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 The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other by VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR album cover Studio Album, 1970
4.05 | 917 ratings

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The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other
Van Der Graaf Generator Eclectic Prog

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Review N 147

'The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other' is the second studio album of one of the most original British progressive rock bands of the 70's, Van Der Graaf Generator, and was released in 1970. Although it can be considered the second official studio album of the band, it's, in a certain way, the first proper album of the group. This happened because their previous debut studio album, 'The Aerosol Grey Machine' should have been released as a solo album of Peter Hammill, but due to a deal with the record company. It was released under the name of Van Der Graaf Generator.

'The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other' was recorded at Trident studios in London in December of 1969 and all songs were written by Hammill with the exception of 'Out Of My Book' which was written by Hammill and David Jackson, and Hugh Banton wrote the cello parts on 'Refugees'.

The line up of the album is Peter Hammill (vocals, acoustic guitar and piano on 'Refugees'), Hugh Banton (backing vocals, piano and organ), Nick Potter (bass guitar and electric guitar), Guy Evans (drums and percussion) and David Jackson (backing vocals and flute, tenor and alto saxophones).

The title of the album was based on a phrase taken from John Minton who was a British painter and an illustrator of landscapes, portraits, and figures, as well a theatrical designer: 'We're all awash in a sea of blood, and the least we can do is wave to each other'.

With this album, the band established their style and it sounds more impressive than the first one, probably caused by Jackson, who joined in 1969. The songs have more progressive influences and the overall sound is excellent. Drum section is very good and Banton organ is also awesome. Guitar parts are almost simple but this doesn't matter because piano, organ and sax replace it. Very strange and fantastic are sax parts. The way Jackson plays the instrument is innovative. Like in all other albums, the lyrics are wonderful. Despite Hammill has a very peculiar and strange voice, he can use it in an awesome way. The changes of tone from loud to silent, from high to low makes his vocals intensive.

'The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other' has six tracks. The first track 'Darkness (11/11)' is a great opener for the album and is also one of the best songs. This is a song dominated by the continued presence of the keyboards of Banton and by a very good and strong bass line. It's the song where we can hear, for the first time, the incredible and unique sound of the saxophones of Jackson. This is a great track. The second track 'Refugees' is the most sentimental moment on the album. This is a very beautiful song, very melodic and peaceful with nice flute by Jackson. It's a song that reminds me very much 'Running Back', the third track of their debut album 'The Aerosol Grey Machine'. This is one of the most beautiful songs written by Hammill. The third track 'White Hammer' is an intense dark song about the torture and the crimes of the Inquisition in the fifteenth century. It's a song dominated by powerful saxophone and great keyboard works with good dark lyrics. The music in the end is very aggressive, dissonant and disturbing, providing us a dramatic final. The fourth track 'Whatever Would Robert Have Said?' is a good song with several different musical passages and with different rhythms throughout the song. We can consider it one of the most progressive songs of the album. However, it isn't one of my favourite songs on the album and isn't as good as all the previous songs. The fifth track 'Out Of My Book' is the smallest song on the album. It's a very different song, a light, melodic and beautiful ballad, which we even can say that it's unusually melodic for Van Der Graaf Generator. This song reminds me, in some moments, the second studio album of Genesis, 'Trespass'. Like the previous song I think it isn't as good as the other songs of the album. The sixth track 'After The Flood' is the longest song of the album. It's the epic song on the album and I think it's also its highlight point. This is a song progressively and gradually very well developed with different musical passages, some more aggressive and some more melodic. This is a perfect end for this amazing album.

Conclusion: 'The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other' is without any doubt the first great studio album of Van Der Graaf Generator. It has everything what made of this band be so great. It has the complex, dark and beautiful lyrics of Hammill and also his beautiful, original and unique voice, the fantastic keyboard sound of Banton, the incredible sound of the saxophones and flute of Jackson, the original drumming of Evans and the strong bass line of Potter. Like 'Trespass' from Genesis, 'The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other' is an album almost perfect. Comparing these two albums, we may say that both are near of the perfection and both show the type of music that both bands wanted to do in the future. For me, there's only a slight difference between both albums. The music on 'Trespass' is more simple, pure and na've, while the music on 'The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other' is more complex, mature and adult.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

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 The World Is Flat And Other Alternative Facts by SILHOUETTE album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.25 | 38 ratings

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The World Is Flat And Other Alternative Facts
Silhouette Neo-Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

5 stars

For me, I will always associate Progress Records with Hansi Cross, who sadly passed away earlier this year. But, although Hansi is no longer with us, the label he left behind continues to release albums of incredible stature and worth. That is definitely the case with Dutch band Silhouette's fifth studio album. 'The World Is Flat and Other Alternative Facts'. Somehow, I missed their last studio album, although I did manage to hear their live album which was released earlier this year. I gave a 4 * review to their third album 'Across The Rubicon' which came out in 2012, and there is no doubt in my mind this is superior.

This has everything I want from a prog album, great melodies, wonderful musicianship, soaring vocals, layered arrangements that can appear almost simple at times, and never forgetting that the music always must come first. They may all have wonderful virtuoso skills, but how does that fit in with what is needed? Brian de Graeve (lead & backing vocals, 12-string guitar), Daniel van der Weijde (electric & acoustic guitars), Erik Laan (keyboards, bass pedals, lead & backing vocals), Jurjen Bergsma (bass, acoustic guitar, backing vocals) and Rob van Nieuwenhuijzen (drums, percussion) have created something that contains elements of Yes and Neal Morse alongside more melodic rock elements, as well as plenty if prog. The vocals are superb, and everything somehow gels together seamlessly. One can't imagine another instrument or note needed anywhere, yet there is nothing superfluous in what they are doing. This is majestic, soaring prog that makes me smile each time I play it. And I have been playing it a great deal indeed.

When discerning progheads compile their top albums of the year list soon, there is no doubt that this will be one to reckon with. From acoustic 12-string to heavily layered arrangements to rock guitar, this has it all and so very much more. I love it. This is simply essential to anyone who dares call themselves a progger.

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 The Seventh House by IQ album cover Studio Album, 2000
4.00 | 594 ratings

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The Seventh House
IQ Neo-Prog

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

4 stars After the critical success and arguable artistic peak of their 1997 album "Subterranea" which saw the band step it up in many ways in compositional quality, the band IQ took their usual multi-year time off before releasing a new album with the bonus of a rerelease of their demo "Seven Stories Into Eight" finding its way onto the CD format for the new ages. Living up to its numerical title THE SEVENTH HOUSE is indeed the 7th studio album of Mike Holmes' and Martin Orford's successful neo-prog band that was one of the major players of the great prog revival that swept the 90s after the botched attempt to go commercial at the tail end of the 80s with their combo effect and oft-loathed "Nomzamo" and "Are You Sitting Comfortable" debacle. Not only did the band overcome the train wreck with the strong comeback "Ever," but outdid themselves and the entire neo-prog scene with their amazing masterpiece double album "Subterranea." Having enjoyed a stable lineup, THE SEVENTH HOUSE sees a return of the exact same members including the amazing vocal skills of Peter Nicholls.

IQ once again dish out a concept based album where the sound of the musicians are designed to support the lyrical content and while lyrics are rarely the goal of my musical experience, the neo-prog branch of progressive rock certainly demands an intense attention span of lyrical content due to it being the main focus of the musical delivery. THE SEVENTH HOUSE is no exception to this general rule and meanders through a fairly nebulous tale of a person who returns to a location where he was part of some unknown battle that purportedly would make the world a better place and ultimately ended up as the only survival of the group but is redeemed at the end when he meets his guardian angel who helped him survive the ordeal. While it all sounds syrupy soap opera-ish on paper (or screen rather!), somehow IQ can take a Hallmark channel type of tear jerking story and turn it into a musical bonanza that cranks out the subtle and sensual melodic developments that ratchet up the tension that can reach the intensity of crescendoing metal guitar domination.

Upon first listen THE SEVENTH HOUSE is definitely a step down from "Subterranea" in about every way, mostly in the fact that the band seems that they have settled into their respective sound quite comfortably. Also gone is the wow factor of ratcheting up the progressiveness and complexity as well as the creativity. THE SEVENTH HOUSE certainly sounds like IQ has been there, done that before with a strong connection to the "Ever" period as well as the albums that followed. However, neo-prog isn't a type of prog that demands an incessant flow of zowie wowie ideas and gimmicks. What it all boils down for me are strong catchy melodic hooks that are suavely decked out with the appropriate instrumentation all the while fortified with a strong vocal delivery and on all counts, THE SEVENTH HOUSE delivers all the goods in every checked off department. At this stage, the band had perfected their sound and despite running on autopilot, they nevertheless created a satisfying romp through the symphonic and heavy rock universe with some jazzy touches led by Nicholls' stellar ability to connect the listener to the story.

While THE SEVENTH HOUSE won't go down as my all time favorite IQ listening experience, i can only concur that it is a consistent and satisfying one at least and a continuation of the strong albums that they would continue to unleash well into the 21st century. So overall, not a perfect album in that it continues down the path that they laid down however IQ deliver an excellent mix of symphonic mellow rock that includes piano driven segments as well as the more bombastic heavy rock episodes complete with sizzling guitar solos provided by Mike Holmes. THE SEVENTH HOUSE may not win over anyone who hasn't already joined the club but it certainly continues to keep the members who have already been admitted properly satisfied and for a neo-prog band of this calibre, that's good enough for me.

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 From Silence to Somewhere by WOBBLER album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.63 | 126 ratings

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From Silence to Somewhere
Wobbler Symphonic Prog

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

5 stars "Masterpiece of the Year!"

Norwegian Symphonic Prog Rockers Wobbler are the surprise hit of the year with one of the best albums of 2017 "From Silence to Somewhere". The album from the outset has the sounds and ear candy of the classic Prog Rock Of the golden 70's era when Prog was at the peak of the mountain. So close in resemblance is the sound, one may be forgiven for thinking this is an album from that era, comparing favourably with masterpieces such as Yes' "Close to the Edge", Genesis "Foxtrot", Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso's debut and Gentle Giant's "The Power and the Glory". Similar to those albums, Wobbler feature an epic multi movement suite clocking over 20 minutes. There are only 4 songs just like the classics of Yes, ELP and Genesis, and each track builds on the next with Spiritual themes and metaphorical poetic lyrics. The vocals are so close to vintage Peter Gabriel or Jon Anderson it is astounding, and so well executed by Andreas Wettergreen Str'mman Prestmo, who is wonderful on guitar, glockenspiel, and percussion. Geir Marius Bergom Halleland is the lead guitarist, one of the best, Lars Fredrik Fr'islie is a virtuoso keyboardist, and the complex rhythm section is made up of Kristian Karl Hultgren, bass, bass clarinet, bass pedals, and Martin Nordrum Kneppen on drums, percussion, and recorder.

The album opens with the glorious epic From Silence to Somewhere (21.00), that has as many twists and turns as the lengthy treasures of early Genesis, Supper's Ready, Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso's opus Il Guardino del Mago, and Yes with Close to the Edge. The organic music switches moods throughout, from melancholy and reflective to uplifting melodies with intense emotional power. It dives headlong into a guitar driven melody with crashes of cymbals and whirring sustained synths, the bassline and drum section is chaotic and exciting. The lengthy cacophonic intro finally breaks into a peaceful ethereal organ with acoustics, awash with lush Mellotron strings.

The lyrics explore the idea of metamorphosis, from the womb to the grave and beyond the veil. Reminiscent of the ideologies heard on Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso's Metamorfosi from their masterpiece debut. Part 1: Humus 'all that becomes and perishes' opens with lyrics "From the mould, the mother womb that dark and moist, dark and moist shield of old, to rise again from the tomb and like the fragile sprout in twilight's gloom, into the world unfold, ancestral gold, the line of blood, a web stretched out so long ago, built to last." The poetic lyrics are fulfilling and augment the music in the same way lyrics are quintessential to the overall experiential and existential journey of Yes, "Tales of Topographic Oceans". A flute dominates over the next section and the pace quickens into complex shapes. It switches into a quiet contemplative phase. The flute adds its own embrace of beauty to the scape; a chrysalis opening to release the butterfly. Part 2: Corpus 'That no one of existing things doth perish, but men in error speak of their changes as destructions and as deaths', there's a subtitle! Here the lyrics turn a darker shade as the protagonist contemplates the meaning of death after life; "This now when everything never dies, live again, burst into the scarlet skies reshaped, resized, in this dark hour I search the cave relentlessly pondering grand designs, troubling me, cloaked in the veil of light, clarity brightens my halls, proof of the undying, truth beyond these walls." The hard drum returns to signify a new change, and a beautiful lead guitar break breaks through.

Another verse and everything halts as church pipe organ begins and some odd effects before a cascade of Hammond descends into a fast paced drum pattern, until scratches of strings grind like a creaking door opening to a new scenario. The tracks changes completely with a weird spasmodic fractured signature in iambic pentameter, punctuated by staccato crashes of organ and drums. The flute cuts in to the dance, and breaks away so that a lead guitar can have a turn. It becomes heavy as a phased guitar howls over the sound wall. Angelic choral music heralds a new dawn of thought. A gentle guitar passage soothes the storm as swathes of Tron float by. Vocals return and still sound strikingly like Anderson. The epilogue moves into a reflective theme of hope and escape into light, and the music reflects this with bright passages of aural clarity, gorgeous organic strings and guitar layered over pondering basslines and decisive percussion. The Mellotron takes centre stage with grandiose sweeps and tonal phrases as multilayerd vocals blaze away.

It breaks again with tranquil guitars and ambient strings as the vocals contemplate the feeling of death, "boughs of green, so gently dancing in the wind, embracing the earth, my death and my birth, here I lie, at peace in solitude forever until I'm stirred from my nest like a bird and soar into the world once again." The mesmirising beauty of the symphonic music is in direct mirror reflection of the serene feeling of floating Spiritually into the sky.

This colossal epic is a dynamic, bold and innovative journey that Wobbler takes the listener on. They inject so much passion in their music, so much understanding for the medium, and those artists who inspired this genre, that it is difficult not to be overwhelmed by the sheer bombastic grandeur. But the best is yet to come! Rendered in Shades of Green (2.05) is alarmingly short after the previous marathon. It is virtually a transition as a veritable calm before the storm. This intermezzzo is tranquil piano over waves of lush atmospheric Mellotron strings that gently caress the ear.

