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 The Jewel by PENDRAGON album cover Studio Album, 1985
3.35 | 304 ratings

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The Jewel
Pendragon Neo-Prog

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Another prominent British band that has remained fairly true to its Neo Prog roots (over a career spanning nearly 40 years and eleven studio albums), this is one of the bands whose sound has, in my opinion, improved with age-- especially since 2004 when they chose a heavier sound (which is oddly out of character for me)--though most critics have acclaimed the decade of 1991 to 2001 as their "masterpiece" era. The Jewel was the album that started it all.

1. "Higher Circles" (3:29) organ intro is joined by the others by the end of 30 seconds. Nick Barrett's PAUL WELLER/JOE STRUMMER-like "protest singing" voice starts off this anthemic song before being joined by the others in the chorus. Sounds like such a teen tough boy song! Maybe this is a remnant from where the band started; it is no indication of where they are about to take me. (7.75/10)

2. "The Pleasure Of Hope" (3:43) jumps full into power jam like a STARCASTLE opening before shifting to a MARK JOHNSON/THE THE-like song. The sound of the multiple voices singing the "Welcome home" shouts is awesome! Matter of fact, the multi-layered vocal approach throughout this song is very cool! A nice change. I like this! (9.5/10)

3. "Leviathan" (6:13) opens with a kind of RUSH/STARCASTLE/YES weave before vocals enter to give it it's own shape and sound. I don't think I've heard a "neo prog" band with a non-imitative singer before. The music is definitely in the neo prog realm but that singer is not! Nick Barrett sounds more like a 1975 East End punk rocker! I like it! And he can play a pretty cool guitar, too! Wow! I am impressed far more than I expected to be. (This is literally my very first ever listen to a Pendragon song!) The music begins to sound a little too derivative in the second half (Genesis), otherwise this might be a 10-10 song! (9.5/10)

4. "Alaska" (8:39) (18.5/20) - a) At Home With The Earth - a gentle, romantic synth and electric guitar picking opening until 0:55 when a very nice GENESISian weave is launched. Love the fretless bass! The high flute-like synth dancing in front as Nick begins to sing is a little distracting (and disappointing). The vocal is mixed strangely "out" of the soundscape and Nick's vocal has pitch issues. The chorus is a step back in the right direction, though the vocals are still pitchy. The instrumental section which follows is okay, best for the whole-band cohesiveness. (I just don't like that synth soloing.) (8.5/10) - b) Snowfall - picked 12'string guitar with very dynamic fretless bass starts off this section. Thirty seconds in it takes on a JEAN-LUC PONTY feel, sound, and pace (think of some of the cooler uptempo jams in either Cosmic Messenger or A Taste for Passion). Awesome CAMEL-esque synth soloing over this instrumental jam! (10/10)

5. "Circus" (6:34) guitar arpeggi, drums, and bass are soon joined by APP Usher keyboard arpeggio before the song shifts into third gear as a kind of CLASH/PAUL WELLER jam. The lyric is powerful and I like it's monotone shout delivery. The song then speeds off into an extraordinary instrumental jam with great driving bass and drums while Nick and Rick Carter take turns soloing and supporting each other. In the fourth minute odd upper-register major seventh chord strums sound like harps as Nick sings. The chord progressions are heavenly throughout this song, with every musician locked in on full power and tightly united throughout. GREAT song! My favorite from this album--and that's saying a lot cuz there are a lot of fine songs here! (10/10)

6. "Oh Divineo" (6:51) opens with Nick's plaintive guitar soloing, as if in a distance, as organ lays a romantic fabric beneath. The full band joins in at the end of the first minute with a swinging rhythm base as Nick continues soloing melodically over the top of a GENESIS-like "Misunderstanding" structure. When things finally break down at 2:28 to allow for a nice vocal, the lyric is surprisingly political, not romantic. The "where does the fire burn" lyric and following section are nice though quite derivative of earlier GENESIS themes. (13/15)

7. "The Black Knight" (9:57) the ususal guitar arpeggi with lone synth intro with singer Nick Barrett joining in after half a minute. Nick's vocals here are better, the melodies more engaging. Full band kicks in with some power around the two minute mark. After a second verse of vocals time and key structure shift ushers in a new more insistent vocal approach. Nice earworms from the lead guitar in the instrumental section. (17/20)

Total time 45:26

Nick Barrett's guitar playing--especially his lead soloing--is sublime; it is amazing to me how he can continually create new and always pleasing, adrenaline pumping guitar solos year after year, song after song, even multiple times within one song (even here on their debut album)! His voice, however, is an acquired taste.

B+/4.5 stars; a near-masterpiece of progressive rock music and a surprisingly eclectic albeit derivative collection of Neo Prog songs. Great debut album!

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 Laughing Stock by TALK TALK album cover Studio Album, 1991
4.01 | 277 ratings

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Laughing Stock
Talk Talk Crossover Prog

Review by jamesbaldwin
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Talk Talk loses bassist Paul Webb, replaced by two session men who play acoustic bass, and Hollis with Lee Harris, but in reality with Tim Friese-Greene they publish an even less commercial art-work than the previous one, ever closer to free-jazz and free-folk with chamber ensemble. The sounds seem only hinted at, without being developed, the melodies are almost always truncated, it is music of pure suggestion, which produces evocation of atmospheres.

1. Myrrhman (5:33) Minimalist, jazzy music, Hollis' voice as protagonist, minimal, acoustic orchestral sounds, which are painted softly, almost in a low voice, as if we were at a meditation in the church, great suggestion, a lot of atmosphere, little melody. Rating 7,5.

2. Ascension Day (6:00) Here the drum snare pulses and the electric guitars are distorted, in a cold but dry, hard, almost hard rock arrangement, with a beautiful singing, and after two verses the electric guitar is released with a loud crescendo that ends suddenly. The masterpiece of the album and it is not a case that this is the most gritty song, the only one where the drama deflagrates. Rating 8,5.

3. After the Flood (9:39) Relaxed ballad, marked by keyboards and by the rhythm of the drums, which remains the same from the beginning to the end, and this is a handicap because the beauty of Talk Talk's music is now all in its unpredictability. Here the voice flies on the high notes in the refrain which, however, does not reach the peak of pathos of Spirit of Eden precisely because the rhythm continues always the same, and does not adapt to the dramatic crescendo. Then comes a good distorted guitar solo, which is more of a paroxysmal repetition of the same riff, then a keyboard solo, and finally a verse and chorus again. Atmospheric piece. Rating 7,5/8

End of Side A.

4. Taphead (7:30) Beautiful song, that part suffused, whispered, and then develops a wonderful instrumental part where the accumulated tension struggles to come out, we are at very high levels of refinement, cerebral and cold emotions, and only certain whispers of Hollis' voice or some instruments they bring out the pathos, the drama, which remains almost harnessed, except for a few seconds of final explosion. Rating 8+.

5. New Grass (9:40) This is the second long ballad conducted by the same rhythm of the drums, exactly like After the Flood but here the atmosphere is more cheerful, with an higher rhythm. But the phrases on the drums and on the guitar tend to be too repetitive and the central instrumental solo is almost immobile, Talk Talk seem to aspire to silence or to the ecstatic musical phrase to be left bare. Rating 7+.

6. Runeii (4:58) Minimalist song with voice and electric guitar, similar to the last song of the previous album, which was arranged with keyboards and vocals. This one is too nuanced, too soft. Rating 6,5/7.

Talk Talk continue in their evolution towards post-rock music increasingly similar to free-jazz, cold, sophisticated music, almost chamber music, where the structure of the songs is increasingly disarticulated. The record is remarkable but has a limit: the search for original and minimal sounds becomes conditioning towards the melody and the pathos, In Spirit of Eden, the musical qualities allowed to pass from a slow, dilated music, which had to overcome an inertia, to a music where voice and instruments finally exploded in powerful and dramatic moments. In this second record, the initial, inertial part of the songs is disproportionately dilated, and the final part, deflagrating, cathartic, struggles to arrive, Talk Talk prefer to mention it rather than develop it, so the inertial tension that pervades the songs does not have a true liberating outburst, it remains bottled in sounds and it is expressed only through hinted musical phrases, however beautiful and refined. This characteristic reduces pathos and emotions.

Rating: 8,. Four Stars

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 Daybreaking Live by ROZ VITALIS album cover Live, 2020
3.94 | 11 ratings

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Daybreaking Live
Roz Vitalis RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by TCat
Collaborator Eclectic Team

4 stars Roz Vitalis continues to expand their studio and live discography making their band widely known not just in their native land, but worldwide. Their brand of RIO/Avant Prog has become a sound that is recognizable as their own, a mix of instrumental fusion utilizing a improvisational, yet melodic sound that is at once pleasant to the ear and at other times dissonant with occasional use of microtonal harmonies.

Their 8th live album 'Daybreaking Live', released in January of 2020, is probably one of their tightest live performances yet. Most of the tracks on this outing were composed between 2018 and 2019. There is also the addition of 3 tracks that come from a few of their past albums done in the same setting. The show for the album was at Babooinumfest in St. Petersburg (November 4, 2019), which is a mostly annual, progressive rock festival. The line-up is the usual bunch of talented musicians, namely Ivan Rozmainsky on electric piano and synth, Vladimir Semenov-Tyan-Shansky on guitar, Ruslan Kirillov on bass, Vladislav Korotkikh on flute and Evgeny Trefilov on drums.

The album opens quite appropriately with a moderate tempo on the track 'Wides' (8:26) which soon opens up into a faster tempo which brings up the intensity and excitement levels, getting the listener moving and involved in the music. 'Daybreaking' (5:57) on the other hand, slows things down to a more pastoral level with a softer sound and a lot of interaction between the flute and other instruments. 'Nepsis' (7:26) drives the intensity up several levels with a hard, driving guitar bringing in the more dissonant sound to the music. This is soon contrasted with the playful keys which twinkle around as they tease anger out of the guitar, creating some interesting textures. The music turns even more progressive and unpredictable when the flute comes fluttering around, then dark when an organ brings the guitar back in. By now, you have been exposed to several styles in only 3 tracks, and this is probably the best example the band has made of their dynamic style on their live albums.

Next comes the short, almost baroque sounding 'Loro Con Dolcezza e Cortesia' (1:34), a simple piano and synth duet. This transforms into the next track 'Fret Not Thyself Because of Evildoers' (6:54), which comes from their last studio album 'The Hidden Man of the Heart'. This takes the simplicity established on the previous track and the rest of the band continues to come in, as they do so, the intensity quickly builds as the theme is established and embellished. Rozmainsky quickly moves from organ to synth smoothly, and the guitar responds to the textural changes in the different keyboards. The music moves from soft to heavy a few times, always generating a great amount of pulse-pounding intensity, with the keys and guitar moving from melodic passages to dissonant sounds smoothly.

'Mother of All Rain' (4:17) comes from the 'Patience of Hope' album. This is a nice and soft track with the flute taking over again, but this time not in a pastoral feel as much as a 'smoother' jazz feel, probably the most accessible track of the set. About halfway through, the signature guitar sound comes in giving the track a more sinister feel and again driving up intensity. 'Strangers and Pilgrims on the Earth' (8:47) begins with a naivet' feel as a fugue style is brought in between the different keys and then interchanging with the guitar. This goes on for a while, then suddenly is interrupted by a sinister sounding guitar creeping in. Eventually the keys bring in the light theme again, but the guitar continues to generate the unsettling feeling underneath it all. The rest of the band comes and goes, bringing up the volume and then diminishing it again. At the 6 minute mark, the track changes direction as the drums become steadier and drive the song to a frantic new level and bringing in a variation on the main theme. The last track 'Psalm 6' ends the album. The track originally comes from 'The Hidden Man of the Heart' and is a concert favorite. It flows from a dramatic and progressive beginning to a quieter middle section and back again and can really ratchet up the excitement of the crowd.

This is definitely the bands best live album to date as the recording is top-notch and the bands transitions are tighter than ever. There is also a lot more variety on this album as the textures of each track are unique and variable. I definitely hear a lot of improvement in the bands sound on this album, at least in a live setting, as, at least for the most part, the sound is well balanced and the musicians are probably the tightest I have ever heard them. The band's time together has really made their sound much more cohesive and on point. There are a few times when this tends to slip, but for the most part, it is definitely one of their better live albums. Personally, I tend to have more issues with live albums and usually have a hard time giving them a perfect rating as I find it is always better to experience the live setting actually being there in the crowd. It's hard to bring that excitement to the recorded format. I'm not saying that it can't happen, because I have rated some live albums at the maximum rating before, but it is very rare. However, there is a marked improvement evident in this recording and, even though it is at 4 stars, it is in my opinion their best live album yet.

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 Tonton Macoute by TONTON MACOUTE album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.92 | 89 ratings

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Tonton Macoute
Tonton Macoute Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Psychedelic Paul

5 stars TONTON MACOUTE were a short-lived British Jazz-Rock band, previously known as Windmill. Tonton Macoute were bizarrely named after the paramilitary death squad created by "Papa Doc" Duvalier in Haiti in 1959. Their one and only self-titled album released in 1971 contained seven tracks, and featured an album cover that was just as bizarre as their name. Let's step into the intriguing and mysterious world of Tonton Macoute now and give this curious one-of-a-kind album a listen.

There's a pleasantly pastoral fluty opening to "Just Like Stone", which turns out to be a real gem of a song because this is just a prelude to a lively outburst of pounding and percussive Jazz-Rock which sounds as hard and solid as stone. This is powerful Jazz- Rock with an attitude that kicks like a mule. There's more jumping, jiving and gyrating Jazz-Rock on the way with "Don't Make Me Cry", a wonderful eight long minutes of soaring saxophone, flirtatious flute, hard-driving bass-lines and stunning piano and organ interplay. This Jazz is as cool as an air conditioner on full power! We're migrating southwards now with "Flying South in Winter" which has something of a mystical Arabian snake-charmer feel to it. This is exotic music for rocking away to down at the Egyptian kasbah whilst puffing away on a hookah pipe, or if you're on a tight budget, listening to down at your local Middle- Eastern-themed restaurant.

It's all aboard the Magic Bus now for "Dreams", the stunning highlight of the album. This is the kind of wild and carefree sun- drenched psychedelia that sweet dreams are made of. You can float along on a magic carpet ride of flower-power love and hippyish 1960's grooviness to this absolutely fabulous music. It's back to basics next for "You Make My Jelly Roll", a lively Blues- Rock number with a title which is presumably a reference to Jazz legend Jelly Roll Morton. The song features some masterful improvisational soloing from the dynamic saxophonist. The music won't have you jumping and jiving, because this is the kind of cool and sophisticated Jazz you might expect to hear in a salubrious up-market cocktail lounge whilst sipping on a dry martini on the rocks - shaken not stirred. If you're not already on a natural high from listening to the great music on this album, you'll be flying high as a kite (not literally) after hearing the final two-part song, "Natural High". It's a complex 11-minute arrangement, featuring an invigorating improvisational free-for-all from the wild vocalist and musicians. This is where the band really get to let their hair down and strut their stuff in a spectacular Jazz-Rock freak-out.

Tonton Macoute have really excelled with this barn-storming 50-year-old blast from the past. This stunningly-powerful one-off album represents a timeless Jazz-Rock masterpiece that sounds just as good today as it ever did. Tonton Macoute might have a bizarre name, but they really know how to deliver a resonant refrain.

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 Sky Over Giza by MORTE VIENE DALLO SPAZIO, LA album cover Studio Album, 2018
4.00 | 1 ratings

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Sky Over Giza
La Morte Viene Dallo Spazio Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Agnenrecords

— First review of this album —
4 stars I first came across La Morte Viene Dallo Spazio when they were billed to appear at a gig in Genoa, Italy, in January 2020 with local band Melting Clock organised by local record shop and label Black Widow Records. I was unable to get to the concert but I was intrigued by the description of their music, initially listening to the whole of Sky Over Giza on Bancamp before committing myself to buying the album on vinyl - there are 10 different coloured vinyl versions representing different planets/stars, with a combined pressing of 300 copies. Their name, which translates as Death Comes from Outer Space is derived from from the original title of the 1959 Italian sci-fi film 'The Day The Sky Exploded'. First track Sky over Giza sets the mood. Utilising Eastern scales this is intelligent space rock (their live performances are dubbed 'Space Rituals' although there is no riff-heavy guitar or driving rhythm that you'd get from Hawkwind in the early 70s.) There are hints of early Floyd space rock. It's fairly high-tempo with plenty of cosmic flute floating above synth drones, enhancing the Eastern flavour. The mid section has some nice Mellotron patches. Zombies of the Stratosphere is the only track with lyrics which, combined with its relative brevity, gives it a more structured format - curtailed by a free-form section that includes wordless vocals. If anyone was expecting early Hawkwind, this track comes closest. Sigu Tolo begins dark ambient free-form and drifty until a drum pattern kicks in with synth washes floating above and restrained guitar that could have been played by a young Dave Gilmour. This is more UK space rock than its continental cousin, ending with a lengthy guitar-groove and a repeated short synth motif. Mors Vocat is darker, beginning with an almost industrial section before going free-form with some nice acoustic bass and keyboard work that seems to have been inspired by A Saucerful of Secrets then returning to free-form with a short percussive battery that resolves into eerie synth. Fever, the longest track at 13'46, is reliant on delayed guitar and drones producing an unnerving or threatening atmosphere. The delay timing almost represents a rhythmic element and though there's little development it sustains tension until the final resolution where calming keyboard ripples signal the end of the fever. This album was made to be played in the dark, a soundtrack to an (inner or outer) space exploration. It's got some nice 70's sounding instrumentation and the production is clean. I'm not a fan of Hawkwind though I accept Space Ritual is a classic. I don't detect any doom rock though the tag of 'dark ambient' seems entirely appropriate. It's my kind of space rock - an easy 4 stars.

