Mill Scars " is very close by GENESIS, due some vocal parts, but , the guitars sounds again like Lifesson's style. My rate is 4 stars !!!

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 Upgoer by HEDERSLEBEN album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.03 | 3 ratings

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Upgoer
Hedersleben Krautrock

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars HEDERSLEBEN are a new Krautrock band out of Germany named after a village in Germany where Nicky Garratt the brainchild of the project is from. He became interested in this style of music after jamming in Hedersleben with guitarist Uve Mulrich from EMBRYO. By the way this tradition of jamming with other musicians in Hedersleben continues to this day as a yearly event. Nicky and drummer Jason Willer were part of Nik Turner's band on the album "The Space Gypsey" which was released in 2013 just like this album. Nik actually guests on the final track here playing flute. Even more members of HEDERSLEBEN would be on Nik's latest album "Space Fusion Odyssey". Oh, by the way this band HEDERSLEBEN is now also part of BRAINTICKET, joining Joel in that endeavor.

"Upgoer(Part 1)" opens with what sounds like the wind blowing and birds making noise as the organ floats in. Whispered words after 2 1/2 minutes join in as well. Sounds like synths in this experimental and somewhat dark intro. It kicks into a groove before 5 1/2 minutes. Some interesting sounding guitar follows as the female vocals almost shimmer and the drums pound. I like the keyboards before 8 minutes. It's all about the percussion and atmosphere 9 minutes in. This reminds me of Raga music here. "Der Donner Voegel(Dreamstate)" opens with the thunder rumbling as intricate guitar melodies join in. Drums a minute in, synths too. Organ late as we get thunder one more time. Spoken words join in to end it. Beautiful stuff.

"Dark Nebula" has this catchy beat as spoken female words join in. This is very BRAINTICKET-like in my opinion. The beat and voices stop after 2 minutes as we get floating organ then piano joining in. The guitar joins in late. "Upgoer (Part 2)" opens with experimental sounds that come and go until around 4 1/2 minutes when a trippy groove kicks in. A minute later it's experimental again but it's brief this time as it kicks back in quickly. It's jazzy with paino 6 1/2 minutes in then we get a change after 8 minutes as female vocals take over as we get that trippy beat again. "End Of Love(Dreamstate)" has these relaxed guitar melodies as pastoral flute from Nik Turner joins in. Dreamstate indeed. Just a gorgeous soundscape that might be too long.

A great start for this young band and not much thrills me more these days then hearing new Krautrock, Zeuhl or Canterbury. Bring it on! A solid 4 stars.

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 Space Fusion Odyssey by TURNER, NIK album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.87 | 24 ratings

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Space Fusion Odyssey
Nik Turner Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by friso
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Nik Turner - Space Fusion Odyssey (2015)

I really liked the Space Gypsy (2013) album because of it's Hawkwind style and catchy tunes. On the Space Fusion Odyssey album another brand of spacerock is played, more in the tradion of Fusion styled Gong. Nik Turner, the ex windinstrumentalist from Hawkwind, has invited an interesting list of musicans; Robby Krieger (The Doors), Steve Hilliage (Gong, solo), Gilly Smith (Gong) and Billy Cobham (Mahavishnu Orchestra, solo).. that's impressive.

However, this album fails to amaze me. Whereas Space Gypsy had plenty of catchy moments and melodies, this album doesn't have many. The fusion chords and solo's give rise to some more interesting harmonics and bass guitar / drums extravaganza's, but I never feel attached to the music. Their are few vocals on the album and even fewer lyrics. The guitar leads and fusion solo's dissapoint me a bit, perhaps we have been spoiled by earlier records of Mahavishnu Orchestra and Return to Forever. Nik Turner himself is obviously not a very experienced jazz musician, for his solos fail to rise above the rock'n roll feel that often sounds a bit misplaced here. What is interesting is how he remained true to his original Hawkwind signature sound. Still the rhythms are quite well made and the interplay of rhythm instruments is often great! I very much doubt that this record could dissapoint spacerock listeners in general.

Conclusion. A brave attempt at re-creating the space fusion sound invented by Gong, but not an improvement. This album is mainly interesting for its list of great musicians and loose spacey atmospheres. Fusionlisteners will have better alternatives, so this is for spacerock listeners only I guess. Three stars.

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 Revisionist by SANNHET album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.74 | 7 ratings

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Revisionist
Sannhet Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Guldbamsen
Special Collaborator Retired Admin

3 stars Old meets old...and a bass to die for

Sannhet means truth or truthfulness in both Swedish and Norwegian. I guess these guys needed something with a Scandinavian flavour; after all the black metal they occasionally dip their toes in stems from the far north. As it happens I too come from Scandinavia. I eat snow and dill in equal quantities and often use my days watching trees lose their foliage and wither away in the sweeping winds. That's Scandinavia for ya....at least during the colder months. To any black metal fan that's about all Scandinavia is. Well we do get summers up here - sunshine, bikinis, badly produced pop music and big bellied German tourists all frequent our lands. Sannhet though seems enamoured with the music of frostbites and chess coloured war-paint. On 'Revisionist' all of this gets funnelled into the vast open country of America and effectively moves away from the shrieking aesthetics of say early Ulver or Darkthrone.

Nah Sannhet seems to have sucked up a fair few sonic fingerprints from the American countryside, be that from the towering brutes of Isis or the Texan purveyors of post rock Explosions in the Sky. Bombastic bone-crunchingly heavy riffs with hints of a guttural force normally found in death metal, Sannhet employs some of the same geriatrics I've heard through the last couple of decades - starting out with Neurosis' genesis wonder 'Souls at Zero'. Now music doesn't always have to be cutting edge for me to enjoy it. On the contrary, I often find deliberately progressive music unnecessarily contrived. The one problem with this album though remains it's inability to shake it's style. Post rock or indeed post metal has been oversaturated with Godspeed crescendos and Neurosian build-ups - almost to the point of nausea. Even when these usual suspect are blended into a hefty mix of contemporary electronics and what to these ears genuinely sound like early 1980s post punk, I still mostly hear a hundred other bands who've done this thing before...and slightly better.

Hang on a minute....why does this album then continue to travel back into my stereo? I guess it's the Joy Division touch. -Lunging through in the bass playing - like an insisting poodle screwing your shin. The first couple of times I listened to 'Revisionist' it reminded of something I couldn't quite put my finger on. It continued to do so until one day after my morning juice sÚance. I popped on 'Unknown Pleasures' as I was walking out to the mighty water-closet where shampoo and toothpaste reside peacefully amongst each other - and then by the flick of the switch during 'Day of the Lords' and your's truly sitting comfortably on the can, I suddenly remembered that elusive bass from Sannhet. 'Eureka' I cried with happy tears in my eyes and a lovely smirk on my face that only really materialises during poops of heaven.

What does this album sound like then? What if Joy Division were American and had formed 20 years later with the intent of giving Godspeed, Isis and Neurosis a run for their money? You're close buddy - just cut out the dangerous frailty of one Ian Curtis and you're halfway there. Recommended to people with green shoes.

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 Upon Darkened Stains by ANIMA MORTE album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.69 | 27 ratings

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Upon Darkened Stains
Anima Morte Symphonic Prog

Review by Windhawk
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Swedish quartet ANIMA MORTE first appeared on the scene with the album "Face the Sea of Darkness", released three years after the band's formation in 2004. A further two EPs and two more full length albums have been created by this foursome since then. "Upon Darkened Stains" dates back to 2014, and was released through Swedish label Transubstans Records towards the end of the year.

Anima Morte explicitly states that a key inspiration for them are Italian bands such as Goblin and Fabio Frizzi, just as well known for creating music to be used as movie scores as they are in the creation of material to be enjoyed as standalone productions aimed at a music interested audience. And if not on anything else, the manner in which the songs develop on this album has a lot in common with movies, especially the manner in which they will ebb and flow in mood and intensity, often concluding with a more careful epilogue. There are some distinct dynamics at play here that most likely will fascinate those with a strong affection for moving pictures.

The musical side things here are rather firmly situated inside the symphonic part of the progressive rock universe. Layered arrangements featuring mainly vintage sounding keyboards, organ and Mellotron is an ongoing feature, and as mentioned just about always used in a strong ebb and flow context. On some occasions with a fairly seamless flow, the arrangements gradually ascending and descending in intensity, on other occasions building up to a more forceful crescendo and then returning to a more delicate beginning point again, in some cases using sudden shifts for a more poignant dramatic effect to crystallize. The common denominator in just about all songs here is a dark atmosphere, where words like melancholic and mournful are just as appropriate as brooding, haunting and ominous. All depending on intensity. The most intense and dramatic passages will feature dark toned Mellotron effects, vintage keyboards in harmonic resonance, majestic organ surges and dark toned guitar details adding depth and an undercurrent of darkness to an already almost oppressive landscape. But even when the arrangements are light toned and delicate there's something of a ghostly, nervous sheen to the proceedings, and both piano and percussion details are used to good effect to create unnerving moods by way of subtle effects. Even in the rare instances where the guitar is given a more prominent and dominant role the band manage to conjure atmospheres of this nature, as exemplified quite nicely on a track like Isomorphia.

Instrumental progressive rock of the symphonic variety is what Anima Morte provides, but in a manner that will resonate best among those with a taste for the darker side of progressive rock as far as mood and atmosphere is concerned. I guess a certain taste for a band like aforementioned Goblin might be an advantage to be able to enjoy this album, as will an affection for music that more or less closely follow the dynamics of a movie in terms of development. Those who can recognize their taste in music from such a description should know their visiting time when it comes to this band and this album.

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 Across The Universe by TAYLOR'S UNIVERSE album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2015
4.00 | 4 ratings

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Across The Universe
Taylor's Universe RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Ovidiu

4 stars ACROSS THE UNIVERSE is something weird and unusual for Mr Robin Taylor discography and could be considered like a best of album with some reworked material from some of his previous albums!I think that's a good idea and shows the fact that it's author is permanently in search of new ways of expression for his music and also,is in a continue movement to express new ideas and musical expressions ,not being satisfied or pleased with the result of the compositions even they are already put on a disc!What's more interesting is the selection of the tracks,not too old in Mr Taylor's repertoire,and this versions are from not too old albums!Honestly,the difference is obvious and it's hard to say if the original versions are better then this new ones!The sound has a major improvement,that's for sure and the enrichment of the instrumentation,a slightly different vocal change of interpretation too...all this things are trully ramarcable! What's fascinating for Mr Taylor's music,is the unusual and not at all ordinary manner of expression,the endless and unleashed imagination of the composer ,and the clever and unexpected way to combine original and fresh ideas!That's the major fact about this new versions-they sound fresh and are richer and more dense in their structures,new musicians were added and each of them are bringing their own personality to this new interpretations of the older songs!Definitelly,Mr Taylor has it's own trademark, his own distinct and precise musical ,componistic signature,we imediatelly recognise his style,and that's something essential for an artist with a strong personality and charisma!I personally consider this album a positive experiment and it was something unexpected to discover this new,reworked versions of older songs,and this was a courageoous and interestng idea!Hat off,Mr Taylor and our sincere congratulations for this musical experiment,we-your loyal fans,are delighted and pleased about your musical effort!4.25 stars for me and all my deepest respect and apreciation!