Fermented Hours (10.10) is a return to the complexity of the opening track, the time signatures are off the meter, and there are some intricate instrumental passages. I adore the opening electronics that build into a killer riff with very loud guitar and Hammond stabbing viciously without mercy. The vocals are theatrical, "far way in the Northern regions", that are sung along the heavy handed melody. One may be reminded of the early Focus or Yes sound, and it wanders into Rock Progressive Italiano territories. Indeed it almost acts as a love letter to such bands as Premiata Forneri Marconi, and their "Stories in one Minute" era, particularly in terms of structure and layout, building into progressive musical shapes utilising Hammond, flute and strong percussion in 6/8. The cool organ solo at 2:30 minutes in is a delicate sound that generates a mysterious atmosphere. The Peter Gabriel style is prevalent in the vocals and the melody is infectious. Mellotrons flow lucidly beneath the soundscape. It sounds like raindrops coming down, and the vocals do state "I'm soaked with the sweetness of wine" so perhaps this is the idea. It breaks signature at 5 minutes in, the percussion gets dramatic and some odd vocals speaking another language reminds us that this is inspired by RPI. Steve Hackett style lead guitar can be heard in places and the Gabrielesque vocals continue to tell the story of fermented hours, and seeking solace and meaning among chaos. The music becomes chaotic too with a frenetic bassline until a Cathedral organ grinds majestically, like entering the church with stained glass windows. The glass shatters as the heavy punctuated rhythmic guitars return in an arrhythmic meter and bookend this magnificent track. It is an outstanding example of how great music can be, relentlessly inventive and daring beyond the barriers of music; my second favourite on this awesome album.

Foxlight (13.19) closes the album with a genuine masterclass performance of the band in full flight. This is the best track on the album and after hearing it I had no hesitation in rating this album a five star triumph. It opens with flickers of flute and sweeping Mellotron that floats along acoustic picking. A lilting woodwind ballet of clarinet and flute playfully dances gracefully over the rivers of acoustics, and then a glockenspiel chimes in. Lovely pianoforte passages and a tambourine build the progsphere. It soon ignites into a paroxysm of lightning striking heavy Hammond and berserk guitar in a polyrhythmic meter. The melody locks in with interchanging schizophrenic moods. The vocals sound as high falsetto as Jon Anderson with creative lyrics, "Bewildered here down at the crossroads, confronted with the choices for my epitaph, a distant flame gives me a sign, shows me a path within my mind." The flute has a Tull like quality. The meter picks up and switches signature as the Yes like sound continues, "Too tempting are the ways that promise release, through blissful subjection and foxlights leading the way, a vortex of realities has dragged me under, all the things I believed, what my yesterdays conceived is lost." It begins to sound really close to Yes, then the Hammond becomes more aggressive and the Mellotron dominates as a foundation. The percussion is sporadic, until it breaks.

The introduction of a harpsichord enhances the atmosphere with a medieval flare. Flamenco guitar waltzes along with the harpsichord. The arrangement settles into a haunting contemplative mood, with harmonious vocals "here I lie". A gorgeous lush Mellotron with flute segues into a Gentle Giant sounding passage, especially in the vocal style, "even if the pieces change only the journey still remains", and the marching percussion heralds a new mood of triumph. Gryphon style medieval music glistens over a dollop of flute before a climax of Gentle Giant style a Capella multi layered harmonies. A krumhorn sounding like a kazoo can be heard over the wall of sound, and the flute twitters until the sound breaks into drums and a "la la la la la la la la" harmony, with loud staccato stabs of organ and guitar. It is an absolutely brilliant track; a throwback to 70s Prog and yet sounding so current. This is the magic of Wobbler.

I have heard this album many times and each time it dazzles my senses. Contender for album of the year? Absolutely! It certainly deserves masterpiece status as it pays homage to classic 70's Prog, crosses Prog rock borders and delivers it wrapped up in a new package. The versatile style and structure of the album is a captivating experience. If you looked up the definition of Prog you could put a picture of this album next to it and it would be sufficient. Everything about the album rings true as a prime example that the sound of classic Prog is alive and kicking! "From Silence to Somewhere" is a triumph; an outstanding achievement destined for masterpiece status.

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 Clock Unwound by GENTLE KNIFE album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.91 | 84 ratings

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Clock Unwound
Gentle Knife Crossover Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars GENTLE KNIFE are an eleven piece band out of Norway and this is album number two for them. The thing that impresses me the most about this band are their ideas. This is album so proggy it isn't even funny. Lots of surprises and the male and female vocals have character. We get two woodwinds players, two sax players, a trumpet player and flautist along with the usual instruments.

"Prelude: Incipit" is the intro to the almost 16 minute title track. Dark piano lines greet our ears along with some atmosphere as lonely trumpet cries come and go. This continues throughout. Such an interesting way to start the album. Lots of melancholy and space. The piano starts to pick up just as this track closes as it blends into "The Clock Unwound".

"The Clock unwound" kicks in with power including guitar, drums and more. A nice heavy sound here as male vocals join in. Check out the synths before 1 1/2 minutes. Love the depth of sound here. The tempo slows some 3 1/2 minutes in as female vocals arrive. Both are singing after 4 minutes. The horns have character as well as we get some dissonance. Suddenly this majestic calm arrives before 6 1/2 minutes followed by this gorgeous rhythm that is quite heavy with the guitar soloing over top. So good! It settles back again with a beat and relaxed guitar after 8 minutes then the flute joins in. The male vocals 10 minutes in are reserved and when he stops a second guitar kicks in soloing slowly over top. A bass horn arrives after 12 minutes replacing the soloing guitar. Suddenly 13 1/2 minutes in it turns heavy and dramatic as a beautiful guitar solo arrives. The tempo is picking up and check out the drumming! Great track!

"Fade Away" opens with acoustic guitar as some gorgeous mellotron, a horn and flute joins in followed by reserved male vocals. Drums and female vocals before 1 1/2 minutes as it gets a little fuller sounding. Male and female vocals 2 minutes in then suddenly it kicks into this heavy sound before 2 1/2 minutes. It settles back with mellotron, flute and a beat but it kicks back in heavily once again as contrasts continue. I like that flute/ mellotron passage that comes and goes. The male vocals are back after 5 1/2 minutes with that mellotron, flute and a beat section. Female vocals follow as themes are repeated. A cool track.

"Smother" hits the ground running with guitar over top until the female vocals join in. Catchy stuff. Male vocals and horns too. An interesting section after 3 minutes as it lightens up to an almost whimsical mood with male vocals. Trumpet to the fore after 6 minutes and I like that bass. The vocals are back before 8 minutes along with that earlier sound.

"Plans Askew" opens with some beautiful acoustic guitar melodies before male vocals arrive after a minute. A soaring guitar solo before 2 1/2 minutes as the vocals step aside. Flute too. I like this! Before 5 minutes it's acoustic guitar only like at the start but the flute joins in quickly along with a beat. A horn too and the vocals return after 6 1/2 minutes.

"Resignation" has this dark vibe to it with bass and percussion. Flute just before a minute. Spoken male words come in after 2 minutes as the music continues. Sax 3 1/2 minutes in as the spoken words stop. Organ joins in then we start to get more horns as it gets louder and louder and more chaotic. Again some great ideas on this album. It changes as this driving rhythm kicks in around 5 1/2 minutes with horns. It starts to calm down again before 7 1/2 minutes as a beat with a horn leads the way. Those spoken sampled words are back from earlier before 8 1/2 minutes.

Norway has been at the forefront of adventerous music and has been for a few years now, so I shouldn't have been surprised at what GENTLE KNIFE have created here.

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 Vagabond by SUBTERRANEAN MASQUERADE album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.95 | 11 ratings

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Vagabond
Subterranean Masquerade Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Windhawk
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars US formed, Israel based band SUBTERRANEAN MASQUERADE have been around for two decades at this point. Those 20 years have seen them release two EPs and three full length albums. "Vagabond" is the most recent of the latter and was released through Swedish label ViciSolum Records in the early fall of 2017.

This is a band that made a name and a reputation for themselves as a highly creative progressive metal band back in the day. These days I'd say that they are primarily a progressive rock band, using elements from progressive metal to flavor their compositions rather than the other way around. That being said, these folks are rather more creative and innovative than merely combining genre elements from these two genres, as there is a lot going on here in addition to that.

Even of one didn't know that this band operates out of Israel, most people would probably guess as much. If not pinpointing this band specifically to Israel then at least to the Middle East. This due to the liberal amount of world music elements from that region that is a mainstay throughout this album. Additional percussion details, violins using the tonal range particular to that part of the world, reeds and brass doing pretty much the same, and occasionally also female backing vocals of the kind you would have to be uninformed to not categorically place somewhere in the Middle East as far as origins goes.

These elements are used in material that does, indeed, combine elements from progressive metal into a greater whole that correlates closer with progressive rock. Folk music details are obviously a big part of this greater picture too, and a few token jazzier details does appear here and there too. The saxophone is used frequently throughout as well, complementing both the rock and the metal oriented escapades, and effectively in both modes too I should add. The piano also has a central role throughout, often alternating with the organ to supplement whatever guitar mode that is present - be it wandering plucked guitars, firm guitar licks or more majestic and dominant metal riffs.

The band have opted for clean lead vocals in the greater majority of the vocal sequences, but still with room for some dark growls to take over now and then, either taking the lead vocal spot or as an underlying contrast to the clean and melodic lead vocals. Both aspects works very well too, surprisingly also when the band isn't operating inside a metal context.

Subterranean Masquerade describes themselves as a symphonic prog powerhouse these days, and that description comes across as rather appropriate. More progressive rock than progressive metal these days, and with something of an emphasis on easy to like material. Despite some rather advanced structures here and there this album comes across as both compelling and inviting, a production that should have a fairly broad reach despite of rather than because of it's at times complex and sophisticated movements.

A slight letdown is the cover of Bowie's classic Space Oddity at the very end. It is difficult to replicate the sheer amount of emotion in this song, especially when you decide to alter the song, even if only ever so slightly. In this case by reducing pace and adding a darker, heavier sheen, plus adding violins at the end to possibly emphasize the drama. This take on it is rather good, but it lacks the momentum and subtle emotional grip of the original. An interesting cover, but not a cut that elevates the overall album experience as far as I'm concerned.

If you tend to enjoy innovative and creative progressive rock, and finds the notion of a band that blends in a liberal amount of world music elements, quite a few metal touches and a select few extreme metal details into a progressive rock context to be appealing, then this latest production from Subterranean Masquerade is one that warrants an inspection.

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 Transfusion by SCHLOEMER, ART  SPIKE album cover Studio Album, 2011
4.00 | 1 ratings

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Transfusion
Art Spike Schloemer Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Cometa Rossa

— First review of this album —
4 stars I really was surprised to get so easily, what those famous names on the album cover promise. While an - sorry: ugly - album cover like this is nothing less than suspicous, the music itself is just brilliant. If you like Tribal Tech, Niacin, Hadrien Feraud's first album from 2007, Scott Kinsey or Zawinul's Syndicate or some aspects of Jan Hammer and if you want to hear very good Jazzrock in that style(s) without mainly being a copy of all those artists, but all the takes being emancipated, valid claims on this territories, then get your 'Transfusion'. It's not difficult to find sufficient samples in the net. If you like the samples, you'll enjoy the whole album, for sure.

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 Feroz by FEROZ album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.00 | 2 ratings

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Feroz
Feroz Crossover Prog

Review by andrea
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Feroz are a Mexican band from Chihuahua that was formed in 2011. In December 2014 they self-released a very interesting eponymous debut album with a line up featuring Marli Espinoza (vocals), Carlos Enrique Pineda (keyboards), Alfredo Santana (bass) and Eli Rafael Carranza (drums). According to their website, they try to interpret with their music the sounds of the desert and of the cities of Northern Mexico. I don't know if they reached their goal, but for sure on this work the band showcase great musicianship and songwriting skills blending jazz, prog, folklore, ethnic flavours and every now and again even a touch of electronica. The female vocals in Spanish are clear, always confident and warm, the organ and keyboard work is excellent and the rhythm section always ready to set off for sudden changes in atmosphere and tempo. The experimental attitude of the band never looses contact with melody and they are even able to incorporate mariachi music in rock structures in an effective way. When I stumbled by chance in this band, their music for me was a very good surprise. Anyway, you can listen to the album on bandcamp, so have a try and judge by yourselves!

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 cailles De Lune by ALCEST album cover Studio Album, 2010
4.02 | 275 ratings

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cailles De Lune
Alcest Experimental/Post Metal

Review by ProgAlia

5 stars The main word that comes to mind for this album: Gorgeous. A few others: Ethereal, dreamy, lush, soothing. Maybe sometimes also intense or somber. It's a succinct and heavily atmospheric album that knows its sound and knows what it wants to do with it, and thus ends up being quite a joy to listen to. I like the unpredictability of the songs.The harsh vocals bring a whole new level to Alcest's music. Far from being depressing, this album is beautiful, tinged with nostalgia as always. ALCEST combines several elements from shoegaze, black metal, ambient, and progressive all into one album. which is extremely impressive and something not a lot of bands can pull off and sound GREAT doing it. For fans of atmosphere and relatively pleasant-sounding, cailles de lune is one of the most interesting and fascinating albums you will ever hear.

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 March Of Ghosts by GAZPACHO album cover Studio Album, 2012
4.00 | 391 ratings

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March Of Ghosts
Gazpacho Crossover Prog

Review by ProgAlia

5 stars This is one of the brightest post-rock/progressive albums, knowing that Gazpacho makes a type of progressive/post artsy alternative rock that is similar to Marillion, Anathema, Kent or Porcupine Tree. It's slow, plodding post-rock with melancholy melodies, diverse instruments and wistful vocals. March of the Ghosts, the band's 7th record and second on KScope, is what I would call a really good record . I love the instrumentation and the writing and the band's hybrid progressive sound definitely fits in with labelmates Porcupine Tree and Anathema, which is a great compliment to the band. The 4 intertwined tracks 'Hell Freezes Over' I-IV, have a really beautiful, anthemic chorus that finally culminates in something that borders on 'heavy' on the final track of the album.