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 MMXX by SONS OF APOLLO album cover Studio Album, 2020
3.85 | 17 ratings

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MMXX
Sons Of Apollo Progressive Metal

Review by NickCrimsonII

4 stars Sons of Apollo are back and start the new decade with a crushing new album! The 'super' in their supergroup label is once again justified brilliantly, not only because of the all-star line-up of Mike Portnoy, Derek Sherinian, Billy Sheehan, Ron Thal, and Jeff Scott Soto but also with the incredible sound of this album that solidifies SoA as an excellent and important addition to the progressive metal universe.

The opening track 'Goodbye Divinity' was released as the first single and gave a glimpse of what the fans should expect about this new record. Sherinian's opening notes and the build-up with the other instruments remind a lot about 'New Millenium'. However, this is a not a DT remake but an excellent opening track that kind of continues the band's style from the previous album. We are presented with the sonic gigantism that these players are capable of delivering - Portnoy's inspired and destructive drumming, Derek's lush and menacing keyboard tone, Sheehan's crunchy bass lines, and Bumblefoot's guitar extravaganza. And above all, Jeff Scott Soto, whose flawless performance tops the one on 'Psychotic Symphony'.

'Wither To Black' is a groovier track but also upbeat, in a way. Definitely a track to headbang to, the catchy riff and the brilliant vocals are the highlights of this one, just to be followed by another incredible song - 'Asphyxiation'. Probably the heaviest track that features another memorable riff, great lyrics, and insane solos (What a surprise!). It showcases the proggier side of SoA mixed with their ability to create melodic metal pieces.

The fourth track 'Desolate July' could serve as the ballad of the album, opening up with Derek's piano and Soto's elegant vocals that lead up to the beautiful and powerful chorus. It captures the more emotional and lyrical side of the band that we are not exposed to too often. This leads to 'King of Delusion' that once again opens up with the piano continuing the 'slower' ending of 'Desolate July' but also reminding me of the band Far Corner and their first album. This leads to the thrashy breakdown that is like a sonic explosion. It is quite an enjoyable proggier track that consolidates the band's songwriting as a powerful yet intelligent one. Intelligent and interesting lyrics also roam the album adding more delicious cringe to the already astonishing album. The sixth track is also the second single off the album, 'Fall to Ascend'. And I must admit this might be my favorite track from the band. The mini drum solo opening, the vocal delivery and the catchy chorus all make up for a crushing prog metal track. But that's not all as the band decides to fill the second part of the song with majestic solos (five, if I'm counting right) that leave one speechless. The follow-up to this song, however, feels like the most disappointing track on 'MMXX'. This is, of course, 'Resurrection Day' and it fails to impress compared to all the rest that was on up until now. Not a bad track but a weaker one having in mind that the album has been flawless for six tracks straight.

So far, we get 7 tracks that are all of normal length for a progressive metal band (between five and seven minutes). So, of course, the final and closing track has to be a an epic - the 16-minute 'New World Today'. The cinematic and more ambient beginning lead to a spacy build-up that feels a bit Ayreon, a bit old-school Dream Theater. We get the main riff around the third minute with a groove that kind of disrupts the rest of the album. So far, the song does not seem like a memorable or impressive piece. However, the heavier transition around the sixth minute somehow 'saves' the song. BIlly Sheehan shines with a great solo that preceeds the instrumental part of the song that is, well, fantastic. I feel like they could have made this opus all-instrumental and it would've sounded much better and complete.

Overall, 'MMXX' is a great start to a new decade and a great continuation of what Sons of Apollo set as their sound. Brilliant instrumental work, as expected, numerous mind-blowing solos from all players, an even better vocal performance by Soto compared to the 2017 release, and thrilling songwriting. Yet, the last two tracks disrupt the beautiful sequence that comes before them.

The albums is quite solid and I can say without a doubt that it is a great addition to any prog rock/metal collection!

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 1914 by ARKUS album cover Studio Album, 1981
3.22 | 21 ratings

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1914
Arkus Neo-Prog

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Nice Neo Prog from Utrecht.

1. "Ouverture" (4:09) opens with slow build temple-like cymbal crescendo before relaxed 4/4 blues rock groove is established for synths and melodic fuzzy guitar to lead over. I'm strongly reminded of the sounds and a particular melody that TRION used in "Frank." Nice but nothing extraordinary. (8/10)

2. "Life" (7:34) opens with a slow guitar melody that gets double-timed as the full band joins in at the 0:30 mark jumping into a full rock band mode. Lead electric guitar enters and solos melodically until 1:20 when vocals join in. The guitar solos through the fourth minute, before a break allows someone to do the dishes before a reset button starts the song over and everything starts over, slow to fast, before slowing down for the final section over which the guitar solos. (12.33/15)

3. "Scared" (6:38) opens with picked acoustic guitar (12 string?). This guitar remains--more prominent than on any other song on the album. Despite the same voice and vocals, same synth washes and the same melodic noodling of the same electric guitar sound, this is a nice song. (8.5/10)

4. "No Chance" (8:19) slow electric guitar arpeggi opens this one while a different (effect?) singer sings. The song literally starts over, music and lyric, at the 4:15 mark, slow and sparse, slowly building. The seventh minute is nice but the fast-speed finish from the eighth minute is predictable. (16.5/20)

5. "Adorable Woman" (6:06) boring. Except the bass play. (8.25/10)

6. "1914" (5:40) opens as a simple, almost Folk Rock song sung in English until at 2:48 a proggy soundscape establishes itself. It's the opening song, "Overture"! Exactly! Same nice melody riff from the same sounding lead guitar. It's Neil Young's "Like a Hurricane"! Chords and melody! (8.5/10)

Total time 38:26

My biggest complaint with this album is that the band relies heavily on synth washes to provide background for every moment of every song and on one particular sound for its constantly soloing lead guitar--which results in there being very little variety in the album's sound palette from song to song. They're nice sounds--definitely derived from the 1976 post-Peter Gabriel GENESIS sound palette, but there needs to be more. Plus, the singing is rather lackluster and the lyrics rather banal.

C+/3.5 stars; a pleasant enough sounding album that, in the end, is too simple and . . . just too simple.

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 Osiris by OSIRIS album cover Studio Album, 1981
3.92 | 71 ratings

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Osiris
Osiris Neo-Prog

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Prog from Bahrain?!!! Obviously inspired by the prog giants of the 1970s, this full, keyboard- and guitar-led band of young Middle Easterners launched full on into Prog World with a skilled and highly texturized Arabian-influenced rock sound.

1. "Fantasy" (6:00) opens with synth and electric guitar establishing a fast paced weave before drums and bass join in. Bridge and shift after the one minute mark into a bluesier section with bouncy organ for reverbed voice to enter and sing--somewhat ELOY-like (the singing, that is). Instrumental returns to the opening weave alternate with singing sections until the music holds fast for a two-guitar solo in the fourth minute, which then slows down and turns into a solid one-guitar solo before sliding back into the fuller version for the dynamic closing section and synth solo (90 seconds!) (9.25/10)

2. "Sailor On The Seas Of Fate" (11:46) seagulls, TD bass synth and Hammond open this slow tempo song before Arabian percussion instruments join in. At 2:25 electric guitar takes the lead, at first as if reluctantly, then with confidence. It's like I'm listening to an Arabian Santana! There is a break at 3:33 for Fender Rhodes foundation for effected vocal. TOTO-like rock theme introduced at 4:15 in lieu of a chorus. This back-and-forth goes around for two cycles until 6:50 when a flanged acoustic guitar starts doing arpeggi with wave-like cymbal play and a Fender Rhodes piano. This continues in a pretty theme until 9:30 when a nice MiniMoog solo begins to play over the vibes for the final two minutes. (21/25)

3. "Struggle To Survive" (5:01) a purely CAMEL song, even the vocals, as if it came straight off of Mirage or Moonmadness. Nice drumming. (8.5/10)

4. "Atmun" (5:11) this instrumental opens as a basic, simple classic rock song until 2:00 when a nice new motif begins. There is a weird shift at 2:45--a bridge--leading to a passage with nice guitar and keys in the fourth minute. Cool final minute. (8.5/10)

5. "Embers Of A Flame" (5:00) after a brief rock opening a Fender Rhodes plays alone beneath gentle vocals. The rock-gentle sections cycle around twice before an uptempo jam section features a soloing electric guitar in the third minute. Great solos! From the guitar, MiniMoog, and then Hammond organ! (8.5/10)

6. "A Story Of Love" (6:15) opens with a full CAMEL/Latimer feel and sound. The chorus sounds like something straight off of LOS JAIVAS' Alturas de Macchu Picchu album! At 3:35 a more aggressive instrumental section begins in which the soloing electric guitar is in the lead. There is some pretty flashy lead guitar and MiniMoog exchanges before the music returns to the rock/Los Jaivas rotation for the final vocal section. (8.25/10)

7. "Paradox In A Major" (4:06) using either a different lead vocalist or different effects on the vocalist this song incorporates a fairly simple chordal structure to present a CAMEL sound palette. It's a very tight weave, almost classical in its structure, between the vocal verses. There is a very interesting two-channel (chorus?) effect being used on the electric bass over which a SANTANA-like guitar solo is being nicely performed. (9/10)

Total time 43:19

My favorite song elements are the Arabian percussion, eclectic electric guitar and keyboard voices, and the strong bass and drums. Everybody is competent and skilled, holding together the music flawlessly. Though the chordal structures are often quite simplistic, the transitions and shifts are usually quite dynamic and unexpected.

Four stars; a solid contribution to early 80s progressive rock music--from Bahrain!!!

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 Ending Themes - On The Two Deaths Of Pain Of Salvation by PAIN OF SALVATION album cover DVD/Video, 2009
3.95 | 111 ratings

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Ending Themes - On The Two Deaths Of Pain Of Salvation
Pain Of Salvation Progressive Metal

Review by sgtpepper

4 stars I like this live album far more than the acclaimed "12:5" because it closely characterizes the typical output by Pain of Salvation - progressive metal in its core with various elements of alternative metal or rock. The band is in a great form, loud, energetic, giving an excellent choice of tracks from all albums and even a cover version of "Hallelujah". Rhythm section is excellent, drumming progressive and vocals top notch. The tracks from "Scarsick" sound better than on the studio album and listeners should forgive the band to try forays into disco because it belongs to the show. A highly recommended live testament of the band in their initial era.

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 Metropole Orkest: E For Orchestra by BELEW, ADRIAN album cover Studio Album, 2011
4.91 | 3 ratings

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Metropole Orkest: E For Orchestra
Adrian Belew Eclectic Prog

Review by TCat
Collaborator Eclectic Team

5 stars When Adrian Belew and his Power Trio created the album "e" in 2009, he expressed a desire to eventually do it with an orchestra. When the original and extremely talented line up of his Power Trio went their various ways (though Julie Slick would return as bassist when Belew expanded the Power Trio in 2019), he put that dream to a reality and in 2011, self- released the orchestral version of the suite.

This time around, Belew put his soloing guitar in front of the "Metropole Orkest" with Jules Buckley conducting this 52 member ensemble. This time around, the album would be split up into 5 distinct tracks that would easily separate the 5 suites which were still named after the first 5 letters of the alphabet.

As Belew begins playing his guitar solo pretty much the same way as the original version, you start to wonder if this guitar/orchestra combo is just going to end up being a pretentious show-off album for Belew, but when the brass echoes his initial theme, you get the feeling that this album is going to have a lot more depth than that. As the first track continues, you know it is more than just Belew repeating his parts as the orchestra tried to copy the layers of loops that accompany the original version, as the orchestral parts take over the main lines at times and at others, Belew comes to the fore, but not as just the main artist here, more as part of the orchestra, and this turns into a veritable and amazing Electric Guitar Concerto.

The music continues to be as complex as it was on the original version, but the orchestra just brings in even more atmosphere, dynamic, depth and even excitement, giving what was already an amazing performance a new life. You can hear the recurring themes that were apparent in the original version, and you know this is definitely a composed and concise work by Belew, and not just an improvised work. Interestingly enough, it still retains its King Crimson attitude with its complex arranging, and if you are familiar with the original album, then these themes will be familiar, but with the added treat of being interpreted by an orchestra. But Belew just doesn't bring in his experience with KC to this composition, now that it has the orchestra involved, you can hear his time with Frank Zappa is also quite apparent. Take a mix of both, and you will get an understanding of what this sounds like.

This album might be a bit tougher to find than the original "Power Trio" version, but being able to have both is well worth the search. If you were impressed with the original, then you should be impressed with this version also. You still get plenty of Belew's experimental style, but with the dynamic of an orchestra. You might not have the amazing work of the Slick siblings on this version, but this version doesn't take away from that, nor does it reside below that version. Both of them are great and this composition should be recognized as the masterwork that it is.

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 Out Of The Blue by ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.64 | 303 ratings

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Out Of The Blue
Electric Light Orchestra Crossover Prog

Review by Jochanan

3 stars After many years of avoiding ELO's production of the second half of the 70's, and rather prefering the first half with the Eldorado highlight, I finally found enough courage to go through the "sweet" disco era.

I got interested in this 2 LP album to start with. And I find the album very pleasant, listening-friendly, colourful and idea-full. It showed me nice idea- It is better to do sincere and common stuff than trying to create something sophisticated, but failing, because it is not just my true way:

There comes to me a comparison of this album with ELO2. The average length of songs on ELO2 is somwhere about 8 minutes per song (which is an utter rarity for ELO :-)), I found the album empty and rigid- Roll over Beethoven could have been done within 5 minutes IMO, avoiding boring repetions, but that's a different story. I believe that Roy Wood's departure meant death of progressivity with ELO. Trying to be proggresive for Jeff Lynne and his band was not the way. Jeff Lynne's recipe is Sweet Talking Woman, Living Thing, a little bit of Fire on High and then some Xanadu and Mr. Blue Sky.

I pricked up my ears for some Gilmourish guitar solo, for an Emersonish keyboard solo, for some improvisation and I found none. I didn't find it nowhere in ELO's production except the first album with cello solos. Eveything here is neat, yes, there are a lot of ideas and colours, but they are subtle, somehow balanced. It is like a sightseeing in a tour bus. It's comfortable. You are taken everywhere and told everything imporatnt. Everything is safe: "See, there's museum, and there's parliament, and there's the oldest bookshop in the city and see- there's city park".

So, I want to say that I enjoy the sightseeing ride, it is sincere and fresh. My favourite higlights are Sweet Talking Woman, Believe Me Now, Sweet is the Night with beautiful Jeff's background singing and Concerto for a Rainy Day for its violin parts. It's better than 3 ***, but I don't want to give it 4, I don't know, all the songs are good, but in the end, it doesn't matter if they are part of this album, or that best of, or other platinum collection cd- 3,5 is a deal.

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 Here It Is by TRILOGY album cover Studio Album, 1980
3.66 | 39 ratings

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Here It Is
Trilogy Symphonic Prog

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Instrumental symphonic prog from Germany with two keyboard players dominating. Some include Here It Is under Neo Prog for its use of very familiar ELP-, CAMEL-, and GENESIS-like structures and sounds.

