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 Giant For A Day by GENTLE GIANT album cover Studio Album, 1978
2.29 | 430 ratings

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Giant For A Day
Gentle Giant Eclectic Prog

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Review Nº 187

Gentle Giant was never a band with great mass popularity and great record sales. With the arrival of the punk and the new wave by the late of 1976, Gentle Giant saw their popularity and the support of their fan base decrease. Pressed by their record label they decided to change their type of music. A first attempt was made on their previous ninth studio album "The Missing Piece", where they simplified their music and introduced a few songs clearly influenced by pop, punk and new wave. Still, "The Missing Piece" remains an album with many characteristics of the usual band's sound.

However, and especially because the sales of that album, which were very poor, they decided abandon definitely their counterpoint on vocals and their type of music strongly influenced by the classical and medieval sounds. Somehow, certainly they were eluded by the commercial success hoping to increase their fan base. So, it was in that very peculiar context that appears "Giant For A Day" which is generally acknowledged as the lowest point inside the band's career.

Even not the most pop oriented moments of "The Missing Piece" could have prepared anyone for the utterly horrible heap of worthless crap on this album. "Giant For A Day" is just so bad that I still can't believe it. They should just have continued with their own sound, as they would have had their faithful fans anyway and not much would have changed at all. I'm sure that also always was the band's attitude, but pressured from Chrysalis probably caught up with them in the end. But what's even far worse is the shockingly poor material. For a cult band like them, it was a real fatal disaster.

"Giant For A Day" is the tenth studio album of Gentle Giant and was released in 1978. All songs were written by Kerry Minnear, Derek Shulman and Ray Shulman, except "Take Me" written by Derek Shulman and John Weathers and "Friends" written by John Weathers. The album has ten tracks. The first track "Words From The Wise", the song choosen to open the album, is a pop song with nice vocal harmonies, but apart from that it's monotonous and repetitive which has the effect of making the song appears to seem much bigger than it is. I seriously wondered if the record was skipping. The second track "Thank You" is a slow sentimental love song almost acoustic, very simple and is close to a Gentle Giant's folk/pop/rock song. But it's so lame and uninspired as a song possibly can be, and Derek Shulman delivers his weakest vocal performance on the album. The third track "Giant For A Day" is a very strange song that in certain parts reminds me Sparks. It's an upbeat rock song with an interesting guitar line, clearly influenced by the new wave. The final effect isn't too unpleasant at all, really. The fourth track "Spooky Boogie" has a mysterious and experimental beginning that reminds us vaguely the typical Gentle Giant's sound. This is the only reminiscent song that reminds us the goog old times of the band with some good musical instrumental workings. The fifth track "Take Me" is, in my humble opinion, an interesting song. It's a nice pop song with a catchy melody. Sincerely, I don't dislike this song at all. It's a simple and emotional power ballad. The sixth track "Little Brown Bag" is a pop rocker song with good rhythm, some good guitar work and energetic vocals, but, in reality, it's a very vulgar song with nothing special on it. The seventh track "Friends" is the shortest song on the album and is the John Weathers' song. It's strictly a very direct commercial song. It's also a very vulgar song with nothing special on it, like the previous track. The eighth track "No Stranger" is another uninspired commercial pop song very monotonous and repetitive. It's one of the weakest songs on the album without making any positive impression, and consequently, nothing is really satisfactory on this song. It continues the uninspired spiral which makes part of the all album. The ninth track "It's Only Goodbye" is apparently a very nice and interesting love ballad, but unfortunately is incipient and repetitive without any kind of imagination. It isn't a very interesting song too. The tenth and last track on the album is "Rocker Climber", and as the name says, is another rocker song. I don't get excited with this song because is a vulgar and uninspired song, more typical of a pop rock vulgar band than a great band like Gentle Giant are. It's with "Little Brown Bag" the two cheesy rockers on the album.

Conclusion: "Giant For A Day" is a complete fiasco. It's without any kind of doubt a mediocre album and the worst Gentle Giant's studio album. It isn't a really progressive album and hasn't enough quality to be a Gentle Giant's album. It's a bunch of disconnected songs, most of them mediocre, without a guideline, where we have a clear perception that the group doesn't know what to do. It's probably an album that shames the band itself. With this album, Gentle Giant made the big mistake of leaving their unmistakable style of music, which made of them a so special and beloved band. Few progressive bands knew how to change their type of music with some quality and commercial success. In my opinion, only Genesis knew to create good pop songs, especially because Phil Collins is, in my humble opinion, a great pop composer. To finish, we may say that Gentle Giant weren't giants just for one day. They were giants for eight years. So, let us forget and absolve them of "Giant For A Day" and "Civilian", and remember them as the great band they were.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

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 Especially For You by 35007 album cover Studio Album, 1994
2.54 | 20 ratings

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Especially For You
35007 Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by berkaal

1 stars From an Old School prog fan point of view, this album is trash. Too many effects, too much noise, too much confusion. Mix is horrible: drums and bass are submerged by a continuos wooosh of noises that spreads all over the tracks and so they are almost inaudible, just guitar stands out. We could say this album is instrumental, as you can hardly say there is any "sung" track, as there are voices here and there, but can hardly be considered "vocal parts". So, this music is ok for anyone who wants to go down heavily on drugs, or which is already stoned at birth, but if anyone is just looking for music, well, just search elsewhere.

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 The Hidden Man Of The Heart by ROZ VITALIS album cover Studio Album, 2018
4.31 | 55 ratings

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The Hidden Man Of The Heart
Roz Vitalis RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

5 stars So, composer and keyboard player Ivan Rozmainsky is back with the same line-up as last time, except here he has extended his musical travelling even further. The album consists of 14 tracks and lasts 63 minutes. Various keyboards, guitars, bass, drums, flute and trumpet are supplemented by exotic kinds of percussion, mandolin, bass clarinet and even a string quartet! Musically Roz Vitalis are often viewed as being part of the RIO and Avant prog movement, but given that I listen to an incredible amount of RIO these days this now seems quite mainstream to me! At the very heart of the music, as always, is Ivan either providing keyboards or adding the complex simplicity of his piano. With the use of strings and brass on this album, there is an additional depth that may have been missing in the past, but given that I have enjoyed every album of theirs that I have heard I am possibly not really fit to judge too much!

That they are one of the finest progressive bands around at the moment is never in doubt, and each time I play this album I find myself getting totally lost inside its majesty. This album, even more so than their others, takes Ivan much more into the realms of being a modern orchestral composer who knows just want to get from each of the instruments at his disposable,. Creating a seamless piece of music that moves from one movement to the next. I love the way that the violins at the commencement of "Wounded By The Lion and Adder" start in perfect harmony and then lose that togetherness as the song progresses, quite deliberately, before moving into a full string quartet. The unusual combination of memorable/hooking melodies and sophisticated compositional structures with complex system of leitmotivs makes for a very impressive album indeed.

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 Thick As A Brick by JETHRO TULL album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.63 | 3048 ratings

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Thick As A Brick
Jethro Tull Prog Folk

Review by sgtpepper

5 stars This together with Passion's play are Jethro Tull's crowning achievements in the progressive rock catalogue. How does this piece of music fare against other progressive rock masterpieces? First of all, the notion of concept is taken into extreme as there are only two suites, which no other major progressive rock act would dare at the time. The compositional skills are fantastic and the suites very intricate with plenty of changes in rhythm patterns and motives. The guitar and Anderson's voice are omnipresent and trademarks and both unique. I never liked Anderson's voice and singing too much though.

There is less space for soloing than on other peers albums, the instruments are here to add to the atmosphere, colour the concept, show the potential of music complexity and not necessarily to show off. Keyboards are less prominent than on Yes, Genesis, Kansas or Pink Floyd records, mostly serving in the background. Synthesizers would only be used from the next album onwards. The bass and the drums is very decent in the mix and hearable.

Out of the two suites, I slightly prefer the second one, since I like the instrumental sections better. After the first couple of minutes, there is even a doom-metal/rock atmosphere characterized by menacing chords - the sequence will be easily recognized by any My Dying Bride fan ;-).

Overall, it is masterpiece of progressive rock, although I have yet need time to fully appreciate this album and understand it in full details.

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 Alien Love Secrets by VAI, STEVE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1995
3.47 | 47 ratings

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Alien Love Secrets
Steve Vai Prog Related

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

3 stars There is no doubt that Steve Vai is a huge influence for rock guitarists everywhere. There is no doubt that he is one of the greats. He has quite a history including being a part of Frank Zappa's band from 1980 - 1983. He was known by Zappa as the Stunt Guitar man because of his technique and playing of the nearly impossible passages written by Zappa. As a matter of fact, Vai transcribed "The Black Page" before Zappa even knew who he was. Vai sent Zappa a copy of the transcription and Zappa was so impressed he hired him to transcribe most of his music.

Other than this, Vai is mostly known for his solo work even though he has worked with many other bands and artists. Usually, as a rule, I tend to stay away from solo albums that feature guitar players, because they usually end up sounding all the same. Sure they are great to listen to a song at a time, but when they are played together in an album format, they tend to wear out their welcome. I already know you can play that guitar, how about showing us a little variety now and let's see how talented you really are.

This EP is just about the right size as far as I'm concerned for this type of music. Vai gets to show off, which is fine, he has every right to do so. But, with just barely over 30 minutes, this EP does not wear out it's welcome. And Vai even dares to add a little variety while he's at it, so I actually enjoy this album. Guitar greats that do this like Vai, Alan Holdsworth, Eric Clapton, and so on are the ones that dabble in other styles and are not afraid to try out new things. I can listen to these artists because they prove how diverse they are and don't have to rely on one style of music.

The EP starts off with "Bad Horsie" which is a good way to start things, no holds barred Hard Rock. Forget the fact that he can make his guitar sound like a horse, The Osmonds did the same thing back in the 70s. It's much more than that, it's a hard driving heavy metal song that lets out all the stops. The next 2 tracks are pretty much formulaic though and don't have anything unique about them. After this however, we are treated to "The Boy from Seattle", Vai's homage to Hendrix. This is an excellent track, with a completely different style, more bluesy along the lines of Hendrix without trying to be him with a little Stevie Ray thrown in for good measure. "Ya Yo Gakk" is a very innovative and playful number done with Vai's young son. I love this. His son sings and Vai answers back imitating his son with his guitar. "Kill the Guy with the Ball/The God Eaters" starts out fairly straightforward but eventually wanders into a bit of progressive territory but then around the 4:30 mark, things get really interesting for a little while, then the suite moves into more mellow territory when the percussion disappears. Not bad. The last track is a nice jazz-blues number called "Tender Surrender". This is very reminiscent of some of Santana's slower numbers, just with some different tricks. You can also tell that you haven't mistakenly put on a Santana song because it still has Vai's wild signature sound as it moves on.

The EP is nice to listen to on occasion and because there is some variety present, it also makes it more pleasing and not so traditional when it comes to guitar solo albums. There isn't much in the way of progressive rock here, but his technique can be so unique that you almost think you are listening to something progressive. No doubt that Vai is a guitar hero and that he can do more than grind an axe. He is also a master.

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 Concerto Zero : Live 1972/2003 by CAMPO DI MARTE album cover Live, 2003
2.54 | 17 ratings

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Concerto Zero : Live 1972/2003
Campo Di Marte Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by TenYearsAfter

3 stars The Italian five piece formation Campo Di Marte existed between 1971 and 1974 and released an eponymous LP in 1973, considered as a minor gem. In 2003 the band recorded 'live' music in the studio and decided to release it, in combination with a 1972 live recording.

CD 1 is the registration from a concert in Florence, Campo Di Marte plays exciting and dynamic (with hints from Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and Dutch pride Focus) featuring fiery and raw guitar play, swirling work on the flute traverse and floods of Hammond organ. It sounds as typical live Seventies rock/prog, with a lot of room for instrumental interludes and extented soli. The sound quality is at the level of a decent bootleg, so if you don't have a problem with this Campo Di Marte live 1972 turns into an interesting musical experience.

CD 2 is recorded in the studio but played as a 'live concert', in one take. In comparison with CD 1 the sound quality is very good, this is a boost to listen to the powerful and compelling Campo Di Marte sound, alternating between mellow and bombastic.

The interplay between the guitar and organ/piano is exciting, loaded with fiery runs,heavy soli, obviously inspired by the legendary rock guitarists Jimi Hendrix and Jimmy Page. The Italian vocals contain a lot of emotion, I always like the choice for the native language.

The acoustic guitar is wonderfully blended in Back In Time and Otalian Irish, accompanied by soaring flutes.

In Bluesy Rocky the guitar work is outstanding and exciting featuring lots of blistering and biting runs, very compelling, in between a jazzy piano solo.

The lay-out of this 2-CD is beautiful: a digipack with a FOC, each CD contains a small booklet (8 pages with history, lyrics and pictures). The price is at the level of an average 1 CD so the mediocre sound quality of CD 1 cannot be a huge problem.

Like so many Classic Italian Prog bands, here's another strong return to the world of prog, Campo Di Marte is a band with excellent and enthusiastic musicians delivering a varied blend of rock and prog.

My rating: 3,5 star. .

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 Cordon Bleu by SOLUTION album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.98 | 54 ratings

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Cordon Bleu
Solution Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars 3.5 stars. I might prefer this one slightly to their second album "Divergence" but the debut is my favourite by far. The singing on this and "Divergence" drops my ratings in both cases, just not a fan of his voice at all while the debut just had vocals on one track but at least he could sing in a style I liked. There's two great tracks on here though, both all instrumental and both the longest songs on here hence my 3.5 rating. This was released in 1975 and is a Jazz/Rock affair.

"Chappaqua" is one of those two excellent numbers clocking in at 10 1/2 minutes. My hopes were high after my first listen to this one that's for sure. Relaxing organ then sax before it kicks in around a minute including bass and drums. Such a beautiful sound here. It turns jazzy around 2 1/2 minutes and a little more intense. It relaxes again with that sax after 3 1/2 minutes but the drums are busy this time. Nice keyboard sound as well. A change before 5 1/2 minutes as it becomes more intense again. Great sound. The sax is back around 7 1/2 minutes but not for long. The bass and drums really impress. More sax before 10 minutes in this energetic closing section.

"Third Line Part 1" opens with bass and cymbals in this relaxing piece before keys and sax join in. Mellow is the word. It blends into "Third Line Part 2" where the vocals join in and I don't like them. It's ballad-like here although it will build some with drums and organ but it's still very relaxed. The vocals stop before 2 minutes and the sound becomes a little more intense and the tempo picks up. Vocals are back before 4 minutes.