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 A Flood Of Strange Sensations by AMPHETAMIN album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.00 | 5 ratings

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A Flood Of Strange Sensations
Amphetamin Crossover Prog

Review by ProgAlia

4 stars A Flood Of Strange Sensations album combines everything from art rock to post rock. Sebastian presents very melodic music twisted just enough to make it feel foreign and strange. Musically, it is misleading at first. It seems straight forward but after a few listens, you discover there's a lot going on. The songs have plenty of space and atmosphere but at the same time, nothing is obvious. Sebastian has a unique voice and a fondness for falsetto. "Neverland" is shoegaze played by a doom band. "Once Upon a Tree" and "Thoughts in the Water" feel like a post rock band covering Roxy Music. There's a flood going on underneath the surface of "A Flood of Strange Sensations." If you like to be swept away by a tide wave of falsetto and texturized music, look no further as Amphetamin is the drug for you.

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 Astralopithecus by FILULAS JUZ album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.68 | 3 ratings

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Astralopithecus
Filulas Juz Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by ProgAlia

3 stars Filulas Juz is an impressive instrumental jazz-rock unit featuring drums (Adriano Morales is an impressive drummer all around, guiding the group through a variety of styles), bassist Luigino Mar'n, guitarist Armando Cuevas, with Fender Rhodes and flute player Jos' Javier Rodriguez doubling on both instruments; guest player Pablo Olaya contributes Rhodes on several cuts, trumpeter Alejandro Sierra plays on a number of others as well, along with percussionist Francisco Jim'nez. Most of the time on the nine tracks, the sliding scale tips far closer to the jazz element, with the Fender Rhodes often recalling Chick Corea's playing, but with the rest of the group they truly forge their own identity. While drums and bass create some stunning grooves, one would be remiss to label this fusion, as the overall identity of their sound generally takes on a much lighter feel, without the heaviness. The odd track here is 'Green Dolphin Skit,' with spoken lyrics in Spanish from guest Juan Regueiro, making it the only track on the entire album with any kind of vocals. The guitar and keyboard interplay on the title tracks sets up beautiful and stirring passages for trumpet, guitar and keyboard solos, while drums confidently leads the group through numerous irregular rhythms. The entire group gets a chance to shine on the epic 'Voyager' as the piece builds and morphs into the closer 'Xena,' with a dreamy bass solo followed by some strange effected moves, eventually giving way to some spirited ensemble work that truly makes these two the most adventurous pieces of the nine. Looking forward to their next release.

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 From The Small Hours Of Weakness by VERBAL DELIRIUM album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.88 | 88 ratings

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From The Small Hours Of Weakness
Verbal Delirium Crossover Prog

Review by ProgAlia

3 stars This prog band from Greece, have quite a wide range in their musical radius , sometimes sounding like Pink Floyd, with very spacey soundscapes, sometimes sounding like a cross between Van Der Graaf Generator and Audience, not to mention some very beautiful intervals of pure brilliant symphonic prog! . They manage to go all over the progmap without loosing their identity and most impressive they create these mentioned spheres with "simple" means, keyboard (piano) bass, drums and superb vocals, be it lead vocal and/or harmony vocals/choir, add to that some great flute, saxophone, trumpet intervals, yes there are guitars just not used in the traditional prog way, all instruments seems integrated in the total sound picture of this very exciting new band, which is very impressing. FROM THE SMALL HOURS OF WEAKNESS is a very pleasant and surprising album, it has got to be one of the best surprises of the year in the prog realm!! Once you have heard them you will agree.

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 Live at Montreux 1997 by EMERSON LAKE & PALMER album cover Live, 2015
3.60 | 10 ratings

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Live at Montreux 1997
Emerson Lake & Palmer Symphonic Prog

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

3 stars This Montreux concert is an ELP performance from 1997. I owned the DVD and loved the music so it was worth checking out the CD.

ELP in the late 90s were a cohesive unit and put a lot of effort into this performance but they are not as good as they used to be, comparing to the dynamic energy of Isle of Wight 1970 and the exuberance of California Jam 1974. This is a very impressive setlist overall with some of the best the band have done. The supergroup loosen up a bit midway through the concert, perhaps that is the effect of Knife Edge, such a great song. Take A Pebble is the definitive highlight for me, an incredible song the band seem to enjoy, and a song that drew me to this band in the first place.

The Montreux concert showcases the best ELP tracks such as Karn Evil 9, Hoedown, where Emerson gets to use his cool mini keyboard, Knife Edge, Tarkus and Pictures medley, and the finale medley consisting of Fanfare for the Common Man, Rondo, and other pieces. The tracks are all played competently but some of the magic is lost in these performances. Emerson dazzles on the blindingly fast solo renditions but it is piano kanoodling at its highest order.

Which brings me to the big problem of the concert. The band are not as precise or tight as usual. Emerson is a Tiger in the spotlight but he muddles up some of his triggerfingers solos, Lake could do with some Brain Surgery as he misses cues and struggles with the vocals at times, and Palmer is a bit detached, lost in his own private Tarkus tank. They even play an Emerson Lake and Powell number in Touch and Go. So it is a bit confused and lacking in quality in places. However with all its flaws, ultimately here is one of the last big concerts from the legends of Symphonic Prog.

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 The Ladder by YES album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.27 | 885 ratings

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The Ladder
Yes Symphonic Prog

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

3 stars Yes redeem themselves after a slew of mediocrity in the 90s with "The Ladder". From the outset there is a huge leap back into progressive territory on the opening track Homeworld. Clocking over 9 minutes and full of wonderful instrumental sections and the awesome vocals of Anderson with reflective lyrics, one wonders where the band had disappeared to on their last album "Open Your Eyes". The keyboard workouts of Igor Khoroshev are great, he is now an official member, and it has a definite progressive structure, with a rather provocative ending with wind blowing and Anderson singing to a lonely piano. Its a wonderful way to begin this album.

The Roger Dean album cover is certainly welcome back after some hideous covers, and it perhaps signifies that the band are going for a more progressive sound, not the AOR sound that was permeating their 90s catalogue. It Will Be A Good Day (The River) is a decent song with some hopeful lyrics "make me believe again, making me free again."

Lightning Strikes jumps along at a frenetic pace and may be well placed in a disco with its danceable rhythms. Its okay though because it bounces along with such energy that it shows Yes can do disco when the mood hits them. I like the way it breaks into a new time sig in the half time feel, and Squire has fun on the bass here, and thats not a crime. The opening flute solo is borrowed from The Kinks' song Phenomenal Cat from their album "The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society". Can I? is mercifully short at 1:32, and is basically a didgeridoo going for it while Anderson ad libs jazz mumbo jumbo vocals. Noteable for the didgeridoo only. This segues into Face to Face with very funky bass, and some really nice lyrics. It holds the attention with infectious chorus and great harmonies throughout.

If Only You Knew is a beautiful love song with Anderson in fine form. To Be Alive (Hep Yadda) is okay as an inspirational song with hopeful lyrics. It is a bit repetitious at times but the uptempo beat grows on you.

Finally is a 6 minute song with bright rhythms, powerful singing and some of Steve Howe's best work as he makes his lead guitar soar on some chilling solos. The orchestral keyboards are mesmirising and Anderson sings with an air of beauty.

The album occasionally runs out of steam at the end but there is quality evident. The Messenger has a reggae feel because Anderson wrote it about the person who has influenced his music, the late reggae master Bob Marley. New Language is a lengthy track at 9:19, and has a wonderful bassline and some nice time sig changes as well as keyboard workouts and a ton of reflective lyrics to ponder over; "I speak from some sort of protection of learning, Even though I make it up as I go on, A special trait is that I've tried To reach all feelings, So I speak a new language of love, Some say that it is written in the circle, Others that it is written in the sun, But I protect myself by seeing this experience, As a metaphor for moving on."

Nine Voices (Longwalker) closes the album with acoustic vibrations and a pensive Anderson thinking about the forces that surround us, nine voices singing as one, this dialogue." Howe drives the song with fast finger picking and strumming and there is a rototum percussion sound.

So in conclusion "The Ladder" is superior to any of their albums since "Going For The One". It is only just a notch above "Talk" but it sits comfortably above any albums in between these. A worthwhile Yes album and it paved the way for the last album to feature Anderson "Magnification", which would turn out to be the last great triumph for Yes.

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 A Day in the Life of a Universal Wanderer (Special Edition) by GANDALF'S FIST album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.31 | 22 ratings

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A Day in the Life of a Universal Wanderer (Special Edition)
Gandalf's Fist Neo-Prog

Review by CeeJayGee

2 stars I enjoyed the 2013 release of Gandalf's Fist's A Day In The Life Of A Universal Wanderer and I checked back to see how it is rated in its year of release ? it is currently 67th. I was a little surprised to see the Deluxe Edition newly released appear high up in the 2017 album chart. I was expecting a longer / dramatically developed album. The 2013 release has 11 tracks and the 2017 release 15 tracks. The weakest track on the 2013 release, Maze of Corridors has been dispensed with and is replaced by The Stowaway and the Endless Night, a fine addition. Otherwise the extra tracks are short narrative fillers. I rated the original album a four star in its year of release but for me this album should not be riding high in the 2017 chart and I have rated it two stars for that reason alone. However I accept that it is difficult for any annual ratings chart to distinguish re-releases, which this effectively is, from original studio albums (ironically the album currently No 2 in the 2013 chart is the re-release of Camel's The Snowgoose!).

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 From Silence to Somewhere by WOBBLER album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.63 | 126 ratings

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From Silence to Somewhere
Wobbler Symphonic Prog

Review by Zappy

5 stars Opinions concerning Norwegian symphonic prog rock outfit Wobbler have been quite divided in the past. From the beginning Lars Fredrik Froislie and his bandmates were labeled an Anglagard cover band. Things didn't seem to change when Andreas Wettergreen Stromman Prestmo added his singular falsetto on 2011 release "Rites at Dawn", adding a lighter texture to the band's overall sound. Wobbler had now officially become a yes clone to many. The main complaint of critics is never aimed toward their technical capabilities concerning composition or instrumental virtuosity but simply lies in Wobbler not having an own individual voice, but only borrowing the latter of those before them. Yes indeed, Wobbler tap into some Yes, King Crimson or Gentle Giant repertoire from time to time, integrating the one or the other idea into their pieces. But this is symphonic progressive rock. Who doesn't?

Truth of the matter is: Wobbler's 2005 debut "Hinterland" introduced a very mature new voice to the prog world and the consecutive releases only demonstrated further growth and improvement on every front. Same goes for the object of this review, latest release "From Silence to Somewhere". While "Rites at Dawn" strongly diffused more positive vibes framed in shorter structures, the newest album continues where sophomore release Afterglow left off. 3 Epics (one clocking in at over 20 minutes) and a short intermezzo half way through form the outlines of the record.

The Album opens with the eponymous title- and longest track of the album, swallowing the listener straight from the start down a road of life, death and resurrection, bedded in organically dynamic layers of mellotron, Rhodes, vintage guitar, throbbing basslines and franticly stomping drum-work. Divided into 3 parts ? Part I: Humus, Part II: Corpus and an Epilogue, the themes presented here flow seamlessly into one another without leaving the listener overwhelmed. The material displayed is not to densely packed but takes it's time to develop and climax with highly dynamic buildups here and there. The first 6 minutes demonstrate these elements. A threatening organ grows more and more ominous until replaced by a galloping 6/8 with the main melody carried by the guitar. After a conversational jam between organ and guitar the floor quiets down and the synthesizer introduces the main theme, then taken over by Andreas' heavenly light voice. The exposition leads directly to the second theme of the song, which is of more folkloric and positive nature. The Flute adds to the folkloric feel and general celebratory mood. Apart from an instrumentally demanding middle section, calling to mind the 'Relayer' Yes phase, the rest of the track works through the material presented this far and intelligently arranges the motifs around different harmonious progressions. The Epilogue is lightly instrumented, mainly lead by quiet electric guitar chords split in arpeggios accompanying Andreas' longing wish for resurrection. The melancholic harmonic context fits its lyrical content wonderfully and leaves the listener baffled.

An Intermezzo, pensive and lead by a quietly haunting piano, serves as a bridge to 'Fermented Hours', which picks up the afore introduced menacing vibrations with organ arpeggios that grow louder with every beat until the main verse comes crashing in. Framed in this more aggressive theme, the middle section builds in calmer and more melodious motifs, lead by stand out bass work and, yet again, beautifully sung melodies. A 6/8, which could be interpreted as a danceable Waltz, due to the bass-emphasized 1 and 4, builds the dreamy center of this section and experiences further development after a short build up exercised by emotionally performed spoken word in Italian, to which the subject is the 'dolce vita' (the sweet life).

Don't be fooled by the talk about an epitaph in closer 'Foxlight', for this is only the beginning of things, a 'crossroads' where 'the journey still remains'. Opening with acoustic guitar strokes a fairy like atmosphere is established with the addition of several vocal layers. The buildup takes it's time and truly savors the mood diffused by Andreas' vocals. After 4 minutes change happens suddenly. Decisively hard blows by the harpsichord break the mood and drench the piece in darker waters, which remain mysterious and undefined throughout. Here, drummer Martin Nordrum shines, continuously layering and alternating between a multitude of rhythms over a long 6/8 section, creating a vicious circle with never ending cycles. After another short Harpsichord break 'Foxlight' finds it's piece and closes in a positive light, ornamented with folkloric chant.

With 'From Silence to Somewhere' Wobbler have once again improved and created an album that demonstrates great virtuosity, gripping songwriting and a gift for thoughtful and dynamic arranging. The Songs put truly unique and beautiful melodies on display, leaving no room for doubt, that this is a band with a very special and unequaled voice of its own.

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 Red Queen To Gryphon Three by GRYPHON album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.14 | 548 ratings

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Red Queen To Gryphon Three
Gryphon Prog Folk

Review by Walkscore

5 stars Truly Unique and Innovative, and Musical.