1. "Venice" (4:31) a mix of FOCUS and GENESIS before turning ELP at the 2:00 mark. High quality sound and musicianship. (9/10)

2. "Breakthrough" (6:04) despite the very Mike Rutherford-sounding bass play, this song draws from other bands as well as the band's own originality. Could be American band HAPPY THE MAN. (9/10)

3. "Changing Scene" (9:17) opens with some GENESIS- but more CAMEL-sounding music; it's as if one keyboard player is trying to be TONY BANKS while the other PETER BARDENS or KIT WATKINS as the bass player does his MIKE RUTHERFORD thing. A nice song with pleasant melodies and challenging time and chord shifts but, in the end, it feels like an exercise in imitation--of Genesis and Camel. (18/20)

4. "Andy" (6:10) organ, cymbals, and synths open this before it turns neo-classical in a CAMEL/NEKTAR kind of way. The Hammond turns out to be the lead instrument in this ELP-like classically-influenced weave though a clavinet also plays an important roll. Some riffs and motifs are almost exact duplicates of ELP passages. The drumming sounds very much like Camel's Andy Ward. All in all this song feels more like a study of ELP. (8.75/10)

5. "Crowed" (12:42) a very CAMEL-like instrumental epic, with lots of sudden ELP-like shifts and passages with occasional TONY BANKS isms. (22.5/25)

6. "Encore" (0:33) high-energy RUSH-like outro. (4.5/5)

Total Time (with bonus material): 45:06

I really appreciate the wonderful clarity and distinctiveness of the sound engineering of this album.

4.5 stars; a near-masterpiece of progressive rock music; an excellent album that probably deserves more credit for its outright symphonic composition instead of its influences and inspirations.

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 The Geese And The Ghost by PHILLIPS, ANTHONY album cover Studio Album, 1977
4.04 | 372 ratings

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The Geese And The Ghost
Anthony Phillips Symphonic Prog

Review by Psychedelic Paul

5 stars ANTHONY PHILLIPS (born 1951) is best-known as the original guitarist with GENESIS. He appeared on their first two albums "From Genesis to Revelation" (1969) and "Trespass" (1970), but decided to quit the band due to crippling bouts of stage fright when performing live. He took a long hiatus from recording music and studied classical music for awhile until 1977 when he embarked on his long and illustrious solo career with the release of "The Geese and the Ghost" album. Three further albums followed at the tail-end of the 1970's:- "Wise After the Event" (1978); "Private Parts & Pieces" (1978); and "Sides" (1979). Altogether, Anthony Phillips has recorded an incredible thirty-one albums, including eleven volumes of "Private Parts & Pieces" and four volumes of "Missing Links", consisting primarily of demos, out-takes, and previously unreleased material from his vast library of music recordings. He still continues to record to this day with his latest album "Strings of Light" released as recently as 2019. Anthony Phillips' first album "The Geese and the Ghost" is notable for including his Genesis bandmates Mike Rutherford on bass and Phil Collins on vocals on a couple of tracks, and Steve Hackett's brother John Hackett on flute. Ant Phillips played all of the guitar and keyboard parts on the album. The 2008 CD reissue included a bonus disc of unused material from the album.

The album opens with the brief prelude "Wind-Tales", featuring a light breeze of keyboards floating past the listener like a zephyr in a mellow wave of calming pastoral sound, which leads us into "Which Way the Wind Blows". This song is a gorgeous slice of melodic prog with the familiar voice of Phil Collins reminding us that this song would have fitted very nicely onto a classic Genesis album, although the music is altogether gentler and mellower than anything Genesis have ever recorded. We're travelling back in time to the royal court of Henry VIII now with "Henry: Portraits from Tudor Times", in the first of two long suites on the album. The six-piece "Henry" suite is a glorious 12-minute-long combination of gentle acoustic passages and marching battle themes and it also features a tremendously rousing chorus for the grand finale. The dynamic contrast between Ant Phillip's gentle acoustic guitar combined with his sonorous outbursts from the almighty keyboards are what really sets this long suite of music alight with passionate and powerful intensity. It's dramatic symphonic music imbued with all of the regal power and magnificent majesty of a King upon his throne. Phil Collins returns to vocal duties in a lovely duet with Vivienne McAuliffe for "God If I Saw Her Now". It's another beautiful piece of gentle melodic prog in an album that's positively overflowing with charming and enchanting English tunes.

Opening Side Two is "Chinese Mushroom Cloud" which sounds just as dramatic and doom-laden as the song title suggests. It's a short prelude featuring the rousing and resonant deep rumble of a cello, conjuring up a portentous and disturbing image of some cataclysmic disaster. This leads us into the two-part suite and title track "The Geese and the Ghost". Running at nearly sixteen minutes long, it's an epic masterpiece, combining orchestral, pastoral folk and proggy themes in a timeless timbre of tuneful melodies, which also includes some rousing grand symphonic keyboard flourishes too for our delectation and delight. We get to hear Anthony Phillip's voice for the first time on "Collections", and a very fine singer he is too. The music is a gorgeous flute and guitar melody floating on a sea of sensational strings. The final piece of music "Sleepfall: The Geese Fly West" is as gentle and peaceful as the gentlest of lullabies and it's a perfect dream-like melody to bring a marvellous and masterful album to a close.

"The Geese and the Ghost" is a timeless album full of reverberant refrains and mellifluous melodies combined together in a magnificent melange of pastoral folk, classical compositions and melodic prog symphonies. It's a superb album that should appeal equally to Genesis fans and non-Genesis fans alike. The music has been described as sounding like a "mixture of Vaughan Williams and Mike Oldfield" which sums it up rather well I think.

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 A Singles Collection - Six of One, Half a Dozen of the Other  by MARILLION album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1992
2.94 | 74 ratings

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A Singles Collection - Six of One, Half a Dozen of the Other
Marillion Neo-Prog

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Review Nº 308

'A Singles Collection', also known as 'Six Of One, Half A Dozen Of The Other', is a compilation album of Marillion and was released in 1992. As happened with their compilation 'B'Sides Themselves', 'A Singles Collection' is also a very special compilation album. If 'B'Sides Themselves' was released and only based on the B sides of their singles, taken from several singles, and put for the first time on the compact disc format as a single CD like a kind of a new studio album of the band, 'A Singles Collection' is a compilation of Marillion's A sides singles from both musical periods of the group, the Fish era and the Steve Hogarth's era, celebrating the band's ten year jubilee, between 1982 and 1992.

'A Singles Collection' includes the band's six most successful singles on Fish's era and all the six singles released on Hogarth's era, until those times. The tracks aren't ordered chronologically, but are ordered in a curious and interesting way. All the odd tracks belong to songs from Hogarth's era and all the pair tracks belong to songs from Fish's era.

'A Singles Collection' includes also two bonus tracks. Those tracks contain two new recordings of Hogarth's era, 'I Will Walk On Water' and a cover version of the Rare Bird's song, 'Sympathy'.

'A Singles Collection' has fourteen tracks. The first track 'Cover My Eyes (Pain And Heaven)' is the single version of a song released on 'Holiday's in Eden'. This is a good song that obviously calls the attention grabbers for commercial success. I've nothing against melodic tracks but this song as practically nothing to do with prog, really. The second track 'Kayleigh' is the single version of a song released on 'Misplaced Childhood'. This is maybe one of the most recognizable Marillion's tunes. It's one of their most accessible tracks too. The third track 'Easter' was released on 'Seasons End'. It's one of the most charming and beautiful songs in Marillion's catalog, with its lyrics about Ireland and its recognisable guitar playing, not to mention the brilliant guitar solo on it. The fourth track 'Warm Wet Circles' is the single version of a song released on 'Clutching At Straws'. It's a very nice track opened with soft guitar fills. It has also a great tagline melody throughout the song. This is easily an accessible song. The fifth track 'Uninvited Guest' is the single version of a song released on 'Seasons End'. This is a solid track. It has a guitar fill that can refer to their earlier albums but with different composition and nuance, especially due to the adjustment with the different voice timbre of both singers. The sixth track 'Assassing' is a remixed version of a song released on 'Fugazi'. The track is energetic and uplifting. It's a very energetic song with a touch of Islamic music, with a beautiful interlude, a good bass line and a very dynamic drumming and percussion. The seventh track 'Hooks In You' is the single version of a song released on 'Seasons End'. It's basically a straightforward rock song. The final result is a strong rock/pop effort that has held up well over time. The eighth track 'Garden Party' is a remixed version of a song released on 'Script For A Jester's Tear'. The lyrics are fantastic, very satiric, and represent one of the best Fish's lyrical performances. This song reminds me the style of Gabriel. The ninth track 'No One Can' is the single version of a song released on 'Holiday's in Eden'. It's a very good ballad with atmospheric guitars and keyboards. It's true that it's not properly prog, but it still is a good song. The tenth track 'Incommunicado' is a song released on 'Clutching At Straws'. It's an upbeat rocker of a tune led by fun synthesizers and good chorus led by Fish. The eleventh track 'Dry Land' is a song released on 'Holiday's in Eden'. This is a master example of a well crafted pop/rock ballad. This is pure beauty in both, musically as in Hogarth's crystal clear vocals. The twelfth track 'Lavender' is the single version of a song released on 'Misplaced Childhood'. It features beautiful lyrics, nice vocals and great musicianship. This is a ballad track, albeit short. The thirteenth track 'I Will Walk On Water' and the fourteenth track 'Sympathy' are both bonus tracks. Both songs have long been available only on this compilation, up to the moment that it was decided to reissue 1991's 'Holidays in Eden' album. 'I Will Walk On Water' isn't properly a great track. It's a tasteless hybrid track that sounds like everything and nothing at the same time. Although, the version of 'I Will Walk On Water' is an alternative remixed version. 'Sympathy' is an excellent cover of the Rare Bird's classic and certainly doesn't disappoint people who have the original version.

Conclusion: Despite 'B'Sides Themselves' and 'A Singles Collection' are both very special compilations, they're too different in their essence. 'B'Sides Themselves' has many different versions from the original songs released on their studio albums. 'A Singles Collection' was released with the most successful singles created by Marillion until that moment in both eras. Still, 'A Singles Collection' isn't a compilation very well representative of the best musical period of the group, especially in Fish's era. So, this isn't a good addition to any progressive collection, really. It's true that it's a good compilation with some interesting musical moments of the group but it can't replace any of the band's studio albums. The positive point of it is the confrontation between the two different music eras. Due to that, I give to it 3 stars.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

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 The Perfect Element - Part 1 by PAIN OF SALVATION album cover Studio Album, 2000
4.23 | 1222 ratings

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The Perfect Element - Part 1
Pain Of Salvation Progressive Metal

Review by sgtpepper

4 stars Pain of Salvation has now been fully embraced in their original mix of sounds and influences - alternative/prog metal and rock. The album is arguably less progressive than the previous one but is not less ambitious. "Used" is a great aperitif with volume contrasts, progressive drumming and appropriate guitar lines. The vocal is excellent and can easily take lead over all instruments - listen to the high-pitched heavy-metal like screams. "Ashes" is perhaps the most famous and romantic song by Pain of Salvation and will appeal to a lot of female proggers; however I consider "Morning of Earth" to be a tad nicer, flowing. "Idioglossia" is a heavy number reminiscent of Dream Theater. The downside is a repeated reference to "Ashes", the pros are ambitious rhythmic patterns. "Her voices" is another great creative number with oriental hints. The fact that there are more reflective, slow numbers here than on other PoS albums is confirmed by "Dedication" that has a lot of acoustic flavour and "King of loss" that is a bit too long for what it offers. Let's not forget about "Falling" that has excellent guitar soloing and synth in the background. The last, title track has the greatest flow and development. Tender guitar chords suit the gentle but massive chorus and it reminds me a bit of Devin Townsend. Overall, it is a quieter but nevertheless high quality effort.

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 Solitaire by ALCÀNTARA album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.39 | 5 ratings

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Solitaire
Alcàntara Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

3 stars This is the debut album from Alc'ntara, who are based in Sicily's second largest city, Catania. Sicily may not be a hotbed of progressive rock, but of course Italy has always been a major market. However, this is not RPI in any sense at all, but rather a far more modern take. According to the band, 'Solitaire' is a concept album exploring the meaning of resistance in liquid modern times and is a journey through space rock, progressive ballads and psychedelic blues. All lyrics are in English, and while all three of the above genres are well represented, often at the same time, there is also a feeling of indie rock, Muse and Jadis about the proceedings as well.

It is an incredibly atmospheric album, and the vocals fit perfectly with the music, which for the vast majority of the time is very laid back indeed. When listening to individual songs one finds this incredibly impressive and fascinating, as the reverb and textures really bring the listener in closer. However, when it is like this for pretty much the whole album it does tend to lose the effect and instead becomes something where the sum of the parts is certainly less than the individual. There just isn't enough contrast within the album, and whereas some metal bands suffer by being too loud all the time, the opposite is true here. Without the use of contrast and dynamics it becomes a chore to listen to as opposed to a joy, which is a real shame as the individual songs are all very good indeed. By the time I came around to listen to this for the third or fourth time I knew what to expect, and wasn't really looking forward to the experience, as I knew by the end I would be seeking out something quite different as a musical earwash.

But, I am also aware there will be plenty who want to listen to music which is never New Age or Ambient, and is always 'proper' songs, yet is incredibly laid back even though the electric guitar is an incredibly important instrument throughout. This is definitely a band to keep an eye on as they are showing great promise, but need to provide more emphasis in places.

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 Fact And Fiction by TWELFTH NIGHT album cover Studio Album, 1982
3.93 | 154 ratings

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Fact And Fiction
Twelfth Night Neo-Prog

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars An album that, to my ears, bears a striking resemblance to the sounds and stylings of American band BABYLON-- especially in the DOROCCUS-like theatric vocal sound and performances of poet and reluctant lead singer, Geoff Mann.

1. "We Are Sane" (10:27) opens with synth strings, background noises of television, children, and adult arguing before singer Geoff Mann enters in an opera-like falsetto. At the one minute mark Geoff switches into a deep bass range. Around 2:00 electric guitar and synth strings arpeggi back a mid-range vocal as well as the continued background speeches. There's a real BABYLON theatricity to this. Around 3:20 the song suddenly switches to an almost punk/early XTC sound and style: complete with 80s techno-punk synths, guitar, rhythm, pace, and singing. In the sixth minute it returns to a more DOROCCUS/BABYLON theatricity and musical palette. By the end of the seventh minute there is another musical switch just before a foray into a BOWIE-like robotic section of the museum and its followup. The final two minutes sees a return to the CARDIACS/XTC-like sound and style. Quite a song! What a story and presentation! Not the greatest musically but Mr. Mann definitely has something special. (18.5/20)

2. "Human Being" (7:50) opens like BILLY BRAGG singing over someone playing in the bath water until 0:45 when lush synths take over and a STEVE HACKETT-like electric guitar solos. At 2:00 a Spectral Mornings-like section speeds it up a little while Geoff sings. Great guitar solo in the uptempo sixth minute instrumental section. (13.125/15)

3. "This City" (4:01) a JIM MORRISON/MATTHEW PARMENTER-like performance by Geoff Mann. (8.25/10)

4. "World Without End" (1:55) synths, low bass, fast electric guitar arpeggi, and cymbal play instrumental. (4.25/5)

5. "Fact And Fiction" (3:59) pure New Wave music. (8.5/10)

6. "The Poet Sniffs A Flower" (3:51) presents odd styled classic rock instrumental sounding like BOSTON with 1980s synths that switches at 2:00 to a thicker soundscape with bass and guitar power chords. (8.667/10)

7. Creepshow (11:57) an epic combining PINK FLOYD with VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR. (17.33/20)

8. Love Song (5:39) a Prog Folk opening that turns into a synth-driven New Wave JOY DIVISION-like song. (8.5/10)

Total Time: 49:37

B+/4.5 stars; a near-masterpiece of lyric and singer-driven neo-progressive rock music and a highly recommended listening experience to any lover of progressive rock music.

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 Saga by SAGA album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.71 | 212 ratings

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Saga
Saga Crossover Prog

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Not as proggy as I was led to believe, there is more HALL & OATES, AMBROSIA, or SNIFF'N'THE TEARS here than classic prog rock. I'm guessing that it's the PETER BARDENS/LOVERBOY keys that have people including them in Prog World.

1. "How Long" (4:01) opens with a computer rhtyhm track sounding like "The Safety Dance" before rhythm & bass guitars and drums set up a CHIC-like disco beat. Singer Michael Sadler enters sounding like a pretentious pseudo Freddie Mercury. With b vox from Peter Rochon, they almost pull it off. Interesting. (8/10)

2. Humble Stance (5:50) (8.75/10)

3. Climbing the Ladder (4:45) electric guitar based, sounding CAMEL-esque before kicking into the four-chord form of the singing verses. Nice keyboard work. (8/10)

4. Will It Be You? (Chapter Four) (7:13) (13/15)

5. Perfectionist (5:46) (8.5/10)

6. Give 'Em the Money (4:25) the APP disco beat is not a great start. (8/10)

7. Ice Nice (6:55) Supertramp? Ambrosia? a combo of the two. Nice keyboard work. (13/15)

8. Tired World (Chapter Six) (7:06) (12.5/15)

Total Time: 44:51

B/four stars; an adequate addition to any prog lover's music collection.