"A Song For You" makes me a little sick to my stomach every time I hear it. A ballad that sounds like it's done with the Reo Speedwagon singer. Yikes! "Whirlgig" is the other track I really like clocking in at around 9 minutes. A mellow start with cymbals, sax and not much more. It kicks in around 1 1/2 minutes, very jazzy but settles back just as fast. Funky bass and a beat as the sax kicks in and synths after 2 minutes. I like this. It settles back again as the tempo continues to shift until that steady jazzy groove arrives. Another calm after 7 minutes before kicking back in late.

"Last Detail Part 1" opens with sax, bass and drums, keyboards too. This is good. Organ just after a minute. Vocals after 1 1/2 minutes unfortunately. "Last Detail Part 2" has the vocals returning quickly and while I like the instrumental parts I'm not into the rest.

"Black Pearl Part 1" has spacey synths with bass, piano and drums then it kicks into gear quickly to an uptempo sound. Organ too then it calms right down with sax. Nice. It blends into "Black Pearl Part 2" as the sax comes in with some power. Vocals replace the sax quickly. Again I like the instrumental parts best. More powerful sax but again it's brief. I'm not a big fan of the sax to end it.

So much excellent music but not a 4 star album in my opinion.

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 Theosis by MOURNING, THE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2018
5.00 | 2 ratings

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Theosis
The Mourning Progressive Metal

Review by rdtprog
Special Collaborator Metal / Heavy / RPI / Symph Prog Team

5 stars The band likes to surprise you with music that covers different moods, from the acoustic passage to the pure jazz section, then a little circus music to spices things up in this metal prog. The music has some great atmosphere with that sax part, that furious and crazy kind of synth part and that funny ending in the song "Heartbeat". The band delivers some great instrumental intro in their songs with some female vocals and some amazing breaks where the pace is never fast for too long. "Storm Clouds Gater" comes at the right place with a beautiful and peaceful atmosphere. The title track is the longest track and shows again the songwriting talent of the band and that they can when they want display some great guitar and keyboard work. This is too short for the music quality. Recommended to a lot of Progressive Rock fans.

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 Alien 4 by HAWKWIND album cover Studio Album, 1995
3.10 | 74 ratings

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Alien 4
Hawkwind Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Hawkwind, the band, until recently, that has been pretty much ignored by the masses, has been around for a lot of years. Even during their best years, during the 70s, not many people paid attention to them. Yet they are one of the pioneers of space rock and psychedelic music. As the band moved through the decades, Dave Brock has been the only constant. On "Alien 4", released in 1995, he has two other band members that he has worked with now for a few years, namely Alan Davey and Richard Chadwick. On this album, they are joined by Ron Tree, who will share lead vocal duties with Dave. Ron had worked with other small time bands and offered his voice for this album. The band also wanted to expand their stage performance to be more visually exciting, which was another reason for recruiting Ron.

This album's concept is mostly about Aliens. There is no cohesive story, just the topic of aliens. Of course, there is a lot of the Hawkwind sound of spacey music and plenty of synthesized and programmed sounds along with enough spacey guitar to keep Hawkwind fans happy. However, I don't think much was done to the sound to win over new fans. Yes there is the new vocalist here, which helps, but his vocals are a little rough for mass appeal. I feel it helps to add some variety to the songs, but other than that, it doesn't contribute much.

"Abducted" opens the album, but isn't really much of a track other than giving an idea as to what is going to be going on here music-wise. "Alien (I Am)" is the real opener here and it harkens back to the early Hawkwind days and gives some hope that this could be a decent album. Even the shorter track "Reject Your Human Touch" is a good follow up to this. However, "Blue Skin" sounds a little cheesy to me and suddenly the band sounds more like a cheap imitation of themselves, almost a satirical imitation and Tree's vocals aren't doing anything to save this album. And this is also a 7+ minute track, so it adds a bit of weight to the album. Things improve a bit on "Beam Me Up" but not enough to make us wonder if we might have a mediocre, if not worse, album on our hands.

"Vega" is a nice instrumental with an ambient feel, but it doesn't move anything forward much. "Xenomorph" has a great guitar hook and is a much more powerful song, even with Tree's rough vocals which actually kind of work here. The last half of this track is instrumental and builds quite well. "Journey" is a substandard instrumental which, while it is heavy enough, just doesn't build off of it's repetitive motif much. "Sputnik Stan" loses credibility at the beginning and end with Tree's vocals, and the words are stupid, but the instrumental break, which takes up a good part of the track, is great, dynamic and exciting, and actually a highlight of the album. "Kapal" is just a boring, repetitive instrumental with some spoken word vocals that are subdued and unintelligible. "Festivals" is more of Tree's punk-ish vocals that are almost completely tuneless in this instance, trying to give it a Sid Vicious style sound but instead it almost sounds like plastic rap during the verses. It is more like singing on the chorus, but the chorus is too simple and his voice just doesn't fit the simplicity very well. At this point, even the instrumental breaks can't save this track.

Three remakes follow, but nothing is really done to improve on them, so they are mostly just useless. Because they are remakes of vintage Hawkwind, they give a little more life to the album, but the originals already served well enough, and you just get the feeling they are added here to help boost interest in the album. Other than that, they don't accomplish anything. The Vinyl and 2010 CD editions contain a bonus track called "Space Sex" which I think was intended to be humorous, but it just comes off sounding dumb.

Overall, there are a few highlights here that prove that Hawkwind has good intentions, but they are few and far between. Tree's vocals might have worked better if they were utilized differently, but the often don't do anything to help given the material. The best part of the album are the instrumental breaks, but the only place they save the entire track is on "Alien (I Am)", "Sputnik Stan" and "Xenomorph". The rest of the album is mediocre or less. The album is okay, but nothing to get excited about.

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 Red by KING CRIMSON album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.54 | 3044 ratings

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Red
King Crimson Eclectic Prog

Review by PinkPangolin

5 stars Hello - I'm back. It's been a long time...! I have just played Red by King Crimson, and I just simply had to come back and write a review... Well.... OOOOAAAHHHHRRRPHHWWFF!! What can you say?? This album is beyond description of how good it is! It feels like Wetton and Bruford grabbed a hold of this and made it one of our masterpieces of all time. Featuring contributions from various members of the past it felt like Crimson were on the road to superstardom. Each track seems to better the last. With each number you think 'how can this get any better?'. And so it closes with 'Starless' ' which has got to win many votes for the greatest progressive rock track of all time. It has everything ' atmosphere, an absolutely stirring vocal melody that Wetton truly delivers, metal, beauty, jazz ' the flippin lot! And then Fripp builds with a most peculiar rising climbing guitar that feels like an eagle rising on a thermal up to the stars ' and then it bursts! In come Collins and MacDonald playing together for perhaps the first time with some of the greatest sax playing you'll ever hear ' what a climax with the melody reprising. You've got to play it LOUD! No wonder Bruford and Wetton wanted MacDonald back in ' they were on the starting block to a world of amazing music. And then' Fripp folded the band ' possibly the most incredibly stupid thing that happened in the history of progressive rock. Ah well'

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 Occupations of Uninhabited Space by OVRFWRD album cover Live, 2018
4.97 | 3 ratings

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Occupations of Uninhabited Space
Ovrfwrd Heavy Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

5 stars When keyboard player Chris Malmgren contacted me to let him know that Ovrfwrd were releasing a new album, recorded live in the studio, I was definitely interested. Recorded and filmed live at Pachyderm Studios in Cannon Falls, MN (Nirvana, Live, PJ Harvey, Soul Asylum) on August 5th and 6th, 2017 it features music from the first two albums ('Beyond the Visible Light', 2015, and 'Fantasy Absent Reason' from 2016) as well as new unreleased music for an album they are currently working on. Chris, along with Rikki Davenport (drums), Mark Ilaug (guitar) and Kyle Lund (bass) have producing some of the best instrumental progressive rock music for a few years now, and it is incredibly to realise that this a live recording as they definitely nail it.

Influence-wise I have previously stated that they combine the likes of King Crimson and Discipline in their music, and give that much of this is taken from their first two albums there is no surprise that this is still the case, but there are times when one thinks that Spock's Beard have had a part to play, or Arena, or Dialeto, while there are times when they bring in fusion and make it centre stage. There is a great deal going on, but the guys never lose focus and there is no room for any meandering as the intent is always clear and there is just no room at all for any vocals! Al four play to their strengths, and while Mark and Chris often are taking the melody leads, the contra-melodies from Kyle and the aggressive attack from Rikki all make the music what it is.

All in all this is an incredibly intense and enjoyable progressive rock album, one that I have no hesitation at all in highly recommending to anyone who enjoys this style of music. I suggest you play the video for 'Unitopia Planitia' and then buy the album.

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 Live at High Voltage 2010 by EMERSON LAKE & PALMER album cover Live, 2010
2.59 | 41 ratings

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Live at High Voltage 2010
Emerson Lake & Palmer Symphonic Prog

Review by judahbenkenobi

2 stars Only recently did I started to look for live footage of ELP and happened to watch a performance of Pictures at an Exhibition so superb and majestic it left me wanting for more.

So the next thing I found was this "farewell" concert. I had my doubts since I have read so many unfavorable reviews for the last three ELP albums that I suspected this would not be even a shadow of ELP's former glory. Still I decided to give it a shot. The result?

I was totally saddened of learning that the final performance of the late Emerson and Lake in their once glorious band was a failure. Of course, you can blame old age and infirmities for a lot of flops, but, hey! Where was these guys dignity?

Emerson looks like he can't hit two notes without making a mistake, Lake looks like he simply forgot how to play a stringed instrument (not to mention his awful presence on stage... and who told him to put his guitar aside on The Sage? The guy looks ridiculous!), and Palmer... Well he seems to be the only one actually trying to play nice while having fun at it.

The whole performance goes off-beat and off-key so many times it feels like the guys hadn't rehearsed a single note in 30 years. Some bands have atrociously rehashed, rerecorded and overdubbed whole tracks before releasing live material, and I find that to be disrespectful to fans and costumers, but in this case I would have preferred that to witnessing the final act of a decadent artistic life of a band I like so much.

Although the setlist was passable why include an ELPowell track when they had plenty of acceptable ELP material? That is beyond my understanding

Sadly I cannot concede more than two stars for this

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 Jazz Rock (aka Volkor) by VOLKOR album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.04 | 4 ratings

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Jazz Rock (aka Volkor)
Volkor Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars 3.5 stars. This is one of those albums I want to give 4 stars to just for the lineup alone but my tastes and conscience won't let me. We get former WEIDORJE members Kirt Rust(drums) & Patrick Gauthier(moog) along with Didier Lockwood(violin) who played with MAGMA along with Gauthier of course. Didier's brother Frances plays piano and Bunny Brunel is on bass. The music here is not Zeuhl in the slightest but is just as the album's title says "Jazz Rock". While I like the violin as more as a different shade you could say to the music it is quite dominant here and that's my issue. Especially when Didier is playing slowly over top of the music. The piano and drums really don't standout that much to me but the bass is quite impressive along with the synths. This was released in 1976 by the way.

"To-Morrow" is the 2 1/2 minute opener and that chunky bass is impressive before the violin and synths trade off over top. "Astral Trip" opens with electric piano, bass, drums and shakers as the violin comes in. A relaxed piece but the tempo does pick up around 1 1/2 minutes. Some nice drum work here then the e-piano leads after 2 1/2 minutes as the violin steps aside. The bass leads a minute later as the electric piano stops. It's pretty much bass and drums here with moog. The electric piano is back after 4 1/2 minutes though as it settles then violin.

"Elbow" has a bass intro as the drums and percussion join in, moog too. Violin after a minute. Gotta love that bass as the violin solos slowly over top after 2 minutes. Electric piano joins in as well half way through. "What's The Matter" is a short relaxing piece but the moog gives it an experimental sound.

"Volkor" is jazzy with bass, drums along with violin and moog. The violin starts to solo slowly over top. I like the synths when they take over as the violin stops around 2 minutes in. Prominent bass then moog kick back in. The violin is back around 4 1/2 minutes soloing slowly over top. Electric piano later. "Yellow Faces" is mainly bass and drums before the violin comes in.

"Green" has throbbing bass lines with drums as the violin comes in over top. Moog to the fore after 2 minutes as the violin steps aside but it's back before 3 minutes. "Naita" opens with electric piano for about a minute before the violin takes over. The e-piano is back in this laid back closer. It does pick up after 3 1/2 minutes but not for long.

Just not enough variety and too much violin I suppose. A good album regardless.

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 Science Fiction - A Compendium Of Space Soundtrax by SUN DIAL album cover Studio Album, 2018
3.00 | 1 ratings

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Science Fiction - A Compendium Of Space Soundtrax
Sun Dial Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Rivertree
Special Collaborator PSIKE Team & Band Submissions

— First review of this album —
3 stars Now this one showcases a project spanning more than 20 years, a long term plan to release a collection of space themed soundtracks. Some excerpts from the SUN DIAL repertoire already have been in demand for various film and television soundtracks in the past. The twelve songs given are equally applicable for sure. The album indicates a move to a progressive electronics project, of course with Gary Ramon as the head. And so, without having any liner notes at hand yet, this seems to be a solo works more or less, probably with additional support by longtime companion Scorpio. The twelve tracks are relatively short when speaking of prog terms, except the CD bonus track nothing is crossing the five minute running time here.

You may like to disappear into some relaxed and dreamy space stuff from time to time? Then you're on the right track here. A vintage kraut and psychedelic pop appeal is evident all over. Electronics are dominating, including drums and bass, in most cases at least. But this is also nicely spiked with organ, mellotron, acoustic guitar and sitar now and then. Ramon harmonizes krautish hypnotic beats and catchy melodies in a remarkable manner. A beneficial addition to the Sulatron Records back catalogue. Available on vinyl or compact disc, on the latter occasion equipped with my personal highlight, the extended version of Hangar 13. 3.5 stars.

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 Elements by GLOVER, ROGER album cover Studio Album, 1978
4.15 | 4 ratings

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Elements
Roger Glover Prog Related

Review by WFV

4 stars It took me many years after discovering my musical tastes to realize how important Deep Purple is in the history of recorded rock music. I wasn't born until they had been around for ten years and I'm from the USA, so being raised on classic rock radio only meant I heard Smoke on the Water and Hush. 1996 Dazed and Confused movie soundtrack had Highway Star on it. I had bought their debut album as a pirated CD at a Big Lots store in high school for $1.99, which was really good but not earth shattering.

Still, it wasn't until much later I heard "Child in Time" on the radio and said "This is AWESOME" "Who is this"? that I dug deeper and found out they have four albums that are put right up there with the best material of the period, music that shaped the face of heavy metal on par with Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath (stalwarts on classic rock radio in my area).