This is Gryphon's masterpiece, the one that everyone should have in their collection. Indeed, this site almost needs a new category "progressive medieval" to classify it, or something, it is so unique. The basic medieval-influenced song structures are still there, as are the crumhorns etc, but now as the basis for a truly new sound. Taking a cue from their extended epic "Midnight Mushrumps" from the previous album, but clearly making a conscious decision to keep the pace up and the transitions between sections as seamless as possible, the band fashions four distinct roughly-10-minute tracks, each with an original and memorable main theme and various sub- themes. On this album, they add electric guitars and basses, and a full rock drummer, although the vast majority of the music is still written around acoustic guitar, piano, flutes and the horns. But the complexity is much higher, and the musicality is clear. The most medieval-sounding track is the second ("Second Spasm"), and for me this is the weaker one, although it is still very good with some excellent middle sections (on par with the best on Mushrumps). The first track ("Opening Move") has a very memorable melody, and the crumhorns here really add to the sonic feel. Really musical. The third and fourth tracks move around a lot, and have slower sections. I really like the middle section in the third track, with the droning organ and the slower horn lines ("Lament"). The fourth track ("Checkmate") contains probably the most progressive-rock-sounding music on the album, with prominent electric guitars, keyboards, drums and the like, and while it veers in and out of more medieval sounding themes, it is almost like math rock as it progresses through part of its middle section, but returning to the main theme for the ending. In terms of a rating, this album sits right on the 8.9/9.0 mark for me (on my 10-point scale). I will say 9.0 as there is really nothing like this album, and thus I would say it is essential. Thus, 5 PA stars.

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 Midnight Mushrumps by GRYPHON album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.69 | 198 ratings

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Midnight Mushrumps
Gryphon Prog Folk

Review by Walkscore

3 stars An original and musical evolution.

Evolving from their debut medieval cover album, Gryphon here offer a new and original vision. While not yet as outstanding as their third album would be, this sees the band take the original impetus for reproducing medieval English music and use it to establish their own voice, stake out their territory. And they do it well. There is not a bad track on this album, and many of the tracks here are on the same, or better, level as the best track on their debt ("Juniper Suite"). The standout track on this album is the long epic title track "Midnight Mushrumps". While some find it slow and fragmented, and in fact this is true, it is nonetheless very musical. It takes its time to get where it needs to go, and sets out a number of very musical melodies, mixing piano, organ, acoustic guitars, and even some great dissonance. A very satisfying experience. I really like how more of the tracks (including a number of sections of the long epic) here move in an out of minor keys, which really sets it apart from their very major-key debut (were the middle ages really always so happy?). And of course, there are the fabulous crumhorns and other English horns. After the title track, my favourite here is "Gulland Rock", a really musical composition with some great slow dark, jazzy and moody sections, as well as dissonance, with lots of changes and sections (including a nice happy roiling medeival theme in one part). Both this song and the title track also have very nice piano parts, which adds much to the otherwise horns and organ sound. The rest of the pieces are all good too, although once again I would have liked the entire album to be instrumental (thus, "the Ploughboy's Dream" is for me the weakest track on this album). So, while I can listen to every song on this album, the quality is still mixed, with the two really excellent tracks balanced out somewhat by the others. I give this 7.6 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which is much better than the debut, and translates to high 3 PA stars.

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 Oceanarium by DELUGE GRANDER album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.38 | 14 ratings

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Oceanarium
Deluge Grander Symphonic Prog

Review by Progfan97402

4 stars Oceanarium is the fourth installment by Deluge Grander from Maryland, a project lead by Dan Britton, also of Birds and Buildings and Cerebus Effect. This is the second in a trilogy, starting with Helotians, and ending with the as-yet-to-be-released Lunarians. Unlike Helotians, Oceanarium is an all-instrumental affair. This album really features a ton of diverse instruments, from the typical guitar, bass, drums, keyboards, to violin, cello, sax, trombone, flute, and clarinet, but doing it all in a symphonic prog context. What's really great is somehow they created an album that really reminds me of no band in particular. Sure I notice an influence from King Crimson, Canterbury, Camel, Genesis, perhaps, but never directly reminding me of such. The music is retro, so if you didn't know any better, you'd swear you were listening to a lost '70s recording. This is frequently dense and complex music, and given it's nearly 80 minutes long it really needs a few listens to let it all soak in. It's hard for me to point out a highlight, so I won't, but it's very much a worthy addition to your collection.

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 Gryphon by GRYPHON album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.33 | 181 ratings

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Gryphon
Gryphon Prog Folk

Review by Walkscore

2 stars Like being in a Monty Python movie...

It is fascinating how different musicians eventually come around to produce excellent music. Some start in Jazz, others in heavy rock, etc. Gryphon began playing authentic English medieval music, using instruments that were around in the middle ages. The tracks here are virtually all cover tunes, mostly in major keys, and virtually all played with the same rhythm. Listening to this, you feel like you are in the movie 'Monty Python and the Holy Grail', not only because this kind of music permeates that movie (if you can think back to the part where Sir Robin meets up with and then runs away from the Knights Who Say 'Nee', and the music the troubadour is playing alongside Robin "and Sir Robin ran away"... well, that is the kind of music this is). Secondly, because the band here plays all these tunes with a deadpan straight face, trying to adhere to the original versions as much as possible, it does come across as silly, although I also do admire the attempt. Perhaps this provides an important archival service, but it doesn't work very well as an album, unless you really need to bring along some music for that middle-ages-dress-up birthday party your kids were invited to. Gryphon would write excellent original music later on, but not here. There are both vocal and instrumental songs on this album. I myself much prefer the instrumentals, both because I think they are more musical (and because the lyrics are mostly light, silly and even sometimes off- putting), and because the instrumentals come closest to the sound that Gryphon would develop with their subsequent albums. There is really only one standout track on this album: "Juniper Suite". After this, decent tunes include "Tea Wrecks", "Touch and Go", "The Unquiet Grave", "Sir Gavin Grimbold" and "Estampie". This makes up about half of the album. After a number of listens, I can't really listen to the rest. Even the decent tunes are not strong enough to make one want to put this on - only Juniper Suite. On balance I give this 4.7, which translates to 2 PA stars. Nee!

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 Brutopianisti by UTOPIANISTI album cover Studio Album, 2017
2.96 | 11 ratings

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Brutopianisti
Utopianisti Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Jazz-Rock / Fusion / Canterbury Team

2 stars Though I've been listening to this one and playing pieces from it on my radio show since its arrival on the music scene January first, 2017, I have had a heck of a time trying to 'rate' this unEarthly experiment into uncharted musical territory. The music contained herein is a violent, Mr. Hyde-like version of Finnish genius Markus Pajakkala's UTOPIANISTI though this is mostly him playing various woodwinds and tuned percussives.

Because I have trouble assigning ratings to songs of lengths less than two minutes, only six of the thirteen songs here would have earned ratings. Because I have so little brainpower to be able to compare and then justifiably categorize the music, I have decided to refrain from ratings altogether.

I think the album genius but it definitely pushes the limits and tolerances of all music listeners.

1. "Gryul Ghul Gh!" (01:37) 2. "Gcme Zle Dt" (01:46)

3. "Blszh" (02:57) all kinds of animalistic throat-vocal noises parade within the weave of this odd song. At the 30 second mark, the song actually shifts into a milder, more spacious form with the Muppet "Animal"-like growl-speak vocalizations continuing throughout. Then, at the two minute mark there is another shift with a wind instrument taking over. Interesting.

4. "Bhmega" (03:56) opens on a very 'world music' stage--sounding like something out of a JON HASSELL performance at one of the WOMAD festivals. But then, at the 1:20 mark, the drums and other instruments (bass clarinet and synthesized flute or sax on the lead) enter and things settle into a new pattern that feels all right with the rest of the world. Nice soloing over some steady rhythm patterns.

5. "Gabsh D Mag" (01:41) growls and reverb effects used on this one make it so cool! The woodwinds and drums weave is perfect support for the Kong Island--fitting song.

6. "Zigvomd Zwgh" (01:13) the vocals on this song are the highlight as multiple styles are represented-- sometimes even together! Drums are fairly tolerable on this one.

7. "Hll" (04:04) opens with a distant repetitive horn loop while the percussionist seems to be testing out the fullness of his drum kit. After over 75 seonds of this, and the listener wondering if the drummer will ever find his way, a long sustained low synth note enters prompting the drummer to seem to at least get "on the run." The synth begins to develop and move around while the drums continue to explore. The final 30 seconds is all synth and distorted vocalizations. I'm not sure how to even assign a rating to this one! It's unEarthly!

8. "Wkh Ztads" (01:14) 9. "Zwaakh" (01:26) 10. "Zhmi Bgi D" (01:10)

11. "Bm Zi" (02:42) opens with drums and woodwind speeding along at breakneck speed. At the 25 seocond mark the bass clarinet slows down and establishes a rhythmic, looping riff over which drums and synth wreak havoc.

12. "Brmig Hgu" (03:25) more wild drumming and synth effects noises with more sedate, almost melodic bass clarinet. At 1:20 the clarinet and synths become more jaded, more industrial-sounding while the percussionist continues as before. The final thirty seconds switches to metallic percussives and proto-human vocal growls.

13. "Glf Zwag Zigvomd!" (03:45) xylophone, throat singing, and oddly treated/processed flute open this song. At the end of the second minute, drums, looping bass clarinet, and synth enter to support a upper octave treated flute solo. At 3:10 we enter the final section with bass clarinet, frenetic drumming, and crazed "Animal" vocals.

Total Time 30:56

I have to admit that the Muppets' "Animal"-like tribalistic beating of the drums along with their very plastic sounds leave me feeling a little raw and jaded, but the music is so interesting and, well, for lack of a better word, raw, that I can usually get past it. I wonder if Markus ever heard the Spanish band ZA!'s 2015 album Loloismo before making this album. There are some similarities.

Brutopianisti is genius and masterful but it is neither essential nor even excellent. This is not the kind of music you want to play for your mother or to impress your girlfriend--especially if you don't want to trigger their nervous breakdowns. It may truly be necessary to call this one "for collectors/fans only" though it pains me to do so, it is truly difficult to call it "good" because I'm not sure what it is good for. I like it, I'm fascinated by it, I smile at it, I have given it dozens of listens in order to try to understand and appreciate its genius, but in the end, I'm not sure how to recommend it to another. "Try it if you want to test what extremes you're able to tolerate" or "try it and see how long you can take it before you have to jump out a window." Good luck! If this is truly your cup of tea, then you are a weirder man than me.

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 Oceanarium by DELUGE GRANDER album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.38 | 14 ratings

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Oceanarium
Deluge Grander Symphonic Prog

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

5 stars The word DELUGE is an English word that can mean a great flood, a heavy downpour or can mean to overrun or inundate. Dan Britton is back with his highly innovative symphonic prog band to bring us something even GRANDER than what came before. Yes, DELUGE GRANDER returns and living up to their name unleashes a veritable torrent of music in the form of the band's fourth full length album OCEANARIUM. While it may have seemed that Britton was playing back-and-forth with his two bands by releasing one album from one and then one from the next, it seems that the Birds And Buildings project has been put on hold while DELUGE GRANDER, well could get even GRANDER than anyone thought possible. As with the other three albums, OCEANARIUM is a dense and heavy ride through a sophisticated swirl of never-ending progginess that harkens back to the 70s in similar style and production, yet somehow feels very contemporary in the second decade of the 21st century with its grandiloquent larger-than-life elegance as it prances around like a symphonic prog pony on all those classic 70s albums and then back to the here and now.

OCEANARIUM follows the 2014 "Heliotians" as the second album in a 3-level 7-album series which purportedly will be followed by the album "Lunarians" open to the public possibly as early as 2018. While this middle section of the first level of an ongoing theme has much in common with the previous albums which came before, in sophistication and style, OCEANARIUM takes all of the attributes of a typical DELUGE GRANDER and creates a much denser and craftier manner of orchestrating the large number of instruments on board. Unlike the previous offerings, this one is exclusively instrumental without a vocal peep finding its way into the mix. There are eight tracks on board and are accompanied by stunning artwork in a lavishly designed packaging ( a 20-page full color booklet with artwork representing each track) with each track representing a stage of the loose concept that narrates a story about a rat-man who unluckily falls off of a building and into the lands of competing tribes and after fleeing from the conflicted areas only manages to become lost without the certainty of ever finding his way back to where he began.

While Dan Britton is the undisputed leader of this project, handles the keyboards, guitars and a plethora of other instruments, he is joined by Dave Berggon on guitar, Brett d'Anon on bass and guitars and Patrick Gaffney on percussion. While these guys have the chops to make a totally satisfying prog behemoth all by themselves, DELUGE GRANDER go for broke on OCEANARIUM with seven additional musicians lending a hand on trumpet, oboe, sax, flute, clarinet, bass clarinet, trombone, cello and violin. Although Britton is modest and doesn't want to include his long list of contributions as a multi-instrumentalist, also included on this album are the sitar, banjo, mandolin, ukulele, xylophone, hammered dulcimer, hand drums and oh yeah, can't forget about the tambourine! The density of OCEANARIUM is thicker than a uranium atom with enough radioactive zest to please even the most hardened of proggers as it feels as expansive as the Pacific melding with the Atlantic with no clear boundaries set between them but yet each segment still exuding its own personality in the nebulous mix.

Because of the fact that this album is so chock full of sounds and creative ideas, i solicited a bit of info regarding the storyline to aid as a training wheel for those of us who don't have the patience to unravel all the mysteries through countless listens. Here are a few comments about the eight tracks delivered to me by Dan Britton himself:

------------

Track 1 - "A Numbered Rat, a High Ledge, and a Maze of Horizons" [11:32]
 Heavy to symphonic to fusion to heavy

------------

Track 2 - "Drifting Inner Skyline Space" [8:28] Can (the Inner Space) meets Marillion (the Skyline Drifters), though perhaps only titularly

------------


Track 3 - "The Blunt Sun and the Hardened Moon" [15:25] Sun Ra and Moondog battle for the soul of Rat-Man

------------


Track 4 - "Finding a Valley in a Gray Area on a Map" [3:24] 
Track 5 - "Finding a Shipwreck in a Valley in an Ocean" [6:20] These two tracks were originally one 10-minute piece but were split to fit the album better onto two LPs

------------


Track 6 - "Tropical Detective Squadron" [14:10] The soundtrack to an imaginary cop show from the 1960's, 1970's, or 1980's

------------


Track 7 - "Marooned and Torn Asunder" [8:06] A combination of musical ideas from "Saruned" off Heliotians and "Torn Amoonder" off Lunarians

------------


Track 8 - "Water to Glass / The Ultimate Solution" [12:31] Inspired by the PFM album Per un Amico, especially the songs "Appena un Po" and "Per un Amico"

------------

Britton cites some of the usual 70s suspects as influences such as King Crimson and Genesis as obvious reference points but also found many lesser known bands as inspiration giving credit to artists as diverse as Kayo Dot, Kenso, Maneige, Miriodor, Semiramis, Asia Minor, Kotebel and Crucis. While it is obvious that some of the symphonic keyboard styles are derived from the Japanese band Kenso, the more bombastic rock heft can clearly be heard from the Spanish band Kotebel as well as the extra symphonic touches coming from many of the aforementioned and beyond. Personally i find OCEANARIUM and its narrations through music prospect reminds me the most of Pekka Pohjola's classic musical narrative on "Harakka Bialoipokku" as the music is the only form of explanation of emotional connection to the storyline at hand and like the late Finnish maestro's best efforts, DELUGE GRANDER effortlessly convey the emotional rollercoaster ride through the sophistication of the musical tapestry of sound alone.