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 Beyond the Panopticon by SONUS UMBRA album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.85 | 4 ratings

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Beyond the Panopticon
Sonus Umbra Crossover Prog

Review by Ovidiu

4 stars A new SONUS UMBRA album is always someting exciting and it deserves to be signaled in the prog rock community!2 years only after the excellent WINTER SOULSTICE album,mastermind Luis Nasser and his talented musical companions,are back with a new album!And what an excellent surprise is this album,a true revelation!Slightly different to the previous albums,this new opus shows a more mature aproach of the band and more complicated and tortured musical vision,but in the good sense!Definitelly,BEYOND THE PANOPTICON is not an easy and superficial musical experience!Au contraire,it's a marvelous musical journey,and the whole album is very cinematic and rich in audio images,we are invited for a fantastic,transcedental journey and in the end,we have the feeling to be a a part of a great musical endeavour!For a little more than 40 minutes,the album is a little too short,but it's dense,rich and loaded with amazing musical ideas ,that's for sure!The instrumental opening track-GROTESQUERIE- is absolutelly stunning,it reminds me a little of Psychotic Waltz,we have here an unleashed display of technical scarry skills of all the band and there's someting fabulous for an opening album track!The title of the composition says everything!Then,some wonderful complex compositions,with dual -male/female vocalists,and the presence of a flute,a marvelous instrument,but with a morbid vibe,and our thoughts are going to the great Jan Anderson,but mostly to Devon Graves,or Buddy Lackey of Psychotic Waltz or DEAD SOUL TRIBE mostly!Interesting production,great vintage sound and that's a superior charm of the album,in my humble opinion!Overall,a great musical experience,where you are invited,another majestic work from the imagination and huge talent of Mr Luis Nasser,and the promise for a trully memorable musical experience indeed!All the album has a mystic vibe,something misterious and catchy...I repeat...the only minor minus is it's timing...it could have been a little longer...around 50 would have been just perfect!But it's excellent this way too!The artwork is impressive too..an elegant digipack with a great artwork,trully fantastic!4.5 stars for me and congratulations to a band with a huge potentia and a great musical identity and visionl!

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 Lynch by MASCHERE DI CLARA, LE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2015
3.00 | 1 ratings

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Lynch
Le Maschere Di Clara RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Finnforest
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

— First review of this album —
3 stars Intense new EP

"Lynch" is the short but wild new EP from Verona's acclaimed Le Maschere di Clara, released in October of 2015.

LMdC aims to mold classical with rock in an attempt to "vent" feelings while maintaining the highest ideals of expression, improvisation, and artistry. Like many great RPI bands past and present they easily reach this threshold. And while "venting" may not have been the best translation or the word they would have chosen it seems to apply just fine to this recording.

This short work is a burst, a Molotov cocktail, intense as hell. Beginning with "Freak" the distorted bass is so massive and the drums so nuts it almost feels like some garage doom metal band's wall of sound, save for the theatrics of violin all over the top. "Istanbul" begins every bit as manic before a short breather, but it doesn't last. The pace quickly reverts back to intense through the middle section of the EP. The 10-minute long closer "Solar" becomes the show piece here. Beginning with a huge infectious groove and some Italian spoken word, the tension slowly builds with some looping effects that brings a sense of unease, disjointedness to the listener. Toward the end when the track is in full maelstrom there are these calming, uplifting notes but only at intervals. These bring the slightest bit of calming effect to the craziness, a bit of a post-rock hug after having your ass kicked.

I was disappointed though that the EP is already over following "Solar" and I guess that's why it doesn't do better than 3 star "good but not essential" for me. I wanted this one to be twice as long and see where it all led. I wanted much more. This is stimulating listening at its finest and will please all adventurous RPI fans, but it may leave you hanging and feeling somewhat unfulfilled. I would have held onto these cool songs a bit longer for an album.

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 E Fu IL Sesto Giorno  by METAMORFOSI album cover Studio Album, 1972
2.95 | 44 ratings

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E Fu IL Sesto Giorno
Metamorfosi Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

2 stars Back in 1972 the Italian prog rock scene was in full swing and the nation set itself apart from many other European by taking the most interest in the exploding prog rock style and also was one of the few nations that utilized their own language for lyrics. In addition to the bigwigs of PFM, Bnaco, Area and the Celeste type acts out there, there were a gazillion smaller acts that blossomed into an equal amount of directions making the Italian prog rock scene one of the most fruitful and diverse in Europe with countless bands forming, recording an album or two and then disappearing into obscurity.

METAMORFOSI was one of those lesser known bands that came from Rome and managed to pump out two releases before they would take a hiatus until their 2004 comeback "Paradiso" Better known for their second release "Inferno," their debut release E FU IL SESTO GIORNO (And It Was The Sixth Day) came out in the height of the RPI craze. The band formed way back in 1969 and was originally part of the late 60s beatnik scene before heading into the realms of progressive rock and on this debut album can be heard some of the remnants of their pop years which in all honesty makes this album a little tame in comparison to the other bands of the period.

What begins sounding like one of the Andean folk bands with those unique sounding flutes and even the style i was beginning to think that someone slipped a Los Jaivas album in my METAMORFOSI digipak, but lo and behold the lyrics come out Italian and it starts sounding like the pastoral symphonic prog the Italians were pumping out at breakneck speed in '72. Many of the bands prog elements are in play here. This is first and foremost a classically keyboard album focusing on the playing of Enrico Olivieri who delivers nice hooks and pleasing melodies accompanied by the operatic vocal approach of Jimmy Spitaleri. One of the things that separates METAMORFOSI from other bands is that the guitar parts were kept to a minimum and when the very few solos occur they are usually accompanied by the flute.

For an RPI album of 1972 this is pretty weak. At this point the band hadn't stepped too far beyond the 60s and the songs are very boring compared to the explosion of creativity all around them. What we get is simple song structures that never really develop into much of interest. The melodies are pretty straight forward and there are literally no surprises like on "Inferno." This one plays it way too safe and suffers from a serious lack of imagination. After coming to this one after "Inferno" i was way underwhelmed. While nothing on here is bad by any means, nothing is memorable either. This is Italian pop rock that has a just a bit of prog lite that leaves me unsatisfied. Luckily they would step it up big time for their followup.

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 Snegs by SOM NOSSO DE CADA DIA album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.82 | 46 ratings

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Snegs
Som Nosso de Cada Dia Eclectic Prog

Review by Atavachron
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars As talented as this three-piece was and with as many good moments as there are on this first one, SNdCD kinda just sat there; at least compared to what else was happening in popular music during the early '70s. In rock as much as with any creative medium, maybe more so, at some point you have to grab people by the throat. Hopefully sooner rather than later.

In all seriousness there are quite a few killer bits here and maybe these old ears have just heard way too much vintage stuff to make an objective judgement on the Brazilian trio. But it is rock; you gotta give us something that's .. well .. spectacular. There was just too much else going on in music not to. The croons of PedrŃo support slow but well-chorused 'Sinal da Paranoia' which has a neat synth wormhole ribboned through the center and features Manito's drunken fiddle, but 'Bicho do Mato' is a blues-rock shuffle that doesn't quite work unless you're playing Jabba the Hutt's palace. The very nicely counterpointed namesake cut is a keeper, has excellent chord progressions and fine keyboard leads, and six-minute 'Massavilha' steals the thunder with its Emersonian leanings. Spaced-out 'Direccion de Aquarius' is what may be a bad Beatles impression circa Abbey Road, hard to say, but luckily 'A Outra Face' saves us from taking a nice nap and is a mostly well-conceived funk/rock fusion bit with big funereal 'O Guarani' to finish.

A take-it-or-leave-it record, and with the incredible other music that was being issued in their time, this debut simply didn't rise to the challenge. Neither very good nor very bad, most assuredly.

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 Love Makes Sweet Music by SOFT MACHINE, THE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1968
3.08 | 6 ratings

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Love Makes Sweet Music
The Soft Machine Canterbury Scene

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars With an A-side that is reminiscent of the sunny mid-1960s British Invasion pop that has only tastes of the tripped-out psychedelic Canterbury experiences to come, and B-sides that combine that approach with darker verses reminiscent of a prelude to Song From the Bottom of a Well from Kevin Ayers' third solo album, this first single from the Soft Machine - recorded even before the demo sessions which were later released as Jet Propelled Photographs - represents a very embryonic point indeed of the band's development.

Though Daevid Allen was in the lineup at this point, his presence is barely felt, whilst the jazzy influences that would inform their subsequent work are almost entirely absent - unless you count the freakier portions of Feelin' Reelin' Squealin' as free jazz. Interesting stuff, but not something to break the bank tracking down; perhaps the best way to find this is to pick up Polydor's 2009 CD remaster of the first Soft Machine album (which benefits greatly from superior sound quality to previous CD reissues that album to boot).

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 Behind the Gardens - Behind the Wall - Under the Tree ... by VOLLENWEIDER, ANDREAS album cover Studio Album, 1981
3.22 | 17 ratings

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Behind the Gardens - Behind the Wall - Under the Tree ...
Andreas Vollenweider Crossover Prog

Review by AEProgman

3 stars A magical mystical journey!

I was amazed to see Andreas Vollenweider here on Progarchive. For those not familiar with him, he plays a "modified" harp which has a very cool haunting type of sound. Sort of a mild flanging or chorus, sliding effect. Like most of his albums that I am familiar with, there are other instruments blended in, such as synths, percussions, drums, guitars, sax, and vocals used as another instrument (which Andreas plays most of those himself). All done very tastefully to enhance the ride.

The compositions, on this and other albums, really do give you the feel of taking a mystical journey through some peaceful, but exciting fantasy land. Like adventuring through a Roger Dean album cover or painting. The tempo ranges from peaceful to mild prog to almost classical and jazzy tendencies.

I had discovered Vollenweider back in the late 80s on his Down to the Moon album, which I like more than this album. I wound up getting all of his albums from the 80s which I would recommend to anyone looking to explore his music. White Winds is another excellent album. With the album Dancing With the Lion, he began to explore some new directions in his music but is still excellent.

I have not listened to Andreas since the early 90s as the old media I had of his albums is long gone. Rediscovered this album by rumaging through a thrift store/flea market (a new favorite habit) and found this and it brought back some fond memories. I give this album a 3.5 star rating but will round down to 3. I almost was tempted to deduct the rating more due to this goofy album cover, just kidding!

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 The Envisage Conundrum by GODSTICKS album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.60 | 17 ratings

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The Envisage Conundrum
Godsticks Crossover Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars I remember when GODSTICKS were added to the site here and the buzz around that. I did pick up their debut album at the time which I thought was a good 3 star album. This is their second release and there's not a lot to pick between the two hence my 3 star rating here. In a way this recording feels like it's in no-man's land as it's not heavy despite the hints of it, neither is it too mellow, it's somewhere in between. By the way the band feel that their latest "Emergence" released in 2015 is finally the album where they found their sound. And it's heavy! I like the Alternative vibe on here which comes mostly from the vocals.