Then I started working with a guy in his fifties and we started talking music. He was an enormous Deep Purple fan, he had all their US released CD's, a bunch of imported bootlegs and solo material from the band members. I tried the Ian Gillan Band first, Clear Air Turbulence is fantastic. I argued with the guy (Kelly is his name) that is actually a funk record. I never would have discovered that album if it wasn't for him, I'm grateful.

I'm also grateful he turned me on to Roger Glover, calling him the "invisible talent" in the band. Elements is a prog/funk/disco/rock/ambient/symphonic tour de force, focusing on the four elements (fire, water, wind, earth) and utilizing to great effect the talents of the Munich Philharmonic.

Elements really is an outlier album in the history of progressive rock and it deserves more exposure among its fans. The second song on Side A, in all of it's King Crimson glory, should appeal to all fans of true prog. My favorite is the light and airy The Fourth Ring's With the Wind. That track has been on repeat in my player many times.

I'm surprised this one hasn't gotten more run, but I'm glad knowing when I listen to it Kelly and I are probably the only people doing so within a thousand mile radius in either direction. A solid four stars.

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 Rituel by BOFFO, JEAN-PASCAL album cover Studio Album, 1988
4.55 | 15 ratings

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Rituel
Jean-Pascal Boffo Prog Related

Review by WFV

5 stars What a treat it has been to listen to this record.

It's always fun to dive into new artists and find new nuggets. This nugget from 1988 (!) is pure prog with long instrumental symphonic passages mixed with slower, more pastoral sections featuring flute and other winds. The music flows with epic grace and stands toe to toe with the best prog out there. The discerning ear can definitely tell this album is from the '80's but it's not overly saturated sterility. This is organic prog that holds the listener and engages until the very end. The first three movements of the title track are a certain highlight, the first side is nearly flawless and the five minute closer "Sacrifice" is very potent as well, my favourite track on a killer record.

I'm not ultra familiar with this artist but I'm looking forward to becoming more acquainted over the years. Most of his releases aren't pure prog, but on Rituel Prog fans of all kinds will find a lot to like. 4.5 rounded up because it's from the eighties - this album is worthy of high esteem

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 The Second Hand by ANUBIS album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.86 | 141 ratings

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The Second Hand
Anubis Neo-Prog

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

4 stars Following their trend of releasing a new album every three years, once again Australia's neo-proggers ANUBIS continue the tradition by following up 2014's "Hitchhiking To Byzantium" with their fourth studio album THE SECOND HAND and in the process create another testament to a classic sounding progressive rock album steeped in the neo-prog traditions. Like most neo-prog albums and certainly so for ANUBIS, THE SECOND HAND is yet another concept album, this one about an aging media mogul named James Osbourne-Fox who becomes paralyzed after a traumatic brain injury only to contemplate the overall emptiness of his previous corporate lifestyle as he is forced to ponder the deeper complexities of the universe. In the vein of their earlier albums, this one too incorporates many sound samples that fit into the overall thematic scheme of things such as noises you'd hear at the stock market on Wall Street.

New to the band is bassist Anthony Stewart who takes over the position that lead vocalist Robert Moulding handled on the previous album thus upping the band roster up to six but once again there are many guest appearances that include three singing vocalists as well as a whole bunch of guest spoken word vocalists. Once again ANUBIS deliver the neo-prog goods with nine cleverly crafted tracks that take their time to let the thematic journey unfold with their brilliant lyrical prose coupled with the musical passages that utilize addictively catchy hooks that are all teased out with the appropriate dynamic shifts and intensity battles between soft and contemplative to more rockin' moments of ecstasy. The band seem to have gotten a new sense of confidence as they are tighter than ever with impeccable tightness and Robert Moulding sounds as if he's on the top of his game with some of the most confident vocal performances of his career.

One of the unique aspects of THE SECOND HAND is that the 3-part multi-suite and "These Changing Seasons" serves more as transitions that appear between other tracks and do not occur in the expected linear fashion. The two behemoth tracks on board are the near ten minute "While Rome Burns" and the near seventeen minute "Pages Of Stone," each unleashing ANUBIS' full potential that shows them more following in the footsteps of their first two albums rather than the third but still manage to create enough stylistic shifts as not to sound like they are merely retreading although let's face it. This is a formulaic neo-prog sound that fails to tread new grounds and unapologetically relies on the the tried and true formulaic approach that utilizes the steady flow of soft and heavy passages with instrumental workouts centered on Moulding's vocal deliveries. However, when it's done this well, no innovating experiments need apply.

THE SECOND HAND may come off as just another neo-prog album in the greater scheme of things but it is performed beautifully and with Moulding delivering his most diverse vocal performances of his career, it all comes together beautifully with spacey Pink Floyd atmospheric touches swirling around gentle acoustic guitar, extraordinary drumming and the modern day neo-prog trend of heavy rock guitar outbursts. As with all these sorts of albums, you really don't have to focus on the theme at all but rather can simply enjoy the music as it goes through the many strong compositions that balance all the elements superbly. While it may not deviate significantly from previous albums, something about THE SECOND HAND gives it a unique flavor albeit subtle but most importantly is that the album is rather consistent in that no weak filler track permeates the inner circles therefore no derailment of enjoyment occurs. Another strong release in the ANUBIS canon.

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 Zarathustra by MUSEO ROSENBACH album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.30 | 784 ratings

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Zarathustra
Museo Rosenbach Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by TenYearsAfter

5 stars 'The most glorious Mellotron eruption in progrock history!'

In the early 90s I got in touch with Spanish proghead Angel Romero, due to an increasing dust allergy he had to sell his very rare vinyl prog collection. I bought a bunch of Spanish prog and showed Angel his list to a fellow vinyl prog collector. He got very excited and asked me to order Zarathustra by Museo Rosenbach ASAP. Unfortunately it turned out that meanwhile two Japanese had bought his entire collection. My friend almost in tears, he had just missed the Holy Grail on vinyl. But I was put on the trail of this Classic Italian Prog gem: soon after I read the new Syn-Phonic catalogue, noticed euphoric words about Museo Rosenbach, bought the Contempo CD reissue and shared his euphoric words during my first listening session.

For me the epic titletrack is a perfect example why 'symphonic' rock became a sub-genre of progressive rock, all elements of the word 'symphony' have been put into this highly acclaimed composition: a running time of 20 minutes, five parts with contrasting shifting moods and a returning theme, melodic and harmonic interplay between several instruments, a build-up and a sumptuous grand finale. To me Museo Rosenbach sounds like a five- piece symphonic rock orchestra.

1. Zarathustra : The titletrack starts with soaring Mellotron flutes as the theme, then swelling drums and a sumptuous outburst featuring majestic Mellotron violins, welcome to the realm of Museo Rosenbach their epic masterpiece Zarathustra. From now on it's 20 minutes flowing shifting moods, from mellow to bombastic and from slow rhythms to accellarations and up-tempo beats, the theme is wonderfully blended in these different climates. And topped with great Italian vocals, with a wide range and loaded with emotion. The one moment dreamy with twanging electric guitar, a tender voice and soft Hammond. The other moment bombastic with propulsive guitar riffs and dynamic drums. In between a few accellarations that increase the huge tension between the mellow and bombastic parts.

The Mellotron is omnipresent, with the flute - and violin section, this unsurpassed vintage keyboard colours this composition in the best tradition of early King Crimson.

In the final part the build-up is breathtaking and one of the most compelling and exciting moments in progrock history, IMHO. First a fiery guitar with lush Hammond and floods of Mellotron violins, in combination with an outstanding, very dynamic rhythm-section. Then the music slows down with gradually more powerful drums and an awesome Mellotron violin sound. This culminates in a mindblowing grand finale featuring the theme in a bombastic eruption: howling electric guitar runs and glorious Mellotron violins, topped with excellent work from the rhythm-section, this is Symphonic Rock Heaven, a triple layer of goose bumps!

Next the three tracks (between 4 and 9 minutes) that complete this album: the climates are varied, again we can enjoy a tension between the mellow and bombastic parts, a dynamic rhythm-section, wonderful work on keyboards and strong Italian vocals.

2. Degli Uomini (4:01) : This song alternates between mellow with a soaring Mellotron violin sound and a mid-tempo rhythm with powerful guitar riffs and lush Hammond, the emotional Italian vocals add an extra dimension. Often early Genesis come to my mind.

3. Della Natura (8:24) : Excellent interplay between the powerful drums, lush Hammond and swinging piano. Halfway subtle work on the vibraphone and in the end a fiery electric guitar, the Italian vocals are wonderful.

4. Dell'Eterno Ritorno (6:15) : Lots of changing climates with a very tasteful and varied keyboard sound (Hammond, Mellotron, Minimoog). And finally a strong build up and wonderful grand finale featuring fat Minimoog flights, emotional vocals and lush Hammond, very compelling.

This album is one of the highlights in Classic Italian Prog, and the epic titletrack can compete with the epics from legendary Seventies Progrock bands, not to be missed by Mellotron loving symphomaniacs.

Pretty often PA change the amount of two social comments into zero, so it is really two, even one from a band member.

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 Ayreon Universe : Best of Ayreon Live by AYREON album cover DVD/Video, 2018
4.31 | 14 ratings

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Ayreon Universe : Best of Ayreon Live
Ayreon Progressive Metal

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

4 stars 'Universe' - Ayreon (78/100)

As I first opened up Ayreon's Universe, slipped in the disc and pressed play, I came to the halting realization: I've been a fan of this band now for over ten years. Ten years. That may not be such a long time in the grand scheme, but looking at the way my taste in music has warped and changed in the time since, it's really something to behold that Ayreon's music still holds up as the progressive metal par excellence I remembered it as. I know it's actually been quite a bit longer than ten years too, but it's 2008 that stands out as my personal "year of Ayreon." I can still distinctly remember counting down the weeks until 01011001 was released, with the sort of naive enthusiasm that's only possible when you're fifteen years old and still new to the deeper end of the music pool. I remember reading announcements of the CD release party happening half a planet away in Tilburg (if memory serves) and trying to concoct some wild scheme to raise money enough to make it there in person. Music has remained a central motivating force in my life, but I do miss the days when I'd get hooked on a band like that.

In that sense, Universe feels very much like a sort of homecoming for me as a listener-- and that's not even touching on the significance it must have for everyone involved, not least of all Arjen himself. Universe feels both like a retrospective of Ayreon's career and one of its most triumphant moments all at once. Seeing music live tends to have that effect, but the demanding scope of the material has had the effect of keeping live appearances rare. Between scope and rarity; there's two reasons why Universe (but more importantly the event it captured) feels larger-than-life.

I won't delay with the obvious. Yes, Ayreon's Universe sounds fantastic. The performances are incredible across the board. Most important of all, the rock opera bombast on display really owes itself to a live setting. "Larger than life" in the studio sounds larger still on a theatre stage. There wasn't a lot invested in playing out the story action. Nonetheless you can tell the ensemble's confident enough to have some fun with it; Mike Mills' loopy role as MC comes to mind as a case of good humour in an undertaking that could very well have taken itself too seriously. Who could blame them if they had? Over a hundred people were reportedly involved in the production. There wasn't a ton of precedent to lean on outside the pilot Theater Equation from a couple years back. I've always been boggled by the amount of planning, networking and logistics that must be involved in recording an Ayreon album; that challenge rockets up an exponential curve in a case like this where it's all coming together in a single place and time.

I'm not sure how much distinction there should be made between Ayreon Universe, and the shows. As for the shows themselves, they turned out incredibly, and as much as I enjoy Universe I burn with envy for all those who got to see it in the flesh. I stand by the thinking that the Universe shows will go down as a bold- fonted chapter in the band history. The DVD release itself is competent in all the ways that matter, but lacks the jaw-dropping effect in of itself as a frame for the magic it captured. The visual direction and film editing feels bog- standard for a concert DVD, and the documentarian second disc disappointingly boils down to the sort of mutually congratulatory talking heads segments you get in every special features disc-- not the piercing Ayreon documentary I might have hoped for. The sound design and mixing are immaculate, but that was never in doubt to begin with.

I think Ayreon made the right choice in casting a wide net across all albums. Most of their songs work great as standalones anyway. The fact remains that they had a lot of excellent material to select from; I could repeat saying this because it's as much a burden as a boon to Universe. There were always going to be subjective essentials left off. But for whatever tunes with high stage potential left omitted, like "Journey on the Waves of Time" and "Carried By the Wind", there are bangers like "River of Time" to set things straight. My love of 01011001 was reaffirmed watching Hansi Kursch come on stage. Better still, the live setting breathed a new appreciation for the material on Actual Fantasy and The Theory of Everything; the two Ayreon records I had never been more than "meh" about. I've since returned to them and found new angles I hadn't quite heard before. Funny how live albums can do that.

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 Albedo 0.39 by VANGELIS album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.68 | 165 ratings

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Albedo 0.39
Vangelis Prog Related

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Albedo 0.39 is the rating of the sun's light reflected off of the planet Earth. That means it reflects 39% of the sunlight it receives back into space. This is based off of a scale that an albedo of 1.00 (or 100%) means that all of the light received from the sun is reflected back into space. This concept of space physics provides the title of Vangelis' follow up album ('Albedo 0.39') to his highly lauded 'Heaven and Hell' album. Where the previous album was classically inspired, this album is more inspired by modern music, thus it gives it a different feel. The album just feels more like an electronic album, which is what the intent was. The concept of this album are all based around science, more specifically, space physics. All of the instruments are played by Vangelis, both electronics and acoustics including drums.

'Pulstar' is a very upbeat track which centers around a pulsing synthesizer. A melody is introduced and the music builds upon that with other synthesized sounds. The melody is catchy and easy to remember, and drives the song all the way through. The clearness of the chimes is very nice as it builds, giving things a nice sparkly sound, and the hard synthesizer hits throughout create tension and the short counter melodies keep things interesting. Layers ebb and flow creating some very cool sounds. This track ends abruptly and goes into the next track 'Freefall' with a recording of a speaking clock. A Gamelan creates the main melody here along with a synth that accompanies the melody note for note. Other counter melodies are created with other synths. This track is much more pensive and quiet than the previous one with subdued percussive sounds, and has an oriental sound to it. 'Mare Tranquillitatis' is the next track inspired by the lunar formation. It is a short track with spacey sounds and moon landing transmissions.

