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 Psykisk Testbild by MESHUGGAH album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1989
2.77 | 8 ratings

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Psykisk Testbild
Meshuggah Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

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

2 stars While Europe pioneered the extreme metal scene with bands like Venom and Hellhammer with the help of the hardcore punk scene from artists such as Discharge and Amebix, the USA actually fostered in the most successful bands that developed a new form of metal called thrash. Slayer, Anthrax, Medgadeth and Metallica, the big four, launched an entire new metal paradigm and it was time for new bands to follow in the footsteps of a new American strain of extremity.

Scandinavia would become the hotbed for even stranger forms of metal and in the coastal city of Ume', Sweden, one of the future bands that would deliver one of the strangest forms of technical metal of all. MESHUGGAH formed all the way back in 1987 by guitarist Frederik Thordenal and vocalist Jens Kidman and were no doubt influenced by the American thrash scene given its world dominating presence.

Before the band would become world famous themselves for the unique hybridization of death, thrash and progressive metal with jazz elements, MESHUGGAH was clearly in full Metallica worship mode on their early albums and after the two founders recruited bassist Peter Nordin and drummer Niclas Lundgren, the band would release the first eponymously titled EP in 1989 but has gained the nickname PSYKISK TESTBILD for its hypnotic black and white psychedelic album cover.

While only an EP of three tracks that slightly exceeds the nineteen minute mark, MESHUGGAH proved they had the chops to be the best Metallica clone in the biz. Copping the staccato riffing bravado of the ''And Justice For All' album with the heavy thrash of 'Masters Of Puppets,' this EP was certainly a grand declaration that this Swedish band was well on its way to be reckoned with. The only problem at this stage was the overt lack of originality despite the decent production job and outstanding musical talent.

While the introduction to MESHUGGAH was only issued as a 12' vinyl record limited to a1000 copies it's very unlikely anyone will come across this unless they are a true collector willing to shell out some dough however the tracks were later reissued and included on the compilation 'Rare Trax.' This short debut is also the only release to feature drummer Niclas Lundgren before long time member Tomas Haake would take over as drummer. While showing great promise, this is really one for the collector's only. Despite the great musicianship displayed, this is a Metallica clone all the way.

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 Stranger Heads Prevail by THANK YOU SCIENTIST album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.05 | 190 ratings

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Stranger Heads Prevail
Thank You Scientist Crossover Prog

Review by kohntarkosz1001

5 stars Ok, here it goes, my official first review on the site after almost 10 years of milking from this community's knowledge. And the chosen album is Stranger Heads Prevail, the latest effort of the weird ensemble of Thank You Scientist, an album that shows advocates of classic prog that the current scene is well nurtured and thriving.

I will begin with a personal anecdote: I was studying abroad by the time of this release (Sep-Oct 2016) and that was the first time I travelled outside my home country and this album reflects somewhat my experience abroad: I was eager to meet new people, speak other languages, be part of another culture; and while I was living that life, I came across this band, who, as I back then, took risks, had a good time and turned this album into something not seen very often.

To put it simply, this album's feel is refreshing, at times quirky, then jazzy, then melancholic and sometimes even aggressive; this is because of the band's unique blend of a funky bass, a cool brass section, a dramatic violin, some harsh and metallic guitars, prolific drums and of course, the awesome and energetic voice of Salvatore. If someone asked what genre this belongs to, one would probably argue that it is jazz rock with a spoonful of pop and a hint of metalcore. You have such variety, from the A Capella/Vaudeville pieces of Prologue and Epilogue, to the metallic Sonambulist to a groovy Rube Goldberg Variations. The best trait of this record is the flawless interaction between brass, guitars and vocals, often yielding powerful but melodic and intricate lines backed up by a rock solid rhythmic section.

This is not perfect by any means though, it can sometimes feel a bit repetitive and drag a little too long, and I would have liked more brass and a little less guitar but these aren't deal-breakers and I can live with them.

So, to conclude, this a refreshing and modern album with enough variety to appeal to any prog or jazz fan, so listen to this, specially if you like stuff such as Snarky Puppy, Coheed and Cambria, Anathema, or any prog in general really.

Best tracks: The Sonambulist, Rube Goldberg Variations, Mister Invisible, Automatic Blue

Final Veredict: Obviusly, 5 stars for an awesome record

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 A Change Of Seasons by DREAM THEATER album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1995
3.68 | 660 ratings

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A Change Of Seasons
Dream Theater Progressive Metal

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Dream Theater's EP 'A Change of Season's' definitely is an EP even though the entire run time is over 57 minutes. The reason for this is there is only the one original track on this EP which runs over 23 minutes, a suite that was originally written for inclusion on the album 'Images and Words', but for some reason, it was left off that album and released this way. The rest of the album, after this suite, is a 'bonus' and contains several covers that were recorded live at Ronnie Scott's Jazz club in London, England on January 31, 1995. The decision to release this album this way was a strategic one since the real reason for the release was the original suite, but DT didn't want to disappoint fans by releasing a short album or EP (because you know someone was bound to complain, even with the cheaper price point), so the live cover fan club show was added to this album.

Let's start out with concentrating on the suite 'A Change of Seasons'. The basic story line here deals with an individual's experiences leading from birth to death. The suite is made up of 7 subsections, so each one is actually quite short, none of them reaching the 4 minute mark. Starting with the instrumental section 'The Crimson Sunrise' you get a nice electric, but soft introduction involving guitars, piano, keyboards which suddenly erupts into the full band and heaviness halfway through, and the band lives up to it's Progressive Metal style as the section continues. 'Innocence' continues with the heavier sound, but with a noticeable meter and style change as the guitars take hold of a melody and vocals start soon after. The music is a definite progressive sound with a 4 / 4 meter, that gets manipulated and played around with so that it isn't just standard. Soon other meters come in making this more complex and the vocal melody refrains from dropping into any singular theme. 'Carpe Diem' slows things down quite a bit as the rhythm section drops out and we have acoustic guitar and dramatic vocals. The last part of this section works as a vocal build up which intensifies to the next section which is the instrumental 'The Darkest of Winters'. This section is full of ever changing meters and instrumental solos which flawlessly move through tricky rhythm changes and styles, going from heavy to jazz fusion and rapid guitar riffs that approach tech metal riffs with hardly misstep and ending back to a stately theme that moves into the next subsection 'Another World'. When the vocals come in, the rhythm drops out again with only organ accompanying before minimal bass comes in, later accompanied by piano and soft guitar. Things intensify again as in the 'Carpe Diem' section so we end up with a lovely mid- tempo guitar solo and later, emotional vocals. The next subsection is instrumental and called 'The Inevitable Summer' which starts more atmospheric, but continues the moderate tempo from the previous section along with a nice guitar solo that borrows from an almost UK style, that suddenly moves to a fast rhythm and a cool keyboard solo then heavy guitars driven by changing rhythms and broken up meters. We return to the beginning theme from the first section 'The Change of Seasons', this time with vocals following the thematic elements from the beginning of the suite. It all ends as it begins, with soft guitar. This track is one of DT's epic works that many consider one of their best.

The rest of the album is a lot of covers done live as mentioned before. You could end the EP right there, but the band thought it would be nice to add this live fan show. So, this all starts with Elton John's 'Funeral for a Friend / Love Lies Bleeding', which is Elton's only real progressive track, and it is a 5-star classic. But how does DT fare with it? Well, it is quite faithful to the original, but with more guitar filling in some of the extra keyboards and instruments that Elton has on the original. It's a decent rendition especially for being live, but doesn't add or take away from the original. The next cover is Deep Purple's 'Perfect Strangers'. I like the DP version well enough, but there really isn't anything added here except for a longer guitar solo. Next is a Led Zeppelin medley featuring 'The Rover', 'Achilles Last Stand' and 'The Song Remains the Same' all crushed down to 7 minutes. This is bad. So, so bad. You only get the introductory riff from The Rover and it slips into a shortened introduction to Achilles with some shaky vocals, and you can tell that DT is in too deep with this complex song and besides, you are entering sacred territory here. After a few verses and an attempt at part of the Achilles instrumental, they slip into 'The Song Remains the Same' but the vocals are just out of is range, so they end on that quickly before he tears a larynx or something. The last set of covers is a medley of various classical hits; 'In the Flesh?' by Pink Floyd, 'Carry On Wayward Son' by Kansas, 'Bohemian Rhapsody', 'Lovin' Touchin' Squeezin' ' by Journey, 'Cruise Control' by Dixie Dregs, and 'Turn it on Again' by Genesis. It's like a Reader's Digest version of condensed 70's rock hits. It's as bad as it sounds.

So now we run into the problem of whether the covers were bonus tracks and don't count towards the final score of the EP, or, since in reality they are part of the whole album and actually take up more time than the suite does. I think you have to listen to it all when you are reviewing and decide if the bonus material adds or takes away from the main feature here, and since this is an original recording, and not one where the bonus covers were added later, then it definitely counts to the overall EP. The suite is great, but by the time you get to the end of all of the covers, you have forgotten about how good the suite was, so it takes away from the EP. Yes, I am saying they would have been better off leaving the covers off of this EP. I'm not a huge fan of DT anyway, but this is one of their better suites, but the covers are not great and sometimes laughable. So with the covers added on, they managed to turn this into a 3 star affair.

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 Are You Sitting Comfortably? by IQ album cover Studio Album, 1989
2.74 | 298 ratings

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Are You Sitting Comfortably?
IQ Neo-Prog

Review by Zoltanxvamos

5 stars Second best IQ Album, Keep in mind iQ is a Neo-Prog Rock Band. Nostalgia and Falling Apart At The Seams are extremely oldschool prog, especially Nostalgia being a very Steve Hackett piece, being compared to Please Don't Touch. Falling Apart At The Seams is a complex piece of music with odd time, lyrical beauty, oldschool prog sound and mix, writing and other wise. Sold on you is a brilliant piece as well, as well as Wurensh, War Heroes, Through My Fingers and Nothing At All. The only song I can live without is Drive On, it's a fairly good song but it doesn't fit the album in terms of consistency to the theme of the album, but overall a good song. This album is a masterpiece in iQ's continuing history.

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 The Route Through The Canyon by SONORA SUNRISE album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.98 | 3 ratings

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The Route Through The Canyon
Sonora Sunrise Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Rivertree
Special Collaborator PSIKE Team & Band Submissions

4 stars This topical Trail Records move represents an album produced by a band hailing from the Russian Altai region, geographically bordering to China and dominated by diverse highlands. Well, to entitle their debut album 'A Route Through The Canyon' therefore marks a reasonable consquence, or what? And yes, if you will expect psychedelic space stuff arranged with a special dose of melancholy, atmosphere and ethnic vibe, you're on the right trail here indeed. First of all, I was confused for a while because they have updated the band name, which originally was 'Sonora' solely. Eventually this means there are also three EP's existing, as well as a live album, which they all had self-released beforehand.

The album's flow may match an entire day being underway across the highlands, on this occasion unexpextedly starting with an atmospheric sundown though, including some narrative for a transition. Oh, I wished I already had the opportunity to listen to this when I stayed at the Baikal Sea some years ago, not really far away, at least in Siberian terms. Pure nature, as far as the eye can see. Awe-inspiring. The band is able to convey it, with instinctive certainty. Welcome To The Sandland then may open a new day with a fantastic dreamy flow including some shamanic singing at the very end. Spheric keyboard/synth patterns furthermore, relaxed drumming with a jazzy touch, hypnotic bass lines, soaring guitars all over.

Katya Zlobina will decorate some songs with georgeous ethereal vocals in the vein of Sky Cries Mary and Rada & Ternovnik. Even acoustic guitars are used, when it comes to the charming ballad Roadside Picnic, somewhat mirroring a situation sitting round a twilight campfire with elevated position while preparing for the night. The circle closes for now, no repetition, perpetual change. Very inspiring. SONORA SUNRISE offer a fine psychedelic space tune collection for your entertainment. An album ideally suited for an hour of relaxing control. Just start the journey and then close your eyes. Four and a half stars so far.

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 Flowers At The Scene by BOWNESS, TIM album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.92 | 11 ratings

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Flowers At The Scene
Tim Bowness Crossover Prog

Review by admireArt
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Flowers At The Scene (2019) displays Tim Bowness´relentless music composition maturity clearly and for good.

In this release, as he usually does, he surrounds himself with a great cast of collaborators and as always Tim Bowness sounds like Tim Bowness and no one else.

I could tire you out with Mr. Bowness credentials, but I have done that in other reviews.

In this album there is an energetic feel which renews his heritage, like new blood, and it is all his and it happens all way through from track one to track eleven.

Simplification has been one of Tim Bowness guidelines and he does this without cutting off musical ideas (which he has plenty, both very good & unique), opposite to that this is done by solely displaying the essentials in his compositions, performances, recording and production even in his very intimate lyrics.

So expect diversity in all of Mr. Bowness´ musical language´s scope and a storm of memorable moments compressed in great songs.

4 PA´s stars.

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 White Crow by ANUBIS SPIRE album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.09 | 4 ratings

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White Crow
Anubis Spire Crossover Prog

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Annubis Spire is a US Crossover Prog band formed in 1998 who has released 8 full length albums since that time. Their 8th studio album "White Crow" was released in March of 2019, and features the current line-up of Bill MacKechnie on vocals and guitars, Michael Leo Brothers on vocals and guitars, Tim Costley on bass and Mick Loher on drums and percussion. The album has 11 tracks, none of which break the 6 minute mark, except for the opening track "Sentimental Prison" which has a nice combination of guitar and synth, but is a fairly straightforward and mid-tempo track that has shades of Floydian influence.

Bill's vocals are in the mid-range and are pleasant enough, but not really emotional either, however, he makes the lyrics quite easy to understand. As the album moves into "Captain I Need a Mission" we pretty much start off with the same sound as the previous track, but before 2 minutes, the entire feel of the track goes to a more upbeat rhythm for the rest of the track. There is still nothing really amazing here though, its all pretty straightforward with some okay solos. Interestingly enough, the next track "Love in the Time of Madness" is an instrumental which moves along quite well, but doesn't really develop into much. "Hindu Kush Newsreel" is a bit heavier with some nice sounding guitar work, even though it is a bit overproduced. This song would have been much better, but there is some spoken word going on throughout it which supposed to be like a news program, but it sounds a bit convoluted and ruins the intensity that is apparent in the background that only really stands out when the spoken word "verses" stop.

"Full Thrust" is sounds like a bad electonica track that tries to be stately but sounds a bit washed out. Nice for variety, but it doesn't sound very believable. "White Crow" goes back to a track where the lyrics are supposed to be important about a cult leader's bad habits. It's another heavy song, but it just seems flat and fake. "The Loneliness (at the Center of the World)" is a nice guitar instrumental, but is pretty standard and nothing stands out at all. "Damn Sick and Tired Blues (for Whiteboy Slim)" is a combination of acoustic and electric guitar with gruff vocals. The track is a combination of blues and rock, but again is a bit unbelievable and a tad silly.

"Sabbadelic" is another guitar rock instrumental that has a Hendrix vibe to it, but doesn't really deliver. "From That Window" is a soft track with tacky spoken word passages that later grows in intensity. "Falling Over Me (Like Stars)" is a nice slower guitar led instrumental, probably the most interesting on the album. Even then, it has all been heard before.

There is nothing wrong with variety on an album, in fact, I am all for it. But to pull it off, you have to be good at it. Variety can exist even when an artist or band has an overall specific sound by incorporating traits from other genres into their own style. But when a band tries to just hit every genre they can trying to sound like other artists besides themselves, it can feel unauthentic, as is the case here. The tracks are decent, but when its all said and done, it is all just mediocre, and nothing stands out. They did hit several genres in this album, but none of it is progressive. As such, it's all pretty standard music, average sounding and it receives an average rating.

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 Close To The Edge by YES album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.66 | 4243 ratings

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Close To The Edge
Yes Symphonic Prog

Review by jamesbaldwin
Prog Reviewer

4 stars "Close To The Edge" is the number ONE in the ranking of Progarchives. Is it the best progressive rock album of all time? My personal answer is no.

The Lp includes three songs: "Close To The Edge" (side A), "And You And I", and "Siberian Khatru" (side B).

"Close To The Edge", the song: Everybody here knows this suite very well... But is it a real suite? How is his structure? After having heard this suite for many years, here's to you my evaluation.

Close To The Edge (18:42) begins with country noises and a carpet of keyboards that gradually increases the volume, then comes an instrumental intro guided by Howe's guitar, which works on two lines: one does the solo, the other an underlying phrasing at great speed, which in fact marks a faster pace than that of Bruford's drums, which he prefers, with his creative jazzy style, not to beat too much on the snare drum, but works the rhythm at the hips. Meanwhile, Squire throws slashes with his mixed bass very high. The impression is therefore of listening to a polyrhythmic piece, without true melody, very well chiselled, refined, sophisticated, produced by the virtuosity of the musicians, which lasts about two and a half minutes, when Anderson's singing arrives to signal that it is time to start with the serious part, the storytelling. It is always Howe's guitar that leads, this time painting the melody, flanked by Squire's bass. The melody continues for a minute (up to about 3:50), then the rhythm stops and, punctuated by Bruford's drums, begins the hyperspeed rhythm that characterizes the verses of this long song. This time the keyboards of Wakeman arrive to support Howe's guitar, and together with Bruford's drums they beat the rhythm, while Squire produces some turns of bass to make it more lively. Anderson's singing begins, with its glacial timbre, and the very high, contralto tone, which somehow transcends the rock music in the background, turns off the heat like covering it with a white, pure, celestial liquid, and this it is the contradiction of Yes, well-marked by the critic Scaruffi: the romantic, warm, sentimental rock base is accompanied by the vocals of Anderson, cold, celestial, like icy water that extinguishes the fire. Therefore, a discrepancy is created, a conjunction of opposites, which produces a conflicting result, because Anderson's voice would be more suitable for slower, fluid, rarefied atmospheres of air or water, such as some kraut rock music (Hosianna Mantra) or some Canterbury (Wyatt's Rock Bottom) or the more recent post-rock. Instead this voice is associated with a melodic rock music, with a good rhythm, which tends to act more on a corporal than an astral level. All this produces conflict but also fascination, leaving in the music of Yes something that clashes, conflicts, but that makes it at the same time more fascinating, more stratified, less univocal, less simple, because it moves simultaneously in two opposite directions.