"Convergence" is the short intro track that is quite spacey. "Caught In A Bind" is a top three track for me and I like the heaviness early on with the crunchy guitar. It settles back as the vocals join in. Nice bass and drum work here. It becomes fuller with backing vocals until we get this short but enjoyable instrumental section then the vocals return. "The Envisage Conundrum" has this heavy, rumbling soundscape as the guitar plays over top. Vocals join in. A top three tune. "In A Way That Ended Me" has this piano intro before it turns fuller. I like the soaring guitar as well as how understated this song is. Vocals do arrive as well. "Benchmark" is another restrained vocal track and I enjoy the intricate instrumental work. "Submerged" has some energy to it as the vocals join in, but it settles into a mid-paced vocal track.

"A Brief Foray" is another mid-paced vocal track but perhaps more laid back than the earlier ones. "Disclosure" is a nervy attempt by the band in my opinion as we get piano melodies throughout. By the way they got rid of the keyboards on their next album. "Borderstomp Pt.1" has a heavy intro to it that I like as the vocals join in in this Alternative sounding piece. "Borderstomp Pt.2" has this restrained heaviness that I like with vocals. Nice guitar solo after 3 1/2 minutes and before 5 1/2 minutes. "Borderstomp Pt.3" is my final top three song and it's because of the heaviness, love the riffs. Soaring guitar after 4 1/2 minutes when the vocals have stopped. The guitar goes on and on, so good! "Raised Concerns" opens with acoustic guitar as the reserved vocals join in. It's a little fuller after 1 1/2 minutes. Then we get a nice piano interlude before 3 minutes and vocals are back a minute later. Some violin late.

Another good one from this band but they really did find their sound with the latest "Emergence".

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 Ultreia (Canzoni Sulla Via - Atto 1) by RANDONE album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.01 | 27 ratings

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Ultreia (Canzoni Sulla Via - Atto 1)
Randone Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Windhawk
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Italian project RANDONE is the creative vehicle of composer and musician Nicola Randone, and first appeared on the scene in 2002 with the album "Morte Di Un Amore". Since then Randone has been a stable and active creator of music, with one collection, a DVD and 6 studio albums released under this moniker to date. "Ultreia (Canzoni Sulla Via ? Atto 1)" is the most recent of the latter, and was released through Italian label Electromantic Music in 2014.

When dealing with Italian artists exploring progressive rock, you are bound to encounter the expression RPI at some point. This three letter expression is short for Rock Progressivo Italiano, and signifies that for at least some people, there is a marked difference between at least some progressive rock made in Italy and progressive rock made in other parts of the world. There has been calls for similar subsections in some progressive rock environments of course, but so far Italy stands alone as a nation in being given their very own subgenre in progressive rock, and one that only applies to some rather than all artists originating from that nation at that.

Those who are in favor of this specific description, and that has an understanding about what it signifies to them, should treasure this album by Randone, as it does fulfill most if not all of the criterias I have been quoted will make an artist or an album to be placed under this niche umbrella. Stylistic variety, clear and distinct references to vintage progressive rock and, most important of all, the use of the Italian language for the lead vocals.

This is an album that orients itself firmly towards keyboard driven progressive rock, where both the organ and the Mellotron are used liberally throughout, with splendid support from what mainly sounds like other vintage keyboards. Occasional jazz-oriented instrument details have their place here, and an even more frequent detail added to the proceedings are folk music, both by way of instrument details and vocals, but also with some key arrangements having a more firm folk-oriented direction. That there's space and room for dramatic, operatic type lead vocals here isn't all that surprising, and that occasional orchestral touches are added in is also a good and somewhat expected but still effective detail of note. That some beefy and occasional fiery electric guitar details are used liberally as well, up to and including some guitar solo runs with more of a shred style touch, is perhaps a bit more unexpected I guess. The use of what sounds like electronic instrument details, at times in a rather dominating manner, may be another detail that isn't as common on productions of this kind, but by and large they work well in this setting.

What may be a bit more detrimental, at least for those not fluent in the Italian language, is the cinematic nature of this album. A feature increasingly more dominant are interludes of spoken voices, in form coming across as sampled dialogue of the kind you'll find in movies where ordinary people are talking to themselves, to others or with others, with appropriate daily life sound effects. Not just at the start and end of songs, but also as interludes within the songs. I get a strong cinema movie feeling at times with this album, and as this is the first of what presumably is a series of albums, there is a concept explored here and a story being told that will remain hidden for those not fairly well versed in Italian I guess. Presumably this perhaps not so slight detail will be a strong positive for any Italian progressive rock fans, but as I am not fluent in that language myself I just have no way of knowing how well this is executed.

All in all I find "Ultreia (Canzoni Sulla Via ? Atto 1)" to be a well made and versatile production, in substance and style adhering fairly closely to my understanding of the elements needed for residing inside the progressive rock subgenre RPI. Besides those who have a specific interest in this subset of progressive rock, I would guess that symphonic progressive rock fans with a fairly versatile and liberal taste in music of that orientation might want to have a go at this one.

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 Komara by KOMARA album cover Studio Album, 2015
4.60 | 12 ratings

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Komara
Komara Eclectic Prog

Review by olaras

5 stars KoMaRa is Slovakian experimental guitarist and composer David Kollar new trio project with an acoustic and electronic percussions magican Pat Mastelotto and Paolo Raineri on trumpet. It sounds very fresh and exciting. Without doubts this realease is one of the best from 2015. Only 6 ratings and one review so far on PA site is probably the only reason why I can not see this record in the top ten of 2015. Music brings to mind some King Crimson or Fripp works mixed with Nils Petter Molvaer soundscapes and experimental-post metal moments. There are also some similarities to Tony Levin's World Diary or even more some Stick Man pieces especially in bass lines with tint of Miles Davis trumpet excesses or, in some parts also with Trevor Dunn's Trio Convulsant prog-hardcore-jazz experiments. This was my associations after the first three hearings, however this stuff is darker and denser, somewhat industrial-like and full of heavy moments interrupted by more melancholic and gently pulsing fragments. My favourite track is "Afterbirth" with one minute of silence at the end. Some associations around band name: "komar" means "mosquito" in Polish. We can say as linguistic joke: "komara" for female mosquito but correct form of this noun in Polish is "komarzyca" :-) Back to topic - four and a half star rounded to five. Highly recommended!

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 Different Sun by ELECTRIC EYE album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.00 | 2 ratings

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Different Sun
Electric Eye Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Windhawk
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Norwegian band ELECTRIC EYE is a fairly new group, and from what I understand they are something of a local super-group consisting of fairly well known musicians all living in or near the town of Bergen. Their debut album was released back in 2013. With "Different Sun" they are ready with the mythically dreaded second album, which was released through Norwegian label Jansen Plateproduksjon at the start of 2016.

I stumbled upon this album by chance myself, when following up on something of a vanity project I have: To list all new albums sorted under the progressive rock tag which is available to by from digital vendor emusic. Not an important task at all of course, but it is interesting for me personally to see the sheer number of albums that in some way or other is marketed directly or indirectly to this niche audience. This new album by Electric Eye was among the recent additions to that list, and after giving it a brief run on Spotify I decided that I needed to get this one. And while emusic couldn't supply me, due to region restrictions, Google music could satisfy my need for instant gratification quite nicely.

As I do spend a fair deal of my spare time reviewing music, I figured I might as well have a go with this one as well, as my curiosity rather demanded that I had a full run through this album. And I have to admit that I am rather impressed by what this foursome have accomplished here. As with many other bands active today this isn't a band out to rewrite the rules of music as we know it, that should be crystal clear, but those who tend to be fascinated by psychedelic and progressive rock might want to take note.

My main impressions are that this is a band very much in love with the psychedelic music of the late 1960's and early to mid 1970's. And then spanning the whole canvas of music described in a psychedelic context from this era, albeit perhaps with a stronger orientation towards the rock based rather than pop based artists in general, and with something of an affection also for music of a more challenging nature in those landscapes. Not that this is an album I'd describe as challenging as such mind you, but there are numerous small details here that indicates that at least some of the guys in this band know their way around music that focus much more on chaotic and freaked out arrangements than those revolving more closely around distinct melodies and harmonic constructions.

So we have a song like Never Fade Away, a piece with a certain degree of hit potential to my ears, but with a sound that makes me feel like describing it as a bastard child of The Doors and late 70's Eloy. The more atmospheric laden concluding track Part One is a creation that would have been a good match for many late 70's Eloy albums as well, although I kind of presume that certain similarities in sound and style in this as well as the former case is more of an accidental thing. The bassist in Electric Eye would probably have a fun time listening to some mid to late 70's Eloy albums though, at least if my ears and my memory makes the right connections when writing this.

Elsewhere the band treats us to their amalgam of 60's and 70's material, some with more of a garage rock feel to them, other with a more clear orientation towards the cosmic aligned and space oriented bands from the 70's, with at times a liberal use of repetitive elements of the kind that was a staple in many krautock bands. Cosmic sounds and effects are at times used extensively too, and here and there there are even some subtle Hawkwind vibes creeping in amidst the more floating and elegant material with arguably more of a Pink Floyd touch to them, if not in sound and expression then at least in approach and spirit. But disharmonious and freaked out instrument effects have their fair and natural place too, adding a subtle touch of psychedelic freakout to the table. That effects of this kind can be included in a subtle manner is, at least for me, rather impressive.

All in all a strong production, and an album that appears to live and breathe tendencies from the heyday of psychedelic and cosmic rock in terms of songwriting, performance, instrumentation and production. If you have an affection for this kind of music in general, and a special soft spot for artists unafraid to explore it in a comparable manner to the ones active in the golden years of psychedelic rock, this is an album that merits an inspection.

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 Nuevo Mesias by FLOR DE LOTO album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.82 | 18 ratings

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Nuevo Mesias
Flor de Loto Prog Folk

Review by poito

3 stars Short and easy. Here the band finally did a move. The sound is different, less folk flavor, rock almost gone, slower pace, some keys going to the front, it is definitely for a different audience, I would say the band has grown old, and a bit lazier, they took a mainstream detour if you like. Again, you won't find much new, the music is still well crafted, but there is a general feeling of deja vue, not in the band's production, but from out there. Contrary to the balance of its predecessor IMPERIO DE CRISTAL, there are some fillings here, but there are also some highs, check Creados del Fuego. These good themes are a bit better than before, but there is no homogeneity in the creative work and, well, skipping themes while listening is not good. Three and half rounded down.

