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Last 50 reviews
 Delusions by TO-MERA album cover Studio Album, 2008
4.15 | 87 ratings

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Delusions
To-Mera Progressive Metal

Review by Progrussia

4 stars To-Mera is a rare example of female-fronted prog metal - not the familiar symphonic/gothic type, but of the Dream Theater-esque eclectic variety. Although it must be said that Julie Kiss's pleasant voice, except for the lighter jazzy sections which seems to be her forte, most of the time sounds out of place with music. Members of this project have background in both extreme metal and Gentle Giant-loving prog metal (sister British band Haken), so you can expect some subterranean riffs and bouts of complexity for complexity's sake. The long songs are full of sudden shifts in melody, running from the full gamut of metal stuff to jazzy breathers. So this is pretty complex, at times even weird, stuff, not your standard European prog metal-lite (intro-verse-chorus-bunch of solos-breather-big finish) approach, but, in line with the forebearers of the genre, Dream Theater, they, thankfully, don't let their creativity overrun the listenability.

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 Lizard by KING CRIMSON album cover Studio Album, 1970
4.09 | 1590 ratings

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Lizard
King Crimson Eclectic Prog

Review by VELTYR

5 stars I cannot comprehend how this album is 'hard to get into', because for me it is the King Crimson album where everything works perfectly. In my opinion this is the best King Crimson album. The songs basically get better and better until the best song on the album, the title track, which is easily a top song for King Crimson. This is an extremely underrated album from my point of view as it is the essential King Crimson listen for any progressive rock listener. If you have not yet heard this album you must as soon as possible. A masterpiece of progressive rock.

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 Amputechture by MARS VOLTA, THE album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.85 | 475 ratings

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Amputechture
The Mars Volta Heavy Prog

Review by Kevman28

2 stars The Mars Volta. What a strange and unique band! How I wish they would reform, and share more delights with us after a string of fantastic albums, culminating in the magnificent Noctourniquet. Today however, I tried for the hundredth time to sit through Amputechture. This album starts well, but is their only release that I just cannot get too fond of. It's a mess. Songs that sound unnecessarily and awkwardly stretched so far that they no longer make any coherent resemblance to a tune. Widdly guitar that sounds like Robert Fripp during the Discipline era, but off his head on something illegal. Singing that does not work with the guitar. Noise. I think the plan for this album was to see how far they could push their sound, but they went too far.

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 El Congreso by CONGRESO album cover Studio Album, 1971
2.94 | 18 ratings

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El Congreso
Congreso Prog Folk

Review by Hannibal_20

2 stars I have thought to review all the albums of this beautifull and rellevant chilean band, in order of release

"el congreso" is the first Album of congreso, in 1971, first of all, must to clarify this: this album is not a prog one (except for just one theme), its pure folk rock it has mainly short themes, it has quenas (Andean flutes), charangos (Andean little string instrument, like a mandolin) and other folkloric instruments, in addition to occasional symphonic instruments like violins and cellos, I thik the rock sound is pretty similar to the rock of the beatles in some parts

the best themes here are: "rompe tu espada, vive la vida" (break your sword, live the life), it has a beautifull melody and the lyrics are dedicated to peace, "maestranzas de la noche", bassed in Pablo Neruda`s poetry, the instrumental "el errante" that achieves a very good fussion and harmony between folk and rock sounds, the version of "el condor pasa" it's a good cover, this time with lyrics, that are about peace and unity, the closing theme A.A.R is the first prog theme of all history of the band, its very interesting but also al little monotonous, specially on the the cajón solo (cajón: percussion instrument of Peruvian origin) of the minute 45:45, further the starting electric guitar riff (34:00) is very ugly.

I think that this album is rather for those who lived at that time and remember it with nostalgia, also for the meaning of his lyrics, which were consistent with the social and cultural context of that age (hippie years) it also has an historical value for being the first album by congreso and if you like this band its very possible that you want to know how it all started

"el congreso" isnt a grat allbum, and although it has some good songs, is the only one of the band I don't like, in fact, I do not think it's a good album to start listening to this band, if you have not heard this band, this album could demotivate you, but Congreso gave a long step between their first and second album in quality of composition, so I invite you to follow this band that has fused the rhythms, instruments, ideas and Latin American feelings with the sound of rock, progressive rock and jazz, achieving a beautiful and important legacy for Chile and Latin America.

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 The Grand Experiment (as The Neal Morse Band) by MORSE, NEAL album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.74 | 154 ratings

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The Grand Experiment (as The Neal Morse Band)
Neal Morse Symphonic Prog

Review by Ier

4 stars A small warning before reading, this is review is far from unbiased'

I have to admit, I'm not a fan of Neal Morse. I lost interest in the band Transatlantic after the first 2 albums, Spock's Beard doesn't get me and I do not agree with Neal Morse's statements when it comes to religion. I was listening to Prog Britannia (a show on Progzilla Radio) and the track 'Agenda' was played. My first thought was 'Wow, what an awesome track! It's not really 'Prog' (but what is Prog nowadays anyway?), but this really has my attention. Hmmm, that voice sounds very familiar, who is this?'' Neal Morse' Neal Morse? Really? I had no clue it was a track from Neal Morse! I really need to listen to that album! So, here I am, listening to the complete album from The Neal Morse Band. I have to say, listening to this album puts a smile on my face. Not a dumb wide grin and no 'This is the best album everrrr', just a 'yeah, this is pretty cool'.

First track of the album is called 'The Call' and starts with an A Capella piece, which is not bad, and later turns into a musical piece that really reminds me a lot of early Transatlantic (which isn't odd, half of Transatlantic is playing on this album). It contains a lot of 'clever' bits and pieces that emphasize the word 'Prog': Guitar solo here, keyboard solo there, semi-bombastic ending' You know what I mean. The second track, called 'The Grand Experiment', really got my attention. It starts as a track Deep Purple could have written. The chorus, however, isn't Deep Purple-ish at all, but is quite catchy and makes you want to sing along.

'Waterfall' is the third track and is, what you call, a typical acoustic track every 'Prog' album needs to have, to give the listener some kind of break, to 'catch some air' after all that 'Prog violence' in the previous tracks, and to prepare the listener for more that has to come. It is very sweet and tender, a track you would give to your mother and say 'Here, listen to this, my music taste isn't that bad, right?'' Ok, fasten up your seatbelt, because after 'Waterfall' it's time for 'Agenda'' But after a while you realize you have tightened up your seatbelt too tight because the chorus isn't that rough as the beginning of the song suggests. Still, it is a great 'more rocky than proggy' track and very radio friendly. Most reviewers don't like this song but I actually do! I tried to find out what this song is about, but I don't have a clue what's so important about his 'Agenda'.

The fourth track, 'Alive Again', is the longest track of the album. I really love the intro, it's quite an epic start with a lot of power. After two minutes the song takes an unexpected twist (I don't like that twist, they could have made the intro last much longer in my opinion) and turns into another intro, and roughly after three and a half minutes from the start, the song turns into another intro (There must be something epic coming if you need 3 different intros). Anyways, the track itself is very enjoyable and 'Transatlantic' like and I'm glad intro number one comes back again in this track as some kind of outro.

Neal Morse and band actually should have turned the 2 disc special edition into one great album by removing the live tracks that are on the second disc. The track 'New Jerusalem', which can be found on the second disc, is actually on of the best tracks I've ever heard from Neal Morse. I even sing along when I'm very sure nobody is watching ('What? You singing along with Neal Morse? Ier, are you crazy?'). The 'MacArthur Park' cover (which also can be found on the second disc) is also very entertaining and not as boring as the original.

Final conclusion? It is a lovely album to listen, but I don't know if I would recommend it to people who are not interested in Neal Morse in the first place' Still, I give it 4 of the 5 stars because it is a great album which maybe ends in my top 10 albums of 2015.

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 Time and a Word by YES album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1970
3.34 | 30 ratings

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Time and a Word
Yes Symphonic Prog

Review by Guillermo
Prog Reviewer

2 stars "Time and a Word" in the "A" side of this single is the title track of YES`s second album, which was the last album they recorded with the original line-up of Jon Anderson, Chris Squire, Peter Banks, Tony Kaye and Bill Bruford. The "Time and a Word" album has in most songs orchestral arrangements done by Tony Cox. I like the album, but maybe the sound mixing made the album in some songs to sound too much with the presence of the orchestral arrangements to the point that sometimes Peter Banks` and Tony Kaye`s playing can`t be listened very clearly. In fact, the orchestral arrangements simply duplicated some instrumental arrangements that both Banks and Kaye played with their instruments before the orchestral arrangements were added to the songs. This can be listened more clearly in the live recordings that in 1997 were included in the album titled "Something`s Coming - The BBC Recordings 1969-70" (which also was released in 1998 in the U.S. as "Beyond and Before - The BBC Recordings 1969-70").

The song "Time and a Word" is a song composed by Jon Anderson and David Foster (a musician who previously worked with Anderson in a band called "The Warriors" in the mid sixties; he is not the famous Canadian musician and producer of the same name). They also composed "Sweet Dreams" which also was released in the "Time and a Word" album. Some websites say that Foster appears in both songs singing backing vocals and with him also playing acoustic guitar in the "Time a Word" song (a thing that Banks confirmed in one interview). Some websites (including Foster`s) also give to him credit for co-writing "Yours is no Disgrace", a song that YES recorded for their "The YES Album" in late 1970. The "Time and a Word" song is good, with some sixties "idealism" in the lyrics about "peace and love". In this song, there is not much space for Banks`s and Kaye`s playing, with the orchestral arrangements (which I like) taking the main role, and it also has good lead and backing vocals. Bruford and Squire play very good drums and bass arrangements.

The song in the "B" side, "The Prophet", is one of the best songs from the "Time and a Word" album. But this single version has some differences in the mixing, with the drums having more presence (particularly in the bass drum and the cymbals) and with some parts of the orchestral arrangements being removed. This single version of this song was later released as one of the bonus tracks included in the Expanded and Remastered version of the "Time and a Word" album which was released in 2003. This re-issue of this album also includes the original mixings of other songs of the album ("No Opportunity Necessary, No Experience Needed" and "Sweet Dreams") that were initially released in the early German version of the L.P. The album was released in the U.K. until July 1970, three months after Banks was fired because he did not agree with Anderson and Squire about the inclusion of the orchestral arrangements in the album. These different mixes of these three songs are interesting but still not very good, in my opinion. Maybe the band, the record label, the producer (Tony Colton) and the recording engineer (Eddie Offord) still were not very satisfied with the mixing of the album, so they delayed the release of the album to improve the mixings. But I still think that a new mixing done in the present could do better things to the "Time and a Word" album songs to show a better balance between the sound of the band and the sound of the orchestral arrangements.

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 Burn by DEEP PURPLE album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.81 | 616 ratings

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Burn
Deep Purple Proto-Prog

Review by Prog Leviathan
Prog Reviewer

4 stars There's a lot to like about this thick, bottom-heavy, bluesy, hard-rockin' classic album by Deep Purple. The combination of vocals by Coverdale and Hughes gives the tunes a gruff, masculine appeal; the rhythm section cooks with energy; interplay between keyboards and guitar adds a depth to the songs; the impeccable guitar of Blackmore... However, for me, none of those steal the show on Burn. It's an album that really is the sum of its parts, and each one works very well together to create a great hard-rock experience that's hard to beat. Though I enjoy Blackmore's Rainbow project more than Deep Purple, I find myself grooving hard throughout this album, which doesn't have a bad track on it.

Highly recommended for any reader who enjoys hard rock, who will find Deep Purple offering more energy and artistry in Burn that you'll likely ever hear on classic rock radio.

Burn is a great album from the greatest era of rock-n-roll.

Songwriting: 3 - Instrumental Performances: 4 - Lyrics/Vocals: 4 - Style/Emotion/Replay: 4

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 Orígenes by ARCABUZ album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.16 | 7 ratings

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Orígenes
Arcabuz Symphonic Prog

Review by ProgShine
Collaborator Errors & Omissions Team

2 stars Arcabuz is a Spanish band that was formed back in 1978, because of a number of reasons, including the time the band was formed, the band broke up reforming only in 2014 when they finally released their debut album Or'genes (2014).

Now, to be able to listen this album beginning to end you need a lot of courage and patience, cause this is like the most boring moments of Camel and Caravan united in 7 intrumental tracks.

Instrumental Progressive Rock is not a problem for me, but it becomes a major problem when all of the songs are arranged in a way as if you HAD a singer, and that's the case here. Not to mention that pretty much all of the 7 compositions follow the same patterns (in terms of rhythm and melody) and on top of that you have really week keyboard sounds.

It's hard for me to bash an album by a band that tries to follow the 70's path, but Arcabuz needs WAY much work to be able to step up the Prog ladder, and Or'genes (2014) doesn't help much, honestly.