It is clear that Anderson's voice really characterizes the music of Yes and not everyone likes it. The fact that it goes on another level with respect to the music, combined with its super-high tone, almost falsetto, it could irritate or tire many listeners. Personally it took me several years to get used to Anderson's vocals, since I come from the classic (heartland) rock. I know that many lovers of classic rock don't tolerate Yes more for the voice of Anderson than for their songs, convoluted and full of virtuosic instrumental pieces.

But ... Let's go back to the song! The singing arrives: verse, second verse and immediately the chorus that then fades into a short solo by Howe that connects it to the bridge, at a more relaxed pace, then again comes the refrain, which in the final salt of tone touch a solemn epic climax ("I Get Up, I Get Down").

This structure, in fact an easy-listening melodic pop (beat style) song, represents the backbone of everything in Close To The Edge.

A piece of connection follows where Squire's bass is in evidence, then the keyboards report to the main melody: verse, second verse, chorus. All played with a different rhythm by Bruford and with greater use of the bass. In the refrain, more Wakeman's keyboards begins to be heard. Then bridge (where Howe's guitar feels good and there is an intermittent super high-pitched sound, I don't know if it's still produced by Howe or by Wakeman), then new chorus, which ends when we're at 8 minutes.

Following is a piece centered on low tones that introduce us to the instrumental break dominated by Wakeman. The music slows down, the rhythm section disappears, the song is deconstructed, leaving only abstract landscapes dominated by keyboards. It seems to be in a cold cave and in fact you can hear the sound of drops falling. Wakeman combines the sound of the synthesizer with that of organ and mellotron, and comes the singing of Anderson, in a doubled voice, at ease in this ethereal atmosphere. He starts again from the bridge, sung with slow rhythm, alternating with choirs of the chorus. This time Anderson's singing is intimate, confidential, and alternate to the choirs: my opinion is in this context that gives the best of himself, when his singing is confidential, and does not stand on the high notes ... or alternatively, when it grows on the high notes, if it is flanked by a melodic musical crescendo, and it's just happening now: the vocals "I Get Up, I Get Down, I Get Up" push the music to its peak, a marvelous epic, majestic, solemn climax after the long bridge / chorus; the voice rises in tone, and then the Wakeman church organ follow the vocals, and it sounds perfect for this musical juncture. We are a little longer than 12 minutes, and finally the song touches one of the highest peak of quality in the entire Yes's discography. Still Anderson, singing: "I Get Up, I Get Down", he leads the organ to lower notes, and after just over 14 minutes, the rhythm of the melody returns, with Bruford distinguishing it again from jazz preciousness.

The keyboards come back, and finally the singing starts again, on the hyperspeed rhythm with which it started the song: verse, second verse, bridge this time before the chorus, and finally again: "I Get Up, I Get Down", which closes in fading returning to the initial country noises.

Close To The Edge, in my opinion, is not a real suite. It is a song verse-chorus dilated to no end, which repeats the chorus (refrain) 6 times in total. Yes have created a new song format, they take a commercial easy-listening pop song with a verse-chorus (refrain)-bridge-chorus (refrain) structure and then they dilate it, speed it up, slow it down, accompany it with changes of rhythm and arrangement, support it with instrumental digressions and get to almost 20 minutes: and here's to you a beat song disguised as a classical suite. The (high-class) operation unites a simple substance: an easily accessible music, to a complex form: its clothing with a high quotient of virtuosity, refined arrangement, polyrhythmic instrumental pieces.

Rating high: 8,5/9. Successful song.

Now side B. Will side B be able to maintain the same level of quality?

"And You and I" (10:08) begins acoustically with a pastoral guitar phrasing, then comes the singing of Anderson, who sings two verses with a folk background, marked however by Wakeman's synths. The melody is pretty, but nothing more. Bruford's drums come together for a nice bridge "in crescendo", where Squire's bass performs numbers on the bass. The verse returns, which ends by raising the tone, and introducing a multi-level Wakeman solo, which brings the song from pastoral-folk to almost psychedelic-space rock, until the singing of Anderson returns, on the notes of the bridge, to making this orchestral crescendo celestial which, in effect, tends to rise towards the sky. In this way a nice climax is reached, which ends around 6 minutes. The music stops, the acoustic guitar phrasing returns, quite similar at the beginning, it comes to support it the rhythm section, then again a solo of keyboards / synths, this time a digression on the theme, above which the voice of Anderson returns, accompanied by the choirs, for the third bridge. The music rises for the "great finale", but again it stops, and Anderson's voice returns for the last 40 seconds. They should have avoided closing by repeating the verse, as the song has already repeated itself too much.

The song was virtually finished after 6 minutes, after reaching the climax. The remaining 4 minutes do not add much in terms of musical material, and would at least be cut by a minute. In this case, in expanding the song to get a mini suite, Yes don't get the same remarkable result achieved in Close To The Edge. As a quality, the song would have been better if it ended after 6 minutes. But even if they wanted to repeat the initial folk melody, they would have to end the song in an instrumental way without extending it so much. Rating: 8.

"Siberian Khatru" (9:00) brings the atmosphere back to the initial guitar rock, with more emphasis on keyboards. From the beginning the song appears quite repetitive and less inspired than Close To The Edge. Also in this case, the melody is pretty but not excellent. Anderson prefers to be accompanied by choirs, but it is above all the instrumental work that is more repetitive and less inspired than the first two pieces. After two verse-chorus pieces, the instrumental solo arrives, left first at Wakeman's celesta and then at Howe's guitar. The piece, however, does not sound with the same conviction as the other two. After 4 and a half minutes, Anderson's crystalline voice comes as fresh air to invigorate the piece, then starts the refrain, with Bruford beating drums and cymbals like a madman and Squire making the numbers. Again a slowdown, the singing of choirs, Bruford to make the numbers, and finally an instrumental queue that is too long, two and a half minutes, since it doesn't add anything particularly new compared to the repeated rhythm as a possessed from beginning to end. The Yes add a syncopated piece of percussion and vocals to break the rhythm. But on the whole, like "And You And I", the musical material is too little to justify the 9 minutes of the song, and Yes can't always do miracles, as in "Close To The Edge", to make original simple music that could be compressed in three minutes. Here, in fact, they try, and they are to praise, not to make the song dull, between percussion and the slashes of bass by Squire, which characterizes the ending of the piece, but overall the result is not compelling, and in short the song seems in effect, compared to the other two, a filler pulled too long. Rating: 7,5.

Side A: Rating 8,5/9. Side B: Rating 8. Rating album: 8,5 for the quality, 8,5/9 for his unity and coherence. Four and a half Stars.

Is "Close To The Edge" the masterpiece of progressive rock? Not in my opinion. It is an almost masterpiece, in terms of quality. The first part is a masterpiece, the second is not. In my personal ranking the rating is 8.5 / 9 that is four and a half stars. Even if it were 5-star, it would be a small masterpiece, which remains a bit far from the peaks of King Crimson and Van Der Graaf Generator. Close To The Edge has the characteristic of being the emblem of the canons of progressive rock that in 1972 had its greatest flowering. It has one side filled with just one suite, and the other with two mini-suites or long songs: the maximum (for prog) would be one suite per side, as Yes will do in the next, double album "Tales From Topographic Oceans". Here the songs are not real suites, but very dilated melodic pop-rock songs (while on Tales and Relayer Yes will compose real suites). Then Yes provide a great rate of virtuosity, rhythm changes (or polyrhythmic rhythms), instrumental variations on the main melodic theme; they add baroque arrangements (the church organ and the celesta played by Wakeman) to the songs that have a simple rock or folk structure; in short: in this album Yes exemplify with the maximum coherence the canons, the schemes, the patterns of progressive rock. And they put, in the first side, and partly in And You And I, excellent sound content, musical progressions coupled with singing that reach climax, a high rate of pathos.

But all this is affected by the excessive expansion of duration of the songs, especially in the second side. As often happens, the main representatives of an artistic movement, those who shape the patterns, have more historical importance than a universal recognition for the quality of their works. That is, it is often those who are inside an artistic movement without respecting all the canons to be those who, subjected to the scrutiny of the historical judgment, come out better. Yes are the quintessence of the progressive rock of the golden age. Certainly they weren't just gifted musicians, they created an imaginary, they have always been visionaries, both musically and narratively. However, the quality peaks achieved in their albums, in my opinion, are not the highest achieved within the progressive rock movement. This Lp got high, but not very high quality, in my opinion. This record, in fact, represents the artistic peak of Yes discography ("Fragile" and certain parts of "Tales" are close to its) and, as my critical judgment, while praising the first side, which gives me great pleasure in listening, the pleasure ends up arriving at sixth minute of And You and I. The rest is not ugly, on the contrary, it is of good level, but not of great level. And this justifies my rating of four and a half stars. If "Heart of the Sunrise" had been here instead of Siberian Khatru, "Close To The Edge" would have been a real masterpiece that could be close to the top results of Van Der Graaf Generator and King Crimson.

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 Monster Movie by CAN album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.80 | 330 ratings

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Monster Movie
Can Krautrock

Review by Kempokid
Collaborator Prog Metal Team

4 stars For those who listened to Can's later work and admired their amazingly groovy repetition in places, I feel like you'll enjoy this album greatly. While Tago Mago and the like may have had hypnotic, repetitive beats throughout the songs, this album takes it to another level in that regard, with each song almost solely being dedicated to a single rhythmic pattern and hook, and then repeated ad nauseum throughout the length of the song. As well as its extreme simplicity which ends up working wonders due to the highly groovy, hypnotic nature of the tracks, there is also a certain energy and manic quality to the songs, the latter definitely provided by the bizarre, unhinged nature of Malcolm Mooney's vocal performance.

Father Cannot Yell immediately sets the precedent for the kind of music thi album will consist of, starting off with a high pitched beeping noise while the instruments are all quickly introduced, with a creeping bassline, drumming like clockwork, and simplistic guitars. The aspect of the song that most catches my attention is the extremely irregular vocal rhythm that's present, seemingly going all over the place with little regard for tempo and time signatures, which is honestly really interesting sounding here. The only majorly shifting instrumental element of the song is that of the guitar, which sometimes becomes near cacophonous at points, with a constant ebb and flow providing for an interesting listening experience further heightened by the wonderfully quirky vocal breakdown halfway through. Mary, Mary So Contrary displays an entire other side of the band's sound, still applying the simplistic, repetitive and rhythm focused songwriting approach, but being much softer and with some more melody put in. The main thing I love about this song is that high pitched wail of the guitar, as it provides a nice bit of sonic depth to the song while the metronimic drumming continues on and on, making the back half of this song absolutely wonderful. Outside My Door, while less memorable and impressive than the previous two tracks, definitely has its own unique identity, with a surf rock style as well as a harmonica, so it's far from a complete write off. You Doo Right makes up the bulk of this album, and is definitely a strange song, taking the mentality applied to the rest of this album, but then stretching it out to 20 minutes in length, essentially providing a 20 minute long jam centred around key vocal hooks. I feel like it's pulled off quite well overall, being able to remain entertaining throughout, more or less exploring the furthest reaches of this particular groove and melody.

While some of Can's later works are definitely where I would gravitate towards, especially their excellent Tago Mago, I really love the stripped back simplicity here, and find that it's executed extremely well. Malcolm Mooney's vocal performance provides a certain charm to the albums that Damo Suzuki couldn't replicate, despite him being a far better vocalist and definitely having moments of further insanity than anything that they could dream of here. All in all, I do thoroughly enjoy this album and would strongly recommend giving it a listen after hearing the Damo Suzuki material from the band.

Best songs: Father Cannot Yell, You Doo Right

Weakest songs: Outside My Door

Verdict: Extremely repetitive, rhythm focused music with great energy in parts, while also being able to make it all sound extremely enjoyable. I'd definitely recommend starting off with the peak material of Can before moving on to this, but I do find it to be an album you should definitely listen to if you enjoyed the minimalistic nature of those albums.

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 Revolution: Underground Sounds of 1968 by VARIOUS ARTISTS (CONCEPT ALBUMS & THEMED COMPILATIONS) album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2019
4.00 | 1 ratings

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Revolution: Underground Sounds of 1968
Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations) Various Genres

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

— First review of this album —
4 stars The era of psychedelic rock in the late sixties has been compiled many times. This new Esoteric Recordings 3-CD box approaches that innovative era from quite a fresh (and definitely prog-minded) view, by concentrating on the year 1968 only, on British music.

The 2-page introduction by Mark Powell is in itself an excellent summarization of the most radical artistic development of rock that took place within a few years. The changes really started in the spring of 1967. The Beatles had a leading role, and all of a sudden bands that had been playing r&b changed their style, e.g. The Moody Blues, Pink Floyd, Cream, Procol Harum.. "The emphasis was now on 'serious' rock music. The single was not seen as an adequate medium to express one's artistic ideas, albums were ambitious and often conceptual in nature and tracks were up to twenty minutes long catering to the demands of an eager 'underground' audience." The terms underground and progressive "came to encompass many different musical styles that were all listened to and purchased by the same social group comprising mainly of hippies and students. Styles such as psychedelic rock, jazz-rock, space rock, folk rock and blues-rock all became classed as 'Progressive' or 'Underground'", Powell writes. The year 1968 is perhaps the most fruitful year ever in the development of rock. There were also various media supporting the new artists, and Powell gives a lot of credit to the legendary DJ John Peel.

The 48-page illustrated booklet introduces each artist in alphabetical order (not the running order) which is wise. I'd preferred the print to be slightly larger. The texts are well written and contain a lot of information in an economic space (roughly one page per artist). Many of the artists aren't that well known by even an advanced listener, so the set is very worthy also as a reference source. Well, especially in the case of GENESIS (represented by 'One Eyed Hound' and 'That's Me') the band's latest phases are a bit irrelevant in this context... About the selection of artitsts; anyone with a good knowledge on early prog can easily name several important bands that are missing: Pink Floyd, The Nice, Family, The Moody Blues, Soft Machine. The best known prog acts included here, besides Genesis, are JETHRO TULL ('My Sunday Feeling'), CARAVAN ('Place of My Own' and 'Magic Man'), VdGG ('People You Were Going to'), PROCOL HARUM ('Shine on Brightly') and BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST ('Early Morning' and 'Mr. Sunshine'). TRAFFIC's here too, and so is GILES, GILES & FRIPP ('Suite No. 1').

Of course this set isn't particularily about [proto] prog, nor about psychedelic rock even though a part of the contents naturally naturally can be pigeonholed into psychedelic rock: TOMORROW (featuring Steve Howe), PRETTY THINGS, SAM GOPAL... First and foremost the set showcases the diversity of styles. There are folk rock acts such as PENTANGLE and JOHN MARTYN, blues-rock such as FLEETWOOD MAC ('Black Magic Woman'), STATUS QUO ('Paradise Flat'), JOHN MAYALL ('Fly Tomorrow') and JEFF BECK ('Shape of Things'). DEEP PURPLE both starts and ends the whole set ('And the Address' and 'Mandrake Root'). BRIAN AUGER & JULIE DRISCOLL's 'This Wheel's on Fire' and ARTHUR BROWN's 'Fire!' were the ones I'd replace for being so often compiled. Examples of musicians that found fame in their later bands are Jeff Lynne and Roy Wood (of IDLE RACE and THE MOVE respectively) before they joined forces in ELO. Also the Shulman Brothers of Gentle Giant are here: Simon Dupree & the Big Sound released the psychedelic single 'We Are the Moles' as THE MOLES, which was rumoured to be The Beatles in disguise!

Well, my review turned out to be more like an overall introduction to this set, but understandably reviewing separate songs would be slightly unfocussed in this case. This is exactly the kind of a compilation of which one doesn't have to like each song, and it's extremely unlikely anyway. But despite having some tracks the average listener probably has already, this gives a wonderful and deeply educational slice of rock history.

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 The Threshingfloor by WOVEN HAND album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.16 | 16 ratings

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The Threshingfloor
Woven Hand Prog Folk

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

3 stars David Eugene Edwards is the artist behind the formation of Woven Hand, but before this band, he was also the person that created the band "16 Horsepower", an alt-country band that utilized some of the same styles as he uses with Woven Hand. The big difference here is that Woven Hand has more of the folk element intermingled with dark, minor chord, almost gothic gospel music.

"The Threshingfloor" is the bands 7th album, released in 2010. The album really continues with that heavy, almost apocalyptic sound that still spouts out spiritual lyrics but done in a fire and brimstone style as before. The project used sparse instrumentation when they first started out, but has expanded to a full band as they are in this album.

Though the music is very root-sy, it is surprisingly dark for spiritual music. But that actually lends itself to the earlier folk style anyway. This album is full of that style, but it also takes from some traditional dance styles, and in this album, those are the best tracks as some of the usual ones are starting to feel a bit stale when you first hear them. As they grow on you, you get a better appreciation for them, but that doesn't change the fact that the overall feel of each album doesn't change much.

The better tracks here are the ones that sound least like songs from previous albums like "The Threshingfloor", "Singing Grass", the "New Order" cover "Truth", "Orchard Gate" and "Denver City". All of the other tracks are still okay tracks, they are just pretty much material that we have already heard from them.

