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 Sacrament by WHITE WILLOW album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.90 | 117 ratings

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Sacrament
White Willow Symphonic Prog

Review by toilet_doctor

5 stars Prog Treasure.

This is review of 2014 Remastered Expanded Edition, that came in gorgeous 3 panels Digipack with small booklet in the trunk, tastefully done mostly in classy black and white style. (Black spine will protect the cover from the sunlight - nice touch.) I've been waiting for 14 years for this remaster and it was totally worth it. It sounds great in my hi-end system, smooth and warm. Bottom end finally opened up, reviling prominent bass line. Such a good remastering job should be used for future High Resolution release. Sacrament deserved it.

I have all of White Willow albums, but Sacrament is my favorite. I am not fan of folk, to be honest. However, unlike Prog Folk bands, who use folk music in their compositions as is, WW used stylization of it, smoothly blended into Symphonic Prog, like master-painters use stylization of floral for their paintings. Result is amazing: solid Symphonic Prog with light folk flavor and small nod of traditional Scandinavian prog melancholy. Add to it excellent Sylvia's vocal and inspirational playing.

Sacrament is and always will be Golden Fund of female fronted Symphonic Prog, standing next, in prog history, to Renaissance's Turns of the Card and Scheherazade albums. I don't like loud phrases myself, but it is - what it is: Timeless Masterpiece of Progressive Rock.

I'd like to thank everyone, who took part in this Remastered Edition. 5 Brightest Nordic Stars.

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 Summer by FREQUENCY DRIFT album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.13 | 4 ratings

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Summer
Frequency Drift Crossover Prog

Review by Second Life Syndrome
Collaborator Post/Math Rock and Crossover Teams

4 stars Color me impressed. Frequency Drift has already given us a masterpiece this year in "Over", an album that represented true progression and that contains some of the best songs of the year. In fact, as I write this, "Over" is still my favorite album of 2014 thus far. So, leave it to Frequency Drift to release yet another album of sorts called "Summer". The stated purpose of this album is two-fold. First, this album is a fundraiser for the band so they can do some touring (always a good thing). Secondly, however, "Summer" represents the end of an era for the band. Though the band is being rather mysterious about it, their next album is assumed to be somewhat different in style, and so Frequency Drift has decided to give one last hurrah before they move on to other things.

So, is the swan song of this era any good? It certainly is. Quite appropriately, the six tracks on this album are reworked, previously unreleased songs that the band have upgraded and perfected. Because of this, most of the tracks will remind fans of earlier albums, such as "Personal Effects" or "Ghosts", albums with which I fell in love in the first place. This means the songs are dreamy, flitting, and extremely atmospheric. Take, for instance, the title track "Summer" and the laughing that is present or "Summer's End" and its water effects. This type of thing is common with this band, and I simply love it. It's so refreshing.

Yet, the band doesn't rely on effects for filler. They are accents to the brilliant music. They augment it and nothing else. Again, the title track "Summer" is simply killer. The guitar melody is a work of genius, and the finger work is deft. In fact, "Summer" may be one of the best songs the band has ever made, and it is worth the price of admission alone. Indeed, it even approaches the brilliance of "Memory" off of "Over", which is as high a compliment as I can give it. "Summer" is representative of the whole album, though. The rumbling, organic drumming, the impressive bass work, and the stunning, visceral keys are all present throughout the album. Amazing. This band has finally come together as a tight unit.

Isa's voice sounds wondrous and whimsical. She really matches the tone of some of the previous vocalists, but I feel her voice is richer and she nails the melodic hooks even better. It is a true joy to hear her exercise her vocal feats around the soaring guitars and satisfying thumping of the drums. I must say that the guitar solos are especially impressive on the album, very soulful and creative. The sounds of summer's end are certainly present here, too, as the waning light and the ominous cold of autumn seem very discernible. There is a certain sorrowful tone of resolution that pervades this album, but it's a sorrow that mourns for nostalgia, yet hopes for the future.

So, support this amazing band. Frequency Drift deserves more attention, and "Summer" proves that. "Summer", "Summer's End", "Distant", and "Siren" are my favorites here, but the entirety of the work needs to be heard. It's the end of an era, and it certainly feels like it. So, the band has ended this era with a splash---quite literally.

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 Anchor Drops by UMPHREY'S MCGEE album cover Studio Album, 2004
4.06 | 53 ratings

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Anchor Drops
Umphrey's McGee Crossover Prog

Review by TCat

5 stars Yes I am a huge Phish phan. Are these guys like Phish? Not much from what I hear. Sure there are a few occasional similarities, but not enough to be considered a copy or a rip off. The biggest difference is Umphrey's McGee is a lot more progressive, especially on this album. I love this album. I am not going to say much about it, because there are already some long reviews of the album and I honestly think most of what needs to be said has been said. Now it's time for you to experience the album for yourself. At times, this is very complex and progressive, at other times some songs are simpler and more standard, but never boring. The mix of the styles works here. There are many surprises throughout. That's all I'm going to say about the album. Get out there and discover these guys now! They are not getting enough attention!

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 The Anatomy Of Sharks by JUNE OF 44 album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1997
3.91 | 2 ratings

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The Anatomy Of Sharks
June Of 44 Post Rock/Math rock

Review by TCat

4 stars I cannot compare this EP with any of the bands other recordings because, quite honestly, this is the only recording of theirs that I have heard. But I must say that I was quite impressed even from the first listen. Post rock is definitely the correct subgenre for this music. There are definite leanings and inspiration from both Slint and Tortoise. What you won't hear is much to compare is with Explosions in the Sky or Red Sparrowes . In the first track the build ups are quick, the tempo changes and dynamic changes are much more often than either of those bands and sometimes they are even instant with no warning or build up. I like this because the song does not wear out it's welcome and stays interesting throughout it's 11+ minutes of playtime. There are also vocals in the first track. The vocals are a little harsh, but I think they fit the music well and don't seem out of place. The musicianship is excellent. The 2nd track is all instrumental with the percussion being the focus that carries the same basic rhythm throughout with some jazzy brass weaving throughout the beat and the bass. Very Tortoise- like to me, but they handle the style very well. The last track has a nice guitar hook and some interesting and tricky percussion. There are vocals in this track also, though they start out a little more subdued until things start getting a little more dramatic. But I never did find the vocals going overboard obnoxious for very long. Again, the dissonant vocals never seem out of place. Again in this track, there are sudden dynamic and tempo changes, but they are a little more predictable here because they almost follow a chorus/verse format.....not quite, but almost. Anyway, from this little taste of the band, I definitely think it is worth checking out their other work (whenever I get the chance). Excellent addition to any post rock lover's library mostly because they challenge the subgenre's usual formulas.

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 Anastasis by DEAD CAN DANCE album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.68 | 89 ratings

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Anastasis
Dead Can Dance Prog Folk

Review by TCat

4 stars After a long break, DCD return with the two main players/performers still true to form, almost as if they never took a break. This seems to me to be a more mature work. The tracks are also completely fleshed out, there are no short compositions here. The shortest one is Opium at almost six minutes. Because of this, the entire album does not seem as choppy as others. However, the overall effect from this results in a more "same-y" feel than in past albums. This is not a big negative for the album though. There seems to be a little more safeness to the tracks also. The progressiveness has been toned down somewhat throughout this recording, however, the beautiful orchestration on this makes up for that. When you listen to this, there is no doubt as to who you are listening to. I have to agree with the other reviewers here, that it seems this is a slight step back from their previous progressiveness. But, I would encourage fans to get this album because you will still love it, there are still some wonderful highlights here, especially in the last two tracks. In "Return of the She-King", Lisa's vocals seem a lot fuller and it works well for that track. Brendan's vocals in "All in Good Time" are some of the most soulful I have heard from him for quite a while. Beautiful and simple describes the last track, but not simple boring, not at all. Simple yet expressive and complex in it's own right. Definitely an excellent addition to any prog rock music collection, but not quite at that "essential" rating. Welcome back DCD, you've been missed. May there be many more albums to come!

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 Belighted by IAMTHEMORNING album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.78 | 39 ratings

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Belighted
iamthemorning Crossover Prog

Review by Zitro
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Two years ago, a virtually unknown Russian band released a debut with chamber classical orchestration, gorgeous multi-layered vocals, and the occasional modern rock touch. Very few initially noticed it, but eventually by word of mouth, it became an unexpected favorite 2012 album in progressive rock, despite the scarcity of progressive rock elements. Listeners there mainly rated on songwriting and enjoyment.

Now, we have a second iamthemorning album, expanding on the elements from the first album. A confident, mature album that will likely bring rave reviews all over the place given the band is not as obscure as in 2012.

The music is once again heavily influenced by classical music. Vocals and piano continue creating the foundation of the music, with orchestral instrument, drums, and modern rock sounds adding layers whenever needed. Even the modern rock sounds are used in a very classical, 'iamthemorning' way.

The added complexity of the music was a risk. After all, the debut's instantly rewarding melodies and its safe, if brilliant, songwriting approach made it very difficult for many listener to honestly hate such an album. Now, we're dealing with complexity levels more to the tune of classical music and progressive rock. This is now easily categorized as progressive rock, with less direct melodies, knotty musical ideas, occasionally long songs, more in-depth instrumentation and lyricism. The risk is that I enjoyed the first listen less than the first listen of the debut. However, I cannot decide which album I prefer now. I feel like this one has a few minor flaws based on the risk-taking approach, compared to the near-perfection pop of the debut. However, there are even more 'WOW!' moments here in my opinion, some of the very best musical passages I perceive to come across.

Flaws? I seem to only gripe about the slow development of their last full song, the samples in 'Howler' and the beginning of 'K.O.S' with a repetitive, awkward drum beat and one-chord guitar riff. Luckily, the latter two songs are overall highly interesting and dynamic songs otherwise, which is why I said the flaws are not severe as they involve a small fraction of two songs.

Strengths? It's hard to name them all. The intermissions remain impressive. The first one has such a captivating atmosphere, I can't imagine anyone being hard-pressed to say 'nah' and stop playing the album. The fourth intermission (titled XII) almost reaches song-like status in length, starting with classical violin and continuing with mesmerizing piano. The last intermission is almost transcendental in a spiritual sense.

And then you have the songs and they are so, so good. All those subtle melodies and exciting instrumentation in 'Howler', the beautiful 'To Human Misery' with a very captivating main melody yet also with a lot of subtle instrumentation. I should try not to overuse the phrase 'subtle complexity', but I think that word really describes this album. Subtle complexity is what makes this album work so well: you latch on into some obvious melodies on first listen, but then all those little details won't make you lose interest. Every instrument plays melodies, sometimes simultaneously.

'Romance' and '5/4' sound a bit like more intricate version of Tori Amos music. They are whimsical, enchanting yet quite complex in instrumentation. Those little details like the muted violin melodies and brief 'shredding' electric guitar that somehow sounds mellow. The '5/4' song is mostly in 6/4 actually, but when it shifts to a 5/4 meter playing a carnival-like atmosphere, it's pure genius, even if it sounds like a horrible idea at first listen. It's an odd choice for a single. I thought it would be 'The Simple Story' which is more instantly recognizable with its melodies and the great piano line near the end. 'Crowded Corridors' is possibly their most accomplished composition to date and also their longest by far at nearly 9 minutes. It begins relatively subdued with their typical instrumentation and vocalizations, if more haunting than usual. Something else going for it is the more 'epic', dramatic moments that work incredibly well. It'd be interesting if they revisit this approach to songwriting in later albums. A particular highlight, besides the obvious piano solo in the latter half, is a slow melody at minute 3 being revisited at the very end at a faster pace.

By the way, most of these songs deviate from a typical song structure to help make it more impactful and dynamic. The song 'Gerda' starts very soft and delicate but later sounds very empowering and grand: it's yet another great song. 'Os Lunatum' starts as an outstanding piano + vocal duet, both at their very best, especially during the song's main hook. Guitars later become dominant on the song's instrumental section. The song concludes with a full band sound, the progression from the very beginning being very natural.

'K O S' may be marginally a less enjoyable song here because of that first minute which sounds repetitive and lacks what I like about the band. The rest is an interesting experiment as they veer towards a progressive rock / alternative rock sound without fully losing their trademark vocals, pianos, and subtle way to adding melodic layers. I love the way it ends, reprising the intro in such a way that almost redeems it. The 'Reprise of Light no Light' is another lesser favorite, developing in a slow fashion that sometimes tests my patience and doesn't have as satisfying of a climax as I would have expected. I do love it, along with the last intermission; end with peaceful, abstract noise. Hard to describe it, but it's transcendental in beauty.

In the end, they have accomplished a very difficult feat, given the high standard the set themselves with their debut. This second album is very intelligent music as well as very deep, emotional music. It touches me. In the end, despite the occasional flaw, it's a masterpiece and I anticipate being consistently among my very favorite pieces of music regardless of genre alongside their debut.

Source: Free streaming off soundcloud.

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 Songs of Love and Loss by HARPER, ROY album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2011
5.00 | 2 ratings

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Songs of Love and Loss
Roy Harper Prog Folk

Review by SteveG

5 stars The creation of a lifetime. Literally. Roy Harper will be forever known as an outrageously political singer of Folk Prog songs like The White Man and Dark Cloud of Islam.

But on every album Harper has produced since his first, Sophisticated Beggar, Harper has opened up one of his veins and bled out a song from his heart stating either his adoration of or pain from a romantic relationship.

The first song from this compilation, Black Clouds, comes off Harper's first album and is followed by similar songs from his following albums and not necessary in chorographical order. But it doesn't matter as Harper, like his music, is unchanging in vocal performance and guitar playing and his ability to wear his heart on his sleeve and tell us his deepest feelings.