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 Fire In The Sky by QUASAR album cover Studio Album, 1982
3.58 | 39 ratings

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Fire In The Sky
Quasar Neo-Prog

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars To prepare yourself for the sounds you will hear on this album one would do well to listen to the 1974 pop hit "Magic" by future prog sessions musicians, PILOT. This album sounds just like it, voice, etc.

1. "Fanfare" (0:42) breakneck speed synths on display. (4/5)

2. "Seeing Stars" (3:48) opens with a little CAMEL and VANGELIS mixture before drums drop in to signal full band foundation for backing delicate singing of Paul Vigrass. Spacious keyboard based rock music behind this Bobby Vinton-like voice. After Paul's two verses and choruses the synths take over to close. (8.25/10)

3. "Mission 14" (13:21) a great prog groove established from stealing the music beneath GENESIS' "take a little trip with Father Tiresias" from "Cinema Show" the get-go over which some nice impassioned vocals and instrumental soli are delivered. A nice instrumental section begins in the fourth minute to include a nice Prophet 5 and electric guitar solo. Just enough gear and directional shifts to keep it interesting and never let it get boring, though it is a little too reliant on the Cinema Show sound and structures. (26.5/30)

4. "U.F.O.": (17:57) : (32.5/40)

- a) "U.F.O." (5:52) the vocals work better as the musical backdrop thickens and fills. (Bad choice for whatever effects they're running Paul's voice through.) Sounds like a blend of PILOT and SUPERTRAMP for the first half, then GENESIS-lite (Wind and Wuthering era). (8.25/10)

- b) "Flying" (2:51) sounds quite a bit like a passage from PATRICK MORAZ's Story of I or a CAMEL/GENESIS "Naminanu." Constant with no changes start to finish. (8.25/10)

- c) "Fire in The Sky" (5:15) PILOT + BUGGLES and/or Ambrosia. (8/10)

- d) "Moon" (3:59) opens with an engaging foundational riff before Paul adds some unusually relaxed and unassuming vocals. This is nice! Then there is a more bombastic bass-infused finale. (8/10)

Total Time: 35:48

B-/four stars; a solid and interesting contribution to the early neo-progressive genre which suffers from a little simplicity but is definitely worthy of a listen for your self. Too bad about the poor sound engineering of Paul Vigrass' vocals.

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 The Sentinel by PALLAS album cover Studio Album, 1984
3.51 | 233 ratings

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The Sentinel
Pallas Neo-Prog

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars An album of pleasant if mostly simple songs that are in obvious disorder (due to record company decision-making) and which have suffered lackluster production (Eddie Offord got tired/bored) and, if truth be known, was performed by musicians whose instrumental and compositional skills were both on the immature side.

The album I had the privilege of listening to:

1. "Rise and Fall, Part 1" (6:07) (8.5/10)

2. "Eastwest" (5:01) Pink Floyd-ish--especially the electric guitar solo. (8/10)

3. "March on Atlantis" (5:19) Duke "Duchess"-like opening with heavy middle section with great Mellotron. Nice buildup and guitar in the second half. (9/10)

4. "Rise and Fall, Part 2" (4:05) ELOY-esque. (8.8/10)

5. "Heart Attack" (8:18) YES-lite for the first 3:30 with some nice drumming; all instrumental after that. (16/20)

6. "Atlantis" (8:03) a GENEIS (music)-YES (vocals and Rickenbacker bass) meld. (13/15)

7. "Ark of Infinity" (7:07) like Firth of Fifth and other Selling England by the Pound themes. Instrumental until 4:25. (13/15)

8. "Arrive Alive" (4:08) New Wave RE-FLEX/THE FIXX/Trevor Horn YES. It's obvious that this song represents material that pre-dated this album. (8.25/10)

9. "Shock Treatment" (4:20) hardriving rock á la LOVERBOY, 707 and YES's Drama. (8/10)

10. "Cut and Run" (5:02) with vocals that sound like OMD and music that sounds like it came from YES's Drama we get a sound that's like . . . THE FIXX? (8/10)

The album data as it is entered on Prog Archives (which is not the album the band wanted): 1. "Eyes In The Night (Arrive Alive)" (4:08) sounding more techno pop than Neo Prog. (Bands like THE FIXX, THE RE- FLEX, ICEHOUSE, and LOVERBOY come to mind as I listen to this.) Production is only fair. (7.75/10) 2. Cut And Run (5:02) 3. Rise And Fall (10:16) 4. Shock Treatment (4:29) 5. Ark Of Infinity (7:05) 6. Atlantis (8:00)

Total time 39:00

B-/four stars; a respectable entry into the neo-progressive aspect of Prog World.

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 Silent Dance by SOLSTICE album cover Studio Album, 1984
3.52 | 49 ratings

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Silent Dance
Solstice Neo-Prog

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

5 stars The first thing that stands out upon listening to this album is how strikingly different this debut album is from all other debut "neo prog" or "romanticized" progressive rock albums are from the late 1970s and early 1980s. Though the crystalline voice of lead vocalist Sandy Leigh is not pitch-perfect nor as consistent as that of either Annie Haslam or Jon Anderson (the two artists to which she is most compared--I tend to think her voice more similar to that of Cranberries' Dolores O'Riordan, Magenta's Christina Booth, or even Janis Joplin), the chunky YES-like bass, 12-string guitars, multiple guitar tracks, virtuosic violin, and bass pedals lead to a sophistication and maturity that is so much beyond other debut prog albums by the likes of IQ, Pallas, Quasar, Twelfth Night, Gizmo, and Saga.

1. "Peace" (6:30) female vocals! And layers of background singers! With bass-dripping, YES-like prog music. Nice! And an excellent lead guitarist. (Top notch solos!) Great melodies and harmonic structures. And violin. If the sound production were better this might be deserving of full marks! (9/10)

2. "Earthsong" (6:38) opens with very cool, very intimate acoustic guitar. Joined by keys and then laid-back drums and very nice fretless bass. Nice groove set up. The lyric is so prescient of today's environmental ills and their effects. Just such a nice floating experience! (9.5/10)

3. "Sunrise" (4:07) multiple female vocals with heavy Prog Folk accompaniment over an acoustic bluesy Led Zeppelin chord structure. Great HUGH MARSH (Bruce Cockburn)-like electric violin solo. Another song that might be rated higher if the sound engineering/production had been better. (9/10)

4. "Return of Spring" (4:53) violin and acoustic guitars launch full on with bass and drums in support. The violin work on this one is stunning, given the lead for most of the song with intermittent breaks for acoustic guitars and multi-voice "la-la-las." (9/10)

5. "Cheyenne" (5:59) opens with an awesome multi-voiced vocals with spacey acoustic guitars sounding like John Martyn's echoplex guitar. Great sound with amazing vocal arrangements. Very spacious throughout. (9/10)

6. "Brave New World" (8:46) a RUSH-y opening before folk vocals with keys lead to a sound that could have come straight off of MAGENTA's Seven album with its YES-RENAISSANCE hybridization. Awesome song! (19/20)

7. "Find Yourself" (6:03) a simple pop-like song sounding very much like Nicolette Larson's "Lotta Love." Pretty with inspiring lyrics. (8.5/10)

8. "Whyte Lady" (5:46) (8.5/10)

Total Time: 48:42

A-/five stars; a minor masterpiece of relatively early neo-progressive rock music and one of the finest sounding debut albums in the Neo Prog lexicon. Were it not for the poor production many of the songs on this album might even have earned higher ratings.

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 Sad Cypress by IVORY album cover Studio Album, 1980
3.34 | 59 ratings

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Sad Cypress
Ivory Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars A German prog band, late comers to the scene in 1979, founded by father and son Ulrich and Thomas Sommerlatte, the former of which was, at the time, 65 years old with 43 years conducting orchestras in the classical music scene before discovering the progressive rock scene. The "romanticization" of the "classic" prog music bands and albums was being born and launched nowhere with so much vigor as here, in Germany, by bands like Eloy, Neuschwanstein, and Anyone's Daughter, but there may have been no artist so eminently capable to sponsor this trend--both compositionally as well as through reputation previously earned--as Ulrich Sommerlatte; though imitative of bands like Genesis, The Strawbs, ELP, and even England, the maturity and sophistication in these compositions, their instrumental arrangements, and their sound engineering are most likely far beyond what you will hear from any other debut album.

1. "At This Very Moment" (3:57) GENESIS styled with a Peter Gabriel like vocal, this is a gorgeously constructed and textured song with equally stunning sound engineering. (And the vocals are not as bad as other reviewers are saying!) (9/10)

2. "In Hora Ultima" (7:12) with lyrics sung in Latin! Impeccable sound and arrangement. Could be Hogarth-era MARILLION! (13.25/15)

3. "Sad Cypress" (8:34) this instrumental opens like a classical composition that has been transposed for rock/prog instrumentation. There is a drastic shift at the end of the third minute which leads to a Gabriel-era GENESIS song. (17/20)

4. "Time Traveller" (4:15) jumps out straight into the S-bahn with clavinet, organ, and Moog supplying the feature instruments with the (now) usual stellar sound engineering. A slower section takes over in the second minute in which "Stagnation"/"Entangled"-like synth is in the lead. Interestingly, the supporting instruments shift and trade for a bit before a tempo shift leads to an ALLMAN BROTHERS-like theme. (9.25/10)

5. "My Brother" (13:52) A Foxtrot-era GENESIS epic complete with Gabriel-esque theatrics. Good but it feels as if its's been done before. (26/30)

BONUS TRACKS (from the 1992 CD release):

6. "The Great Tower" (9:44) opens with an excellent church organ intro section. Vocal sounds more like STRAWBS' Dave Cousins. As a matter of fact, the entire song has a much more STRAWBS-like sound and feel to it than the pre- established Genesis influence. (19/20)

7. "Incantation" (4:42) the most bouncy poppy prog song on the album. Again, this is so much more STRAWBS-like than Genesis. (I even hear a little ENGLAND in there!) (8.25/10)

8. "Construction N° 2" (2:29) an organ étude employing "pan pipes," "accordeon," and "nylon string guitar" sounds before finishing with a SynthAxe-like sound in the lead. (4.5/5)

9. "Barbara" (13:45) opens as a piano and flute duet until 0"49 when "strings" and voice enters.At 1:38 shift to a still, slow and spacious section until 3:50 when bass pedals thrum into the soundscape. At 6:15 a "zither"-supported "flute" solos. At 7:00 the music intensifies. The DAVE COUSINS vocal sound is so strong! The music softens again in the ninth minute before an instrumental section with church organ takes the lead. At 10:35 everything falls away with an electric piano filling the space as if it's doing a classical concerto! Very cool! This is such a powerfully emotional song (sad and nostalgic)! The writer/composer obviously loved this person very deeply. (29.5/30)

Total Time: 68:30

It is my typical habit of reviewing an album that was originally released on vinyl based upon its original track number, but there are the rare occasions, such as this, in which I have deemed the "bonus" material to be appropriate to include. The four bonus songs here have the unexpected distinction of being both obviously contemporary to the original tracks and being perhaps superior to the ones included in the original edit.

B+/4.5 stars; a near-masterpiece of neo-progressive rock music and an album not to be missed for it's finely crafted, richly textured, well-produced songs.

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 Mighty Baby by MIGHTY BABY album cover Studio Album, 1969
4.16 | 23 ratings

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Mighty Baby
Mighty Baby Crossover Prog

Review by Psychedelic Paul

4 stars MIGHTY BABY were a two-album Psychedelic Rock band from London, England, who were previously known as The Action. Their first album "Mighty Baby" (1969) was firmly rooted in American Psychedelic Rock. They had a change of direction with their second album "A Jug of Love" (1971), which had more of a laid-back spiritual feel to it, due to several members of the band taking up the Sufi faith in the interim period between the two albums. Let's take a mighty leap now into the psychedelic world of Mighty Baby's eponymously-titled first album.

We're in Raiders of the Lost Ark territory for the glorious opening number, "Egyptian Tomb". It's a trippy acid-drenched song that perfectly captures the American West Coast sound of the late 1960's, emulating such bands of the time as Quicksilver Messenger Service and Jefferson Airplane, only with a saxophone providing some additional flawless flourishes. The music brings to mind exotic images of pharaohs, sphinxes and pyramids, and camel rides across the desert beneath a burning red sun. Just watch out for those nasty scorpions and huge camel spiders though. There's more sunny psychedelia on the way with "A Friend You Know But Never See", another full-blooded blast of Psychedelic Rock with a powerful driving rhythm and some magnificent fuzzy guitar soloing. This is a perfect sunburst of rainbow-coloured psychedelia for listening to in a free-and- easy hippy commune on a sunshiny day in Southern California, or failing that, listening to at night with the lights off where you're free to do some California Dreamin' of sun, sand, sea and surfing, regardless of whether all the leaves are brown and the sky is grey, on a winter's day. There's a pleasant change of pace for "I've Been Down So Long", which begins as a nicely laid-back groove to put you in a mellow mood, but this is only a prelude as the dazzling guitarist has his amp turned up to eleven and he's more than ready to deliver another scorching hot guitar solo in a magnificent crescendo of sound. We're continuing the wild ride with more psychedelic red-hot vibes in "Same Way From the Sun", a footloose and fancy-free fuzz- toned guitar freak-out from beginning to end.

Opening Side Two is a "House Without Windows" which must be a very dark house indeed. The music is as bright as a sparkling crystal though, featuring six uninterrupted minutes of musical magic in another groovy psychedelic jam session. There's no let-up in the incredible pace with "Trials of a City", a bluesy psychedelic jam which barrels along at full-speed ahead. These London guys have really nailed it when it comes to playing American Psychedelic Rock. They sound like they were born and raised within sight of the Golden Gate Bridge, instead of the sprawling suburbs of London. We're slowing things down a bit now with "I'm From the Country", a pleasantly countrified, mellow diversion amongst the heavy Psychedelic Rock numbers. This is the kind of laid-back West Coast sound we're accustomed to hearing from any number of U.S. Country Rock bands, although it's rare to hear it played so authentically by a London-based band, where there's not a lot of sea and surfers to be seen. The final song "At a Point Between Fate and Destiny" has a somewhat solemn and spiritual air to it, which opens to the sound of a beautiful church organ. The music sounds mystical and hauntingly atmospheric and represents the real highlight of the album. It's a charming and blissful melody floating amidst a sea full of psychedelic rockers surfing on Californian waves of sun-drenched late-1960's music.

"Mighty Baby" is a mighty fine album for all of the psychedelic rockers out there who lived through the "Summer of Love" year of 1967 and want to rekindle those bygone, flower-power free-love days. You can re-live those halcyon days at any time of the year and travel back in time whenever you listen to this evergreen album of sparklingly effervescent psychedelia.

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 Comatose by ABRAHAM, LEE album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.84 | 73 ratings

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Comatose
Lee Abraham Crossover Prog

Review by friso
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Lee Abraham plays bass on Galahad's 'Empires Never Last' album - a personal favorite - and I was quite interested in listening to his solo career. His 2019 release 'Comatose' is considered a major release, so what better place to start?

My first impression was that 'Comatose' is a 'Wish You Were Here'-lover's thrash metal album. Most songs have slow-pace symphonic-ballad vocals parts, some emotive guitar leads on symphonic carpets and metalesque instrumental sections. The classification of crossover prog is however well in place, because we're not exactly facing ground-braking ideas here. The key-word is harmony, professionalism and sounding recognizable. The vocals by Marc Atkinson are warm and professional - but again - by the book. Lee Abraham's guitars are well played, but I mainly like his harder riffs in which I can find some vague traces of originality. The production of the album is very well done.

The album, which on the tracklist is supposed to impress as a single long track, plays like a fairly normal succession of songs that one would expect on concept album. The album is about some-one who enters a coma, aks some philosophical questions, relives some of his memories (including being happy in the sun as a child) and wakes up (or not?). Sound familiar? The Visitor? The Human Equation? The Lamb Dies Down on Broadway? The difference with these albums is that - for instance - Arena's The Visitor uses the concept to explore a wide pallet of emotions and themes, whereas on 'Comatose' I can mainly find that one later day Pink Floyd emotive sympo- vibe.

I've been fairly critical of lack of originality here, but I would like say that is one my personal traits. Who is to say listeners of Pink Floyd, symphonic metal and crossover prog won't like this album just fine? To me the progressive genre is about finding spots that weren't yet discover on the map of music, or re-arranging them in a original fashion. Or perhaps performing them in some mind-blowing or personal way.