As much as I love 16 Horsepower, I have a harder time having as much enthusiasm for Woven Hand. They are great for a listen once in a while, but, as I said, tend to sound to much the same. This is a pretty good album if you want to try out the sound of the band, and you will probably love it the first time you hear it, but if you've heard the band before, then you have pretty much heard what is offered on this album.

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 Irreligious by MOONSPELL album cover Studio Album, 1996
3.65 | 41 ratings

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Irreligious
Moonspell Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

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

4 stars While many second wave black metal bands jumped on the bandwagon and rode the wave of the template set down by bands like Mayhem and Darkthrone like a surfer in the Hawaiian Islands, some bands that started out that way jumped in and felt more like Jamaican bobsledders so they decided the status quo wasn't quite for them. Such is the case for the Lisbon, Portugal based MOONSPELL that emerged in 1994 with the debut EP "Under The Moonspell" as a decent but indistinct black metal band but by the time they released the first full-length debut "Wolfheart" a year later, the band started to find its own niche in the quickly exploding scene. While still steeped in black metal, MOONSPELL laced it with a healthy dose of gothic metal inspired by bands like Tiamat, Type O Negative and The Gathering along with some various strains of European folk which together created a rather unique sound in the metal world.

Despite this early development of their own making, MOONSPELL abandoned this metal hybrid as quickly as it had established it and on the sophomore album IRRELIGIOUS, the black metal was totally jettisoned altogether with much of the folk music thrown by the wayside as well. What was left was a more gothic rock infused style that while tamping down the metal in general and replacing it with eerie Gregorian chants and symphonic organ sounds, still had enough metal mojo to qualify it as a metal band but in general, the gothic touches produced a more stylized production job that relied on a tapestry of instrumental sounds to create gloomy atmospheres and romantic visions of Romanian castles with blood thirsty counts on the hunt for another fix. The metal, while still quite abrasive at times had been reserved only for crescendoes and contrasts from the otherwise symphonic dominant melodrama.

The difference between IRRELIGIOUS and "Wolfheart" is stark and immediate as the album begins with a soundtrack sounding intro called "Perverse? Almost Religious" which takes spooky church organs and choral chants to evoke a full moon lit night journey into the graveyard and beyond. As "Opium" begins the nosedive into the world of everything goth, it's also noticeable that the black metal guitar distortion has been replaced by a slicker guitar fuzz that plays in tandem with a hypnotic bass groove and slowed down percussive drive. Likewise, vocalist Fernando Ribeiro almost abandons any harsh screamed vocals except for the most dramatic moments and opts for romantic spoken poetic prose along with the clean Type O Negative style that sounds like Count Dracula has decided to make a mini-opera about his perverse proclivities.

"Wolfheart" displayed a strong sense of melodic hooks and IRRELIGIOUS continues this trend with eleven strong tracks that create instant gratification but it's really the compositional flare that makes this such a strong album. The carefully timed developments of the dynamics, tones, timbres and bursts of aggression work out incredibly well and no moments feel like they wear out their welcome nor do they feel rushed. This is just one of those albums that teeters on the balance between too pop and too dark but somehow has enough elements of both sides of the spectrum to please. The tracks are diverse with some ranging on the slower side like "Ruin & Misery" which exudes a slow oozing use of keyboards, crunchy guitar riffage and nonchalant tempo changes. The musicians also show some extended range in their playing abilities. While the drummer simply known as Mike more or less just keeps a beat, on tracks like "For A Taste Of Eternity" he shows a flare for extremely complex polyrhythms and percussive dominance.

Overall the keyboards and samples of Pedro Paixão play the dominant role with the recording of Aleister Crowley reading his own poem "The Poet" on the track "Awake" which exemplifies the occult feel of the album as a whole. IRRELIGIOUS is a nicely paced album that is ultimately an atmospheric gothic rock album with metal touches that take it to heavy heights at key moments. The alternating forces of the symphonic rock and the more sonorous metal sections works quite well as do the stylistic percussion changes and guitar sounds that range from echoey clean to the intemperate unleashed loudness. MOONSPELL was one of those bands that couldn't quite decide where they wanted to stay for long and despite crafting a cleverly cool and wickedly wild ride with this goth metal classic, the band would change things up again and get more experimental on the following "Sin / Pecado" but for this one at least MOONSPELL proved that they had an incredibly keen sense of what it takes to craft the perfect sensual sensibilities that make a great goth rock / metal album.

4.5 rounded down

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 The Key Of The Garden by FUNGUS album cover Studio Album, 2019
4.00 | 2 ratings

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The Key Of The Garden
Fungus Heavy Prog

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Starting out as a psychedelic band, Fungus from Genua, Italy has been around since 2002. They have since established themselves as a Heavy Prog band. After releasing an EP, 2 live albums and their 3rd full length album in 2013, the band has finally come back with their 4th studio album "The Key of the Garden" released in March of 2019. This album is the 3rd in a series revolving around a concept together with "Better Than Jesus" and "The Face of Evil". The album is made up of 9 tracks (7 on the vinyl version, the "Pink Floyd" and "Family" covers are left off of the LP) and the album runs for just over an hour. The line up consists of Dorian Deminstrel on vocals and acoustic guitar, AkaFuzz on guitar, Claudio Ferreri on keyboards and synths, Carlo Barreca (the only original member still in the band) on bass, flute and trumpet, and Cajo on drums. There are a couple of guests on the album also adding additional flute, sax and percussion on a few tracks.

The album starts with the 9+ minute "Suite No. 5 ? Part I". A bright synth and guitars bring it all together with a progressive beginning which soon lightens up a bit to bring in the vocals. The vocals are deep, yet not really heavy. The accent is heavy on the English vocals, but not annoying. When the track gets a little heavier, the vocals respond by getting more dramatic. A sudden shift in tempo at 4 minutes happens, speeding up the drums and a very nice bass solo before a guitar solo starts, supported by organ. Later, things go suddenly dark and dramatic and after this, moods and meters change quite often, proving that the band is definitely progressive. You even get an acoustic section with whistling thrown in before it returns to a softer section which intensifies before the end. Right off the bat, it can be noted that Dorian's vocals are at their best on the heavier and dramatic sections.

"Eternal Mind" starts with a nice hook which involves the guest flautist Nik Turner. The feel is in a pastoral style reminiscent of "The Moody Blues", but with a dramatic vocalist. Things do get heavier on the instrumental break when the guitar busts in with a vengeance. "Demo-crazy" is a much heavier track with churning guitars and a blues-inspired beat further supported by an organ and a progressive vocal melody.

"1Q84" is an epic 12 minute track. This starts with a psychedelic edge as stylized by "The Doors", as the vocalist does his best Jim Morrison imitation. After 2 minutes, however, we get a good guitar solo and a progressive section that takes the track to its next section, this time with heavier sound in the guitars and keyboards and the return of more dramatic vocals. More progressive rhythm and a bit of complexity follow this until things smooth out for a synth solo after which follows a soft section that builds with a guitar driving the intensity forward. Next it moves into an "Iron Butterfly" feel as the track continues. Then a bit of Pink Floyd style acoustic strumming before it returns to The Doors style again. With all of this name dropping, the track seems like it can be a bit choppy, but there are some really good passages throughout the track, so it's not a complete write off, it just seems like it is trying to fit too much into one track, when fewer sections and more development would have strengthened the track.

"Becoming to Be" has the stoner vibe with a slowed down, yet heavy sound complete with fuzzy guitar and organ. The big surprise here is a growling sax that actually fits in with the heavy tone as it imitates the guitars. Nik Turner plays the sax this time as a guest. Later in the track, the mix of guitar and sax almost give it all a chaotic feel before things calm down for a returning vocal section. "Suite No. 5 ? Part II" follows this with a slight return to the feel of the first track. Since this is a shorter track than the first part at just over 4 minutes, the vocals come in much earlier this time. The last section of the suite doesn't come in until after 3 minutes, but it does give a feeling of finality to the suite with a stately heaviness which gets finished off with a guitar solo and synth riff. But, that's not the end of the album, just the suite.

A surprise cover follows this on the non-LP version of the album with the Pink Floyd track "See Emily Play". The track retains its psychedelic sound, but looses a bit of "umph" even with its heavier sound. After this we get the track "Holy Picture" which is over 10 minutes. This starts with a nice piano accompanying vocals. This soft section exposes the vocalists weaknesses with softer sections, but it builds nicely later and the drama starts again, but that is the vocalist's forte. There is an obvious edit in this track as it leads into a guitar and synth improvisation, because this expanded section is recorded live. You will hear a sudden change in the timbre mostly in the drums when it goes into the live section. This will continue to the end of the track. The last track is another cover (again not on the LP version) from "Family" called "The Weaver's Answer". I'm not a big fan of Fungus' version here, at least until it goes into the progressive instrumental break, but the vocal sections are kind of choppy sounding.

Even though the vocals are a bit shaky in a few places, Dorian shows his strength in dramatic vocals. The music is very retro sounding, which is not a bad thing. The timbre even sounds old in a few places, and a few sloppy cuts almost make it authentic like it actually came from the late 60s or early 70s. There are some impressive sections, but in the longer tracks, some of those sections could have stood a bit more development and maybe fewer subsections. All in all, I find it entertaining enough, and I tend to think this album falls between 3 and 4 stars, but it's one that probably tips the scales into its favor with some great sounds and the nice retro feel.

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 Underground Community by HARVEST album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.63 | 36 ratings

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Underground Community
Harvest Neo-Prog

Review by Quinino
Special Collaborator Errors & Omissions Team

4 stars Melodic Neo-Prog rock much anchoured on the (excellent) gentle female English vocals of Monique Kolk and the synth soundscapes of Jordi Amela, who also is responsible for the mixing. None of this intended to diminish the contribution of the guitarist and the rhythm section which complete the quintet, all of them proving consistent musicianship at their respective instruments.

The music, arrangements and production is credited to the band (the lyrics are mostly by Monique) and that results in a musical cohesion that can be felt throughout the album. Incidentally they also play a cover of a Marillion song "Waiting To Happen", with whom the band has a particular relationship, having opened for them in Barcelona back in 2009 and also later played at the Marillion Weekend 2013.

Expect no Mellotron or Strings, only an ocasional acoustic guitar or piano besides the usual standard rock electric instrumentation, and a cello on one track. The production is modern and tasteful, effects abound but never too flashy. The comparison that comes to mind is Mostly Autumn, partly also because of the vocal style (without the harmonies).

All in all I can say it's a very pleasant first album by competent musicians who, although always sailing in the calmer waters of rock, know how to avoid being monotonous.

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 Trilogy by EMERSON LAKE & PALMER album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.13 | 1524 ratings

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Trilogy
Emerson Lake & Palmer Symphonic Prog

Review by Kempokid
Collaborator Prog Metal Team

4 stars To me, Emerson, Lake and Palmer's album Trilogy was an attempt to curb to their enthusiasmafter the ambitious undertaking of Tarkus, providing much more restrained, polished songs while also maintaining some ambition and bombast from Tarkus, making a perfect middle ground betweem the two albums. This is definitely my favourite album by the band, as the issues that the previous albums had have been fixed for the most part, with much more focus on songwriting rather than showing off talent while also maintaining focus throughout the album. Just like previous efforts, there is still great focus on making an energetic, fun experience, except this time I feel they execute it extremely well without any major problems. One thing that I have noticed in this album is that many sections seem to take strong inspiration from certain other symphonic prog bands of the time, especially Genesis and Yes.

The Endless Enigma is definitely one of the highlights of the album, a 3 part suite switching between hyperactive instrumentation and melodic power with what feels like some Genesis inspiration, including Greg Lake at times sounding quite similar to Peter Gabriel, especially during the rising crescendo of a chorus. The song overall has an extremely powerful, grandiose tone to it that I feel is rarely matched by the band, or many other classic prog bands at all for that matter, and find this to easily be one of the greatest songs by the band, with the varied percussion and frantic piano in Fugue to add an additional layer of depth to it. The album continues going strong with my favourite slow song by the band, From The Beginning, which begins sounding extremely similar to the intro of Roundabout before developing into a relaxed beat with various kinds of percussion, as Greg Lake's wonderfully nuanced voice carries the listener along smoothly, with this being such a wonderfully relaxing song. On the other hand, the album is far from a quiet one, after all, it's ELP, with an extreme amount of energy being released in one of their best classical reimaginings, Hoedown. This is without a doubt one of the most entertaining songs the band has put out, constantly keeping the amazing, fast pace and high energy of the song and displaying the extent of Keith Emerson's keyboard playing. My favourite part is easily once various melodies begin crossing over one another in the final half minute of the song, fully displaying the insanity capable of the band. Trilogy is another song split up into multiple sections, although this time not in any way other than compositionally, with no different section names or the like. I personally don't find this song to be quite up to the same level of the previous ones, but it is still quite an impressive song. Living Sin is a surprisingly dark sounding piece, with a much lower, more foreboding tone of voice used by Lake, while still maintaining his charm. While the song is more simplistic than others here, that isn't an issue when it is made up for immensely through just how enjoyable it is.

The album does unfortunately have two songs in which I am not particularly keen on, those being The Sheriff, which has a similar ragtime feel to Jeremy Bender, albeit better in this case, but not by enough to elevate it beyond mediocrity, and Abaddon's Bolero. WHile I love the idea behind this song, taking the inspiration of the Bolero by creating an ever crescendoing instrumental, I don't find it to be particularly interesting beyond the fact that it sounds like an intense war march. While these two songs don't dampen the experience by an extreme degree, I do still find them to be somewhat disappointing, especially The Sheriff, which didn't have the benefit of being interesting in concept.

Despite a couple of more minor flaws, I find this to be Emerson, Lake and Palmer's best work, being highly consistent and polished all the way through with very minor flaws for the most part. I also like the fact that in many respects, this is a far more restrained approach to the band's songwriting, with far fewer moments of pure bombast and excess, embracing the more subtle side of songwriting to write some truly unforgettable tracks. This is where I'd recommend newcomers of the band to start off, as it's more refined and subtle than previous albums and seems like a much easier entry point into the band.

Best songs: The Endless Enigma, From The Beginning, Hoedown

Weakest songs: The Sheriff, Abaddon's Bolero

Verdict: A more refined, subtle album by Emerson, Lake and Palmer that displays increased maturity, leading to a more well rounded album. Definitely my favourite by the band and an ideal starting point for those interested.

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 Tarkus by EMERSON LAKE & PALMER album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.05 | 1719 ratings

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Tarkus
Emerson Lake & Palmer Symphonic Prog

Review by Kempokid
Collaborator Prog Metal Team

2 stars When it comes to my enjoyment of an album, I need consistency in order to want to listen to it, I want a more complete listening experience in which everything fits together cohesively, not necessarily a concept album, but something that feels properly planned out and conceived. This is a big reason why Emerson Lake and Palmer's Tarkus fails so miserably, it doesn't matter how great your side long epic is guys, the rest of the material sucks and greatly drags everything down. While I found their debut album to be quite rough around the edged with a lack of polish and tight songwriting causing to to be much less enjoyable than it could have been, this album feels more like an ill conceived mess, with a single good song in its entirety.

To be fair, this one good song happens to be Tarkus, so it's not as if this album is completely worthless, as despite the fact that I don't find this quite as good as other epics of around the time such as Supper's Ready, Plague of Lighthouse Keepers and Close To The Edge, this is nonetheless an excellent track all the way through. One aspect I really love about this song is how it manages to control the bombast and relentless desire for showing off, making for a technically impressive song that doesn't go overboard with wandering jams, instead moving between each section seamlessly, with a strong jazzy tinge to Keith Emerson's playing. Furthermore, the song has a great progression to it, continuously switching between quiet, beautiful moments, and chaotic, bombastic instrumental sections that sound like an off kilter war march in certain respects, especially in terms of the wailing moog. One of my favourite moments of the song is definitely Mass, which is just so wonderfully groovy and energetic, building up to a drum solo that impresses me every time, which is balanced out by continuing to push the melody and rhythm, stopping the isolated, dull feeling that the drum solo of Tank created. Honestly, this is one of ELP's crowning achievements, being able to create a 20 minute epic without a single moment of filler.

The unfortunate thing is that after this absolutely monumental track, the rest of the album is without a doubt extremely painful to listen to. For one, most of the songs are quite generic, with barely anything of interest to be found at all. At the very least, both Bitches Crystal and The Only Way (Hymn) feel like there was an effort made in them, although the latter, while somewhat nice to listen to, is extremely boring, although the church organ and the way it picks up at the end stops it from being bad. The former feels rushed with parts that feel unnecessary, like, in such a bombastic, insane song, there is no need for the quieter moments, it's Emerson, Lake and Palmer, excess is everywhere and in spades, so I find it annoying that a time where this could be used to their advantage ends up being wasted. Time and a Place and Infinite Space (Conclusion) are both songs I have very little to say about, as they are simply beyond dull and unneccesary, further damaging an album that is already slipping. The final nail in the coffin is that this album has not one, but two comedic songs in them, both of which are awful. Jeremy Bender employs a sort of ragtime style to a very simple melody, and it's just really bad all around, especially since it comes straight after Tarkus. Are You Ready Eddy on the other hand is nothing short of utter garbage, and definitely one of the most unbearable songs the band has ever put out, trying to take a more classic rock and roll approach, but falling on their face so embarrassingly with every step. Furthermore, this is the song the album closes off on, leaving a sour taste in my mouth afterwards.

Honestly, if the band decided to maintain the same kind of magic and focus as Tarkus displayed, I think I'd absolutely adore this album, but as it stands, it's by far my least favourite of the peak of Emerson, Lake and Palmer's career. It's amazing just how different in quality the two halves of this album are, and just how obnoxious and bad I find the second half, making me treat this album as a single, 20 minute track instead most of the time, as I just have no desire to listen to it in full. If not for the masterpiece of the first half, this would be an easy 1 star, but I'll rate it 2, since I can't call this album good, but would be horribly wrong to completely write it off.