This album is only available at present in a 2 CD release and download.

The first thing that will strike you is the youthful photo of Harper on the CD's front cover from circa 1966 to a present photo on the inner sleeve is how much Harper has physically changed. The inner photo shows Harper with white hair, receding hairline, bespectacled and looking every bit of his 70 plus years. So you think you be in for a noticeable then versus now sonic comparison. But Roy likes to fool people and his "re-sculpturing" and remastering of these songs can only be differentiated by reading the accompanying liner notes. The sonic quality is simply amazing and is an audiophiles treat.

As far as Progressive Rock goes, the first disc is mostly solo acoustic Roy with little backing except for occasional string arrangements from the late David Bedford, on All You Need Is, or some unlisted sessions players employed by early super producer Shel Talmy (The Who, Kinks,) on North Country, that fleshs out Harper's songs of love and pathos. For those interested in what exactly Ian Anderson refers to when he points out Harper's influence on his acoustic guitar playing will see immediately what he is talking about. Generally one follows the other in a sequence that could only make sense to Harper as it's his life. But the message is unmistakable. We have all been there and can relate. But who could open up emotionally like this man? I know of few that have managed to be able to express such emotions and feeling in song and I have been around for a while and have actually heard Bob Dylan sing before he was even famous as well as countless others who were. And none come close to Harper on such a consistent basis, that you know that every song must have been an emotional rollercoaster for him record. But we have them and sometimes it's a rollercoaster for the listener. Thank God for two separate discs.

The second disc contains Harper's true Progressive Folk Rock with guest players such as Bill Bruford, Chris Spedding, Dave Cochran and the ever present Jimmy Page. The songs include such concerts standards as Hallucinating Light, The Fly Catcher, Cherishing The Lonesome and the stunning Another Day (from Harper's most personal album Death or Glory?).

Again, the combination of Harper's remastering and the power of these songs is simply stunning and sometimes emotionally overwhelming. But this album is truly the particular work of a great artist's lifetime and you can tell it was put together by Harper with love.

If you're not into an emotional journey than this double album is not for you. But if you care for some in your Progressive Rock music then step on up. Just remember, you can listen to one disc at a time. As great as this album is, some of us have to. Five stars and have a cigar.

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 Not About Us by GENESIS album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1998
2.51 | 30 ratings

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Not About Us
Genesis Symphonic Prog

Review by Guillermo
Prog Reviewer

3 stars "Not About Us" is a good but sad ballad or love song, sung very well by Ray Wilson, with good guitars by Mike Rutherford and good keyboards arrangements by Tony Banks. The song was credited as being composed by Banks, Rutherford and Wilson. The single edit from this song which was included in this single is 35 seconds shorter than the album version, and it also sounds to me like this single edit has a different sound mixing in comparison to the album version. The band also made a promotional videoclip for this song, also "dark" and sad.

The "B-sides":

"Anything Now" is a good Pop Rock song with a good melody and good guitar riffs by Rutherford. This song really could have been very well included in the "...Calling All Stations..." album as I consider it as one of the best songs that this line-up of the band recorded. It really did not deserve to be relegated as the B-side of a single.

"Sign Your Life Away": a good and more heavy Pop Rock song which maybe also deserved to be included in the album instead than to be destined to be a B-side of a single.

"Run Out of Time": a song which starts with a keyboard solo which sounds like a sax solo from a Jazz song. It is a slow Pop Rock song which does not sound as being very related to the musical style of the band. But the keyboards arrangements are very good.

From all the three singles that this line-up of the band released, this is the best and most interesting, as all the songs which were included in it are good.

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 Shipwrecked by GENESIS album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1997
2.50 | 27 ratings

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Shipwrecked
Genesis Symphonic Prog

Review by Guillermo
Prog Reviewer

2 stars "Shipwrecked" is a Pop Rock ballad with good guitar riffs by Mike Ruherford (maybe he was the main songwriter of this song) and good keyboards arrangements by Tony Banks. Ray Wilson also sang good lead vocals. But again...I think that it was a bit difficult for some radio listeners to identify this song as a song composed, recorded and performed by GENESIS. While there are still some very typical things from the "old" musical style from the band (the guitars and the keyboards really sound as being very typical from this band), Wilson`s voice is so different from Phil Collins`s voice that the song could really be more considered as a solo song by Rutherford sung by a guest lead singer. Anyway, "Shipwrecked" is one of the best songs from their "...Calling All Stations..." album, and a better choice for a single release than "Congo".

The B-sides, "Phret" and "7/8", both instrumental Pop Rock musical pieces, sound more related to the Genesis`s old sound from the eighties, with drummer Nir Z playing good drums in a similar way as Phil Collins did it in the past. Both musical pieces are not bad, not "dark" and more "light" in comparison to the other songs from the album, but both really show why they were released only as "B" sides of this single

Some versions of this single included live versions of old songs from the band, like "No Son of Mine", "Lovers Leap" (from "Supper`s Ready") and "Turn It On Again", all sung by Ray Wilson. Wilson sang the songs well, but again I think that his voice is not very easy to identify as from an official singer of the band. So, some live in concert recordings from this line-up of the band are more interesting for me to listen to the songs from the "...Calling All Stations..." album played live than to listen to the old songs which were originally sung by Phil Collins or Peter Gabriel.

So, this single could be more interesting for the collectors and fans of the band.

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 Distant Satellites by ANATHEMA album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.76 | 195 ratings

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Distant Satellites
Anathema Experimental/Post Metal

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars "Distant Satellites" is the 12th full-length studio album by atmospheric rock act Anathema. The album was released through Kscope in June 2014.

"Distant Satellites" treads an alternative/semi-progressive atmospheric rock path that is similar in sound and style to it´s predecessor "Weather Systems (2012)". The music is polished, dreamy, and slow building. Usually starting out mellow and then slowly building towards louder and more intense climaxes. The by now trademark melancholy of the band´s music is as prevailent here as it´s always been. This is not depressive music though and although it´s not exactly happy music either, there is an uplifting spirit about the whole affair, that makes "Distant Satellites" a predominantly light melancholic album rather than a dark depressive one.

The male vocals by Vincent Cavanagh and the female vocals by Lee Douglas are the center of attention on the album and they share the spotlight equally. Atmospheric keyboards and guitars, and a well playing rhythm section complete the band´s sound. Anathema have also included some electronic drumming on the album, which to my ears is a very successful move.

The first part of the album features organic drums, but when the 7th track "You´re Not Alone" kicks in, the music style changes a bit as a result of the electronic drums. It becomes more ambient and I´m reminded of artists like Massive Attack and Morcheeba. The short instrumental "Firelight" continues the ambient sound and the title track which follows is also quite ambient and features electronic drumming. The latter reminds me a lot of Coldplay and could in an edited version (this version is 8:17 minutes long) easily get radio airplay. It´s the perfect example of how far Anathema have come since their early doom/death metal days. It´s not unusual for Anathema to tweek their sound during an album. They did the same on "Weather Systems (2012)". They do it skillfully though which means that their core style and atmosphere are intact throughout.

"Distant Satellites" is packed in an organic and pleasant sounding production which fits the music perfectly, and all in all it´s another high quality release by Anathema. If I have to voice a minor complaint it would be about the lyrics, which are at times a bit too simple, naive, and starry eyed, and not exactly written with the greatest finesse. I´ll even go as far as to call them teenage-angsty, which is a bit odd to me, as I know these guys (and girl) are in their 30s/40s. Oh well...they are fortunately sung by strong voices and wrapped in beautiful melodies, so it is a minor complaint and a 3.5 - 4 star (75%) rating is still deserved.

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 Other World by HAMMILL, PETER album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.51 | 48 ratings

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Other World
Peter Hammill Eclectic Prog

Review by DrömmarenAdrian

3 stars Impressive but...

Soon after that I had heard "The Silent corner and the empty stage" beacame I very curious about hearing the totally new record by htis romantic hero, Peter Hammill, the record "Other world" from 2014 which is done together with guitarist Gary Lucas.

On the cover we see and area of antoher planet and it feels like the theme of emptyness is present also here, but actually even more here. I was overwhelmed when I realized that Peter Hammill could still perform pure musical art just as that romantic stage poet he is. On "Other world", Hammill's thirty-eighth studio album it's just he and Gary Lucas, the guitarist who play. They do perform impressive things on these minutes. Lucas is a great guitarist who can capture every feeling and play both rough and sophisticated.

But, when I am impressed do I just rate this three? Well I think the record is too calmed down, too ambient and partially even too weird. I like experimental stuff and I know it's progressive but I want to hear more of the Hammill I am used to. I would like to recommend some beautiful songs though such as: " Of Kith & Kin" a quite acoustic song with the famous voice poet telling us the truth and "Cash"- rough and mighty , "This is Showbiz" - fast and furious, "Black Ice" an experimental beauty and "The Kid" which all deserve (8/10) from me. Some of the others are also good but I wouldn't recommend them.

This is definitely a record for fans of Peter Hammill but perhaps even more for fans of very experiemtal and/or calm ambient music. I look forward to hear all the other Hammill records!

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 Angels and Demons by ALGABAS album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.52 | 7 ratings

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Angels and Demons
Algabas Heavy Prog

Review by XPEHOPE3KA

3 stars I am one of those who has financially helped issuing this album, so my review might be biased.

I heard Algabas in concert in 2012 and I was struck by how nothing was musically bad in what they did. It was a big shame there was no way to listen to them in CD quality. Every time I listen to this CD I still have distinctively pleasant feel.

The guys label themselves as neo-prog, and reviewers tend to agree. Yet for me it's not. The albums is based on verse-chorus-like structures, general lack of complexity is evident, so it's basically either Crossover, or neo-prog, or not prog at all. The main distinctive moment for me is the drums. They are never (or almost never) neo-proggish here, never ostinato, they add complexity, not conceal it by being simple and in front of everything. So my take on genre will be Crossover prog.

What really was top both on this album and on both concerts I attended is the guitar. It's playful, inventive and crystal clear. I couldn't notice if there are any self repeats or anything like that, and it plays throughout all 50+ minutes. Musical flow is like I like it: it is maintained carefully, all the fragments stitched together, mood transitions are not out of place. Keyboards play supportive role here for flow, melody and atmosphere. Slightly pleasant or slightly tense, seldom frenzy, seldom in front.

Downsides include lack of complexity, lack of tempo variation, rough production, no loudness variation (Sergey is still dissatisfied with the sound). There are mainly two types of music being played: mid-fast tempo 4-piece (bar The Chimney House which features a sax solo) and slow-mid paced psychedelic, both guitar driven.

Next goes a track by track stars. 4* Angels and Demons (5:04) 3* Galilei (5:47) 3* The White House (5:00) in Russian this was "The white stone" 4* Walking Around Jerusalem (5:17) 3* Secrets of the Sky (5:30) 3* The War (6:32) 3* Madness Formula (5:26) 4* The Chimney House (6:01) 3* Express Train (6:08)

Time-weighted average: 3,32.

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 Rising Force by MALMSTEEN, YNGWIE album cover Studio Album, 1984
4.15 | 65 ratings

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Rising Force
Yngwie Malmsteen Prog Related

Review by Dark Nazgul

4 stars Baroque And Roll

"Yngwie Malmsteen's Rising Force" first album reveals to the world the talent of the great Swedish guitarist (which was already noted with his previous band named "Alcatrazz"). Although the album is credited to Rising Force, the project is solely owned by Malmsteen, who writes all the songs, also played the bass guitar, and relegates the other musicians, which are very good technically, to the role of supporting actors.

The best songs are the instrumental ones where Malmsteen can show his prodigious guitar technique as, for example, in the classic Far Beyond The Sun, the summa of his virtuosity. Black Star and Evil Eye are great song too. Despite some nice passages, As Above, So Below and Now Your Ships Are Burned are ranked one step below because of anything but memorable voice of the singer Jeff Scott Soto and questionable "viking" lyrics. Icarus Dream Suite Op.4 is my favorite song, and one of the absolute top of Malmsteen's career, with a prodigious performance of the famous Albinoni's "Adagio".

Many people know Yngwie's style and not at all like it: a furious guitar technique with an extensive use of scales played at stratospheric speeds, and a strange mixture of heavy metal and classical baroque. Not always the music that Malmsteen has produced turned out to be at the height of his virtuosity, but at least on this album (and also in the surprising "Concerto Suite for Electric Guitar And Orchestra") the results are gratifying. Although intended only for lovers of heavy metal and guitar, in its genre "Yngwie Malmsteen's Rising Force" is a successful album. Too bad that in the future almost never the Swedish guitarist will make music of this quality. No doubt, this is not a prog album. My final rating is 7/10 and 3,5 stars. Well, I'll give at the end four stars because it is a very innovative album in the heavy metal genre.

Final rating: 7/10.

Best song: Icarus Dream Suite Op.4

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 2014 by ZOUNDWORKS album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.69 | 24 ratings

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2014
Zoundworks Symphonic Prog

Review by roland60

5 stars I know, I am prejudiced, because I have played the drums in Life Line Project in 2003 and I have been playing the drums in a jazz band with Erik de Beer some years ago, but I am deeply impressed by his solo album.

The music is very cheerful and dynamic. The drums sound very much alive, the basses rock and all lead guitars and vintage keyboards sound sparkling and fresh. I didn't believe it was possible, that one man only can produce such a dynamic and sparkling sound. Nowhere you are reminded that this is a one man project. The music is very accessible and agreeable to listen to. The few vocal contributions by original 1983 singer Ankie Jansen and Life Line Project leading voice Marion Brinkman fit in with the music perfectly. I think "The Hole" is one of the most beautiful pieces on the album. The drumming in the melodic folk-like composition, full of flutes and acoustic guitars is fantastic!