One other influence not cited that immediately comes to mind for me as well is the sophisticated symphonic texturing approaches of the American band Happy The Man with their light and uplifting overall mood elevating effects. In the end, DELUGE GRANDER succeed in amalgamating all of the prog heroes who came before yet sound themselves like no other progressive rock band and display in vivid sonic form exactly how highly complex prog should be done in the 21st century while still firmly placed within the ongoing traditions already set during the heyday of the 70s. OCEANARIUM not only takes the band's compositional approach to a personal higher level but also ups the bar for symphonic prog section of prog in general. Even for a hardened proghead like me, this one was a dense and impenetrable experience on the first spin, but subsequent listens have allowed it to sink in on a deeper level of consciousness as well as taking in the countless passages that are sewn together like a royal cloak in the high court. Here we are in the year 2017 and a new classic is born somewhere in the tiny US state of Maryland. Bravissimo! Great job, guys! Looking forward to the continuing saga.

4.5 but prog this good needs to be rounded up here :)

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 Frammenti Notturni by UNREAL CITY album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.75 | 89 ratings

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Frammenti Notturni
Unreal City Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Lost another review so here's the short version. This is UNREAl CITY's third studio album and I found the first two studio albums to be very solid 4 star albums slightly preferring the second one. While there has been some glowing reviews for this one it's still rated lower than the first two on this site(before I submitted this review) and I agree with that. I found this a little disappointing despite that over 13 minute opener that to me stands out as the best song on here. The mellotron is sampled like on the first two albums but I still like it, just wish there was more.

"La Grande Festa In Maschera" is my favourite as I just mentioned. Check out the nasty opening, more please! Unfortunately that intensity is missing on this record. Lots of tempo shifts on this one and I like that it's heavier later on.

"Le Luci Delle Case(Spente)" doesn't do much for me until 4 minutes in when it sounds much better as the violin steps aside and a calm follows. Reserved vocals join in as well. It kicks in again as contrasts continue. A change 7 minutes in as the synths come to the fore, not really into this but I do like when it turns fuller including the vocals late.

"Barricate" is more of the same really with the contrasts between the laid back and more fuller sections. I do like the organ led section 4 minutes in which is followed by a guitar solo.

"Il Nido Delle Succubi" has this bouncy start that will come and go. Check out the mellotron though just before 30 seconds. It's so brief but it's the best part of the album for me which says a lot. I don't like that passage that starts before 4 minutes. Is that harpsichord? A sample from a James Stewart movie I believe can be heard as James gets emotional and when that sample stops the music kicks in with power. Nice.

"Arrivi All'Aurora" ends it and it begins with fragile vocals and piano. Piano only after 2 minutes then it turns fuller with bass then more as it builds. Synths lead after 3 minutes then it settles back with mellotron and drums standing out. It starts to wind down late.

For me this is a clear step down from the first two albums but not everyone agrees apparently(haha). Just my two cents worth but I'll stick with their first two albums thankyou!

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 November Red by DANTE album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.88 | 24 ratings

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November Red
Dante Progressive Metal

Review by Progrussia

4 stars If the name Dante brings to mind a bombastic power metal band like Symphony X or Rhapsody (of Fire), that would be like judging a book by its cover. These Germans do write 10-minute catchy heavy songs with several lead motifs, having evidently been listening to a lot of Dream Theater, but the overall sound is more akin to a 70's groovy hard rock band that likes to jam and occasionally settles down with a piano. Further adding to this impression is the gritty production, retro-sounding keys and gruff-toned vocals. That great modern prog scourge hasn't passed them by, though - the spoken word samples inserted into middle of songs.

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 Emotional Tattoos by PREMIATA FORNERIA MARCONI (PFM) album cover Studio Album, 2017
2.92 | 39 ratings

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Emotional Tattoos
Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM) Rock Progressivo Italiano

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

3 stars Legendary Italian proggers Premiata Forneria Marconi (P.F.M) need little introduction, the symphonic band delivering three of the defining RPI LP's back in the early Seventies, and then achieving a commercial momentum once they began offering albums exclusively performed in English in the middle of that decade. Decades of line-up shuffles and musical style changes have been part of the band's history ever since, but this latest version is now led by founding member/drummer Franz Di Cioccio, who also takes on the lead vocals due to the departure of guitarist and fellow founder Franco Mussida a couple of years back, with the rest of the band being comprised of a mix of long-time serving PFM members and newer musicians.

2017's `Emotional Tattoos', the first album for PFM since signing to worldwide prog distribution specialists InsideOut Music, is an equally reliable and inconsistent listen, despite having plenty that can be praised about it. The musicianship, especially Marco Sfogli's guitars, Patrick Djivas' nicely fat upfront bass and Di Cioccio's busy driving drumming are never short of superb, and the latter's voice is confident. However, despite a few exceptions, the prog-rock sophistication of old has been replaced by a collection of melodic yet dignified mid-tempo AOR vocal rockers with little traces of proggy soloing mostly only worked into little thirty-odd second bursts here and there. That's not to say that this is a bad album in any way, just that it's really not what the majority of their fans would have been looking forward to from a new PFM work (although offering both an English version and Italian version is appreciated!), and it's especially disappointing when you consider that their last few studio works, `Stati di Immaginzione' from 2006 and 2010's `AD 2010: La Buona Novella', were superb and full of progressive rock majesty.

Looking at some of what's on offer (and the Italian version should be the preferred edition, which is the one discussed here), opener `Il Regno' evolves out of its weary dreaminess into tough whirring keyboards, heaving guitars and Franz's raspy croon. Lovely murmuring bass from Patrick, Lucio Fabbri's elegant violin licking at the edges and Alessandro Scaglione's zippy keyboarding soloing throughout `Oniro' are the first hint of the classic PFM sound, and sleek darker rocker ` La lezione' pulses with a tougher danger with its strident drums and frequently reprising twisting guitar runs.

`Mayday' is a fairly dull moody rocker lifted by fleeting tense themes, but `La danza degli specchi' is a big improvement. While some of the groovier funky spots try a little desperately to be cool, it sure jumps around in endless different directions and tempo changes in only six minutes, and there's traces of those chiming guitars, vocal flamboyance and racing darting synth runs of the PFM of old scattered throughout! `Il cielo che c'' is a classy ballad that's easy to enjoy, and `Quartiere generale' is a catchy pop-rocker lifted by fancy reprising violin themes.

The greatest moment of the disc arrives with `Freedom Square', a folk-flecked instrumental loaded with all the spirited acoustic guitars, twirling violin jigs and keyboard driven fanfare pomp that fans forever associate with the classic PFM sound - what a shame that it's one of the shortest pieces on the album at only four and a half minutes! The busy `Dalla Terra alla Luna' grafts an easily melodic tune to heavy crashing bluster with plenty of humming Hammond organ, keyboard wig-outs and rambunctious drumming, `Le Cose Belle' is a sweet romantic ballad with tasteful playing, and closer `Big Bang' is simply another reliably enjoyable tune elevated by sparkling piano, crisp guitar and fluid bass runs (the final minute is truly sublime, and another example of `what could have been' if the album had been made up of more winning moments like this).

It's not surprising to see PFM playing in a mostly fairly straightforward rock manner here, like so many older acts do. But it's a shame when other renowned vintage Italian bands such as Metamorfosi, Cherry Five and Maxophone have all delivered extravagant and ambitious recent works of great vitality, and in comparison there's very little to associate `Emotional Tattoos' with the symphonic rockers of legend that are PFM. Sadly, the album is also overlong at 62 minutes (does InsideOut Music put demands on all the artists that sign for them that the music must have enough material to cover a double vinyl release?) when a nice 45 or so minute single-LP length, with a couple of more overtly `proggy' or symphonic pieces would have made this a much more approachable affair to be replayed more often. Still, it's nice that the band are still active, but perhaps PFM should look to their own past next time for future inspiration on where to take the band in this modern era.

Three stars.

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 The Depths of Winter by TIGER MOTH TALES album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.00 | 5 ratings

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The Depths of Winter
Tiger Moth Tales Neo-Prog

Review by javajeff

4 stars Pete Jones is super talented, and everything he touches turns to gold. This is another solid album that will take some time to digest, but the first few listens have placed it in very familiar territory. His voice is perfect, and he takes command on any song with huge impact. As a Multi-instrumentalist, it is hard not to be impressed. The Depths of Winter is a theme that should provoke feelings of this time of the year, and there is an excellent collection of vocals and instrumentation to keep any music fan interested. With 3 tracks over ten minutes and 3 more with some nice length, The Depths of Winter has some progressive roots as well. Cocoon is such a stellar album, Story Tellers - Part One is a ton of fun, and The Depths of Winter fits in perfectly to the Tiger Moth Tales catalog. Notable tracks are Hygge, Winter Maker, and The Ballad of Longshanks John. This is another high quality release.

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 Bloom by CALIGULA'S HORSE album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.93 | 182 ratings

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Bloom
Caligula's Horse Progressive Metal

Review by ProgAlia

3 stars Caligula's Horse have cohesive songwriting, They write slick tracks, binding heaviness and borderline tech 'Marigold' with expansive melancholy 'Dragonfly'. They can knock out tracks that I wouldn't be surprised to hear on the radio 'Rust' or extremely epic and catchy choruses 'Turntail', and songs like 'Daughter of the Mountain' and 'Firelight' show off their progressive credentials. Even closing anthem 'Undergrowth' pretty much convinced me that I'd purchase an acoustic record written by these gentlemen. The variety of styles and the ease with which the band moves between them demonstrates a love for, and mastery of, varied influences and styles. Such twists and turns call to mind bands like The Dear Hunter, Katatonia, or even Swedish gladprog Kaipa. If there's one downside here, I think it's that Bloom is less varied in its writing than its predecessor. Certain quotes or melodies, phrasing and tone can make Bloom seem repetitive. And while Grey is a dynamic singer, one can get the sense he thinks a song isn't a good song unless he's used every last octave in his range. But since this record is littered with excellent moments, stellar performances from all the musicians'once again putting on display the immense talent that seems to be cropping up in the Australian scene'and only a single misstep in 'Burn,' this nagging sense of repetition is merely background noise.

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 Just Lunatics by LUNAR CAPE album cover Studio Album, 2015
4.38 | 4 ratings

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Just Lunatics
Lunar Cape Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by ProgAlia

3 stars "Just Lunatics" is a record that is for a particular type of listener, The quality and musical value here are recognizable even if you don't fully embrace its idiosyncrasies. A stylistic mashup that can border on being a little too meandering at times, but ultimately contains enough melody and highly musical passages to stick out to the fan of instrumental world music and psychedelic rock. Many elements are brought into album, and the eclectic melding of psychedelic rock, light jazz, chilled out atmospherics and Celtic, Asian, and Eastern European folk elements create a musical landscape that varies tonally from track to track. Some songs even take on a soundtrack-like vibe and experimental or even Avant bent that can be pretty convincing and trans-formative when the disparate parts align properly. I just wish there were more opportunities in the dynamic that focused the world music elements in some different and more exciting ways.

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 Detrimental Dialogue (With Fausto Balbo) by MARUTTI, ANDREA album cover Studio Album, 2010
4.40 | 3 ratings

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Detrimental Dialogue (With Fausto Balbo)
Andrea Marutti Progressive Electronic

Review by ProgAlia

4 stars After fifteen years of making music apart from each other, Andrea Marutti and Fausto Balbo's paths crossed in 2005, and since then they have been working every now and then on this release. The album "Detrimental Dialogue" is their first collaboration, and it contains explorations of various types of analogue and digital synthesis. If you are not yet introduced to that part of experimentalism, yes, there is more then 'just' analog or digital. To quote from the press sheet: additive, subtractive, physical modeling, FM, phase distortion, granular, etc. The 48 minutes of this release are divided into four tracks, entitled "Winter", "Indulge me", "Set-Back" and "Troubled Elephant", and with the best will in the world I couldn't explain these titles to you. But rest assured that while listening to these tracks I have tried to figure it out. The drones and ambient parts slowly fade you in and out (of an uncertain state) of consciousness, while the intrusive experiments in minimal noise, glitch and pure waveforms rip you out of there and force you to feel the here, the now and reality; this latter in all its beautiful and confrontational aspects. Through the use of effects, the sounds that are used on this album ? and then mainly those noisy escapades ? are put into a really nice perspective. The stereo image as well as the depth have an exceptional extra dimension, which makes the album as a whole interesting for a) modular sound nerds (you know who you are) and b) people who want to hear proof that there is more than your mind can handle. It's going straight into my collection, next to Robert Piotrowicz' "Lasting Clinamen", and the additional mini-poster with the music-making aliens and insect-shaped speakers by Stefano 'Sicksoul' Rossetti is getting an honorary place on my studio wall. For inspirational purposes? Or just to space out!

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 Hosianna Mantra by POPOL VUH album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.21 | 270 ratings

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Hosianna Mantra
Popol Vuh Krautrock

Review by ProgAlia

5 stars Hosianna Mantra marked a significant shift both in structure and melody for Popol Vuh. The material that followed this masterpiece was more or less based on the blueprint created here. The spiritual nature of this record and the use of exotic instruments combined with classical ones placed Popol Vuh at the forefront of the New Age and contemporary World Music genres that would develop over the years. this album is an amazing, yet overlooked record which gives so much from its rather sparse structure, it's no wonder it influenced so many bands to come. It is a must listen for fans of New Age and World Music, but also for any avid music fan.