Best tracks: Tarkus, which is definitely a high point in the band's meterial

Weakest tracks: While the second side is all bad, Jeremy Bender and Are You Ready Eddy stand out immensely in this category

Verdict: An uneven mess of an album with its first side being incredible, but it's second side being borderline unlistenable. I only relistened to anything the second side had to offer in order to be able to give this a fair review.

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 The Young Persons Guide To King Crimson by KING CRIMSON album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1976
3.86 | 104 ratings

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The Young Persons Guide To King Crimson
King Crimson Eclectic Prog

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Review Nº 244

'The Young Persons Guide To King Crimson' is a compilation of King Crimson and was released in 1976. Its name is probably derived from the orchestral work 'The Young Person's Guide To The Orchestra' from the classical British composer Benjamin Britten. However, it can also derive from the 60's television series, with the same name, created by the classical American composer Leonard Bernstein. The artwork of the album is from the Scottish artist Fergus Hall.

'The Young Persons Guide To King Crimson' has fifteen tracks. 'Epitaph' from 'In The Court Of The Crimson King' is a notable and beautiful track, which became as one of the best and most beautiful symbols of prog music. It's one of my favourite prog tracks too. 'Cadence And Cascade' from 'In The Wake Of Poseidon' is a mix of folk and jazz, with Haskell providing the lead vocals and a breezy flute solo of Collins. It may be the prettiest song the group ever made. It's a peaceful song, very beautiful and nicely sung. But, this version is only a short extract. 'Ladies Of The Road' from 'Islands' is a song with a lyrical tone and is playfully sexist. It seems to be the favourite song of Fripp on that album. This is probably the nearest thing on that album capable to be a proverbial hit single. 'I Talk To The Wind' from 'In The Court Of The Crimson King' is the most melodic song on that album. It's a simple and peaceful song commanded by McDonald's flute, very well accompanied by Sinfield's lyrics and sung beautifully by Lake, in a very quiet mood. But, this is a different version. It was recorded in 1968 and was sung by Judy Dyble from Fairport Convention, instead Greg Lake. This version is also available on 'The Brondesbury Tapes', a compilation of Giles, Giles & Fripp. 'Red' from 'Red' is an instrumental track, very powerful and heavy. It features heavy guitars, an incredible bass line and a unique drumming style. It shows the band's ability to feature multiple time signatures in only one song. 'Starless' from 'Red' is a masterpiece. It's one of my favourite King Crimson's songs too. It's a great dark song with Wetton's melancholic voice. This is a classic song that represents the perfect end to that album. 'The Night Watch' from 'Starless And Bible Black' is a piece deriving directly from Rembrandt's painting with the same name. It's a calm and melodic song, perfectly performed by all band's members that captures the real feel and sense in the context of the painting. 'Book Of Saturdays' from 'Larks' Tongues In Aspic' is a very simple, peaceful and nice song where we can relax, and is very well sung. 'Peace ' A Theme' from 'In The Wake Of Poseidon' is a short and nice track, very quiet and with only vocals and acoustic guitars. 'Cat Food' from 'In The Wake Of Poseidon' is a very original song, composed something between jazz and rock, which makes on it a very interesting music fusion. It's a different song, very strange, but very curious too. It also features a neat vocal work from Lake and some tasty guitar work by Fripp. Still, this track is an unedited short version of the original song. It was released on the single 'Cat Food/Groon'. 'Groon' was never released on any studio album of them. It was taken from the single 'Cat Food/Groon'. This is a cut down studio version of an equally strange free form jazz improvisation. It's actually not very interesting in its own right, as it's a jazzy, improvised piece that comes across as a throw away. 'Coda' from 'Larks' Tongues In Aspic' (Part1)' is a short extract from the album with the same name. It begins with a long percussion introduction before entering a hard rock section introduced by a slowly violin that becoming more prominent until the end of the song with a dramatic final. This is probably their best experimental song and is absolutely brilliant. 'Moonchild' from 'In The Court Of The Crimson King' starts as a peaceful ballad, but after few minutes it changes to a free instrumental improvisation that lasts until the end. It's probably the most prog track on that album and it's also one the most difficult to listen to. Still, this version is a very short extract. 'Trio' from 'Starless And Bible Black' is the most serene song on that album. This is an instrumental piece composed for violin, bass guitar and mellotron with the sound of a flute. The performance is perfect which gives to us a nice and relaxing piece of music. 'In The Court Of The Crimson King' from 'In The Court Of The Crimson King' became with 'Epitaph' one of the best and most beautiful symbols of prog rock. It represents a hymn to prog music.

Conclusion: 'The Young Persons Guide To King Crimson' is an excellent compilation of King Crimson. All their studio albums released in the 70's are represented, at least with one song, with the only exception of their third studio album 'Lizard'. In relation to the selection of tracks I sincerely think it was excellent and very representative of the group, at the time. But, the decision of include 'Cat Food' and 'Peace' from 'In The Wake Of Poseidon' instead the title track, is apparently incomprehensive. However, and despite that, I decided to rate this compilation with 3 stars. It's true that it could have been better, but nevertheless, it has an excellent selection of tracks. So, if you aren't very familiar with King Crimson's music of the 70's, this compilation works very well and is an excellent introduction to the band. However, as happen with almost all compilation albums of prog rock bands, it doesn't substitutes the original albums.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

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 Tristes Noticias del Imperio by REDD album cover Studio Album, 1979
3.53 | 23 ratings

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Tristes Noticias del Imperio
Redd Eclectic Prog

Review by Awaken 6am

4 stars Hi ! Back after a few weeks to bring you Sad News From The Empire (Which in fact is the english translation of this album`s name) Founder member, alma matter bassist, singer and main composer friend Esteban Cerioni passed away last weekend, at his homeland and Redd base, Tucumàn province, Argentina. We had several afternoons at home sharing cofee and music, mainly his. Incredible is I can remember him saying, almost joking but not so... "If I`m to die, let it be playing on stage... There you are, yo got it.... To the music Itself : There could be two different reviews of this same album. LP version must be rated (IMHO) as 4 and a half stars. No, this is no "Eclectic Prog", this is just a fantastic very homogeneous record. OK, Opener "Reyes en Guerra" is very much as that "Easy Money" from Lark`s Tongues in Aspic, in fact band`s name In words of Esteban himself was a "Red" tribute Expert listeners may find some little PFM influences too here and there. That`s all regarding Influences Dpt. for the rest what you get is one of the five best argentinean real progressive rock records. General mood is ethereal, somewhat nocturnal. Very scarce LP release, and oftenly pricey. Other review could be that of it`s first release on CD on brazilian Progressive Rock Worldwide Records with tracks on different running order for no reason and 3 disposable live bonus tracks with awful sound quality. Thank God you can also get argentinean Viajero Inmovil records release on CD in miniature LP replica sleeve release , its 6 tracks on their original running order and several outtakes and live cuts this time on much more listenable audio quality. Get it the way you can but dont miss this real masterpiece.

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 Symphony Of Enchanted Lands by RHAPSODY (OF FIRE) album cover Studio Album, 1998
3.74 | 132 ratings

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Symphony Of Enchanted Lands
Rhapsody (of Fire) Progressive Metal

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

4 stars Italy's Luca Turilli and Alex Starapoli pioneered the new subgenre of symphonic power metal in creation on the 1997 RHAPSODY debut "Legendary Tales" which set their mystical medieval folklore laden lyrics to a unique mix of symphonic classical and baroque music, power metal and Celtic folk that was drawn out to epic scopes and to which the band RHAPSODY has always referred to as film score metal for its high fantasy polished and hard driving operatic sound circus. The band returned the following year to deliver the stellar sophomore release SYMPHONY OF ENCHANTED LANDS which fine-tuned the melding alchemic musical principles into a greater cohesive whole.

One of the main complaints about the debut was that the metal was only intermittent as sprawling classical tinged folk laden symphonic marches swallowed up vast amounts of real estate with only partial metal satisfaction for head banging pleasures. SYMPHONY OF ENCHANTED LANDS more than corrects that and offers a much greater presence of the power metal elements in the vein of classic Helloween augmented with the tighter control of the classical symphonic prowess that makes this second offering a much more energetic listening experience as it traipses through the mystical musical worlds of dragons, orcs, mages and Middle Earth sensibilities.

While RHAPSODY's style may sound cliche by today's standards, this Italian band was the one that kicked off this epic over-the-top symphonic power metal thing. So true that power metal does have its share of cheese and RHAPSODY is no exception with the strident operatic vocals of Fabio Lione wailing over the soaring neoclassical guitar shredding, power metal hooks and Celtic jigs meets J.S. Bach musical interludes but the stellar performances of the musicians pretty much blew everyone else away in the scene during the 90s and with a whopping sixteen guest musicians playing everything from mandolins, balalaikas, oboes and violins to marching drums and harpsichord, it's almost as if this entire performance was done by a group of classical trained musicians moonlighting to their favorite metal style.

The saga begins with the epic soundtrack intro of "Epicus Furor" which not only introduces a Carl Orff sort of classical bombast but displays one of the most epic elements of the entire album, namely the outstanding choir sections that build up the momentum and lead to the metal fury of "Emerald Sword." Different tracks focus on different musical genres as the lead musical flavor. While the "Emerald Sword" rips through the metal orotundity, the following "Wisdom Of The Kings" breaks out the folk melodies that incorporate stellar baroque keyboard stabs into the mix and flawlessly weaves the magic of pastoral lands, metal power angst and classical nights at the opera. Both Starapoli and Turilli trade off with virtuosic neoclassical soloing and Lione delivers a soaring vocal charm that despite being the strongest element of the band's sound somehow fits into the larger scheme of things.

Despite some of the best tracks of RHAPSODY's career such as the thirteen minute progressive closing title track which summarizes the entire album in a mystical amalgamation of the disparate genres presented, the album has its moments that don't quite work so well. While the baroque meets folk interlude "Heroes Of The Lost Valley" starts off as a sweet soiree of a folk meets baroque encounter of the days of yore, the narrative part brings out all the cheese with some contrived poetic prose that sounds like an intro to a video game tutorial. However despite a few moments where the cheese factor is turned up to ridiculousness, for the most part it's tamped down in favor of some intricate melodic interplay of the main instrumental prowess of guitar, keyboards, bass and drums with the army of supplemental sounds mainly serving the introductory parts.

Despite more emphasis on the power metal, by no means was this at the cost of the symphonic classical elements nor does it mean the folk and other instruments have been diminished one bit. It's just that things had been integrated into a much larger picture that fits into the grandeur of the epic tale at hand. RHAPSODY were the masters of alternating between heavy bombastic metal and lush classical passages and back again with elements of folk, vocal choirs and even symphonic prog that keeps the music interesting enough for repeated listens as it chugs along and then at the drop of a hat smoothly drifts around like a feather on a zephyr breeze. RHAPSODY developed their unique style early on but on SYMPHONY OF ENCHANTED LANDS, the band created a more mature version of it and would remain amazingly consistent in their run of albums that followed. Better in many ways than the debut but a few speed bumps keep it from being perfect as well.

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 Nachtfalter by SCHICKERT, GÜNTER album cover Studio Album, 2019
4.00 | 1 ratings

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Nachtfalter
Günter Schickert Progressive Electronic

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

— First review of this album —
4 stars At first glance, Gunter Schickert's discography might seem a bit strange. This Progressive Electronic artist released solo albums in 1974, 1979, and 1983, these being Krautrock and experimental albums. The next full length solo album was not released until 2018 with another following in 2019. In reality, this artist has worked with several other musicians from time to time, including Klause Schulze and Nurse with Wound, and also working in theater productions, so he's always out there, it's only his solo albums that have been released in a spotty fashion.

His 5th album is called "Nachtfalter" (Moth in English). The story has it that a moth flew into the recording studio while this album was being mixed and sat on the wall as a silent witness to what was going on. In the morning, the moth was dead on the floor. Gunter took a picture to pay homage to the moth and it ended up on the album cover.

Gunther provides soundscapes of some varied types on this album using guitars, synths and shell horn. The only other musician credited on this album is Andreas Spechti who provides drums, and producing loops and mixing. Spechti culled some of the best of Gunther's guitar to mix the album with special effects, drums and loops to create the tracks. The album's run time is just under 45 minutes stretched across 7 tracks that vary from 1 ½ minutes to 10 ½ minutes. The music has an avant-garde sound, but in reality is electronic and very experimental.

"Nocturnus" begins with a dark, almost industrial feel with heavy metallic effects and drones that come and go. The tone is deep and dark with the loops and effects providing a dark and apocalyptic atmosphere. "Ceiling" utilizes the echo-guitar effect that Gunter has made famous with dark sounds and ringing metallic sounds. There is an electronic beat to this one that actually sounds the most similar to his older Krautrock style. There is a definite pulsating sound with this track. Being the most accessible track on the album, it really isn't that accessible, but that is okay because that makes it more interesting.

"Flugelschlag" (wing beat in English) is the longest track at over 10 minutes. While it still has dark undertones, it is actually a nice, shimmering example of Gunter's guitar work and is a nice reprieve from the darkness that permeates the rest of the album. There is a rolling drum beat that pushes the tempo along while effects, loops and improvised guitar layers make this track stand out while it pulsates along. The rhythm breaks down and the track becomes atmospheric for the last 2 minutes.

"Floor" is a short track is a drone created probably by the shell horns I'm guessing with rattling percussion. "Wohin" (where in English) has bent guitar sounds layered over each other with a pounding drum. The result is a chiming layer and a micro- tonal layer making for a unique sound that's appealing in its own strange way. "Light" has a main rhythmic beat surrounded by other percussive effects and a heavy, dark guitar improvisation. Later, things turn really eerie with screechy effects and heavy echo on the guitar parts. Things lighten up a bit later and there is an almost surf rock style played with heavy echo in the guitar part. "Reflection of the Future" begins dark and forboding. Gunther almost mimics a warped train whistle with the conch shells. High pitched effects squeal around this sound. There is a slow thumping percussive noise that adds to the spookiness of it all. A wash of synth erases the slow rhythm, but soon is replaced with a heavy wall of droning guitar layers. Things continue with a dark atmosphere, but it all becomes rather spacey as layers add upon layers of effects keep getting added.

Except for a few of the tracks, this is quite an interesting collection of dark and experimental soundscapes. Even if most of it is not really melodic, it is still quite enjoyable, unique and intriguing. Some may find it a bit too experimental, but I find that I enjoy electronic music when it is more mysterious and unique like this. There is a bit of variety here too, with a couple of the tracks providing a break from the dark tones and venturing into a krautrock or space rock style. This is definitely a four star album because of it's ingenuity and some nice surprises. Excellent album.

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 Honeysuckle Æons by CURRENT 93 album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.80 | 6 ratings

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Honeysuckle Æons
Current 93 Prog Folk

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Constructed less as a set of songs and more of a single suite - as befitting the way the tracks Kingdom and Queendom bookend it - HoneySuckle Æons is an album-length weird folk symphony, its stark and haunting sound perfectly captured by its cover art. Whilst individual tracks have their varying charms, the overall effect isn't gained unless one listens to the whole. As part of the wide range of musical experimentation that Current 93 had embarked on after the arrival of Andrew Liles as David Tibet's latest musical partner, it's a haunting and delicate work which nicely complements the esoteric theological and personal poetry of Tibet's lyrics.

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 Faust by CURRENT 93 album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.38 | 7 ratings

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Faust
Current 93 Prog Folk

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Along with the EP I Have A Special Plan For This World, this constitutes something of a return to the dark ambient sound collage style of Current 93's origins - but a take on that style tempered and matured by the intervening years of experience. It's inspired not by the Faust legend in general, but a specific take on it - namely, the short story of the same name by Count Stenbock, one of the obscure 19th Century literary figures who has had the good fortune to become one of David Tibet's muses. If you're only into Current 93 for the neofolk, you'll find it tiresome, but if you like Tibet's taste in longform weird dark ambient (produced in conjunction with Nurse With Wound's Steven Stapleton), this'll hit the spot for you.

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 Birth Canal Blues by CURRENT 93 album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2008
4.12 | 7 ratings

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Birth Canal Blues
Current 93 Prog Folk

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars This EP finds Current 93 in a moment of flux, as David Tibet parts ways with long-term musical collaborators Michael Cashmore (who'd been a major contributor to the Current 93 sound since 1991's live album As the World Disappears) and Nurse With Wound mastermind Steven Stapleton (who'd worked closely with Tibet since the debut Current 93 album Nature Unveiled).

Sure, Stapleton would still have a minor role on the forthcoming album Aleph at Hallucinatory Mountain - which this is something of an appetiser for, being a bridge between the neofolk style of preceding releases and the weird, dark psychedelia of that album - but already in place here is Andrew Liles, who would henceforth be Tibet's major musical collaborator (and, for that matter, a regular collaborator with Stapleton in Nurse With Wound). The end result is an EP which captures Current 93 in the process of reinvigorating itself.

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 Serge Fiori - Seul Ensemble by HARMONIUM album cover Studio Album, 2019
4.93 | 6 ratings

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Serge Fiori - Seul Ensemble
Harmonium Symphonic Prog

Review by bertolino

5 stars "Tout change, tout me dérange Je me reconnais plus » - Serge Fiori, opening words of L'Exil" from l'Heptade.

"All changes, everything bothers me. I don't recognize myself anymore". This would summarize Serge Fiori's thoughts at the result of a tribute album in honor of his oeuvre under the guise of Harmonium. Hopefully this is not, because he has been involved, low and behold, in the recreation of "Serge Fiori, Seul Ensemble", a double-cd set resuming the three records of Harmonium plus few additions. Few words about it later. But I won't delay my conclusion further: it's a thing of amazement, and a triumph!