2014 is the kind of album you enter in your player when you are sad and need to be cheered up. The disire to be alive and happy is present in every bar on this album.

Roland.

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 Alternative 4 by ANATHEMA album cover Studio Album, 1998
4.08 | 470 ratings

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Alternative 4
Anathema Experimental/Post Metal

Review by FragileKings

3 stars I've had this album for two years now and I have been hesitating to review it because I wasn't altogether thrilled about it after the first few listens. The album is about ill-placed trust and loyalty, betrayal, anger, and finally getting one's strength back. The theme didn't particularly appeal to me but more so I felt that the concept wasn't delivered in a truly convincing way but instead sounded rather juvenile.

The music is often pretty slow and when it picks up and tries to exhibit more tension and power, I feel it never quite reaches a satisfactory level. Vincent Cavanagh does his best to sound crestfallen, betrayed, hurt, and angered but somehow something's missing. There are a lot of references in vocal style to Pink Floyd's "The Final Cut", most noticeable when in several places Cavanagh repeats his words like an echo as we can hear on "The Wall" and "The Final Cut". "I've lost all control, control, control, control." He also gets a few good screams in their too as Waters did on the Floyd albums. It's no surprise then that the reissue comes with four bonus tracks, three of which are Pink Floyd covers from the two albums I mentioned. And actually, Cavanagh does a mighty fine job of singing like Roger Waters did on the originals.

So, I wasn't wowed and put off reviewing this album until the time was right for me and suddenly it struck me that I was ready. After a good listen I found my views had softened a little. Actually there's some good music on this album and a few highlights. I like the violin, especially at the beginning of "Fragile Dreams" as I first thought it sounded like an er-hu (a two-string Chinese violin). "Regret" has some nice "ah-ah" harmony vocals in a minor key that sound almost like they could push for pseudo-Gregorian chant with a bit more effort. The last minute of "Feel" is where things finally turn around for our protagonist and the music at last breaks free of its depressing mood, becoming powerful and charged. We also get some piano, organ, and acoustic guitar here and there.

None of the music is particularly complex, going more for mood and atmosphere. The lyrics sound a little trite at times but are sincere if not a bit tedious in their bitterness. Since purchasing this album, I have on occasion added a song or two on mixed playlists and have thus become more familiar with certain tracks and even having a couple of favourites. Now I don't think it's quite so bad an album after all, though I wouldn't call it essential unless you're a fan of the band. Good enough.

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 Three Friends  by GENTLE GIANT album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.11 | 836 ratings

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Three Friends
Gentle Giant Eclectic Prog

Review by FragileKings

4 stars Gentle Giant was one of those classic bands with which I felt I had to become acquainted for my prog education. The problem was that every time I tried to listen to samples from their albums I was quickly put off. They just sounded too weird to me. Renaissance barbershop quartet with jazz and eclectica. Let's just be as obtuse and peculiar as we can, boys! Nope. I wasn't getting it.

As it so happened, I never gave up and eventually downloaded 'Alucard' from their debut from iTunes. That song captured me and soon I was looking at the reviews of their albums. 'Three Friends' was said to have some hard rock on it and that was the selling point. I ordered it and sunk my ears into this concoction of Gentle Giant's.

Surprisingly, I found the album to be quite listenable. It's actually not as weird as some of what I had heard (I now have 'Acquiring the Taste' as well and that's more bizarre at times). The prologue is a pretty decent rock song with a strong progressive vibe, featuring some of their unique vocal arrangements but in an easy to follow way. The three main story songs about the three friends are also very good, in my opinion. 'Working All Day' is lower in tone with some saxophone and vocals in the lower register. 'Mister Class and Quality?' is fairly typical of early seventies music with organ, a nice beat, some violin, and some good electric guitar playing.

'Peel the Paint' is where the album really hits it home though. The beginning is cautious and suspenseful as we see the artist painting. There are some lovely violins to add class. However, the second part of the song turns into a heavy rocker with Kerry Minear delivering a husky, gravel-voiced rock vocal as the lyrics turn to the darker side of the artist's life. There's a guitar and drum duet that is simply calls for wringing the air with an air guitar performance by the listener. It reminds me of the battle between the two wizards (guitar and drums) on Uriah Heep's 'The Magician's Birthday'. Wonderful stuff. Though the strained guitar notes get replaced by milder effects the song by no means lays low. It concludes with more of Kerry and a dramatic closure of guitar, sax, bass, drums, and organ.

The only real weird part on the album I feel is 'Schooldays' which includes some of GG's more adventurous vocal works and features a shaky performance by young Calvin Shulman, the son of one of the Shulman brothers. The boy was nervous claim the CD liner notes and it shows. But if I were recording an album and needed a boy's voice I am sure I would ask my son too.

The music here is bold and vigorous but not as experimental as on some of their other albums. As such, this is an easy album to enjoy and a safe stepping stone to access the band. It still has the band showing off their skill though. As I mentioned above, I also have 'Acquiring the Taste' which is a lot more off the beaten path. I'm tempted to buy 'Octopus' and maybe one or two albums more as there are a few here that are highly rated but I am not sure what to expect yet. Definitely a good album but compared to some of GG's other more progressive works, I am not sure that it is exactly essential. But I still feel it has enough highlights to make it better than just good.

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 The Final Delusion by DELUSION SQUARED album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.70 | 27 ratings

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The Final Delusion
Delusion Squared Crossover Prog

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

4 stars The third Delusion Squared album, `The Final Delusion', will hopefully be anything but that, as the French three piece offer their most fulfilling, varied and exciting album to date and have so much more promise to build on from here! The band, led by the distinctive and charmingly accented Lorraine Young (singing in her best English so far), alongside Steven Francis (guitars, drums) and Emmanuel de Saint Méen (bass, keyboards), offer a mix of contrasting acoustic and electric passages, punchy and sleek Rush-style heavy prog, Porcupine Tree-like emotional acoustic flavours, the sombre gloom of Paatos and a dash of introspective indie pop, with the emphasis on melodic vocal driven songs and only carefully tightly framed instrumental moments. The band will likely appeal most to fans of the more modern takes on progressive music, as there's very little vintage or retro influenced sounds throughout.

The ideas behind this concept work are certainly a lot to dwell on and ponder. Mind-control, gene experimentation, torture, modern warfare and mental manipulation all feature, with frequently dreamy and surreal lyrics that move backwards and forwards through different time frames. Even with little moments of bridging interludes of conversations between and during tracks, following the story can be quite confusing, and the CD booklet only offers help in the form of some cryptic leaked (and I'm assuming mock?!) government documents. I hope I've been able to grasp the basics of the concept of the album, otherwise the guys and gal of Delusion Squared are welcome to contact me and set the record straight!

Immediate attention must go to Lorraine's shrieking gasp over a battery of storming drums that opens the first proper track `Diaspora', it instantly makes you sit up and take notice, wondering `What are we getting into here?!', as well as showing off the confidence of the band. Nice soaring chorus on that one too! Lorraine also supplies plentiful delicate acoustic guitar throughout the disc, full of warmth in even the most melancholic moments. There are nice varied electric guitar approaches and reflective piano throughout `Reason of State', beautiful use of feedback-drenched electric wailing and distorted synth on `Devil Inside'. `Finally Free' sees the acoustic and electric guitars racing alongside each other in a late Porcupine Tree manner, some hazy ambience throughout the ethereal synths of `Last Day of Sun', and the mix of lilting acoustic guitar and orchestration on `By The Lake (Dying)' is impossibly heartfelt. Thick snarling metal tears through `Oblivion for My Sin'. You also get driving instrumentals like album opener `The Same River Thrice', full of heavy riffs, constant powerful drumbeats and pulsing Neo prog influenced synths, `Persistence of Vision' instead builds atmosphere by way of Post-rock chiming guitars and thick murky bass. `Deus in Machina' closes the album with soaring orchestration, victorious guitar soloing and a rising vocal that displays defiant human spirit and true heart.

Without a doubt, thirteen tracks is probably far too many, and several of the pieces have quite a similar sound. However, once you become more familiar with the whole album, it has a great flow and you won't notice the lengthy running time so much. Some will find Lorraine's thick accent difficult, but I think she has real character and great spirit. Fans of the later Porcupine Tree albums and modern female fronted prog bands should look into Delusion Squared right away, and in some ways, the group are a much deeper and more complex version of acts such as Touchstone and The Reasoning, maybe even a gutsier, less vintage based Magenta. `The Final Delusion' is a triumph for melodic vocal driven modern prog that places emotion, melody and subtlety over flashy extended bloated soloing, and the trio should be immensely proud of their efforts here.

Four stars.

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 Raised On Radio by JOURNEY album cover Studio Album, 1986
2.39 | 59 ratings

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Raised On Radio
Journey Prog Related

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Two years after Frontiers came Raised On Radio. And by then, boy, the musical scene had changed a lot, with most AOR groups disbanding and/or losing ground quickly to British new wavers like Duran Duran and Culture Club or to heavy metal bands, from thrash to glam. ROR sounds a lot like the band trying hard to adapt to the new styles, with lots of synths and a very slick production. So much so that they found that they didn´t need a jazzy drummer like Steve Smith, who was dismissed during the recording sessions (although he was credit on 3 songs). Bassist and founding member Ross Valory claims that, tired of ego clashes within the group, decided to leave before the sessions started. Both places were taken by session musicians.

So the band was reduced to the hardcore trio of Steve Perry, Neal Schon and Jonathan Cain, all prime songwriters of the band. Production duties were taken by Perry, who pretty much ran the show here. And it comes as no surprise when Raised On Radio sounds more like Perry´s solo project than actually a Journey album. The savior factor was the fact that the songwriting department still retained much of their former magic: songs like Girl Can´t Helped It, I´ll be Alright Without You and Be Good To Yourself are typical Journey stuff, full of great melodies, power and stunning performances of all involved. Suzanne, Once You Love Somebody and It Could Have Been You are nice, but quite different and maybe a little too close to the 80´s pop cliche. Still, none of the tracks are crap and the fact that Perry is singing better than ever do help matters a lot.

After several spins you get the feeling that Raised On Radio does not achieve that energetic and fresh approach Journey used to a few years before. It´s the first Journey album since Next that sounds a bit dated. As good as the songs are, the plastic synth sounds and the monochromatic drums on much of the tracks take away some of the former charm they once had in spades.

Rating: 3 stars. Good melodic album, but they have done better ones.

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 Absolutely Free by ZAPPA, FRANK album cover Studio Album, 1967
4.09 | 362 ratings

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Absolutely Free
Frank Zappa RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by DrömmarenAdrian

3 stars I am ready to continue my examination of Frank Zappa's work beacuse I won't believe he is overrated. He seems to have inspired so many musicians that he must have something important to show me too. He was born 1940 and on this, his second record "Absolutely Free" from 1967 was he 27 years old. It is a "Mothers of invention"-record but the big Zappa portrait indicates he's the main brain. On these 44 minutes Zappa plays guitar and sings, Ray Collins sings, Roy Estrada plays bass, Don Preston plays keyboards, Bunk Gardner plays saxophone, Jimmy Carl Black plays drums and Bill Mundi plays drums.

1967 was before prog but in the midst of the psychedelic era. This music though isn't psychedelic but it is even more crazy. For me the confusion is not very pleasant. In one way it feels like the album is very artistic and I guess there are deep thoughts about all this stuff but for me it just feels whimpsy and obscene. I feel that it is very interesting music and there are a lot of moments when I hear the music is true professional. The best track for me is "Invocation and Ritual Dance of the Young Pumpkin"(8/10) which starts with a beautiful Rimskij-Korsakov-theme. I also like the professionality in "Status back baby"(8/10). Zappa had a funny voice and his playful texts are clear in "The duke of prunes"(7/10) for example or"Call any vegetables"(7/10) and "Uncle Bernie's Farm"(7/10). Though do many of the greatest thoughts here drown in the loud mess of confusion.

When you think about that this was a very long time ago you understand Frank Zappa and his mothers were doing something really new. It's fair to call it revolutionary. I would though like more music and less chatting. Some tracks are just annoying. This is interesting but not in my taste, three stars!

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 Patience of Hope by ROZ VITALIS album cover Studio Album, 2012
4.00 | 17 ratings

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Patience of Hope
Roz Vitalis RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by admireArt

4 stars Yeah! Hope.

Under the abstract and diverse RiO/AV sub tagging or "Karma", this work could easily be forgotten by the lack of exposure that usually non USA musicians get here in this category. In all, it limits possible prog audiences that will surely get also their kicks with this kind of ECLECTIC, CROSSOVER, Avant Garde prog and with hope the Symphonic prog followers who like the darker and not the always and never ending sweet flavors in their plates.

"Patience of Hope" Roz Vitalis 2012 project is so uniquely diverse but always focused, that each passage no matter how small or important, beholds an unobtrusive creativity that everything blends into place. Weaving different rooting but never ceasing to sound original, the constructions or songs, contain in themselves different moods, never setting on one in particular, which more than being the kind of RiO planned disturbing interruptions, Roz Vitalis bets on the movemernt of styles within each single song.

Perfectly song written designed, all sounds flow in a constant an ever changing combination of styles' atmospheres. The intrumentation ranges from clavecin like baroque figures to the poignant use of the electrics, both bass and guitar. From classic piano moments to frantic but friendly Jazz up-beat and off beat environments. From dark symphonic passages to strongly percussive lands, that in all truth, I can bet, any King Crimson early fan will feel at home again with, but in an alternate reality one of course! (Please do not mistake reference for imitation! Also no vocalist on this effort)

So, not all that not glitters is not worthwhile, this extraordinary and well rated, yet underrated album (16 ratings, come on!) is sheer proof of this!