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 Akrˇasis by OBSCURA album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.87 | 6 ratings

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Akrˇasis
Obscura Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by arschiparschi

4 stars Obscura went through a considerable line-up change in 2015 when both drummer Hannes Grossmann and guitarist Christian Muenzner left the band to pursue other projects. Since they were also composers for Obscura's material, it was unclear in which direction exactly they would head - the only indication was Grossmann's comment, saying that Kummerer wanted to go back into the musical direction of 'Cosmogenesis' rather than follow on in that of 'Omnivium'. Now that the new album has arrived I must say that I am really delighted with it. Sebastian Lanser (Panzerballett) surely is a force to be reckoned with on the drums and new guitarist Tom Geldschlńger seems a worthy replacement of Muenzner. The album starts off with "Sermon of the Seven Suns" in the classic sound, quite similar to their well-known "Anticosmis Overload". With a nice balance between more quiet parts, impressive solos and stomping blast beats, all layered with the bright sound of Klausenitzer's bass, it is a nice start to the album sure to please fans of the Obsura sound. "The Monist" is a slower and more heavy-sounding song. It fits nicely between the very melodic "Akroasis" and mixed "Sermon of the Seven Suns". "Akroasis", which was released as a music video before the album's release date, perfectly blends melodic blast beats and excellent guitar playing by Tom Geldschlńger. A true highlight for fans of melodic, yet technical death metal. "Ten Sepiroth" starts off with a quiet guitar intro, which soon turns into a fast death metal sound. Intense drumming by Lanser and well crafted transition between the parts make it a song that keeps the listener interested until the end. In the second half, the bass comes to the fore once more and creates a balance between a fast guitar solo and pounding drums. "Ode to the Sun" has a more heavy death metal sound to it with less melodic and lower guitar riffs. Its mostly kept at low speed, which gives it a very heavy sound, layered with robotic, almost ethereal sounding vocals in the middle. "Fractal Dimension" resumes the fast blastbeat sound, though not for long. Intersparsed with multiple guitar solos and a quiet guitar part in the second half, makes it a well-crafted technical death metal song, which does not become boring despite its length. "Perpetual Infinity" starts off quietly and incorporates the auto-tuned vocals already used in "Ode to the Sun". Then, through various shifts in its speed, it returns to a fast-paced death metal sound. "Weltseele" (anima mundi) is an ususually long song but a nice surprise, I think. It develops from a quiet guitar part to a slightly slower death metal blast, marked by multiple time shifts, but then returns to a quiet interlude, which even incorporates strings. From there it slowly returns to a heavier, more speedy sound only to finish on a quiet note.

Overall, I'm very pleased with this new effort by the band. It surely lives up to the standard set by the first records, though at times it could use some more variation with regards to the guitar riffs. The musicianship is flawless, as is the sound. Lyricwise it still revolves around the same cosmic themes, already present in the previous albums. Surely an album that should please fans of the Obscura sound.

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 The Astonishing by DREAM THEATER album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.02 | 240 ratings

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The Astonishing
Dream Theater Progressive Metal

Review by Mebert78

5 stars If you're looking for a traditional Dream Theater album, it's not The Astonishing. No, this album is much, much more than that. In fact, I'd suggest that people not even view this album as an "album," per se. It's a musical. And fans who approach the two-disc conceptual rock opera expecting the band's usual formula of long songs and blistering instrumentals will likely be disappointed. Luckily, I'm not one of those fans. I truly adore everything about this unique dystopian masterpiece.

Now, before we go any further, I should disclose that I'm one of the band's biggest fanboys. For example, I've got a Dream Theater decal on my car and I attended the band's induction into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame in 2010, to give you an idea of how hardcore I am. Despite my "fanboyness," I was still skeptical when I saw details about the album start to emerge in late 2015. Everything seemed lavish and over the top about The Astonishing -- from the elaborate map of a fictional kingdom to the flying noise machines that resembled something out of the 2013 science-fiction movie, "Oblivion." But I trust in the judgment of guitarist John Petrucci. The band has released a dozen studio albums since the late '80s, with Petrucci steadily guiding the band lyrically and musically. He always comes through. And in the case of The Astonishing, he's come through once again -- and with flying colors.

If you've seen any of the band's recent promotional interviews for The Astonishing, Petrucci has made it clear that he didn't set out to write typical Dream Theater songs for the album. Rather, he and keyboardist Jordan Rudess were writing music to accompany the futuristic story Petrucci had written -- a story about an oppressive world void of human music that is rescued by a "chosen one" named Gabriel, who has the "gift of music." There's some love mixed in too, I should note. For a band known for its instrumental prowess, this was a big risk and departure from their standard recipe. But let's be realistic. The band has given us three decades of great music and if they want to experiment for an album cycle I'm all for it. It's one of the reasons I respect this band so much. They're willing to challenge themselves.

I'll admit, my first reaction was that the album might be too Rudess-heavy and slow in spots. But then, I followed along with the booklet's character dialogue as well as the track-by-track descriptions of the plot and scene posted on the band's website and I found myself enjoying and appreciating it a whole lot more. The tunes are tailored to the tale's tone and chatter to the point where it created a "theater" in my mind. Fitting for a group named Dream Theater, I'd say. The illustrations posted in the booklet and on the website helped the visualizations as well. Overall, the song flow and music choices were more understandable in the story's context and it was a fun experience. I even felt my heart racing at the climactic moments.

Musically, there's a little bit of everything on The Astonishing. There are some conventional-sounding Dream Theater songs like "The Gift of Music" and "Moment of Betrayal," there are beautiful ballads like "When Your Time Has Come" and "Chosen," and there are others that jump all over the map like "A Tempting Offer" and "My Last Farewell." There are also some sound effects to bring the story to life as well as a full orchestra and choir. Oh, and vocalist James LaBrie plays the role of eight characters. In total, there are over two hours of music. And I must say that every time I listen to the album I find a new part that mesmerizes me.

My only criticism is Roadrunner Record's poor handling of the album's pre-order distribution. I didn't receive my copy in the mail by release day, so I had to spend my Friday night trying to find a store that still had it in stock. I totally refuse to listen to a new album on YouTube. I wanted the complete package in my hands to experience the album the way it was meant to be experienced. Oddly enough, I ended up enjoying it so much that I kept both copies -- one for home, and one for my car. It's safe to say I'll be listening to lots of The Astonishing.

All in all, The Astonishing is an incredibly ballsy album that shows us the progressive metal giant's creative spirit and innovative side continue to expand, evolve and explore new places -- even a whopping 30 years into their career. And I can't wait to see where they take us next.

- Michael R. Ebert (www.michaelrebert.net)

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 Labyrinth by FLESHGOD APOCALYPSE album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.02 | 13 ratings

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Labyrinth
Fleshgod Apocalypse Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

4 stars Let the demons and divas play! FLESHGOD APOCALYPSE have become the masters of mixing lush symphonic orchestral arrangements with their trademark brutal death metal that somehow infuses them with touches of power metal including the melodic and often sweeping guitar solos. LABYRINTH is their fourth overall release (3rd full) and continues their tradition of changing things up without sacrificing any of the elements that makes them fairly unique in the burgeoning extreme metal world these days.

What is the same is their usual formula of taking ample amounts of extreme metal, most notably in the death metal department which includes the grim, guttural and growly vocals of Tommaso Riccardi, the down tuned brutal guitar and bass assaults and the frenetic technical wizardry of Francesco Paoli's extraordinary brutal and beastly drumming performances. Like "Agony" where the band stepped up the classical orchestral aspects, LABYRINTH carries that torch even further by extending the role of the symphonics. And once again the tracks all flow together seamlessly as to give a simple album feel broken into many acts or parts rather than completely detached pieces of music. 
What's different on this album is how much more the band has expanded their sound and songwriting. In the beginning the symphonic aspects were tamped down by the death metal and by "Agony" finally found their equal footing but on LABYRINTH they are allowed a lot more room to breath, expand and dominate. The scales are certainly more tipped in this direction as the death metal beast although not having been even close to retired has at least taken a back seat for significant portions of the album. We simply get more completely classical parts that not only make up intros and outros but grace transitioning sections within tracks as well as vying with the metal parts in every part of the album. There are also more uses of Paolo Rossi's clean vocals as well as the operatic diva enchantress duties of Veronica Bordacchini who has free reign at times while other times being part of the beauty and beast team where all three vocalists are harmonizing together.

This is the most diverse album by FLESHGOD APOCALYPSE yet. The arrangements are much more complex and both the classical and metal characteristics have expanded their tentacles into new arenas. The classical not only includes more operatic moments but incorporates expanded Chopin-esque piano and for the first time has acoustic classical guitar as well as the usual neoclassical soloing. On the metal side there are different types of riffs that emerge now and again. There are moments of thrash, industrial and traditional metal in the mix that don't replace the dominate death metal but merely augment. And the way all these instrumental roles mix together sounds fresh and unlike previous albums as well.

At this point, the increase in symphonic involvement does bring bands like Septicflesh to mind however FLESHGOD APOCALYPSE remains more extreme and complex than their Greek cousins and often brings the Canadian Unexpect to mind in its frenetic and unforgiving fusion but once again doesn't quite throw down the extreme avant-garde gauntlet like that band has. The sound stays within the parameters of the sonic collaborative frenzy of classical music with death metal and only mildly extends those boundaries. This is another brilliant album by FLESHGOD APOCALYPSE and i only prefer this one slightly less to "Agony" simply because in the balancing act of symphonic vs. metal i feel they went a little overboard with the symphonic aspects but it is simply a matter of taste and only a minor quiver since the compositions overall exude a more sophisticated approach hinting at the fact that FLESHGOD APOCALYPSE are continuously evolving their sound and haven't yet unleashed the best that the beast has to offer.

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 Selling England By The Pound by GENESIS album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.63 | 3374 ratings

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Selling England By The Pound
Genesis Symphonic Prog

Review by Magnum Vaeltaja

4 stars No introduction needs to be made for this album. We all know it's a concept album and it's by Genesis and it's called Selling England by The Pound and 1973 and yadda yadda ya whatever other content you've read from the past thousand reviews this album has. So I'll cut to the chase and get to my rating and my rationale.

This is a flawed album. There's no doubt about it. "Dancing With The Moonlit Knight" and "The Cinema Show" are both very strong tracks, with great instrumental performances, intelligent composition and bounding with energy. "Firth of Fifth" is an undisputed masterpiece of the Genesis catalog, with atmospheric and moving instrumental parts. The other five songs on the album range from good but nothing special in the case of "After The Ordeal" to bland and overly lengthy in the case of "The Battle of Epping Forest". Altogether we find ourselves with about 10 minutes of perfect music, 20 minutes of very good music and 20 minutes of inconsistent music. In spite of the album's flaws, I'll give it four stars; an excellent addition to any prog rock collection, because that's what it is. No prog collection would be complete without "Firth of Fifth" but Selling England is no masterpiece with as much filler as it has. To end with a quatrain: "An injustice to rate it less, an injustice to rate it more, hence my decision to give it stars, a quantity of four".

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 Until All The Ghosts Are Gone by ANEKDOTEN album cover Studio Album, 2015
4.24 | 424 ratings

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Until All The Ghosts Are Gone
Anekdoten Heavy Prog

Review by FragileKings
Prog Reviewer

3 stars A couple of years back, I purchased "Nucleus", Anekdoten's second album I believe. I found I really liked some tracks and always thought to someday grab another album. Then one day in 2015, I saw that the band had a new album out and I decided to grab it and check it out.