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 The Calling by YES album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1994
2.63 | 19 ratings

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The Calling
Yes Symphonic Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

2 stars "Now we hold the right to rearrange how the stories can be heard"

The Calling is a very good song from the excellent Talk album released in 1994. The song exists in several different versions; there is the album version that appeared on Talk which runs for just under seven minutes; there is the single edit that forms the a-side of this CD-single which runs for four minutes and forty seconds; there is a longer, "original version" which runs for just over eight minutes; and then there is apparently also a "radio edit" (which I have never heard; released exclusively to radio stations?) which runs for just under six minutes.

This CD-single holds three tracks: the single edit of The Calling, the "original version" of the same song, and Silent Spring (which is the opening section of Endless Dream, also from the Talk album).

The single edit is of minor interest but the longer, "original version" is very nice to have. The extra minute or so (compared to the album version) slows things down considerably in a new-age-like middle section. Whether it is better than the album version is a matter of taste, but it is at least interesting for fans to hear. The longer version has since been included as a bonus track on the special "Collectors Edition" of Talk. So if you have that version of the CD album this single offers little new.

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 Hounds of Love by BUSH, KATE album cover Studio Album, 1985
4.12 | 290 ratings

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Hounds of Love
Kate Bush Crossover Prog

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

5 stars This is not only Kate Bush's masterpiece, it is also on my list of perfect albums. It is one of those rare albums that I consider a 6 star recording. This is an amazing album with a wide variety of moods, styles and dynamics. It's one thing that KB has one of the most versatile and unique voices in music and that makes her music original and interesting. But to add to that the genius that so very few artists can do so well as what Kate did on this album and that is to mix the perfect blend of pop, experimentation and prog to make not only a successful album, but also one that is so amazing and that keeps it's timelessness over the years to still remain so great and not ever get stale. This is one album that I still enjoy as much as I did in it's day. If anything, my appreciation for it has grown.

The album is divided into two suites. The first 5 tracks are more individual, but have an underlying theme of different aspects of love. "Running Up That Hill" is the classic KB song full of mystery and lushness that is unbeaten. It reminds one of a foggy morning, so beautiful and strange. That feeling continues with "Hounds of Love". Both of these tracks carry with them the love of life that exists even with the limitations that humans have, the 2nd one being more carefree, while the 1st is more of a yearning for the impossible. "The Big Sky" also continues the poppish sound, but through these songs, you hear a constant beat, but there is an underlying current that makes the music so very un-typical of pop music that hasn't been copied or never will be. There is that air of mystery always apparent, yet almost with a childish attitude of happiness that comes with human nature, especially when it comes to love. "Mother Stands for Comfort" is probably the most inaccessible song on this side of the album. It is a moody slower song with some strange sounds and atmospheres. It includes a lot of vocal tricks of which Kate always has plenty of up her sleeve. This is one thing that has kept her from being completely pop fodder, her voice is unconventional, yet so beautiful and acrobatic. The music that accompanies her voice is not just backup sounds either, it is always important and interesting, just as interesting as the voice and the lyrics. Even on this album, it's still unconventional even with it's vicinity to pop. I hate calling this album pop by the way, because it is so much better than that genre. The last song on this side is "Cloudbursting" which is based on a relationship with a scientist and the work they are experimenting with. This returns to a consistent beat that was evident in different forms throughout the first side except for the 4th track.

The 2nd half of the album is even more interesting, beautiful and amazing. This suite is called "The Ninth Wave" and consists of tracks 6 - 11. Even with the greatness of the first half, this side is even better, mainly because there are a lot more prog elements in the music and because it is so original. The vocals and lyrics still retain their importance, but the instruments now are even more important and are used so well. There is an underlying story to the concept of this part of the album that has to do with dreaming, drowning and dying but living afterwards in a different realm. "And Dream of Sleep" is one of the most beautiful songs ever sung, so peaceful, yet so powerful. "Under the Ice" is so mysterious and uses strings to build tension and work together with the voices here to add suspense. The very strange yet wonderful "Waking the Witch" utilizes some amazing recording tricks that continue with the tension building, and this almost seems to be inspired by Pink Floyd's "The Trial" off of The Wall album. The music isn't copied, but the idea is similar with a dramatic ending. The helicopter sound effect is actually taken from The Wall and credit is given. "Watching You" is more of a floating piece with some cool percussive sounds and more of a minimalistic approach but Kate's vocals soar and flow around the instruments. "Jig of Life" is based on celtic music but starts off in minor key to build more tension and drama, but the tension is released as suddenly the jig takes on a major key and becomes very traditional sounding Irish dance tune for a short while after which Kate interrupts and starts putting moments in their proper places....suddenly the jig is minor again and a male voice builds tension again as poetry is recited. Quite an amazing song. "Hello Earth" closes out the suite in a beautifully sung quieter piece that is interrupted a few times by a Gregorian style chant with minimal strings or syth is played in the background. This is surprisingly effective especially with the release of the tension, even though she is free floating above the earth and all seems perfect, the chanting is done in minor key and reminds you that not all is as great as it seems. Simply amazing music, I can't describe how much I love this album. The last song is actually not part of the suite, but is more of a stand-alone song called "The Morning Fog" which brings everything back to earth again. This is a short piece that is reminiscent of Kate's earlier works and it actually fits in well with the rest of the album.

I can't help but love this album, I think it is probably my favorite album of that decade when it was released, in the 80s. If it isn't my favorite, then it is definitely up there with the best. Perfect musicianship, so many little inticricies and little nuances that keep it constantly fresh and interesting to listen to. No doubt I have to call this one of the most important recordings of it's time and even still to this day. Like I said before, this is a 6 star album in my own book, but I only have 5 to work with here. This is a masterpiece.

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 Lavoro D'Amore by ROZ VITALIS album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.89 | 23 ratings

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Lavoro D'Amore
Roz Vitalis RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Guillermo
Prog Reviewer

4 stars As other reviewers in Prog Archives, I was asked to listen to this Russian band in their Bandcamp website. In fact, i think that this is the first time that I listen to a Prog Rock band from Russia. As the information says, the band is led by keyboard player Ivan Rozmainsky but the music in this all instrumental album was composed and arranged by the band as a whole. But there are some specific "conception" credits for the creation of each song.

Despite being an all-instrumental music album, it seems that there is a implicit concept described by the title of the album ("Lavoro D´Amore", that means "Labor of Love" in the English language), being explained by the band (in a few words) as "... a metaphor of a person's spiritual way. It is like a path from superficial knowledge to deepest insight. " They say that their music is difficult to classify under just one musical category. I agree with them. In fact, I listened to the album three times to write a review about it.

Well. I found some musical influences in their very elaborated music. It obviously is very Progressive, but even with some Folk-Rock , Classical Music and Jazz-Rock music influences. The use of the flute brought me memories from JETHRO TULL, PFM and FOCUS. I also found some influences from BANCO DEL MUTUO SOCCORSO (particularly from the use of the trumpet in their "Di Terra" album) and in the heaviest parts in the album from KING CRIMSON (from the seventies `s line-ups only, in the last case). But despite all these influences they have their own musical style. One could expect that the keyboards could take a central role in this album. Well. This is true in most parts of the album. But they also give space to other musical instruments like guitars, trumpet and flute, giving some variety to the musical arrangements.

The music in this album is very interesting and varied, with a lot of melodies and rhythm changes. They also used some vintage keyboards, sometimes giving to the album a "seventies" sound. The recording and mixing is very good, and I also like the cover art.

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 Windows by TAI PHONG album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.39 | 60 ratings

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Windows
Tai Phong Symphonic Prog

Review by VOTOMS

5 stars Review nº 229

Taï Phong - Windows

Look at all those rainbows in the cover art, trespassing even the shameless samurai. That's a reflection of the multiple keys work on this dreamy little album. The guitar helps to create a rainbow of soundscapes. This second album from the french symphonic katana managers stabilished a lot of melodic lines that would became the definitive 80s symphonic rock style. Funny, they are from the 70s, so there are trippy psychedelic dreamclouds surrounding Windows (the fantasy electronic work is the highlight of the album), lenghty suite format tracks and stuff, but even so, the painful pre-80s melodic lyrical type made them underrated. In fact, I can disarm a few of the 80s bands that clearly stolen Taï Phong's Windows melodies in a way or another. So, give them a try. It's just like Supertramp keyboardists lovesick crying after a mushroom tea party eating seagull's meat as vegetarians who don't want to follow rules anymore. Specially for Pink Floyd/Yes fans suffering from a psychological trauma because can't stand living with the parent's at 42.

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 Taï Phong  by TAI PHONG album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.66 | 67 ratings

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Taï Phong
Tai Phong Symphonic Prog

Review by VOTOMS

5 stars Review nº 228

Taï Phong - self titled

What would you expect of a heavy/symphonic french prog band from the 70s starring Jean- Jacques Goldmnan, nothing less than the songwriter for Céline Dion's greatest hits, a visionary dreamy keyboardist called Jean too, and a cool Samurai concept for band promotional imagery? Isn't obvious? Täi Phong is an underrated prog rock piece of the golden age, mixing furious passages, space floating atmosphere, chocolate hot dog, melancholic vocals, romance and shurikens! Why I consider their first couple of full lenght albums masterpieces? Because the passional sadness beauty captured from pop and some proto- prog and relateds, dissected and threw up on prog suites, would later return as the center stomp of the crossover/neo-prog and 80s symphonic hard rock. But nobody talks about Taï Phong. The samurai age was forgotten. It just isn't fair. By the way, this album is a little heavier than it's sequel Windows, focused on surreal dreamscape tunes.

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 Night Of The Demon by GAZPACHO album cover DVD/Video, 2015
4.05 | 3 ratings

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Night Of The Demon
Gazpacho Crossover Prog

Review by rdtprog
Special Collaborator Heavy Prog Team

4 stars This cd/dvd combo is from a show recorded April 12, 2014 at De Boerdrerij, Zoetermeer. The dvd has 5 more tracks then the cd. It's start strongly with the dark song "Tick Tock" part one, and immediately we can appreciate the clear production of the music. This band has the reputation to make music by creating intimate and electric atmosphere without displaying some complex time signatures. There is some recurring theme throughout those songs and a love for exotic music and folk music like the funny klezmer part in the song "The Wizard of Altai Mountains" and in the song "Golem" where we find a short escape to oriental music. "Winter is Never" is where the band slow things down and let the crowd sing before introducing the musicians. But things get back to the dark stuff slowly with "Dingler's Horses" that display some nice drums patterns and a heavy ending. My favorite track of all was from the album "Missa Atroppos", the song "Vera" with a beautiful melody. From that same album "Splendid Isolation" is another dark track with good atmosphere and a big crescendo with some David Gilmour style of guitar sound. This band succeed to create some emotional music with subtle arrangements that come also from the drums and the piano. All this music is enhanced by the nice voice of Jan Henrik Ohme. I recommended this cd/dvd for fans of Marillion late era and you won't resist to put the dvd on your player when you know that there is a lot more material than the cd.

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 Pollen by POLLEN album cover Studio Album, 1976
4.12 | 117 ratings

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Pollen
Pollen Symphonic Prog

Review by VOTOMS

4 stars Review nº 227

Pollen - self titled

4.5/5 actually

A canadian band singing in french sounding like rock progressivo italiano? Yes. What a fabulous symphonic album. Beautiful album art indeed. Pollen music offers symphonic electricity and light technical rock, adding acoustic folk and pastoral tendencies. The final solution is an almost full star album. They're playing real rock but seems they're gettin soft with their instrument. It's a great album to listen when you're not in the mood for something heavy but still want some high grade prog rock. The vocals reminds me of Eloy, but french lyrics. The first track (Vieux corps de vie d´ange) and the last (La femme ailée) are the lenghty tracks, and seems the band effort grows higher there, and they have the most memorable moments of the work. Well, it is not an innovative album, but pleasent, very very well done featuring plenty of sapid tips. Reccomended for fans of the R.P.I. genre. It shares similarities with artists such as Museo Rosenbach.

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 Hot Rats by ZAPPA, FRANK album cover Studio Album, 1969
4.33 | 1172 ratings

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Hot Rats
Frank Zappa RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Those interested in the jazz fusion side of Frank Zappa need to invest in this album and be familiar with it. Most people know there are many sides to Frank Zappa and his music, some are turned off by his humor and others are turned off by his eclectic jazz or classical works, and yet others love his doo wop music. How does one tell which album has which kind of music on it? You have to explore because his discography is so immense. But let it be known that this album "Hot Rats" is a necessary album, especially for jazz fusion lovers. This was FZ's first official, complete (well almost) jazz record and it is essential.

This is also the first studio recording by Zappa after the breakup of The Mothers (though not necessarily the first solo album because he released solo projects while The Mothers were formed). The album itself is completely jazz fusion and instrumental, that is all except for one track, which is a straightforward rocker, which has vocals by Captain Beefheart. That track is "Willie the Pimp". The vocals are not very long though, and most of the track is devoted to an electrifying guitar solo.