****4.5 "Closer to 5 than 4, essential goodie) PA stars.

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 Time by 7 FOR 4 album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.53 | 32 ratings

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Time
7 for 4 Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars Drummer Klaus Engl shared his time between 7 For 4 and his earlier band Serum, but as Serum demised in 2003 he focused on his work with the emerging Heavy Fusion German act, which was now moving on to the recordings of a second album, titled ''Time'' and eventually released on MGI in 2004.Female singer Conny Kreitmeier, who later collaborated with several German acts like Panzerpappa, RPWL or Schizofrantik, participates in one track.

Do not expect any signs of stylistical changes between ''Time'' and ''Contact'', this was another Heavy Prog album by the Germans, fusing primarly the jazzy looseness with other styles such as Heavy Metal, Neo-Classical Music and a bit of Funk.Wolfgang Zenk tries really hard to keep a balance between egoistic guitar manipulations or virtuosic soloing and more melodic offerings, either way or another his repertoire includes complex hooks and twists along with furious soloing, characterizing more or less the material played by the whole band.While acts such as PLANET X or LIQUID TENSION EXPERIMENT are the obvious comparisons, I can even here echoes of vintage groups such as FOCUS or RUSH in 7 For 4's material, from the old-styled jazzy fests of JAN AKKERMAN to the powerful leads of ALEX LIFESON.Like many contemporary Heavy Rock and Prog Metal acts, 7 For 4 have an evident tendency to add some Classical terms in their music.Keyboard parts are great, ranging from frenetic flashes to dominant runs with the piano providing even some Avant-Garde lines in the process.The result is an album of almost all instrumental music for fans of Tech Prog Rock and Metal with endless thematic turns.Only exception comes from ''Where are you now'', the track that features the performance of Conny Kreitmeier, and sounds like a mix of KING CRIMSON-ian Fusion with Alternative Rock, pretty decent but a bit out of the album's mood.

I can't say that ''Time'' is close to the masterful tracks composed by LIQUID TENSION EXPERIMENT, but there is some great instrumental stuff contained in here and if you like technical but balanced Prog Fusion with a heavier edge this is a very good effort.Recommended.

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 Skye by MONARCH TRAIL album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.94 | 62 ratings

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Skye
Monarch Trail Neo-Prog

Review by daisy1

5 stars I first heard of this album on the ClassicRock Prog sampler.Luminescence was the track,and I just had to get the rest.The band remind me partly of Flower Kings in their more symphonic outings,and also Greenslade ,Triumvirat and ELP.So you've guessed pretty well keyboard led by Canadian maestro Ken Baird.There are vocals on 3 of the 4 tracks and also guitars,drums support well.Track one,Luminescence is really 2 halves- keyboard driven first half then a beautiful slow symphonic second half where the keys just build up and build up to a triumphant climax.track 2 is lighter and more vocal and leads into a brilliant instrumental track3 which bounces along with all synths blazing,then goes more symphonic in a Greenslade type of way,before exploding again- brilliant! The epic 4th track is one of the best longer tracks you will hear.The back synth drop reminds me a bit of ELP Trilogy track- but 20 minutes zooms along with no holds barred.

I think this album could be my favourite of the year with IQ Road of Bones. It is SO good.All keyboard driven fans should lap this up- especially if you like Glass Hammer,Flower Kings,Greenslade,Tiumvirat,ELP.Ken's playing is some of the best prog keys I have ever heard.I will now have to buy his solo stuff.My only criticism is the album was over too quickly- so we need a bonus disc and some live playing. So excellent 10/10.

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 Congo by GENESIS album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1997
1.81 | 37 ratings

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Congo
Genesis Symphonic Prog

Review by Guillermo
Prog Reviewer

2 stars I was a bit surprised when in March 1996 I read in a newspaper Phil Collins`s announcement about he was leaving GENESIS then. I had doubts about the band carrying on without him...but Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford wanted to carry on as GENESIS. And they did it. Finally by mid 1997 I read in a Rock magazine an interview done with them and new lead singer Ray Wilson. So, it was until September 1997 when I finally saw their new album called "...calling all stations..." in the record shops of my city and I bought it. But before that, I thought that the new lead singer could have been very well Paul Carrack (of MIKE AND THE MECHANICS) or a lead singer of more or less the same age of Banks and Rutherford. But no...the new lead singer was Wilson, a lead singer who was born in 1968, at the time that GENESIS were recording their first album when they were teenagers...The differences in age and in looks between Banks and Rutherford with Wilson were very clear from their appearances in photos as a band.

The cover design of the "...calling all stations..." album was in fact very "dark" for my taste. I thought the same thing about most of the music of that album. I also thought that the change of lead singer was a drastic move, with the new lead singer having a very different voice and style in comparison to Collins`s (in a similar way as in the case of MARILLION with new lead singer Steve Hogarth when he replaced Fish). Anyway, the band still retained some of the "old" musical style they had when Collins was in the band, but now they were more focused in the "dark" aspects of their music and lyrics, like they were trying to re-create the moods of previous "dark" songs like "Home by the Sea / Second Home by the Sea", "Mama", and others which I don`t like very much from their discography. But the band lacked a balance of moods in their music and lyrics, now lacking Collins`s humour and his more "light" musical tastes. So, most of the songs of the "...calling all stations..." album sound to me in a very similar, "dark" way. Even some of the ballads are a bit sad in content. But I think that Wilson really was not very involved in the creation of the content of the album. In fact Banks and Rutherford have recorded most of the tracks before Wilson joined the band. So with the exception of a few songwriting collaborations between the three musicians, the new album was really more the creation of Banks and Rutherford than a real collaboration with Wilson. I think that he was recruited more as a lead singer than anything else.

With a song like "Congo" it seems now that the band wanted to update their music for the late nineties. A "dark" song with some good arrangements and some Pop Rock oriented lyrics, and also with a not very good promotional video clip for my taste (also "dark"), in fact it sounded to me very far from the "old" GENESIS`s musical style with Collins in their most Pop Rock music oriented songs. I still think that this song was not the best choice from all the songs from their new album to be released as a single. I still think that "If That `s What You Need", even if it is a ballad / love song, could have been a Hit Single. That song sounds more related to the Collins`s Era in musical style. But maybe Banks and Rutherford wanted to distance the name of the band a bit from that kind of songs.

"Papa He Said" and "Banjo Man", the B-sides of the "Congo" single, sound more Pop Rock oriented in musical style than "Congo", and even less produced and polished, mostly like the members of the band were thinking that both songs were not very good for their tastes, so both songs were relegated to be released as B-sides and nothing more. But both songs are good for my taste, and I think that both (with more added production work ) could have made their new album more musically varied and interesting, offering some less "dark" songs. These two songs and other songs from the same period which were released as B-sides of other singles are now more for the collectors and most die-hard fans of the band as they were ignored for their inclusion in their "Archive" Box Set series. I seems that their period with Wilson as lead singer, not being very happy and successful for the band, was ignored, like Banks and Rutherford were trying to forget about it. Wilson, of course, was not the main "guilty" person in the lack of success of their 1997 album and in their tour in 1998. Maybe Banks and Rutherford should have done more detailed previous market research studies (if even they did something like that, a thing that I think they never did) to learn more about the musical tastes of their old fans and of the new musical audiences of the late nineties. But it seems that they wanted to be more loyal to their own musical tastes and musical experiments than to anything else.

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 Clessidra by LOCUS AMOENUS album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.00 | 2 ratings

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Clessidra
Locus Amoenus Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by andrea
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Locus Amoenus began life in 2010 in San Michele di Serino, a small town in the province of Avellino, in an area called Irpinia. The name of the band comes from a literary quote that refers to an ideal place where you can reflect about life and reality: an imaginary, beautiful spot and a real source of inspiration for the mind. After a hard work and a good live activity on the local scene, in 2013 the band self-released an excellent debut album, "Clessidra" (Hourglass), with a line up featuring Alessio Vito (vocals, guitar, flute), Raffaele Purgante (electric guitar), Antonio Di Filippo (sax), Alessandro Ragano (bass) and Mauro Cefalo (drums). The overall sound draws on many sources of inspiration ranging from classical music to jazz, from folk to metal, but the members of the band managed to add a good deal of original ideas, personality and freshness. The result is pretty good and even if on the album you can hear echoes from the seventies you can feel that this is not a clone act at all and, in my opinion, the music is really worth listening to from start to finish with an open mind.

The opener "Tra la mente e gli infiniti inverni dell'anima (Preludio)" (Between the mind and he infinite winters of the soul) sets the atmosphere of this work. It's a beautiful instrumental piece that starts at the sound of a bell and features many changes in mood and rhythm. The title is in some way related to the art cover by Davide Panarella that, according to an interview with the band, tries to capture the spirit of the whole album representing a glance through the soul's eye over an arid, cold reality.

Then comes the long, complex "Inverno" (Winter) that every now and again recalls bands such as Osanna, Van der Graaf Generator and Jethro Tull, with a good interaction between sax and flute. The music and lyrics depict an eye in the sky observing the bitter destiny of the earth: it looks at the earth's defeat from above while a tear wets its hermitage, sweeping away its malignity. Cold winds blow shaking the dry branches of a tree, then the tree drops its fruits and disquieting instrumental passages evoke a never ending winter. Clouds of smoke cover the sky and the light gets lost into the darkness while the tired eye keeps on looking at the gloomy landscape below, crying...

The following "Il suono di Lei" (Her sound) is another long, complex track. The mood is lighter, here the music and lyrics try to conjure up a mystical character, a goddess who can breath a new life into a bleak reality, waking up the senses with her singing. It's almost a parable about the cathartic power of music: there's no hope without the charming sounds coming out from some mysterious, enchanted woods... Only those sounds can break the chains of the daily grind!

"Lettera di un folle" (Letter from a madman) begins by the sound of a quill writing frantically on paper and a delicate acoustic guitar arpeggio, then the rhythm rises. There are many changes in rhythm and mood, some soft passages remind me of Banco del Mutuo Soccorso, some others are wilder and remind me of Area and Il Balletto di Bronzo. The music and lyrics depict a man halfway between lucidity and folly who's drawing some images taken from a blurred reality that Time is blotting out. The words are moving on the paper like leafs falling from a tree: tired, they get lost along the way, in an eternal quest for a Love that whips the heart...

At over six minutes in length, "Amleto" (Hamlet) is the shortest track on the whole album but it's not not an easy listening one. In fact, this is an experimental piece featuring a free jazzy approach and confused voices in the background declaiming some verses from Shakespeare's Hamlet. The atmosphere is dark, suspended between dream and nightmare...

Next comes the melancholic "Anima" (Soul), a bitter-sweet reflection about life and afterlife where for a moment your soul breaks through and your mind begins to fly across a crying sky, over dreams and illusions, over hopes and disappointments, towards a fairy land where there's no room for pain. The come back to reality is hard when the parallel world you were dreaming of suddenly clashes with the usual routine of a life where everything is normal and boring.

The dreamy "I segni del Mio tempo" (The signs of My time) closes the album with a touching reflection about the effects of consumerism. In a world where materialism and money rule without mercy there's no room for real beauty and feelings. Music dies and poetry fades away while freedom fails... Well, after a silent pause there's still time for a sudden, hidden burst of rage and indignation!

On the whole, I think that this is a very good album where the poetical lyrics perfectly fit the music drawing melancholic, beautiful wintry landscapes suspended between dream and reality. Anyway, have a try and judge by yourselves: you can listen in streaming to the complete album on bandcamp!

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 Angels and Demons by ALGABAS album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.52 | 7 ratings

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Angels and Demons
Algabas Heavy Prog

Review by felonafan

4 stars "Angels and Demons" is the debut album of the Russian band ALGABAS from Vladimir (which is the ancient Russian town). This is music composed in the tradition of Genesis, Marillion, and IQ, but played with "heavier elements". Good drums, active bass, beautiful keyboards (with frequent use of digital strings), guitars (both hard-rockish and Rothery-oriented) and - to some extent, crude and not sweet but charismatic - male vocals (in Russian) create enjoyable atmosphere for neo-progster. The best song is dark "Madness Formula" with dramatic accents and riffs but all other songs including one instrumental track can also be considered as interesting and appealing. Touch of traditional Russian folk music adds charm. More diverse sound, more various - in tempo and mood - songs - and more complicated approach to composition-making would make this music much more marvellous. Highly recommended for lovers of both melodic and driving prog rock (if they do not afraid Russian vocal which is radically different from Lake, Fish etc). This album can be ordered from Mals Records, famous Moscow prog label.

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 How Was the Future by MONTECHIARI PROJECT album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.14 | 9 ratings

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How Was the Future
Montechiari Project Crossover Prog

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

3 stars 3.5 stars for sure

Montechiari Project is a band from Brazil taken the name from the keybordist Raphael Montechiari who formed this band in 2007 and releasing so far a single album in 2009 named How was the future?

Well, I was very pleasent surprised about this unknown album, I mean all pieces stands as good towards great, really inspired album. Raphael keyboards are really great and in combination with Drummond guitars, the result is quite great. Pieces as Fake Song, The true story of Alice or Mirrors are great, like all pieces. This type of cross over prog album I like to hear all the time. Nice vocal parts that is fiting in the music well. The music is varied and has plenty of memorable parts. Totaly unknown band that I think needs a wider recognition.