'Main Sequence' has a fast pulsing synth as the base with a very non-typical percussion pattern. This one is probably the most progressive track on the album. What sounds like improvisation comes from one synth while jazz chord progressions go on with another. This all finally ends about 2 minutes before the track is over and the remaining time is rather ambient, but eventually ends with a major chord progression. 'Sword of Orion' is another short track just over two minutes. It's a nice melody over the top of a broken chord, but it kind of meanders around. 'Alpha' takes a beautiful simple melody and simply builds layer upon layer adding different sounds and instruments. This will later become Vangelis' trademark sound, and is probably one of the styles he is best at. It is the same style that you hear in his most popular music including 'Chariots of Fire'. Very nice track, and a nice break from the dischord and dissonance that have appeared in other tracks on this album, and well placed in the track order.

I like the fact that Vangelis used both synthesizer and standard instruments on this album, it really gives this electronic music a lot of depth. This is very apparent in the two parts of 'Nucleogenesis' as he utilizes an organ to start things off, then adds in synths, drums and other instruments throughout. This suite is also very progressive and dramatic, with tricky rhythms and interesting melodies. Very well orchestrated throughout both parts, but Part 2 is a more structured sound, more predictable, and more repetitive, so I find Part 1 to be the better of the two because it is more progressive. However, Part 2 does take a strange turn towards the last part of the track and then returns to form before the end. 'Albedo 0.39' the title track, is a reading of Earth facts. Synths ebb and swirl around the narration. Then 'Albedo 0.39' is repeated over and over until the voice fades and the synths continue. It might be interesting, but not so much in a musical sense. Kind of a flat way to end what is otherwise a good album.

Kudos to Vangelis for exploring different musical avenues and ideas and not resting on his successful 'Heaven and Hell' classical style. He would continue to explore new ideas, and also expanding on the sound that made him popular. He would also author many soundtracks, some of them being 5 star recordings. This album is not his best, but it is still excellent, even with a few weak moments. The good points definitely outweigh the bad on this one.

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 Grimspound by BIG BIG TRAIN album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.98 | 365 ratings

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Grimspound
Big Big Train Crossover Prog

Review by wiz_d_kidd

2 stars Shortly after Grimspound came out, Big Big Train seemed to be the talk of the town. I couldn't click on a prog website without stumbling across news or raving reviews. A friend of mine recommended them, so I took a listen. Sorry to say, I just don't get what all the hype is about.

Overall, this album is not bad. In fact, it is just fine. It just fails to provide (me) with anything that is especially interesting, captivating, or moving. Let's look at some different aspects:

Aside from one instrumental piece, all of the tracks seem to share the same basic construction... play some introductory music, stop playing music and start singing, stop singing and start playing music, repeat several times. Then in the middle of the track, shift gears into a completely different mood.

I'm not a big fan of the either/or trade-off between groovy music and vocals. I like both at the same time. I find it more enjoyable when the band plays and the vocalist sings together, as one entity, not two separate entities trading time in the spotlight.

I'm also not a big fan of abrupt changes in mood, as if a new track has started. It really ruins the mental and emotional picture I established earlier in the song. It's kind of like a novel changing from a murder mystery to sci-fi fantasy half way through. It almost never makes sense.

So what about the quality of the vocals? I find them adequately average. They are pleasant enough, with no unnecessary melismatic runs or annoying note-seeking glides, but they are also of limited dynamic and spectral range. No faults or annoying habits, but nothing to write glowing reviews about, either. However, my ears perked up with interest when the female vocals started, and again when several vocalists harmonized together, but those instances were too few and far between.

And what of the music? There were plenty of musical interludes, and every so often a synth, or mellotron, or Hammond organ would chime in, but not for very long. There was occasional guitar presence, and lots of violin (which I love in prog music), but it was all very restrained, anti-climactic, and non-captivating. And despite enjoying Nick D'Virgilio in other settings, his drumming was constrained to basic background time-keeping. It was almost as if the band were trying their best to purposely restrain themselves. I kept wishing they would unshackle themselves and just let loose. I think they have the chops to do so, and the fact that they didn't (for whatever reason) was disappointing.

Overall, I would say that the album reminded me of a painting of a bowl of fruit on a table. Adequately executed, but lacking anything intriguing, interesting, stimulating, thought provoking, emotional, or adventurous. Worth a look, but nothing to dwell on. And while the artist(s) seemed to have the talent to paint a much more interesting picture, they failed to do so on this one. Two and a half stars.

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 Leave No Star Unturned by HAWKWIND album cover Live, 2011
3.62 | 18 ratings

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Leave No Star Unturned
Hawkwind Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars On the 27th January 1972, the Cambridge Corn Exchange hosted the Six Hour Technicolour Dream, a true feast of what was at the point the cutting edge of underground psychedelic space rock in the UK. Pink Fairies were on the bill, along with an outfit called the Last Minute Put Together Boogie Band which included ex-Fairies drummer Twink playing with special guests Fred Frith (soon to gain wider attention once Henry Cow finally got their debut album out) and Syd Barrett (post-Pink Floyd and his solo albums, pre-distressing weight gain and eyebrow-shaving).

And rounding out the offerings was a set from Hawkwind, at the time a comparatively new band - remember, they'd only put out their debut and In Search of Space at this point in time. With Lemmy having recently arrived, the band had clearly already settled into the ultra-heavy groove which would culminate in Space Ritual at the end of the year. Various bootlegs and releases of debatable official status have claimed to offer cuts from the Cambridge Corn Exchange gig over the years, but these have mostly been mislabellings. (Various reissues under various titles of the old Text of Festival recordings from 1970 and 1971 are particularly to blame for this.)

Happily, as the included booklet with the CD release explains, Leave No Star Unturned is the real deal. A partial recording of the set was unearthed in 1985, and later on tapes discovered in 2005 completed the picture. The tidying- up by EMI is really top-notch, with sound quality more or less equalling that of, say, the BBC session from the same year, and at points approaching Space Ritual quality. (Of all the 1972 sets that have had official releases, the Greasy Truckers Party probably is a notch lower quality in terms of sound, perhaps due in part to the technical problems captured on the recording).

So, if you dig the sound of live Hawkwind from this era (and a good many people can't get enough of it), Leave No Star Unturned is a great pick,. I wouldn't quite put it on the level of Space Ritual, but it's dang close, and includes the additional interest of a version of Silver Machine on which Robert Calvert takes the lead vocals - rather than Lemmy as would customarily become the case once the Lemmy-fronted single became the unexpected monster hit that it was.

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 Opal by EMBRYO album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.79 | 64 ratings

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Opal
Embryo Jazz Rock/Fusion

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

4 stars Out of all the bands that emerged out of Germany from the big bang of progressive rock developing during the late 1960s, EMBRYO has sustained itself throughout the decades into the modern day mostly due to its being a musical collective that has seen over 400 members come and go throughout the years with Christian Burchard serving as the founder and driving force, however much of this longevity also comes from it having emerged as one of the most creative and versatile bands that has been filed under the umbrella term Krautrock. While that label more often than not connotes some sort of psychedelic mind bending qualities (Amon Duul II, Exmagma, Guru Guru) prevalent in the music, it also covers the heavier blues oriented rock bands with progressive touches (Birth Control, Electric Sandwich), the more electronic oriented artists with rock elements (Kraftwerk, Neu!) as well as the jazz-fusion crowds such as Eiliff, Brainstorm and Out Of Focus.

EMBRYO stood out in that it pretty much tackled all of the above with not only a heavy emphasis on jazz-rock but also managed to slip in healthy doses of 60s infused psychedelia, traces of blues oriented rock, electronic atmospheric ambience and went even further by tackling a wide variety of the world music stock by incorporating many styles of ethnic music. The tale of Munich based EMBRYO actually had its origins as far back as the mid-1950s when multi-instrumentalist Christian Burchard began his eclectic musical origins at the tender age of 10 after meeting his childhood friend percussionist Dieter Serfas. Eventually they formed their first band Contemporary Trio in 1964 and when the two parted ways, Burchard would finally create his dream band EMBRYO in 1969 as he was riding the wave of the progressive rock trends that were emerging at breakneck speed. The initial lineup consisted of Burchard (drums, vocals), Ralph Fischer (bass, vocals), Edgar Hofmann (saxophone, flute, percussion) and John Kelly (guitar, vocals). In addition to these core musicians there are also four guest musicians playing cello as well as backing vocals.

The original band arrangement wouldn't last long and would only play together on this debut album OPAL, which gives album #1 a very unique overall sound in the vast canon of EMBRYO's eclectic output. Even right from the start EMBRYO stood out in the pack of the Krautrock scene with a keen musical vision already polished to near perfection as they delivered tight jazz-rock compositions with African percussive drive and plenty of throwbacks to the most kosmsiche representations of the German psychedelic scene. OPAL deftly straddles the line between the psychedelic aspects of Amon Duul II type of Krautrock with that same heavy bass driven groove as heard on their first two albums "Phallus Dei" and "Yeti," yet incorporates a seriously fierce delivery of not only post-bop driven jazz but also the more avant-garde sax frenzied touches ("Glockenspiel") of what Ornette Coleman created all throughout the 60s. The tracks keep a fairly busy high-powered tempo with nice chord changes and instrumental tightness that was above average for many bands of the era in the Krautrock world.

While most tracks are instrumental there are brief moments of vocals (in English) such as on the opening title track but are usually semi-spoken in dramatic poetic prose rather than bursting into fully-fledged singing but soulful outbursts of singing do occur ("You Don't Know What's Happening" for example.) Needless to say, the vocals are not the strong point and hint to a clear Can connection however the music itself is much more dynamically performed with a strong emphasis on a heavy busy groove with lots of jazzy touches alongside various ethnic influences ranging from the African percussive drive to the rather Middle Eastern touches on the closer "People From Out The Space." While EMBRYO would go on to develop even more sophisticated albums and become one of the most revered and well known of the German bands that outlasted the majority of its contemporaries, this first offering that finds itself more rooted in the 60s heavy psych scene is quite the treat itself as there are no weak tracks but rather one grooviliscious ethnic jazz jam after another. While this seems to be the more neglected origins of EMBRYO's nascency, i find this one to be quite exciting.

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 Todd Rundgren's Utopia by UTOPIA album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.13 | 234 ratings

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Todd Rundgren's Utopia
Utopia Eclectic Prog

Review by WFV

4 stars Prog pomp at it's most preposterous.

This album is in your face, no holds barred prog. It's like Rundgren and his crew are literally trying to break new ground with their instrumental attack, but to my ears they only dig themselves deeper in the hole of their own creation. I'm no Rundgren fanatic, in fact I'm really only familiar with Something/Anything, and of course Bang the Drum all day. So I've let him sit, marinating, for the right time to get acquainted. I've heard Todd referred to as a rock and roll maverick, which I like the sound of.

Still It's hard for me to get over judging him based on hearing Hello It's Me in the dentist office when I was ten or so. One listen to that song and it was obvious to me Todd is a pop master - that melody always stuck with me after thirty years. Of course it's not prog so I really want to judge his material on it's own merits without bias.

I'm not sure of his ambitions as a progster though. I think this album embodies half of what prog was developed upon - grandeur. A sound bigger than a sextet. The first track is really good prog, the second Freak Parade is a highlight for me, to me it sounds like a solid Frank Zappa song from that period with Todd Rundgren on vocals. Freedom Fighter is just there and the Ikon is a manufactured overblown epic that rivals any other prog song in pomp factor. I can definitely see how some out there think it is the greatest epic in history but I think it's required prog listening albeit an exercise in over the top.

The definition of a three star album for me in my collection, but required listening at some point for any serious prog fan out there. Obviously Todd Rundgren is a big name in the music biz and that lends legitimacy to this record that many one off prog albums don't have.

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 Safety In Numbers - 21st Century Redux by CRACK THE SKY album cover Studio Album, 2007
4.12 | 11 ratings

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Safety In Numbers - 21st Century Redux
Crack The Sky Heavy Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Maybe I'm at a disadvantage here as this is the first time I've ever heard music by this band but I was left very much underwhelmed. The original "Safety In Numbers" was released some 30 years prior to this 2007 release but not with their original singer so he's back on vocals here as they removed his replacements singing plus they spruced it up I understand along the way. Three tracks here weren't on the original but were recorded during that time, just left off. I picked this up mainly because it seems most like this "redux" over the original. I maybe should have checked out their debut first but it having been named album of the year back then by Rolling Stone Magazine certainly doesn't make me run out and buy it.

The first two tracks had my attention and I was thinking I had something really good here. "Safety In Numbers" opens with strummed guitar before it turns fuller with clapping before settling back with vocals. A full sound on the chorus. A pretty good opener. "Lighten Up McGraw" is my favourite by far. I like the sound of the guitar in the intro as it starts and stops before kicking in. Nice. Vocals follow. I like the drums and bass as well. The best part is that instrumental section after 3 minutes as the guitar lights it up.

I'm not going to say much about the rest because I don't like to be insulting but "Nuclear Apathy" isn't bad at all but I found as the album played out I got less interested. The three tracks left off the original probably shouldn't have been added here although that's just my opinion. I am amused with "Jungle Man Lonely" though for some reason(haha). I was surprised how much the vocals and harmonies on "Flashlight(Of Love)" reminded me of SPOCK'S BEARD just not as good.

A low 3 stars as I'm just into commercial sounding music although there is one proggy track in my opinion. This just doesn't suit my poor tastes I guess.

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 Zones by HAWKWIND album cover Live, 1983
2.32 | 34 ratings

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Zones
Hawkwind Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

2 stars This is a weird old odds-and-sods collection from Hawkwind. Side 1 comes from two sources in December 1980 - the Lewisham Odeon gig gives us Dust of Time (misnamed here as The Island) and Motorway City, whilst the three preceding tracks (or rather, two tracks plus a brief intro) were recorded in a mobile studio in the same month. Flip over to side B, and we've jumped forward two years to an October gig on the Choose Your Masques tour.

Whilst this might have been useful when Zones first came out, subsequent releases have left it entirely redundant. Though not from the same gig, Coded Languages gives us a full live set from the 1982 tour recorded somewhat after side B here, and incorporating all of its material. Meanwhile, the 3CD rerelease of Levitation includes the most complete version of the Lewisham 1980 gig yet, including live runthroughs of the two studio pieces here (Running Through My Back Brain and Dangerous Vision) which are more than satisfactory substitutes for the studio material here.

Still, the album cover is very pretty.

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 This is Hawkwind - Do Not Panic by HAWKWIND album cover Live, 1984
3.32 | 30 ratings

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This is Hawkwind - Do Not Panic
Hawkwind Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Don't let the cover of This Is Hawkwind - Do Not Panic deceive you; only the last two tracks actually hail from Hawkwind's 1984 performance at the Stonehenge Free Festival. The remainder all come from a December 1980 concert at the Lewisham Odeon on the Levitation tour - hence the presence of Ginger Baker on drums. That material is solid, though you only get extracts from the concert here. (Other bits would emerge on the Hawkwind Anthology series and on the Zones collection of odds and sods.) If you are interested in that concert, I'd say you are much better off getting the 3CD expanded rerelease of Levitation, since the two bonus CDs there offer the most complete official release of that gig extant and the remaster reveals the Levitation-era band on top form.