As far as the rest of the album, it starts off with FZ's most recognizable jazz fusion work "Peaches en Regalia", which is a short structured jazz work recorded at a faster than normal speed, but when it is performed live, is performed at this speed. This little gem is a quick study in jazz fusion progressive with tricky rhythms and quite a complex melody which is Zappa's trademark. This track works as a great introduction to the album and prepares you for what is ahead. Following this is the aforementioned "Willie the Pimp". This is one of FZs best straightforward guitar solos which stands out on the album since it isn't really jazz oriented as the other tracks. Next is another long track called "Son of Mr. Green Genes" which returns us back to the great jazz fusion that makes up most of the album. This track is based on the melody from "Mr. Green Genes" from the Uncle Meat album. FZ fans will definitely recognize the melody played as a jazz band and the melody acts as the basis for the mostly improvised piece. Zappa solos again but the feeling is different this time. Also, a rarity in Zappa tracks that feature his guitar, he returns to a clear variation of the melody in the middle of the improvisation. Other instruments are acting not only as support but also do improvisations. These things make this track unique among the many improvised solos in Zappa's repretoire.

The second half of this album starts out with another short structured piece called 'Little Umbrellas' which is similar to the structure of 'Peaches en Regalia'. This is followed by an epic fusion piece called 'The Gumbo Variations' which is over 16 minutes on the CD re-issue which had originally been trimmed down to just under 13 minutes on the vinyl version. The longer version starts with some instructions from FZ to the band for starting the track. This is a perfect improvisation piece which features a brass solo followed by an amazing and quite excellent violin solo and followed by another Zappa guitar solo. There are short interludes between each solo involving different sections of the band, including a short percussion solo. Excellent music. The album ends with the 5 minute track called 'Must Be a Camel' which is mostly structured and involves the entire band. Apparently, the title for this track comes from the large melodic jumps that are in the main melody and how this made the notes on the written manuscript look like camel humps. Again, this is an example of Zappa's 'not-so-apparent' humor in his music.

This album remains a staple in the Zappa catalog and is a great introduction to his fusion music. It should be in every progressive rock library and it sets a lot of standards for this style of music. People can't say they don't usually like Zappa music based on a single facet or style of his music. His style would change from one album to the next. You can be a fan of a style of his music and not so much of a fan of another style. The man, overall, is a musical genius, and anyone with a love or an understanding of music will recognize this. That is why Zappa's music is studied in universities and institutions alongside the music of Bach, Bartok, Gerswin and other music geniuses. Of course, Zappa had some not so great endeavors, but that doesn't take away from the fact that the man understood music and had a desire to make his music known to all people, hence the reason for so many different styles and also for his off-color humor. This album is a great representation of the jazz-fusion style of his music and is an essential album. 5 stars.

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 The Breaking Of The World by GLASS HAMMER album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.77 | 56 ratings

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The Breaking Of The World
Glass Hammer Symphonic Prog

Review by Hutchy123

4 stars Glass Hammer were formed in 1992 when multi-instrumentalists Steve Babb and Fred Schendel wrote and recorded 'Journey of the Dunadan', an unexpectedly successful concept album based on the story of Aragon from The Lord of the Rings, this success convinced them that the band was a project worth continuing.

Both musicians have remained at the core of Glass Hammer over the years and are joined on the band's 17th studio album 'The Breaking of the World' by guitarist Kamran Shikoh, drummer Aaron Raulston and vocalists Carl Groves and Susie Bogdanowicz.

Steve Babb was recently quoted as saying, "We've just wrapped up what has to be the best sounding Glass Hammer album in years."

Audiophile mastering on the album was done by the legendary Bob Katz of Digital Domain and he said, "The Breaking Of The World is Glass Hammer's most progressive album to date." Unfairly compared to Yes for the majority of their career, US progressive stalwarts Glass Hammer turn up with their best and most convincing album yet. As progressive as they come, the band have matured to a level where they should be considered as one of the best and most influential exponents of the genre out there.

Dynamic bass playing, superb keys and a signature guitar all blend with the stylish vocals to deliver a highlight of the year.

Without a doubt their best latter day release, there are nods to virtually all the greats of the genre running throughout 'The Breaking of the World' but they are only an affection for what has gone before, Glass Hammer have carved their own recognisable niche in this crowded genre and stride forward confidently with a sound that is now their own.

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 Hiromi's Sonicbloom Live in Concert by UEHARA, HIROMI album cover DVD/Video, 2009
4.47 | 8 ratings

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Hiromi's Sonicbloom Live in Concert
Hiromi Uehara Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by rdtprog
Special Collaborator Heavy Prog Team

4 stars It's very entertaining to to watch this female pianist play at a very fast tempo, jumping up with a big smile on her face. The music is a jazz rock that display some pure jazz passages with some more rock oriented music. Each musician at some point show some impressive skill with some groovy rhythms, especially David Fiuczynski on the twelve strings guitar. All the songs are above the ten minutes mark delivering some furious rock passages that are mixed with some more relaxed and jazz ones. But what's the difference between this kind of jazz and others jazz rock ensemble is the fast moving play of Hiromi Uehra who let us speechless with her talent and how every notes comes out easily.

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 Yesyears by YES album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1991
3.24 | 98 ratings

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Yesyears
Yes Symphonic Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

3 stars Yes conquers all, or from Peter Banks to Billy Sherwood in four discs

Like I said in my review of the Yesyears documentary film, the Union period was a perfect time to look back and document the history of the band thus far. Released in 1991, this four disc box set covers the history of the band from the beginning in the late 1960's to the early 90's when the set was put together. It mainly contains familiar album tracks but the real interest lies in the few previously unreleased songs, a few of which remain unavailable elsewhere.

The first disc focuses on the early days and no less than the eight first tracks document the time with Peter Banks as the band's guitarist. Two tracks are taken from the self-titled 1969 debut album and three from the follow-up Time And A Word from 1970. A further two tracks are previously unreleased recordings from BBC sessions of songs that also were included on Time And A Word. Perhaps the most interesting track on disc one of Yesyears is the opening track Something's Coming which originally was a single b-side to the UK single Sweetness from 1969. It made its debut on CD here and it is presented in a stereo mix that first appeared as a single a-side in Holland in 1970 and I don't think that this particular version is available on CD outside of this box set.

The rest of disc one is occupied with three tracks from The Yes Album and two from Fragile. These songs, like most of the songs on disc two - which opens with two further tracks from Fragile and also holds one track each from the albums Close To The Edge, Tales From Topographic Oceans, and Relayer - are already present in every respectable Yes fan's collection and are of course best heard on the original albums. The only mildly interesting track on the second disc is America which is here presented in an edited single version. However, this single edit has since been included as a bonus track on the 2003 CD reissue of the Close To The Edge album and if you have that version, as well as the other classic Yes albums, there is nothing at all on disc two of Yesyears that you don't already have in your collection.

Discs three and four are clearly more interesting for the Yes fan with more previously unreleased material. The third disc covers primarily the 1977 to 1980 period though it opens with the single edit of Soon (part of Gates Of Delirium from the Relayer album) originally released as a single in 1975. Amazing Grace, Vevey (Part One), Montreux's Theme, Vevey (Part Two), and Money were all previously unreleased at the time. Amazing Grace and Montreux's Theme were later included as bonus tracks on the 2003 CD reissue of Going For The One and the same goes for Vevey, though the latter is on Yesyears shorter and split into two separate parts while the Going For The One CD bonus track is one slightly longer track and retitled Vevey (Revisited). Money was included on the 2004 CD reissue of Tormato.

Also on disc three we find Abilene which originally was released as the b-side to the Don't Kill The Whale single but appeared here for the first time on CD. This one too later appeared as a bonus track on the Tormato CD. The most interesting track on disc three is however Run With The Fox, originally released as a single in 1981 credited not to Yes but to Chris Squire and Alan White and which appeared here for the first time on CD. (The song was later re-recorded by Squire for his Christmas album Swiss Choir in 2007). The b-side of that single is however not included here and has never to my knowledge been released on CD (and I have never heard it; I'm still looking for that one). The third disc of this box set concludes with yet another previously unreleased track in I'm Down, a Beatles cover recorded live in 1976.

The fourth and final disc of the set covers the 80's period when Trevor Rabin was part of the band. About half of the songs are taken from the 90125 and Big Generator albums but there are a few previously unreleased songs as well. The disc opens with Make It Easy, in my opinion one of Rabin's finest songs ever. Even though this song was recorded during the 90125 sessions it was not originally included on that album and it wasn't previously released in any form before it appeared on Yesyears. The song was also released as a single in 1991 to promote this box set. It has since been included as a bonus track on the 2004 CD reissue of 90125. In my opinion this song is stronger than most songs that actually were selected for that album! Rabin often played the intro of Make It Easy live as an introduction to Owner Of A Lonely Heart.

It Can Happen is not the album version but an earlier version recorded before Jon Anderson joined the sessions when the band was called Cinema. In my opinion, this version is better than the album version. Changes, And You And I, and Heart Of The Sunrise are live recordings from Houston, Texan in 1988.

Closing the whole set is Love Conquers All, a song penned by Billy Sherwood and Chris Squire around the time of Union but was never included on that album. It was later re-recorded by Sherwood and Squire for their Conspiracy project but this original version appears exclusively on Yesyears and is not available anywhere else. Sherwood's association with the band began on around Union but he would go on to play a more prominent role on later Yes albums and tours, ending with this song thus fittingly points towards the future.

This box set is clearly one for the fans of the band though as such it is frustrating as it includes lots of material that every fan already has. Still, there are enough of interesting rarities here and there not available elsewhere to make this collection a worthwhile addition.

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 Horses In The Sky by SILVER MT. ZION, A album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.89 | 66 ratings

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Horses In The Sky
A Silver Mt. Zion Post Rock/Math rock

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

5 stars This is the first SMZ album that has singing on every track. It is also, for the most part, the most subdued of the albums. It seems that it might have been a tough one for the fans to get at first, but it is a grower, and a lot of that has to do with the vocals. That is the biggest issue for the band, but in my opinion, the vocals match the music perfectly. SMZ's biggest attraction for me is their vulnerability that not only exists in the shaky vocals, but also in the orchestration of the instruments. There is always a slight hesitation in the delivery, or so it always seems, especially noticeable on this album because it is softer. Don't get me wrong though, there are bursts of dynamics throughout. You still get the builds on some of the songs. But other tracks don't build much at all, as in the title track.

"God Bless Our Dead Marines" is the opener and a great highlight in the band's career. It is a multi movement epic track with several melodies that vary in dynamics and tone. This is a beauty of a song and it ebbs and flows and eventually the vocals interweave around each other into a round of sorts. Next is another excellent track called "Mountains Made of Steam" which is based around a more focused theme, but still caries a lot of variation in it. This eventually builds to a harsh climax that utilizes dynamics and dissonance quite beautifully. "Horses in the Sky" is a more acoustic endeavor and remains quiet and thoughtful throughout, but is no less powerful. Eventually, some ambient texturing joins in, but never really takes over the intimacy of the track.

"Teddy Roosevelt's Guns" is follows a typical post rock formula and builds slowly to a final climax and a repeated line. "Hang on to Each Other" was actually recorded by the band around a campfire. You can hear the flames crackling in the background. Talk about a feeling of intimate music. You can close your eyes and picture yourself there listening to the band. The song starts out soft and the vocals build as other vocal lines are added, some wordless vocals and the repeating of the title while Effrim sings the verses. All the while, strings are played in the background to a structured tune. This eventually even drops out leaving the band singing their parts a cappella. The last track is another epic of beauty and dynamics, again with changing melodies and rhythms.

The vinyl is a piece of art, as is the case with most of SMZ's (and Godspeed You! Black Emperor's vinyl) and this is why I prefer to get their recordings in vinyl. On this one, there are only 3 recorded sides which contain all of the tracks. Instead of leaving the 4th side blank however, they commissioned an artist to do an etching into the vinyl. It is artwork of a bird and some branches. This is another way of expressing their artistry and intimacy with their listeners. It really gives the record a personal feeling between the listener and the band. Even though I know the band doesn't know me over any of their other listeners, but these things make me feel like they do, and the unique things they add to their albums make me feel a personal closeness to their music like no other band can do.

Many complain about Effrim's vocals being hard to listen to, but they have always been one of the things about the band that attracts me to them. He sounds like he is singing right to you, in your living room as you listen. He is a very passionate singer too, and the limitations of his voice can show through when he is the most passionate. These things make me love the music even more.