I did report on this blog's site, a few years back, about the parution of a new solo album, simply titled "Fiori". Short of the "Prog Principle" it still had plenty to taste and rejoice, the quality of his voice still intact, within a simpler format, not too far from the first eponymous Harmonium record. Did look for a way to have it added here, and left the plot unfinished. Much had been said since about Fiori's psychic recovery and that, at this point, he would even dare to dream of going back to stage, at well past his sixties! To add to these considerations ,I strongly recommend , to anybody not being aware that Harmonium had been celebrated last year at the Quebec "Gala des artistes" , local equivalent of anyones' Grammies and Junos, to go to youtube and enjoy the ten minutes symphonic medley celebration, and further, the climbing on the scene off all the past members of the band. But be prepared to swallow your tears!

And then, as a Quebecois far from home, I stumbled on a cheap copy of l'Heptade in a (now rare) record store and was happy to refresh my cd version. Looking to few more info about the record, I went to my favorite archive site (here evidently) and stopped cold dead in front of the picture of "Fiori Seul Ensemble" DOUBLE CD SET full to the brim of nearly all the three original albums. Quick research toward my virtual Quebec thought me that Fiori and a trio of young contemporary musicians had agreed to the task of adapting Harmonium's music to a conceptual show by "Le Cirque Eloize", one of these clever modern versions of the traditional circus now firmly a trademark of Quebec with "Cirque du Soleil" and beyond. Physical copies being elusive out of Quebec, I paid ten european bucks for the download and here I am. So, few words for the wise: this is an adaptation for a visual show's purposes. In consequence, as overall changes and recreation matters, you will be confronted with more concise and dynamic versions of the songs. In many instances a new rhythm section is mixed as the song progresses, some aggressive electric guitar sometimes appears and you may feel it is done in order to add a "oomph factor" to the artistic / athletic performance on stage. Don't be worried though, as it truly doesn't butcher the songs. Still there will be place for debate (on some nation's fate). Main critics could converge toward the cutting of "magnum opuses" durations. On that I won't take a clear position, simply saying that some of the reworking had been so cleverly done that indeed I could take a few minutes more of these new versions?

Before I go for the song by song review, owing it to you all by the fact that I will be the very first reviewer, I will just resume by that amazing calculation: You will have onboard four out of eight songs from the first self-titled album, all five glorious ones from "Si On Avait Besoin D'Une Cinquieme Saison" and all but one (the often neglected "Lumieres De Vie") from l'Heptade, even adding for good measure two songs from his duet album "Deux Cent Nuits a  l'Heure". A massive covering aficionados only could have dream of. So here we go:

I-1. Vert (6:24) What a nice way to open the project ! "Vert" is the overture of "Une Cinquieme Saison". The integrity of the song is preserved, better leave it pretty untouched anyway. Still there is something brilliant added here. The atmospherics and vocals of the title cut of "Deux Cent Nuits a  l'Heure", a Fiori album with Richard Seguin right after the dissolution of Harmonium is mixed within the first minute. Clever! Already, one of the features of these new versions, a "drum'n bass" section during the middle section of the song adding some edge and bravado. A less wandering closing left the song cut by a minute.

I-2. Comme un fou (7:40) First real song from L'Heptade, it's probably in that position to open the show in fashion. Pretty much untouched, by separating it of the orchestral overture of origin and trimming it from it's classical arrangement's, the song feels more concise and dynamic. More a matter of context than actual modifications.

I-3. En pleine face (5:28) A strange feature here: a longer version! The opening of face two of "Une Cinquieme Saison" is yet close to the original, but much clearer, Fiori's voice triumphant, with choir added. This becomes the definitive version! One feel that in the context of the shows, Fiori and cohorts, being prudent, have chosen to present the initial songs with not too much altering.

I-4. De la chambre au salon (5:25) Following "En pleine face ", this demonstrates how well the pacing had been thought of. Similar light folk feeling, a continuation of the preceding one. Like other songs of the first eponymous disc, this one truly benefits of the new recreation. Here we are treated with the string quartet chamber like version. And this is one of the songs where we may hear new lines of Fiori's singing. A better diction, and less Quebecois accented or so it seems. This is now the best version available without a doubt, lighter and more joyful.

I-5. Ca fait du bien (8:31) This one seems to continue the « happy-go-lucky » segment. His origin is interesting. Never recorded by Harmonium, but finally served on "Deux Cent Nuits a  l'Heure", this maybe secondary to ProgArchives followers, but not for any Quebecois who did attend Harmonium shows, more mass or rituals actually, as this was the closing song of l'Heptade concerts. One can imagine the crowds singing in unison, a cappela for a while, often in tears of happiness, 'till Denis Farmer would bang his drums for the coming back of the band and the final wham! Still unforgettable souvenirs, forty years later.

I-6. Viens danser (5:16) If the attendance is not up on their feet at this stage of the show , this is a desperate cause! It is the second in a row of the songs added from the Fiori/Seguin album. The funny feeling and upbeat rhythm is in direct contradiction with Fiori's lyrics about the distress and disillusion of a pop star. Sweet and sour for that effect when one remember that he will then soon disappear for nearly thirty years from the music front. The song has new power added, in line with the show's purposes. But i doubt many here may compare.

I-7. Chanson noire (4:14) Keeping in with the feeling of happiness, the third song of l'Heptade, being cut by half, seems more effective for that matter. One can regret the Subirana's gymnastics on varied winds, but a more soulful version is offered in compensation, gospel choir included, and works nicely at this stage.

I-8. Depuis l'automne (9:36) A better way to close the first disc in beauty? If many may think that "Histoires sans paroles" is the chef-d'oeuvre of the second album, for me this is it. And still mostly preserved in due respect, losing a light thirty seconds in his new fashion. The middle atmospheric break truly gains, if possible, by the addition of a drum pattern and a trumpet solo reminiscent of the title cut of the first album, over the celebrated mellotron kept intact. And the remixing brings Fiori's chant and vocalese to the front, like in most of these new versions. The closing "Si c't'un reve reveille-moi donc", since recognized like a true national anthem, is augmented by a new rhythm section to close with vigor. A triumph!

II-1/ 2. Prologue (4:19) / Le premier ciel (7:16) Evident as an overture to the second disc, the orchestral intro often despised by those who don't like their prog "chamberised". Interestingly, the opening of l'Heptade is coupled here with the fourth cut of the original album instead of « Comme un fou ». "Le Premier Ciel" is chopped from four minutes of fat (moog), in the most effective way. Apart of this more concise version, few changes would be objects of discussion. Nice to have in the flow, especially in regard of what's following.

II-3. Le corridor (7:17) This one came to be my most revered song of l'Heptade, thanks to the celestial singing of Monique Fauteux. Here they decided to chop and cut the song. And I like it! The song opens with the closing of the original version. How did they dare? Following then, the second solo part of Fauteux, and entering a new instrumental segment, we're treated to a crescendoing moog solo lying over a now usual added rhythm section. The ending, having been used at the opening, is replaced by one of these deviled Chotem orchestral segments, augmented by electronics effects. Nicely done. II-4. Aujourd'hui, je dis bonjour a la vie (7:09) This one is at a strategic place, right in the middle of two revered songs, spiritual anthems of sorts. So it's interesting to have one song of the first album, following one from the third, and opening to one of the second. And it doesn't disappoint! For that purpose a longer instrumental guitar closing, nearly a minute and a half of atmospheric and yet heavy jangling acoustics does the job. Another one of the first album which seems improved.

II-5. Histoires sans paroles (7:07) Now, in a way this one could be the main offender of the whole project. Imagine the revered magnum opus of "Une Cinquieme Saison" chopped of a whole ten minutes. But how do it otherwise, in order to fit all the material on a double cd? And still it works. As long as you can accept one of these drum and guitars crescendo added right in the middle of it. Still some things have been improved. The closing female singing being added some choir like effects. At the end one can feel cheated but it's still a work of mastery.

II-6. L'exil (9:21) Nowhere else the cutting is more effective than on the last song of the first record of the double 'L'Heptade". At nearly four minutes less, you can still enjoy a whole plus nine minutes of it. Fiori's voice upfront, never may you feel more the distress and resentment which will lead Harmonium to counted time. A sense of alienation rendered more touching by a mostly preserved version of the original, apart of the mixing of the voice, until the strangely joyful ending -but more poignant for that! benefits from a more powerful mixing of the rhythm section.

II-7. Dixie (3:31) A sense of loss and depression had altered what should have been a matter of rejoice, not talking of the perspective of a circus show. So what better antidote than "Dixie" 's depicting summer from "Une Cinquieme Saison" The overall feeling left intact, and still all's changed, or so it seems. A banjo added, spoons removed, clarinet being cut but a whole wind section "A  la rescousse". So you guess, the pleasure is great to have now two "Dixies" for the price of one.

II-8. Harmonium (5:40) Closing the one/two punch with « Dixie», one may imagine the curse of the show following a growing intensity. In 1974 Harmonium happened to the world with a bang with this swinging, almost bossa-novaed eponymous song. A rare one of the first album mainly left untouched, with his melodious trumpet preserved, and from which the "Depuis l'Automne" addition is inspired.

II-9/10. Comme un sage (5:13) / Epilogue (2:44) L'Heptade closing has been amputated of ten minutes of variations on the famous melody. Here on this site many had expressed that they felt it was wandering and overlong so this shouldn't bother too many. Me I'm kind of devastated though. Yet I understand the reasons. At least we're left with the nicest part of the singing, and a clearer Fiori. As a gift, in the closing segment, being added to the choir, we're treated to small extracts of other Harmonium singalong sections which make for a nice addition. A rousing electric guitar solo reminds us of the live version of "Harmonium en tournee". And the orchestral coda is augmented by nice additions of instruments, percussive and acoustic guitar. The door is thus left open for

II-11. Un musicien parmi tant d'autres (4:13) The ending of the record is the most evident thing for any Quebecois, and very understandable in the context of the show for which the music is adapted. This is the celebrated anthem of the first, self-titled record and thus may be less revered by adepts of this site. They choose to cut the song of his first segment, open with the singalong one "On a mis quelqu'un au monde on devrait peut-etre l'ecouter" (freely translated by "We've gave birth to one, maybe we should listen to him"), and close with the ringing acoustic guitar. A very fitting end for a show.

And to an overlong review. But I thought this should deserve it, as a first review of a great achievement, maybe conceived as a testament. May I dare it's not?

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 The?Lie by SEVEN STEPS TO THE GREEN DOOR album cover Studio Album, 2019
4.00 | 1 ratings

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The?Lie
Seven Steps To The Green Door Neo-Prog

Review by rdtprog
Special Collaborator RPI / Symphonic Prog Team

— First review of this album —
4 stars This is the second album of a trilogy after "THE?BOOK". The story of this concept is about religious fanatism experience through a family. The concept is from of George Andrade who wrote a lyric book out of Thoraff Koss story. The band invited plenty of musicians from the Prog Rock world to play this new opera. The album is 1 song divided into 11 parts with some narration but not too much at the beginning and at the end to close the story. There is a good variety of mood and atmosphere throughout this album with a lot of space left to some male and female vocals, some vocalize at times. In the first part, we recognize a bit of a Haken influence, and others a bit of Ayreon, but that's about it. The band have their own style and make good use of the sax throughout the album, with piano and keys. There is also an exotic violin part and some heavier guitar parts. The atmosphere and the pace change quite often with some quieter passages The most complex passage is in the part "A Price to Prey II" who display many rhythm changes. "Heaven" show some vocals in unison to bring the song to an emotional peak. The music continues to deliver some beautiful vocals harmonies male/female. There are some creative passages that will surprise throughout this album, it could come out from a heavy sax part, a short bass break or some original keyboards melodies. In the end, we can hear some darker atmosphere with some furious passages with the guitar ending with some long female vocalize and intense instrumental ending! This is a nice follow-up to The "Fetish" album and also the first part of the trilogy "THE?BOOK"

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 Simulation Theory by MUSE album cover Studio Album, 2018
2.78 | 26 ratings

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Simulation Theory
Muse Prog Related

Review by ToNy06

1 stars What a disappointment! This album is certainly the most bizarre in Muse discography. I find very difficult to find a song that deserves interest. I find the techno beat in all songs unstandable. After Drones, which was a correct album according to Muse standards, Simulation Theory is very different. All songs look like each other, and none of them can save the album from its mediocrity. I hope that this album is not the new kind of music they will make from now. Simulation Theory is just a bad techno album, and prog is very hard to find. Being a Muse fan for almost twenty years, I don't recommend this album to anyone.

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 The Thrill of it All* by ROXY MUSIC album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1995
4.40 | 15 ratings

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The Thrill of it All*
Roxy Music Crossover Prog

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

5 stars For someone that owns all of the Roxy Music studio albums on vinyl, this is the perfect box set to have on CD. It has several tracks from each album on its first 3 CDs and one complete CD of rarities, b-sides and extended versions.

The First 3 CDs

The first CD has 6 of the 9 tracks from the debut album (excluding 'The Bob', 'Would You Believe' and 'Bitter's End'), 7 of the 8 tracks from 'For Your Pleasure' (excluding 'Gray Lagoons', and 3 tracks from 'Stranded'.

CD 2 has 3 more tracks from 'Stranded' meaning there are 6 of the 8 tracks from 'Stranded' on this box set (excluding 'Psalm' and 'Serenade'), 8 of the 10 tracks from 'Country Life' (excluding 'If It Takes All Night' and 'Triptych'), and 5 of the 9 tracks from 'Siren' (excluding 'End of the Line', 'Whirlwind', 'She Sells', and 'Nightingale').

CD3 has 6 of the 10 tracks from 'Manifesto' (excluding 'Still Falls the Rain', 'My Little Girl', 'Cry, Cry, Cry' and 'Spin Me Round'), 6 of the 10 tracks from 'Flesh + Blood' (excluding 'In the Midnight Hour', 'Eight Miles High', 'Rain, Rain, Rain', and 'Running Wild'), and 6 of the 10 tracks from 'Avalon' ('The Space Between', 'India', 'The Main Thing' and 'True to Life').

The 4th CD ('Rarities')

The fourth CD is going to have the most value for the die-hard fans in that there are several tracks here that are only available on other collections or out of print singles and etc. I said earlier that this is the best collection for those that have all of the albums on vinyl and want to have a good collection on CD for music on the go, and, short of getting all of the albums on CD, this is the best way to get a lot of their best tracks plus some harder to find tracks.

Starting off with a fairly well-known non-album single 'Virginia Plain' (though it was released on the US version of the debut album), you get that upbeat and somewhat noisy sound of early Roxy Music that is somehow very appealing. 'The Numberer' comes next, and is the b-side to 'Virginia Plain', also not available on any of the regular albums. It is all instrumental with a smart 50's sounding vibe and an excellent sax led track which later changes to a harmonica, but with all the RM traits of the art-dance vibe. 'Pyjamarama' is another well-known, non-album single, that has appeared on a few other collections. Ferry's vocals are more vulnerable on this one, but that leads to the song's appeal, and the sax hook and the later guitar solo are excellent. The b-side to this follows, 'The Pride and the Pain'. Again, this is an instrumental, but this time it is a slow, pensive, emotional and lovely track led by clarinet and later guitar, with various whip snapping effects and spoken vocals, later with almost rhapsodic piano and wordless vocals.

Now there are a series of b-sides that were not available on any of the albums. Next up is a re-make of the title track from 'Manifesto', which was originally the b-side to the single 'Over You'. It has a steadier beat to it than the original, making it a more danceable track. It really doesn't do much for the original. 'Hula Kula' was the b-side to 'Street Life', and features a Hawaiian sounding effect on the guitar, kazoos, and the island style strumming but done without a ukulele. It's a silly- sounding instrumental with some background spoken vocals. 'Trash 2' is the flip-side to the 'Trash' single. It features a slightly longer introduction before Ferry's vocals start. The beat is a more straight forward rhythm, but the melody itself is quite mediocre. But it is more danceable than the original 'Trash' at least. After these last 3 mediocre b-sides, things get much better.

'Your Application's Failed' was the b-side for the 'All I Want is You' single. It is an instrumental with a nice heavy back beat and sax, guitar and organ led melodies on the 'verses' and a much noisier, heavy 'chorus', but all quite listenable and well done with the RM signature sound. 'Lover' was the b-side for 'Same Old Scene'. It is a more mellow dance style with nice jazz influences and Ferry's vocals that are more restrained and laid-back, but in a similar style to the single that it supported. 'Sultanesque' is the b-side to 'Love is the Drug'. It is one of RM's more experimental tracks that is all instrumental. It begins with a strange, warbly guitar effect and ticking percussion. After a few minutes, electronic percussion and a warbly synth comes in over the guitar effect. In the background, there is a mid-eastern sound mixed low in the sound. After a while, a loud cymbal rolls in bringing in the guitar, and then that fades while the electronic theme continues.

Next it the extended version of 'Dance Away', taken from the 12' single. It expands wonderfully on the original track, making the song smoother, more danceable in a 'soft rumba' kind of way. I actually love this remix better than the original, with Ferry's lovely vocals and the infectious beat and melody. This remix takes away the progressive edge of the song, but quite honestly, it actually fares better because of this especially in regards to the lush and emotional vocals. The middle section features a percussion solo which retains the beat throughout. 'South Downs' was the b-side to the 'Oh Yeah single. It is a minimalist style track with a drone-like sound supporting a hazy synth, the entire track based off of 2 interchanging chords. 'Angel Eyes' is another extended remix that features a faster, almost disco style rhythm with a slapping guitar strum setting off the beat, the sax becoming more prominent with a cool riff, and Ferry's lush vocals again. Once again, this extended version improves on the original even with the steady beat. There are so many other instrumental riffs and layers that keep this track from getting stale.