Overall rating: 2 stars for the rather poor Stonehenge recordings, 4 stars for the Lewisham material, so I'd say this comes to 3 stars on average (whereas the nearly-complete version of the Lewisham material on the Levitation reissue would come to, say, 4.5 stars).

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 BBC  Radio 1 Live by HAWKWIND album cover Live, 1991
3.20 | 28 ratings

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BBC Radio 1 Live
Hawkwind Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Stardate: 28th September, 1972. The personnel of starship Hawkwind disembark at the Paris Theatre in London to deliver a live set, with the BBC there to record it. Over subsequent years numerous bootlegs of the set circulate until in 1991 Windsong finally issue the concert in mono. However, the version of the gig occasionally broadcast on the radio is clearly in stereo. Debate rages as to which is the definitive version; the mono CD release, which is unedited but has poorer sound quality, or the stereo "Broadcast" mix which has superior sound quality but a number of edits (mostly minor, but a big chunk is dug out of Brainstorm).

Thankfully, EMI have stepped into reissue the set under the title of At the BBC - 1972, with new cover art. This 2CD release not only includes both the mono and stereo versions of the set, but also includes two songs recorded for a Johnnie Walker session the previous month. For my money, I value the higher sonic quality of the stereo mix over the sometimes muffled completism of the mono mix, but thanks to EMI we now don't need to choose between one or the other.

So, how's the material itself? Well, this was some three months before the Space Ritual recordings, so if you've heard that, you've got a good idea of what this is like. Perhaps less crushingly heavy than Space Ritual itself, and perhaps catching a few more subtle textures, At the BBC stands alongside Leave No Star Unturned, the expanded Greasy Truckers Party reissue and Space Ritual itself as a crucial live document of Hawkwind during the magical year of 1972 where all the constellations pointed in the right direction for them and they truly cemented their legend. Not as essential as Space Ritual, but if you love that album you'll probably dig this too.

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 Dream Object 5 by EX-VAGUS album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.61 | 10 ratings

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Dream Object 5
Ex-Vagus Symphonic Prog

Review by TenYearsAfter

3 stars Ex-Vagus is a Swiss five-piece formation rooted in 1996, their musical goal was to blend progressive rock and French vocals. The information about Ex-Vagus mentions : "the band joins together five authors and creators in a permanent creativity, having for 'Leitmotiv' the systematic association of the visual world with the auditive world, from where principal will to dramatize their music". Ex-Vagus concretized this artistic line by creating two rock opera's (Par Dela Les Legendes from 2000 and Seconde Lumière from 2000) calling upon original lights creations, a particular scenography and external actors. Ex-Vagus produced an EP, a demo CD, 3 studio albums, a live CD and was the support-act for progrock bands Ange, Barclay James Harvest, Focus, The Watch and Ars Nova.

Well, I can write the same about their fourth album Dream Object (2009) but there's one big difference: the vocals are in English, pretty good but you can hear the accent. In my opinion the reason to change from French to the English language is a better understanding of the interesting lyrics: about dark subjects like the sea pollution, the corrupted power and the native indian genocide, the band welcomes us on their musical trip. During that trip we can enjoy seven compositions that deliver a lot of tension and compelling atmospheres, topped by inspired vocals that give an extra dimension to the often dramatic music. In fact Ex-Vagus their music sounds as a dark modern rock-opera with many inventive musical ideas and excellent work on keyboards and guitars.

Exciting interplay between a distorted electric guitar and organ in Trash Vortex.

A strong build-up from dreamy with acoustic guitar and soaring keyboards to a compelling climate with tight drums and a powerful guitar solo in Lostaway.

An ominous atmosphere with an aggressive undertone in The Conqueror's Weapons.

From mellow to a slow rhythm with a fiery guitar solo and slow synthesizer runs in Some Fallen Dust.

Great dynamics and a sensational break with heavy guitar riffs and exciting sumptuous keyboards in Stravinsky's Gondola.

And cascades of shifting moods in the very dramatic and cynical One Upon A Dime.

The long final composition is in the great tradition of the epic early Marillion songs featuring a lot of tension between the dreamy and bombastic parts, moving electric guitar, lush keyboards and dramatic vocals and a compelling conclusion delivering emotional vocals and howling guitar runs, goose bumps!

I conclude that this second Ex-Vagus is superior to their previous efforts, but you have to be up to the very special, slightly theatrical vocals (with an obvious accent).

My rating: 3,5 star.

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 Diablo by MAXWELL'S DEMON album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.67 | 18 ratings

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Diablo
Maxwell's Demon Heavy Prog

Review by TenYearsAfter

3 stars This is an interesting musical project from the USA featuring keyboard player Graig Beebe and guitarist John Galbraith as the beating heart of the band. In 2001 Maxwell's Demon released their debut album entitled Prometheus, then we had to wait eight years for the successor named Diablo (2010). This second album features Graig and John, along a rhythm-section and as guest musicians a classical guitarplayer and a string quartet. On the band their website I read about the impressive vintage gear, from the Hammond organ with Leslie speaker, Minimoog - , Prophet V - and Oberheim synthesizers to a Rickenbacker bass, Gibson ' and Fender guitars and Moog Taurus bass pedals, wow, mouthwatering!

Now about the music, that sounds as a blend of many styles, with a lot of variation and an adventurous mind. The one moment it's 24-carat symphonic rock like Swedish Anglagard (compelling with Hammond, Moog and Mellotron a fat Moog Taurus bass pedal sound and some classical guitar) or fiery and propulsive like Red-era King Crimson (growling bass and soaring Mellotron choirs). The other moment the sound is more experimental like Larks' Tongues In Aspic- era King Crimson featuring captivating interplay between violins and percussion, avant-garde overtones and chamber music with a genuine string quartet (duelling with the Mellotron choirs and violins, not average prog, to say the least). The hints to legendary Classic Prog bands are obvious, but Maxwell's Demon have succeeded to blend these elements with strong own musical ideas, embellished with an awesome vintage keyboard sound.

My rating: 3,5 star.

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 El Vuelo de los Olvidados by CANTURBE album cover Studio Album, 1980
2.96 | 12 ratings

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El Vuelo de los Olvidados
Canturbe Crossover Prog

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Truth to be told, I didn't even know this Argentinan band a couple of hours ago. What makes me want to review this album - that I was just listening to from YouTube as a background listening for working - is the fact that there's only one rather unfavourable review. Apps79's objective description of the music actually isn't anything I would strongly disagree, but to me two stars feels a bit hard for such a pleasant album like this. "Anyone expecting the participation of [keyboardist Charly] Garcia would made a huge impact will be extremely dissapointed, as the album contains sporadic and very mellow keyboard colors throughout", he writes. Well, I had no expectations of any kind, and because of the low ratings I was prepared to change once again the haphazardly PA-picked Crossover Prog band in the Tube. I was happily delighted during my listening.

Yes, there's a strong ballad atmosphere on most tracks. But I find the album entity also dynamic enough to recommend it for anyone interested to hear mellow late-70's prog sung in Spanish. Something not so every-day stuff, right? The lead vocals of Jorge Garacotche are tender and clean, a bit like Don McLean on his highest, and the harmonies work well. The instrumentation favours acoustic guitar, and I wonder if this could be categorized as Prog Folk as well. On some songs piano does a great effect as the lead instrument. There's also at least one instrumental track (understandably I can't go into track-by-track details as I'm listening the album from YouTube).

The key word is mellowness, no doubt of that. Forget this if you're searching for edgy and complex prog. If you're fond of soft, pastoral and emotionally oriented Crossover or folk-oriented prog with light arrangements, I bet you'll have lots to enjoy here. 3½ stars rounded upwards.

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 Beyond Belief by AZURE AGONY album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.13 | 5 ratings

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Beyond Belief
Azure Agony Progressive Metal

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Azure Agony, this unknown italian progressive metal band started in 2006 and released their debut in 2010 named Beyond belief. This is an etirely instrumental album and a quite good one from start to finish. The music doesn't differ much from Dream Theater school, with keyboards and guitars running all the time and some fine druming aswell. The music is from up tempo to slow, but always Azure Agony done a good job, they shifting from mellow parts to up tempo with an amazing ease, always capture the attention of the listner. I don't find at all the pieces and song writting uninspired as many pretend to be, maybe originality lacks, but the musicianship and ideas overall are quite strong. Pieces like Mystic Interiors , Ante Tentora, ets showing potential in the band ability to craft some strong tunes. From me 3.5 stars for sure, I find it enjoyble from start to finish, I must add that is diffrent from their second offer who has vocals. Keyboard driven prog metal with a good doze of guitar works, from prog metal fans.

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 Esoteric Malacology by SLUGDGE album cover Studio Album, 2018
5.00 | 2 ratings

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Esoteric Malacology
Slugdge Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by javajeff

5 stars They advertise an unnatural interest in gastropods, but there is nothing unnatural about it. A group and albums concept based in nature. The music is some of the best progressive black metal ever created. Every album is phenomenal, and there is no reason not to give the first three a shot since they are free on Bandcamp. I opted to support the band by buying a compilation of the first three albums called The Cosmic Cornucopia. Esoteric Malacology has more Progressive Metal elements and may be softer than the previous three, but preserves the incredible harmonies, excellent musicianship, and stellar songwriting. I find their music to be addicting high energy, and I can easily listen to all four albums in one sitting at work or on the go. Anyone that craves heavier music should definitely give them a listen. From War Squids to Limo Vincit Omnia, there is plenty of prog for progressive ears.

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 Sleepers In The Rift by MORBUS CHRON album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.87 | 4 ratings

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Sleepers In The Rift
Morbus Chron Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars "Sleepers in the Rift" is the debut full-length studio album by Swedish death metal act Morbus Chron. The album was released through Pulverised Records in August 2011. Morbus Chron hails from Stockholm and were formed in 2007. They released the "Splendour of Disease" demo in 2010 and the "Creepy Creeping Creeps" EP later that same year. "Sleepers in the Rift" was recorded and mixed in 5 days in November 2010 at Gutterview Recorders and produced by Morbus Chron and Nicke Andersson (Entombed, The Hellacopters).

The choice of one of the forefarthers of Swedish death metal as co-producer and the choice to record and mix "Sleepers in the Rift" in 5 days, have payed off big time for Morbus Chron, who has ended up with a pretty great product. The basis of the music is old school Swedish death metal with an authentic, raw, and organic sounding production, which brings exactly the right atmosphere to the music. While that all sounds tried and true, Morbus Chron still manages to put their own spin on the sound though, and "Sleepers in the Rift" is therefore slightly more interesting than your average old school Swedish death metal release. To some extent Morbus Chron have more in common with the darker and slightly more twisted Norwegian death metal style of the early 90s, and artists like early Cadaver and early Darkthrone, than they have with the contemporary Swedish scene. I hear a nod or two toward Autopsy too.

So they have that ekstra something, which is required to stand out on the scene, and the fact that the music is well performed (the growling vocals are performed in a shouting reverb laden style, which suits the music well), and as mentioned above, well produced too, aren´t exactly issues either. All things considered "Sleepers in the Rift" reeks class, and although there is still space for improvement in the songwriting department when it comes to catchiness and memorability, it´s still a very interesting album as it is. A 4 star (80%) rating is deserved.

(Originally posted on Metal Music Archives)

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 Aja by STEELY DAN album cover Studio Album, 1977
4.17 | 262 ratings

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Aja
Steely Dan Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

5 stars By now, most everyone has probably heard this album, either partially or completely. To review this album again is almost like repeating everything everyone else has already said about it. It is a gem, the perfect pinnacle for Steely Dan's career as a group and a homage to two great jazz rock greats, Donald Fagen and Walter Becker. They did have some great material before this album and even after, but nothing matches the perfection of this album. And the amazing thing is, you listen to it and it all seems so effortless. That could have been part of the trouble prior to this album, in that not every album was consistently as good as this one turned out to be, that maybe they were trying too hard.

The jazz is smooth, mostly, and the music is very catchy. The tunes stay in your head, even the instrumental parts. You can search Steely Dan's discography, and yes you will find some great music, but the closest thing you will come to that compares to this album is Donald Fagen's "The Nightfly". This album set the bar for me as far as jazz rock is concerned, and the title track "Aja" set the standard for individual jazz/rock songs. What a perfect song, plenty of smoothness and progressiveness, a perfect blend of both. Trying to describe the title track is impossible, it must be heard and re-heard to appreciate it.

There are other great songs here including "Deacon Blues" with it's amazing sax-led instrumental sections, the somewhat funky "Black Cow" and "Josie", the lilting piano hook of "Home at Last", it's all good. There is quite a line up of jazz musicians contributing to this album also, and even with this many players, everything sounds so cohesive. Even Michael McDonald's supporting and background vocals sound perfect here, and I'm not a McDonald fan at all.

So anyway, for such a masterpiece, this is a short review. But the music here really speaks for itself. You can talk about jazz chord progressions and techniques all you want, and you can analyze the music to death, the best way to experience it is to listen to it, but not just once, several times. Every jazz/rock fusion fan should be familiar with this album.

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 Bankstatement by BANKS, TONY album cover Studio Album, 1989
2.74 | 76 ratings

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Bankstatement
Tony Banks Crossover Prog

Review by FalconBleck

3 stars #20 Review

I find really weird that this album was intended as a band project, and it is still listed in some sites as a separate entity to Tony solo works, when this is in fact a work composed and writen (mostly) by Tony Banks, even knowing that, i really apreciate the talents that he got for making this album.

And now the review:

1.- Throwback 8/10: A song that i first ignored, that has some really good moments, i don't usually talk about lyrics, but i really like the ones here, i like what it tells and how the singer reaches those notes. Another thing to point out is the video, wich has several nods to The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, the video overall is really entertaining. The song itself may feel too happy with those horns, or sometimes really repetitive, but the Tony Banks factor clearly plays into here, wich makes the song be entertaining... and by the Tony Banks factor i mean that he has difficulties to do something simpler, but also he says that its intentional because he believes that pop songs need more beef, like his musical inspirations have done (The Beatles, Pet Shop sounds).

2.- I'll Be Waiting 4/10 Those synth clap sounds are back, this time for a more forgetable song (spoilers from a future review), this song would fit Calling All Stations, i can already imagine Ray Wilson singing this. With this song i really feel like i'm waiting for a more entertaining song to happen... the wait ain't so bad tho, there is interesting material here, expecting to have a better usage, like the pieces of music i have writen myself, except that i don't release them. Also, as i say to many songs... this one is also repetitive.