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 Amputechture by MARS VOLTA, THE album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.85 | 522 ratings

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Amputechture
The Mars Volta Heavy Prog

Review by thesameoldfears

5 stars Ok, so I've been going back and forth between 4 or 5 stars, but I'll settle on 5 to balance out some of the negative reviews on this triumph of album. I thought this was a really compelling release. Vicarious Atonement is a slow burn that sets the table perfectly, with its ominous soundscape, searing guitar, and troubling lyrics. Then bang we get Tetragrammaton which is almost 17 minutes of a true musical odyssey; lots of twists and turns and musical contrast, never gets boring. The vocals on Viscera Eyes are just awesome when paired with the catchy guitar riff underneath. Day of the Baphomets is a really wild track which seems to be pulling from tons of different influences, but it does a very good job of conveying a sense of impending doom. I found this to be a really challenging but ultimately engaging listening experience.

Just one note on the mastering, I think this album has been mastered too loud. There seems to be some degradation in sound quality, and it really gives me ear fatigue sometimes. The music is already very heavy at times and the mastering engineer shouldn't have felt the need to crank the volume on top of that and damage the sound quality.

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 Live In Mexico by MOON SAFARI album cover Live, 2014
3.98 | 20 ratings

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Live In Mexico
Moon Safari Symphonic Prog

Review by Walkscore

4 stars Their better live album.

With better sound quality, more consistent songs, and a more precise performance, this is actually the better Moon Safari live album to listen to all the way through. I am not sure if they recorded additional vocals in the studio, or modified the live vocals in some way, but they are perfectly in tune, cleanly recorded, and lush on this album, whereas on "Gettysburg Address" they are rougher around the edges. The band seems better practiced too. But most importantly, all the songs on this album are listenable. While there are no tracks here quite as musical as the two best on 'Gettysburg' ("Moonwalk" and "Other Half of the Sky"), thankfully on this one they left out (most of) the cheese and this album better showcases Moon Safari's song-writing skills. On this album the weakest tracks are actually the two that also appear on the 'Gettysburg Address' live album: "A Kid Called Panic" and "Heartland". Although it seems these are two of the band's own favourites, they are the ones here with more hints of cheese and in fact they are musically shown the door by the rest of the material. "Too Young to Say Goodbye", the opening track, is very well done, with some very nice harmony vocals that thankfully just avoids the cheese, even if it is very light. Moon Safari's vocals at times remind one of the Beach Boys, and their lyrics are often about relationships too, which presents an interesting contrast with the complex, extended and sometimes darker musical tonalities. "Barfly" is an example of this, with tri-tone progressions with dark overtones contrasting with the lighter sing-along lyrics. "Mega Moon" has some great harmony vocals, those tendency to veer into cheese territory is saved by the quality of the harmonies and the underlying musicality. The second disc is even better, albeit shorter. "Crossed the Rubicon" competes for the best track on this album with the long epic that closes it "Lover's End". Both are very musical, with great extended sections. Leaving out 'Kid Called Panic' and 'Heartland' still leaves an album of almost 70 minutes of decent music. The only annoying thing is the banter that the band provides between tracks - I guess they can't help but be a bit cheesy there (same goes for the banter on 'Gettysburg Address'). But on the whole, this is the higher-quality live release. I give this 7.9 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which is just enough to garner 4 PA stars.

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 Luciferian Towers by GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.02 | 60 ratings

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Luciferian Towers
Godspeed You! Black Emperor Post Rock/Math rock

Review by thesameoldfears

5 stars This is the album I'd been waiting for. A little backstory, shortly after the release of the last album Asunder, Sweet I saw on Youtube that they had been playing an even newer long song that really blew me away. Then I saw the band play it live in 205 and said to drummer Timothy Herzog after the show "that new song is an instant classic." That song turned out to be titled Anthem For No State, and it was worth the wait to finally hear it released.

Godspeed! didn't pull any punches with this one. There are two shorter "drone" songs, but they each keep building up rather than staying constant, so you definitely don't get bored. The long songs are really what stand out though. Bosses Hang is a great example of what you can do with just a single melody developed effectively. As the song builds, you get a series of interlocking guitars playing off each other, but the main melody comes back at the peak. Definitely feels triumphant.

Anthem For No State is one of my favorite songs right now. The intro with violin and soft guitar is one of the most beautiful passages this band has done. But as to be expected, the song builds over 14 minutes into a giant bang of a conclusion. The last 3 minutes are an absolute triumph, right up there with King Crimson's Starless as most epic ways to close an album. Very loud playing, but also great emotion and melody.

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 Live In Toronto by KING CRIMSON album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2016
4.58 | 54 ratings

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Live In Toronto
King Crimson Eclectic Prog

Review by thesameoldfears

5 stars I started listening to King Crimson my sophomore year in college 2006-07 and by then there was no active Crimson and wouldn't be for quite a while longer. Certainly, I never thought that any future lineup would give an airing to the classic 70s material, but when this band formed, it was one of the most pleasant of surprises. Having three drummers adds even more texture to material that was already rich and complex. I've seen them live in person twice and it neat to see how the drummers trade lines, play off each other, and accentuate unusual beats and patterns. I love it how Pat Mastelotto has picked up where Jamie Muir left off in 1973 with all the unconventional percussion in addition to the regular kit. This album focuses on the 70s material, though I appreciate a nod to the underappreciated 2000s lineup with Level Five and The Construkction of Light (though I wish they hadn't cut out the vocals on the latter). The return of Mel Collins on sax and flute was really exciting, and it's especially interesting to hear him interpret songs that were originally recorded without winds, like VROOM and Level Five. Also nice that they didn't just play the hits, and instead dived into the catalog and gave great readings to a couple really great tracks from the Islands album, Sailors Tale and The Letters. See this band live if you get the chance.

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 Kakusenjo No Ongaku by KAKUSENJO NO ONGAKU (BASE OF FICTION) album cover Studio Album, 1994
3.98 | 4 ratings

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Kakusenjo No Ongaku
Kakusenjo No Ongaku (Base Of Fiction) Zeuhl

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

4 stars Japanese bands have long been known for their uncanny ability to adopt European musical traditions and then fortify their edifices in order to take them to the next several levels of extremity. While bands like Boredoms, Acid Mothers Temple and Ruins have become fairly well known in the underground extreme music world, others remain relatively obscure even within those tiny recesses of the lumpenproletariat. JYOJI SAWADA ( 沢田穣治 ) bassist of Satoh Michihiro Tsugaru-Shamisen Gakudan released a scant few solo albums in the 90s and amongst them is this bizarre artifact titled BASE OF FICTION ("KAKUSENJO NO ONGAKU") which is more like a supergroup project with everyone involved in the Japanese underground world of noise rock, avant-prog, zeuhl and other experimental movements making an appearance. This one includes not only guest performances from Tasu Yoshida from Ruins and Seiichi Yamamoto from Boredoms but includes a whopping total of 17 musicians and vocalists parading through this near hour long experience.

BASE OF FICTION is a very strange album indeed that runs the gamut of chaotic noisy rock attacks and ultra-mondo bizarro avant- prog chamber music with episodes of zeuhl inspired rhythms that showcase the Magma-esque female operatic diva vocals that come and go as a labyrinthine train of weirdness interrupts the regularly scheduled program when a comfort zone even remotely begins to emerge. Overall there is a Bondage Fruit type of brutal prog element to JYOJI's work that is smoothed out by the Univers Zero type of chamber prog and string sections that seems to pacify the more abrasive elements from becoming too dominant. The passing of the baton from the mellow and reflective aspects to the off-the-leash freneticism of the noise rock parts allows this album to slink along at a comfortable pace. In addition to the main prog, chamber rock and zeuhl rhythms that keep some sort of uniformity to this work, there are also a plethora of sound effects, background vocals and electronic wizardry as well as some sort of homegrown folk feels that add a domestic flavor to the mix.

This is one of those dense musical experiences that is quite rich in its scope. While the string section of the violin, viola and cello seem to dominate the soundscape there are appearances by all kinds of strange instrumentation including a ponchi, berimbau, grampot, bandolin, marimba and gong. JYOJI proves to be the ultimate orchestrator of sound as the soundscape never sounds too cluttered with characters and every change in the wind seems to be well calculated with purpose rather coming across as a maelstrom of random sound swirling about like an haphazard tornado. This one is highly recommended to those who seek out the ultimately bizarre of the Japanese underground but unlike many such albums that seek out chaos and brutality for their own sake alone, BASE OF FICTION has a very sensual side as well that offers not only the craziest and noise induced avant-prog to be experienced but also dishes out ample doses of melodic high art beauty of the sort that is found in the Western classical masters' compositions of the past. However in the end, this whole affair comes off some sort of experimental opera gone really, really wrong but yet somehow feels so very, very good ;)

4.5 rounded down

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 Red by KING CRIMSON album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.54 | 2969 ratings

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Red
King Crimson Eclectic Prog

Review by thesameoldfears

5 stars What can I say that hasn't already been said? This is one of the true masterpieces of the prog rock genre and one of my favorite albums. This album the 7th and last before a long hiatus, and as well as being the the 3rd album in the trilogy of the Bruford/Wetton lineup. So it has "finale" written all over it, and boy does it deliver. Red takes all the distinctive elements of previous albums (the heavy guitars, the improv, the wind instruments, the mellotron) and wraps into one package. The last song Starless is one of my favorites of all time, the last two minutes of this song are incredibly moving. Essential listening.

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 Element of Surprise by PYRAMID THEOREM album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.13 | 4 ratings

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Element of Surprise
Pyramid Theorem Progressive Metal

Review by rdtprog
Special Collaborator Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team

3 stars For this second album, the band's music has taken a harder edge. Also, the band wanted to improve the vocals by spreading them out to 3 musicians. From the first song "The Scratch Funk" the music is a straightforward classic rock number played at a very fast pace and announcing the predominant role that the guitars will have the rest of the way. "Cliffhanger" put the guitars even further with some furious and heroic guitar lines with orchestral arrangement. "Outlaw For Good" is mostly an instrumental track after one minute of singing at the beginning. For the first time, we can hear the keyboards upfront and some Voivoid inspired guitar riffs. Samuel Ermellini delivers one of his many guitar solos. "Lifeline" is the first breather on the album with an acoustic intro and a song that goes into a definitive Rush style. "Tornado" like the title says is a fast pace powerful instrumental track with some Dream Theater time signatures and some welcome smoother guitar lines in the middle that is heartwarming. The last song brings back the acoustic guitar in the flamenco style after some heavy guitar parts again in the Dream Theater style. In conclusion, this album is highly guitar oriented and stay away for the Rush influence of their debut, and I think that if the vocals are not the most enjoyable thing you will hear, the songwriting quality level and the impressive playing of each musician make up for it. A solid 3.5 stars

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 Bydyra by TUSMRKE album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.00 | 4 ratings

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Bydyra
Tusmrke Prog Folk

Review by Progfan97402

4 stars I wasn't expecting Tusmrke to cough up two albums in one year, but they did, starting with Hinsides in May 2017, and now Hinsides in November. Here they switched labels from Svart to Karisma Records, same label that issued Wobbler's new release From Silence to Somewhere and upcoming releases from Jordsj. Lars Fredrik Frislie is no longer a full time member, back to being a guest, but the cuts he appears on is undeniably his synth and Mellotron (and Chamberlin) work. The group now includes Hkon Oftung from Jordsj, I guess I can't be too surprised as I get reminded of Tusmrke from time to time with Jordsj (as well as Wobbler and ngalgrd). When I heard Bydyra was going to be a children's album I was suspicious. Here in America (where I live) children's music conjures up images of insipid music from Disney and Barney the Dinosaur. Tusmrke totally avoids that trap big time by creating an honest to god children's prog album! No reminders of Disney, Barney or Elmo here, but instead the lyrics seem to be about urban life, rising housing prices in already expensive Oslo (something that also concerns people in London and Paris, and here in the States with New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Honolulu, with smaller cities like Portland and Seattle heading that way), and apparently magic. The band included a children's chorus from some Oslo primary school. Despite the child-like approach, it's easy to see this is basically the same group that brought us Underjordisk Tusmrke exactly five years before, just you hear children singing along with the Tusmrke guys (Benediktator and Krizla share vocal duties). That's an ingenious way to introduce children to prog. The songs are all short, since I doubt children will be ready for Tales From Topographic Oceans at that age. But that totally makes since and they didn't sacrifice prog just because the songs are shorter. The folk elements are still present as before.

It's safe to say American children won't get much out of it since it's all sung in Norwegian, but for those who wonder if a children's prog album can succeed, I'm happy to say, it succeeds here. No Barney, Elmo or Disney stuff here. I've heard my share of American children's music which pretty much scarred me for life (I'm only glad I was born in 1972, Barney was way after my time). Doing a children's album is certainly a very risky gamble, and in this case it paid off well. Well worth listening to, even if you can't get much out of what they're singing due to language barrier. By far the best children's music album by a country mile!