It's true that this band isn't for everyone, but everyone should at least give them a fair chance before deciding whether they like the music or not. The best music always takes time to grow on you, and I find my favorite albums are usually the ones I didn't understand at first, or they took time to grow on me. This is one of those albums. I think it's a masterpiece, not only of music, but of art in general. The lyrics are poetry, the music is original and dynamic, and the medium is taken to it's furthest to portray other forms of artistry, the album covers, the inserts, the little surprises that are included. It all works as a whole on this album, a those things make it the masterpiece that it is. 5 stars.

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 Toy Balloon by JANSCH, BERT album cover Studio Album, 1998
3.00 | 1 ratings

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Toy Balloon
Bert Jansch Prog Folk

Review by SteveG

— First review of this album —
3 stars Folk, Blues and Beyond.

Those familiar with the works of Davy Graham will immediately recognize that the title of my review was lifted from Graham's incredibly influential album of the same name. It was Graham's albums like this and 3/4 AD, along with the genre defining classic Folk Routes: New Routes, that had an incredible impact on the sixties English folk boom and subsequent folk rock groups like Jansch's Pentangle, which combined elements of folk, blues and very hip jazz into the Pentangle sound. (Regardless of how much the late Bert Jansch may have denied it in later times. Jansch and Graham were not particularly fond of each other, so Jansch's declaration should best be taken with a grain of salt. Especially owing to the fact that Jansch sited Graham as his major influence back in his early folk club days.)

That's also the reason why Toy Balloon works so well on so many levels and why Jansch actually sounds enthusiastic when he recorded this material. Dismissed by many Jansch aficionados as merely When The Circus Comes To Town Part Two, this album is anything but a sequel.

Where "Circus" (as Jansch called it) was mired in a middle ground of easy listening folk rock exercises, Toy Balloon shows Bert back in his folk/blues/jazz groove with a welcome cover of ill-fated contemporary Jackson C. Frank's eerie minor key ballad Carnival as the album's lead off track, followed directly with Jansch's arrangement of the English traditional folksong She Moved Through The Fair. Both feature just Jansch and his acoustic Yamaha. Jancsh's patented string snapping playing style and mesmerizing finger picking on this album is admirable, as is Jansch's abandon and confidence when singing. Something that was sorely lacking from the previously mentioned "Circus" album from 1995.

Jansch switches gears from folk to blues with his self penned nugget titled All I've Got, which features some great harp blowing from guest guitarist Johnny Hodge, who also adds some great slide guitar to this infectious track.

Waiting And Wondering and Hey Doc are Jansch's nods to his other prime influences as he channels the blues from his freely acknowledged boyhood heroes, Big Bill Broonzy and Brownie McGee, respectively. Again, Jansch absolutely shines while delivering atypical acoustic blues originals.

Jansch then switches gears back to solo acoustic with the slight instrumental titled Bert's Dance, before Jansch sings elegantly on the album's title track, another ballad before Bert get's jazzy and hands over some inspired R&B (with smoking sax) on two tracks that almost feel out of place on this album's nod back to Jansch's roots and inspirations. How It All Came Down actually sounds like Jansch channeling Steely Dan with this funky R&B and Jazz workout. Just substitute Donald Fagan's voice for that of Jansch's. Out of place or not, this is Jansch at his most inspired in years, with Jansch ending this wonderful outing with a heart rending autobiographical solo ballad titled Just A Simple Soul.

There's nothing ground breaking or particularly progressive about Toy Balloon except that it's a return to both form and quality by the late Scottish folk and blues guitar legend. 3.5 stars.

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 LOVE.BLOOD.LIVE by TRANSPORT AERIAN album cover Live, 2014
3.95 | 6 ratings

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LOVE.BLOOD.LIVE
Transport Aerian Crossover Prog

Review by Angelo
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

4 stars In between 2013's Bleeding, and what would eventually become Darkblue, Transport Aerian released Love.Blood.Live, a compilation of live recordings made during live shows on Bleeding. The idea was to give fans world wide, who would not be able to attend shows in Europe, a feel for what Hamlet and his accomplice at the time Stephan Boeykens were capable of live. In doing that, they also created an nice introduction into the repertoire and style of Transport Aerian at the time.

From the opening track Love it is clear that Transport Aerian is not about party music. The atmosphere is gloomy and dark. The music, minimalistic - a pulsing bass, with (percussive) noises around it gives it an industrial feel, perhaps even more postrock, with some interesting guitar work by Stephan Boeykens near the end. The spoken word vocals of Hamlet tell of someone looking desperately for love in a voice that seems to be on the edge of breaking...

Inspire shows a different face of Hamlet - loose piano notes are the basis of the song, which features a higher pitched, singing vocal, but still with a desperate ring to it. Drums and guitar loop kick in half way to make it more powerful, and near the end we get a haunting guitar and bass piece that is replaced by a horror movie like piano crescendo to finish the track.

With Fog Vision, another post rock like track appears - this time a bit faster played, and with an almost whispering vocal. A vocal that disappears completely for 2 minutes on the instrumental Float - a track by Stephan Boeykens, featuring a single guitar and a loop station, playing picked melodies.

This guitar seems to return briefly at the beginning of Nightsky, but switches to strumming when the vocals come in. In between verses, the guitar plays a simple 3 or 4 note repeating tune, which draw attention in a weird way. When singing on this one, Hamlet suddenly adds an aggressiveness to his vocal that wasn't there earlier. Involuntarily, in some places he manages to sound like a hoarse version of Klaus Meine - but only if one wants to hear that.

The aggression gives way to melancholy on the slightly sad, moody Winter, which also contains some nice, haunting postrock guitar work.

After this, its time for another instrumental by Stephan Boeykens, once again guitar and loop station, Minor Moody. A moment of peace in between the darkness of the other tracks.

And then, the two closing tracks Triangle Town and Radio Void bring us back to the opening - spoken word, dark music and a stronger beat than elsewhere on the album. Triangle Town also shows a little bit of jazz influences, when the bass and piano join the guitar and speed things up a bit halfway the track.

As I wrote in my review for Darkblue, this is not music to be played as background noise. No music ever should be, but in this case its impossible - you have to listen to be able to appreciate this, and that is what music should be about. Even though it's dark and gloomy, there are times when this is worth putting on and sitting down for - even if only once, to get a feel for what Transport Aerian is about.

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 Fear Of A Blank Planet by PORCUPINE TREE album cover Studio Album, 2007
4.23 | 2004 ratings

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Fear Of A Blank Planet
Porcupine Tree Heavy Prog

Review by VOTOMS

2 stars Review nº 226

Porcupine Tree - Fear of A Blank Planet

Simple music full of ornaments.

Come on, time for rebellion, a statement in opposition to a whole community thought. I'll tell you why. Porcupine Tree and Steven Wilson are the most overrated artists from the progressive rock history. I'm an ecletic multi-instrumentist musician who listen to the most technical rock to the more noisy jazz and electronic ridiculous stuff. And as a musician, Steven Wilson is totally what I'm not. His songwriting is made of the most easy chords, and most of his songs could be played in power chords with an acoustic guitar, but the recording quality is superb, the arrangements are amazing. It's like an enemy thought. I don't give a flock to the recording or mastery quality, since most of my favorite musical geniuses never had any chance to record other stuff than poor cassete tapes at home. Even some friends into radio pop enjoyed Porcupine Tree. The guy obviously focus on the background and I keep digging him because I enjoy the concept behind his works, and most of the albums really carries a masterpiece track, as my favorite, Deadwing (from Deadwing, of course, also the only PT album I could rate more than 3 stars). That track is marvelous! But what about this album? There's some forgettable - even if you're enjoying at the moment, totally cliche - crossover metal/pop rock decorated with spacey keys, synth, mellotron, whatever, as a little fanservice for prog fans like him. Somewhat interesting concept about the children of our generation or something like that, probably taken from Lunar Park. Really? Does it really deserves to be on top charts? I would prefer some Radiohead there. Anyway, I'm sorry if I'm hurting anyone's feeling, including Steven Wilson, because I feel some sympathy for him, I don't know why, and I will always give him another chance.

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 Transformation by FM album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.77 | 4 ratings

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Transformation
FM Prog Related

Review by wademoodyblue

4 stars I can't give this a 5 star review only because it would put it up with Black Noise which is a classic release in the history of Canadian Prog. What I can say is, FM are truly back. Yes, it has been over 25 years since they have released a studio album. Even then, their 80's releases while enjoyable were very commercial and far from their Prog roots. FM now consists of only one original member, and that is Cameron Hawkins. Martin Deller did perform with them in the last few years at Nearfest but is replaced on drums by Paul Delong who does a stellar job and has serious cred as drummer for Kim Mitchell and Roger Hodgson. The electric violin which is such a vital component of FM's sound is ably filled in by newcomers Aaron Solomon and Ed Bernard. Opener 'Brave New Worlds' is very melodic...and idealistic..a great opener for their return. Cosmic Blue opens with fiery violin and thunderous drums and Yes like vocals and harmonies. Re-boot Re-Awaken opens with more cool drum beats backed by haunting mellotron before the electric violin kicks in. Children of Eve is a futuristic song, with more mellotron. Safe and Sound brings us into lighter territory, and admittedly not one of my favorite tracks. "Tour of Duty" is the longest track on the album. Now size isn't everything though we Proggers love our long tracks..this one truly is one of the highlights of the album. Stunning keyboard and electric violin interplay open the track..the drums the sound is very live. Lots of lively tempo changes as well. "The Love Bomb(Universal Love)" is another Yes like track...getting such a vibe like I imagine Jon Anderson and Jean-Luc Ponty's collaboration might sound like. "Soldiers of Life" is an intelligent song about the horrors of war, and album closer "Heaven On Earth" has more Yes like moments than the entire 'Heaven on Earth" the latest studio album from Yes.

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 The Unconsciousness Of Living by ILLOGICIST album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.27 | 9 ratings

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The Unconsciousness Of Living
Illogicist Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by VOTOMS

2 stars Review nº 225

Illogicist - The Unconsciousness Of Living

A quick definition: Italian Death - the band - copycat. At first, there is a giant scale difference between sounding like Death and being a Death copycat. I did like their previous two albums. Same style, very technical lines, not a masterpiece, I can't remember any song from them but no problem, is the kind of album I know if I try again in the future it would be a funny listen. Then some years later, The Unconsciousness Of Living appears and I went "Oh, Illogicist. Let's see what happens now." And that's it. The riffs and musical structure, the Chuck Schuldiner vocalist wannabe (and his voice is almost there, really), this non-brutal but highly skillful playing, and all the rest, they are pretending to be Death. Many times I realized stolen riffs and passages almost identical to Death or another band from the same gang. Otherwise, the musician's level could be a catchy detail. The recording quality is flawless. It's just a question of... Uninspired virtuocity.

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 Kokkyo Junreika by J. A. CAESAR album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.94 | 6 ratings

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Kokkyo Junreika
J. A. Caesar Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by VOTOMS

4 stars Review nº 224

Julius Arnest "J.A". Caesar (aka. J.A. Seazer) - Kokkyo Junreika

After all, his true name is Takaaki Terahara. This film and theater music score composer finally gained some notoriety after writing songs for an intriguing japanese animated surreal thriller called Shoujo Kakumei Utena (or Revolutionary Girl Utena). He also wrote the classic soundtrack for one of the few countercultural, brutal "ero-guro" manga to become an animated movie, Mr. Arashi's Amazing Freak Show (or Midori: Shojo tsubaki), also excellent as any Maruo Suehiro work. Kokkyo Junreika is one of J.A.'s early works, and no doubt it's 70s. I must admit, it is not for anyone. Can you imagine an operatic show featuring music like fuzzy traditional japanese folk, enka, blues gitar solos and licks, proggy psychedelic organs, that zeuhl influence all those jap freaks used to dig back in the day, spoken word, storytelling atonal symphonies, all mixed and melting inside a big hot cauldron? If you can't, get this one and try it. If you have any problem to visualize scenes through music, it will be a hard listening. Other hand, this trippy cover art could be helpful giving an image to this album.

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 Mutopia by NUCLEAR RABBIT album cover Studio Album, 2003
4.62 | 4 ratings

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Mutopia
Nuclear Rabbit RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by VOTOMS

5 stars Review n° 223

Nuclear Rabbit - Mutopia

These guys music is pretty much as any Mike Patton masterpiece. Mr. Bungle/Faith No More experimental era fans will find love with this band. So on, after a little change in the line-up, we have Mutopia. Different from the past material, but same level of creativity and enjoyment. Overall, this is the less avant-garde Nuclear Rabbit album. I would call it a progressive/technical melodic hardcore album with some death metal influence. As the technical metal shines brighter, mainly with Jean's monsterpieceful 11 string bass, Nuclear Rabbit sounds more alternative too. There's an incredible increase of melodic passages, and even emotive riffs and vocals like those from "Alone With My Clone" and "Truth's Ugly Head". The ska & funk side of the band was almost totally exchanged by a hardcore/rapcore/grindcore beat, some tracks even reminds me of Biohazard and their kind of band. Double bass pedals became usual, and together with the fusion of guitar and bass riffage, sometimes seems a modern post-hardcore band. Unfortunatelly, this is the last known release of the band. The guys stated they're writing new tunes on 2008, and since then, only played together once (2011). If they are planning to put something out, better think twice. Their short all-star catalogue shouldn't be ruined in my opinion.