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 Fantasizer! by WATSON, DEAN album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.01 | 17 ratings

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Fantasizer!
Dean Watson Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

3 stars 3.5 really

Third album named Fantasizer from 2014 of this excellent multi instrumentalist, is another worthy release in jazz fusion prog realm. I really like all 3 albums released so far with a plus on Imposing elements, to me his best album so far. Here Dean Watson plays all the instruments and I might say that he is pretty good on every instrument, some more then ok passages overall. What I like more is that Watson has many ideas, covering a wide spectrum of genres from jazz fusion a la return To Forever, to more heavier jazz fusion aproach not far from Derek Sherinian solo albums combined in places with more symphonic parts, the result is good for sure, but not so great as on Imposing elements. Twig, Freak or Nomad are definetly highlights with spectacular guitar arrangements and furious keyboards here and there. All in all definetly worth purchase any of his albums, he is one of most talented musicians in last years and he need a wider recognition world wide. I personaly even find this Fantasizer good towards great, my number on album from him remains Imposing elements. Not to forget another intresting art work. 3.5 stars.

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 Disguise Serenades by ARLEKIN album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.26 | 24 ratings

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Disguise Serenades
Arlekin Neo-Prog

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

3 stars "Disguise Serenades" is the sole project by Arlekin with all instruments and vocals performed by Igor Sidorenko from Ukraine. Unlike Igor's other band that is Post Rock instrumental, Arlekin have a retro Neo Prog sound familiar to those who have had their ears blessed by the magic of Marillion, especially when Fish was at the helm in the 1980s. Igor's voice at times has a theatrical quality like Fish or early Peter Gabriel in his Genesis art rock phase. This quality in vocal tone is noticeable on 'The Lost Path' and 'Dance of the Jester' and the music is dominated by staccato keyboards, with a Hammond sound. The mix on the vocals is a bit too loud at times, and wavering in melody becomes distinct. However the music is spellbinding with wall to wall passages of flute synth, heavy drums and bass rhythms, along with memorable guitar riffs. Igor is an accomplished guitarist and allows himself room to perform some amazing solos. I actually heard this album earlier before I received the album and did not realise this music was generated by one artist. This in itself is an incredible achievement. There is a great deal of passion injected into the songs, and Igor pours out his heart in the lyrics.

'Romance' has a similar intro melody to Pink Floyd's 'Empty Spaces' but the verses are very different. The vocals are a bit shaky but they improve on 'In This Puzzled Roundabout' the best song on the album. I love the bass on this, and the way that it builds into some aggressive distorted guitar riffs. The simple crashing cymbals are effective, and it really picks up when the tempo changes direction and a synth solo follows along ascending musical phrases. The length at over 15 minutes gives room for Igor to lash out on the keyboards and experiment with varying tempo changes and time signatures. There is a terrific lead break amongst all the prog, and Igor's voice sounds like Gabriel when it is multi-tracked. The twin guitar medleys are particularly effective, with a distinct Neo quality. Overall this song is worth checking out to experience Arlekin at it's best.

Arlekin will appeal to those who enjoy the likes of Babylon, Pink Floyd, early Genesis or Marillion. It is astonishing how one musician can create such beautiful music with so many layers and time signature changes. I can recommend "Disguise Serenades" to those who like their prog with experimental musicianship and lashings of keyboards and theatrical vocals.

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 Little Victories by KROBAK album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.62 | 18 ratings

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Little Victories
Krobak Post Rock/Math rock

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

3 stars Krobak's "Little Victories" album is the second studio release for this Post Rock band from Ukraine, following their album "The Diary of the Missed One" in 2008. The album is totally instrumental, encompassing atmospheric passages of emotional music consisting of violin played by Marko, bass by Asya, guitars by Igor and drums by Natasha. The musicscape generated has hints of Godspeed You! Black Emperor in the way that it builds gradually and patiently with repeated musical patterns, glazed over with some sweet slices of violin. It is the violin that tends to stand out often, played with finesse throughout. The medleys range from melancholy and dreamy to ferocious distorted guitar blasts. The music virtually pounds like a heartbeat and then softens to a lull in the quiet serenity of acoustic vibrations.

Each track is augmented by its own unique sound, very different than most instrumental albums I have heard lately. The music is housed in an attractive package with striking artwork by Kuba Sokolski depicting a deep sea fish, pencil drawn in an ancient Oriental style with simplistic lines and two tones. The artwork mirrors the music that is equally simplistic and to the point. When heaviness is required it is presented in the raucous distorted guitars, and when peace is needed, it is stripped back, brought forth in lush passages of violin and acoustics. Listen to 'And there by the River I lost my Glasses' and 'Amnesia' for some great examples of this band's style. "Little Victories" is an album that should appeal to those who enjoy the Post Rock style that has emanated from the likes of Godspeed You! Black Emperor, without the brooding darkness that usually accompanies such music.

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 Atlantis by ATLANTIS album cover Studio Album, 1997
3.00 | 4 ratings

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Atlantis
Atlantis Prog Related

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars LA-based US Prog band coming from the 90's and formed around keyboardist Teknobudd (aka Jorge Vasquez) and bassist/singer Ken Jaquess.Apparently they started as a trio with Matthew Hedrick behind the drum kit and Jaquess handing also the guitars on their eponymous debut, which was independently released in 1997.

They described their sound as modern Symphonic Rock and that's what's exactly going on listening to their first offering, which is pretty complex at moments, visiting the stylings of compatriots MAGELLAN, CAIRO and SPOCK'S BEARD and looking back to the 70's and the epic sound of YES, the E.L.P. grandieur and the pompous orchestrations of GENESIS.But there are no analog keyboards in here and they sound quite modern to a disturbing point at times, because some programmed instrumental parts are pretty weak and plastic.Fortunately the level of the compositions is pretty high with constant changes and extended instrumental parts with big symphonic textures and melodic overtones.Most of the tracks are quite long with CHRIS SQUIRE bass lines and keyboard parts with both flashy and dramatic edges, somewhere between E.L.P. and MARILLION.The atmosphere ranges from bombastic and complex to mellow and dreamy, where sporadic acoustic guitars are thrown in next to an omnipresent keyboard forefront and background.Vocals are pretty laid-back and of questionable range with Jaquess singing in low pitches.But the focus is usually on the music, which is very convincing despite the recording mediocrity.

Solid album, downgraded by the mass of digital instrumentation.Very symphonic at times, full of interesting melodies and instrumental efficiency, but not quite recommended for fans of natural instruments.To my ears it is pretty good and a decent purchase for lovers of the Neo/Symphonic Prog genre.

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 Remember The Future by NEKTAR album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.89 | 341 ratings

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Remember The Future
Nektar Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars Third album by Nektar ''...Sounds like this'' was released in 1973 and was a somewhat jamming effort with countless psych soloing on guitar and organ, leading to controversial critics and mixed reviews.Apparently they were compared to Man at the time, a band with which they travelled in England and gained a contract with the United Artists label.''...Sounds like this'' was also the first work of Nektar to be published in the States, followed in 1974 by ''Remember the future'', the fourth overall work of the band, which saw Nektar visit UK and recording the album at the Chipping Norton Studio in Oxfordshire.It was a concept effort, dealing with a blind boy, who comes in a touch with an extraterrestrial.The album was released on Bellaphon in Germany, Passport Records in the USA and United Artists in the UK.

This was a much more melodic offering by the band, showing a return to the sound of ''A Tab in the ocean'', albeit in a less grandiose and powerful package.The album consists of two long epics, placed in each side of the original issue, the 17-min. ''Remember the future part I'' being propably the best of the two.It sounds like the past and present PINK FLOYD sound mixed with some GENESIS symphonic overtones in the opening organ themes and a few YES touches in the quirky guitar parts.But most of all this is very good Psychedelic/Prog Rock with a deep sense of melody, written with the unique style of NEKTAR, offered in mid-paced grooves, polyphonic harmonies and changing climates, where laid-back tunes meet groovier and more emphatic passages, built on guitar and keyboards, closing with a great psych jam on organ and guitars.Very tight and convincing stuff.''''Remember the future part II'' is a bit more diverse and progressive in sounds and sights, it goes from a melodic, almost Canterbury-styled Prog Rock in the vein of CARAVAN to a dynamic organ-based style in a Kraut Rock enviroment and every possible range of power inbetween, always revisiting some of the PINK FLOYD-ian moods and even flirting with the more spacey stylings of HAWKWIND.Again the music is led by the solid rhythm section, the personal guitar touches of Roye Albrighton and the omnipreesent organ of Allan Freeman , being mostly pretty melodic and rhythmic with soft textures and occasional harder moves.While the result is not always great, you can't do else than admire the cohesion of Nektar's music, the arrangements are very compact with impressive twists between more complex instrumentals and mellow tunes.

Pretty cool stuff, one of the albums, where the epics seem to last shorter than their actual length due to the impressive musical cohesion.Solid Psych/Prog in the vein of PINK FLOYD, CARAVAN and HAWKWIND.Strongly recommended...3.5 stars.

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 The Silent Corner And The Empty Stage by HAMMILL, PETER album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.37 | 528 ratings

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The Silent Corner And The Empty Stage
Peter Hammill Eclectic Prog

Review by DrömmarenAdrian

5 stars Peter Hammill was born in London 1948 and has a huge discography of progressive rock. I know him particularly for his twelve Van der Graaf Generator record but he is also a solo artist which has done thirty-eight records. These records was in the beginning done with the same line-up such as Van der Graaf Generator so it's not strange that I like this record very much. "The silent corner and the empty stage" from 1974 is Peter Hammill's third studio album. It is amazing that this one celebrates its fourtieth birthday this year. The cover is discreet, showing something soft I don't figure out. The line up is Peter Hammill of course who plays guitar, piano, bass, harmonium, keyboards, mellotron and oscillator and sings, Randy California who plays guitar, Hugh Banton who plays organ, guitar and keyboards, Guy Evans who plays drums and percussion and David Jackson who plays flute and saxophone. So it's almost a common Van der Graaf Generator-record. But I would consider this record different from VDGG anyway. The compositions are more artistic and romantic and not as bombastic, even if they're bombastic enough.

I haven't heard this many times but I know that I love this record. If a musician wonder how to do rock music as pure art this is the answer. The music is brutal as punk and the vocal performance of Hammill is monumental. He extends the though of what you can do on an empty stage. When you listen to this record the stage is definitely not empty anymore. The record has also a longer playing time than other lp:s which is great. The record starts with the new thinking and heavy "Modern" which hits the romantic level this album happens to stand for(9/10). The "Wilhelmina" starts which is one of the most lovely songs I have found in a very long time. The lyrics, the melody and Hammill's vocals make my feelings swell over(10/10). "The Lie" is almost as fantastic, a track of a genius(10/10) and "Forsaken gardens" has a lot of drama and the famous Jackson saxophone and I love this too(10/10). The little acoustic piece "Rubicon" is the least fantastic part of this album(8/10) because the bottom is high. The final is of course "A louse is not a home", the longest track which is a fantastic symphonic tale for those ears which are not afraid of new thinking rock and cacophony. How I wish more musicians were blessed with a musical mind as Hammill(10/10). This record has a self-written place in every prog rock collection and I do not doubt a second to rate this high. A have hard to pick the best songs but "Wilhelmina" holds a special place in my heart, partially because I love the name, and the final "A Louse is not a Home" can you not hear to many times I pick them.

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 L'inferno dei musici by OLOFERNE album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.81 | 5 ratings

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L'inferno dei musici
Oloferne Prog Folk

Review by DrömmarenAdrian

3 stars First when I heard this record i wondered why this wasn't classified as rock progressivo italiano but after some listenings I understand it's because the music is so acoustic and modest that it is hard to consider it symphonic. The dominant use of violins and flutes adds another aspect to the music so the prog folk classification is perhaps not very wrong. I liked what I heard on this record immediately. Oloferne is an Italian band from Chiaravalle which has done four albums since 2003 and "L'Inferno dei musici" is from this year 2014. It is a short record with nine songs and the cover is beautiful. The colours remind me of the hell but it doesn't seem horrible there. I just see fine instruments.

The music is well played folk rock with happy enjoyable melodies and the vocals are sung in a pleasant way. I think I like the two first songs most. The first instrumental track is a lovely opener to this musical world and the next track shows it's also pleasant with song. The three "L'Inferno dei musici"-trakcs have nice little playful melodies which I like. I liked everything I heard on this record but I can't give it more than three stars. It is because it feels quite obvious that this music isn't striving towards the skies. The result is a bit weak in comparison with other records.

Alessandro Piccioni, Giacomo Medici, Gianluca Agostinelli, Giuseppe Cardamone and Marco Medici have done a great job with this record but perhaps they should have tried something harder. The cover of Premiata Forneria Marconi's "Impressioni di settembre" works well but a cover is a cover, and this one reminds me of the much greater PFM' version which I want to hear instead. I like the light and joyful spirit on "l'Inferno dei Musici" by Oloferne. Three strong stars!

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 Two from the Vault by PESTILENCE album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2003
4.00 | 1 ratings

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Two from the Vault
Pestilence Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

— First review of this album —
4 stars "Two From The Vault" is a boxset release by Dutch death metal act Pestilence. The boxset was released through Roadrunner Records in September 2003. "Two From The Vault" is a concept Roadrunner Records invented to give people a chance to purchase two albums for the price of one and also to reissue some out of print albums. Other than Pestilence, releases by artists like King Diamond, Suffocation and Gorguts, have also been given the same treatment.

This particular "Two From The Vault" box set features Pestilence 2nd and 3rd full- length studio albums "Consuming Impulse (1989)" and "Testimony Of The Ancients (1991)". Both "classic" death metal albums by one of the greatest Dutch death metal acts from the late eighties/early nineties. Although both albums were released under the Pestilence monicker, they are actually very different in style. "Consuming Impulse (1989)" is relentlessly raw and brutal death metal while "Testimony Of The Ancients (1991)" is generally a lot more sophisticated and at times even semi-progressive. Both were groundbreaking releases when they were originally released though. Few albums from 1989 sounded as raw and brutal as "Consuming Impulse (1989)" and few death metal albums from 1991 sounded as sophisticated as "Testimony Of The Ancients (1991)". A shift on the lead vocalist spot between the two albums is one of the explanations behind the very different sounding albums, but overall it´s actually just the first sign that Pestilence were never a band to make the same album twice...