3.- Queen of Darkness 8/10: Based on the song "Lorca" from "The Red Wing Suite", feels like a new version from a song that i already like (spoilers), and "Lorca" feels based on "Final Chase" from the "Quicksilver Suite". If you have followed my reviews, you should know that i'm a fan of soundtracks, and that before Prog i was into movies and videogames soundtracks, and this song feels like an HD remaster of Lorca with interesting lyrics "If you wanted a creature from another dimension... i'm the answer", what is with that? I like it, and the voice work is excelent as well, the only downside to this song is the ending, wich feels boring, should've done a little more instead of a remaster with lyrics of "Lorca", but anyway, it still made for an entertaining song.

4.- That Night 7/10 A song clearly made from someone that specializes on keyboards, one really beautyful and melancholic song, really good voice work here. This song has a really interesting concept where the music and voice work contradicts each other on every verse until they mix together for the final, really nice idea that makes the song don't get old, but i feel like this song could've been expanded, made a part of a really large song, the fade-out at the end comes too soon.

5.- Raincloud 4/10 What is this? What a change from the last song feelings-wise, either way, it makes me feel really similar to what "I'll be waiting" did, except that this one could be on We Can't Dance and its repetitive, but it is more entertaining and has more variations than that one... if this song lasted 1 minute, it wouldn't lose that much.

6.- The Border 8/10: I really like the piano here, its repetitive but mesmerizing, the voice gives intensity and strenght to this song, that already feels more serious than everything previous on the album. Even with the little changes near the end, the song is still very repetitive, this song could be shorter... also, on a video for a certain Tony Banks tribute group (yes, there is one, i don't remember the name) they use an instrumental version of this song for introducing their concerts, it sounds really sweet. This song does what some songs previous on this album tried to do, a catchy sound to get us interested.

7.- Big Man 5/10 This starts like a SNES song and then it transforms into a Genesis/Mega Drive song, Tony would be really good at making videogame music... ok, aside from that, now Tony is singing, and he does a good job while telling bullies how they are. The problem with this song is that it gets repetitive quickly and tried to do an interesting chorus that comes out as boring.

8.- A House Needs a Roof 6/10 Tony really needs to make music for the Yamaha YM2612... this song is as 80s pop as a song can be, why wasn't this a hit? And as always, he needs to add something more and added a really minuscule keyboard solo, this is good, probably no for this site, but what can i do, this song works for what it is.

9.- The More I Hide It 4/10 This again reminds me to "The Waiting", yet this song tried to be interesting at one point, to add more, it really feels like this song was calculatedly crafted to add more "beef to pop", but in the end it falls short again, its the same case.

10.- Diamonds Aren't So Hard 7/10 It starts a little funny with happy music while telling horribly bad and ridiculous situtations, then the music makes you travel to a fictional world where diamonds aren't so hard to find, and that's how the song keeps being interesting, the changes one the song are welcome and the rythm is well done.

11.- Thursday the Twelfth 8/10: What an ending to this album, its as if a portal is distorting the world and re-organizing every physical entity while also making me dizzy. This instrumental track its a really interesting ending to an album that was supposed to be filled with pop-hits, yet Tony Banks can't contain himself from being weird, and you know, weird isn't bad. My problems with this song are that the intensity of the start decreases too fast, i feel like some people won't like this song for how it sounds or for being on 4/4, i like to be subjective on my reviews but i always seem to not make it that way, and in this case i can tell you, i'm clearly being biased because i just like this song.

So in the end this album gets a 62/100, wich is just 3 stars, almost 2.

My "5" review got lots of atention and i forgot to add on that one that i was updating my older reviews with "B-Sides", right now "Abacab" and "... And then there where three..." are already done, but i plan to continue with "Invisible Touch" and "Trespass". I'm sorry if it took so long for me to post, but i was so busy that i even forgot that i was doing reviews and now i'm back, hope you give Bankstatement a chance and for Tony Banks in general, he is a really good keyboardist and composer, probably one of the best and my biggest inspiration... well, not for that i'm gonna make inflated scores, i don't want to spoil it, but there's an album that "still" dissapoints me to this very day... ok, that was mean, goodbye.

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 Affenstunde by POPOL VUH album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.16 | 97 ratings

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Affenstunde
Popol Vuh Krautrock

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars This certainly sounds nothing like Florian's 70's albums but then this was his debut released in 1970 and he seemed to be experimenting a lot with his moog here. POPOL VUH were a four piece here with synths, tablas and percussion rounding out the instruments. I remember when I picked this up I thought that despite the poor rating I would like it given the descriptions. Well... not so much as those first two tracks in particular really annoy me, while the third track is more what I was expecting throughout this album. The final track is hit and miss so 3 stars is the best I can do.

""Dream Part 4" yes I'm skipping the long title before the first three songs. Anyway it opens with birds chirping before some brief water sounds then atmosphere. Then these high pitched bleeping sounds come in that drive me crazy. This continues until around 3 1/2 minutes but they do return. Just not into this one. "Part 5" opens with atmosphere before this annoying percussion with tablas takes over, again not my scene.

"Part 49" is much better as we get some spacey sounds and this is fairly dark and sparse with some faint percussion. The final tune is the title track at over 18 1/2 minutes. Interesting sounds come and go before the drums rumble in. It sounds pretty cool before 3 minutes. I like this. Drums stop before 5 minutes as a haunting soundscape continues. A change 6 1/2 minutes in as we get a pulsing sound with a humming over top. Blipping sounds join in and it stays this way for a long time right to the end.

I rate pretty much all his 70's albums 4 stars and up so yes this was disappointing to say the least. A low 3 stars from me.

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 Wired by BECK, JEFF album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.86 | 157 ratings

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Wired
Jeff Beck Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by sgtpepper

4 stars New line-up with Narada Michael Walden and Jan Hammers brings new dimensions to this album. The songs are generally calmer than on its predecessor album. I feel that the guitar is less present on this album than before also because the keyboards are sometimes handled by both Hammer and Middleton. Although the compositions are of high-quality, I find here less instrumental magicianship than on Blow by Blow. Blue wind is the collaboration between Hammer and Beck containing no other musicians. Love is green features the acoustic guitar and is a welcome addition. Overall, this an album worth acquiring and exploring for any proghead that likes the latter calmer 70's fusion.

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 Blow By Blow by BECK, JEFF album cover Studio Album, 1975
4.10 | 236 ratings

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Blow By Blow
Jeff Beck Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by sgtpepper

5 stars This is the only masterpiece from Jeff Beck that qualifies for 5 stars also at the Progarchives. The songs are well composed, there is enough instrumental prowess and intensity, the album does not necessarily drags on for too long. Thankfully, all the songs are without vocals. The music is dominated by the guitar and keyboard duelling just like on most of any other fusion albums of that era, however the rock side prevails and more jazz influence is apparent in keyboards than the guitar. She's a woman is an originally executed cover version of the Beatles song. I like hearing it when I hear this album and don't necessarily like it hear it live again and again. Scatterbrain bears traces of more furious fusion jam with nice fills and tempo changes on the drums. Diamond Dust is a nice mellow and recognizable ballad song. This album is highly recommended to all fans of fusion and Jeff Beck.

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 Airbag/How Am I Driving? by RADIOHEAD album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1998
3.82 | 50 ratings

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Airbag/How Am I Driving?
Radiohead Crossover Prog

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

4 stars This was an EP put out by Radiohead specifically for the North American market to bridge the gap between the albums "OK Computer" and the more experimental and electronic "Kid A". It consists of "Airbag" which is from the album "OK Computer", and this version is the exact same except that it has the original ending, where the album version flowed into the next track. It is a harder song and very good, with some prog elements in the final few minutes going on while the main opening theme plays again.

The rest of the tracks are most of the B-sides that were recorded at the same time as OK Computer, but were originally left off the album. "Pearly" is another hard song, but the vocals are more reminiscent of what was to come on the next album. It quiets down half way through with Thom's falsetto vocals, then builds again. "Meeting in the Aisle" is Radiohead's first instrumental. It consists of a repeating echoing guitar and is later joined by orchestrated sounds. Very mysterious sounding yet nice. You hear early experimental sounds from Radiohead here, but no vocals. "A Reminder" is very experimental, starting off with an automated announcement recorded from the Metro station at Prague. A slow rhythm is established with shimmering guitars and Thom's vocals start. There is a slow build, but it remains mostly mellow until the last minute where guitars start to whine and groan and then eventually drop off just before the end. "Polyethylene Pts. 1 & 2" starts off with an acoustic guitar and Thom singing. This goes on for a short time before it abruptly ends seeming like a false start almost, then goes into the full band which carries it through the rest of the song. This one is an excellent track and would have fit on perfectly to the main album. This is also a fan favorite but is more rock oriented than it is experimental. "Melatonin" is a beautiful song driven by lush synths and Thom's voice. It sounds simple but is a very challenging song to sing because of it's jumps in range. Percussion starts on the second verse, but it is quite subdued. Last of all is "Palo Alto" which in it's early stages, was to be the title track from "OK Computer". It starts out mellow, but becomes more intense after the first verse with an instrumental break, and continues with that pattern. The bridge after the 2nd verse remains intense and continues through the next instrumental break, then quiets again for the third verse, but feedback is added this time. It finishes intense with the last chorus and ends with sustained feedback. This is another track that would have fit well on the main album.

This EP was nominated for a Grammy, and competed against full length albums. It also fulfills it's purpose quite well as a bridge between two different kinds of albums in that all of the tracks would have fit quite well on either "Ok Computer" or "Kid A". These songs are all good as stand alone songs too, and that is why this EP works so well. The only issue here is this, is it worth searching for? You might be better off getting the Collector's Edition of "OK Computer" which is subtitled "OKNOTOK". This one has an extra disc (I'm talking about the vinyl version now, which is amazing} that has all of these tracks plus 3 others previously not available; "I Promise", "Man of War", and "Lift", plus two other B-sides not on the EP; "Lull" and "How I Made My Millions". So, if you see the EP in the discount bin,, definitely pick it up, but it has pretty much been made obsolete by the Collector's Edition of "Ok Computer". Still, it is a great collection of songs that would satisfy any fan and/or casual listener and still merits a 4 star rating.

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 Pampered Menial & At The Sound Of The Bell by PAVLOV'S DOG album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1992
4.04 | 4 ratings

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Pampered Menial & At The Sound Of The Bell
Pavlov's Dog Crossover Prog

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Review Nº 186

"Pampered Menial & At The Sound Of The Bell" is a very special compilation of Pavlov's Dog. This is an economic package that includes the first two albums of Pavlov's Dog. I'm talking about "Pamperd Menial", released in 1974 and "At The Sound Of The Bell", released in 1976, on only one CD package. This is a very interesting compilation because it includes two very interesting albums of an original band at a very cheap price, what will be a very worth purchase for those who don't have yet the two original albums. "Pampered Menial" is an excellent album with some great tracks and "At The Sound Of The Bell" despite be not as good as the previous debut album is, has some really nice tracks too.

For those who aren't familiar with this group, one of the most important characteristics of Pavlov's Dog's sound is their vocals. Their front man David Surkamp owns a very peculiar and strange voice usually compared with Geddy Lee's voice from Rush. So, for those who don't know the band yet and don't like Lee's voice, compared by many as a sound of strangling a cat, certainly Pavlov's Dog isn't the best band that you are looking for. Anyway, their music style was very song based and actually not all that far from some British bands but still with an American touch into their sound.

As I've already reviewed these two albums previously on Progarchives, in a more extensive way, I'm not going to do it again. So, if you are interested to know, in more detail, what I wrote about them before, I invite you to read those my both reviews. However in here, I'm going to write something about them in a more short way. So, of course, I'm not going to analyze them track by track, as I made before, but I'm only going to make a global appreciation of both albums.

"Pampered Menial": "Pampered Menial" was their first and supposedly best album. It consists of strongly melodic tracks that focus more on strong melodies and tasty arrangements than complexity. And I guess it's the arrangements here that give the music its progressive edge. The mellotron is present in the sound all the time, and some brief passages also include flute, violin, organ and tasty moog. The synth solo in "Late November" has a very Wakeman feel and atmosphere. Other highlights include "Julia", the hard edged "Song Dance" and "Theme From Subway Sue". The latter must have one of the most emotional endings I've ever heard on a song, and David Surkamp takes his very distinctive high pitched vibrato voice to absurd heights. The most progressive tune here is "Of Once And Future Kings" and this complex track starts with a very medieval sounding intro called "Preludin". The only track that I don't care for here is "Natchez Trace" and this limp hard rocker lacks the strong melodies that characterize the rest of the album and doesn't seem to belong here. "Pampered Menial" will appeal to progressive rock fans who enjoys strong melodies and who doesn't necessarily want everything to be as complex as Gentle Giant, Van Der Graaf Generator or King Crimson.

"At The Sound Of The Bell": Their second album was a lighter and less powerful effort then their excellent debut, but the album is saved by generally strong songwriting and tasty arrangements. The atmospheric ballad "Standing Here With You (Megan's Song)" and the great "Early Morning On" features lots of strings that give these songs the majestic lift they needs. The opener "She Came Shining" and especially "Valkerie" are Pavlov's Dog classics of the same calibre as "Julia" from the debut. The sound and atmosphere of "Gold Nuggets" reminds me of something from the second part of "Tubular Bells". This is a great track too. The nice ballad "Mersey" and the poppy "She Breaks Like A Morning Sky" features saxophone, giving these songs a slightly different feel from the rest of the album. And just as on the debut, the most progressive songs are placed last on the album. The earlier mentioned "Early Morning On" has a cool mid part with a boy choir. While the closing number "Did You See Him Cry" is a complex and dramatic song. It's perhaps the best song ever wrote by them. Oh, and David Surkamp sings in a lower tone and in a more normal way here than on the debut, perhaps making this album easier to adapt to for those who have problems with high pitched vocals.