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 Intestinal Fortitude by NUCLEAR RABBIT album cover Studio Album, 1998
4.57 | 5 ratings

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Intestinal Fortitude
Nuclear Rabbit RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by VOTOMS

5 stars Review n° 222

Nuclear Rabbit -Fortitude

So, here's the first official album by the californian avant rocker group Nuclear Rabbit. Intestinal Fortitude speaks to you at first sight through another genial gruesome cover art. It defines the sound and lyrics pretty well. Yet a total nonsensical bad taste humor. Far heavier than before and much more focused on technical/avant-prog metal, the bass player Jean Baudin is clearly the highlight of the album. There are groovy and street tendencies, Greg Parrish crazy vocals and Jason Branyan guitars still bearing Mike Patton's ugliest works, jumping from experimental deathgrind to a smooth melodic random circumstance without losing coherence (maybe not). This album grabs me from the start, "My Girl's Got Guts", where the band presents a catchy unique melodic technical death funk vibe adding even some country and middle- eastern riffs in between sections. The drums adds to the technical metal mood, and here the band started using double bass pedals here and there (something that became more frequent with the next release). Brilliant and dope. An album to listen while frying casino's paper advertisements hidden from your sons and daughters.

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 Brief Nocturnes and Dreamless Sleep by SPOCK'S BEARD album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.10 | 509 ratings

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Brief Nocturnes and Dreamless Sleep
Spock's Beard Symphonic Prog

Review by Prog Leviathan
Prog Reviewer

3 stars There are a lot of nice things I can say about this release by Spock's Beard, but you can read about those in nearly every other reviewer's take on this album. For me, Brief Nocturnes and Dreamless Sleep is a modern prog diversion that doesn't fully live up to the hype, or the band's legacy.

In becoming more precise and thoughtful, the band has also shaved away one of the great things that made the Beard different from the other modern prog acts: the reckless energy and enthusiasm that borrowed inspiration from the great prog acts of yesteryear but transformed them into something fun and unique. This release sounds exactly like you would expect a modern prog act to sound... which I think I'm using as criticism. There are no surprises, experimentation, moments that touch your spirit, or much of anything else on this album that makes Spock's Beard stand out as a unique voice. Hard-rock homages to Gentle Giant don't count.

First let's just get the big question out of the way. How is the band's newly acquired third singer, Ted Leonard? Acceptable is about the best I can do. His voice is in a high register and flat throughout much of the album. He doesn't have much range, and doesn't emote in a way that connects with me. He's not bad, but upon first listen I immediately thought that this guy could be a singer for practically any prog act from the late '90's or early '00's - his voice is that bland and predictable. I'd take Neal Morse's caterwauling or Di''Virgilio smooth, radio-friendly vocals any day. Vocals are the low point of the album.

With that being said, the band sounds very good overall. Dave Meros' bass and Ryu Okomoto's keyboards standout especially. I think that Ryu's soloing and background textures makes him one of the sharpest keyboardists around. Unfortunately, Alan Morse's guitar slips under the radar for much of the album, as he delivers only one or two creative moments. The instrumental sections of songs are easily the most enjoyable part of the album; they are ambitiously complex and well-executed, but they aren't going to knock anyone's socks off.

Compare Brief Nocturnes and Dreamless Sleep to the dramatic energy of Snow, to the elevating energy of Day For Night, to the creativity found throughout The Light and Beware of Darkness and you'll see that fine playing and pandering to proggery isn't enough to make a great album. Still, don't write this one off completely; it's a fine example of modern prog even with its shortcomings.

Songwriting: 3 - Instrumental Performances: 3 - Lyrics/Vocals: 2 - Style/Emotion/Replay: 3

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 Spiritech by ALCHEMIST album cover Studio Album, 1997
4.24 | 24 ratings

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Spiritech
Alchemist Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars "Spiritech" is the 3rd full-length studio album by Australian extreme metal act Alchemist. The album was released through Thrust/Shock Records in June 1997. The band released a promotional music video for the track "Road to Ubar". "Spiritech" is generally a critically acclaimed release...

...and it´s obvious why that is, when listening to the album. Both "Jar of Kingdom (1993)" and especially "Lunasphere (1995)" were promising album releases, but Alchemist takes their music to a whole new level on "Spiritech". Stylistically the music is quite the eclectic mix of musical styles like death/thrash metal, progressive/psychadelic rock and middle eastern influences. There are even a few nods toward Australian aboriginal music on the album. It´s a metalized version of Killing Joke I´m mostly thinking about when listening to "Spiritech" though, which should not be perceived as a criticism of the band´s writing style, but just a way to explain how the music sounds. There is generally a bleak atmosphere on the album but also a more aggressive edge and there are sections on the album where the band really unleash their anger in a convincing manner.

This is dynamic music and however raw some parts of the music are there is always a mellow section or some other adventurous/psychadelic surprise lurking around the corner. Best examplified in longer tracks like "Chinese Whispers" and "Figments", which bookend the album (and which are both around 10 minutes long), but also in the more regular length tracks. The tracks are generally intriguing but not overtly complex in structure.

The musicianship is on a high level. The two guitars seldom play the same notes. Instead they compliment each other which provides the music with great depth and richness in detail. The strong and adventurous rhythm section is also a great asset to the band´s sound. The vocals by Adam Agius (vocals, guitar, keyboards) are raw and delivered with passion and conviction. The musicianship was also great on the two predecessors, but the sound productions on those two albums let them down. Thankfully that´s not the case with "Spiritech", which features a professional and powerful sound production. All in all it´s actually quite a great release and it´s like Alchemist really came into their own on this album. A 4 star (80%) rating is deserved.

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 Yesyears - A Retrospective  by YES album cover DVD/Video, 1991
4.11 | 74 ratings

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Yesyears - A Retrospective
Yes Symphonic Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

3 stars The progress of Yes

The time of the Union tour, when the Yes line-up of the 80's featuring Chris Squire, Alan White, Tony Kaye, and Trevor Rabin joined forces with Jon Anderson, Bill Bruford, Rick Wakeman, and Steve Howe (who had just made an album together that was a Yes album in all but name), was the pefect time to look back and document the history of the band so far. Having all those people under the same roof at the same time provided the makers of this documentary ("rockumenary") with the optimal conditions to create this film.

Covering the history of the band from the beginning in 1968, through the 70's and 80's, and up to the Union tour in the early 90's when the film was made, this film is interesting, well-made, and provides a valuable insight into the evolution of the band. There are no detailed analyses of each album, tour, single, etc. but the important line-up changes and transformations of the band up to that point are documented, for example when Steve Howe replaced Peter Banks, when Rick Wakeman replaced Tony Kaye, when Alan White replaced Bill Bruford, when Kaye returned and Trevor Rabin joined. Lots of interesting footage is shown throughout.

Unlike many other band documentaries I've seen this one bears multiple viewings and I've watched it several times. It is hard to rate a release like this one as it is after all a documentary film and as such is impossible to compare to music albums and live concert films and the like. On the one hand, taken for what it is, it is an excellent documentary an as such deserves a high rating. But on the other hand it is a documentary and as such may be of interest only for fans of the band. Given this I think three stars is an appropriate rating.

A four CD box set of the same name was released at the time and these two releases belong together. Indeed, this film could easily have been included in the box set Yesyears.

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 Tokyo Tales by BLIND GUARDIAN album cover Live, 1993
3.65 | 28 ratings

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Tokyo Tales
Blind Guardian Progressive Metal

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

4 stars 'Tokyo Tales' - Blind Guardian (84/100)

Really; could a more perfect setlist have been picked out for Tokyo Tales? While more is obviously involved in the making of a truly great live album, it's as good a start as any.

It's important to keep in mind that, at the time of recording their first live album over two performances at Tokyo's NHK Hall, Blind Guardian were little over four years since their debut, and just a few months following their fourth LP Somewhere Far Beyond. Even with some of their best work still a few years away, these guys had amassed an impressive host of material. Their gradual shift from speed to power metal had resulted in a string of incredible work; even the relatively weak Follow the Blind had a couple of amazing songs to offer; both of which are showcased on Tokyo Tales.

It is in spite of-- or, I should say, because of their up-and-coming youth on Tokyo Tales that makes this live album so good. You tend to see live albums in the rock and metal spheres released as a self-congratulating testament to some established band's past achievements. More often than not, live albums are approached as a safe commercial bet when a band is past their glory days. It's not as common for a band to release them in the midst of their creative peak, and rarer still for a band to release one when they're still on their way up. While there's a certain enjoyment is seeing an experienced band playing songs they have spent half their lives perfecting, there is greater satisfaction in hearing a band performing long before the comfort of success. Of course, hearing Tokyo Tales, you wouldn't get the impression they were still dismissed by some as Helloween's little brother in the West. Leave it to Japan to embrace quality and talent when they first hear it. Contrary to the usually reserved concert etiquette Japan are known for, you can hear the crowd chanting away to virtually every chorus and verse of their set.

Before going into Blind Guardian's live albums, I had been wondering how they took to approximating the lavish vocal arrangements without the help of overdubs. As it turns out, the audience does it for them! Although the roar of a possibly intoxicated audience doesn't leave quite as much room for intricacy as intensive in-studio work, there's a different sense of exhilaration to be felt from a 3800-occupancy hall chanting along to these songs along with Hansi. Whereas the crowd ambiance is usually a grating distraction on most live albums, here it truly benefits the effect of the music. Though it becomes more apparent with each listen that Hansi's stilted banter between songs is dreadfully awkward, hearing the sheer enthusiasm of the crowd is enough to make this downtime worthwhile on the album. I can't begin to imagine how inspiring it must feel for Hansi and company to hear a response along those lines every night they play!

It really deserves second mention that Tokyo Tales boasts such an impeccable setlist. Despite their significant shift of style over the course of four albums, these songs sound like they're meant to fit together in a single set. While I do enjoy the more all-encompassing experience of their Live 2LP released a decade later, I do think a lot of Blind Guardian's peak-era material became too dependent on studio trickery to be done full justice live. Nothing from the first four albums risks this shortcoming; the songs off Battalions of Fear and Follow the Blind were already blistering in their original form; even the relatively tempered Somewhere Far Beyond has the right sort of energy to work wonders live. Although I'm no fan of Follow the Blind, "Banish from Sanctuary" and especially "Valhalla" sound perfect; while I might have liked to hear "Run for the Night" or the title track off Battalions of Fear, the inclusion of the epic "Majesty" was a smart choice. Given that Tales from the Twilight World is my favourite album from the period until Nightfall in Middle-Earth, I'm delighted that so many cuts from that album found their way onto Tokyo Tales. "Lost in the Twilight Hall" was a highlight on the original record, and so it is here. Most of all however, I think their live rendition of "Lord of the Rings" steals the show. Blind Guardian's speed metal material might as well have been written with live performances already i mind, but "Lord of the Rings" was among their first attempts at a more sophisticated sort of arrangement. With the help of keyboardist Marc Zee, they give the song a rekindled brilliance, with one of the best vocal performances Hansi's ever committed to the recorded medium. It is conspicuous that a song as chant-worthy as "The Bard's Song" off Somewhere Far Beyond was excluded from the show, but considering that it's since become the most overplayed song in their repertoire, that might actually be a blessing in disguise.

While Blind Guardian made an exception in writing A Twist in the Myth with live performances in mind, the other albums they've done in the time since Tokyo Tales have been progressively more ornate and bombastic-- some might even say overproduced. Whatever the case, their studio albums have been generally incredible, and in spite of the obvious challenges of bringing a metal symphony to life each night, they've garnered one of the strongest reputations as a live act in metal. Even so; given the chance, I'd probably still have rather seen Blind Guardian play back in the day. They have incredible enthusiasm here on Tokyo Tales, and their audience matches it note for note.