The opening track "Shooting Star" is quite a surprise. It sounds a lot like some recent Opeth and in fact, a couple of times that I've had this song and some from Opeth's "Pale Communion" on a mixed playlist and on shuffle, I actually mistook this song for an Opeth song at first. It's an excellent opening to the album and I can't help but notice the smoother and warmer sound compared to the sometimes crushing and pulverizing sounds on "Nucleus". This song has become a favourite off the album.

The final track too is a memorable one. "Our Days are Numbered" is an instrumental with more heavy guitar but a lighter, atmospheric part with some saxophone before coming to a dramatic finale. It's an instrumental with moods and tension. Great work!

Unfortunately, I keep fading out during the four songs in between. I understand that this is a top rated album of 2015 and I even read a raving review praising this album to high heaven. But I'm afraid that I can't find and become absorbed by the genius music that many others are claiming in there. There's supposed to be this totally far out guitar solo packed with sweet emotion on "Get Out Alive". Yes, the song really comes out strong in the second half and builds nicely in the first. But I am not totally blown away. "If It All Comes Down to You" includes some lovely flute and Mellotron. It should be really marvellous and listening to it now on my iPhone without headphones it is indeed very beautiful.

But I've tried to listen to this album through a few times and my attention always wanders. What's wrong? It sounds like it should be a great album to me. Is it Nicklas Barker's vocals, which aren't exactly the strongest in progland? No, I can get along with the vocals, especially since there's so much instrumental work. What is it then?

Well, I listened on the way home tonight and I think I know what's missing. I heard someone say recently, "Have you ever had an album ruined for you for one thing and that one thing only?" My impression is that this album isn't mixed very well. I find the sound murky and thick. Turning up the volume usually helps in these cases but it still seems to me that the middle songs especially just don't sound as clear as they should. Listening to recent albums by Opeth, Pandora Snail, or Nice Beaver for example, the music is just so warm and rich in sound. That's lacking here and I think that's why my mind keeps losing focus and I don't know what I've just listened to.

Yeah, I'm listening one more time to "Writing On the Wall" now without the ear buds in and the music sounds better like this actually. I can see why some people rate the music of this album so high. As for me, I would really like to have heard a clearer, cleaner production of the sound here.

Surely a great album that happens to be suffering a bit from the mixed sound of the music. Four stars knocked down to three.

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 Return to Mingulay by OCEANS 5 album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.98 | 124 ratings

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Return to Mingulay
Oceans 5 Crossover Prog

Review by FragileKings
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Good day to you all. I'm Andy John Bradford and I've written some nice little folk ditties, or perhaps sea chanteys if you like, that you can enjoy singing along to at your local tavern while downing a pint or two with the local lads.

I was just down by the shore for a couple of minutes trying to get the right feel for the album. The wind was a-blowing and the waves were crashing in. The gulls were in the sky calling out. But a storm started blowing in and the thunder was a-rumbling so I thought it'd be best fer me to head indoors. Now I'm going ta play for you an old traditional number and I'm just going ta be a-strumming away like this here, and you can all sing along if ya know the words. "Hail you own, boys / An' let her go boys / Sailing home to Mingulay".

Now I've got me a few friends along ta help out with the music and on electric guitar and some acoustic as well I've got Mr. Colin Tench, whom some of you may know from Corvus Stone or perhaps Bunchakeze or Minstrel's Ghost. He's got a good feel for the music and plays some fine guitar, maybe going a little toward the Pink Floyd sound here at the end of the song.

Now here's another fine guitarist but I've asked him to come in on bass. Mr. Stef Flaming of the band Murky Red. And well, now we're going ta need a drummer you say, and for that we've got Mr. Victor Tassone from Unified Past. Oh, yes, the keyboards are being handled by Mr. Marco Chiappini whom you can hear on Minstrel's Ghost and Mr. Tench's band project CTP.

And now yer surely thinking that this is not looking like it's going ta sound like any folk band singing sea chanteys and true enough, it's starting to look like a prog band now. Speaking of prog, I'm liking the Pink Floyd sound a bit lately and so we should get a kind of Great Gig in the Sky singer in here for a song, maybe "6000 Friends". How about Ms. Lorelei McBroom from Australian Pink Floyd to do that bit there? Ah, now we've got some very fine music going on.

Just one more thing, some piano and orchestration would be a nice touch to make this album of folk ditties sound really more like a prog rock album. An' so here's Mr. Andres Guazzelli from Argentina. Maybe you've heard his piece "Wish You Could Hear" which features Mr. Tench on guitar as well.

So, I'm hopin' ya like the songs now. At the heart, it's me singing and strumming away. But my musical friends have gone and turned this into an album with a strong seventies rock vibe and really made the music come alive. I never knew it could sound so good.

So step inside and an take off yer coat. The storms a-coming in but it's cozy and warm in here. Grab a pint and sit back and hear the band play. And once ya know the words, feel free ta sing along with us!

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 James by LOWERCASE NOISES album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2015
3.00 | 1 ratings

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James
Lowercase Noises Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Finnforest
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

— First review of this album —
3 stars A unique gift

"James" is the latest installment of a unique sub series of EPs that Andrew Rothling (the man behind Lowercase Noises) has created for each of his children. He composes and records the music during the pregnancy and then releases each album on the date of his child's birth, "James" being number four. If this sounds a little too sweet or sentimental for your tastes you should reconsider, each of the albums are actually quite good.

Othling handles the bulk of his releases via guitar and associated effects, creating slow and swelling ambient dreamscapes, full of emotion and peace. On this album he has added specials guests to bring a bit more "band" sound to some of the tracks, which feature drums, cello, and violin. "The First Glimmer of Wind" is a standout track here letting violin and cello have the lead rather than the usual guitar, giving it a slightly different feel. "Almost So Clear" brings acoustic guitar to the fore initially before swallowing it in the welling, again bringing some strings in. "The First Wink of Dawn" adds piano note repetitions to the fore before some light drums come in, very effecting at invoking morning optimism. The twenty four minutes drift by very quickly and the overwhelming feel is a life affirming sense of beauty and peace. Rarely does one get harshness or sadness from the music. Lowercase Noises work has always brought very positive "vibes" to this listener, soundtracks for introspection and relaxing listening. His philosophy is that guitar should be played slowly and 'less notes is more' essentially. In other words, like your Mom told you, slow down and taste your food rather than inhaling it.

As he has in the past Andy turned to artist Terri Othling for the beautiful cover art. I urge post rock fans to check out Lowercase Noises for what is now an impressive body of ambient post-rock work.

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 Imperio De Cristal by FLOR DE LOTO album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.85 | 31 ratings

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Imperio De Cristal
Flor de Loto Prog Folk

Review by poito

4 stars Short and easy. From its debut album the band has evolved little musically, probably because they began recording late, when they had already a long road in their shoulders. Prog-rock with a small traditional Andes touch (no more celtic bits, good!). But here they finally sound mature (production?) and display instrumental mastery, plus, they venture with more complex compositions than in former albums. The ideas come out more fluent and the musicianship is so good. Maybe, this is the first album in which the flute stops doing what is expected in a folk-prog band and dares adding music to the ensemble. There are no highs, but at least half a dozen themes are great (check Mar Amargo, to mention one), easy listening, you may play them back and again without bore. There is nothing extraordinary, but the music traps you, it is moderately fast, rocky, varied and highly spirited.

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 The Astonishing by DREAM THEATER album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.02 | 240 ratings

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The Astonishing
Dream Theater Progressive Metal

Review by Arbiter

5 stars I can't understand why some are down on this album. Perhaps because it is more symphonic and less mechanical than some of DTs creations, but its melodic characteristics are what make this such a fine composition. I guess it depends what you're into - melody or rhythm. It is definitely a vast improvement over the last two outings.

Unlike other reviewers, I don't find this album disjointed at all. The story carries well and is punctuated smoothly by the music. Nor do I find it too long as some have suggested. It is a pleasant way to spend two hours IMO.

Not quite a masterpiece, I give it 4.5 stars.

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 Future Addict by FRIEDMAN, MARTY album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.04 | 5 ratings

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Future Addict
Marty Friedman Progressive Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

3 stars FUTURE ADDICT is the eighth album by MARTY FRIEDMAN who, of course, played with Cacophony and Megadeth but has actually released more solo albums than with either of those bands. MARTY is known for his virtuosic neoclassical shredding skills, of course, but he has been fairly eclectic with his solo releases. While his debut 'Dragon's Kiss' and other releases such as 'Music For Speeding' focused primarily on shredding up a storm, he has also released the new age meets metal album 'Scenes,' an eclectic symphonic album and right up there with his unpredictable repertoire is FUTURE ADDICT which is mostly a collection of remade versions of songs from his entire career only re-themed into J-pop themed metal. The music actually sounds more like some kind of progressive punk in its presentation. This album has a collection of guests helping out. MARTY of course contributes the guitars, but Jeremy Colson helps out on vocals and drums while Billy Sheehan also joins the party with Masaki sharing bass duties. Jeff Loomis also contributes some guitars and Elizabeth Schall helps out with backup vocals.

While these are all remakes there are three new tracks and two of them begin the album. 'Barbie' sound like a grunge version of the 'Rosemary's Baby' theme which is very short at only one minute and then abruptly turns into 'Simple Mystery' which is a heavy alternative rocker. The closer 'Tears Of An Angel' is the other original track and it is the odd track out as it sounds more like a melodic symphonic guitar song like off of 'Introduction' and sounding unlike the punk infused metal rockers that constitutes the rest of the album.

This album went over like a pile of doggy doo in the punch bowl when it was released. This album totally rubbed MARTY's fans the wrong way and i can actually understand why. For one thing he does the unthinkable by punkifying sacred cows such as 'Tornado Of Souls' from Megadeth's magnum opus 'Rust In Peace,' Cacophony tracks like 'Burn The Ground' and 'Where My Fortune Lies' as well as tracks from his entire career including his very first band Deuce. A novel idea and one worthy of exploration and i have to say that i do not find this album as hideous as the rest of the metal world seems to. While it is probably the nadir of MARTY's discography it is an interesting listen to hear a virtuoso play J-pop inspired punk of his prior musical output. The production is pretty raw and obviously designed to be that way. It is very weird to hear punk like creations that also have neoclassical guitar solos inserted.

While some of the tracks are admittedly of bad taste and should have been axed from the playlist, the overall effect is not the brutal rape of the eardrums as many would have you believe. True Colson isn't the cream of the vocal crop but does lend an interesting amateurism to the mix. MARTY seems to have succeeded in sounding like a garage revival band of sort breaking that spell only with some of the technical wizardries that he can't refrain from. This is a decent album although i'm the first to admit it's probably my least favorite of his lengthy disco. Tasty riffs, nasty solos and the J-pop punk energy is certainly there. Maybe he's just completely gone Japanese after living in Tokyo and hosting TV shows like Rock Fujiyama and Jukebox English for a little too long. It certainly made him whacky for this one but hey, he's constantly reinventing his sound so fear now. I personally like this, at least most of it.