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 Candlelight and Empire by LOOKING-GLASS LANTERN album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.37 | 10 ratings

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Candlelight and Empire
Looking-Glass Lantern Neo-Prog

Review by Second Endeavour

5 stars Following up two prior, quite ambitious albums ('A Tapestry Of Tales' - 2013 & 'The Hound Of The Baskervilles' - 2014), LOOKING GLASS LANTERN return with a new offering 'Candlelight and Empire' which is another testament of classic progressive rock in a modern execution. To put my review into the right context, I wanna say that some closest musical cognates for LGL are such pillars of the genre as Genesis, Alan Parsons Project and Barclay James Harvest. There're many other reasons to be enthralled. This 'one person group' always offers their listeners lots of Sympho-tinged splendour, and the brand new CD is no exception. Four years back now, Graham Dunnington created the solo project to accomplish his own goals. Having the ability to play in a variety of different roles as the keyboardist, guitarist, drummer and bassist, Graham gives LGL a special depth - which majority of contemporary bands often lack. Sure, mister Dunnington is an incredibly gifted instrumentalist. He also possesses a heartfelt and recognizable voice, another trademark that helps to provide Looking Glass Lantern an extra stamp of quality. Well-written, composed, arranged, fully performed and produced by Graham Dunnington, CD 'Candlelight and Empire' is saturated with authentic progressive rock sound featuring the elegant compositions, melodical gusto, majestic soundscapes, divine keyboard textures, synth signatures, the polished guitar performance and dense rhythmic backbone. Certainly, the ethereal mode still prevails in material, yet this time around - together with a gorgeous suite 'An Evening Soire' (30+ min. long) which stands out. There's a lot of detail and nuances to the songs that should reward repeat listens. Alongside the great music, you can hear the relevant lyrics with a special scenario. It's quite obvious, Graham Dunnington remains loyal to his source of historical inspiration, that seems really interesing. The new LGL record presents (once again) the storyline to contemplate a late XIX century's time to-the-point. Creating a slightly mysterious atmosphere of Victorian England is the important factor here. As far as the concept is concerned, descriptive lyrics are telling about one day in the life of typical middle-class family. There's a genuine feel of theatrics, a life-mirroring with emotional experiences. Involved songs are strived to maintain the general thread that should connect all pieces of this 'conceptual work'. The album grabs you from the initial theme 'The Maid', setting the scene. Overture-like chapter develops into a magnificent track 'The Girl Nobody Knows', which brings dazzling splashes of colour. The subtlety in build-up and plethora of hypnotising components are demonstrated on 'The Cook'. Afterwards, superlative 'The Governess and the Children' follows. (The utilized complementary instruments are Mellotron and accordion). It moves to the next song 'The Angel of the Home', drawing from the melodic and tying to the gentle piano. Supremely memorable piece with Hammond organ, 'The Husband' is much affected by classic Genesis style. Expanding the musical spectrum, the multi-layered epic 'An Evening Soire' has embraced six parts ( 'A Shrine to Consumption', 'The March of Progress', 'A Civilised Nation', 'The Benefits of Empire', 'In Honour of St Cecilia', 'An Englishman's Home is his Empire', respectively). Being essential for the full story, 'The Maid' (reprise) sounds like a farewell to personages. Ultimately, when the last track finishes, you feel like you've listened to something wonderful, in the traditions of old-school progressive rock. In short, this release is delightful and if you have now a grave interest in Looking Glass Lantern, then you need to get it... RECOMMENDED!

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 The Gettysburg Address by MOON SAFARI album cover Live, 2012
4.57 | 101 ratings

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The Gettysburg Address
Moon Safari Symphonic Prog

Review by Walkscore

3 stars Some great tracks, but sometimes veering into cheese...

So many great bands from Sweden. Moon Safari play a vocal-oriented contemporary progressive rock. Some of their tunes are short, close to radio-play length, while many others are extended with multiple parts and lots of dynamics, and a few others are full-length epics. While they have a couple of instrumentals, in most cases the tunes are structured around the vocals and lyrics, often with sing- songy vocal harmonies. Musically, they share some occasional similarities with bands like the Flower Kings (among my favourite contemporary SP bands), Spock's Beard, and the like. However, Moon Safari effuse a more sunny and light-hearted outlook. I started listening to Moon Safari with this album, partially due to the very high reviews it garnered and partially to hear a good sampling of their sound, and this led me to get the rest of their catalogue. Despite this representing well the kinds of music they do, I don't actually think this live gig is the best reflection of their skills. While they largely play the tunes like the studio albums, and the guitar and keyboard solos are very good, the vocal harmonies on a number of the tunes can't match the studio versions, and there are a few places where the timing of the drum fills and transitions also leaves the music a bit rougher than the studio versions. In fact, I think their second live album "Live in Mexico" is overall played better. My other criticism concerns their choices here. For me, there are really two stand-out tracks on this album: the opening and closing tracks. The opener, "Moonwalk", is fantastic, highly musical, and the only instrumental on this album - a joy. The closer, the 31-minute epic "Other Half of the Sky", meanwhile, is the best song of their catalogue (in my opinion), with multiple sections, lots of dynamics, and some great musical sections. Really excellent, very musical. However, the tracks in the middle are not so musical. Moon Safari's singing and lyrics have a tendency to veer into cheesy territory, often upheld by overly light and commercial-sounding chord progressions. "The World's Best Dreamers", "Dance Across the Ocean" and "New York City Summergirl" are the foremost examples of this here (even at times cringe-worthy), but to be honest the affliction also affects many of the other tracks, if with less intensity. Nowadays, when I listen to this album, I only put on the first (opening) and last (closing) tracks, and that's it. The album is worth getting for just these tracks, though - together these two tracks total 42 minutes, which is the equivalent of a full album's worth of great music. If they had just released it as such, I would be tempted to give this almost five stars. But given this is instead a double album, and roughly half the tunes veer into cheesiness, on balance I can only give this one 6.9 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which translates to mid 3 PA stars.

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 Behind The Gate by SPACE DEBRIS album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.21 | 10 ratings

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Behind The Gate
Space Debris Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars 3.5 stars. This was a tough one to rate as there's so much great music on this double album during it's over 100 minute length. Some misses too as this is improvised Jam music of the Space Rock variety. What really appealed to me was the abundance of keyboards in the form of piano or organ. The piano especially gave the music a different flavour to a lot of the music I own in this style.

On disc one "Stardreamer" is the only track that really stood out to me. Almost like a sad ballad with the electric piano, bass and a beat leading the way in this all instrumental piece. The guitar starts to trade off with the piano. Then what sounds like melloton arrives. The guitar takes over well before 4 minutes. The organ arrives late.

I really like the first three tracks on disc two. "Music Is God" opens with atmosphere as different sounds come and go, almost like they are warming up. A beat with bass and electric piano starts to take over around 1 1/2 minutes, guitar too. This is fairly slow paced. Organ 3 minutes in. This is great as the guitar and organ lead the way. The tempo picks up after 5 minutes.

"Blue Alert" is jazzy to start with drums and piano standing out. The organ then comes to the fore as they jam the rest of the way. It picks up around 8 1/2 minutes then calms right down before 10 minutes with drums and keyboards as the guitar comes and goes. It starts to pick up again around 11 minutes. Excellent track!

"Summernightdrive Part 1" is my favourite of the other parts of this title. A catchy tune but the music doesn't represent the title of the song. Great sounding tune regardless.

Most fans have rated this as their least favourite when it comes to this German band's discography which excites me because they have put out quite a few albums in the past and I'm off to pick up a couple if I can.

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 Exiles by CROSS, DAVID album cover Studio Album, 1997
3.64 | 44 ratings

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Exiles
David Cross Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by AndreasGHB

3 stars Mostly quite good but ultimately far from essential. Truthfully this album turned out to be pretty much how I expect it to be. This album came to my attention because of the two Peter Hammill vocals, and that's actually the main reason for me to keep it. The two PH vocals, particularly "Tonk", which also features Robert Fripp, are reminescent of "Disengage" on Fripp's "Exposure" album, and make wish the two would collaborate more. Wetton's vocals on "Exiles" are fine, but ultimately not as good as the original and don't really add anything. "This is Your Life", the other Wetton vocal, sounds like Asia ? YUCK! The only real bummer on the album. Overall, other than that one track, I can't say anything negative about the album. The compositions are fine and the playing is very good, but, as many of the other reviews have said, I don't see myself going back to this album much. It's a perfectly decent album, but just not very memorable.

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 Wild Dogs by CIRKUS album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.77 | 8 ratings

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Wild Dogs
Cirkus Symphonic Prog

Review by omphaloskepsis

5 stars 92/100.... Back in the 1970's halcyon prog years, I remember as a schoolboy greeted on the first day of 6th grade by a taciturn Pink Floyd teacher ordering our class to write an essay on, "How did I spend my summer?" You may wonder, "What's that got to do with Wild Dogs?" Well, upon emerging myself in the mammoth world of Cirkus "Wild Dogs" I couldn't help but muse upon a band that releases an album once a lifetime.

"How did you spend your vacation Alain Prolx and Serge Doucet?" In my minds eye I imagine lead vocals/multi instrumentalist Alain Prolx and guitarist Serge Doucet handing over the double disc I hold in my hands...WiLD Dogs! Somewhere along the way C. Lucas Proulx became involved in the Cirkus as he sings lead & backing vocals too. 40 years is a long time to spend on one album so without further adieux....Wild Dogs

Dalhousie's Walk (19:10) 10/10 An unlikely combo of century old church bells tintinnabulating while pagan drums detonate down green valley chants predating the hippies. This is your Daddy's prog epic! Multiple movements, soaring melodies, with lead vocals reminiscent of Peter Hammill and early folksy David Bowie. Clearly composition is more important than 200 notes a minute. Rich, resplendent, and harmonies to die for! I love this song! The lyrics establish the concept of " We are what we eat". Do we feed the evil dog or the good dog? Proulx's composes addictive keyboard swaths he paints with a broad brush towering keyboard colors. Melody becomes rhythm. This song and album are a time trip. And I mean that in a good way.

Falling The Tree (9:22) 9.5/10 Remember how the late 60's and 70's were so chock full of beautiful music that we thought it would never end? Falling The Tree is like a late 60's Moody Blues addiction I couldn't break. I wish I was a knowledgeable musician then I could describe in detail how wonderful this is...Waves of change,

Limbo (9:17) 10/10 First instrumental... From Trois-Rivières Quebec, Cirkus likes ethnic percussion, near water, flowing down a time tunnel. Resounding soundtrack vignettes of Stanley Kubrick's Barry Lydon or Sally Potter's Orlando. I don't imagine standard drum sets, I see powdered wigs under wisteria over the veranda shirtless shimmering sweating natives pound goat skins taut, tight strung over wooden limbo grooves rhumba and bump and dance at the singles bar, bold brass and woodwinds chit chat followed by a slightly middle class eastern mat of golden grass. Lush keyboards drink and smoke brush strokes deliciously catch moonlight and...

Johnny Got His Gun (6:41) 10/10 Most song oriented song so far. The vocals feel fragilely aggressive the way Lou Read and Tom Verlaine of Television sounded improvised, poetic, and immediate. Again, vocal melody's crescendo and collide whilst subtle harmonies blend and puree. On a personal note, this song is like a drug for me. I splinter and swirl into a spiral...

Hang Over (2:54) 9/10 is the first of two songs in a row partly composed by Loam Tales, a prog band of late 70's in which Alain and Serge first contributed. "We are human" a wild dog metaphor punctuating the concept I feel pervades Wild Dogs. "What are we going to do about it? Feed the nice dog inside us or sell out our insides and feed afraid dog?"

Pastance (4:52) 9.5/10 The initial notes remind me of my Dad's 60's Christmas album...All brass and little drummer boy but that was lasted for only 10 seconds, then the question answer keys riff lay bone graffiti painted teeth edgy and bright like Peter Hammill with a dash of Rik Osasek. Spoiler Alert! Enduring album... getting protective of these wild puppies.

The Nightwatch (6:42) 10/10 In the late 80's I used to daydream Nick Cave went prog? If you spelunker down the esential dark Cave moments enveloped by emotive Tony Bank/ Tony Kaye keys then this song is down that vapory alley, Completely contagious! OMG Orgasmic vocals! Opiate

Dead End (13:53) For me, the most addictive elements of Dead End run rabid down galloping keyboards reminiscent of a lost Tony Banks keyboard rhythm that could uncover hidden swaths of sound, ensconced in a Music Box. Never existed but kind of does now. In search of the lost color. Birthing notes, Serge Doucet leads riff and fascinate me on the fleshy first side of Cirkus's double concept CD. Wild Dogs debut would have been a triple album in the 70's. Still hurtling backwards in time, I catch Ricky Recardo's drum and banana bunch munch down banging on coconuts. Did I mention " This IS A Fun Drum.... Album!"

Intermission....To think, I bought this album for 15 bucks on bandcamp. Steven Wilson-"To the Bone" CD/DVD/Book box set cost me over a hundred. You never know with Prog. I feel the last 7 years is the best progressive rock era since 1969-75'. Stumbling upon Wild Dogs I cannot help but feel Cirkus sounds like a lost treasure undiscovered. I felt like found an exotic kaleidoscopic seashell on the beach.

CD2 - Dog 2 9. Wild Dogs (7:17) (9/10) Unexpectedly, the title song is an instrumental. Violins plucking, Middle Eastern horns and vibrant percussion wax and wane foreshadowing the part 2. The second half of Wild Dogs is the grower side. The melodies are less immediate and more subtle than side one. Perfect instrumental prelude to side 2.

Growing Seeds (10:25) (10/10) sneaks up psychedelic, organic and glorious. Throughout Wild Dogs, Alain Proulx and C. Lucas Proulx sing both lead & backing vocals. I deduced C. Lucas Proulx is either Alain's brother or son since Alaine and lead guitarist Serge Doucet started writing parts of Wild Dogs 40 years ago. Just saying, the vocal contribution of the Proulx tribe is stunning.

What Remains (9:15) (9.5/10) Maybe the most catchy song on side 2, What Remains" contains elements that evoke David Bowie, Nick Cave, Oingo Boingo soaked in honeyed mournful piano seeping like a freezing waterfall.

Sanctus (11:20) (9/10) Sometimes good things come in 3's. The 3rd and last instrumental floats along droning by on a baritone heroine high like Roy Orbison emoting on a tropic slow motion river trip. Mosquitos in amber. Hypnotic wood blocks.

Harlequins (11:45) (7/10) If I had to pick a weaker song, it would be Harlequins. It's not a bad song. I like the retro keyboards and the importance of lyrics moving the concept/story forward toward the finale. I also like the vocals toward the end of the song, however Harlequins doesn't enrapture me the way the rest of the album does.

Redeemer (11:59) 9/10 Keyboards reminiscent of War Child era Jethro Tull accompanied by woody percussion ushers in Redeemer swaying into emotive vocals which speed up toward a catchy new wave prog (circa 79-80) melody. Again, the vocals, keys, and percussion shine. Very pleasurable slow to mid tempo song. Plenty of memorable melodies.

Broken Promesses (4:53) 9.5/10 Last song and what a resplendent addictive vocal melody! Bittersweet and poignant Broken Promesses chokes me up. Melancholy yet hopeful. Beautiful...