This album is however made by and for people who obviously love some symphonic rock traditions and are happy to invite yet another well-made work into their music collection. For me its good, but in no way essential. I must say its way more likely I will return to the 2019's Cosmograf release I recently reviewed (which I also gave this rating).

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 Schizophrenia by SHAMALL album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.94 | 62 ratings

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Schizophrenia
Shamall Neo-Prog

Review by friso
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Shamall is the project of German music producer, DJ and multi-instrumentalist Norbert Krueler. The album 'Schizophrenia' offers what amount to two double LP's of music that indeed is prog-related, but only by reference in my opinion. The music of Shamall aims to create dark electronic music in de vain of the Blade Runner soundtrack, but less condensed to its most pivotal moments. In stead this record sounds like a long electronic jam with some interwoven 'songy' parts. The pallet is that of modern electronic music (including movie soundtrack electronics), lot's of mid-paced drumming (also electronic) and some echoey rock guitars. The link to the neo-progressive genre - that I can't separate from its emotive songwriting - is than a bit of stretch in my opinion. The male vocals by Krueler are competent and often mixed like Queen's Innuendo album. The three vocal performances of Anke Ullrich are a welcome change, also a gifted singer with her own style. The album's main defining attribute seems to be its running time and uninterrupted flow, which allows for full immersion in the music. The album would also do a fine job as background noise. The production by Norber Krueler is flawless, with a full-bodied sound and a pleasant mix.

Whilst everything on this record is just fine, I fail to see how such an amount of tracks that more or less sound the same (sound pallet, rhythm, tempo, minor key, lyrical theme) could impress listeners of the progressive all that much. To me this music sounds like a very well made copy of a copy of a copy of something. Furthermore, he lyrical themes of schizophrenia and inconvenient truths do become a bit of a drag. Now, there's no need to rate anything less then a three star rating for a professional album that obviously people here are enjoying - but I would definitively not recommend this to listeners of neo-prog.

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 Musical Aluminum by MOTOR HUMMING album cover Studio Album, 1999
4.00 | 1 ratings

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Musical Aluminum
Motor Humming RIO/Avant-Prog

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

— First review of this album —
4 stars Found another fantastic musical gem released 20 years before. MOTOR HUMMING have been founded as an experimental rock combo in Osaka, Japan in late 1990s. This debut (and currently only one) album "Musical Aluminum" was launched in 1999 via John ZOHN's private label named Tzadik Records. The frontman / guitarist Shinpei HIOKI says he had a telephone call from John (no sns nor internet needless to say) for releasing their creation 'without any notice' in those days. The time goes upon. Their lineup has changed again and again, and now there are Shimpei and his wife Setuko HIOKI (drums, percussion). I've attended their gig at an Osakan venue Namba Bears upon December 22, 2019, where they played faithfully their original material created over 20 years before, in collaboration with their mate Masaharu NAKAKITA (bass, ex-DJAMRA ... mysteriously Masaharu's unit DJAMRA have been in the same vein of MOTOR HUMMING around the same while). They upon stage told us the audience that their sound should not be listened to carefully nor sincerely but enjoyably and ecstatically, just like many other Osaka-based projects. "Musical Aluminum" was filled with such an atmospheric grandeur.

Basically their sound material features guitar, bass, and drums ... quite a simple formation. Based upon complicated, polyrhythmic rhythm section, Shimpei's guitar play has plenty of appearances. Could not digest 'music of aluminum' according to his words before the gig indeed, but makes sense after their performance. Aluminum is easy to process, and phantasmagoric. Their soundgarden should be felt like aluminum. Some unique, playful moments are here and there, while launching heavy complex earachy melodic rhythmic punches. The audience would get immersed in funky, crazy, repetitive phrases via their instruments ... "Holiday Accidents" is such an Osakan joke. Trust me, they only provide short music comfort, like a colourful short movie. Not innovative enough nor so-called progressive but exaggerated and pleasant. You can enjoy their musical essence flooded with delight and Osakan humour. Oh guess John (ZOHN) should have been absorbed with their madness.

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 Ajan Peili by KOSMOS album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.00 | 1 ratings

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Ajan Peili
Kosmos Prog Folk

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

— First review of this album —
3 stars KOSMOS is a Finnish psych-folk group with a female vocalist who sings in Finnish. Their rather peaceful and mellow sound is acoustically oriented and features Mellotron. The debut album Tarinoita Voimasta (= 'Stories of the Force', 2005) was followed, at first in a steady two-year pace, by Polku (= 'The Path') and Vieraan Taivaan Alla (= 'Under an Unknown Sky'). The fourth album Salattu Maailma (= 'Secret World') came out in 2013, and a couple of months ago this fifth album was released. Ajan Peili means 'The Mirror of Time'. I translated the album titles in order to give an idea of the esoteric nature of the band's music and lyrics. The CD contains the lyrics and also their English translations.

If you're familiar with the earlier output, Ajan Peili offers no big surprises. In fact, it's so similar to their other albums that the basic constancy of the style is starting to affect negatively to the listener. Of course, sometimes a band or artist sticks firmly to the chosen style and makes it work better and better with each release. However, I'm afraid I don't have any plain reason to say Ajan Peili would be an improvement of its precursor. On the other hand, if you have heard some of the music of this band and want to get an album, you might just as well purchase this one and be satisfied.

The opening title track is a calm and slow-paced song, and a very typical Kosmos song at that. The delicate arrangement is beautiful and nuanced: at times the acoustic guitar is on the focus, at one moment Päivi Kylmänen's small-scale alto(?) voice is multi-layered, and the sound is finished with hazy Mellotron washes and violin. 'Eilinen' is a brighter, lighter little folk-rock song, not so far from what FAIRPORT CONVENTION did in 1969. The hazier approach dominates the rest of the album. I'd mention early 70's British acts such as FOREST, TRADER HORNE, MARY CELESTE and TREES as stylistic references.

Here and there the arrangements offer nice details. 'Aina lähellä' features xylophone. And as before, Kosmos incorporates slight Eastern flavour (in percussion, for example) to underline the psychedelic essence. Many of the songs themselves are rather mediocre, when speaking of song-writing instead of arrangement. After the fine opener, it's the sixth track 'Salainen oppi' (dedicated to madame Blavatsky) that impresses me as a whole. The piano backing, already atmospheric in itself, is accompanied by Mellotron and soprano saxophone in a charming way. The two remaining tracks feature the reading by Juha Kulmala. His monotonous voice was heard in the preceding album too, and now this extra ingredient tastes a bit like old wine to me. The 12-minute 'Minä olen' (= I Am) is nevertheless a highlight, a perfect example of the band's ability to weave esoteric atmospheres and progressive rock flavour. Wish they made more tracks like this, with wider dynamics. All in all, this is a representative album from Kosmos.

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 Adrian Belew Power Trio: E by BELEW, ADRIAN album cover Studio Album, 2009
4.23 | 37 ratings

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Adrian Belew Power Trio: E
Adrian Belew Eclectic Prog

Review by TCat
Collaborator Eclectic Team

5 stars Adrian Belew formed a group to perform and record music that could be grouped apart from his solo works. This group was called 'Adrian Belew Power Trio' and consisted of Belew on guitar, Julie Slick on bass and her brother Eric Slick on drums. Belew was impressed after seeing them perform with the Paul Green School of Rock and formed the trio for the purpose of touring and performing his solo material along with King Crimson and Frank Zappa material.

The album that is simply entitled 'e' is the project's first album and was released in 2008. The album has 11 tracks, but is actually made up of 5 mini-suites, each one named after each of the first 5 letters of the alphabet. The music is created by adding layers of loops playing over each other, and then adding parts and solos over the top of the loops. The album itself was made live while in the studio.

'a' starts off the album and is a 3-part suite that makes up the first three tracks. The first part is a quick guitar solo at moderate speed, but the 2nd part brings in the entire trio with the layers soon kicking in and quickly sounding very cool and experimental, not unlike King Crimson, yet definitely unique. All 3 performers are quite amazing, Julie plays a tricky desending bass riff that starts and stops its descent in unpredictably, but constantly moving while the drums play complex rhythms that are also completely astounding while Belew plays his quirky, sometimes harsh, but always intriguing style. Rest assured that if you are afraid this sounds more like the less-accessible Projekcts from King Crimson, then you have nothing to worry about. It is more of a style inbetween the Crimson most people know and love and the experimental side of Belew. The 3rd part continues on falling into a more of a pattern, with Belew's improvisation swinging, groaning and sailing over the amazing support work of the Slick siblings.

'b' is also made up of 3-parts, the first part being almost longer in and of itself than the preceding suite. This one is a bit chunkier with a hard riff and contrasting guitar layers. Underneath it all, the amazing bass flies around performing tricks that are almost as crazy as Belew's own playing. The Slick's were both quite young when they started out, Eric only being 11 when he was brought in as the regular drummer for the Paul Green School of Rock, and Julie was only 13 when she started playing bass, quickly becoming an amazing bassist. Just listen to this and you'll understand how awesome they are, then consider the fact that they are doing this live-in-studio. This suite pounds along quite impressively for a while, but in the 2nd part, it becomes more laid back, but with guitar notes cascading down from the stars, but soon the music builds tension as Belew throws in some of his phrasing, connecting his notes almost like a steel guitar and making them wail against the repeated notes that build tension atmospherically, and then ending with a rapid fire track that has each instrument playing counterpoint while the drums show off a bit themselves.

'c' is only a single part, but lasts over 6 minutes. The percussion on this one is a little more regular and steady while the guitar and bass slowly build becoming more intense as the track rolls on. 'd' is divided up between 2 tracks. It starts off with layers of Belew's playing along with a repeating subdued staccato playing underneath. Stylistic and almost symphonic sounding percussion comes through intermittedly, but halfway through, it everyone kicks in creating a complex and exciting sound, again intense and heavy. Belew has expressed that he would love to hear this music performed by an orchestra, and upon listening to this and the complex lines, it is easy to see why that would be an intriguing idea. After a section where the guitar almost sounds like a flute, the 2nd part returns to a more linear sound, but builds even quicker, almost becoming like a condensed version of the first part. 'e' is also divided up into 2 parts, the 1st one being rather quick at under 1 minute and featuring Belew improvising pensively and the 2nd part being over 7 minutes. The 2nd part sounds like a syncopated chromatic scale ascending and desending quickly, the drums push it along and then the bass is forced in. A melodic line is played where the guitar sounds more like a synth, and then the trio plays off of the ascending and desending scale, improvising and creating quite a cavalcade of thematic elements and using them against each other, most of these done from Belew's layering, while the bass and drums even get some time to show off. The coolest thing is the piano-sounding line pounding and twinkling along while the bass thrums out a rhythmic pattern. Very cool.

In 2010, Eric was recruited by the band 'Dr. Dog' and is still the drummer for them, and Julie later released some solo work and also participated in the 'Crimson ProjeKct' tour, Marco Minnemann replaced Eric temporarily for the 2010 tours, and then Tobias Ralph took over as a permanent member of the band. Fortunately, we have this recorded document that attests to the talents of Adrian, Julie and Eric, but it is a shame that it has mostly been ignored, especially from the King Crimson and Projekcts crowds, because this music is just as amazing as anything else put out by the different KC incarnations at the time. Highly experimental, but surprisingly very enjoyable and more accessible than you might think. It is all instrumental, but it is music of the highest caliber and deserves to be considered one of the best KC albums that isn't a KC album. After hearing this, you know why both Zappa and Fripp brought Belew into their bands. Highly recommended for real KC lovers, Eclectic Prog lovers and those that love excellent and innovative guitar music.

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 Rush by RUSH album cover Studio Album, 1974
2.93 | 1053 ratings

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Rush
Rush Heavy Prog

Review by hugo1995

1 stars It's hard to believe anyone actually enjoys this album and music. It is boring music made for boring people who enjoy vanilla ice cream. This album almost can't even be considered a rush album, it is so different to everything else. It is all blues with no complexity, but lacks the adventure and thrill that blues contemporaries such as Led Zeppelin offered. It's even harder to believe that a few years after this they were creating prog, and not just prog, but prog classics.

Give this album a hard pass. If you're like me and love to listen to an entire bands catalogue, give this a listen. Don't be surprised when you are bored. Most bands have a decent first debut album, Rush does not.

For Rush's sound, their real first album is the next one.

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 Beware the Shadow by HELP YOURSELF album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.00 | 15 ratings

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Beware the Shadow
Help Yourself Prog Related

Review by Psychedelic Paul

4 stars HELP YOURSELF (known as The Helps by their fans) were a London-based band with a unique sound that can best be described as Psychedelic Country. They recorded four albums during the early 1970's:- "Help Yourself" (1971); "Strange Affair" (1972); "Beware the Shadow" (1972); and "The Return of Ken Whaley" (1973). It seemed like Help Yourself may have been consigned to the annals of rock history after poor sales from their fourth album, but due to popular demand by their fans, they made a brief belated comeback with "Help Yourself 5" in 2004, which consisted mainly of 1973 recordings from an unreleased fifth album. It's time now to give Help Yourself's third helping a listen.

Upon hearing the "Beware the Shadow" album for the first time, you'd be convinced they were an American Southern Rock band. In fact, their first song "Alabama Lady", sounds like a typical song that the U.S. bands Alabama or the Allman Brothers Band might have recorded in their heyday. Help Yourself have encapsulated the American Southern Rock sound perfectly with "Alabama Lady". It sounds as American as a Stetson-wearing cowboy in a rodeo riding a bucking bronco. Next up is the real highlight of the album, the 12-minute-long song "Reaffirmation". The floating sound of a Mellotron in the opening gives the song a somewhat mystical air, but this is only a prelude to a long Psychedelic Country jam session that sounds very reminiscent of some of the Grateful Dead's extended jams, only Help Yourself are much more Alive and Kicking in this exhilarating number than the Grateful Dead ever were in their seemingly endless jams. Side One draws to a close now (already?) with the brief "Calypso", which turns out to be a hippyish campfire sing-along song.

The Side Two opener "She's My Girl" has the same happy and carefree sound of the summer as "Here Comes the Sun" by The Beatles. "She's My Girl" has Hit Song written all over it. It's a song that's positively aglow with passionate romantic love and optimistic hope for the future. Up next is "Molly Bake Bean", a song with childish innocence which sounds just as silly and frivolous as the song title implies. It's a perfect Country sing-along song to listen to and join in with whilst eating baked beans around a campfire with the kids. And now it's time for the BIG bluesy piano ballad "American Mother", another song that sounds as quintessentially Born To Be Wild American as riding a Harley-Davidson motorcycle over the Golden Gate Bridge. "American Mother" sounds like a song that Big Brother & the Holding Company might have recorded and it brings to mind another great song, "American Woman", by the Canadian band The Guess Who. Both songs represent good old-fashioned Blues-Rock numbers with the same raw and earthy appeal. We're just "Passing Through" now for the final song, a gently laid-back slice of Folk-Rock Americana.

"Beware the Shadow" is unlikely to appeal to Prog-Rock fans generally, but if you're in the mood to listen to some good old country boys from the Deep South of London in England, then Help Yourself to this rather unique Psychedelic Country album.

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 Birds Of Passage by KARFAGEN album cover Studio Album, 2020
4.24 | 47 ratings

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Birds Of Passage
Karfagen Symphonic Prog

Review by Yeshead58

5 stars What a way to start the New Year - a brand new album by Karfagen! This is fantastic news and an amazing new album!

First, lets get any negative stuff out the way - I looked at the credits and saw that Max Velychko was not on guitars, as I've grown very fond of his guitar playing, but instead 2 other players are here and they do an outstanding job blending in with all the other instruments going on around them! And there is a grand assortment going on here; some very nice bassoon work, some violin, and sweet sounds from the flute. Just like an orchestra has plenty of instruments playing together, each shining in its own light but never dominating the rest, that is exactly what is happening here. Just lovely pure Prog that washes the soul with such fine melodies. Some very intricate vocal arrangements too, everyone sounding happy to be part of creating this masterpiece. And once again, we have Antony Kalugin proving once more why he's the best keyboard player that Yes never had!

Love the cover as well! Reminds me of the sort of cover so popular with Yes, Genesis (70's style), Jethro Tull, early Marillion. I love the artwork on this and I'm going to say that I think this is the best cover yet for Karfagen. But its the music that counts, and on here it truly is what real classy Prog is all about. Well done Karfagen!