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 Clocks and Dark Clouds by MCKECHNIE, SIMON album cover Studio Album, 2013
5.00 | 1 ratings

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Clocks and Dark Clouds
Simon McKechnie Crossover Prog

Review by Aeolus

— First review of this album —
5 stars Rarely does an artist appear in the progressive world so suddenly out of nowhere and create such a stir within the progressive world. 'Clocks and Dark Clouds', in 2013, is one of those cases.

But first, who is this SIMON MCKECHNIE? This London-based Scotsman has lead and played bass in the Latin Jazz group AZUL. He has also showed his classical guitar skills playing with Portuguese Fado singer ' performer NUNO SILVA. Then in 2011, he released his first album, 'London Reborn', a modern interpretation of old London folk songs. The latter shows a skilled musician, a versatile composer with a voice starting from lower ranges and reaching a high falsetto. However, none of these previous releases and collaborations could have prepared us for this Monster of an album!

'Clocks and Dark Clouds' includes 7 songs, all 7 minutes and longer. Although that is usually a problem for the flow of an album, it is not the case here. Each part blends effortlessly into the next one, never staying too long, while the main theme of each song reappears slightly differently ' that is what makes our favourite prog epics so great. You won't find any verse ' pre-chorus ' chorus structure here.

I would describe the music as eclectic prog. Themes and melodies come and go, always accompanied with a dissonant counter-melody or a different rhythmical part. There are also these little surprises, where a tone or melody is presented, only to turn into part of another tone, like the beginning of the song 'Mother and Daughter'. The presence of different rhythmic metres and the frequent rhythmic changes are so prevalent that it makes you wonder if Simon has become allergic to 3/4 and 4/4! It is as if the composer has purposely decided to take all defining aspects of progressive rock and overdo it. The result is a musical product that will definitely not appeal to the masses, but will come as a delight to prog fans of all genres.

All instruments apart from drums have been recorded by Simon McKechnie, lying down on the floor of the studio due to a spine problem. Contrary to what one could expect from the density of the music, there is no heavy guitar here. Simon has been a fan of prog for enough years to know how long or how overbearing a guitar part or solo should be, and the result is amazing! The production and mastering at 'Close to the Edge' studio in London helps the end result to breathe out and all the little details to show. The drums were recorded by professional jazz drummer Adam Riley. Not only has he managed to come through the difficulties of the rhythmic complexity, but he has also left his own mark here.

As for the vocals, it seems that most of the hard work and experimentation has taken place here. As mentioned before, Simon is a skilled singer; able to express any feeling required. At times it seems that the music has been written to accompany the lyrics, and not the opposite. It is a feeling I have experienced with Jogi Kaiser's vocals on SIEGES EVEN's 'A Sense of Change' album ' in both cases there is a liquid versatility in the lyrics, as if they have tried ' and managed ' to break free from the strict rhythmic confinement. The similarities don't stop here. In both albums, the key word is 'abstract', not to mention that you don't know what to expect at the next moment.

There are various lyric themes throughout the album, but there is a tendency towards dark themes, mythology and Lovecraftian end- of-the-world apocalyptic scenarios. However, the overall feeling of the songs is more dissonant rather than doomy or pessimistic.

All in all, this album is something completely fresh, deserving all the praise it has already got. On his first effort at progressive rock, SIMON MCKECHNIE delivered a masterpiece, following all the guidelines of the genre, yet unlike anything you have heard before. It is one of the albums of 2013 that is going to be remembered dearly for long. I am really looking forward to listening to his new album, 'From my Head to my Feet', to be released later this month.

This review was originally written for www.justincaseradio.com

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 Blackstar by BOWIE, DAVID album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.53 | 144 ratings

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Blackstar
David Bowie Prog Related

Review by Dobermensch
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Stricken with grief, it took me three weeks before I could bring myself to listen to this after hearing of Bowie's death. How is it possible to feel so sad about the death of someone you've never met or even spoken to?

What makes it all the more painful is that this is far better than any album he's released since 1995's 'Outside' with which 'Blackstar' holds many similarities. It's almost an extension of that recording without Brian Eno twiddling knobs and pushing buttons. After 5 listens I have to admit that 'Blackstar' is a masterpiece. Bowie's 'Abbey Road' if you like.

Being very excited towards the end of last year with the release of the bizarre 'Blackstar' video I couldn't wait for more of this experimental Bowie. Everything was just great - the bandaged face - the scarecrows - the quirky, odd and frankly downright weird tune left me desperate for more.

January 10th 2016... The the sky fell down...

A whole new perspective on those 2 videos hit me like a hammer blow. How couldn't I see the wardrobe door as a coffin?, Major Tom's skull? The lyrics should have been obvious enough. The real giveaway were the buttons on the eyes similar to coins on the eyes of the dead who crossed the river Styx with a payment to Charon, the ferryman of Hades, in order that their souls don't haunt the living.

This has made listening to 'Blackstar' a very difficult experience. In a year's time I'm sure I'll look back and say that it was the most brilliant artistic departure anyone has made in music. Art in death. Death in art. Right now it hurts.

'Blackstar' is like a hammered together collection of tunes that vary in sound and emotion. From the very upsetting yet superb opener we move on to 'Tis a Pity she was a Whore' - which could almost be a missing track from 'Let's Dance' When I heard there were saxophones on this album I shuddered. Thankfully they are used tastefully. Bowie's voice is in fine fettle considering he could barely speak during those last months. I guess it was recorded early last year.

'Lazarus' sounds like a missing track lifted from 'Heathen' which is no bad thing at all. The deeply grim lyrics are enough to make a grown man burst into tears. Like the previous two tracks there's very little connection in sound - almost as though they were recorded for different albums. Surprisingly it works really well.

Sue (Or In A Season Of Crime) really gets things going with a stomping, frantic beat and excellent vocals. Quite similar in fact to the vastly underrated 'Earthling' from '97. It gets louder than war itself the nearer it reaches the end.

The undoubted highlight for me is the underwhelmingly named 'Girl Loves me'. This sounds like it was recorded for the middle segment of 'Outside' from '95. The expletives are all the more unsettling in that he passed away on Sunday whilst singing 'Where the f*ck did Monday go. This tune is a million miles away from anything on 'The Next Day' which in hindsight just appears to be a clearing of the decks for what was to follow.

'Dollar Days' displays that pastoral green fields of England thing that Floyd did so well in the early 70's. It's a lovely tune with Bowie crooning away just like in the good old days.

There's a harmonica intro in 'I Can't Give Everything Away' that has been directly lifted from "A New Career in a New Town' in '77's 'Low'. It doesn't matter- the tune is beautiful. An almost perfect sendoff that could have been lifted from 'Black Tie White Noiise' but in a far more subtle manner.

Believe me - I don't give out 5 stars lightly. If an album deserves to be blown to pieces by a Howitzer, Im the man to do it. 'Blackstar' exceeded my expectations enormously. After the 'painting by numbers' 'The Next Day', this followup 'Blackstar' is just experimental enough to not alienate listeners. It's an album which displays an invention and creativity amidst a world of music that has come to bore me senseless during this decade. It's a thing of beauty that I just wish he'd recorded 20 years earlier.

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 Aspirant Sunset by WAKEMAN, RICK album cover Studio Album, 1991
1.88 | 21 ratings

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Aspirant Sunset
Rick Wakeman Symphonic Prog

Review by memowakeman
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

2 stars Ten years have passed since I wrote the review of Aspirant Sunrise, which is the first of a trilogy of "Aspirant" albums keyboard wizard Rick Wakeman created in a prolific 1991 year. And now I am writing this review because I am having once again a journey through some of his forgotten albums (at least to me) I own and don't really use to play regularly. As you can imagine,, judging by my nickname, I am a huge fan of Rick Wakeman, I love his solo masterpieces, his work with Yes, his customs, his sense of humor and lots of things, however, it is undeniable he has released several regular albums that are far from being memorable, and I don't mean to be harsh, because I do enjoy this trilogy, but I believe his new age explorations are closer to oblivion than to excitement.

Aspirant Sunset is actually a nice new age album, but we all knew him due to his progressive rock works, so it is normal to find these unexpected releases as boring, different, unattractive. In this album he offers almost an hour of solo music (there are no lyrics, no other musicians, just himself and his keyboards) divided on 10 tracks purely fulfilled by new age sounds and atmospheres. All with a soft sound, peaceful and relaxing, so if you are in need of a moment of introspection and peace, you may play this album, sit comfortable, close your eyes and have a deep breath. It will help.

Besides this "therapeutic" use, I find the album difficult to enjoy on a regular basis, it is like one long song divided in 10 chapters, but the sound is practically the same in each track. If you like new age or need a dose of tranquility, I would recommend this to you, otherwise, don't even try to get it because you might be disappointed.

Anyway? enjoy it!

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 Runddans (with Emil Nikolaisen & Hans-Peter Lindstrom) by RUNDGREN, TODD album cover Studio Album, 2015
2.51 | 3 ratings

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Runddans (with Emil Nikolaisen & Hans-Peter Lindstrom)
Todd Rundgren Crossover Prog

Review by Guldbamsen
Special Collaborator Retired Admin

3 stars Trying out pants with Todd

The biggest curve ball of 2015 has got to be this baffling release. It is always interesting to hear old timers doing something new, fresh and above all completely original. Teaming up with guitarist and front man off Norwegian alternative rock band Serena-Maneesh, Emil Nikolaisen, and space disco pioneer Hans-Peter Lindstr°m, Todd seems to have gone for a modern and altogether different sonic route than what he's accustomed to.....which, of course, is quite true. What you effectively get here is something so strange and unique that it literally had me reaching for my spare ears. 'Runddans' is Donna Summer without the bass boom and danceable vibe - it's disco heading for the avantguarde - upbeat and elusive like a fox in a sauna.

The music is build around Lindstr°m and Nikolaisen's electronic programming and synth bleeps - evoking a fluffy and airy cotton candy universe on which Rundgren's evocative vocals weave in and out like voices on the wind or in a hazy dream. The whole thing feels highly unorthodox. When a melody or a rare groove occasionally seems to take shape it rather quickly fades away into the aforementioned swirling candy world......which makes it all the more surprising that you actually remember the returning vocal theme 'Put Your Arms Around Me' sung affectionately by the old master himself.

More than anything 'Runddans' feels like an experiment. An experiment from three musicians who all professionally dabble in the high art of mixing...on here though you feel as if you're sat in a room where three different albums are playing all at once - challenging every player involved to listen intently to his surroundings yet without ever losing the scope of his own vision...and how it stacks up with what's zooming out of his playmates.

This album is one long story where tracks, ethereal vocalisations, airy synths and disco sensibilities are forged together with the occasional rock and pop cameo. The music though never sounds normal....even when it incorporates those beautiful recurring vocal themes. It is far too shapeshifting and elusive for that. On the contrary 'Runddans' seems determined to bend and writhe styles of music that, to most people, are sacrilegious to alter or even play around with. Mostly because it takes away the easy digestible hook and groove of the disco movement and splices it together with a remarkable ebb and flow effect that will have most listeners pulling out their hair. The main thing to remember about music, especially with an album like this, is that it often is the journey that counts. 'Runddans' is a continuous search for a lost melody - a memory of an old grandiose disco production - only delivered over to the listener as a rather charming if not wholly fragmented piece of experimental music.