Both albums are high quality death metal releases and definitely worth a purchase. Both because of historical value, but certainly also because of the high quality songwriting, musicianship, and sound productions contained within. If you can get a hold of this "Two From The Vault" version, I can definitely recommend a purchase. A 4 star (80%) rating is deserved.

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 Clessidra by LOCUS AMOENUS album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.00 | 2 ratings

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Clessidra
Locus Amoenus Rock Progressivo Italiano

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

4 stars Forming back in 2010 at Irpinia, Italy, and spending a couple of years touring and eventually recording, Locus Amoenus released their debut album `Clessidra' (Hourglass) on September 28th 2013, and it keeps up the strong tradition of dynamic Italian progressive releases from recent years. However, what sets them instantly apart is that band work at the darker, noisier and dirtier end of RPI, more influenced by the likes of Biglietto per L'Inferno and the dark jazz of Delirium due to the heavy attacking presence of sax and flute. The musicians contrast soft and heavy, electric and acoustic passages with plenty of building, brooding atmosphere, and despite moments of heavy riffing, they never simply fall back on heavy metal clichés.  Listeners who don't enjoy the often pristine and polished production of modern RPI albums should appreciate this one more too, as the band favour a scuzzy, more dangerous murkiness to their sound.

The opening instrumental `Tra La Mente...' welcomes droning immersive and slightly creeping feedback atmosphere, metallic King Crimson-styled electric guitar razor blade slices through sludgy stomping riffs over huffing flute and filthy mucky sax. A skipping beat over `Inverno's looping electronics and galloping bass quickly turn to harsh noise, buzzsaw electric guitar wailing and thundering drumming. There's wild disorientating flute, unexpected tempo-change surges back and forth and passionate pleading vocals, with just dark addictive grooves all around. The next two tracks lull you into a false sense of security, `Il Suono Di Lei' beginning with more gentle chiming guitars, an up-tempo beat and warmer voices, `Lettera di un Folle' a reassuring classical acoustic guitar warmth and soft soothing vocal. But before long, the band roars into aggressive tsunamis of Osanna and Van der Graaf Generator-styled sax violence, smoky dark Delirium-like jazz strolls with nimble little fiery electric guitar fills and thick bass eruptions.

Flute flitters around cool mysterious electronics and ranting droning fragments of other-wordly treated voices on the disturbing psychedelic jazz of `Amleto', the sombre `Anima' twists into a boisterous storm of hard guitars and urgent forceful vocals. The final track is the deeply melancholic `I Segni Del Mio Tempo', lost flute and careful acoustic guitar beauty offers a great deal of loneliness, with drifting lonely saxophone and blistering electric guitar filled with a grinding frustration that ensures it's a deeply emotional and powerful closer.

Confronting, powerful, often frightening...there's a grit, an unpredictable approach and a sense of daring that reminds of the best vintage RPI albums to this band that is often missing from modern Italian prog groups, and fans who don't mind getting a bit of dirt under their nails should investigate this exceptional debut right away. By adding a youthful heaviness, Locus Amoenus are a very modern sounding kind of RPI that respects and acknowledges the vintage masters without ever feeling the need to merely imitate them, while also bringing them screaming into the present era, and the band have more than enough talent and edge to make a strong impact in the modern RPI scene.

Four stars.

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 Round the Edges by DARK album cover Studio Album, 1971
2.65 | 18 ratings

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Round the Edges
Dark Heavy Prog

Review by GruvanDahlman
Prog Reviewer

2 stars There was a time when all things obscure attracted my mind, due to the fact that albums were mysterious, hailing from the mists of time. There are alot of albums deserving a break, since they never made it in the past, but there are those I find that do serve a purpose of reference point. What do I mean? My point is that some bands made music of progressive nature and poured their ideas into the melting pot and thus created some sort of tapestry. All things may not be great but it can still serve a purpose of being interesting. The only album by Dark is such an example.

I bought "Round the edges" several years ago but the music printed into the CD was not all that great, I found. And still find. It is interesting as a moment in time but not groundbreaking. It is an obscurity whose main value lies in the strife of amateur musicians and the will to produce music. The progress of prog is an equally thrilling thing to examine as listening to all the truly great music of the genre.

The music of Dark is certainly sort of heavy. Do not expect it to be in Sabbath mode. Unfortunately a lot of people throw that comparison around when it comes to describing heavyness. It is true, however, that the music could be described as proto-metal, or something like that, but it has more of a jam feeling to it, a jam performed by less competent musicians than the guys in Sabbath. That however is not te reason as to why I find the music less interesting. The overall feel to the music is one of forced, that the music is really not all that thought through. It is a private pressing, so the sound and time spent on recording certainly contributes to the end result. One has to bear that in mind.

I would not really recommend this album to any one in particular. It is obscure and interesting as an image of a time long gone but it really is too amateurish, I think. That need not mean that the music lacks in true power or worth. In this case, however, it makes the end result poor. Not that good but interesting. Sort of.

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 Pure by PENDRAGON album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.90 | 511 ratings

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Pure
Pendragon Neo-Prog

Review by FragileKings

3 stars When you decide to check out a band for the first time and you see they have nearly a dozen albums, how do you choose which one to start with? Do you listen to samples on YouTube or download it from somewhere? Do you read the reviews on PA or other sites? Do you choose by the cover or year of release? When I first decided to purchase a Pendragon album, I listened to bits on iTunes, read some reviews, and decided that I would probably like "Pure" best because of the cover.

Pendragon are known as one of the big neo-prog bands from the early eighties, but it seems that by "Believe" they shifted their sound to something heavier. Indeed, I now own two of their older albums and "Pure" (as well as "Passion") are much heavier and rock out more. By now, heavy prog would be a better subgenre to put them in, at least as far as their last two albums are concerned (and I see a new album is due out anytime).

For me, a fan of heavier stuff, "Pure" was an excellent choice for getting acquainted with Pendragon. The guitars rock, the drums are exciting, things get pretty bombastic at times and there are nice shifts in the music to lighter shades as well. The guitar solos sound like Nick Barrett was a big fan of David Gilmour; however, he puts a lot of his own feeling into his playing and there's an extra bit of "umph" that sets him apart from the Pink Floyd legendary guitarist. This is refreshing as I have heard a couple of Gilmour clones in the last couple of years and though I am sure the flattery is nice, original playing is appreciated.

About Barrett's vocal abilities, it's been said that he can be an acquired taste. Having heard a couple of the older albums by now, I have concluded that he is stronger when he sings harder. The slow, gentle approach is his weakness, or rather perhaps it could be where his uniqueness shows through better. I, however, think he holds a note better when he puts more power in his voice. Barrett doesn't do slow and gentle well in my opinion.

The first three tracks are for me where the real highlights are. "Indigo", "Eraserhead", and "Comatose I: View from the Seashore" show the band steeped in their heavier new sound. Of course they shift to melodic passages and show off lots of emotive guitar soloing. That's part of Pendragon's legacy to have such pleasant interludes. But the guitars have more crunch than before and the drum sound is ripe for the energetic bursts and fills that Scott Higham blasts in. "Comatose I: View from the Seashore" begins with some slow piano but after a bit the song thunders into an almost metal section. I love how the heavy minor chords abruptly change to bright major chords, giving the song a 70's AOR rock sound for a few moments.

Parts II and III of "Comatose" begin to loose me a little, especially in the third part. All those spoken lines about being alone make me wonder if I have misunderstood the song. Then things get weirder. "Fear is the most powerful weapon we have," says someone. "This world is an illusion." "Are we alone?" asks another voice. "What does it mean? Nothing can save you now. The beginning of the end." OK. The song ends.

"The Freak Show" is a normal length song with a very heavy intro but soon changes to a melancholy tale of someone's insecurity. I like this one quite a bit, though it's not as "progressive" or shall we say musically complex as the previous tracks.

I've read a fair bit of praise for the last track "It's Only Me", a slower number with a strong melodic chorus. Personally, I find it a little non-captivating. I gave it a good listen again the other night and it's pleasant enough but still the first half of the album is where it's at for me.

This album has received some great reviews and is an excellent effort by the band. I am wavering between calling it an excellent addition to any prog collection or good but not essential. I'll say it's very good but not essential and give it three stars. But I may decide to change that to four later.

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 Focus by CYNIC album cover Studio Album, 1993
4.22 | 399 ratings

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Focus
Cynic Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Prog Reviewer

5 stars This is an album that is guaranteed to piss off the purists. It's not death metal enough. It's not jazz enough. It's not progresesive enough. Waaa! Get over it. This album has taken me a long time to appreciate and not to come off as some BS elitist but geez. Such complex music doesn't hit you upon first listen or even the tenth. Yes. There exists music that takes multiple listens to fully take in to "get." FOCUS, the debut album by CYNIC is one of those such albums. There are definitely hooks to be had on this album but they will surely rub you the wrong way as they unfold unless you are a fan of a multitude of genres of the musical spectrum.

Let's start with metal. They are indeed a metal band but only in amplification, death metal vocals and thrash metal performance of the chords. The chords themselves are firmly placed in the jazz-fusion branch of progressive rock. In fact dare I say that CYNIC is the Mahavishnu Orchestra of extreme metal? Perhaps so. Electronica. God forbid. What are these funky Floridians thinking for frack's sake? Yes, they use a strange electronic embellishment to enhance the vocals but there is also a sound of electronic music mingled in with the wholeness of this project. Sacrilegious? Perhaps. Satisfying because this band knows no arbitrary boundaries? Fer sure.

CYNIC were simply in their own world. They took their influences and put them together in a way they saw fit at the time. Would I have done things differently? Of course. But I am judging this album because this band simply did things their way in a time when that wasn't very popular to do so. This album has become much more popular over time as many a progressive rock album has since its release. What can I say? They melodies are a brilliant mix of melody, harmony, dissonance, brutality, tenderness, accessibility and avant-garde all jumbled together. Yes, it is easy to find faults with this album at first listen because it doesn't measure up to YOUR personal take on how this fusion should have arisen but did you do anything better? If taken on its own merits from the time it was released it is a musical masterpiece that not only takes many listens to fully comprehend but rewards greatly once those walls of "getting it" have fully been broken down.

Genres are simply nomenclature that someone else created to sort things into digestible arenas but when one realizes that music is a series of spectrums that demand careful assignment and occasionally tagged exceptionalism then it is easier to embrace albums such as FOCUS that don't easily fit into any. Upon first listen I liked this album. Upon quite a few I love it. This is not only a cornerstone in metal music but a brilliant piece of art that works on so many levels once a full comprehension of influences has fully been embraced. I hope you don't let your initial impressions impede you from letting this album grow on you. It is one of those rare pieces of music that can take your breath away after countless listens. Absolutely brilliant.

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 Hymns for the Broken by EVERGREY album cover Studio Album, 2014
5.00 | 2 ratings

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Hymns for the Broken
Evergrey Progressive Metal

Review by Second Life Syndrome
Collaborator Post/Math Rock and Crossover Teams

5 stars Preparing to write a review for an Evergrey album is something of a ritual for me. I mean, this is EVERGREY, for Pete's sake. This is one of the first bands that I ever truly loved. Indeed, I am a fan for life. So, after waiting for what seemed like a decade for the band to release another album after "Glorious Collision", I am thrilled to be able to review "Hymns for the Broken", especially since Evergrey, one of my all-time favorite bands, was almost dead a few years ago.

Evergrey has always been a band of emotion, darkness, and relation to their listeners. Though dark, there is always hope. Though emotional, they are always profound. Relating to their listeners, then, is immensely important to them, and they have certainly done it again. "Hymns for the Broken" is an ode to all those fallen, imperfect humans out there that are tossed to and fro by the waves of insecurity, sorrow, and fear. Yet, we are never alone, are we? We all experience the pain of not being who we want to be, but we can be strong knowing that we are not alone. Evergrey had definitely made an album with a positive arc lyrically.

Evergrey has a strange fan base. Though labeled as "dark, melodic metal", the band enjoys support not only from the metal crowd, but also from the progressive community, mainly due to some of their older work. I've often heard some reviewers pining for them to return to those more progressive days, and so I find it interesting that "Hymns for the Broken" is basically right in the middle of the two genres. It's far more progressive than their last few albums, especially on the tracks "Black Undertow", "The Grand Collapse", and "The Aftermath", but the focus on melody and metal is still there, too. This is really smart, and the results are spectacular.

Of note here is the fact that the core group of Tom Englund on vocals/guitars, Rikard Zander on keys, and Johan Nieman on bass have been rejoined by Evergrey-alumni Henrik Danhage on guitars and Jonas Ekdahl on drums. What this means, then, is that the band has regained some of their older sound, especially with Henrik's signature solos and Jonas' strangely technical-but-not style of playing drums. Ultimately, though, the band sounds amazing. They've regained a fervor that I didn't think possible again, and they've tried some new things, even though the foundation of this album is certainly the Evergrey I love so well. Indeed, there are plenty of Evergrey-isms, especially in Tom's vocal melodies, but there are definitely some new ideas at play. Speaking of Tom, there's a reason he's one of my favorite vocalists. He really outdoes himself here with immense range, even the amazing lows of "Black Undertow". His signature emotional style is intact, and he simply sounds great. I'm seriously impressed.