Conclusion: If you have the two studio albums of the two individual works, you don't need to buy this compilation because it has nothing new to offer, like bonus tracks, unless you have a collector spirit. However, if you don't have these two albums yet and you like less complex prog music and you don't have problems with high pitched vocals in the same vein of Geddy Lee of Rush, you willn't lose your time and money if you buy both albums. Still, if you aren't convinced by all my arguments, at least, you must listen to "Pampered Menial". This is really an excellent album with some kind of originality. In reality, Pavlov's Dog made a very powerful and balanced album, indeed. I think it's an excellent example of some of the best prog made in U.S.A., in the 70's. Like most of us know, in the 70's, the progressive rock music was practically a European phenomenon. So, American bands like Kansas, Starcastle, Pavlov's Dog and Blue Oyster Cult were, somehow, exceptions. So, Pavlov's Dog is one of the best examples of those times.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

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 Robert Fripp & Andy Summers: I Advance Masked by FRIPP, ROBERT album cover Studio Album, 1982
3.60 | 78 ratings

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Robert Fripp & Andy Summers: I Advance Masked
Robert Fripp Eclectic Prog

Review by WFV

4 stars This is an excellent album if judged on its own merits. The listener must carefully discern the style and intent from the artists' more universally known projects, of course King Crimson for Fripp and The Police for Summers. Those expecting a lost King Crimson album will likely be disappointed. Those looking for poppy punky reggae hooks of the Police would likely be let down as well. This is a project for both artists to explore personal artistic freedoms that each man was afforded after showing exceptional talent and artistic endeavour with their main collectives. In my mind, this is a true collaboration as the style of each man is evident after digesting it all. This definitely bears resemblance to the experimental ambient tape loop albums Fripp would release during the '80's as well as the path Summers would cut on albums like Mysterious Barricades and The Golden Wire. Enthusiasts should know before listening this is a terrific album if judged accordingly. China - Yellow Leader really exemplifies this mode of thought and in my mind is among the strongest material each man has recorded through their lengthy careers. 4 stars.

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 Marsupilami by MARSUPILAMI album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.82 | 71 ratings

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Marsupilami
Marsupilami Eclectic Prog

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

5 stars The big bang of progressive rock music had only just got begun to break in 1969 when bands like King Crimson, East Of Eden, Soft Machine and Pink Floyd were redefining the context of the rock paradigm by wresting the exemplar blues oriented ingredients out of the standard status quo and expanding its horizons into levels of ever increasing complexity when one of the first adventurous bands, MARSUPILAMI took the newly developing sub-genre of rock and augmented its complexity in virtually every way. This band was born in 1968 when the Hasson brothers, Fred (vocals, harmonica, bongos) and Leary (organ) came up with the idea of naming their band after a famous Belgian comic book character that was created in 1952. The brothers were raised in Taunton in the Somerset region of England only in an Anglo-French household where they were exposed to both sides of the channel at an early age. The comic book character created by André Franquin was a strange hybrid of a monkey and a cat and was yellow with black spots but also a mix of being adorably cute and highly rebellious. Thus, the band MARSUPILAMI not only adopted the name of this character but the generally personality traits as well.

MARSUPILAMI formed after touring Spain in their previous R&B band Levitation but after scoring a coveted gig with the Joe Cocker band, the brothers realized that the other members weren't committed and went their separate ways. After many auditions and new members joining and quickly departing, the brothers cemented their new band by picking off their favorite talents from local band and thus the newly formed lineup included Mike Fouracre (drums) and Richard Hicks (bass guitar) who came from local blues outfit Justin's Timepiece and Dave Laverock (guitar) came from a semi-pro band, the Sabres. Leary's flute playing, art student girlfriend, Jessica Stanley Clarke (now Jecka McVicar, Britain's foremost organic herb grower) joined the cast and one of the world's most sophisticated early prog bands was born. Soon thereafter the members headed to a large unused country house and set up the barn as the 24/7 rehearsal studio where they would tease all their influences into the monstrous musical structures that appeared on their eponymous debut album in full-on progressive splendor.

With influences ranging from the classical greats such as Messian to jazz gurus such as John Coltrane, Miles Davis, McCoy Tyner and Pharaoh Sanders with a little contemporary folk via Fairport Convention as well as the most innovative thinkers in rock via Zappa, Soft Machine, MARSUPILAMI carefully crafted through the painstaking alchemical amalgamations coupled with the ceaseless practice sessions and created some of the most daring and out of the box musical structures within the rock paradigm of the era. While having been released in April 1970, the album was recorded all the way back in June 1969 before King Crimson shocked the world with their progressive bomb "In The Court Of The Crimson King," so that means that MARSUPILAMI developed their simultaneous approach of more demanding strains of rock music completely independently ushering in a completely unique sound unlike any of the other artists of the day. In fact the debut album was actually much more daring and unpredictable as any of the better known early prog albums released by King Crimson, East Of Eden, Amon Düül II, The Nice, Pink Floyd or Soft Machine.

MARSUPILAMI was somewhat of a hit on the live circuit as they played at a number of festivals at a rather relentless pace and even opened for Deep Purple in their Mark I phase. They played the famous 1969 Isle Of Wight Festival and even won the Exeter based South West Regional leg of Melody Maker Best Band Competition. They were also gaining quite the reputation as formidable stage presence on the mainland in Europe and after finding the perfect manager in Julian Palmer-Hill, they were approached by MCA for a record contract but opted instead to sign with the independent Transatlantic Records which was looking to diversify into the greater rock world beyond their avant-garde and folk based acts of The Humblebums, John Fahey, John Cage and even Zappa's "Uncle Meat," just to name a few.

This eponymous debut album is the essence of what would become the norm in adventurous prog that coming to fruition the following year thus in effect jump starting the arms race of pomp and awe that meant each band would attempt to outdo the other with ever increasing albums of complexity. Laced with psychedelic trips, instrumental workouts twisted into complex labyrinthine compositional constructs with jazz-tinged chord progressions with long extended passages to allow flute drenched motifs, heavy rock guitar and avant-garde meanderings, the eponymously titled debut from MARSUPILAMI is one of progressive rock's earliest crowning achievements, however due to a rather limited shelf life of band members cohesively sharing the same vision, the band was short lived and their existence has woefully fallen off the radar throughout the ensuing decades. All five tracks were recorded in relatively few takes and basically done completely live displaying the extreme dexterity and commitment to detail that MARUPILAMI so gracefully mastered.

While the musical mojo shifts stylistically at the drop of a hat randomly metamorphosing from heavy organ tinged rock to folky flute based dreamscapes with chanting and then off to full-on jazz-rock fusion splendor, the lyrics constructed a more ominous and apocalyptic vision such as on the all instrumental "Ab Initio Ad Finem" which is a musical interpretation of a sermon from the Old Testament of the Bible which narrates humanity's undoing through a global catastrophe. "Dorian's Deep" begins the album in a 60s psychedelic haze with a droning organ and ethereal chanting but quickly changes gear from a flute and bass driven military march to a bombastic guitar and organ driven progressive rock behemoth as it goes for the jugular with complex time signature outbursts, unexpected stylistic shifts and various moody elements battling it for domination as the rock guitar, bass and drums alternate with the flute dominated folk elements and psychedelic breakdowns. "Born To Be Free" sounds more like a throwback to the 60s with a jazzy flute dominated mellow vibe. Despite being one of the more "normal" tracks steeped more in a 60s psych throwback rather than 70s excess, the track still exhibits unorthodoxies.

"And The Eagle Chased The Dove To Its Ruin" totally goes off the deep end with not only the most gloom ridden lyrics of the album but also in its relentless attack on the senses with a tension driving build up that ratchets up the frenetic flute outbursts and heavy time signature rich deviations fortified by a heavy bass and drum attack with the guitar interacting at full fury. "Ab Initio Ad Finem (The Opera)" offers another slice of impending doom with organs riffing in a J.S Bach funeral march while a caffeinated bongo attack creates an impenetrable percussive wall of sound only to be uplifted by a somewhat contemplative flute that can't decide if it's having a good day or not. When the guitars finally emerge, they soar above it all and tamp down the competition until it finally mellows out into a somewhat funk meets flute vibe. The track continues to transmogrify into completely new unrelated territories and although instrumental indeed conveys a lifetime of emotions in its wake. The closing "Facilis Descencus Averni" opens with a call and response of flute and guitar but quickly settles into a more rockin' set with the oddly shaped angular vocal harmonics indicative of the album and goes to even further ends of changing things up frequently but with the intro melodic reprise grounding it somewhat. This last piece if by far the most adventurous and demanding piece and the perfect way to end this brilliant ahead-of-its- time album.

MARSUPILAMI's debut is without doubt the most complex progressive rock albums of the tender year of 1970 and having been created an entire year prior in 1969 ranks as one of progressive rock's most innovative and expressive constructs in its birth pangs. The skill and dexterity that the musicians exhibit is simply impeccable as they effortlessly meander in unison all across the bizarrely constructed soundscapes. Perhaps only dampened by the rather mopey vocal style of Fred Hasson for some as it certainly is an acquired taste and it goes without saying that this is one of those tough nuts to crack musical experiences as it takes a multitude of listening sessions to fully comprehend and then a few more to really let sink in. While emerging as the most angular and demanding listens of the year it was released, there are plenty of dark but beautiful melodic hooks that create a certain level of instant accessibility however they are indeed relentless in their abandonment just as things become familiar as well.

Psychedelic Krautrock tinged sections? Yep, the very first track "Dorian Deep" begins with a firm tie to the 60s with a nice lysergic mind-expanding intro that slowly gels into a creeping organ and spooky vocal 'aaah's' that coalesce into a bass, drum, organ and vocal melodic development which is revisited throughout. As the album continues it pretty much displays a various mix of freak folk flute action preceding the Comus masterpiece "First Utterance," symphonic pastoral interludes that Genesis would latch onto the same year, pugnacious organ rock aspects that Deep Purple were only beginning to develop and even full fledged progressive rock high energy deliveries that wouldn't be fully unleashed at this level again until Il Balletto Di Bronzo's groundbreaking "Ys." Add to that the extreme jazz-fusion sensibilities of syncopation without any melodic sacrificial lambs and you have a recipe for something totally brilliant and light years ahead of its time.

While it seems most reviewers feel reluctant to give this the full masterpiece creds, i personally have no problem pulling the trigger for a 5 star piece of heaven such as this. Virtually everything 70s prog had already coalesced at this early stage and although never to be repeated except by the band themselves with their second and last offering "Arena," MARSUPILAMI are a testament to how quickly the progressive rock big bang of 1969 evolved in a very startling short period of time with all subsequent acts merely latching on to certain aspects of what was unleashed here. This album truly makes me wonder how many other more successful bands were listening to this and latched onto some of the ideas presented. There is just so much on here that it's mind blowing. This is truly a Code Red, Phase 5, top notch prog album that registers a 10 on the prog-o-meter. Simply stunning and beyond belief. A personal favorite.

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 Home by FOREVER TWELVE album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.84 | 13 ratings

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Home
Forever Twelve Symphonic Prog

Review by FragileKings
Prog Reviewer

4 stars It was 2012 before I really discovered progressive rock. Prior to that, I always liked bands that made the effort to create longer compositions or try unusual rhythms and technical playing. Bands that mixed jazz, or folk, or classical into their sound thrilled me. But I had no idea that there was a subgenre of popular music called 'progressive rock'. By 2012 however, I had embraced prog fully and went on a journey to discover as much as I could handle of this deep and broad music category. That led me to Syzygy, a band whose album impressed me so much that for the first couple of weeks I felt this was what symphonic prog, if not prog rock itself, should sound like. Of course, as my explorations continued, my exalted view of Syzygy's music became less lofty with many other new discoveries.

Skip ahead to the present, and a promo copy of Forever Twelve's 'Home' (2017, Melodic Revolution Records) lands in my mailbox. Upon first listen I was hit with mixed feelings. It was the Syzygy response for a moment certainly but for the second time, and with the law of diminishing returns, I was less excited this time. Adding a big 'HOWEVER!' here, I will go on to say that this band really cooks and knows what they are doing with the skill of seasoned veterans bearing youth's ambition.

Forever Twelve open their album with the 16:06-running 'The Seven Seas'. It begins with a showcase of guitar and keyboard solos ' synthesizer and organ blazing away ' before slowing down into the song-proper's intro vocal bit. Like many classic prog mini-epics (or is over 16 minutes an epic?), the music is a journey itself, weaving slow and melodic parts with faster instrumental showcases, and a grand build up to the climax. Right from track one, Forever Twelve have proven their roots are firmly implanted in traditional symphonic prog.

The following four tracks range between five and nine minutes and maintain this combination of remarkable and spot-on technical playing ability and the capacity for striking up strong melodic passages. John Baker's vocals are at first a bit of a sore thumb; his timbre a tad unusual for prog. But it soon becomes apparent that his voice gives Forever Twelve a quality to their sound that makes them recognizable from their peers.

Personal favourites of mine are 'Daisy Chain' and 'Karmageddon' for their incredible use of dexterity and speed and flexibility with time signatures. Very exciting music bursts out all over the place. Recently 'Home' has also begun to stand out for me. 'Acoustic Rose' is an interesting track with a beautiful if not brief a cappella conclusion. It's too bad the track is only 2:57!

The album closes with 'Fate is in Our Hands' and introduces some more traditional guitar rock music which is then given a Forever Twelve treatment. The vocals are different here, and as Tom Graham is credited with guitars, bass, keyboards, vocals, I am going to assume he takes the mic for this track.

After my initial, 'Oh, another deftly talented prog rock band that remind me of Syzygy' reaction, I began listening more for the purpose of simply enjoying the music, and the album has grown on me. At least three of the tracks now get added regularly to mixed playlists and have become familiar and something to look forward to when I play the whole album. The only criticism that I have is that the production is a slight bit dull and thick. Just listening to the album is fine, but when it plays after other recent releases with really bright and clear production, 'Home' seems to favour bass over treble.

Forever Twelve don't bring anything new to the table, but they do play with great skill and talent. My personal opinion is 3.75 stars (partly due to the production), but their skill is surely to be acknowledged, so I'll round up this time. Recommended for people who love technical and crafty symphonic prog with a strong slant toward the technical side.

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 Jeff Beck Group [Aka: Orange Album] by BECK, JEFF album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.07 | 55 ratings

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Jeff Beck Group [Aka: Orange Album]
Jeff Beck Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by sgtpepper

3 stars I find this album more easy going than the previous album Rough and Ready. It is also more polished and commercially oriented. There should could have been fewer cover songs considering the strength of the band. The band sounds cohesive and more relaxed. The instrumental moments are very precious although there is no denying that the singer tries hard to sound soulful. The later jazz-rock influences and a few Stevie Wonder moves (most apparently the cover version of Got to have a song) are creeping in. I find the catchy Going down going on for too long and vice-versa, the last two tracks could have been longer, as they are instrumentally and compositionally interesting pieces of music. The guitar soloing in the last song is emotional and still technically solid. Still not that much for a proghead but enough for 3 stars.