If you're sitting out there with a girlfriend who's both an old extra from Saturday Night Fever and a raving schizophrenic, then 'Runddans' is for you. I tried dancing to it once and ended up on the floor with my legs in the air doing these strange elliptical shaking motions. 'Wow' I said to myself 'this is what John Travolta looks like when he simultaneously is doing mescaline and trying on pants'. 3.5 stars.

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 Come Si Diventa Ci˛ Che Si Era by HOMUNCULUS RES album cover Studio Album, 2015
4.02 | 16 ratings

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Come Si Diventa Ci˛ Che Si Era
Homunculus Res Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by DamoXt7942
Forum & Site Admin Group Moderator

4 stars A tremendous emotion given to me.

Listened to HOMUNCULUS RES' stuff for the first time, and enjoyed much. They have attractive variation of progressive rock essence fusioned with Canterbury / Jazz Rock, and in addition, seasoned with Italian easygoing temperature and a tad sensitive racial character ... such a musical appearance can sometimes sound ironic, and sometimes purely childish. Yes looks like they play completely what they want to do upon this album turf, and it's simple and natural for them and also the audience.

Wondering where would they like to go via this album "Come Si Diventa Ci˛ Che Si Era". No nervous touch nor strong persistence but somewhat their great enthusiasm to create "such a music pleasure" can be heard ... "Vesica Piscis", as if the title (in English "Independent Noises"?) musically designed, tells us what they would produce with noisy rock sound elements. They might convert noises via instruments into a cup of dramatic, sensational sound stew. They notify us this work be not difficult when the production might be done with much delight and sincerity.

And it's magical and attractive that we can receive such a complex melody line based upon multi-rhythmic origin as a natural music phenomenon. Via such an amazing fact, we can find this should be one of their emotional strategies. Even through a short track like "La FelicitÓ" or "Egg Soup" their safe and sound presence of musical condition (but slightly distorted fantastically) can be heard. Some slimy stuffs remind us of jazzy Krautrock like Electrip (Xhol Caravan). On the other hand, the longest one "Ospedale Civico" (Civic Hospital) can be felt as a Soft Machine-ary crooked, mobbed sound treasure seasoned with Italian words and tempos peculiar to RPI. Let me say their soundscape is such a lunatic (in a fine sense) (why can a civic hospital sound psychic, btw?).

No complicated or tortuous opinion needed. Taking a listen to this album above all, let me say, and we can feel as though our musical field of vision should expand forward in addition to Rock Progressivo Italiano or Canterbury Scene without any doubt. An amazing stuff really.

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 Mirage by CAMEL album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.39 | 2093 ratings

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Mirage
Camel Symphonic Prog

Review by VianaProghead

5 stars Review N║ 55

Sincerely, I always considered that Camel is an underrated progressive band among the greatest bands of the 70's. Probably it was mainly due to the Andrew Latimer's voice. Latimer is the main vocalist of the band despite that is true that he never was a true vocalist and that he has a very strong and deep voice. Still, Latimer always knew it, and because of that, many of Camel's songs are mainly instrumentals. This was one of the things that made of Camel a truly unique band in the progressive rock scene. On the other hand, he was never considered one of the greatest guitarists of the 70's, which is, in my humble opinion, very unfair. Probably, he isn't one of the most virtuous guitarists, but he is, for sure, a guitarist who knows very well how to create a unique and unmistakable sound with his guitar. His guitar style is still appreciated by many other guitarists, even in our days, like Mikael Akerfeldt of Opeth.

And now, a curious story about Camel and "Mirage". Camel was involved in some controversy with the American brand of Camel cigarettes. We can clearly see the similarities between the album cover of "Mirage" and a pack of Camel cigarettes. As the peak period of the advertisement of the brand cigarettes, that had a picture of a camel smoking, coincided with the peak period of the release of "Mirage", the album was boycotted by some anti- smokers.

"Mirage" is the Camel's second studio album and was released in 1974. It became as one of the group's most acclaimed albums. "Mirage" is probably the album that best illustrates the main features of the band, already mentioned by me above, which are undoubtedly, quality, simplicity and beauty. This is the album where Camel begins to develop their own distinctive sound with some intricate rhythms and the wonderful and unpredictable instrumental exchanges made by the two mainly songwriters of the band Latimer and Peter Bardens.

"Mirage" has five tracks. The first track "Freefall" written by Bardens is almost an instrumental song largely dominated by the Latimer's guitar and with nice musical moments performed by Bardens' keyboards, very well supported by an inventive bass and a dynamic drumming work. This song is influenced by diverse styles of music and the melody is excellent. The second track "Supertwister", also written by Bardens, is the nice and most peaceful song on the album. It's a great instrumental track partially dominated by a great flute work of Latimer. With this song, Latimer proved that he is a great flute player too. The third track "Nimrodel/The Procession/The White Rider" written by Latimer is one of the two multi-part epic songs on the album. This song is based on the book "The Lord Of The Rings" written by J. R. R. Tolkien. This is one of the best songs on the album with its frequent time changes and musical soundscapes, which carries the theme to an exceptional symphonic climax by the band. The fourth track "Earthrise" written by Latimer and Bardens is a very nice instrumental track with a frenetic middle section with Latimer's guitar and Bardens' keyboards. It's the second instrumental track of the album and it's probably one of the best and finest instrumentals ever made by them. The fifth track "Lady Fantasy" is divided into three parts: "Encounter", "Smiles For You" and "Lady Fantasy". It's the only track written by all band members and represents the other multi-part epic song of the album. Usually, this is the most celebrated song on this album and one of the most famous songs released by Camel. This track contains one of the most progressive songs made by them and is a very good example why Camel is one of the best and most respected bands in the progressive rock universe. Here we can clearly see how Camel has influenced Akerfeldt.

Conclusion: In my humble opinion, "Mirage" is with "The Snow Goose" and "Moonmadness" the three greatest masterpieces from the group. But, despite I choose in the first place "Moonmadness" followed by "The Snow Goose", I consider "Mirage" the most simple, pure, na´ve and unpretentious of all Camel's studio albums. It might be even its best work. Every moment of every song on "Mirage" is to be treasured and every musical note is perfectly placed. The album is composed of two epics, but the seamless track flow, unifying theme, and harmonious sound, all make the album feel like a real masterpiece. The album showcases an uncanny ability for melody, in which the songs with no lyrics or words to them will have you creating stories in your own mind to fit the real mood. "Mirage" is an essential progressive rock classic album. With also the releases of "The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway" of Genesis, "Relayer" of Yes, "Red" of King Crimson and "The Power And The Glory" of Gentle Giant, only to mention some of the most important progressive musical releases in 1974, this was undoubtedly an amazing year for the progressive rock music. With "Mirage", Camel becomes one of the greatest and most respected progressive rock groups. If you really like of good progressive music and you don't have this album yet, do yourself a favour and get "Mirage" as soon as possible.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

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 Kauan by TENHI album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.53 | 18 ratings

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Kauan
Tenhi Prog Folk

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

4 stars Eclecticism can woo you with best of breed haunches where every cut offers its own distinct flavor, like the vildebeest, or it can tuck you in under its uniform quilt from which you are both unwilling and unable to emerge until its promise is consummated. Of course, even though each panel absorbs you a little more, before you can be released you are primed for another night of staring emptily at the stars from beneath it. Such is the effect of this mammoth debut release of Finnish neo folk group TENHI.

Simply arranged with strummed acoustic and electric guitars in generally slow tempos; drearily resigned vocals lurking beneath an already sombre surface; occasional morose violin effected in a Northeastern European style, and elegant synthesizer washes, the austere and stark beauty of "Kauan is a triumph of resiliency. It scratches several itches at once, in places that may have been ignored for years, nay, millenia. While nothing here could be said to be entirely distinctive on its own, its 52 minute bearskin nuzzle imparts what poseurs haven't dared to dream, let alone live. It might be facile to attribute this authenticity to the bleak wintry cycle of far northern climes, but if the snowshoe fits....

Influences like PINK FLOYD are in evidence in the more plodding sections, but the sound is closer in spirit to bands like PROMETHEAN from Norway, especially on the almost vivacious "Revontulet" and the symphonic low wattage power ballad "Hallavedet". I suspect the band is also versed in local traditional folk. Smigeons of doom and metal lurk but without the growls and decibels, leaving an essence that few have distilled, and I hear echoes of early medieval tinged Goth a la "Tears" by STRAWBS or "When I was on Horseback" by STEELEYE SPAN. The last couple of tracks are more brocaded and unstructured, which might appeal more to some here but come across as a few ideas that turned into pumpkins even though such transformation was not stipulated in the original bargain.

I have listened to the subsequent TENHI albums and find this to be by far their best, as it's a unified work that is adventurous, accessible, and infused with the sage melancholy of the elders.

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 Waters of Change  by BEGGARS OPERA album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.60 | 146 ratings

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Waters of Change
Beggars Opera Symphonic Prog

Review by Atavachron
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Like entering a great and ancient abbey, the second long-player from the legendary Scots is an intriguing, sometimes haunting collection of treasures and despite (or perhaps with the help of) Martin Griffiths' melodramatic moaning, gives us one of the most heartfelt and fully textured records in progressive rock's early history. As though almost literally plucked from time, Waters of Change has soul, man, and porously exudes the brown, peaty atmosphere of a crumbling but vital Scottish estate complete with graveyard, thick fog, and the ghosts of the restless. It is one of a kind.

New member Virginia Scott's 'tron grinds open 'Time Machine' and everything knits together like that of a group who'd been together for many years, melodic, uptempo and taking from the best of British rock, folk and Pop. Brief 'Lament' hands us off to initially blah 'I've No Idea' which holds some nice surprises from Alan Park's keys and a delicate arrangement. A mistuned acoustic provides the base for range-striding 'Nimbus', not a completely necessary cut but adds some extra color before romantic and quite well-done 'Festival' with its baroque tonalities and tight group playing reminding of Jethro Tull circa 1970. Bach rocks on 'Silver Peacock', an organ showcase for Park with plenty of delightfully strange and acid-drenched imagery from Griffiths and good development by the band. Aptly named 'Impromptu' was probably nice in 1971, not so much now but its tailed by 'The Fox' as it follows a reluctant participant in pursuit of wild game.

I don't think of this six-piece as symphonic though psychoclassical elements are abundant; they kinda invented their own category. Further, Waters of Change is forty-two minutes with only about thirty minutes of worthy stuff so I wouldn't blame a listener for feeling flat upon hearing this one. But that thirty minutes is among the most flavorful and rich the vintage Prog era had to offer. Beggars Opera were not virtuosos. They were not geniuses or innovators or in great demand. But they yielded some of the most savory, toothsome recordings in what was an increasingly technical rock field and Waters of Change has only improved with age. At least most of it has.