'Always Unknowing' was the b-side to the 'Avalon' single. This non-album track follows in the beautiful lushness that was the recipe on the entire Avalon album, and why this was left off of the album is beyond me, it would have fit right in and enhanced the entire album, since it was a bit short anyway. It has the traits of the songs on that album with melodic sax, guitar, percussion and synths supporting it. Very nice track. Next there is another extended remix, this time of 'The Main Thing'. The track features a heavier beat that continues through the track, and this version relies on the synth and guitar riffs more to drive the track forward. It works okay, but tends to last a little too long. 'India' comes next, and is actually not a rare track, but is a short intermediary track from the album 'Avalon' and was also used as a b-side for 'More Than This'. The collection ends with an extended version of John Lennon's 'Jealous Guy'. This cover is an excellent cover of this song which I like even better than Lennon's version. It originally appeared on the EP 'The High Road' which was released after 'Avalon' to support the concert DVD of the same name.

For those of you who have a hard time locating Roxy Music's back catalogue, this is an excellent option. Sure it doesn't contain all of their songs, but it does contain about 2 / 3rds of their studio output. For those that do have their full catalogue, the 4th CD is all full of rare material, which is for the most part, essential and worth it. This collection will serve anyone interested in Roxy Music quite well. I find it perfect for my required RM collection, all vinyl copies and this box set on CD for when I want to take it with me. 5 star collection.

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 Hel by TÝR album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.00 | 1 ratings

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Hel
Týr Progressive Metal

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

— First review of this album —
3 stars Although it took them quite a while to get their line-up stabilized, Tyr was officially formed in 1998. This Progressive Metal band is originally from the Faroe Islands. These islands, of which there are 18 large islands, are located between Iceland and Norway somewhere between the North Atlantic and the Norwegian Sea and they are self-governing but considered part of Denmark. This is mentioned because it can give you reference to their sound and influence. They definitely have the Scandinavian look to them and that influences their music.

The band has released a total of 8 full length albums and 2 EPs between the years of 2000 and 2019, but their line up changed a lot in their first few years until they were signed with a major label. Once their line-up stabilized, they would release occasional albums, but spent most of their time touring. In March, 2019, they released their 8th full length album called "Hel", 6 years after their previous album. Their current line-up consists of Heri Joensen on vocals and guitars, Attila Voros on guitars, Gunnar H. Thomsen on bass, and Tadeusz Rieckmann on drums. The album consists of 13 tracks and has a total run time of nearly 70 minutes.

Vocals are an interesting combination of growling/screaming dirty vocals and memorable, melodic vocals, sometimes changing several times in one song. The style of metal is clearly the Norwegian sound you expect, with a lot of melodic hooks in the guitars, plus a lot of great solos. There are places where they even take snippets of folk influences into their melodies, both vocal and instrumental. You will find all of these traits just in the first track alone "Gates of Hel".

Even though there is only one vocalist credited, the vocals are quite varied and even well harmonized at times as in the chorus of "All Heroes Fall", which also features a killer guitar solo. They even feature a couple of tracks with their native language, but most of them are in English.

The first four tracks are pretty much heavy tracks with quick tempos and melodic progressive metal, giving you what you expect. On "Sunset Shore", there is a bit of a break from the heaviness with the more ballad-like verses and slightly heavier choruses and even a "Michael Schenker Group" style sound throughout. After this, there is a return to mostly full-blast prog metal, continuing with the melodic sound but with hints at progressiveness with passages approaching extreme metal at times. There isn't much let up from the heaviness throughout the album, and by the half-way point, you are wishing for more variety in the music and that is the main weakness here. Even though the sound and music is well-produced, some additional variation would have kept the interest higher. But those that love the melodic Norwegian metal will definitely want to check this out. The two biggest pluses of this album are the changing vocal styles and the excellent guitar solos, but the biggest minus is the overall lack of variety.

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 Colloids by WALFAD album cover Studio Album, 2018
3.62 | 15 ratings

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Colloids
Walfad Crossover Prog

Review by Rivertree
Special Collaborator PSIKE Team & Band Submissions

3 stars The band's fourth album delivers catchy prog rock songs again, for what it's worth. Obviously Wojciech Ciuraj (guitar, vocals) is taking the lead when it comes to this outfit from Poland. While alternating between quartet and quintet during the recent years, he is representing the main constant by all means. With Pawel Krawiec 'Colloids' now features a second guitarist. Interestingly enough their facebook account still is provided with the extension 'We Are Looking For A Drummer'. Don't know if we should take this seriously. Well, all their productions are showing Kacper Kucharski aboard, though yet it's Jakub Dabrowski who has occupied the drum kit.

Not really unusual, especially when it comes to bands hailing from this country, there are two versions available which differentiate due to the language. What we get is a technically flawless album, art rock flavoured, with some singer/songwriter appeal plus psychedelic touch. Unfortunately and surprisingly, for me the album title track will not start a fire really, hence belongs to the weaker songs. On the other hand at least Sisyphus' Sons showing some mandolin input, Jottings and To Walk On The Water are top-notch compositions, highly enjoyable. Comfortable vocals and great guitar work, including the bass. Keyboards are having a minor role. If you like easy to grasp rock songs I can recommend this one without any restriction. 3.5 stars.

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 Calling All Stations by GENESIS album cover Studio Album, 1997
2.50 | 957 ratings

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Calling All Stations
Genesis Symphonic Prog

Review by cjde341

3 stars I think time has softened many opinions on this, their final album. While it would have been more than fitting for Genesis to go out after We Can't Dance, especially with 'Fading Lights' as the last ever Genesis track, I can't hold it against the band for trying to make a go without Phil. The fans might have appreciated more of an in-house iteration of the band, say, with Chester Thompson in the line-up, but there would always be the issue of replacing the vocalist/front man. While there are real stinkers like 'Congo' and 'Small Talk,' there are some great ones too, like the title track, 'The Dividing Line' and 'Shipwrecked.' The vocals are serviceable, and I think Ray Wilson earns props for sheer effort and guts for stepping into some very big shoes. Too bad Simon Collins wasn't quite old enough to step in.

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 Animal by SHINING album cover Studio Album, 2018
2.92 | 5 ratings

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Animal
Shining RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Jørgen Munkeby (saxophonist and guitarist, a graduate of the Norwegian Academy of Music) has long been the driving force between Norway's jazz-metal collective, Shining. Over the years they have broken down musical barriers and have refused to be categorised into any particular style of music, as they mixed progressive, technical metal, jazz, avant-garde and experimental sounds. But now he is back with something different "I was tired of doing the same thing," he explains. "I was done with 'Blackjazz' and wanted to create something new and exciting. I needed a change. I'm finally at the point where I have nothing to lose and everything to win. We had 360 degrees to play with so we could've gone in any direction. This new record is more Muse than Meshuggah, more Ghost than Gojira, and more Biffy Clyro than Burzum!"

It is all over the place as one might expect from the quote, and given Shining are known for having the sax as a key instrument it is somewhat surprising for one not to make any appearance anywhere on this! Devin Townsend has been an obvious influence, as have Linkin Park, and it is when the guys are really pushing the envelope with downtuned guitars and stacks of groove that they really make the listener stand up and take notice. It is mainstream for the most part, and it will be interesting to see how hardcore fans view this, as while it is an okay album, it is never really much more than that, and certainly not one which would be expected from him/them. It is almost a case of treating this as a brand-new band, and while the sound is very modern and powerful, for some reason it feels as if it as all been produced at the same level and consequently there just isn't enough drama for it to be consistently interesting.

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 Cognitive by SOEN album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.88 | 67 ratings

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Cognitive
Soen Experimental/Post Metal

Review by sgtpepper

3 stars Soen is built up by experience and mature musicians with a plethora of influences ranging from Opeth, Tool, Death to Willowtree. Throughout their Soen career, they mellowed down, cut down on ambitions and became more melodic - way to gain more commercial success.

This first album captures Soen at their most ambitious but also less original stage - as Tool clones. Almost all instruments and vocal imitate Tool - to a high degree. Anyways, there is good musicianship behind the tracks, nice ideas, high quality instrumentation and enough dynamism to keep it going - unlike Soen's later efforts. On the other hand, you can hear subtle Opeth influence that will grow more significant on other releases - the music is not dark and does not bear so many contrasts as Opeth's music.

This is an interesting debut album and could be seen as some kind of hommage to Tool but the lads manage to come up with their own ideas albeit rooted in Tool's sound. Not a major album of the year, but still pretty good. 3,5 stars

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 Fly From Here - Return Trip by YES album cover Studio Album, 2018
3.06 | 75 ratings

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Fly From Here - Return Trip
Yes Symphonic Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

3 stars The way it should have been from the start

The Yes line-up that created Drama in 1980 reunited in 2011 to record a belated follow up album. Yet, even though all five members from the Drama-era where right there in the studio, the band decided to hire a new lead vocalist in Benoit David letting original Drama vocalist Trevor Horn remain in the producer's chair during the proceedings. My theory as to why this was the case is simply that the band where planning to tour and that Horn never felt comfortable as a front man in the live setting. So, in preparation for the tour it made sense to them at that time to use David as lead vocalist also on the studio album. The truth is though that as a studio unit, the five man line-up had all the vocal resources they needed without hiring any more people. With no disrespect whatsoever intended towards Benoit David, who did a fine job on the album and live, the fact is that had it not been for the plan to tour, they never would have needed him in the first place.

This new 2018 version of Fly From Here, subtitled "Return Trip", proves my point. Horn has now remixed the album and added his own lead vocals, and made some other subtle changes to the mix as well. A couple of less subtle changes is the addition of a previously unreleased track on which Steve Howe sings lead, called Don't Take No For An Answer, and an extended version of Hour Of Need.

It is interesting for fans to notice the differences between the two versions, but for newcomers it is quite enough with one version. And my recommendation is that the 2018 version is the one to go for. The rating has to remain the same as for the 2011 version, it is after mainly all the same album.

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 Calling All Stations by GENESIS album cover Studio Album, 1997
2.50 | 957 ratings

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Calling All Stations
Genesis Symphonic Prog

Review by patrickq

4 stars Calling All Stations is a neo-prog album released in 1997. I think this group was influenced by Genesis. I mean, no one would confuse the singer for Phil Collins, and the album is darker than any Genesis work in years. But the first half of "Alien Afternoon" reminds me a little of "I Can't Dance," and I can almost imagine Collins singing "Shipwrecked" or "If That's What You Need." Plus, a lot of the drumming, especially in the later songs like "The Dividing Line," "There Must Be Some Other Way," and "One Man's Fool" sounds like Collins.

As others have suggested, I think Calling All Stations would be better reviewed if it weren't a Genesis album. But it's not bad compared to the group's previous albums. So the lyrics are a little shallow in places, and the instrumentation is a little restrained, but what else is new? In my opinion it's in the same league as Invisible Touch and Genesis. And to me, it's clearly better than We Can't Dance.

I agree with a lot of reviewers who have criticized the sappiness of "If That's What You Need" and "Not About Us," and I must admit that I expected that the schmaltz would evaporate as soon as Collins left. However, I do have a soft spot for "Shipwrecked," schmaltz and all. Along the same lines, the much-disparaged "Small Talk" is not progressive: "all of this is with regret; I'm sure you will agree." But it's kind of catchy. I think if I went back in time and gave a copy of Calling All Stations to my twelve-year-old self, I'd've loved it and would still love it today.

And I do, in fact, love two tracks on Calling All Stations. First, "Congo" is a great song. Great melody, great drumming. The "into my heart" bridge is a nice nod to Collins. And then there's "One Man's Fool." More often than not, "Alien Afternoon" seems to be cited as the most - - or only - - progressive song on the album, and it's pretty good. But to me, "One Man's Fool" is clearly "proggier." It even has two movements, the second starting at around 3:50 with what amounts to a second introduction. And as good as the first movement is, the second stands on its shoulders. The lyrics aren't exactly poetry, but they're not bad, especially compared to those on most of Calling All Stations. "One Man's Fool" features singer Ray Wilson at his best, and while the drumming is strong throughout the album, Nir Zidkyahu outdoes himself here.

There's too much filler on Calling All Stations. It doesn't seem like an album needs to be 68 minutes long for the customer to get his or her money's worth. But I can't award fewer than three stars to an album with "Alien Afternoon," "Congo," and "One Man's Fool." It's not Foxtrot, and it's not A Trick of the Tail. It may not even be Abacab. But it's a good enough art-rock album. I'd suggest that fans of post-Gabriel Genesis, or accessible prog of any form, give this a spin.

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 Chandra - The Phantom Ferry,  Part I by TANGERINE DREAM album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.61 | 22 ratings

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Chandra - The Phantom Ferry, Part I
Tangerine Dream Progressive Electronic

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Tangerine Dream's 2009 album "Chandra - The Phantom Ferry, Part I" is a completely solo effort by Edgar Froese with no help this time around. The album is part of a 2 part series, the second half released in 2014. This album is a lovely album of nothing but electronic music and it also has a great mix of styles throughout. I tend to find that my favorite TD albums are the more experimental ones with less of the fake sounding drums. I don't mind a few tracks featuring electronic percussion, but TD has many that have just way too much of that and to me, those albums are just too repetitive, having the usual constant, unchanging rhythm with a obligatory guitar solo added in. This album is not like that, but is more exploratory with more variety to it and that is what appeals to me the most.

The first track "Approaching Greenland at 7 PM" starts the album off in an upbeat way, but the music is nice, exciting and full of color. Thank goodness that the other tracks don't follow suit with this pattern though, otherwise this track would just disappear in like-sounding tracks as what happens on some of TD's more commercial albums. You find that out in the next track "The Moondog Connection", which is more pensive with the only beat being in the pulsating electronics that support the melody. "Screaming of the Sleepless Dreamer" does start to become repetitive however, emulating the basic sound of the first track, and I was beginning to lose interest.

The good thing is, that changes with the next two tracks. "Unknown is the Truth" is a very interesting, more experimental and exploratory track that recalls some of the bands early works. This is the TD that I love. But my favorite track on this album is "The Dance Without Dancers" which is one of the most beautiful tracks that TD has recorded. Lush and lovely, with just enough uniqueness to let you know it is TD's sound, but it is music I easily get lost in with a lovely melody and otherworldly effects that I consider heavenly.

Things continue to use minimal rhythm or electronic percussion, letting the songs carry the music forward naturally through tonal electronics. "Child Lost in the Wilderness" is a more basic track, more interesting than your typical new age sound, but the melody could have easily fit in with new age, but don't worry because at least it isn't too tacky. "Sailor of the Lost Arch" and "Verses of a Sisong" continue with the sound of pure electronics with little use of the fake percussion, making the songs flow with ease and beauty. "Silence on a Crawler Lane" is actually a re-vamp of a track used on one of Froese's solo albums, and while it is nice and lush, it does have a bit of percussion, but it isn't distracting and the piano effect is very nice.

The pure sound, as I call it, the sound of electronics without the distraction of dance rhythms or rave style recordings, is the TD that I love. Yes there are two tracks on here with that electronic beat, but I can actually handle it here because of the variety in the music, and the first track is actually quite good utilizing the beats wisely and without distraction. This is definitely one of my more favorite TD albums that get played quite often.

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 Mark Hollis by HOLLIS, MARK album cover Studio Album, 1998
3.77 | 48 ratings

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Mark Hollis
Mark Hollis Crossover Prog

Review by jamesbaldwin
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Dear Mark Hollis, you are died the 25 February, and I cried for your loss. Here we are with your one and only solo record. Great Lp. Not crossover prog, because here we listen to free folk- jazz music. Crossover prog? Not really! Prog-folk, or post-rock. Here we are in front of an album of Cult, extreme, made by silences. But even by an extraordinary vocal performance.

Glacial, ghostly music. Whispered, alluded to, but often undeveloped, one would say for decency, to let the silence speak. This makes the music gaunt, the emotions hover mild, and as soon as they emerge they are sustained brought back within themselves. This is the merit and also the limit of the album, its only mentioned musicality, impressionist, like a painter who has decency to touch the canvas with the brush, and paints it hardly, almost without wanting to leave trace. Silence, whisper, modesty, decency are the words. Night music. Music of the Scottish highlands. You can let it dip or it can bounce you. Love or hate. You can go into ecstasy or you can get bored listening to this Lp. It's an album where art is reached by subtraction of music and singing.

The Line-up: Mark Hollis: guitar, vocals, composer, arranger & producer. Phil Ramacon: co-composer & co-arranger (track 1); Warne Livesey: co-composer & co-arranger (tracks 2,4,5,7,8). Dominic Miller / guitar, co-composer & co-arranger (track 6). Robbie McIntosh: guitar; Lawrence Pendrous: piano, harmonium; Mark Feltham: harmonica. Chris Laurence: double bass. Martin Ditcham: percussion, drums.

Wood musical instruments: clarinet, bassoon, cor Anglais; Brass musical instruments: flute, trumpet.

"Colour Of Spring" (3:52). Twenty seconds of Silence, then piano and voice. Minimalist. Title taken from a Talk Talk disc. Great vocal Performance... Song whispered and then dramatically lived. Almost shy Piano. In the distance perhaps sounds from wooden instruments. Rating: 7,5.

"Watershed (5:45). Maybe the album's masterpiece for the central trumpet solo. Full Folk-Jazz. Great Pathos. Rating: 8+.

"Inside Looking Out (6:21). Minimalist. Without percussion. Piano, and then acoustic guitar and voice. Dissonances played by clarinet. Ardous. Rating: 7,5.

"Gift (4:22). Good rhythm, good drums... and the voice, what a voice! Strange sounds with the harmonica... Then clarinet. This is jazz. Ok? Not crossover prog! Rating: 7,5.

End of side A.

"Life (1895-1915), the longer song (8:10), is a masterpiece, with wooden instruments (clarinet, bassoon, maybe cora anglais) to make dissonances. Then, drums an clarinet. Chamber orchestra. This is new song format. Rating: 8.