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 Vicuna by NUCLEAR RABBIT album cover Studio Album, 1997
5.00 | 1 ratings

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Vicuna
Nuclear Rabbit RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by VOTOMS

— First review of this album —
5 stars Review n° 221

Nuclear Rabbit - Vicuna

Maybe you have noticed I'm only rating the medium - low quality albums and writing reviews mainly for stuff I would be really glad reccomending to you. So, this is the next step. Nuclear Rabbit is a top notch american avant-garde metal band, a gem of the underground. Raised together in the 90s California scene with Primus, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Mr. Bungle and Tool, they got this funky metal groove and that experimental shapeshiftin' style I love so much , very close to Mr. Bungle bizarre song structure, but unfortunattely there's no wind or brass. Vicuna is their first full lenght CD, and actually, it's a collection of demos and early years recording, concluding a 27 short-medium lenght tracks powerful demented album. Like an unexpected rotating helter skelter of riffs bending between death metal, children melodies, funk and just plain weirdness, this record can't get boring, shooting out a shower of surprises. The natural awesomeness starts with the creative cover art. The Pattonesque vocals are bloody well made, I could say it reflecs the pure lost of mental sanity. Lyrics and song titles leads the album with an acid humor and nonsense. Guitar and bass did an excelent job, intelligent psycho ecletic riffs and technically well done, sounding catchy, leaving the listener alert, interested for the next passage, wondering what the hell will happen out of a sudden. Finally, you will find any leftover after the hyperactive drums found here. Terrific men playing freak music with good taste and a sick random sense of humor. Thanks god there are other people like this.

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 Evening of Yes Music Plus by ANDERSON BRUFORD WAKEMAN  HOWE album cover Live, 1993
3.40 | 84 ratings

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Evening of Yes Music Plus
Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe Symphonic Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

3 stars An evening of Yes music minus

This double CD album was originally released in 1993 and contained live recordings from the Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe tour An Evening Of Yes Music Plus. While the show is absolutely excellent the album does not contain the complete show. Three songs were omitted from the album: I've Seen All Good People, The Meeting, and Starship Trooper. (Some versions of the album included Starship Trooper as a bonus track but not in the correct position in the set list!)

In 2006, Voiceprint released a DVD version holding the complete show. The latter is clearly the preferable version to buy as it gives you not only the full show, with all of the songs in the correct order, but also the visual experience of video. I am the proud owner of the special edition double DVD set - one of the finest pieces in my music collection - which also holds the music video collection In The Big Dream as a bonus feature. I have previously given the DVD video version a four star review but the CD version merits a lower rating.

Another point of reference is the recently released Live At The NEC, Oct 24th 1989, which features a different show from the same tour. This release also holds a complete show on two CDs. This proves that the full set does fit onto two CDs which begs the question why some songs were omitted from the An Evening Of Yes Music Plus CD album.

Having at least one live release from Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe in your collection is highly recommended but you get more value for money if you get the DVD version of An Evening Of Yes Music Plus. And if you still want more after that get the Live At The NEC double CD. If you have both of these you have everything you need and will not require the CD version of An Evening Of Yes Music Plus, good though it is.

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 Live At The NEC by ANDERSON BRUFORD WAKEMAN  HOWE album cover Live, 2010
4.05 | 14 ratings

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Live At The NEC
Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe Symphonic Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

4 stars The Meeting

Unlike the live recording featured on the album An Evening Of Yes Music Plus, which was released on double CD in 1993, the present show from the same tour was not released at the time but has been sitting in the archives for years before it finally saw the light of day in 2010. I am the happy owner of the special edition three disc set which comes in a hard DVD case and includes a bonus DVD in addition to the two audio discs. The contents of the DVD is however only some behind the scenes footage from the tour.

Given that this show, which was recorded live at the NEC in Birmingham on Oct 24th 1989, is from the same tour and has the same set list as the show featured on An Evening Of Yes Music Plus, one may rightly wonder if this new release is really needed. Well, there are a few minor differences between the two. First, unlike the An Evening Of Yes Music Plus double CD album, the present release holds the complete show (the An Evening Of Yes Music Plus double CD album lacked three songs, but the DVD version of that same show has the complete show in audio and video). Second, Tony Levin (with whom Bill Bruford played in King Crimson) is playing the bass here as opposed to Jeff Berlin on An Evening Of Yes Music Plus which may interest some fans. The song Themes is followed by a drum and bass workout by Bruford and Levin which obviously wasn't on An Evening Of Yes Music Plus.

The show opens with the four Yes-men each having their individual solo spots. Starting with Jon Anderson performing an acoustic medley of Time And A Word, Owner Of A Lonely Heart, and Teakbois; then Steve Howe treats the audience to two of his best-known acoustic numbers in Clap and Mood For A Day; Rick Wakeman's solo spot focuses on snippets of tunes from some of his solo albums, and, finally, Bill Bruford gets to perform a drum solo preceded by Long Distance Runaround.

With the sole exceptions of Time And A Word and Owner Of A Lonely Heart during Jon's opening solo spot, all the Yes material included here originally featured on the three classic albums Close To The Edge, Fragile, and The Yes Album, all from 1971 and 1972 when Bill Bruford was still a member of the band. The new album is represented by Order Of The Universe, The Meeting, Brother Of Mine, Themes, Birthright, and the aforementioned Teakbois.

Overall, the show is excellent and I would say that Live At The NEC is preferable to the CD version of An Evening Of Yes Music Plus but not to the DVD version of the same show. Having either the DVD version of An Evening Of Yes Music Plus from Voiceprint or the present live album is highly recommended, but having both is probably for fans only.

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 Ball by IRON BUTTERFLY album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.00 | 38 ratings

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Ball
Iron Butterfly Proto-Prog

Review by FragileKings
Prog Reviewer

3 stars I used to read this metal magazine that was published in Canada called "Metallion". It covered everything from hard rock to thrash metal and was great for featuring homegrown metal bands. There was also a page called "Roots of Metal" that featured bands like The Yardbirds, Ten Years After, Cream, Vanilla Fudge, and Iron Butterfly. I recall one part of the Iron Butterfly article that said after the fantastic success with "In-A-Gadda-Da- Vida", the same line-up returned to record an album that "sounded like it was recorded between someone's coffee breaks".

As for me, I don't view the album so derisively. "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" had some great moments but there was also the other side of Iron Butterfly, the Butterfly side that was pretty hippy dippy ("Flowers and Beads" anyone?).

"Ball" opens with a stunningly heavy intro complete with harsh power chords, cymbal crashes, and a bizarre dragging/pulsing effect that creates an ominous and forbidding atmosphere. The song itself is a cross between haunting and pretty with inserts of heavier moments, particularly near the song's conclusion. Though not as straightforward as say "Iron Butterfly Theme" or the short version of "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida", this song shows Iron Butterfly's darker side.

The rest of the album covers a variety of approaches, bringing in some light funk mixed with psychedelia like "Soul Experience", or the tension-filled "Real Fright" with its hurried suspense/spy movie bass line. There's Doug Ingle's balladeer vocal showcase, "Lonely Boy" which will either have you stabbing at the skip button right away or you might appreciate it for the effort. "This Must Be Love" sees a gradual building of psychedelic hard rock guitar, and "Belda Beast" is credited to young Eric Braun who shows of his vocal and guitar talents.

On "Ball" there's also an overall impression that Iron Butterfly was moving into more progressive territory. In particular, I find songs like "Her Favorite Style" and "Filled with Fear" feature an almost classical approach to composition in the way the guitar, bass and keyboard work together. The song structures take the album away from the standard pop song, and for that I actually find this album to be an interesting and enjoyable musical melange of psychedelic adventures. Of course such a mixed bag will have songs that bomb for some people, and I myself don't claim every effort to be a treat. In a way, this album is one of the last of its kind because heavy psych, heavy blues, and hard rock was taking a turn in 1969 and things were getting a whole lot heavier. Still, Braun makes some good use of his fuzz box at times. As for the prog aspect, it's a pretty good step in the right direction; however, things were about to become even more interesting.

Four stars for creativity but three for the overall result.

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 El Volantin by JAIVAS, LOS album cover Studio Album, 1971
2.48 | 27 ratings

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El Volantin
Los Jaivas Prog Folk

Review by Hannibal_20

2 stars I would like to begin by reviewing the best works of this band, as 'Alturas de Machu Picchu' and 'Obras de Violeta Parra', but if I review only the most important works I`d not ensure me having analyzed and reviewed all the work of Los Jaivas, so I will start by the beginning, it is preferable to go understanding each review as part of a story, so, I begin telling how it all began.

Los Jaivas formed in 1963 at a school in Viña del Mar, Chile, the Parra brothers ; Claudio (piano), Eduardo (keyboard) and Gabriel (drums) and the friends Eduardo "Gato' Alquinta (voice electric guitar, flutes) and Mario Mutis (bass), they were just children when they played for a first time in the Municipal theater of viña del mar, in that show they played with many another college mates of the their school; Guillermo Rivera Cotapos school and the result was a horrible attempt of music, which was answered by the public with throwing tomatoes and coins.

Although all they weren`t brothers, they lived in the same home (with many other boys and families, they were around 15 boys and girls), where they formed together, the music for them was one more game, when they grew formed a band called "High bass", referring to the difference in height between Gato, Mario and the Parra brothers, this name was later hispanicized to "jaivas" (also jaivas is like jaibas, That in spanish Means crabs), High bass played popular songs in marriages and partys. In 1969 They decided to create Their own music and started an improvisation period (1969-1971), looking for an identity They changed the name "high bass" to "los jaivas".They became in some kind of 'hippies' and played in concerts which young public came with their own instruments and participated in improvisations, it was a time where the public did not want to receive, it wanted to express, on that shows they known another musicians like Congreso and Los blops'

their improvisation works is compilated in 'La vorágine' collection (published in 2003) but I don't want to review it, at least not for now.

LETS START WITH THE REVIEW of the first studio album by Los Jaivas: 'El volant'n' (the kyte).

This album sounds really weird.

The first theme; cacho, starts with a Little piano introduction, then starts to sound a kultrún (an ethnic percussion instrument), in this song, gato, impersonating a Mapuche Indian, utters cries and insults against the Spaniards accompanied by the melancholy sound of organ and kultrun.

'la vaquita' is a very original song, but it continues being very weird (it makes me think they were in drugs where composed it), there is much percussion and beautiful melodies of flute, they make a lot of strange screams and sounds mainly emphasizing the phrase ... la vaquita que compré en la feria me salió sin cola (the cow I bought in the market came tailless), also a strange sound cames from behind

"Por Veinticinco Empaná'" is still more weird, is very similar to the previous track, this time the main phrase is 'Por Veinticinco Empaná yo le bailo lo que quiera usté' 'for twenty five pattys' I dance what you want.

"Tamborcito de Milagro" lets consider this theme and instrumental cause the vocals has not any meaning.

"Que o la Tumba Serás" is the first song in this album wich is not weird, it is a very changed version of the national hymn of Chile, only conserving the lyrics and the melody on the phrase 'que o la tumba serás de los libres' the rest are original, this song have a good acoustic piano melody, many percussion and very well flute solos and the new lyrics are good.

"Foto De Primera Comunion" its the first song i heared an electric guitar' it's a very cheerful song but it isn't great.

'Ultimo dia' : psichodelic and weird, the main phrase is 'ultimo dia, nadie se enoja' (last day, nobody gets anger').

Bolerito it's a short bolero it lasts just 25 seconds.

I think this album retains much of the improvisation period of Los Laivas, its very experimental, becoming very weird, the best compositions here are "Que o la Tumba Serás", 'Foto de primera comunión' and 'La vaquita'

After hearing such a weird record like this you will not be eager to follow this band, so it is not a good album to start, but if you like Los jaivas, you might be curious to know how they got started, if you understand the lyrics you'll laugh a lot, if you do not understand it you`ll think "what the hell i have listened?" (also if you Understand the lyrics you will think it a little).

Nobody borns being a master, this album represents just that, the beginning, Los Jaivas already decided to tribute to latin american folk sounds, their music wasn`t much rock yet but it was already experimental, AHHH AND AN IMPORTANT THING: I readed many reviews of many members, even collaborators, telling los jaivas oriented his music to Santana, or to Italian progressive rock or many other bands or styles I don't even remember, these statements could not be more wrong, PLEASE LEARN, not because something sounds like something more it means that are inspired in it, Los Jaivas tries to not sound like nobody but themselves, they created a very original musical language that is considered unique.

Finally I want to invite you to follow this wonderful band that fuzzed latin American folklore with progressive rock sounds, and it is considered one of the most important and influential bands of Chile and the rest of South America. Also I want to mention that Los Jaivas represent an example of unity and collaboration rarely seen in any other band, They lived in a same home, grown toghether, musically formed together, but also were formed as people together, sharing likes and way of seeing life, any member of the jaivas has been in any other band than los jaivas, that seems to be the reason of the longevity of the group.

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 Malesch by AGITATION FREE album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.99 | 204 ratings

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Malesch
Agitation Free Krautrock

Review by Igor91

3 stars Agitation Free's debut album is a fairly celebrated krautrock statement on PA, often mentioning it's Egyptian flavorings peppered throughout. While I like this album, I'm not as impressed as many other reviewers on PA. My largest complaint about Malesch is that there is not enough jamming to be found. It seems that on most tracks you need to wait through several minutes of experimental atmospheres before the tasty jams begin. Then, once they get really grooving, they suddenly fade away or are interrupted by further soundscapes. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy some nice experimental freak-outs within songs, but only up to a point. After 3 to 4 minutes things really need to move on, in my opinion anyway. To sum it up, the psychedelic jams on Malesch are really good, but are interpolated with too many sound experiments, and are often too short. I feel Agitation Free really hit their stride with their follow up, 2nd, when they created a better balance between the music and the spaced-out atmospheres. 3.5 stars.