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 Agony by FLESHGOD APOCALYPSE album cover Studio Album, 2011
4.24 | 22 ratings

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Agony
Fleshgod Apocalypse Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

5 stars So you can't decide if you want to go to the opera or have it out at the mosh pit? What to do? Well, luckily there are options and FLESHGOD APOCALYPSE lays it all out as the perfect way to feel like you're getting a little culture while head banging until your eardrums bleed. AGONY is the third overall studio release following in the incremental footsteps of "Oracles" and the "Mafia EP." While on those two releases brutal death metal was the clear winner in the musical version of Predator Vs. Alien with the classical and symphonic aspects that the band incorporates being banished to the underworld where they would only be allowed to come up for air once in a while with only brief smatterings of their underlying importance in the musical structure. On AGONY we get a shift of power and the classical music is vying for dominance as it shares a fairly equally footing with the brutal death metal making this one of the most well balanced symphonic extreme metal albums i have ever heard.

On the very first track "Temptation" we get a dark and sombre taste of a Berlioz sounding "Symphonie Fantastique" with a haunted diva ushering in undulating rhythms that ratchet up the intensity that ultimately summon the metallic beast of the underworld allowing the cacophonous raucousness we call death metal to join the party and bombard us with the monstrous technical drumming of Francesco Ferrini doing his best to rip the classical aspects to shreds. Accordingly he is joined in by the insanely down tuned guitar dual guitar assaults and bass madness, however on AGONY unlike the previous two releases, the classical music has regained its power and now is in full control never letting itself to be diminished to second best. The result is nothing less of outstanding as neither the death metal aspects nor the classical aspects of the music compromise their integral physiognomy in the least bit making this one of the most triumphing releases of this sort of symphonic extreme metal.

I'm serious when i say don't think for one minute that the extremely brutal death metal aspects have been compromised by letting the orchestral elements shine through. Somehow FLESHGOD APOCALYPSE pulls this off with grace. While the majority of the album is highly aggressive on the death metal side with Tommaso Riccardi bantering out the most guttural and growly of death metal vocals alongside some of the best technical drumming skills in the musical world that serves as an anchor to the metal side even at the album's most mellow moments, there are plenty of passages where a more melodic contemplative side are allowed to reign such as on "The Deceit" where Riccardi trades off with bassist Paolo Rossi's clean vocal contributions. In addition there are many more pure symphonic non-metal moments that not only serve as bridges between the ten tracks that seamlessly run together but when the two genre styles are in full swing always is heard as an equal not being subjugated to second class. If that wasn't enough Cristiano Trionfera somehow fits neoclassical power metal guitar solos into the intact death metal sound.

Upon first listen i was a little disappointed as i felt the symphonic aspects dominated a little too much on this one in comparison with the previous two but after a few listens this prejudice literally disintegrated and the beauty of the balancing act between the two styles and the awesomeness of the arrangements and song structures sunk in. Once again, the classical music is the very fabric of the song structures and GODFLESH APOCALYPSE proves here that they are all classically trained musicians who are just a wee bit more caffeinated than the average Yo-Yo Ma's of the world! This is music that you can truly feel so old-worldly cultured in the mosh pit. You can feel like a hoity-toity bigwig for a nanosecond only to be shattered by extremely brutal and frenetic sonic attacks. The album remains really brutal but on "The Forsaking" a classical piano run is the dominant force having wrested control of the death metal and walks it on a leash but on "The Oppression" death chews that leash off and furiously regains its foothold. After all actors in this sonic cockfight are exhausted and call it a day, the finale "Agony" ends the highly energetic fusion affair with a nice Chopin inspired classical piano piece that instills a melancholic dread that leaves the listener feeling like tangled dude on the cover art devoid of hope, light and promise of resolution. Wickedly cool stuff! 4.5 round up!

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 Happy The Man  by GENESIS album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1972
3.17 | 49 ratings

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Happy The Man
Genesis Symphonic Prog

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

3 stars It┤s very good to find those obscure tracks that were not released on albums by those artists you like. It can be filler stuff (and, in this case, it is), but it┤s a joy to hear something from the Gabriel-era Genesis that I haven┤t heard of after all these years. Ok, they were available in Brazil since Archive 1967-1975 was released in my country. Which didn┤t mean that much since this 4 CD box set was way to expensive to buy for years. So, to the song: it┤s a simple, acoustic track, with Gabriel and Collins singing together the funny lyrics. Some nice flute and 12 string guitars. Not par with their material before (Nursery Cryme), nor with their next (Foxtrot). Still a very good track for a b side. An interesting change of pace, between such elaborated material.

Not really essential, but good enough. Specially for early Genesis fanatics like me. 3 stars.

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 Three Sides Live by GENESIS album cover DVD/Video, 1982
3.11 | 64 ratings

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Three Sides Live
Genesis Symphonic Prog

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

3 stars I recently got this VHS from a friend, who had transferred it to DVD format. Its an interesting recording made during their Abacab tour (1981/82). But don┬┤t be fooled by the title, since the track selection is not exactly the same as its namesake live album of the time. There are several tracks in common of course, but some are not complete and/or not shown during the concert: as it was fashion of the time, it looked more like a video clip, with bits being the soundtrack for sound checks, band members of stage, technicians tuning instruments and so on. Even radio interviews can be seen between songs (and sometimes, during the song). It really spoils what could have been a nice view of their concerts of that period.

Overall sound is good, but not excellent. The highlight is, definitely, In the Cage (Medley - Cinema Show - Slippermen), mot surprisingly the longest number, where they show how good they once were as songwriters and how they still could handle such complex material with ease. Of course all the performances are spotless, tight and strong, demonstrating quite well why the live line up of Collins/Banks/Rutherford/Stuermer/Thompson lasted until the very end.

If you like late 70┬┤s/early 80┬┤s Genesis,this is really something you should check out. Like others have said before, it would be very nice to have the full concert available in DVD, preferably including a few extra songs, with those backstage scenes and radio interviews thrown in as a separately bonus material in another part of the menu. That would have make it at least a four star video and an excellent addition to any prog rock music collection. As it is, however, it┬┤s good, but non-essential.

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 Chocolate Kings  by PREMIATA FORNERIA MARCONI (PFM) album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.95 | 374 ratings

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Chocolate Kings
Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM) Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Groucho Barks

5 stars Ok, context: One wonderful summer, when I was young enough to do daft things like this, I spent with the perfect hippie chick and this was the soundtrack to those late night chats and drinking black coffee while watching the sun rise type interludes. So yes there may be a bias here but surely most music evokes a time and a place and people..... Anyhow, mumble, mumble years on, how does Chocolate Kings stand up? It was their first album as a 6 piece and featured the new vocals of Bernado Lanzetti...who was fluent in English...and this shows in comparison to the vocals on earlier albums (those versions sung in English). Also, as my intro to PFM then this was the touchstone and, as much as I like earlier output (discovered later), they don't work for me as the vocals are weak. Kings just transports me back but actually sounds astonishingly fresh, again listening to any 1975 prog as comparison. Actually that is my first problem here. Who to compare to? This has become so much my template that I usually compare others to PFM/Chocolate Kings! Ok, being on ELP's Manticore label then it is churlish not to mention them in passing....but this is not a keys heavy drum driven thing....PFM always had the light and shade balance of multi instruments. Yes it does have some real kick ass sections, the opening track 'From Under' as one example but they can segue seamlessly into gorgeous acoustic passages as in 'Harlequin'. The electric violin that appears throughout makes Curved Air (for one) sound rather limited and PFM used it as 'part of' rather than bolt on or 'lead' even allowing for its prominence in 'Out On The Roundabout'...so perhaps Jean- Luc Ponty has to be mentioned in passing.....without the fusion! The title track is the most 'commercial', perhaps looking for the 'Celebration' groove again. Everything bears the hallmarks of superb musician ship and the interplay between them, especially on the mirrored lines in 'Roundabout', is breathtakingly dexterous. No song has anything other than balanced dynamics and the longer 4 tracks make 7 plus minutes feel short, although they do perhaps allow 'Paper Charms' to over stay its suspended keyboard chord atmospherics welcome...for all the flute/sounding distractions...and it never quite breaks out in as smooth a way as previous tracks. But it does have a great Genesis type rolling hook once it gets in to stride. So being objective, how does the listening go, without the summer and previously mentioned person as accompaniment? It goes damned well and I had been guilty of seeing the album as the background when in fact it should have been the foreground! This is as good as it gets in a 4 000 album collection....although I would add an extra star if I could for Lady Stef...where ever she may be! Perfection!

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 Scandinavian Nights (AKA Live and rare) by DEEP PURPLE album cover Live, 1988
3.15 | 55 ratings

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Scandinavian Nights (AKA Live and rare)
Deep Purple Proto-Prog

Review by GruvanDahlman
Prog Reviewer

4 stars The value of live albums might surely be discussed. In my opinion there are only few live albums that actually makes some sort of difference. I used to really get into recordings of concerts but I have grown sort of less interested. There are live albums that are truly great and some of those made by Deep Purple ranks among these. While most people go for 'Made in Japan', and quite rightly so, there are other of Purple's that are just as good or at least interesting. This album is, I think, very interesting out of two reasons. First because it is recorded in Stockholm, where I live, and secondly (and most importantly) it showcases the very beginnings of MKII in a live setting. Having just released 'In rock' it is amazing to hear not only 'Child in time' but also 'Into the fire', which is one of those great songs Purple made. 'In rock' is, as you most surely is aware, one of those great transition albums where Purple went from the past to the present and totally re-shaped themselves into loud, hard-hitting power machines. And they managed to bring that noise and heaviness to the stage. In fact, they did more than that. They did it with a bang and great glory.

The chemistry between the instrumentalists is great. Unbelievable, actually. The noise and armageddon created and still they are attentive to each other. Obviously it is Lord and Blackmore who takes the center stage. The way that Lord treats his Hammond organ is beyond belief. The noises and sounds he portrays... And Blackmore? Well, he's Blackmore.

Two tracks range for half an hour. 'Wring that neck' and 'Mandrake root'. If you like long jams these two must be your oversized cup of tea. I dare say that I do not listen to these tracks all the way through on every listen but they are certainly interesting and the playing is great. I just wonder what Gillan was up to when the others excelled in soloing. He can't be playing the congas throughout, can he? (I heard a story once where he claimed to have made love to a girl during one of these long solos.) Anyway, great playing.

'Child in time' has always been a great song to do live. Again the organ plays the main part and what a part. The song is such a great one to do live, since it builds and builds into this amazing climax. Also, to hear 'Black night' performed live at this stage is great. If you're into drum solos yous hould listen to 'Paint it black', where Paice gets his chance.

SO, the question: is this at all essential? Well, maybe not. I mean, it's great to hear these guys perform their music and they do it with enthusiasm and power but does it add anything to the legacy of the band? I'm inclined to say yes, actually, since it is such an early example of MKII playing live. If you go amiss your life won't be spoiled but if you are a fan I do think you could do well to listen. I'm stuck somewhere between three and four stars but I think I 'll go with the latter. It is a great recording and it is nice to hear them play before the ego's shoots the band into pieces. If you're a fan, take listen. If you're just a casual listener, go for 'Made in Japan'.

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