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 Princess Alice And The Broken Arrow by MAGNUM album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.52 | 46 ratings

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Princess Alice And The Broken Arrow
Magnum Prog Related

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars This was the third Magnum album after their reunion, and it's another high-quality slab of material from the band - certainly suggesting they still had some fresh ideas to offer. It's not a revolutionary release - still largely in that strange middle ground between neo-prog, the poppier flavours of NWOBHM and melodic rock rock that their classic albums occupy, this time around with substantially less in the way of NWOBHM and more of those other two ingredients. It's a bit more introspective than, say On a Storyteller's Night, as the wistful album opener When We Were Younger strongly emphasises, but it's a delightful development of Magnum's music into a mature style.

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 From A Page by YES album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.22 | 13 ratings

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From A Page
Yes Symphonic Prog

Review by Soul2Create

3 stars With From a Page we finally get the opportunity of hearing what could have made Fly From Here a great album and not a mediocre one (IMHO, of course). In this review I will focus on the four 'new' tracks composed back in 2011:

To the moment (8.5/10). One of the best songs Yes has composed in the past 25 years. Really. Flows perfectly and ends with a gorgeous keyboard solo by O. Wakeman.

From a page (7/10) - gentle song that develops slowly, driven by the piano of O. Wakeman. At the middle Steve Howe joins in with a wonderful acoustic and electric guitar solo. The song is good, nothing amazing but better than anything showed on Heaven and Earth.

From the turn of a card (5/10) - Benoit David sings along with the piano of Wakeman. The weakest song here.

The gift of love (6/10). A mini-epic than shows what that line-up could do. Unfortunately, the overall sound and tempo reminds more of H&E than FFH, nice and mellow without being challenging. That said, Howe's contributions are amazing.

Overall, I'm glad with this release, it holds one great song, one good, a curiosity and a weak one. Recommended for all Yes fans.

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 Schizophrenia by SHAMALL album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.94 | 62 ratings

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Schizophrenia
Shamall Neo-Prog

Review by JohnnyBGoody

4 stars The name Shamall is not new to me. But whenever I was told that it is electronic music, my interest to continue working with them felt asleep. I am really not a fan of electronic music. Everything is too similar to me, not enough power in it. But with Shamall I was wrong. And I have no problem admitting it. At a party at a friend's house I got in touch with Shamall by chance. We all know this. There's a lot of talking and laughing, but in between there are moments of silence when no one says anything and you listen to the music in the background. And it was this short silence that suddenly built up something musically powerful in the room, which I couldn't assign at first. At that time i didn't know, but after a short question who that is,I got a short answer: "This is the new Shamall! I was surprised, I could not find the newage and electronic music in this exciting music, which immediately fascinated me. "This is Schizophrenia, the title track of the new Shamall" my buddy shouted to me "That rocks, dude, wah" Sure, there were some electronic parts, between or at the end of several songs. But I have to say - that already rocked! And there was so much more than I expected. Electronic music as intro to increase the tension for the next track. Room filling soundscapes, which were used to build up the following drama. Almost behind every song there were these magical, thrilling, often pulsating, resting phases, which only increased the expectations for the next song. Really very clever made. Sometimes punchy, sometimes hard or just great songs that started with acoustic guitars to turn later into crazy rocking great goose bumps songs. The music was professional and catching, and you could hear that the musicians were passionate about what they were doing. At least that was my first impression. What you just could perceive with the giggling from the background at a party. Next, I went to YouTube to get more info about Shamall, and was surprised what I found there. Actually Shamall had an electronic past and I even knew one song. They had made such a dull disco cracker in the 80s, which I didn't like at all. However, that must have been changed around the turn of the millennium over Krautrock into all kinds of Rock and Prog Styles. I listened to the music available at YouToube and was really impressed. "Respect! - I thought to myself - and I slept through all this?" . The Youtubeclips gave enough information to me to order the Schizophrenia Album by Shamall straightaway. A few days later, the postman brought me an incredibly impressive double CD digipack. The cover alone is already amazing and made me hungry for more. What more can I say? The album is running up and down in my CD player for days now. My highlights of this gifted album are the title song "Schizophrenia" which is almost 20 minutes long, beside "All The Answers" which is really good and the singer gives his best. The solo part in the song is too short for a bite. But for this I get fully satisfied in my absolute favourite tracks "It's An inconvenient Truth part I and II" and "the shape of things to come", and of course §World Of Emotions", a 12 minute long instrumental track on the second CD of the Album. Unbelievable guitar solos - Wow! And also megalong, as you rarely hear it these days. And even the synthesizer solos I like very much. Hammerstrong album! Also the other songs are very good, because somehow everything goes together as if there was only one song with different highs and lows. If you sit down and chill out a little bit and listen concentrated to the music, you'll soon notice that the band has fun at their work. They don't seem to be interested in becoming the kings of any particular style of music, and they don't seem to be interested in making music just for money. Otherwise they would probably do something different than pieces with a length between 10 and 20 minutes. This is definitely pure passion. And what you should also mention is that the Schizophrenia album sounds great. I haven't heard something so noble for a long time. You can hear it in every song. If I should describe the music now I automatically think of rock and prog bands from the past. Somehow it reminds me of the 80s, when prog rock was something natural with electronic equipment. Caravan, Camel, Alan Parsons, Manfred Man, King Crimson and of course a lot of Eloy-like and Pink Floyd send their regards. A mega-bombastic album - like I haven't heard one for a long time. An absolute must buy for everyone who likes to listen to today's music as much as I do, but where you can somehow find your whole life again.

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 Making A New World by FIELD MUSIC album cover Studio Album, 2020
4.00 | 2 ratings

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Making A New World
Field Music Crossover Prog

Review by TCat
Collaborator Eclectic Team

4 stars Field Music from the UK was founded in 2004 by brothers Peter and David Brewis. Since that time, they have had several major full-length studio releases, including their album 'Making a New World', released in January of 2020. The work on the songs was begun much earlier and were actually first performed at the Imperial War Museum in Salford and London in January of 2019. This album of 19 tracks deals with the after-effects of World War I, but deals not so much with the war as with life beyond the war, 100 years after in some cases, that somehow tied back to the war.

The tracks are arranged in a chronological order of sorts in a historical sense of when they happened. As the songs range from about 30 seconds up to just over 4 minutes, these are more like musical snapshots, and in these songs is a great variety of well-composed pictures of the world. The music is quite accessible, yet interesting and more challenging than your typical pop/rock music. Yes, there is an 'alt' edge to them, but there is also so much more to them than that. Proof of this is in songs such as 'Between Nations' which is a great example of the non-traditional lyrical and song structure. It doesn't rely so much on the verse-chorus structure even though the songs are melodic. In each song, you hear a great balance of instrumentation with whisps of beauty as the guitar tones in 'A Change of Heir' amid the fair mix of keys, bass, drums and background guitar. It's not all about being serious either, as in the catchy rhythm of 'Do You Read Me?' that takes a pop feel and mixes in some progressive 'unpredictable' moments. The vocals are easy to follow with just the right touch of vulnerability and the harmonies are very interesting. 'Only in a Man's World' has a infectious riff in the bass that will easily get in your head, and this is followed by the funky jangly guitar and stomp rhythm of 'Money is a Memory', then ending with the pensive, piano-led 'An Independent State'. There is plenty of variety here to keep everyone happy. The music is somewhat reminiscent of bands like 'Arcade Fire', except the songs have more distinguishable personality from one track to the other as the duo experiment with tones, percussive textures and such.

The original duo of musicians have through the years shifted around the backing musicians in their band line-ups. In the case of this album, there is some great vocals and piano work by Liz Corney and bassist Andrew Lowther, both who also worked with Field Music on the 'Open Here' album released in 2018. Also, Kev Dosdale, who also worked with the band at times in the past lends help with providing some guitar work. Most of the music on the album is organic with the electronics only being secondary, so the sound of the album is definitely more of a traditional band style, and that really goes a long ways in the natural sound of the music.

The tracks on the album move from one to another, just like moving from one museum exhibit to another, and that is the feeling you get as the album progresses. It's also sort of a trip through the 20th century and how the first world war shaped a lot of the happenings in that century. The alternative edge is apparent through the album, but the artsy feel keeps it all interesting and innovative. For being a museum exhibit project, this is one intriguing and fascinating album, one that never grows stale or boring like some exhibit projects can get. These songs definitely work well without the visuals of the exhibits, they stand on their own quite well, and chances are, you won't even realize you are getting a tour through history. This is one that I think will become more enjoyable as time goes on, and as such, will probably prove its greatness as the year continues. For now, it is a very strong 4-star album, but that might even change with more listens. As for myself, I really enjoy this album and its varied pastiche of styles and colors. It will definitely be on my list of albums to come back to often.

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 Cyclothymia by NUMEN album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.87 | 60 ratings

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Cyclothymia
Numen Neo-Prog

Review by Milotxa

5 stars The Spanish formation Numen is by no means a newcomer, after all the band has existed for over 25 years. The first output was in 1998 with the album "Samsara", followed by "Numenclature" in 2014 after a long break. Now her third work "Cyclothymia" has been released on the Chilean label Mylodon Records. Six titles with duration between five and 15 minutes were recorded by the following line-up:

César Alcaraz - vocals Marcos Beviá - lead guitar / rhythm guitar Víctor Arques - bass Gaspar Martínez - drums / percussion Manuel Mas - keyboards / vocals / additional arrangements.

The Spaniards present melodic Neo-Prog, which seems to be influenced by British Neo-Prog from the 90s. Both keys and guitars set fine accents, especially their long track is convincing, the title song 'Cyclothymia'. The English-speaking vocals show that English is not the mother tongue of the front man, and it seems a bit shaky in some places, but overall fits in well with the concept. The melodies know how to please, Manuel Mas puts special accents on the keys. It is certainly not a bad idea for Neo Prog fans to deal with this quintet from Alicante. The album could have been called F34.0, because that is the ICD-10 code for the mood disorder cyclothymia. There are no mood swings on the album, this is consistently pleasant symphonic Neo-Prog without corners and edges.

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 Sabotage by BLACK SABBATH album cover Studio Album, 1975
4.02 | 569 ratings

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Sabotage
Black Sabbath Prog Related

Review by Just Because

5 stars This is the most mature album by BS. It is one of their two the most elaborated ( along with «Sabbath Bloody Sabbath» ) and easily the best work.

«Hole in the Sky» is a non-prog, rather simple, yet effective heavy song, full of energy. Bill plays as if he wants to destroy the drum kit. Ozzy is in top form. One of the best BS`s openers. 9/10

«Don't Start (Too Late)». It is rather a draft than a finished track. However it is a sweet quasi-flamenco number that shows Tony`s talents to play on an acoustic guitar and serves as a break between two heavy songs. 7/10

While the band by itself in 1970`s was ahead of its time , on «Symptom of the Universe» they outdid themselves to make speed/thrash metal ( in 1975 ! ). Another example of foresight: at 3:39 comes a guitar solo as if «Iron Maiden» is here with their debut album. Not only that, after intensive hammering at 4:14 there happens a sudden twist and towards the end we hear a pleasant acoustic jazzy part. Still nowadays jazz-metal is not a mass genre and «Symptom ?» can be considered as an exotic song being an example how to sew seamlessly two such different pieces. 10/10

First part of «Megalomania» is creepy and depressing. Ozzy sings with increasing despair, he almost groans here, but a nice brief transition with piano touch is just around the corner. Then at 3:25 comes a riff one way or another replicated by many metal bands. Ozzy`s singing is getting more ferocious and his vocal performance would suit «Judas Priest». All band members seem to compete with each other in creation of dark drive. Tony adds an aggressive solo to already electrified atmosphere, then in the end begins an insane carnival or a real coven (yes, sabbath !). What also comes to mind is that ending of «In the Hall of the Mountain King ». 10/10

«The Thrill of it All» A song which structure reminds me of the previous track, yet it is more upbeat and not as heavy as «Megalomania». The first half has interesting riffing and an infectious melody, then an elegant shift (once again on this album) leads us to something that would be on Ozzy`s solo albums: a heavy-pop marching accompanied with synthesizers. 9/10

Inspired by «Karmina Burana» «Supertzar» is a well-crafted instrumental with a choir. IMHO the most symphonic effort of BS. 9/10

«Am I Going Insane (Radio)» sounds as another one Ozzy`s statement about coming solo career. Besides «Don't Start (Too Late)» it is the weakest and most commercial number on the album, but a pretty good song with tasty playing on synth. 8/10

«The Writ» is a stone thrown at the band`s former management. Funny that the same year «Queen» did the similar thing: they released «Death on Two Legs (Dedicated to?)» . But that`s another story. Laughter fades out and there enters prominent bass playing, it has intriguing and sinister feel. Cool. Bravo, Geezer ! The song moves to softer and back to heavier parts and some moments are out of this world. 10/10

The album is the brightest example of proto-progressive metal genre. 72/80 = 4,5 out of 5 which I have rounded to 5 stars.

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 The Amazing Blondel & A Few Faces by AMAZING BLONDEL album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.05 | 29 ratings

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The Amazing Blondel & A Few Faces
Amazing Blondel Prog Folk

Review by Psychedelic Paul

4 stars AMAZING BLONDEL are an English Prog-Folk band who've released ten albums throughout their long career. Their particular speciality is a reinvention of medieval Renaissance music, featuring pavanes, galliards and madrigals. They've released a whole string of albums during the 1970's, starting with the album reviewed here, "The Amazing Blondel (and a Few Faces)" (1970). They recorded four early 1970's albums on Island Records:- "Evensong" (1970); "Fantasia Lindum" (1971); "England" (1972); and "Blondel" (1973); and three albums on the D.J.M. Records label: "Mulgrave Street" (1974); "Inspiration" (1975); and "Bad Dreams" (1976). The band then took a long sabbatical before making a comeback with "Restoration" (1997) and "The Amazing Elsie Emerald" (2010). Let's have a listen to Amazing Blondel's first album now and find out if the band really ARE as Amazing as their name implies.

The quaint Renaissance Folk of the opening song "Saxon Lady" sounds quintessentially English, but if you listen carefully, you can also hear the sound of an Indian sitar, giving the song a faintly exotic eastern ambience. You can almost picture the scene of English folks prancing merrily around the maypole to this music, dressed in garters and gaiters and gaily shaking their tassels and rattling their bell pads - and that's just the men! We're on a mission next with the "Bethel Town Mission", a rambunctious burst of rabble-rousing Folk Rock which sounds like the kind of stirring sing-along-song anyone could join in with on a pub karaoke night, having downed a few bevies of beer beforehand. 'Tis "The Season of the Year" next, a brief pastoral flute and guitar etude, in the style of a jolly Renaissance madrigal, which sounds charming at any time of the year. Jollying things along now comes "Canaan", an inspirational and devotional song of praise which has a spiritual gospel feel to it. If only they played music as rousing and inspirational as this in English church services, the parishioners would be flocking back to church on Sunday in their droves. It's time to round up the sheep now for "Shepherd's Song", a merry Olde Englishe Folke song that sounds as traditionally English as a ploughman's lunch and a pint of beer in an oak-beamed tavern with a thatched roof in the Cotswolds.

Opening Side Two is the BIG bluesy ballad, "Though You Don't Want My Love", a rousing romantic refrain that's guaranteed to raise the spirits up to the rafters, and continuing with the romantic mood comes "Love Sonnet", a beautiful pastoral melody that's positively overflowing with love and passion, although the lyrics reveal a sad tale of lost love:- "Oh my darling you cannot hide, The love you once had for me has died." ..... It's a charming bittersweet tale of a young English gentleman wistfully hoping to rekindle the flame of a lost love affair with his fair maiden, so keep a hanky at the ready. We're off to sunny Spain next for "Spanish Lace", an upbeat and uplifting Folk-Pop song with a bright and sunny disposition, imbued with all of the warmth and happiness of a bright ray of sunshine breaking through the clouds. There's a change of pace for "Minstrel's Song", a mournful madrigal floating on a serenade of strings, which leads us into the rather rude and impolite- sounding "Bastard Song", which turns out to be a rousing Folk-Rock song to sing around the campfire together. It's a spirited song instilled with all of the vim and vigour of "Kumbaya" and more besides.

Amazing Blondel have made quite a dramatic entrance with their debut album of charming English Folk. It's a traditional English Renaissance world of merry minstrels and melodic madrigals. This pastoral Folk album isn't likely to take the Prog- Rock world by storm, but if you're in the mood for some sweet vocal harmonies and lovely folky melodies bathed in a sea of sensational strings, then this could be the album for you.

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 Spirit Of Eden by TALK TALK album cover Studio Album, 1988
4.17 | 385 ratings

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Spirit Of Eden
Talk Talk Crossover Prog

Review by jamesbaldwin
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Talk Talk are Mark Hollis, Tim Friese-Greene and a lot of session men, firsts Paul Webb and Lee Harris, and musicians of chamber music.