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 Hiromi's Sonicbloom Live in Concert by UEHARA, HIROMI album cover DVD/Video, 2009
4.47 | 8 ratings

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Hiromi's Sonicbloom Live in Concert
Hiromi Uehara Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by VOTOMS

5 stars Review n° 220

Hiromi Uehara - Hiromi's Sonicbloom Live in Concert DVD

OK, if you are goin' to buy only one DVD in your entire ridiculous life, you should get this superb show. Don't think twice, just get it. If you never heard of this beautiful lovely crazy jap, you must know that even Chick Corea called her to play and record with him. Now, this is what I call playing with passion. As the music progresses, you're able to witness your own body chilling, a perfect resonance rising together with the song and the musician's strong feeling ascension. The facial expressions of Hiromi and the guys are intense, they're living what they're playing for real. About the virtuocity level of them, Hiromi is the most impressive and skillful piano/keys/synth player from the late years. There is an all-star line-up starring the fusion senior who's played on more than 100 albums David Fiuczynski (Screaming Headless Torsos), the bass master Tony Grey and the Slovak jazz drummer Martin Valihora. This is music for musicians, as any prog should be. Don't miss this fusion masterpiece.

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 Moksha by MY SLEEPING KARMA album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.09 | 3 ratings

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Moksha
My Sleeping Karma Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Rivertree
Special Collaborator PSIKE Team & Band Submissions

3 stars MY SLEEPING KARMA are in business since ten years now and consistently, pretty much every second year, deliver a top quality album. Their recept consists of songs which often enough bear a repetitve motif which is coupled with a stoner rock attitude basically. Another trademark, the corporate design, one could say, is made of Buddhistic references, just taking the song titles or album covers into account. The music is instrumental, usually, though a really excellent exception marks the female vocal decorated Svaatanya from the 2008 album 'Satya'.

On 'Moksha', released on Napalm Records, they consequently continue the path they've taken with the former albums, hence are on a safe route here, though without totally risking to miss some change, or progress if you will. Always remarkable is Seppi's guitar sound and style, psychedelic here, heavy riffing there. A matter of recognition value for sure. MY SLEEPING KARMA again provide some shorter interludes which generally ease things up, with other words they provide additional variety, like already done on 'Satya' beforehand.

By way of example I could detect some beautiful melodic pearls like Vayu and the following Interlude 2 where Akasha shows a proper groove due to Matte's bass most notably. With the title track they are stepping towards a blend of art and post rock, I mean the varied guitar appearance, and the piano is partially coming to the fore really. Although their sound does not change that much basically, they are not failing to offer new challenging compositions again and again. Which means with 'Moksha' the band have produced another album that is able to convince - 3,5 stars.

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 Starless And Bible Black by KING CRIMSON album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.90 | 1344 ratings

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Starless And Bible Black
King Crimson Eclectic Prog

Review by VOTOMS

5 stars Review n' 219

King Crimson - Starless And Bible Black

Underrated gem between gems. My favorite from the classic Crimson era. The album isn't solid, almost falling totally in the avant-garde genre but consistent tracks, which explores deeper and expandables atmospheres. And why not? Wheren't they listed as "Ecletic Prog?"Side A was made of medium lenght tunes. Side B sounds like a jam, a goddamn clever jam, where we can experience the far reach of our inner cosmic conscience. Right from the start, the classic KC freak jazz style theme will slap the listener in the face. The lyrics are far unusual. Pretty interesting the way the mood changes while it flows naturally like, passing through brutal ball crushing parts as "The Great Deceiver" to the quiet mellotron of Lament. Then I listen to The Night Watch and I wonder why the hell it isn't a classic prog hymn. Fripp touches are the best. From beauty to dissonant chords and chaotic guitar dreamscapes, it's marvelous. Here I can hear the depth and truely interaction between the members which was never heard before, playing music together, with their souls.

A silly observation. The (probably) most famous hentai series - japanese pornographic cartoons - is called Bible Black. The hentai works list from the same director includes: Discipline, Starless: 21st Century Nymphomaniacs and Heartwork: Symphony of Destruction (this last one an incontestable reference to Carcass and Megadeth).

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 Kite by CAMELIAS GARDEN album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2015
3.25 | 5 ratings

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Kite
Camelias Garden Prog Folk

Review by ProgShine
Collaborator Errors & Omissions Team

3 stars In terms of composition Kite is as strong as the band's debut album You Have A Chance and as soon as I knew thay had a new EP out I went straight to their Bandcamp page and bought it. But (and they say that everything that comes before the but doesn't matter), WHAT THE HELL they did to the vocals here???? Why they crammed ALL the songs full of AutoTune????? It's so on the face that's impossible to REALLY like the album all in all, and I'm a fan of these guys.

They also 'modernized' their sound in many ways, using electronics here and there to fit the 'new wave of Prog' that I call Post Prog and I cannot understand why, the band was unique on what they were doing in You Have A Chance (2013) now with this EP they seem to be as any other band... if that's the way the band will go in the future I'm afraid I'll not be following them...

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 Night On Bröcken by FATES WARNING album cover Studio Album, 1984
2.64 | 109 ratings

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Night On Bröcken
Fates Warning Progressive Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

2 stars FATES WARNING was formed all the way back in 1982 in Hartford, CT in the midst of the NWOBHM really taking the world by storm. In the beginning the band consisted of the twin guitar assault of Jim Matheos (the only constant member since the beginning) and Victor Arduini, drums handled by Stever Zimmerman, bass by Joe DiBiase and the trenchant vocal duties of John Arch whose well developed tenor head voice earned him comparisons to Geoff Tate of Queensryche and Midnight of Crimson Glory, but as the majority of reviewers of this album have already pointed out, it's Iron Maiden who gets most of the credit for pretty much all of the influences on board on this debut release NIGHT ON BRÖCKEN. The title comes from a mountain in Germany associated with witches in Goethe's "Faust."

It's hard to believe this band would go on to become one of the most innovative progressive metal bands of the ages on this release. First of all there is nothing progressive here at all and it is debatable if there is really anything original at all to be heard. To me this sounds like an Iron Maiden demo in a parallel universe where Bruce Dickinson was in the band at the beginning and recorded a demo or two. I have a highly sensitive ear to plagiarism and it doesn't get any stronger than on this first album. Not only does Arch nail Dickinson's vocals in tone, register and intensity but the guitars and bass perfectly mirror Maiden's thundering galloping and chord progressions. The three albums "Number Of The Beast," "Piece Of Mind" and "Powerslave" are the fertile grounds of choice to copy here and it sounds to me like they simply rearranged riffs, leads, drum rolls etc to create newly assembled songs with new titles.

Just a few examples: "Kiss Of Death" uses a "2 Minutes 2 Midnight" riff and "Rhyme Of The Ancient Mariners" gallop. "Night On Bröcken" employs a "Quest For Fire" drum roll which is followed by the band almost exactly like the original. "Shadowfax" copies "Losfer Words (Big 'Orra)." I could go on and on about which track rips off which riffs, lead, drum roll etc but.... yawn! The acoustic "S.E.K." may be the most original piece on here sounding like something different but unfortunately it only lasts over a minute. This one is an extreme disappointment. Not progressive. Not original. Not even a decent copycat job. I can stand it from time to time when a band simply nails every aspect of the band they are ripping off but in the case of NIGHT ON BRÖCKEN i find it hard to even sit through it without cringing. If you want a really good Iron Maiden clone band then go straight to Russia's АРИЯ (Aria) who not only matches Maiden's intensity and skill sets but also adds some original touches to the mix. This, i'm sorry to say, does none of that. For completists only.

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 The Grand Experiment (as The Neal Morse Band) by MORSE, NEAL album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.74 | 154 ratings

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The Grand Experiment (as The Neal Morse Band)
Neal Morse Symphonic Prog

Review by Spook76

5 stars I feel compelled to write this review as it is mistake to overlook this excellent album. I have been a fan of Neal Morse since his Spock's Beard time. To me The Grand Experiment is his best solo work second only to "?" Yes, one of the songs "Agenda" is not by any means a good song but do not let that put you off from what is otherwise a great symphonic prog album. The addition of Eric Gillette to handle some of the vocals like Neal's last album "Monentum" provides a sonic diversity that really makes this album shine. I would rate this album with 4.5 stars but since that is not available, I rounded up to 5. As I stated, it behooves you to give this album a spin.

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 Odyssey / Scala by TESSERACT album cover DVD/Video, 2015
4.09 | 2 ratings

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Odyssey / Scala
TesseracT Progressive Metal

Review by Mebert78

4 stars There is no bigger fan of Tesseract's Altered State album than me. I saw the band twice after that album's release in 2013 -- once that fall in Brooklyn, and once the next year in Manhattan just prior to vocalist Ashe O'Hara's departure -- and to say I immensely enjoyed both shows is an understatement. The energy coming from both the band and crowd was insane. Needless to say, I was eager to relive some of the tour's magic -- and that's where this live CD/DVD, Odyssey/Scala, comes into play. It's the band's first live audio/video release.

As much as I looked forward to the album, I admit I was ready for a letdown for two reasons: 1) O'Hara, who had captivated me on Altered State, doesn't perform on this album as Daniel Tompkins has resumed his role as vocalist; 2) Century Media Records released a video clip, "Concealing Fate (Parts 2 and 3)," a month earlier on YouTube, and I found the editing to be rapid and disorienting. But I approached the release with an open mind. The DVD kicks off with the silhouette of band members as they take the dark stage at Scala, a night club and music venue in London where the footage was filmed on Nov. 6, 2014. And within seconds, the band explodes with an unexpected, yet awesome, opener: "Singularity." The band just continues to rip through their technically-complex catalog from there with surgical precision.

The past two years have been an important time for Tesseract with their popularity beginning to skyrocket due to the success of Altered State, which was nominated for Prog magazine's 2013 Album of the Year. This live CD/DVD captures the lineup in the midst of that upswing. It's akin to Dream Theater's "Live in Tokyo" VHS in 1993. You're seeing one of the next big progressive metal bands in their element after their breakthrough album. You're seeing the hunger of a young band, a crowd's passion for that band's innovative sound, and the band's desire to blow the balls off of everyone watching. It's something that can't be recaptured a few years from now. This is the moment. And Tesseract bottles it perfectly with Scala.

Yes, the editing is a little quick at times, but it's not as bad as I thought upon watching the clip online. In fact, I liked the camera angles. I felt like I'd viewed the show from every nook and cranny of Scala. One moment you're practically on top of the drum kit of Jay Postones, the next you're right alongside the fast fingers of guitarist Acle Kahney, then you're getting a glimpse of the bare feet of bassist Amos Williams. I also liked the high number of audience shots. Some concert videos often overlook the fans, which can give a sterile vibe. But not here. This captured the head banging, crowd surfing, and fist pumping of all in attendance.

My only complaints are the omission of "Exiled" and Tompkins' occasional use of falsetto on Altered State tracks in spots where O'Hara belted them at full strength. As an Altered State junkie, that's a no-no for me. But it seemed like it was only a stylistic choice by Tompkins, who showed in other tunes that he can hit high notes with the very best of them. He'd also performed with the theatrics and emotion of Geoff Tate, which is right up my alley. While I prefer O'Hara's voice, there's no doubt that Tompkins has a much better stage presence.

The live CD is also just as on-point as the DVD. The band sounds terrific and you can even hear the crowd chant "one more song" at the end of the disc, which includes an assortment of performances throughout Europe and Russia in 2014. The album's digipak even features one particularly silly picture of the band all sitting on rocking chairs on a store's front porch. They're all straight-faced except for Postones, who is clutching a giant lollipop and smiling widely. It shows a refreshingly funny side of a band that makes some very serious music.

In closing, Odyssey/Scala is a must-have for any Tesseract fan. But, of course, what really matters is whether the band can continue their upswing on their next album later this year. It's going to be hard to top Altered State, but this band has the talent to achieve anything.