"Westward Bound (4:18). Acoustic guitar and voice. Folk. Good, but it's the less original song. Whispered. Shy. Minimalist. Rating: 7.

"Daily Planet (7:19)". Another masterpiece, another new song format. Drums, clarinet, cor anglais, bassoon, dissonances: chamber ensemble of contemporary classical music... or avantgarde? Great atmosphere, event thanks to harmonium. Rating: 8,5.

"New Jerusalem (6:49). Last song. Testament? A New Jerusalem: The Promised Land? Shivering voice. Jazzy drums, jazzy guitar. Dear Mark, I wish you were here! Clarinet, flute, double bass: dissonances. Rating 7,5. After 5 minutes and 5 seconds the song ends but it goes on for a minute and 45 seconds of silence.

This silence is for you, Mark. Rest in Peace.

Medium quality of the songs: 7,72.

Rating: 9. Small masterpiece. Five stars.

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 Crystals by SHAMAN ELEPHANT album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.92 | 12 ratings

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Crystals
Shaman Elephant Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by steelyhead

4 stars Where do I put this album? Psychodelic /Space Rock or pure Hard Rock? It doesn't matter because this is simply good music from the opening bass riff. I have never heard of this group from Bergen, Norway but I am sure I'll keep them in my music sights. Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, early Pink Floyd, grunge. You name It They have it. One of my favourite albums of that vintage year. Crystals and Stoned Conceptions are my favourite tracks but I'll take any song on a Friday night to roll on my city (Culiacan). Good music. I hope They stick together cause I want to nhear where this is going.

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 Chef. by KUNGENS MÄN album cover Studio Album, 2019
4.00 | 1 ratings

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Chef.
Kungens Män Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

— First review of this album —
4 stars Kungens Man is a psychedelic/space rock band from Stockholm, Sweden formed in 2012. Since 2015, they have released 8 full length albums, including this album released in February 2019 titled "Chef" ("Boss" or "Chief" in English). The band currently consists of 3 guitarists, a keyboardist, bassist and drummer. This album is released digitally, on CD and on vinyl. It consists of 4 tracks that together have a run time of just over 40 minutes, so each track is quite long.

The first track is "Fyrkantig Bojelse" ("Square Addiction" in English). This is an 11 minute exploration into Krautrock with a steady, yet andante tempo (the steady 4 / 4 beat of motorik, pioneered by the band "Can"), a pulsing bass and sound exploration and improvisation with the guitars. The track intensifies as the guitars interact with each other, building momentum without really increasing the speed. The sound gets more wild, but never chaotic. As the intensity grows, so will your enthusiasm for this sound.

"Oppen for Stangda Dorrar" has a slower beat with psychedelic guitar swirling around the drums and a bass style drone. Eerie and spacey effects push the intensity forward slowly. The dark atmosphere continues to build creating heavy electronic effects as the jangly and squealy guitars continue to push on for this 8 minute track.

"Man Med Medel" ("Man With Funds" in English) begins with a fuzzy bass line and a fast beat that creates a driving and enticing rhythm. This one should get your head bobbing right away. When the guitars start to play, you know they are going to develop into quite the assault in this Space Rock epic. As it continues, the guitars get wilder and heavier until they become unhinged by squealing effects and squawking sounds until it erupts into noise.

"Eftertankens Blanka Krankhet" ("The Shiny Disease of Thought" slows things down again with a hypnotizing beat and swirling guitar patterns playing around each other. This creates a psychedelic and hypnotic feel to the 11 minute track that takes it's time rolling along with mid-eastern inspired improvisation. About halfway through, the guitars begin to argue a bit increasing intensity without increasing the speed or producing too much volume and eventually dropping you off somewhere in space as it continues on its journey fading away into oblivion.

This is a great album showcasing 4 different styles of this band, krautrock, dark psychedelic, heavy space rock and a more meditative side. The tracks are well developed and any lover of psychedelic and space rock will really enjoy this. It works best as background or meditative music, but be aware there are some loud sections in there. The four long tracks are probably a bit too meandering for my taste, but I did enjoy most of the music. It's great for the style of music and the band is quite tuned in to each other and do a great job of not allowing the intensity to always increase speed, but instead allowing the listener to float along in bliss.

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 New Horizon by ADVENTURE album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.12 | 13 ratings

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New Horizon
Adventure Symphonic Prog

Review by Second Endeavour

3 stars It took a while, but today I am capable to present my humble review... What specific references should be found on CD 'New Horizon' if you go to this release featuring the twelve cuts? A pastoral opener 'Slow Fanfare' belongs to the instrumental type of sympho-prog overture that brings a classic Genesis-like vibe. On the other hand, it's a case of influence rather than imitation. The muscular track 'Destiny' runs through the dynamic rhythm and strong melodicism matched with the paradigm of Uriah Heep (John Lawton era). To be honest, I got a dual feeling about 'Horizon Suite' which contains the radically different movements. The first four minutes offer a sort of mellow composition featuring gentle piano, fragile vocal courtesy, tasty guitars, delicate keyboards and pleasant rhythmic backdrop. By contrast, the next part suddenly turns into overly aggressive hard-rock orgy accompanied by narrative inputs. There's no wonder that I savor the former and dislike the latter. After that, the potent outing 'Eirene (Goddess Of Peace)' which holds the captivating lead vocals, multiple harmonies, swirling keyboards, excellent guitar lines, competent bass and tight drums. Then, Adventure lean towards 'You Belong' bearing the stylistic parallels to Blind Guardian. Despite of its brief duration, superlative interlude 'With Tears In Their Eyes' manages to touch my heart and soul. The longest plot on the disk, 'Lighthouse' embodies kinda a cross between Uriah Heep, Jethro Tull, Deep Purple and Genesis. The subsequent, fast track 'Here To Stay' sounds like a melting pot of the piercing guitar attacks, vintage keyboard layers, stirring bass loops and competent drum work. Unfortunately, this fruition was spoiled by the awful voice of female lead singer. I also have some scepticism concerning two following songs, as both of them ('Nothing Will Change' and 'In Search Of (A New Life)' are sticking to the formula of trivial pop-music. That's not quite right with the progressive rock album. Being a penultimate item, the short interlude 'For the Fallen' has mainly a nice combination of soothing piano and spoken narration. The final track 'Refugees' is another nod to Uriah Heep (late 70's). To conclude.. You may find the critical remarks above somewhat redundant, but they are here for a very simple reason - comparing with the previous album by Adventure, CD 'New Horizon' has a handful of drawbacks. Nevertheless, it's a decent effort as a whole.

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 American Utopia by BYRNE, DAVID album cover Studio Album, 2018
3.95 | 3 ratings

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American Utopia
David Byrne Crossover Prog

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Both Talking Heads and its frontman David Byrne have the honour of being in the Archives, although very seldomly reviewed. I can't say either of them would have played a notable role in my listening history, quite the opposite really. Some months ago I borrowed several Talking Heads albums (after seeing the highly regarded Stop Making Sense concert film on TV) but frankly I found the music a bit boring. David Byrne as a solo artist is perhaps, for many of us, best remembered for his collaboration album with Brian Eno: My Life in the Bush of Ghosts (1981). Since that he has released albums in a steady pace, and this is his latest work.

American Utopia began as a series of Brian Eno's rhythm tracks turned into songs by Byrne, and a varying host of other collaborators putting their own ingredients on a song-by-song basis, The music could be classified as alternative rock with some sonic experimentalism, but not much progressive tendencies in the songwriting itself. The thoughtful production and World-flavoured rich arrangements are excellent and full of little details, and it that sense this album reminds me of Peter Gabriel's later output (Us, Up, etc.). The way Byrne's slightly restricted vocals -- not always very far from talking -- dominate and underline the textual/ideological side of the artistic impact bears a surprising resemblence to Roger Waters' Is This the Life We Really Want? (2017). Whereas that dark-toned album openly shows Roger's anger towards the [&*!#]ty state of the world and Donald Trump in particular, Byrne imagines an alternative, happier version of the United States. Or in other words, he keeps on asking for better alternatives: "Is there another way? These songs are about that looking and that asking." My association to the Waters album came for both words and music, though. The biggest difference in music concerns the measures of darkness and light. If Waters's album sulks in anger and frustration, American Utopia sounds brighter and spacier spacier, although it avoids sounding naiively happy and light (although 'Every Day Is a Miracle' does have a calypso-like merriness).

Maybe I should point out that often I don't much pay attention to the contents of lyrics when I listen to rock; if they paint pictures in my head, that's great, but if they just sort of slip through me, that's OK because it's primarily the music I'm listening to. In this case, without the lyrics being printed, Byrne's undoubtedly intelligent thinking doesn't fully reach me. In the liner notes Byrne writes about 'outsider artists'. "For them it seems as if maybe a more ideal and beautiful world is about people?" Now, let's concentrate on music. 'I Dance Like This' is a two-faced song, a bit like Peter Gabriel's 'Darkness': calm and delicate vs. dense and threatening. 'Gasoline and Dirty Sheets' is a good example of the detailed soundscape and excellent production.

Without vocals 'Dog's Mind' (2:30) would basically be a gorgeously growing ambient instrumental of Brian Eno, and the vocals only make it even better. The basis of the arrangements are mainly built of keys, drums and drum programming, and what comes on top of that varies very nicely throughout the album. Here's, another album association: The Wrong Way Up by John Cale & Brian Eno.

With ten tracks around 3-4 minutes, the album is a bit short (37:23), but perhaps the feeling of the time passing too quickly indicates that American Utopia is a very fine album that doesn't reveal all of its tricks in a couple of listenings. If you like Peter Gabriel's detailed soundscapes and alternative artists such as Laurie Anderson, Brian Eno and John Cale, checking also David Byrne is well worthwhile, and with my thin acquaintance I believe American Utopia is Byrne at his very best. Especially when compared to my less-than-enthusiastic attitude to Talking Heads, I enjoyed this album much more than I expected.

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 Bear's Banquet by OPOSSUM album cover Studio Album, 2003
2.00 | 1 ratings

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Bear's Banquet
Opossum Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

— First review of this album —
2 stars 2.5 stars to be more precise

Opossum from Germany was a very obscure band with short career who lasted nearly 4 years from 1971 untill 1975, they never released official anything until Garden of delights trace them out and issued as archival in 2003 the album named Bear's banquet. Well I had hard times listning to this release at once, really. This type of instrumental jazz/prog and even folk here an there is not for me, lots of jazzy improvised sections that goes no where to my ears. The band was a predecessor to Morpheus (who I like little more) had a very strange aproach to music, even the art cover who has the fluter of the band on it, but in the music this instrument is use very sporadicaly. The improv moments are tough one to hear for me, the ex are many, the opening The Sun and Moon Have Come Together is absolutly a waste of time, nothing for me to grab here.Mittelstreifen beggins very well and when I though that the piece finaly has something to offer, after 3-4 min the band again gets loos and the improv are back in bussines, lots of free jazzy moments and krautrok parts, not for me. The rest of the pieces remain in same direction, minus Opossum Novum who is the best of the album and quite diffrent from the rest, a good tune. All in all, this is a forgetable album for me, no really intresting moments. 2.5 stars nothing more. I really don't get the hype this band have for some listners and the comparation with Jethro Tull because of the flute is misleading .

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 We Can't Dance by GENESIS album cover Studio Album, 1991
2.66 | 1114 ratings

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We Can't Dance
Genesis Symphonic Prog

Review by patrickq

2 stars I used to think of We Can't Dance as basically Phillip and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Album. Now I see it as a veteran band's sincere, and ultimately unsuccessful, attempt to stay relevant.

We Can't Dance can be seen as four sets of three songs:

I. Decent pop/rock: "No Son of Mine," "Jesus He Knows Me," "I Can't Dance." Five singles were released from We Can't Dance in the US, and these are the three that hit the rock airplay chart. None approaches "Turn it On Again" or "Misunderstanding" - - and "No Son of Mine" is way too long - - but this is actually the best material here.

II. Longer-form we're-still-prog songs: "Driving the Last Spike," "Dreaming While You Sleep," "Fading Lights." Ugh. I mean, they are trying, but in my opinion it's just not working. Each song here has a kernel which probably could have been developed into a Decent Pop/Rock Song. There is also an occasional cool riff here and there, but most of it comes off as a stretch. (I mean that literally; these songs average over nine minutes each.)

III. Mushy adult-contemporary schlock: "Never a Time," "Hold On My Heart," "Since I Lost You." After Phil Collins's singles started charting higher than Genesis singles, some people began complaining that one Genesis song or another "sounds like a Phil Collins song." That was meant derisively, but in my opinion, it depends on the song - - for example, how bad would it be for a Genesis song to sound like "In the Air Tonight" or "Inside Out"?

But on the other hand, how bad would it be if a Genesis song sounded like "One More Night" or "Groovy Kind of Love"? Unfortunately, we got to find out.

IV. Filler: "Tell Me Why," "Living Forever," "Way of the World" OK, look: We Can't Dance is more than 72 minutes long. What harm would've been done by leaving these songs off the album? Without them, We Can't Dance still would've been ten minutes longer than Invisible Touch or Genesis or Abacab.

Some have pointed out that We Can't Dance represented a return to more of of "rock" sound - - that the band had realized that they'd "gone to far" with Invisible Touch and its remix-friendly pop/dance fare. Personally, I think the change of direction on We Can't Dance was more a reflection of the times. Invisible Touch was their biggest hit ever. Why change the formula?

Invisible Touch debuted on the Billboard Top 200 album chart on June 28, 1986. Synth-heavy rock was at its peak, with 5150 (Van Halen), Raised on Radio (Journey), The Other Side of Life (Moody Blues) and So (Peter Gabriel) all in the top 10. On the other hand, when We Can't Dance debuted at #4 the last week of November 1991, the other rock albums in the top ten were Nevermind (Nirvana), Use Your Illusion II (Guns N' Roses) and Metallica (Metallica).

Things were changing in the music business, and by 1991, Genesis was reacting to those changes, not shaping them. We Can't Dance is not a good album, nor an important album. Kudos to the three members of Genesis for realizing that drastic measures would be necessary for the band to remain relevant - - though sadly, such measures were unsuccessful. Nonetheless, no matter how great or terrible We Can't Dance is, it hardly tarnishes the Genesis brand identity. We'll always have A Trick of the Tail, Seconds Out, and the rest of the highlights of the Collins Era.

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 Histoires À L'Envers by MANGEUR DE RÊVES album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.91 | 2 ratings

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Histoires À L'Envers
Mangeur De Rêves Prog Folk

Review by giraffe1976

4 stars If you've liked Harmonium's "Si on avait besoin d'une cinqui'me saison", or other bands from Quebec's 70's musical scene, like Beau Dommage, you should like this too. Not a masterpiece, but certainly a great album. 32 minutes that go by really quickly.

Hier - a short electronic ambient that sets the mood for the album. Quite mellow.

Dernier Hiver - An interesting mix of trad-folk and prog with some great percussion work.

Ainsi parlait Pinel - The longest and probably of the proggiest song on the album. Good vocal harmonies.

Fille de Lune - Dreamy song that leans more on the pop and ambient side of prog.

Ballade en haute mer- Ambient guitar harmonies with long instrumental parts.

Refuge - Short, soft and introspective instrumental with a great guitar solo.

Enfants de coeur - Great ending to the album, groovy riffs and epic finale.

Overall, 4/5. Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection.

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 Sound Awake by KARNIVOOL album cover Studio Album, 2009
4.09 | 289 ratings

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Sound Awake
Karnivool Heavy Prog

Review by CassandraLeo

5 stars Every once in awhile, most music listeners are going to discover an album that feels like it was made specifically for them, but somehow managed to slip under their radar for an obscenely long time. Sound Awake has proved to be one of those albums for me.

Without going into too much personal detail, I'll simply say that the months of February and March 2019 have been extremely difficult from a physical and mental health perspective for me. I haven't been in any danger of death, but I've seldom been this sick since my childhood, which has also left my emotional and mental health in a questionable state.

It has been against this background that I first heard Sound Awake. I'm sure I'd heard the name Karnivool before 2019, but it wasn't in any context that made it seem like it was a name I needed to pay attention to. A friend with trusted music taste suggested I listen to their music in January, however, and I got around to Sound Awake in February because it had the highest rating here.

This album grabbed my attention from the first note. I immediately liked the melodies, but it was the clever Led Zeppelin reference midway through the first song that made me suspect there was something truly special here. The whole album held my attention well enough that I wanted to put it on again fairly soon after it ended.

It's fairly rare for an album to blend immediately memorable melodies with great musical depth. I would contend that this is one of those rare albums. I would compare it to Wobbler's From Silence to Somewhere in this respect. The two bands don't sound much alike, to be clear - Wobbler is the sort of classicist symphonic prog band where you have to listen hard for any musical features to distinguish the band from '70s progressive groups (those features are there, to be clear, but they're relatively subtle), while Karnivool has a slick modern rock sound for better and worse (the "worse" in this case mostly being the typical loudness war mastering, which in my book is the only significant weakness of this album). But both bands know how to compose immediately compelling melodies without sacrificing replay value.

I won't go through a track-by-track review here. A few highlights, for my money, are "Change", "Deadman", "The Caudal Lure", and "Umbra", but despite its long running time, this isn't one of those albums where it'd be possible to do without some of the songs; they all serve an essential purpose here. There aren't as many actual songs as the track listing makes it seem, anyway - "The Medicine Wears Off" is essentially the first movement of "The Caudal Lure", and while "Illumine" is clearly a separate song, it's so cleverly linked to its predecessor that I prefer to think of them as a long, continuous suite of music. (While we're at it, part of "Change" is actually indexed as part of "Deadman" - the latter track runs for about 10:11 and the former for about 12:40.)