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 Bran Coucou by PINIOL album cover Studio Album, 2018
4.15 | 37 ratings

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Bran Coucou
PiNioL RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by raigor

5 stars Featuring the current members of French bands PoiL, Ni., and Lunatic Toys, "Bran Coucou" is a long awaited debut album by PinioL from Lion, France. PinioL is a septet composed of two autonomous power-trios which are bound into the tight ensemble by a free conductor-keyboardist. From the very first movement in music, it becomes clear that these guys came to deliver complex, dense, ultra polyphonic and polyrhythmic, violent, loud and heavy Avant-Prog-Metal. The instrumental parts with multiple traces of RIO, Zeuhl, Art-Core, Math-Metal, Noise-Jazz, and other musical traditions are accompanied by gibberish singing which adds freakishly positive madness to the entire show. Don't be led astray by smooth and smarmy preludes or passages. This is a tough thing from the beginning to the end. But adventurous and open-minded music lovers will be rewarded for sure. If you enjoy brutal, deviant, and surreal Avant-Prog-Metal, "Bran Coucou" is a must have for you. P.S. Absolutely agree with the view that "Bran Coucou" is the best album (best of "Underground Prog") of the first half of 2018. Cheers to PinioL and Dur Et Doux label!

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 After The Ball - The Collection by WAKEMAN, RICK album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2015
5.00 | 1 ratings

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After The Ball - The Collection
Rick Wakeman Symphonic Prog

Review by TenYearsAfter

— First review of this album —
5 stars "THE ULTIMATE VINTAGE KEYBOARD EXTRAVAGANZA!"

For me the colouring with vintage keyboards is an essential part of the Classic Prog era: Mike Pinder's Mellotron in The Moody Blues, the soaring Hammond organ in Procol Harum their sound, early King Crimson with legendary use of the Mellotron, Rick Wright and his Farfisa organ in the psychedelic Pink Floyd era, Keith Emerson with his sensational Moog modular synthesizer sound, Tony Banks and his ARP Pro Solist synthesizer flights in 73-77 Genesis. And, last but not least, Rick Wakeman , he epitomizes the ultimate vintage keyboard sound in the Seventies, from the Moog, Mellotron and Hammond to the Hohner clavinet, Steinway Grand piano and Fender Rhodes electric piano, it's on his awesome list! I am a huge fan of his work with Yes in the Seventies (except the boring TFTO) and his early solo work, layered with varied vintage keyboards and showcasing his jawdropping skills. I consider this this comprehensive compilation CD as an excellent start to discover the exciting world of Rick Wakeman solo in the Seventies.

It spans the era from his outstanding and highly acclaimed first studio-album The Six Wives Of Henry VIII (1973) until his seventh effort, the disappointing Rhapsodies (1979). On this CD compilation Rick Wakeman not only shines with his keyboard wizardy, but also as a composer: he writes very melodic and harmonic music with flowing shifting moods, embellished with his wide range of keyboards. The one moment dreamy atmospheres with tender Grand piano or soaring Mellotron (wonderful interlude with violins section in Catherine Howard). The other moment swinging rhythms with Hammond and clavinet or sumptuous eruptions with sensational work on the Minimoog (in Anna Boleyn). A strong element is the contrast between the sparkling Grand piano runs and the fat Minimoog synthesizer flights (in Catherine Of Aragon), emphasizing the happy marriage between classical and symphonic rock in his music.

We can also enjoy work from his legendary and commercially very succesful album Journey To The Centre Of The Earth, featuring two live tracks.

Medley: The Journey / Recollection : the atmospheres are between bombastic with a choir and dreamy with warm vocals, the spectacular Minimoog sound is omnipresent).

The Battle : this song delivers a swinging rhythm, a choir singing "crocodile teeth, lizard head", duo-vocals and the distinctive Hohner clavinet, a captivating blend of classic and symphonic rock. To be honest, I miss the rest of the album, it's an 'incomplete musical experience' to listen to only a part of that exciting concept album.

A 'trademark Rick Wakeman Seventies solo album composition' is Arthur: an orchestra with a strong brass sound, a propulsive and fluent rhythm-section and strong interplay between the orchestra, a choir and Wakeman (with spectacular work on the Minimoog).

In Merlin The Magician our Caped Crusader delivers his most fat sounding Minimoog flights I have ever heard, how exciting, in a swinging rhythm and duelling with the cheerful honky-tonk piano. The climate ranges from dreamy with a female choir to bombastic, this is top notch Rick Wakeman solo!

One of the few songs with vocals is the alternating Prisoner, wonderfully coloured with Mellotron flute and violins, electric harpsichord and a church organ, the slightly raw vocals match good with the varied music.

One of my favourite Rick Wakeman solo tracks is the swinging White Rock featuring dazzling Minimoog runs, I love the bombastic atmosphere and Wakeman his virtuosic and sensational Minimoog play.

Between all the bombastic and swinging tracks After The Ball is an oasis of silence, with its romantic climate: tender classical piano, soft Minimoog flights and soaring Mellotron violins, wonderful!

Remarkable in the three tracks from his masterpiece Criminal Record (1977) is the awesome rhythm-section, this is the duo Chris Squire and Alan White (in that time Wakeman had rejoined Yes and everybody was happy and enthusiastic about the triumphant return with GFTO). We can enjoy Emersonian Grand piano runs and great work on the Moog and Hammond in Statue Of Justice, a captivating tension between the tender Grand piano and bombastic Hammond and Moog in the varied Crimes Of Passion and sensational Minimoog flights in Chamber Of Horrors.

The final track on this compilation is a beauty, the dreamy The Palais featuring a solo piece on the Grand piano, from tender to sparkling, Rick Wakeman in his full splendor as a classically trained musician!

This is the best you can get if you like Old School keyboard driven prog, "no fillers, all killers!"

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 Fever Kingdoms by PYRRHON album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2010
2.00 | 1 ratings

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Fever Kingdoms
Pyrrhon Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

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

— First review of this album —
2 stars Tech metal is one of those nebulous areas of music that i still find very difficult to figure out why some bands totally work for me and others don't despite all the tech chops being checked off like clockwork. While bands like Deathspell Omega and Gorguts have soared to the top of the charts for their innovative and creative avant-garde take on established sub-genera of the metal universe, others sorta fall between the cracks. PYRRHON is one such band that despite cranking out all the expected techy aspects in abundance, sorta fail to inspire beyond a certain level and that is no more apparent than on their debut EP release FEVER KINGDOMS which came out in 2010.

The band was founded all the way back in 2008 when guitarist Dylan DiLeila and bassist Mike Sheen met by happenstance on a subway platform and then found drummer Alex Cohen to join the crew. Along the way they found Doug Moore to join in as vocalist. While PYRRHON has in recent years upped their game and joined the ranks of the more known ranks of the tech death metal universe alongside other surreal noisemakers such as Portal, Ulcerate or Mithras, on FEVER KINGDOMS they take a rather generic sounding approach with a sound that somehow finds itself somewhere between death metal with the gutteral growls and frenetic angular riffs but with more of a mathcore in yer face grind that churns on relentlessly in full extreme metal fashion.

While these elements are not that bad within themselves, this EP unfortunately lacks any sort of variety or attention grabbing ideas. And along with that, i find the drumming style of Alex Cohen a little lackluster for the type of tech death they are trying to capture. Another band that is similar is Gigan who master the surreal and detached psychedelic metal sound that they strive to create. In their case the musicians are bombastic and unapologetically ferocious and have the chops to pull it off as well as an imagination that allows a flexibility that is needed for the cosmic metal ride. FEVER KINGDOMS seems to just plod along predictably with each of the five tracks sounding alike with the same riffs recycled.

What it boils down to with PYRRHON's debut is that something is woefully missing to give this sonic noise parade some sort of spirit. It plods along checking off all the boxes of extreme tech metal but doesn't deliver in anything that is very satisfying. In the tech death universe where sonic maelstroms can easily resemble any other, the differences are very subtle and the tight wire act between something outstandingly original and woefully cliche and lackluster can be a very small margin of differences and in the case of PYRRHON's FEVER KINGDOMS falls short of the interesting mark and leaves me quite unsatisfied especially after experiencing their more mature albums first.

2.5 rounded down

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 Underjordisk Tusmørke by TUSMØRKE album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.69 | 46 ratings

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Underjordisk Tusmørke
Tusmørke Prog Folk

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars This was the debut for this Norwegian band released in 2012. Quite a vocal dominated affair really but with some killer instrumental work throughout. If it wasn't so heavy on the vocals I would be considering a higher rating. Still I went from being kind of amused with what I heard after the first couple of listens to not being able to wait to play this album once again. Very melodic and catchy throughout. This band formed from the ashes of LES FLEURS DU MAL who never released an album but we do get a 17 1/2 minute bonus track by them that is the best song on this recording and it doesn't sound much like the same band as we get Andreas the current vocalist for WOBBLER singing and a much more Swedish sound in my opinion with the mellotron, guitar, upfront bass and melancholic sound. I agree with Andy from Planet Mellotron that this bonus track is almost worth the price of admission alone.

I don't usually even comment on bonus tracks unless they are exceptional and there's another one by TUSMORKE called "Singers & Swallows" that would be second favourite track on here, go figure. The main album features plenty of vintage keyboard work from WOBBLER's own Lars Fredrik Froislie as he brings in mellotron, spinet, chamberlin, clavinet, organ, synths, glockenspiel, musical box and the kitchen sink. He also produced and recorded it. Again the main album has lots of vocals, harmonies and catchy choruses which usually isn't my thing but I was won over fairly quickly. The album's title means "Subterranean Twilight" and this is a mellotron album for sure.

"Fimbul" is catchy with flute over top then the vocals join in. Shades of mellotron and chamberlin too along with synths. I like when it calms down after 2 minutes with mellotron, bass then flute. Reserved vocals join in along with keys. It all kicks back in around 3 1/2 minutes. Another calm with vocal melodies after 4 1/2 minutes which sounds really good.

"Watching The Moon Fall Out Of The East" has this excellent melancholic intro with flute, mellotron and more as these relaxed vocals join in. This is a top four track for me. Reminds me of SINKADUS and ANGLAGARD actually during the more laid back sections. Love when it picks up as well 4 minutes in especially that rickenbacker bass. We get flute, guitar, drums and more. It picks up even more late with vocals and vocal melodies. What a song!

"The Quintessence Of Elements" has melancholic flute to start as bass, drums and more take over with vocals. Catchy and melodic and we get organ on the chorus. A beautiful instrumental section starts after 2 minutes then it picks up before the vocals return. "Young Man & His Woman" is very uptempo and vocal led with plenty of flute and organ. I like when it settles down after a minute without vocals. It kicks back in and we get vocal melodies here and some passion in those vocals too. Themes are repeated.

"A Nightmare's Just A Dream" is laid back to start with flute, prominent bass and a beat as the vocals join in. It turns fuller a minute in, in fact it gets quite intense really. It settles again as contrasts continue. Check out the mellotron before 2 1/2 minutes and that incredible section starting before 6 minutes instrumentally. Love that bass!

"Hostjevndogn" features vocals in their native language and this is a top four song for me as well. It's more relaxed with drums and flute standing out to start then reserved vocals join in. Man that instrumental section sounds so good beginning 3 minutes in and ending around 4 1/2 minutes. This song reminds me of SINKADUS. "Singers & Swallows" one of the three bonus tracks is a top four. A chilled tune really with flute, a beat, upfront bass and more. Such a beautiful track. Some nice vocal melodies along with mellotron too.

"Ode On Dawn" is a classic and as I said in the intro I want more! Hopefully there is more archival material from this early incarnation of the band under the name LES FLEURS DU MAL. The percussion gallops along early on with the sound of wind as the flute arrives. The percussion ends but not the wind or flute. Vocals from Andreas before 1 1/2 minutes along with mellotron, bass, guitar and some brief spoken words. Flute, a beat and mellotron kick in too and what a great sound as it builds with that in your face bass. Vocals are back 5 minutes in as it settles with lots of mellotron and bass. A calm with wind before 7 1/2 minutes as the drums and bass build. Guitar joins in along with flute. So good! Vocals are back before 13 minutes but again like the first two times they don't last long as the guitar, bass and drums lead. So Swedish sounding with that mellotron. The percussion gallops away to end this stone cold classic.

So not counting the bonus tracks a solid 4 stars and an enjoyable release.

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 Continuum by SONS OF ALPHA CENTAURI album cover Studio Album, 2018
3.95 | 2 ratings

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Continuum
Sons Of Alpha Centauri Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Windhawk
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars UK band SONS OF ALPHA CENTAURI was formed back in 2001, at the onset a duo consisting of Nick Hannon and Marlon King. They appeared as recording artists in 2007, and while active as recording artists after this as well, this has mainly been in various forms of collaborations and side projects. "Continuum" is the band's second full length studio production, and was released through Herman label H42 Records in the spring of 2018.

I see the self-description of this band citing them as something of an avantgarde and post-metal oriented band. Those with a taste for artists of that particular nature may well find that Sons of Alpha Centuari, at least as they appear in 2018, are a few tracks away from such territories, and then the avantgarde aspect of it in particular. There's not much I'd describe as being post metal here either when it comes to that. Instrumental progressive rock is probably where I'd categorize this band and this specific album myself.

In the main compositions here the band tends to alternate between two distinct modes of delivery. One features relatively gently wandering and often plucked guitar details as the key element, and the other is dominated by darker toned riffs, at times with a gnarly, almost primitive sound at that. In both cases relatively delicate, floating keyboards will be used as overlays, and then more often than not with a cold, subtly cosmic tinge to it.

In between those contrasts we do get quite a few variations and deviations of course, with tasteful guitar solo runs as well as more effects laden guitar details as well as a bass guitar that gets some booming, beefy limelight here and there as well. The songs tend to ebb and flow nicely in intensity, either building up to a more intense finale or going full circle and concluding on a similar note as the opening part of the track. By plan or accident there's a case to be made here on the hypnotic effects of repetition too, and one might also argue that a couple of the cuts here have a stoner rock and a post-punk vibe to them respectively.

There's also a few atmospheric laden cuts to be enjoyed here, although for my sake they are by and large not as interesting as individual creations, functioning primarily as parts of an album experience as far as I'm concerned. The one exception is the opening cut 'Into the Abyss', but that may well be due to this one reminding me ever so slightly of late 70's Eloy, which for me is a good thing.

While I do find this album to be a well made production throughout, my main impression is that this will also be an album with something of a niche appeal. A tad too primitive sounding at times to make a broad headway into the progressive rock oriented crowd, and arguably a tad too sophisticated to gather a strong appeal among those with a primary taste for instrumental hard rock that is borderline metal at times. Still, those with a taste for instrumental progressive rock that exist within those parameters should find this album to be a compelling experience. A good album, but with something of a limited reach in my opinion at least.

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