- Michael R. Ebert (progzombie.blogspot.com)

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 Lavoro D'Amore by ROZ VITALIS album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.89 | 23 ratings

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Lavoro D'Amore
Roz Vitalis RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

4 stars I was also approached by the Russian band to look over their most recent release, truth is that I was not in any way sonically familiar with the group though I recognize the name. The benefit of such a situation is that I have absolutely no preconceived judgment or bias one way or another and therefore I can enter with open mind and open ears. First of all, the cover is quite appealing, a sort of Split Enz-like take on non-obvious weirdness, a dark haired beauty in drab farm clothing in a seemingly wheat laden field , contrasting with azure skies above, a strange anchor in the lower left-hand corner that must convey something odd, but what? This is all instrumental music composed by keyboardist Ivan Rozmainsky, set in a traditional romantic mode with occasional romps into slight dissonance and experimentation, staying away from any prog by number attitudes that may plague instrumental works from time to time. Bassist Ruslan Kirilov likes to be heard and his prosperous rumble is there to behold , well supported by a couple of athletic drummers , while additional soloing is provided by some delectable and dependable flute, somber trumpet phases and finally, some jazz- influenced electric guitar playing by Vladimir Efimov. Just like with the Gourishankar, another talented Russian band that is due for another release we hope, the unknown instrumentalists are first-rate and highly talented. Nothing of epic proportions, most tracks are in the 3 to 6 minute range, save the eighth track that is a tad longer, clocking in at 8 minutes and change. An overt Italian romanticism influence is startling on a couple of pieces that have Italian titles, a rather innocuous nod at fellow romantics that populate the 'boot', with flowing piano leading the charge. 'Il Vento Ritorna' and the title track make this impression quite clear, sounding more RPI than anything else, as the flute takes the center stage and ushers in the delicate breeze that caresses the soul, adding some piano, bass and harpsichord support. The romantic Russian style of melancholic artistry is their most appealing trait and it's in abundance here.

'The Acknowledgement Day' sets the adequate mood from the onset, solid yet brittle, adventurous yet somehow familiar. The pied-piping flute beckons one forward, playfully into some pre-set comfort zone where everything sounds just right but different. Nice guitar phrasings that have a Jukka Tolonen jazzy feel that is most pleasant though not exactly modern. Each track has this rather overt melodic dissonance that is engaging, infusing occasional blasts of trumpet to pack some punch, as well as slick use of the underused harpsichord, an instrument that should be further showcased. The two in question are prominently featured on the delightful 'There Are the Workers of Inequity Fallen' (whatever that means!). There are enough melodies here to keep stubborn classicist like yours truly hooked, lined and sunk. Occasional visits into outright symphonic, careening into dizzying space rock as well as various other forms of edgy progressive , touches of medieval and even jazz (especially the clean 70s styled electric guitar). There are plenty of quirks, twists and turns, occasional harder pieces like 'Need for Someone Else' where the stirring axe riffs really take over the stage, chugging, churning and charming all in one. The space whispered finale is amazing! Seguing nicely into the dark and the murky, the harrowing 'Invisible Animals' seeks out deep space realms, sizzling asteroids nimbly zooming past in synthesized glory and propulsive bass motoring the rhythmic engine. The piano also retains its place of glory, as Ivan Rozmainsky is a truly gifted player, caressing his ivories with infinite taste and style, overtly so on the ornate 'Every Branch That Beareth Fruit', flute following right behind like some obedient disciple. Simple and beautiful.

The highlight piece may just well be the longest track here, the hyper-quirky 'What Are You Thinking About?' which seeks to assemble all these interests into one convenient vessel, the mouthy bass leading the charge with choppy guitars in tow, moody and grandiose , like some MIG fighter doing aerial acrobatics, amid a canopy of symphonic bombast.

Highly original and infusing fresh ideas into a powerful mass is no mean feat and I am mighty impressed. Lot of love went into this work, hence the title!

4 passion crafts

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 Darkblue by TRANSPORT AERIAN album cover Studio Album, 2015
4.45 | 6 ratings

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Darkblue
Transport Aerian Crossover Prog

Review by Angelo
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

4 stars When I was in high school, I always looked at the aspiring musicians in my school (some got quite far with their aspirations too) as if they were some sort of mystics. They always had this sense of being untouchable, impossible to understand around them. That feeling disappeared over time, as I kept in touch with some of them, and it turned out that they were just moving into the same musical areas where I ended up (albeit I started as a listener and became a player only much later). End of 2014, in the chatroom of House of Prog, I ran into Hamlet, the man behind Transport Aerian, and that old feeling returned. This man seemed to be very intelligent, open for communication, but also somehow distant, almost unapproachable. Now, half a year later, I know that the latter is not true, Hamlet is indeed intelligent, but certainly open for communications. However, unlike my old school mates, he is much less moving into the mainstream (or mainstream prog) direction than many others.

When I started reviewing his new album Darkblue, I was thinking of writing a double review for that album and the live album Love.Blood.Live, which preceded it last year. That wouldn't do justice to Darkblue however, because this is vastly different from Transport Aerian's earlier work. Where, as Hamlet wrote in his blog himself, Bleeding (studio album) and Love.Blood.Live are more song oriented, Darkblue is a surrealistic movie expressed in music and the visuals of the accompanying artwork. To that will, as plans are being announced now, the visuals of a live performance will be added later.

This album for sure is what the title suggest, dark, but not pitch black (although Jim Morrison's work with The Doors is almost white compared to this). The music is haunting and minimalistic (Sand Horizon), experimental at times (Black), leaning towards industrial in places (Full Body Access, ), while building almost psychedelic soundscapes in others (Epitaph) - and then there is something close to hard rock or metal as well (Crossbreed).

The lyrics, spoken and sung by Hamlet and his accomplice for this album Rachel Bauer (also responsible for the mystic photos in the album booklet) tell a story of, in Hamlets own words 'exile, self-isolation and love' - in a dialog between two people. As explained on the Transport Aerian blog, this "is the one-piece musical diary that tells the surreal love story, which is being recited throughout the album's temporal and spatial space from the face of two main characters". A concept that makes it nearly impossible to do a track by track review. In all honesty, I see no point in listening to individual tracks anyway - this is indeed a single piece of music. Thus, I'll hold back on that and just recommend anyone who's in for something non-conformist, experimental and as true to art as art can be, to give this album a try and experience for themselves what Hamlet felt when writing this music, and what Rachel Bauer and him made out of that when recording.

I really hope I'll be able to catch a live performance of this album, if only to see if my own visualisations match those of the artists. Hamlet announced working on the scenario for a live performance as I write this, so perhaps see you there, dear reader?

(also published on my blog www.hulshout.nl/rfm)

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 Home & Minor by OCEANSIZE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2009
3.65 | 30 ratings

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Home & Minor
Oceansize Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Home & Minor is simply a 35 minute EP of music which is showcasing a more experimental and mellower side of the amazing band Oceansize. I have become a full-time fan of this band and their style of post-rock and heavy prog. This is one of the most innovative bands out there, and with this EP, they for the most part leave behind their heavier edge to produce what is not necessarily and acoustic album, but a spacier, softer and yet adventurous EP.

There were plans to release an EP like this from as early as their initiation as a band. It was an attempt to win over those adventurous music lovers that don't like so much feedback and heaviness in their music, yet still love the innovation that the band has been known to explore. This little EP is a beautiful representation of the band's genius. I love it just as much as their full albums and the only regret I have is that it isn't longer. But I am sure a lot of fans would have been outraged because of the lack of dynamics in the music. That is not true with me, I love the variety and tone of this album and consider it as good as their albums.

Any of these songs would have been good enough for inclusion on any of their full albums, and they would not have taken away from them. It was the decision of the band though, to feature them on their own. Maybe there was a fear that these gems would have been swallowed up in the fierceness of their typical music, though the band is always known to show their sensitive side in various places throughout their albums too.

Immediately, with "Legal Teens", you hear a difference in the typical intensity of the music. This one, to me, is the most subdued as far as standing out. A good song, but mostly a good introduction to the EP and the tone is set in this track. "Getting to Where Water Cannot" is bigger standout and the emotion in this song is very evident. This track proves that you don't have to be loud and extreme in dynamics to be powerful and beautiful. It ventures into some nice jazz territory with interesting chords and movement. This is a great example of the band's genius. "Monodrones" is a short instrumental which is based on a drone and beautiful swirling guitars, which I find very ambient and relaxing. It sets the mood for the best track coming next which is the title track "Home & Minor" which features some lovely harmonics and even has a nice build up which features brass instruments which are a rarity in t Oceansize's music. This is a beautiful track. Another 3 minute instrumental follows which flows along nicely and then the EP is wrapped up with another 8 minute track with subdued vocals, background voices and swirling guitar and vibes.

It is hard to describe where this music takes me, but I love it and find it as strong as any of their albums. I love their intensity in their albums, but I feel that intensity in this EP also even if the music is softer and explorative. I continue to hold my stance that I believe this is one of the best bands in Prog rock in this era and I think they are completely underrated in the music world. People should be listening to this music. Of course, this EP is not indicative of their usual style, but it makes a great place to come when you feel like music that is dreamy and lovely, yet still amazing. Most reviewers have been giving this lower ratings because of it's change of intensity, but I listen to it and still find a masterpiece of prog rock. Harmonics, textures and beauty abound in this recording and I don't hesitate to give it 5 stars. I keep thinking I'll find a recording by this band that I won't consider essential, but I continue to be amazed by the band and their music.

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 Nightwinds by NIGHTWINDS album cover Studio Album, 1979
3.32 | 21 ratings

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Nightwinds
Nightwinds Crossover Prog

Review by MarxNutz

3 stars I recently discovered the self-titled "NightWinds" on YouTube and have given the album several listens. I like some aspects of this obscure Canadian band's offering, particularly that certain 'weirdness' their compositions exhibit (I LIKE weirdness BTW). Prog bands often revel in odd time-signatures, chord progressions and vocals that defy pop single status. At first listen, I enjoyed this band's weirdness, especially in the first half of the album. Other reviewers compared NightWinds to Genesis and Yes, but I didn't really get that impression. I thought they were closer to Omega (Hungarian band) a bit of Klaatu (as it turns out I was peripherally correct) with a hint of Ethos and even Gentle Giant. Upon additional listenings, I could hear what people were saying about Genesis influences and that's fine. With all that said, I'd have to say that at first I kind of liked the vocals, but after a while it got very tedious to listen to. In some cases, Sandy Singers' voice seemed oddly appropriate, other times an annoyance. Most of the songs were anthems with a couple of ballads thrown in, and Singers' limited vocal range seemed more useful for the anthem. I would be curious to find the lyrics, so I could keep up with some of the rapid fire lyrics. Occasionally, everything seemed to click and those are the moments I listen for in a prog album. All in all, a nice effort and I wonder what would have happened if a second album had ever been published. I would give this album a solid 3.5 for its 'weirdness' factor and homage to other more recognizable bands.

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 Gryphon by GRYPHON album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.25 | 141 ratings

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Gryphon
Gryphon Prog Folk

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

4 stars GRYPHON was formed in the early 70s when the two Royal College of Music graduates Richard Harvey (recorders, crumhorns, keyboards, guitar, mandolin) and Brian Gulland (bassoon, crumhorns, recorders, keyboards, vocals) met. The two were extremely interested in English folk music, Renaissance music and everything medieval. This academic passion for the music of centuries gone by soon caught the attention of fellow musicians Dave Oberlé (drums, percussion, vocals) and Graeme Taylor (guitars, keyboards, recorder, vocals) who would soon join them to create some serious retro music with a modern day rock energy flair. Soon after this musical union, the band recorded a whole bunch of traditionals dating all the way back to King Henry VIII and caught the attention of Transatlantic Records which released their eponymous debut album in 1973.

While GRYPHON is best known for their unique mix of progressive rock and medieval folk instrumentation on their highly acclaimed "Red Queen To Gryphon Three," on this debut they were in full retro English folk and Renaissance mode staying very faithful to the original compositions on board here. Almost everything on the album is acoustic and heavy use of recorders, crumhorns and bassoon gives a most genuine period feel that instantly puts you in the time of the Tudor's and everything 1500s. The track "Pastime With Good Company" was written by King Henry VIII himself and is perhaps the most famous of the lot. The Dan Pearce fantasy album cover depicting the legendary GRYPHON, the most powerful and majestic creature ever to have lived guarding the treasures is the perfect symbology of the band's approach keepers of the medieval musical treasures that they have resurrected.

I can understand why many prog rock lovers will not find this one appealing. There is absolutely nothing modern or rock on this debut except for, of course, the recording and production techniques. All instruments and tracks are period correct and quite faithfully performed to evoke that good old Renaissance feel, however there is definitely an infusion of modern day rock energy incorporated into this track list of oldies but goodies. The drumming patterns are very energetic and what little interpretations of Renaissance music i have heard to not even come close to the quality of the music on this album. Progressive folk this is without any rock whatsoever but starting with the second album "Midnight Mushrumps," GRYPHON would begin adding rock elements into their retro folk sound. For this debut, however, we get one full-on Medieval folk album that transports you into the world where Shakespeare and English Madrigal Schools flourished. Personally i find this one to be quite the interesting listen heightening my musical and historical sensibilities in tandem. I have never heard anything like this and find GRYPHON to be a sadly underappeciated musical force.

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