But I'm not really here to talk about the individual songs. The band's composition is on point throughout; all of the songs possess the mixture of strong melodies and musical depth that are far too rare in modern music. This band is frequently written off as a Tool clone, but even though the band themselves acknowledge Tool's influence on them, I feel that influence is often overstated in the musical press. Drummer Steve Judd has obviously listened judiciously to Tool's Danny Carey, but overall, I hear more Porcupine Tree in Karnivool's sound than I hear Tool.

When music is this strongly composed, though, I also feel playing spot-the-musical-influence is missing the point (though as an aside, I will add that "Set Fire to the Hive" strikes me as Karnivool's attempt to write an At the Drive-In song, and it's quite successful). Karnivool has enough depth to their sound to make them more than the sum of their influences. A large part of that is due to the band's strength as musicians. Kenny is a superb vocalist and the guitar parts from Goddard and Hosking are strong throughout, but I feel the real stars of the show are Stockman and Judd. This album's performances rest on the strength of its rhythmic foundation, and both of them are up to the task.

I've listened to this album some twenty times since I first heard it last month, in no small part because I find it difficult to listen to it only once. Somehow, I haven't even gotten sick of it. I think that's because, as I said, I've been going through a particularly difficult time, and this album has turned into a significant comfort. In a way, it is so good that I find it difficult to evaluate the band's other work fairly. I've liked Asymmetry both times I've listened to it so far, but I'm too preoccupied with this album to give its successor the attention it clearly deserves. I haven't even put the band's earlier work on yet, though I'm sure it's also good.

If this band somehow slipped under your radar too, give them a chance. I find it very difficult to imagine very many progressive rock fans disliking this album. For my money it's one of the finest albums of the '00s.

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 Cerberus Shoal  by CERBERUS SHOAL album cover Studio Album, 1995
3.47 | 11 ratings

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Cerberus Shoal
Cerberus Shoal RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Cerberus Shoal ia a RIO/Avant Prog collective that has been around since 1994 (forming in Boston) and has released 14 albums up until 2010. Their lineup has changed a lot, which is why they consider themselves a collective. Their self-titled, debut album consisted of Caleb Mulkerin (guitar, vocals) who relocated from Portland, Chris Sutherland (bass, vocals), Thomas Roger (drums) and Josh Ogden (guitar). The album was also reissued on CD in 2004. This album actually has a more post rock feel to it with the use of dynamics and twin guitar riffs, and the building of themes through repetition and intensity, but in the case of Cerberus Shoal, the intensity changes are usually quite quick.

The album begins with the first track titled 'Rain' on the album. It is a mostly easy going track with a moderate tempo which suddenly gets quite intense when the dual guitar riff comes in after 1 minute. Everything calms again a minute later as we are left with just the bass finishing off the short track. 'Daddy as Seen from Bar Harbor' begins heavy, cools off after a minute as subdued spoken vocals come in surrounded by a heavy beat and strong bass with a start/stop pattern on a tricky meter. Just before the 5 minute mark, everything gets suddenly louder when full guitar power kicks in. At 8 minutes, the music quiets down with the introduction of a smoother rhythm and a more melodic vocal, that still remains somewhat subdued while the spoken vocals continue further in the background. A quick crescendo just before 10 minutes cranks up the intensity immensely as the melodic vocal turns to shouting.

'Elena' is a softer track with a steady mid-tempo beat and more of the spoken word vocals mixed in at a lower volume. 'Change' is more dynamic with a soft, almost minimal beginning that interchange with louder sections, vocals still mixed down low that are more spoken than sung, but become close to screaming on the louder sections. 'Breakaway Cable Terminal' continues with the same dynamic soft to loud feel, but in a less formulaic way and with a more melodic vocal at times, but with screaming on the louder sections.

The second track titled 'Rain' comes next, and is hard to tell what the tie in to the first track is, but it continues with the soft / intense pattern as before and the soft spoken word and screaming vocals. The track listing above shows that this track is 39 minutes, and this has caused some confusion as it is actually just over 5 minutes. There is then a bit over 4 minutes of silence before an untitled track begins. A bass line repeats while percussion and a drone play which is joined by a melodic guitar later. Everything intensifies quickly for a while and the pattern repeats with differing feedback drones. This pattern just repeats for the rest of the 29 minute track with some variation in the instruments, but no variation in the rhythm or bass line.

The sound of this album starts out well enough, but after the first two tracks, the loud and soft pattern tends to grow old and there is very little change in the vocals or sound from one track to the other. Even though there were a lot of strong reviews with this album, I don't see what the draw is to it since there really isn't much change in the sound. Yes, it was early in the days of post rock, but even then there were better bands and albums out there. There were times when the band were much better, so I guess we can give some slack to them since it was their first album, but this debut album just doesn't expand on the basic sound enough.

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 The Virgin Years 1974-1978 by TANGERINE DREAM album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2011
4.80 | 11 ratings

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The Virgin Years 1974-1978
Tangerine Dream Progressive Electronic

Review by TenYearsAfter

5 stars 'The history of electronic music on 3 CD's!'

This 3-CD box contains chronically the entire tracklist of the albums Phaedra (1974 ), Rubycon (1975), Ricochet (live 1975), Stratosfear (1976) and Cyclone (1978), plus bonus tracks: excerpts from Rubycon, Part Two and Madrigal, the 7' single edits Rubycon Side One, Rubycon side Two, Stratosfear, The Big Sleep In Search Of Hades and the two very short Radio Adverts Phaedra and Rubycon (both around 30 seconds).

Phaedra is a milestone in the history of electronic music, the four pivotal compositions (between 2 and 17 minutes) feature unique aural landscapes. Ominous Mellotron violin layers in Mysterious Semblance (obviously an inpsiration for JM Jarre). Pulsating sequencers, weird and spacey synthesizer sounds, along some psychedelic sounding Farfisa organ in Movements Of Visionary. And amazing interplay between the three keyboard players Franke, Froese and Baumann in Sequence C'.

Ricochet was recorded live in 1975, I am delighted about Ricochet Part Two featuring warm Grand piano, wonderful flute- Mellotron, pulsating sequencers and howling electric guitar.

Stratosfear is also an interesting album, especially the tracks In The Big Sleep In Search Of Hades with wonderful Mellotron flute runs (reminding me of Julia's Dream from Pink Floyd) and twanging acoustic guitar (in between fat Moog flights), In 3 a.m. At The Border Of The Marsh From Okefenokee with a surprising intro that delivers mouth organ, and In Invisible Limits with great sequencing and electric guitar.

After Stratosfear Peter Baumann left, on Cyclone the band has extended to a four piece formation featuring Edgar Froese, Chris Franke, drummer Klaus Krieger (also electronic percussion) and Steve Jolliffe, he adds an extra dimension to the music of Tangerine Dream with vocals (to the dislike of the TD purists!) and instruments like flutes, horns and the distinctive Hohner D6 clavinet (in Rising Runner Missed By Endless Sender). Although Cyclone is far from my favourite TD album, I consider it not as a bad album, especially In Bent Cold Sidewalk (with use of the vocoder, known from Mr. Blue Sky from ELO) and the eciting Madrigal Meridian (spectacular synthesizer runs and distorted electric guitar soli, fuelled by powerful drums and hypnotizing sequencing) are strong compositions.

The bonustracks deliver the best from Tangerine Dream, really worth to listen to as a separate musical experience, especially the 7' single edits Rubycon and Stratosfear, this is 3-4 minutes Sequencer Extravaganza! The two Radio Adverts Phaedra and Rubycon are fun, no more or less.

For those who are into this unsurpassed Tangerine Dream era I would like to recommend these bands/artists with their wonderful retro sound: Free System Project, Rudy Adrian, Gert Emmens & Ruud Heij, the trio Pollard/Daniel/Booth, Red Shift, Air Sculpture, Volt, Rogue Element, Navigator, Radio Massacre International and Ron Boots.

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 ...Canta Fabrizio De Andre by GAN EDEN - IL GIARDINO DELLE DELIZIE album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.00 | 1 ratings

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...Canta Fabrizio De Andre
Gan Eden - Il Giardino Delle Delizie Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

— First review of this album —
3 stars The name of this Rock Progressivo Italiano band is "Gan Eden-Il Giardino delle Delizie". Gan Eden is Hebrew for Garden of Eden and Il Giardino delle Delizie is Italian for The Garden of Delights. The band was founded in 2004 by Angelo Santo Lombardi who is a keyboardist for the band who utilizes several artists for backup on his different albums. His 5th album is called ". . . Canta Fabrizio de Andre" where Lombardi plays all the instruments except for guest Gabriele Paganoni who plays additional acoustic and electric guitars, bass, drums and effects.

The music here is a nice mix of Italian folk prog utilizing mostly acoustic guitars with frequent keyboards. The music isn't really heavy in the prog department, but there are places where there are tricky meters in certain songs, the proggiest of which are "Creuza de Ma" and "Nei Miandri dell'Alba". The vocals are all in Italian and are quite pleasant sounding, supported many times with background singers and possibly even a small chorus of singers.

The individual tracks tend to be inspired by folk dance styles and a few lean towards a ballad style like "La Guerra di Piero", which is led mostly by piano, or towards a pastoral sound as in "Giordie", which also features a female vocalist and a lovely orchestration of acoustic instruments.

The music is nice and mostly pastoral, the vocals don't really change much as far as timbre is concerned, but Lombardi doesn't stretch beyond his capabilities and the songs are interesting enough to help carry the variety in style. But, he isn't a bad singer either and is quite confident in his sound. The occasional female vocals also help add variety. The instruments are pretty much mostly acoustic with the only track with discernable electric guitar riffs is the final track. So, this is a good album for those who like their music on the folk side, pastoral in sound with occasional hints of progressiveness.

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 Emerson Lake & Palmer by EMERSON LAKE & PALMER album cover Studio Album, 1970
4.24 | 1981 ratings

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Emerson Lake & Palmer
Emerson Lake & Palmer Symphonic Prog

Review by Kempokid
Collaborator Prog Metal Team

3 stars After an onslaught of Dream Theater reviews that honestly left me burnt out on everything to do with the band for the time being, I decided to just stop with them for the time being and move onto a band that I have extremely mixed opinions on, Emerson, Lake and Palmer. Overall, I find the band to have a very particular sound to them unlike much other prog at the time, with much more on the nose classical influence to the point of reimagining various classical pieces, an extreme focus on keyboards and drums, and an all around more energetic, chaotic, jam focused sound to them. Out of all the classic prog bands, this is easily one of the most pompous and excessive of them all, only issue being that it only works some of the time, an issue present through every one of their albums. Their debut is definitely their most restrained work by an extremely wide margin, but even here, there is still a lot of time dedicated to simply showing off the incredible talent of the band members, rather than on making enjoyable music. Both Keith Emerson and Carl Palmer are extremely skilled at their respective instruments, and Greg Lake is one of my favourite vocalists, but the music itself is quite a mixed bag, with a lot of it sounding like more work could have been done in order to polish things significantly.

Despite the band largely providing its riffs and melody through the keyboards, The Barbarian kicks off the album with a sludgy guitar tone, before increasing in speed, starting off slowly before the beat evolves into a gallop. I love the way everything cuts out in order for the frenetic drumming and tense piano playing to come in, providing the mental image of being chased, at least to me. I love the intensity of this song, and it's without a doubt one of my favourite songs on the album, and is at the very least, what I'd consider to be the most perfect. Take A Pebble is a very different affair however, starting off very strongly, highly reminiscient of the earlier King Crimson ballads such as the first couple of minutes of Moonchild, with similarly amazing vocals and an overall powerful beauty to it. The issue here is that a lot of the middle instrumental section feels very unecessary, being quite dull with what I consider to be fairly unappealing country - blues section that feels as if it comes out of nowhere and lasts far too long. In a way, I guess I can compare it to Moonchild, both starting out excellently before devolving into pure boredom, with any magic the song contained being drained away. Knife Edge proves to fare far better, being a pleasant, bluesy song with much more restraint placed upon it, with nothing getting too out of hand, and some really great concepts explored, especially the baroque section, which is simply to die for. The song feels a bit stilted in placed, but is definitely enjoyable.

The Three Fates feels like the polar opposite of Knife Edge, with it sounding like the band just decided to abandon all restraint and see how much punishment their instruments could take before they broke. What is created from this is a wonderfully chaotic instrumental that switches between mildly dull to downright awesome, the latter being much more prominent in the third movement of the song, and at the very least, it's simply more proof that Keith Emerson is incredible on his respecitve instruments (if it was somehow not already extremely obvious from everything else here), but once again, the song could have used a bit of trimming. Tank is definitely an interesting song, having some of the greatest instrumental interplay that the band has ever composed in my opinion, with an amazing driving energy behind it. The issue here is that once again, the excessive, pompous side of the band ends up getting the better of it in the form of a 2 minute drum solo which becomes almost painfully dull by the end. I honestly want a version of this song with a shortened version of the drum solo, as this would otherwise be one of my absolute favourite songs by the band if not for how much the energy is ruined. Lucky Man is definitely a beautiful track and one that I can quite easily see how it became the most popular, well known song by the band, as it's peacful, melodic, and absolutely beautiful. There is nowhere near the same amount of chaos and intensity as previous songs, but does close off in a way that sums up the whole album very well, with a poorly conceived moog solo that disrupts the beauty, although the song is still incredible despite this.

Overall, while 5 of the 6 songs on this album are good overall (Take A Pebble, not so much), almost all of them are flawed in the same general way, with the exception of The Barbarian. Each of them could have used further editing and polishing to make for some really great listening, as the songs all have incredible potential in one way or another. As it stands though, while I do really enjoy listening to this album, I often end up becoming mildly irritated at the many flaws it has, which is definitely enough for me to knock this down to 3 stars. I'd highly recommend this album to those who enjoy heavily classical influenced music and also can get behind a lot of excess. This is definitely their most restrained album of their peak material, which is honestly a good thing in certain respects when looking at some of their later efforts where they allowed their pretentiousness to go unchecked.

Best songs: The Barbarian, Knife Edge, Lucky Man

Weakest songs: Take A Pebble

Verdict: Highly technical, complex muwsic that has a habit of becoming too overtly complex for its own good. Songs can both have moments of genius, and moments of ill conceived noodling, but for the most part, it's an entertaining album overall, albeit very flawed in certain respects.

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 Echoes from within Dragon Island by KARFAGEN album cover Studio Album, 2019
4.41 | 97 ratings

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Echoes from within Dragon Island
Karfagen Symphonic Prog

Review by Trinity S

5 stars Dragon Island. Amazing artwork that hooks you straight away.. I have huge collection of vinyls and can say to me it's a privilege to hold lovely looking sleeve. Say, 'Octoberon', 'Tales from Topographic Ocean ', 'Trick of the Tale' just to name a few. Honestly now, sometimes I give 'extra points' to the album with great artwork. Remember 'colors' by Eloy - wow. Unfortunately, There are not so many good covers nowadays.. how it's nice to see lovely one - 'hand made'. Overall, art rock starts from a cover that continues the mood of music. Prog lovers like to have real Cd, album, instead of modern pop culture where the 1 song rules, where the idea and meaning of an 'album' is almost vanished. That's why when you hold artwork like this, with fantastically gorgeous booklet and listens to the music it's multiple the effect! ) you dive into this fairytale world, so perfectly created by the author. Of course it's a matter of taste, there can be some pros and cons but particularly this album 'rocks'. It has its highs and pastoral 'lows', it leads you through the world where symphonic grace organically meets classical poetry. And it has delicious sound, not so over compressed like most of the modern bands produce. If you've never heard Karfagen, it's the right album to start with. And then return to 'lost symphony ', 'messages from afar' , 'magician's theater' , they all deserve your attention.

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 The Carol Of The Bells by MARILLION album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2013
4.05 | 11 ratings

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The Carol Of The Bells
Marillion Neo-Prog

Review by patrickq

4 stars This was the first time I'd listened closely to a non-Fish Marillion song. Steve Hogarth, Fish's replacement, is pretty good. I don't know much about this band outside of a few Fish-era classics, but do the other guys sing? The harmony vocals actually sound really good. I assumed it was mainly Hogarth until I heard "That's What Friends are For" - - also from their Christmas album - - and it sounds like the voices of at least two or three different people.

"Carol of the Bells" is a hundred-year-old song, based on an even older melody, and over the past 30 years, when a rock band has recorded a Christmas album, this song had a good chance of appearing. While Robert Berry's 2002 prog-rock version (as the December People) is excellent, the all-time classic version, in my book, is "Sarajevo 12/24," Savatage's 1995 instrumental interpretation which spawned the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

Marillion does a good job of avoiding a homage to "Sarajevo 12/24," which would have been fun and easy. Instead they focus on a vocal arrangement for the first two minutes before commencing with the inevitable rock instrumentation. The vocal arrangement continues until a soft orchestral interlude abruptly begins at 3:45. The well-known four-note motif ("ring, silver bells") gives way to the complimentary melody of the James Bond theme, and the band returns to offer a rock take on a few measures of John Barry's spy-film classic. Just after 4:40 guitarist Steve Rothery launches into a Marillion-style solo. In the final minute of the song, the interlude passage returns, and in a nod to the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, the lead line of "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen" is woven into the old Ukrainian melody of "Carol of the Bells." But wait - - the rock won't stop just yet - - the song ends with a recapitulation of the Bond theme.

Four stars for a very nice take on this well-worn classic.

(P.S. The version I'm reviewing is 6:14. I downloaded it from emusic.com in November 2016. This appears to be the same as the version on bandcamp, but the version posted by marilliononline on YouTube on 12/15/13 has a reprise of about 1:20. "Carol of the Bells" is no longer on emusic, and is apparently only available on bandcamp as part of an album (for £7.99). However, as of March 2019, though, it is available for $0.99 on the US Amazon .mp3 store.)

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