Bottom Line... What a hidden gem! Destined to become a lost under the radar classic. Definitely top five 2017 album for me. If you fancy and favor my four other favorite 2017 albums Barock Project "Detachment", Big Big Train- "Grimspound", Wobbler- "From Silence to Somewhere", and Unreal City- "Frammenti Notturni" then doubtlessly you'll relish Cirkus- "Wild Dogs". The only place I know to hear or order Wild Dogs is the Cirkus Bandcamp site.

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 For The Love Of Art And The Making by BEYOND TWILIGHT album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.96 | 149 ratings

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For The Love Of Art And The Making
Beyond Twilight Progressive Metal

Review by Progrussia

3 stars Beyond Twilight came up with a pretty original idea - to create a prog metal opera consisting of 43 short interconnected fragments that are basically a bunch of solos (some of them shorter than the time needed to read their titles), that could be rearranged and still deliver a coherent listen. And this isn't as unrealizable as it may sound, but the secret is that the original order had to not be exactly seamless in the beginning, so the reshuffled version isn't that much more disjointed.

As for stlistics, this is a very bombastic classically inspired heavy metal work but is generally less dark and unsettling than the first two albums by this artist. It's a pity they haven't been heard from in a long time.

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 Penumbra by BREIDABLIK album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.82 | 2 ratings

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Penumbra
Breidablik Progressive Electronic

Review by Progfan97402

5 stars Penumbra is a new release from Breidablik, an EM project headed by Morten Birkeland Nielsen from Bergen, Norway. Here this album got released on vinyl on Pancromatic Records, this was the same label that issued the double vinyl set from Jordsj, a wonderful prog rock band not unlike Wobbler or nglagrd. Speaking of Jordsj, they released a split cassette with Breidablik called Songs from the Northern Wasteland. Breidablik then went and released Vinter, which is 100% Breidablik, on limited edition cassette (you can download it on Bandcamp). Penumbra simply takes what was done on Vinter one step further. Once again, lots of nice use of analog and analog modelling synths, as well as an Omenie Mellotron M3000. What's that? A Mellotron iPad app, that's what it is! From judging on the gear he uses, like the MicroKorg, Arturia Microbrute, Korg Monotribe, the Korg ARP Odyssey (yes, Korg resurrected the old ARP classic) and others, he uses lot of small, portable lightweight gear and puts them to great use. What took huge bulky gear for Tangerine Dream to accomplish what they did in the mid '70s, one can do something similar on small gear like what Morten does here. I own a MicroKorg and it's a wonderful, small, lightweight machine, about the size and weight of a 1980s toy Casio for children, but it's a wonderful synth capable of classic analog synth sounds, as well as an arpeggiator and vocoder, and I can see how Morten included one. The Monotribe is a sequencer that he uses here, but don't expect in-your-face Ricochet-sequencer overdrive as the sequencer use here is mid-paced. The music has an often eerie feeling like you're in the cold, barren areas of northern Norway. The music has a frequently ambient feel, particularly when the sequencers aren't being used. What I'm getting at is the music here is Berlin School style electronic music, although I've seen Breidablik's Bandcamp page call it the "Bergen School of electronic music", mainly because Morten Birkeland Nielsen hails from Bergen. Other than that, it's very much as you expect out of Berlin School electronic music. While Tangerine Dream, Schulze and the likes are to be felt, this isn't a clone. I can see Breidablik making a big impression in the world of electronic music, and Penumbra only proves that and very much worth hearing!

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 Wrzburg Cairo 2015 by ELECTRIC ORANGE album cover Live, 2017
4.00 | 3 ratings

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Wrzburg Cairo 2015
Electric Orange Krautrock

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

4 stars German band Electric Orange have been around in some form for twenty five years now, founded by Dirk Jan Mller, a multi-instrumentalist who primarily handles keyboards (and also recently started a well-received Berlin School-influenced prog-electronic side-project Cosmic Ground). Over their early years, alongside frequent contributor Dirk Bittner, the group was mostly occupied by guests and/or a rotating door of varied musicians, but a settled line-up of the band eventually found their calling in heavy Krautrock-flavoured ambient jams on their most recent works. To commemorate their anniversary, Dirk and the group have delivered three very different and worthy works this year, one of them being `Wrzburg Cairo 2015', a live document that showcases their set of trippy, atmospheric and frequently minimalistic jams from the 8th Psychedelic Network Festival of two years ago.

Fifteen-minute opener `Behind The Wall Of Sheep' (yes, you read that right!) sets much of the template that several stretches of the performance cover - behind Georg Monheim's rumbling incessant drums, Dirk's keyboards lightly coat the background in the most subtle of ways with pristine electronic caresses, Tom Rckwald's bass grumbles with purpose and Dirk Bittner's squalling feedback-laced distorted guitars reverberate into infinity. Traces of the improvisation remind of the legendary early Pink Floyd live performances in their more howling moments, and the piece moves between noisier builds and serene come-downs like so many of the classic Krautrock works.

Over a plodding beat, the guitars of `Fluff' move between victorious dreaminess and fierce defiant contemplations, Dirk's bleeding keyboard violations chug in and out of stormy drum tantrums throughout `Perpetuum Mobiliar', and `A Tuna Sunrise' drifts with shimmering electric piano tendrils and shambling acoustic guitars before culminating in a blissful Mellotron lift. `Supptruppen' is eleven minutes of haunting and mysterious drowsy guitar splinters cutting through murky ambient drones, and `Auslauf' is a shorter Mellotron-flecked guitar maelstrom that wouldn't have sounded out of place on the early Tangerine Dream albums. `Ducktango' is an early A.M hours drifting darkly jazzy saunter with slithering thick bass and groaning trumpet cries, and `Samba Ohrleck' is an equally stormy and chilled psychedelic shimmer with maniacal spoken-word rantings.

Equal parts dreamlike wander and nightmarish intensity, the near seventeen-minute closer `Mischwesen' is a relentless percussion-driven masterclass of hypnotic power and carefully executed build. Slow to unfold, meandering bass ruminations, droning trumpet wafts and maddening incessant drumming build into a barely restrained storm, Dirk adding a thick layer of brooding electronic washes, ghostly Mellotron choirs and a touch of early Klaus Schulze to his frantically delirious synth soloing.

Any listeners who have witnessed the band grow into the dynamic and mesmerizing Krautrock band that they are today over their last few studio albums will greatly appreciate this comparable and superb live account. While perhaps the band might be overdue for a new live DVD/Bluray, their first since `Live at the Psychedelic Network Festival 2007' a decade ago, `Wrzburg Cairo 2015' is available on both CD and a lavish double LP on Sunhair Records, and it makes for a very fine way to celebrate the first twenty-five years of the group - here's to the next quarter century!

Four stars.

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 The Quiet Before The Storm by ATHELSTONE album cover Studio Album, 2011
2.98 | 17 ratings

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The Quiet Before The Storm
Athelstone Eclectic Prog

Review by andrea
Prog Reviewer

3 stars The Quiet Before The Storm is the debut album by Athelstone, a band formed in Malta in 2010. It was self-released in 2011 with a line up featuring Daniel Cassar (guitars, mandolin, keyboards), Matthew Vella (drums, percussion, vibraphone, glockenspiel, keyboards and Ryan Vella Bonello (bass) plus the guests Dana McKeon (vocals), Fabian Bonello (sax) and Rachel Attard Portughes (cello). Unfortunately, the overall sound quality of this work is not up to the wonderful art cover provided by Julian Mallia that in some way depicts its musical content. It's a completely instrumental work where dreamy, calm sections alternate with raw, nervous passages and where you can find some touches of jazz, bossa nova, math rock, psychedelia and other blended together with gusto. All along the three long pieces of the track list you can listen to some really good ideas but in my opinion at times they are like smothered by an excess of distortion... What a pity! Maybe next time...

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 The Aerosol Grey Machine by VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.26 | 557 ratings

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The Aerosol Grey Machine
Van Der Graaf Generator Eclectic Prog

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Review N 146

Van Der Graaf Generator was formed in 1967 while their members were studying at Manchester University in U.K. The initial trio was comprised by Peter Hammill (vocals and guitars), Nick Pearne (organ) and Chris Judge Smith (drums and wind instruments). In the late of 1969 the band split. But, before that moment, Pearne had already been replaced by Hugh Banton. At the end of 1969 a new version of Van Der Graaf Generator was formed during the recording of an album that was originally intended to be a Peter Hammill's solo release, 'The Aerosol Grey Machine'.

However, 'The Aerosol Grey Machine' wasn't released as a solo Hammill's album and became as the debut studio album of Van Der Graaf Generator and was released in September of 1969. All songs were written and composed by Hammill except 'Black Smoke Yen' which was written and composed by Banton, Keith Ellis and Guy Evans. So, the line up of this album is Peter Hammill (vocals and acoustic guitar), Hugh Banton (backing vocals, piano, organ and percussion), Keith Ellis (bass), Guy Evans (drums and percussion), Jeff Peach (flute) and Chris Judge Smith (vocals on 'Firebrand').

'The Aerosol Grey Machine' always tended to be a little bit an underrated album, as is the case with most debut albums by any progressive rock band. But, especially in this case, and we mustn't forget that we are talking about of one of the most creative bands ever, the real problem is that there's hardly anything groundbreaking on here. So, yeah, this is all really true but if we pay more attention to it, after we took quite a few listens to it, maybe we can appreciate some of its charm. Lyrically, the classic Van Der Graaf Generator's style is already here and somehow all the songs can really rule.

'The Aerosol Grey Machine' has nine tracks. The first track 'Afterwards' is a great song to open this peculiar Van Der Graaf Generator's album. It's a very simple and na've song, very beautiful, one of the most beautiful and simple songs composed by Hammill in his entire, long and fantastic musical career. It's, at my taste, one of the best tracks on this album. The second song 'Orthenthian St, Parts 1 and 2' is a nicely constructed song and is also very interesting. Once more the voice of Hammill is great and I particularly like the way how Evans plays drums on this song. This is also one of my favourite tracks on the album. The third track 'Running Back' is a very peaceful acoustic song with a very simple structure that reminds me very much 'Refugees', the second track of their second studio album 'The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other'. However, this song is much simpler and less interesting than the other. The fourth track 'Into A Game' is also a good song. It's interesting to note that on this song, for the first time, we can feel some energy in the music of the album. This is a song with some musical complexity, with a very interesting bass line, and once more, I like particularly the way how Evans plays drums on this song. The fifth track, the title track, 'Aerosol Grey Machine' is the smallest on the album. It isn't properly a song but is really a joke of the band. The sixth track 'Blake Smoke' is the second smallest song of the album and is an instrumental song. It's a simple song which is a kind of an introduction to the next song. In my opinion, these two songs are unnecessary and could have been perfectly avoided. The seventh track 'Aquarian' is a song with some psychedelic influences and with fantastic and beautiful vocals of Hammill. This is another song with a very interesting bass and drum lines and also with an interesting chorus. It's also another of my favourite songs on the album. The eighth track 'Necromancer' is a very bizarre, obscure and deep song with scary lyrics. This is a song with a superb Hammill's voice and once more it has a good and melodic chorus. I think this is another interesting song. The ninth track 'Octopus' is the most difficult and complex on the album. This is, in my humble opinion, the most typical band's song of this album and also the most eclectic and progressive in its musical structure. It's the most representative song of what would become the future sound of Van Der Graaf Generator.

Conclusion: I can't agree with those who don't consider this album a Van Der Graaf Generator's album. It's true that it was intended to be the first Hammill's solo album and that lacks to it the necessary presence of David Jackson on flute and saxophones. However, this album has, for me, some of the main characteristics of the group. It has the complex, dark and beautiful lyrics of Hammill as also his beautiful, original and unique voice, it has the presence of the fantastic and unique keyboard sound of Banton, it has the original drumming of Evans and it has also the sound of the bass, sadly missing in most of their future works. I think we can compare this album with the debut album of Genesis, 'From Genesis To Revelation' released in the same year. Despite 'The Aerosol Grey Machine' isn't a great album, it's, in my opinion, better than Genesis' album, because we can see on it some progressiveness and a road to follow in their future musical path. So, 'The Aerosol Grey Machine' is a good, na've and a unique album, in their career, very simple and very acoustic. I think it has a single place to be in the musical career of this unique and original progressive rock group.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

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 A Day in the Life of a Universal Wanderer (Special Edition) by GANDALF'S FIST album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.31 | 22 ratings

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A Day in the Life of a Universal Wanderer (Special Edition)
Gandalf's Fist Neo-Prog

Review by The Jester

5 stars This is not a new album; but at the same time, it is! How is that possible? Let me explain'

Once upon a time, Gandalf's Fist was a duo, and with the help of synthesizers, they were doing everything by themselves; plus a drum machine.

In 2013 they released this album, which was a concept one. It was a very good effort, but it needed something more in order to be characterized as a really good album. (Personally speaking, I am usually bothered by the sound of drum machines). But as it seemed, the sales went well, and finally the CD was sold out. So, instead of making a second pressing of the album, they decided to go into the studio and re-record it; and that was a very wise decision! Because the band now is more 'mature' than before, and now they also have a real drummer instead of a drum machine. The addition of Stefan Heppe on drums, improved the band's dynamic a lot without a doubt.

But that's not all. Almost all the songs are improved, a 11-minute-long epic is added, and I think that the production and the mix are better. I am not a studio expert, but this version sounds a lot better to my ears. On the top of everything else, the narration parts between the songs are lovely, and give to the listener a 'massive' feeling. The band decided to repeat the 'recipe' they used in The Clockwork Fable, and they succeeded! Another very important element of the album is that they replaced the keyboard-string parts, with real strings, like Cello and Violin for example.

If you have the 2013 version of this album, you should definitely try this one. It will sound familiar, but at the same time different and better by far. If you don't have the old version, don't even bother to find it. This new one is a wonderful piece of work, starting from the ' new designed ' cover, up to the last detail. I never rated the original version, but I think that I could give something like 3.5 out of 5.0 stars.

As for this version, I think that I will give 4.5 stars.

Favorite songs: The nine billion names of God, Stowaway to the mushroom planet, Somewhere beyond the stars, The battle for Tannhouser gate. (I like almost all the songs in the album, but these are the ones I like the most).

Try this album, you will not regret it!

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