Being a big keyboard fan and also being a fan of Rikard's atmospheric style, I quickly noticed that "Hymns for the Broken" has a great deal more keys on it. Either that, or the mix is just way better. The mix is certainly way more professional and crisper than their last couple albums, but I think that Rickard has really gone out on a limb here with wild keys on such tracks as "Barricades" and "A New Dawn", and he is simply more present from beginning to end.

Yet, the dual guitars sound as great as ever. Tom and Henrik lay down some incredibly heavy riffs on a few tracks, such as "A New Age", "Black Undertow", and especially the middle of "The Fire". All the riffs are really, really clean, and Jonas' drumming around them is sensational. Johan's bass, too, is utilized in new, atmospheric ways, and I also noticed an electronic element showing itself now and then. Overall, the Evergrey sound is here for sure, but there are some new variations that keep it completely fresh.

So, what more can be said about this album? It's Evergrey at their best, really. Although I still like "The Inner Circle" better (and also "Recreation Day"), I think "Hymns for the Broken" could be in the top three best they've made. It certainly does remind me of "The Inner Circle" at points with some of the choirs bits, the barren atmospheres, and the heavy guitars fronting a crystal clear background of keys. Yet, it's very much a different album than anything they've done. Honestly, I only have one complaint: no Carina on the album. I always look forward to hearing Tom and Carina sing together, but it wasn't to be here, and I'm sure there's a good reason.

Overall, then, "Hymns for the Broken" has something for Evergrey fans of every stripe. Whether it's the melodic metal of "King of Errors", the addictive nature of "A New Dawn" (second best track), the dark yet hopeful "Black Undertow", the emotional ballad "Missing You", the incredible instrumentals of "The Grand Collapse" (my favorite), or the funky sound of "The Aftermath", Evergrey hasn't missed a beat or made a bad track on this album. I'm sure glad they are back. This is already one of my most played albums of the year, and I don't see that changing any time soon.

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 The Perfect Element Part 1 by PAIN OF SALVATION album cover Studio Album, 2000
4.25 | 910 ratings

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The Perfect Element Part 1
Pain Of Salvation Progressive Metal

Review by FragileKings

3 stars An 80's hair metal band gets marinated in progressive rock.

I read a lot of very good reviews about this album and saw it was among the top rated prog metal albums on PA and MMA. Since I had just received Symphony X's "V: The New Mythology Suite", which is another top rated prog metal album on both sites, and I quickly grew to love it, I thought that this album should be among my next prog metal purchases. Honestly though, this one is taking its time to appeal to me.

The good points are many. Daniel Gildenlöw has a very diverse voice and can sing anything from gruff barks to high screams to smooth and calm to somewhere in between it all. The album tells the story (part 1) of two broken people, He and She, who meet and begin a relationship. That's as far as I got there. I'm afraid the broken people stories don't go far with me. The best one I've heard is Nine Inch Nails' "The Downward Spiral". After that it's difficult to impress me with that kind of story. Still, Gildenlöw uses his voice to effectively convey the emotions of each part of the story. The music is for the most part not too complex but like "The Wall" (in a way) mostly sticks to relaying the moments in the tale. The tempo stays slow to mid-range and I only noticed one part where a double bass drum comes into play. In this way, this is a pretty mild and tame metal album despite the theme of pain and frustration.

Two other points to mention in favour of the music are the guitar and keyboards. While there are no catchy, bang-your-head metal riffs, the guitarist (be it Gildenlöw or Johan Hallgren) uses lead playing to create beautiful melody lines and as well there are some delightful licks here and there in the solos, particularly in "Her Voices" lies a favourite of mine. Fredrik Hermanssen is used very well to provide beautiful piano passages, atmospheric synthesizer, and some powerful rhythm synth work that treads into symphonic prog metal at times, most notably in the title track. I always feel that if you're going to have a keyboard player in a metal band then you should let him/her contribute to the overall quality of the music and not just keep the keys in the background for rhythm behind the guitars.

There's some great music on this album and the songs to stand out the most for me are "Ideoglossia", "Her Voices", "King of Loss" and "Reconciliation". These songs are where the overall feel of the album is wonderfully combined with some excellent music that captures the progressive metal quality best or where the music is simply beautiful. The title track offers some great moments too.

However, there are some aspects of the album that still haven't grabbed me. First, this is not really a heavy metal album. There are parts where the guitars are loud and the vocals screaming or full of raw energy but the majority of the songs are pretty lightweight. Even when the music gets heavy and aggressive I find myself thinking that it needs more bass to enrich the sound. It's as if the band wanted to show aggression without wanting to be offensive. The first four songs are easy to get by because they don't really get the album up and running. It's not until "Ideoglassia" that things really turn exciting and even then the song reuses the pseudo-rap of "Used" and reintroduces the chorus of "Ashes". It almost seems that the album is already reprising music before it has hardly gotten started. Thankfully the rest of the song really begins to show off POS's talent. There are also a couple of puzzling spoken lines like "Call your dad" at the end of "Her Voices" and the beginning of "Dedication" (I'm sure he says, "Call your dad") and "Will I ever walk again?" in the title track. If I familiarize myself with the story more it might make more sense to me, but these lines just seem to leap out from the music and I'm like, "Huh?"

For me, a good album should be enjoyable to listen to straight through and as well have a few songs that can be enjoyed on their own. The four songs that I have mentioned here are great stand alone tracks but the rest of the album goes by me without many parts signaling my attention. I agree that this is a great album insofar as the effort and outcome are concerned. But I am not as excited about the whole concept as I am about the music in a few parts.

For anyone who doesn't like really aggressive metal but can appreciate something a little more melodic and easy, this album makes for a nice safe step into progressive metal. I think it's still a good album, but I'd like to hear another POS album that is either a little more technical or a little more varied in pace.

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 Bayon by BAYON album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.00 | 7 ratings

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Bayon
Bayon Prog Folk

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

3 stars One could be excused for noting ragged demographic parallels between East Germany's BAYON and France's TAI PHONG. Both involved a national from the base country and at least one Asian member to potentially impart far eastern predilections to the mix, with Cambodian group member Sonny Thet, and guest Sam Ay Neou joining Christoph Theusner on the group's first album but not, as it turns out, their first recordings. But while TAI PHONG played conventional symphonic prog with limited absorption of overt Vietnamese influence, BAYON, at least here, is characterized by generally mellow prog folk with electrified psychedelic passages.

At times Eastern aspects can be discerned but I would not recommend the album on that basis. While it's hard to compare them to many contemporaries, at the same time their sound is not as distinguished as one might hope, tending to float by unnoticed a little too often. Still, tracks like "Cello Suite" reveal a predilection for chamber music, and the largely unadorned "Meer Und Himel" and "Sommerlied" compare favorably to the Basque boom of the time - for example -ITOIZ - as well as very early RUNRIG and even the mellower work of the Welsh BRAN. "Cherie" sports fine flute from Theusner and bolstered rhythms, suggestive of some Brazilian prog and mainstream rock of the day.

The vocals are not a strength but they do help offset the instrumental suite which turns out to be the direction they took with their most enduring work in the theme music realm. This particular closer is not as noteworthy as those which came before and would follow, being more amorphous and less pointed in its approach, but is still a worthwhile listen.

As has been noted by reviewers under "First Recordings", the role language and politics of the time cannot be underestimated, so I cannot pretend this is a comprehensive and balanced review (like all my others!) but BAYON's debut might work better if you are familiar with both and worship at the temple of that most delicate of progressive sub genres.

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 Frontiers by JOURNEY album cover Studio Album, 1983
2.80 | 75 ratings

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Frontiers
Journey Prog Related

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Frontiers was the follow up of Journey´s bestselling album Escape and it came two years after that, showing that the years of constant touring were beginning to take their toll. Still, the new LP only proved the classic line up was indeed their best incarnation and that they were at the peak of their writing and performing powers. A few songs here do remind me of Escape´s style, but in general Frontiers is quite different from their mega seller. Jonathan Cain had relied a lot on piano and guitar for his contribution on Escape,m and here he is mostly handling a lot of synthesizers, while the rest of the band decided to give a heavier and more progressive sheen on the songs.

They could have followed the winning formula of a ballad for their first single but decided instead to release the more uptempo, synth-soaked, Separate Ways (Worlds Apart). Even if Frontiers did not produce an iconic tune like Don´t Stop Believin´, overall this album is more varied, bold and progressive than the previous one. Steve Perry sings in different registers several songs, sounding specially aggressive in the Led Zeppelin-like Back Talk to the very high notes of the slightly jazzy After The Fall. Above all we have the great talent of Neal Schon: his guitar licks and solos as creative and tasteful as ever. Even the rhythm section of Ross Valory and Steve Smith are better than before.

Although only Separate Ways and the ballad Faithfully became big hits, this is the typical case where the album has a lot more to offer than its most known songs. With a perfect production and no fillers, this is a classic AOR album and it came right at the time when the genre was starting to wane.

Unfortunately this would be also the last record done by the classic line up. But what a last work it was! If the genre progressive melodic rock was considered for PA, this would be a five star, masterpiece, case. Frontiers stands as the most progressive album done by Journey during the Steve Perry period. Small wonder it is their best too.

If you like melodic rock with lots of progressive influences you can´t miss this one. To listen without prejudice.

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 Bilo by MICIC, DAVID MAXIM album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2011
4.86 | 5 ratings

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Bilo
David Maxim Micic Progressive Metal

Review by Cylli Kat

5 stars With myself coming from a background of being considered a shredder guitar player akin to the whole Shrapnel stable of the 1980's and 1990's, I have a thing about enjoying gifted guitarists. DAVID MAXIM MICIC and the whole of the djent form was a bit of a revelation to me. Wow!!! Thank you to my fellow members here at PA for turning me on to this great talent!

After reading the reviews, I sought out the free download of Bilo 1.0, and I was completely floored! This young man is a talent to be reckoned with!!! I liken this EP and the subsequent releases Bilo 2.0 and 3.0 as a suite of recordings that have hit me with all the impact that Steve Vai's Passion and Warfare, and Guthrie Govan's Erotic Cakes have... The compositions are adventurous, and well executed. The production is fresh and interesting. And there is absolutely no doubt that David has a great command of the guitar. This is for me truly a FIVE STAR recording! Absolutely an essential. Your mileage may vary, but for me this is a priceless gem!

Grace and peace, Cylli Kat

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 L' enigma della vita by LOGOS album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.20 | 69 ratings

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L' enigma della vita
Logos Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Menswear
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Molto Bene!

I am always happy to discover new talents and again there is lots to chew when you dip into the Italian scene of progressive rock. The 70's gave us plenty (underline plenty) of acts that made an inprint of the concrete of art rock. Even now, the scene is alive and well with contenders that clearly ate their vegetables and did their push-ups: Logos.

Logos is a band with a certain experience as a Le Orme tribute group; and it shows. It's always good credentials when you gave attention to one of the best bands in the buisness, and Logos is clearly showing us that they're not small potatoes. They are not afraid to pack their opus with long songs that take their time to bring you where they want: the park on the cover. By the way, I immediately liked the art cover, leaving place to your imagination: what is the answer to life? Is it beyond those iron gates?

The songs will not leave you on your appetite, the keys solos are delicious (In Fuga and Completamente) and the guitar work is reminding me of a harder Hackett and sometimes Latimer. Long instrumental passages are always welcome, building up tension and showering vivid images in your mind. I love the modern approach of the title song that makes a change of pace and the simpler approach of In Principo that brought to me theatrical scenarios of foreign planets with strange fauna.

Overall, it's a well sang record with no vocal overboards. And frankly, I like it that way since the RPI genre suffered of over-the-top sentimentality. It's a good balance of old and new that will not be overshadowed by La Maschera di Cera or Il Tempio delle Clessidre.

A BIG round of applause to the band giving us listeners an obviously great album and painted us a dark and hauting canvas that is perfect for these autumn days!

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 The Human Machine by OVERDRIVE album cover Studio Album, 1990
3.09 | 6 ratings

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The Human Machine
Overdrive Neo-Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars Little-known Neo Prog act from Milan, Italy, reputedly found in mid-80's by a core which included keyboardist Domenico Del Signore, drummer Joe Torelli, bassist/singer Mauro Caputi and guitarist Jimmy A.Apparently the line-up was expanded to five musicians, but not without losses, Caputi and Jimmy A. left and were replaced by Pino Federiconi (vocals), Milton Damia (guitars) and Marco Marcelli (bass).The band's only album ''The human machine'' was recorded and mixed at the Campolungo Studio in Viterbo from May to October 1990, featuring also Eva Pietroni on flute, Max Carlaccini on sax, Manuela Chiariello on female vocals and Vito Laruccia, who lent a hand as a sound engineer on Ezra Winston's ''Ancient afternoons'', and was released the same year on Musea.Another member of Ezra Winston, keyboardist Mauro Di Donato, helped the band on songwriting.

Does this sound though anynthing like EZRA WINSTON due to the presence of Di Donato?The answer is definitely yes, certain tracks contain this outlandish, symphonic atmosphere of the Italian legends, based on poetic male vocals, atmospheric keyboards and refined melodies, especially during the long, second track ''Spectral forms'', which features also some nice flute work.All vocals are in English and Domenico Del Signore even uses an organ during some lighter parts among his usual offerings on piano and keyboards.Had the band followed the same style throughout we would be talking about a great album, however some of the unique EZRA WINSTON moods are lost in the process for the favor of a more MARILLION-esque Neo Prog sound with crosses to compatriots GALLANT FARM, led by the more pronounced and edgy synthesizers and the melodic guitars, falling a bit short compared to the previous stylings.The material though is not bad at all, it is pretty decent actually with plenty of dramatic sections and ethereal passages, retaining part of the deep, symphonic echoes of ''Spectral forms''.The problem comes from the average production and the thin keyboards sound, which was a major issue for most of 90's Neo Prog bands.The 9-min. long ''Twentieth century: another cry'' features some more references to EZRA WINSTON's style with the contrast of orchestral breaks and angular guitars, mixed with some PENDRAGON vibes in the major keyboard department.