After two minutes and 15 seconds of atmospheric music, I would say ambient music, with sounds that combine rock with jazz and with a chamber ensemble, the distorted, croaking electric guitar and the percussion start, and finally Hollis' voice arrives: this is the beginning of one of the most beautiful facades of a Lp in the history of rock.

As Piero Scaruffi rightly wrote, it is a music that proceeds slowly, as if it were to overcome a very strong inertia, such that to develop a musical phrase the sound struggles to articulate the disease, it is held back, then finally the fuse lights up, and in this case Hollis's phenomenally sounding electric guitar and his voice, which in fact delineates two rhythmic verses but slow and a refrain where the sound becomes acute and angelic, and as rightly happens after two verses and a refrain, the solo arrives, which here consists of chamber music on which Hollis's croaking guitar rises, to make a sound orgasm that for a few seconds is almost unbearable. We are at the highest levels of contemporary music - Rainbow: rating 9+.

Finally, Hollis's voice returns, and the song fades, with the same initial inertia, the voice just a whisper, and begins, mixed with the first, the second song, which proceeds with the same inertia: in the beginning only dissonant brass sounds and trumpets, then the guitar and percussion starts

Again we are faced with two stanzas and two refrains, where this time Hollis' voice sings full and dramatic, and is followed by a dissonant loud din, then the trumpets, the song is easier and more linear than the previous one, but it preserves exactly the same sound as guitar, percussion, voice, with chamber music in the background, reaching however much more noisy and dramatic peaks - Eden: rating 8,5.

Then, mixed with the previous one, Desire begins, with a threatening slow guitar riff, this time we are faced with an impending rhythm, which foreshadows a sound explosion that happens shortly after: voice and drums act as a theater for a climax again almost unbearable, cacophonic, noisy, which it describes a disintegration of personality, a destructive landscape. Voice and guitar, with keyboard background, start again, and then give life to the second sound explosion, which does not stop, continues with tribal rhythm (thanks to a great Lee Harris) and distorted guitar. Crossover rock has nothing to do with it, the true prog nature of Talk Talk is post-rock mixed with free jazz and slow core. Paroxysmal ending, which then returns to the initial slow guitar riff - Desire: rating: 9.

Rating side A: 10. One of the best in the history of rock (not only prog-rock) music.

Inheritance (5:23) is a song that again has a dilated structure verse and refrain, where Hollis' voice goes on high notes, in a sweet way, then there is an instrumental interlude of chamber music, and then the voice starts again, which reaches its climax when Hollis puts more intensity into it. We are still at excellent levels, and we have maintained a good level of pathos, but the sound is different from that of the first side, it is less electric, and softer, Rating 8+.

Then a rhythmic song starts, I Believe in You, the first and the only one in which the drum snare keeps the rhythm from beginning to end, with keyboards in the background, and instrumental interlude similar to those of the previous record. This is the single of the album, the most commercial song, however slow and meditative, and has completely lost the dramatic explosions of the voice, we are in the field of serenity, spiritual, celestial music. The level is still good but it has become more normal. Rating 7,5/8.

The second side has three unmixed songs and with a distinct sound from each other, unlike the first and the quality drops slowly, it is no longer extraordinary as that of the first. In particular, the free jazz and chamber music arrangement is lost, to arrive at a more sober and traditional one, the last song, Wealth, is in fact only voice and keyboards, and takes place on three skinny verses plus chorus,

Talk Talk lose their arrangement orchestral and become minimalist, risking becoming a bit monotonous. It is a piece that anticipates Hollis' usual work. The song is not bad, indeed is good but the three-minute fading instrumental tail is completely useless. Rating 7+

The second side is not beautiful as the first: rating 8,5.

I can't give 10/10 to this album for the second side but anyway, overall, despite not having three songs mixed, the second facade is also coherent, and gradually goes towards a more sober and minimalist music that remains of an excellent quality for 5 songs over 6, so ... absolute masterpiece,

Rating 9,5/10 .

Five Stars.

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 Daybreaking Live by ROZ VITALIS album cover Live, 2020
3.94 | 11 ratings

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Daybreaking Live
Roz Vitalis RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Naida Regent

5 stars After listening to "Daybreaking Live" album I had discovered for myself new Roz Vitalis, although previously I listened to this band time and time again. At the present moment compositions are perceived as more mature and "grow" with musicians both physically and mentally. The sound became more heavy and dense. Due to more heavy guitar and more heavy rhythm-section "approach" of the band comes closer to progressive metal. But, at the same time, Roz Vitalis's style remains true to oneself and recognizable. Evidently, the group wants to take from prog a little bit of everything and, at the same time, to be distinctive and original. As before, there are baroque-and-medieval motives. In "Nepsis" and "Psalm 6" motives of dancing heaviness transform into tranquil transcendence. In each composition there are memorable and hit melodies. "Mother of All Rain" remains the most melodic one. The flute sounds remarkably, but I would like to hear more winds like in "The Hidden Man of the Heart" album. In general, in the future it would be better to increase quantity of wind instruments (clarinet, saxophone, trumpet, French Horn). The same wishes concern use of string instruments (violin, cello, double bass, viola). The main recommendation is to move to symphonic style of music.

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 Resistance by IQ album cover Studio Album, 2019
4.28 | 273 ratings

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Resistance
IQ Neo-Prog

Review by M27Barney

5 stars Release of 2019? Yes. Why? Where do I start? The double CD is the pinnacle of IQ's illustrious career so far, they have produced some fine,fine symphonic prog and nearly produced as good as this with Subterranea...but not quite. This CD flows and is quite simply a CD to compare with the great releases of 1973 & 1974 - and this release has a length greater than TFTO! The Bass/drums are straight from White/Squire circa 1974 and the keyboard work is more like Emerson than any other IQ release. CD1 is virtually over before you know it (immersed in bliss) and gives us the first lengthy magnum opus (For Another Lifetime) (very IQ retrospective but sublime), which is merely the tasty starters for DISC II - The Great Spirit Way! - Sweet flange-lips, I loved the track from listen 1 - but it has grown on me in the past three weeks - Best Prog Epic since Awaken? Aye it is that good.... I love the vocals throughout - and the Yes tribute song - (Fallout) - seals the deal - Buy this CD and play it till you realise a lot of other stuff in the past 30 years is lacking the bombastic essence of true Symphonic Prog - not this - FIVE HUNDRED STARS....

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 Mice And Rats In The Loft by JAN DUKES DE GREY album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.21 | 215 ratings

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Mice And Rats In The Loft
Jan Dukes De Grey Prog Folk

Review by Psychedelic Paul

4 stars JAN DUKES DE GREY sounds like a French nobleman, but they were actually a short-lived Prog/Psych-Folk band from Leeds in northern England. Their first album "Sorcerers" (1970) passed by virtually unnoticed at the time of its release, but their second album "Mice and Rats in the Loft" (1971) will be much more familiar to Prog/Psych-Folk fans. Both albums have since become real collectors items. They recorded a third album "Strange Terrain" in 1977, but that long-lost album wouldn't see the light of day until 2010/11. The "Mice and Rats in the Loft" album reviewed here, consists of three extended songs of improvisational acid-drenched Folk:- 1. "Sun Symphonica" (18:58); 2. "Call of the Wild" (12:48); & 3. "Mice and Rats in the Loft" (8:19).

The outlook for "Sun Symphonica" is for bright and sunny spells of long pastoral flute passages with occasional outbreaks of classically-inspired orchestral showers. Just as the song title implies, "Sun Symphonica" is a radiant sunburst symphony of sound, featuring flutes, clarinets, saxophones, harmonicas, violins and hyperactive percussion in abundance. It's very bold and brassy, but it's also very sophisticated and classy, mainly due to the ornate chamber music from the orchestra. Some of the exotic musical passages sound faintly middle eastern, conjuring up bizarre images of a Turkish bazaar where one is expected to haggle over the price of a carpet, whilst the vendor puffs away calmly on a hookah pipe. The music is a veritable potpourri of musical styles, combining pleasant strolls through golden meadows of woodwinds amidst glorious showers of lush strings and vibrant percussion. The song as a whole is a very pleasant confection that's as sweet and exotic as a box of Turkish Delights.

The next song "Call of the Wild" is nothing to do with wolves barking at the moon. No, this is more of a call of the wild in human terms with the lyrics apparently advocating free love and a freeing of the spirit:- "I will be free to sleep where I want and with who and what I will." ..... If the promiscuous lyrics are anything to go by, the northern town of Leeds in the seventies was just as footloose and fancy free as proverbial swinging London in the sixties, so maybe it's not so grim up north after all. The music is pretty wild and swinging too, consisting mainly of lively bursts of infectious fluty Folk blended together with a liberal dose of saxophonic jazz in a musical tour de force. Think of Jethro Tull combined with Soft Machine, and that's the kind of Jazzy Psych-Folk you have here.

And now we come to the title track: "Mice and Rats in the Loft". If you really DO have mice in the loft, here's a handy hint: mice absolutely love chocolate, far more than cheese, so if you want to catch mice humanely, just bait the walk-in trap with some hot chocolate powder and they'll be queuing up to get into the trap and the trapdoor will close behind them. You can then let them out later in a rodents version of the "Catch and Release" program. Anyway, back to the music after that brief digression. This is where the musicians really get to let their hair down and go off on an improvisational free-for-all. The wacky over-the-top singer sounds like he's on a mad LSD trip here and the weird psychedelic Jazz sounds as wild and crazy as bats in the belfry, or mice and rats scampering about in the loft.

Jan Dukes de Grey appear to have invented a whole new genre of music with their unique "Mice and Rats in the Loft" album. The music can best be described as Psychedelic Jazz-Folk. Sometimes, the music is rousing and spectacular, and sometimes it's pleasant and pastoral, and maybe it's even weird and wonderfully zany at times too, but it's NEVER dull.

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 Birds Of Passage by KARFAGEN album cover Studio Album, 2020
4.24 | 47 ratings

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Birds Of Passage
Karfagen Symphonic Prog

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

5 stars It was only last autumn I truly found the bands of composer, keyboardist and vocalist Antony Kalugin from Ukraine. Of the several KARFAGEN albums I've listened to this far, my favourite has become the latest, Echoes Within Dragon Island (2019) which also happened to be my introduction to this band. Now we have the brand new album at hand, and I'm very glad to declare that Birds of Passage is a prog masterpiece that goes right up there at the level, or the heels to say the least, of its predecessor. I tend to regard these two albums as a harmonic pair, basically sharing the similar melodic, easily enjoyed symphonic nature, plus both drawing the lyrics from classic English or American poetry. Last year it was Robert Louis Stevenson, now Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and William Blake. Both albums are wonderfully portioning the vocal sections into the very dynamic, instrumentally oriented symphonic prog. The obvious classic prog influences (Yes, Genesis, Camel, ELP and so on) are all absorbed and melted into the tradition-friendly and yet distinctive style of Karfagen. Maybe in time, we might as well start using Karfagen as a reference of this kind of contemporary grandiose symphonic prog, like we have used the big names such as The Flower Kings.

One thing that makes it a bit tricky to decide which album is more unquestionably perfect to me, is that Echoes -- consisting of eight tracks, when speaking of the 1-CD edition -- contains music for a double vinyl's measure, whereas Birds of Passage would make a single vinyl LP with side-filling parts of the title suite, both of approx. 21-22 minutes long and with seamlessly running subtitled sections. (Yes, there are two more tracks of roughly 5 minutes long, but it's plain to see that they are meant to be taken as "bonus tracks", just as they are marked.) This gives the Dragon Island album a headstart which is very challenging to beat. Anyway, by now I have been listening to this album round and round for multiple times -- actually more than I listened to Dragon Island at the time of reviewing -- and I'm already pretty convinced that in a year's time this album will be VERY high, probably Number One, on my 2020 prog list!

The two parts are quite equal in the rich and uplifting listening experience. The occurring main theme with Kalugin's own lyrics ("This time, this place...") appears three times (in the beginning, in the middle and in the end) in Part 1, and only once in Part Two. I'm not saying I wouldn't like it, or that any of the appearances would be totally unnecessary, but it is one of the factors I'd probably choose Part 2 as my favourite. Its first section starts instrumentally, starring at first just an acoustic guitar in the vein of Steve Hackett or Steve Howe, joined by other instruments, and the vocals enter no sooner than around the fifth minute. As I have said in my other Karfagen reviews, I sincerely like Kalugin's voice. It can be tender like Kerry Minnear's in Gentle Giant or intimate like Roger Waters at his softest, but it's not wimpy. When the music rocks harder, so does Antony's voice if necessary. But indeed it's the perfect balance between sung and instrumental moments which makes Karfagen so enjoyable. The mostly serene instrumental final sections of Part 2 are very beautiful.

Now the bonus tracks. 'Spring', based on Blake's lyrics like Part 2, pales a little after the glorious title epic, as it proceeds in a relatively restricted manner. The vocals are shared by Kalugin, Olha Rostovska and Tim Sobolev. The rhythm slightly reminds me of 'State of Mind' on the FISH debut. A nice, unspectacular track with a happy feeling. 'Sunrise' is a delicate and sensitive instrumental, comparable to peaceful IONA or CAMEL instrumentals. I like it very much for its introspective emotion. The cover painting of Igor Sokolskiy really fits the music: lovely, adventurous but mostly gentle symphonic prog to caress your ears like a favourite fairy tale from your childhood. Five stars, definitely.

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 Cyclothymia by NUMEN album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.87 | 60 ratings

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Cyclothymia
Numen Neo-Prog

Review by Marcello64

4 stars The third album from this Spanish band.

The band is a quintet with a lineup of drums, keyboards, guitars, bass and vocals.

I have been a long term admirer of this band and my reviews of their two albums can be found somewhere else in this blog.

Neo-prog is their genre. Sort of..... OK, it is neo-prog.

There is a lot more to the band than just neo-prog. Their sound and music reminds me a lot about early Marillion.

This album is indeed very comparable with early Marillion. No, the vocalist does not sound like Fish. The vocalist in Numen has a totally different voice. The vocals are indeed great. But the music reminds me a lot about early Marillion.

Numen combines neo-prog and symphonic prog on this album. Which is a very good combination. The music is not massive technical. It still have a lot of intricate details, though.

The album is fifty minutes long and not a single tone outstays it's welcome. There is a lot of power and melody on this album.

The melodies and the music is indeed great and the album has a classy feel.

Numen is one of those gems in the neo-prog scene who deserves a lot more attention. I rate them as one of the best neo-prog bands in the world at this moment.

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 Birds Of Passage by KARFAGEN album cover Studio Album, 2020
4.24 | 47 ratings

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Birds Of Passage
Karfagen Symphonic Prog

Review by Trinity S

5 stars It is the album that deserve to be heard for sure! Antony told me that it`ll be special but I didn`t even realize how much! From the very beginning it`s like a bit of fresh air. Of course the artwork is fabulous , like always and i`ll agree, this time it`s even "warmer" , you may think about "Alice in Wonderland" looking on it and it`s true - it`s really magical album, that has powerful, melodic main theme... "This Time, This Place"... So catchy! I don`t think you should compare this album to the "Echoes from within Dragon Island" - they are two different stories. With "Birds of Passage" Antony and his team did an album worth of being released on Vinyl - No "long" passages and fillers... Two Parts of Suite , like a 2 sides of a Vinyl.. How I wish they can bring it on a Vinyl one day... This Time , Antonys good friend Mathieu Speater has recorded guitars and they are awsome. Don`t get me wrong, I`m a huge fan of Max Velychko guitars ,but Mat did his job as good as he did on " Magicians Theater" in 2014. What a gorgeous Nylon guitar by Alex Pavlov in the beginning of the second part - breath taking - fantastic sound without any doubts! I like the format of LP where there`s no place for some sound filler that just ruins the conception of the "Message". What an emotional ending of both parts.. Wow.. "Camel", "Manfred Mann" in it`s best and I`ll agree with Matti, soon there`ll be the time when no comparison will needed, as Karfagen with it`s 11th! album stands bright in Symphonic Prog liague. As for bonus tracks - Lovely flute in "Sunrise" and almost Peter Gabriel - Weather Report "Birds Delight" - both tracks are pleasent to the ear and just compliment the album. 5 stars for sure!

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 The Marvel World Of Icarus by ICARUS album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.48 | 22 ratings

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The Marvel World Of Icarus
Icarus Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Psychedelic Paul

4 stars ICARUS were an obscure six-piece British band who released just one album during their brief lifetime. The album "The Marvel World of Icarus" (1972) was based on famous superhero characters from Marvel Comics, with band members adopting various superhero names for the recording of the album. Legend has it that the album had to be quickly pulled from the shelves due to a dispute between Marvel Comics and and the band's record label, Pye Records, with the result that the album now has the status of a very rare (and expensive) collector's item. This superheroes album won't save the world, but it's saved itself a well-deserved place in Prog-Rock history. Let's step into the Marvellous World of the Fantastic Four now and check out the thirteen fantastic superhero-themed songs on the album.