Yet another album of the 90's, struggling to locate itself between Neo Prog or retro Symphonic Rock.Good stuff overall with interesting compositions and structures, far from personal but at least well-played.Recommended.

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 (Ec)citazioni Neoclassische by MAURY E I PRONOMI / AQUAEL album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.40 | 10 ratings

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(Ec)citazioni Neoclassische
Maury e i Pronomi / Aquael Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

4 stars Coming from Moncalieri, Italy and formed as Aquael in 1979, this band was led by keyboardist Maurizio Galia and founding members Enrico Testera on bass and Nicola Guerriero on guitar.The rise of British Prog during the 80's gave them hope for a succesful career, but, despite changing their sound to more accesible forms and their name to Lego in 1985 (along with the arrival of singer Marco D'Angeli and drummer Alberto Bordone in the place of Aldo Leone) they disbanded at the end of the decade.A new formation with all three original members appears in the 90's and the style returns to the progressive roots, while in 1995 they become Maury E I Promemoria, releasing the album ''Ziqqurat nel canavese'' in 1997.A new change of name follows, the band becomes Maury E I Pronomi and releases a compilation of old and new pieces in 2000, ''Tanganica, il passato ed il futuro'', sold via a pair of websites in the limited number of 150 copies.Apparently they came to the attention of Raoul Caprio of the Kaliphonia label, but as the company demised, they signed a contract with Mellow Records, releasing ''(Ec)citazioni neoclassiche'' in February 2005.Gialia, Guerriero and Testera were supported by young drummer Sergio Ponti with Marco Giacone Griva and Sergio Cagliero as guests on lead guitar and organ respectively.

There are certain signs the band had fully returned to the progressive style of the early years and the grand 26-min. opener ''Il racconto degli Dei'' is the absolute example.This is beautiful Symphonic Rock of the Italian Prog tradition with native vocal language, similar to CONSORZIO ACQUA POTABILE and SITHONIA, having a strong sense of melody and evident influences from bands like PREMIATA FORNERIA MARCONI, CELESTE or SEMIRAMIS.With a lovely combination of synthesizers, piano and organ, an accomplished guitarist with a sensitive touch and Maurizio Galia having taken over the vocal duties with his emotional voice, this composition is full of thematic changes in both dramatic and romantic deliveries with a very symphonic sound, exploring a range of musical colors, either in melodic or more intricate arrangements and eventually offering a palette of Italian Prog colors with Classical influences in evidence.The rest of the displayed material is no less interesting.''Lei e Venezia'' is another long track, clocking at 12 minutes, featuring big symphonic moves on keyboards and impressive guitar work full of emotion, the instrumental parts are long, elaborate and rich and the lyrics are very poetic and expressive, great piece of art by any means.''Voglio cambiare'' is the most rockin' piece in here with a full organ-based sound and touches of harpsicord, supported by great vocal lines and some bombastic synthesizers.''Oceano'' is about 9 minutes long, this one contains organ, synths, flute and sax as the leading instruments, creating a very flexible but still symphonic sound with slight psychedelic edges, while the closing ''L'assenza'' has some OSANNA-like flute work among the familiar Classical-drenched keyboards and the very dramatic sound of guitars.

My only complaint comes from the average production, otherwise this could have been labeled as a masterpiece of Italian Prog.Overlooked band and album, excellent work of Symphonic Rock with masterful arrangements and convincing vocals.No less than highly recommended.

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 Elegia Balcanica by ALOGIA album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.00 | 1 ratings

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Elegia Balcanica
Alogia Progressive Metal

Review by lucas
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

— First review of this album —
4 stars Band steming from Serbia and comprised of very skilled musicians, AlogiA play a slightly prog-oriented power metal, bringing back to memory the best moments of Kiske-era Helloween with a dash of early Dream Theater or Crimson Glory. The band seems to have gained some fame in their own country, even topping the charts and performing sold out gigs in stadiums. The reason for this success lies probably in the delivery of catchy choruses in serbian, and a strong focus on the balkan Identity in their lyrics.

Regarding the music, we are in for some catchy tunes, where shy verses (like on "Galija") or more agressive (like on "Vreme je") turn to anthemic choruses with cheerful vocals. All along the record, we are exposed to galloping rhythms, hasty drumming, above-the-standard guitar playing, at times harpsichord-sounding keyboards when they are not filling out the space in an orchestral or enchanting way, and singalong-driven chorus. Some arabian-sounding violins in the first half of the album also add a traditional touch to the whole ("Callis ad Astra", "Galija", "Elegia Balcanica"). Altogether, all those elements interlock quite well, even if originality is not outstanding.

On a final note, this album can be recommended to anyone who is into the more melodic branch of power/prog metal. The use of local language is not so common in this category, and we can salutate the band for this courageous endeavour.

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 The Imperial Hotel by SAMURAI OF PROG, THE album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.42 | 10 ratings

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The Imperial Hotel
The Samurai of Prog Crossover Prog

Review by Ovidiu

5 stars THE IMPERIAL HOTEL is the third album of the great band THE SAMURAI OF PROG,the guys have already released 2 excellent albums with cover songs!!This time,we have on this album only original compositions from the guys ,but the title track is in fact a composition of the Brit symphonic progressive band ENGLAND,from 1975!Robert Webb,the mastermind behind ENGLAND is giving here a serious hand on the new interpretation,and everything sound excellent in 2014 with a track composed almost 40 years ago!The first thing about this album is the amazing look,it's absolutelly stunning-a gorgeous digipack,with a massive 40 pages booklet conceived by Ed Unitsky and a cd which fits perfectly well inside the digipack,packed like a classic vinyl,in an envelope!The sensational artwork is breathtaking,very coloured and impressive,with great photos and all the informations about the musicians and the album !Musically speaking,we have al album of almost 1 hour of vintage prog rock,extremelly well composed and masterfully played by amazing musicians!The title track is a 28 minutes monster composition,very diverse and catchy,with plenty of musical twists and unexpected moments!All the guys in the band are on top of their technical skills,without being too demonstrative,just efficient and proud to deliver such high class prog rock!We have here influences from prog rock giants like YES....GENESIS....GENTLE GIANT...or more modern prog icons like THE FLOWER KINGS or SPOCK'S BEARD or ECHOLYN...great vocal harmonies a la Yes...and also a marvelous vintage sound,with a Rickenbacker bass guitar in front and great old school organ sound!Also,the drum sound is marvelous,all the sound is very organic and shows the unique fascination of this type of music!The mix is just perfect,it captures all what it has to,a great sound of the instruments and a production which puts in evidence the unique flavour of vintage prog rock.This album proves at 100 % that old school prog still has many things to offer to his fans and the charm of this music is timeless!Definitelly ,a musical triumph for TSOP,and the promise to have from this extremelly talented musiciand,great albums in the future!It seems that only sky is the limit for THE SAMURAI OF PROG!I dare to say that THE IMPERIAL HOTEL is almost a masterpiece album,everything is close to perfection-both music and look,presentation of the album!4.75 stars for me....rounded to 5!

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 Land of Cockayne  by SOFT MACHINE, THE album cover Studio Album, 1981
2.98 | 88 ratings

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Land of Cockayne
The Soft Machine Canterbury Scene

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

3 stars It's always wonderful accidently rediscovering an album in your collection that you simply forgot you had, perhaps coming across it again after finding it was put back in the wrong place what feels like a lifetime ago! Case in point for me, Soft Machine's final work (with the exception of endless compilations and archive releases), `Land of Cockayne', a record that often causes much derision from die-hard fans of the band. Looking back now, this was the first Soft Machine related album I owned, at a time right at the start of my prog collecting when I had no patience or the frame of mind for anything jazz/fusion related. Coming back to it now, with an appreciation and better knowledge of the various Soft Machine incarnations, I find while it's a perfectly worthy and distinctive release from the group, full of restrained but tasteful playing by a bunch of consumate professional musicians (now including members from bands such as If, Nucleus, Cream) that you can only admire. It may be a world away from the ragged psych early days, the sonically violating noisy exploratory middle years or the driving fusion after that, and yes, it's smooth, pleasant and often a little too squeeky-clean, but there are still moments scattered throughout where the band really simmers, and at the very least, there's almost nothing that's actually terrible on the entire LP.

The opener `Over 'N Above' is actually one of the poorest moments, a repetitive and slightly bland AOR fusion-lite plodder that's at least twice as long as it should be. There's some silly orchestral strings over part of it that sound like it's wandered in from an Alan Parsons Project album, but I suppose the sighing wordless harmonies give it a slightly recognizable Canterbury sound. Tinkering programmed loops and raindrop-like synths patter `Lotus Groves', sounding more like something off a later Ashra disc with an almost New-Age influence, but there's some nice (if slight) fretless bass from Jack Bruce murmurring away drowsily in the background, and drifting flute gives it a mysterious old-world sound. `Isle of the Blessed' is a dramatic cinematic orchestration that grows more impressive as it progresses, eventually taking on a sweeping romantic quality. `Panoramania' is the first real workout on the disc, a sax fuelled mid-tempo jog with a tasty extended Rhodes electric piano solo spot from John Taylor in the middle (that just becomes a little politely unhinged in a few momens as nicely as possible!), droning harmonies, gentle synths/orchestration, and John Marshall's peppy drum-work - pretty tasty stuff. The first side closes with a brief electronic and sax lament interlude.

The perky uptempo jazz/fusion of `Hot-Biscuit Slim' has enough punchy busy drumming, driving spirited sax-work and a sprinkling of glistening electric piano to bring some catchy and foot-tapping grooves. `(Black) Velvet Mountain doesn't really go anywhere, just a soaring powerful orchestral melody over a Pink Floyd-like solid drumbeat and a nicely played but somewhat unthrilling lead electric guitar run from Alan Holdsworth. He makes a better impression on the twisting guitar of `Sly Monkey', a little more playful and energetic number with infectious sax melodies and gulping bass. All the players get little moments to shine in this compact little arrangement. Sadly the album closes on a wretched piano and sax interlude `A Lot of What You Fancy' that is so cosy it practically comes with an oversized knitted Christmas sweater from your Mum to keep to warm in winter. Thanks a lot, Mum.

Depending on your preferred version of the band, this album may be as far removed from what your interpretation of Soft Machine should be as possible. I actually find it a perfect background listen to enjoy, especially if I'm not in the mood for their earlier blistering feedback dirges and honking hell! `Land of Cockayne' may not be greatest album to properly end on for the Soft Machine, but it's varied and eclectic, and all the musicians involved here delivered a respectable and perfectly enjoyable listen with their dignity intact.

Three and a half stars.

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 Under A New Sign by KNIGHT AREA album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.92 | 137 ratings

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Under A New Sign
Knight Area Neo-Prog

Review by progpig66 (arnold)

5 stars Under a new sign is the second album from this solid Dutch neo-prog band and in my opinion it is by far their best achievement. I played the album over and over again and I loved every track. The synth sounds by main man Gerben Klazinga are as transparent and beautiful as can be, the guitar sounds are all perfectly chosen and I so much loved the huge sound of the Rickenbacker bass and the Moog Taurus pedals ! Just check out the guitar doubled riff in "Mastermind". I also loved the contributions by Joop Klazinga on his flute and recorders. It makes a perfect counterbalance to the solid, almost metal based guitar/bass riffs. Magnum opus on the album is the second part of "A Different Man". With over 13 minutes of music, this is a true symphonic masterpiece, full of fantastic strong guitar and keyboard themes.

Under a new sign, by Knight Area is a great opportunity to get to know one of the best Dutch prog bands of this moment and I won't hesitate to call it a masterpiece!

Progpig66.

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ratings only excluded in count
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  2. Sean Trane (3159)
  3. ZowieZiggy (2917)
  4. apps79 (2224)
  5. Warthur (2187)
  6. Easy Livin (1925)
  7. UMUR (1827)
  8. b_olariu (1816)
  9. Gatot (1798)
  10. Conor Fynes (1506)
  11. SouthSideoftheSky (1431)
  12. Evolver (1373)
  13. Bonnek (1359)
  14. AtomicCrimsonRush (1249)
  15. Tarcisio Moura (1235)
  16. snobb (1210)
  17. erik neuteboom (1201)
  18. Windhawk (1085)
  19. Finnforest (1077)
  20. ClemofNazareth (1009)
  21. kenethlevine (994)
  22. Cesar Inca (926)
  23. loserboy (895)
  24. Rune2000 (853)
  25. kev rowland (842)
  26. Marty McFly (833)
  27. octopus-4 (816)
  28. tszirmay (765)
  29. Chris S (753)
  30. memowakeman (746)
  31. Eetu Pellonpää (719)
  32. Matti (718)
  33. greenback (685)
  34. progrules (666)
  35. Guillermo (654)
  36. Seyo (638)
  37. Rivertree (628)
  38. Prog-jester (623)
  39. Epignosis (620)
  40. lor68 (601)
  41. Neu!mann (554)
  42. Ivan_Melgar_M (541)
  43. philippe (535)
  44. hdfisch (492)
  45. Chicapah (474)
  46. stefro (467)
  47. colorofmoney91 (459)
  48. friso (449)
  49. J-Man (449)
  50. zravkapt (427)
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  57. ProgShine (386)
  58. DamoXt7942 (377)
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  100. TheGazzardian (196)
Remaining cache time: 492 min.

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