After the Marvellously over-the-top spoken-word "Prologue", we're weaving a tangled web with "Spiderman". This is an all-out psychedelic sonic assault with the raspy-voiced singer sounding like he's badly in need of a throat lozenge. This raw and earthy blues-tinged psychedelia has a similar sound to some of Iron Butterfly's heavier numbers. The fun superhero lyrics deserve a mention too:- "His secret senses tell him what to do, Who's that punk - a man in red and blue? Spider-Man is going to prowl, Oh, look out, The web's behind you now!" ..... It's Marvel-lous music designed to set your spidery senses tingling, and it's kind of ironic that we're now listening to "Spiderman" on a website on the World Wide Web. The "Fantastic Four" are looming into view next, featuring a prominent flute at the forefront, which sounds like a psychedelic version of Jethro Tull. The "Fantastic Four" of the title are Mister Fantastic, the Invisible Girl, the Flaming Torch and the monstrous Thing. They represent a force for good in the world, battling a bevy of villains and evil-doers, in the manner of a typical "Governator" movie starring Arnold Schwarzeneggar. Hulking into view next comes the jolly green giant himself, the "Hulk". You wouldn't like him when he's angry, and he sounds mildly annoyed in this stirring Blues-Rock number, so watch out, because this song sounds mean and moody. This bluesy number is Jazzed-up by the sonorous sound of a sensational saxophonist who's really on a rollicking shirt-ripping roll here. We're entering the supervillain world of "Madame Masque" next, which turns out to be a bluesy romantic piano ballad that's very reminiscent of Chris Farlowe's "Handbags and Gladrags" (the theme from The Office). There's another supercharged burst of high and mighty Jazz-Rock for "Conan the Barbarian", which brings to mind the raw uncut power of blues legend Graham Bond. Beware the "Iron Man", because he's along next, although he's no relation to the Black Sabbath song of the same name. No, this is more of a Roaring Forties gale force blast of the saxophone in another Jazz- Rock spectacular.

Take cover! It's all storm and almighty thunder for the first song on Side Two: "Thor", which opens dramatically to the sound of a thunderous lightning bolt from the blue. The music is a loud and anthemic tribute to the mighty Norse God of War, "Thor", so be prepared for a cannonade of musical artillery fire and thunderous fireworks in this powerful blast of audio dynamite. Stalking stealthily into view next is the "Black Panther", but this is no silent creeping panther - this is a rousing and reverberant Jazz-Rock refrain on the rampage that jumps up and bites! Have no fear, because "The Man Without Fear" is here, fighting for what is right in another tale of derring-do. This song is a magical mixed bag of tricks, featuring a whole kaleidoscope of musical colours, alternating between uptempo bursts of fluty Jazz-Rock energy, blended together with some mellower bluesy passages. We're on the Magic Bus to California next, because gliding into view now on a gentle wave of beautifully- harmonious melody is the "Silver Surfer". It's a soft rippling wave of sensual sound and pleasure which reminds one of the laid-back psychedelia of the American band, It's a Beautiful Day. Icarus have perfectly encapsulated the sound of American west-coast 1960's rock with this amazing song. Every day is a beautiful day when you can listen to gorgeous rejuvenating music like this. It's back to basics next for "Things Thing", a good old-fashioned slice of unadulterated British Blues-Rock, and finally, flying in now to save the world at the last moment is "Captain America", a roaring storming two and a half minutes of rabble-rousing Rock & Roll.

"The Marvel World of Icarus" is a hard-hitting album of bluesy Jazz-Rock in the uncompromising style of the raspy-voiced Graham Bond. The album is a real Liquorice Allsorts box of contrasts though, featuring a good serving of storm and thunder songs, some raw and earthy blues numbers, and sprinkled with a pleasant confection of sweet and tender melodies. It's an album full of superheroes and super songs. All in all, there's something here for everyone.

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 Vaisseau Monde by GRAND SBAM, LE album cover Studio Album, 2019
4.05 | 3 ratings

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Vaisseau Monde
Le Grand Sbam RIO/Avant-Prog

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

4 stars Another grand slam (aka grand sbam) of the year 2019, and at the same time one of fantastic, fanatical debut opuses in avantgarde- progressive scene. Le GRAND SBAM's debut album "Vaisseau Monde", much-awaited by every avantgarde-progressive rock fan, has been launched in the last month of 2019, and surprisingly appreciated for only a month. No more expression needed because lots of Lyon-oriented avantgarde warriors like ni., PoiL, Chromb!, and so on. And of course, massive energetic, powerful sound connotation you can hear all through this creation.

Plenty of sound approaches and technical appearances come up to your ears. The first shot "Dins O Sbam" is a killer. Sarcastic, deeply heavy, incredibly complicated melodic / rhythmic movements with female voice / shout madness should absorb your brain and inner mind without breath. Oh God. Not only guitar heaviness nor dissected percussion / drumming salad, but also Japanese shakuhachi (amazing) or quirky synthesizer dances will invade deeply in. Quite enjoyable is a chase of female voices and heavy fuzzy guitar sounds in "Kouia" ... in such a melodic confusion, you would find something methodical and methodological. Weird really.

And imho my favourite is the fourth turf "Woubit" featuring hippy spacey ghostly Kraut-y psychedelia. Reminds me like Fille Qui Mousse meet Mahogany Brain. Always feel I would drive myself deeply beneath the sea of the track. In the last one "Vishnu Foutr'line" addictive combination of beautiful lines and adherent complexity can be received here and there. But hey as their sound compilation this track can be felt, methinks.

In conclusion, cannot call this creation as diverse nor colourful easily but for every avant-prog or Zeuhl fan this opus should be of much pleasure. And let me say thanks to Dur et Doux for recommending such a fine production.

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 Sang Phat Editor by U.S. MAPLE album cover Studio Album, 1997
3.00 | 1 ratings

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Sang Phat Editor
U.S. Maple RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Mortte

— First review of this album —
3 stars After getting positive reviews from their first album U.S. Maple went into tour to Europe. In that tour they also recorded a session in the famous John Peel radio show. It was 1997 when they started to record their second album. The producer was again Jim O`Rourke, who is known by the Drag City-label and also as a member of Sonic Youth. To me it sounds both these two albums are recorded live in the studio as their "soulmates" Trumans Water has done their albums. This album sounds many ways the same as their first, but they have gone into even more experimental direction.

In "Coming Back To Dammit" song starts almost like a normal song, but soon drums stop and start again one time, after that the rest song is really freeform. "Songs That Have No Making Out" has at first very stucking beat, then it changes also really freeform. In the end there are just tickling guitars. "La Click" is one of my favourites with stucking beat and very Beefheart-like guitar chord. Al is almost singing (he still has that very lung sickness style in his vocals). "Mountain Top" is really free form piece and my least favourite. "Untitled" is very short, calm piece and gives a little rest to listener. "Missouri Twist" really haven´t got any twist, it´s again very freeform. After only guitars playing it has stucking beats and asthmatic vocals. "Through With Six Six Six" is the most chaotic piece in this very chaotic album. The last "Home It´s Ok" is also my favourites from this album, it has strong hits and also some Beefheart-style guitar chords & playing.

I think in this second album they really succeeed to deconstruct the rock. But that caused it really isn´t as catchy as their first album. This is really demanding album, maybe open to me more with more listenings. Anyway I am not suprised at all I didn´t find lot of earlier reviews from this album. I have understood they changed their musical direction in their next albums and I think that was the only way to them, it´s not possible go further this way and also make intresting music. Anyway I really like to recommend this album to those who says Beefheart ´s Trout Mask is unlistenable, this album is almost too much even for me! I think it´s just good thing this is short. I was thinking to give only two stars to this, but those two really great pieces rises this to three. Anyway this is quite extraordinary piece of music.

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 Origo by BURST album cover Studio Album, 2005
4.63 | 13 ratings

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Origo
Burst Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

5 stars "Origo" is the 4th full-length studio album by Swedish progressive post-hardcore act Burst. The album was released through Relapse Records in October 2005. It´s the successor to "Prey on Life" from 2003 and features the exact same lineup who recorded the predecessor. "Prey on Life (2003)" saw Burst signing to Relapse Records, after releasing their first two albums on a smaller label, and they generally received a lot of posititive feedback from fans and critics alike.

Stylistically the music on "Prey on Life (2003)" was progressive post-hardcore, which is both aggressive and adventurous in nature, and the basis is the same on "Origo" although it´s overall a relatively different sounding album to it´s predecessor. Linus Jägerskog´s aggressive shouting hardcore vocals are still the main vocal style, but a few more clean vocal sections have been incorporated to the material on "Origo", and it´s overall a more melodic and varied release than "Prey on Life (2003)". Heavy progressive tracks like "Sever" and "Flight´s End" are complimented by faster and more aggressive tracks like "Slave Emotion" and "Stormwielder", and Burst even venture into instrumental post-rock territory on "It Comes Into View", which is a nicely atmospheric track.

In the case of "Origo" it´s not really fair to only mention specific tracks though, as the album is cleverly constructed to be a collective listening experience. Great care has been taken to place the songs on the tracklist to create the right atmosphere or emotion at the right time and it´s a praise worthy effort which pays off in the end, when the listener is left with a feeling of having listened to a journey of creative musical ideas, which comes together as a perfect whole (not completely unlike how "Prey on Life (2003)" is also constructed).

Although the basis of the band´s music is predominantly made up of two guitars, bass, drums, and vocals, Burst have opted to include atmospheric keyboards to the music. The keyboards are generally used tastefully and only for effect, so it´s not an omnipresent dominant feature. "Origo" features a powerful, clear, and detailed sound production, which suits the material perfectly, and we´re also treated to high class musicianship from all involved, so upon conclusion this is a high quality album release by Burst. There´s not a single negative thing I can say about "Origo" and a 5 star (100%) rating is fully deserved.

(Originally posted on Metal Music Archives)

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 Imaginary Sonicscape by SIGH album cover Studio Album, 2001
4.31 | 136 ratings

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Imaginary Sonicscape
Sigh Experimental/Post Metal

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars "Imaginary Sonicscape" is the 5th full-length studio album by Japanese progressive/experimental metal act Sigh. The album was released through Century Media Records in July 2001. It's Sigh's first release on the label after they left Cacophonous Records, as a consequence of what the band felt was bad promotion for "Scenario IV: Dread Dreams (1999)". The three-piece lineup who recorded the predecessor is intact on "Imaginary Sonicscape".

Although Sigh originally started out as a black metal act, they soon began to experiment with their sound and the last couple of preceding releases have been increasingly progressive/experimental. "Imaginary Sonicscape" tops them all though as Sigh take their adventurous songwriting approach to new creative heights. The basis in the music is fairly traditional heavy metal riffs/leads/harmonies and rhythms, and Mirai Kawashima's snarling raspy vocals in front. The latter is the only feature on the album, which links the music on "Imaginary Sonicscape" to the band's black metal past, because nothing else on the album is extreme metal related in any way.

While the heavy metal elements in the music are relatively traditional in nature, the band make sure that everything else on the album is challenging to the listener. There is omnipresent use of vintage keyboards/synths/organs and additional features like ghostly choirs, percussion, the odd programmed/electronic section, saxophone, and atmospheres which range from eerie darkness to almost sunshine psychadelic happiness ("A Sunset Song" is an example of the latter mood). The use of classical music themes and orchestral sections are also quite dominant in the soundscape. It's not an easy listen and most listener's will probably need more than one listen to decide what they think of the album. The tracks and the album in general take many left-turns along the way, and the listener is kept on his/her toes throughout the 63:35 minutes long playing time.

The musicianship is strong and while everything is performed with great skill and precision, Sigh generally perform their music with a great organic touch, which is further enhanced by the organic sounding production. The songwriting is on a very high level, and it's obvious Kawashima has some classical music education/training, because the keyboard arrangements and the keyboard performances in general are seldom heard this sophisticated in heavy metal music.

"Imaginary Sonicscape" is for the open-minded heavy metal listener, and there is no guarantee this is something a lot of people will enjoy. It's probably very much an aquired taste, even for fans of the band. Expect the unexpected and you won't be dissapointed. Personally I think the experiments sometime make the album a bit incoherrent, and some tracks feel like they lack direction, like the band just added sections/elements they felt were interesting to add without thinking about the big picture. Knowing the musical genius of Kawashima I'm sure that's not true though, and I'm sure the output is exactly what Sigh had in mind. My personal feelings aside this is still a high quality release and a 4 star (80%) rating is deserved.

(Originally posted on Metal Music Archives)

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Arjen Lucassen (AYREON's mastermind) wearing the classic long sleeves PA t-shirt
Arjen Lucassen (AYREON's mastermind) wearing the classic long sleeves PA t-shirt.
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100 MOST PROLIFIC REVIEWERS

Collaborators Only

ratings only excluded in count
  1. Mellotron Storm (4224)
  2. Sean Trane (3161)
  3. ZowieZiggy (2931)
  4. Warthur (2844)
  5. apps79 (2629)
  6. UMUR (2052)
  7. b_olariu (2003)
  8. Easy Livin (1930)
  9. Gatot (1811)
  10. siLLy puPPy (1740)
  11. Windhawk (1654)
  12. Conor Fynes (1613)
  13. SouthSideoftheSky (1583)
  14. kev rowland (1482)
  15. Tarcisio Moura (1434)
  16. Evolver (1417)
  17. Bonnek (1333)
  18. AtomicCrimsonRush (1324)
  19. BrufordFreak (1240)
  20. kenethlevine (1231)
  21. snobb (1222)
  22. erik neuteboom (1201)
  23. TCat (1160)
  24. Finnforest (1146)
  25. Matti (1121)
  26. ClemofNazareth (1011)
  27. tszirmay (992)
  28. octopus-4 (961)
  29. Cesar Inca (928)
  30. memowakeman (912)
  31. loserboy (896)
  32. Rune2000 (877)
  33. Marty McFly (838)
  34. Rivertree (837)
  35. Guillermo (794)
  36. Neu!mann (759)
  37. Chris S (753)
  38. Eetu Pellonpaa (722)
  39. Aussie-Byrd-Brother (702)
  40. greenback (685)
  41. progrules (666)
  42. Seyo (657)
  43. admireArt (639)
  44. Prog-jester (626)
  45. Epignosis (624)
  46. lor68 (601)
  47. DamoXt7942 (595)
  48. Prog Leviathan (582)
  49. Ivan_Melgar_M (560)
  50. friso (542)
  51. philippe (540)
  52. hdfisch (492)
  53. stefro (486)
  54. Chicapah (485)
  55. Dobermensch (464)
  56. zravkapt (460)
  57. colorofmoney91 (459)
  58. Menswear (452)
  59. J-Man (449)
  60. ProgShine (442)
  61. russellk (439)
  62. andrea (437)
  63. Atavachron (430)
  64. Sinusoid (403)
  65. Queen By-Tor (397)
  66. The Crow (388)
  67. tarkus1980 (369)
  68. Zitro (365)
  69. Nightfly (365)
  70. Greger (365)
  71. Modrigue (360)
  72. fuxi (356)
  73. Cygnus X-2 (353)
  74. Andrea Cortese (348)
  75. Progfan97402 (333)
  76. lazland (332)
  77. EatThatPhonebook (326)
  78. Guldbamsen (322)
  79. Negoba (319)
  80. richardh (316)
  81. VianaProghead (308)
  82. Tom Ozric (306)
  83. FragileKings (304)
  84. patrickq (302)
  85. rdtprog (299)
  86. Kazuhiro (299)
  87. Flucktrot (296)
  88. GruvanDahlman (290)
  89. Proghead (288)
  90. OpethGuitarist (287)
  91. progaardvark (286)
  92. Second Life Syndrome (269)
  93. daveconn (266)
  94. Trotsky (264)
  95. Muzikman (263)
  96. Slartibartfast (258)
  97. clarke2001 (254)
  98. aapatsos (250)
  99. The T (246)
  100. Andy Webb (237)

List of all PA collaborators

NEW RELEASES

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Lost by Qualia album rcover
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Changing Shapes (Live at Roadburn) by Mythic Sunship album rcover
Changing Shapes (Live at Roadburn)

Mythic Sunship

Control by Carpenter, Cody album rcover
Control

Cody Carpenter

Human. :II: Nature. by Nightwish album rcover
Human. :II: Nature.

Nightwish

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