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Last 50 reviews
 War in the Night Before by UNDERGROUND SET, THE album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.12 | 7 ratings

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War in the Night Before
The UnderGround Set Heavy Prog

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

3 stars Calling Scooby-Doo and mystery lovers! There's been some cases in the past of Italian prog-related acts that released works under aliases or with anonymous credits, with `groups' such as Planetarium, Flea, Blue Phantom and the Braen's Machine being a few of them. The Underground Set is another fine example, a predominantly instrumental group that played a mix of heavy Hammond organ-drenched hard rock, acid-jazz and psychedelic pop, sounding not too far removed from groups such as Uriah Heep, Atomic Rooster, Deep Purple and so on (take your pick up any of what are often referred to as the `Proto-Prog' bands these days), with a touch of the earliest albums from Italian acts like Osanna and the New Trolls, and it's only fairly recently been revealed that they were none other than members of Nuova Idea!

Future Italian prog legends Nuova Idea would deliver a widely regarded RPI classic with their third album `Clowns' in 1973, but the two Underground Set albums ' the 1970 self-titled debut and this second work `War in the Night Before' a year later - both predate that proper group's `In the Beginning' and `Mr E Jones' LP's from both 1971 and '72.

Looking at some of the highlights, title-track `War in the Night Before' instantly blasts the listener with rattling drums, scuzzy n' sludgy guitar riffing over murky Hammond organ stabs and wailing voices for an opener that wouldn't have sounded out of place on Deep Purple's `In Rock' from the year before. `Top Invocation' has a lovely yet softly melancholic piano theme before some tasty fiery guitar soloing (the piece almost sounds like a cross between Goblin and early Osanna), and the seriously cool `Cronic Illness' is a raunchy dirty psych plodder with buzzsaw-like guitar spasms and lazily drifting flute. `Cool Paradise' is a slightly mournful theme, and `Car Driving' is a Led Zeppelin-like lusty bluesy guitar tantrum (but dig that scratchy Mellotron flute buried in there too!).

`Hard to Go Up' offers pounding piano and manic electric guitar soloing duelling back and forth over a Hammond-thick grooving bluesy saunter and bashing drums, but even more special is the Mellotron-flecked `Oblivion', a simply sublime mellow psychedelic come-down. `Libutum' is a sparkling up-tempo hip-shaking groover with plenty of runaway piano, the Osanna-like `Hot Paradise' is a dramatic theme with strident Black Sabbath-ish lead guitar work, a sighing vocal and thrashing drum spurts. `Useless Obsession' could be one of those killer instrumental tracks loaded with infernal Hammond slinging that popped up on all the classic Atomic Rooster discs, and infectiously groovy closer `Hopeless Train' adds some nice acoustic guitar strums for a change.

(Curious future listeners, make sure to get the latest Cinedelic Records reissue on CD, LP and/or downloads that add plenty of bonus single tracks)

Dated, yes, perhaps a little repetitive and not holding much real depth, sure. But `War in the Night Before' is so easy to listen to if you dig that late 60's/early 70's acid rock sound, and it's simply addictive and melodic fuzzy ear candy. It's hardly essential, but those looking for related obscurities to add to their RPI collection, anyone with an interest in the formative years of the emerging Italian prog sound and maybe even fans of Nuova Idea may find much of value here.

Three stars.

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 FLUX By Belew Volume One by BELEW, ADRIAN album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.82 | 2 ratings

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FLUX By Belew Volume One
Adrian Belew Eclectic Prog

Review by WFV

4 stars Adrian Belew continues his later age creative renaissance with Flux by Belew Volume One. These are short snippets that range from folky to crunchy guitar to cabaret to a Ventures copy to everything in between. I love music like this and this record has reinforced my belief Adrian Belew belongs on the Mount Rushmore of accessible left field rock wierdness of which his former boss Frank Zappa has the largest bust. Singularly creative and decidedly non-conforming, Belew adds to his incredibly rich musical legacy. Fans of left field ideosyncratic rock will find a ton to like here, and this is a fine place to enter the solo world of a living master. I wish Belew got as much run with the media as Iggy Pop during his career-for some reason I put them in the same category as mad scientist weirdo geniuses

Dinosaur in my Trees is an excellent short goofy one here with great scrunching guitar accents

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 Inside The Gardens Of The Mind by MELTING EUPHORIA album cover Studio Album, 1997
3.73 | 6 ratings

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Inside The Gardens Of The Mind
Melting Euphoria Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by wiz_d_kidd

4 stars The next time you want to Netflix and Chill, you might consider, as an alternative, Music and Chill. The album "Inside the Gardens of the Mind" by Melting Euphoria would be an excellent vehicle for that activity. Put your feet up, close your eyes, and let their music tell you a story.

Melting Euphoria is very good at weaving a flowing tapestry of sound waves that propel your imagination along endless mental trips. Their music is not aimlessly rambling, nor is it slow, arrhythmic and droning. Melting Euphoria's music is composed of well conceived, coherent passages with purpose and intent -- unlike many instrumental efforts that are a melange of random passages pasted incongruously together. Their expressed moods and ideas remain consistent throughout each track, taking the listener on a smooth, uninterrupted sonic journey. During your ride, you may hear influences of Secret Saucer, Ozric Tentacles, Hawkwind, or Oresund Space Collective, to name just a few.

Drumming by Michael Merrill is perfectly attuned with the energy of the rest of the band. It is neither flamboyant nor passive. Alas, Michael passed away in 2006. Bass play by Anthony Budziszewski is often forefront and outstanding -- in other words, it stands out! Guitar work by the duo of DeFM and Bob Clic is sublimely psychedelic, smooth, warm, spacey, and trippy, without too much (if any) fuzz, distortion, or overdrive. Moog playing by Zero Devilin keeps things spacey, with lots of atmospheric VCO sweeps and synth bubbles, in addition to the cosmic leads.

Two tracks, in particular are noteworthy. Firstly, the track entitled "Arwr Rhithwelediad" is Welsch for "Heroic Hallucination", which you will appreciate upon listening. And the track "To Shade My Mad Existence" begins with the echoing voices of a madhouse. The fun is in trying to decipher the psychotic babbling, before it evolves into a heavy psych piece with touches of Hawkwind, especially in bass and percussion.

Overall, there is lots of depth and character in this album. No player takes a back seat or hides in the background. You can listen a thousand times and hear something new and interesting each time. This album is engaging -- if you care to close your eyes and listen. Music and chill. Four stars.

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 Beat by KING CRIMSON album cover Studio Album, 1982
3.03 | 1071 ratings

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Beat
King Crimson Eclectic Prog

Review by Chaser

4 stars It took me many years to appreciate how good Beat actually is.

I first listened to this album as a teenager. I was not musically experienced enough to appreciate it at that time. I thought it was mediocre and I put it away in my record collection to gather dust for many years.

Maybe twenty years later I began to play this album once again, and, by that time, I had gained enough musical maturity to appreciate it in a way that I couldn't before.

Of the 1980's trilogy of albums Discipline is unquestionably the strongest album, but I regard Beat as the second best of the three, followed by Three of a Perfect Pair.

The musicianship, as always on King Crimson albums, is superb, and all of the musicians really shine on this album.

Bruford shows his incredible range of percussive talent across the varying tracks on the album, from the freeform style of Requiem, to the delicate percussion on Two Hands, to the furious drumming on Neurotica.

Fripp and his Frippertronics and guitar work are exemplary, especially on the outstanding and technically complex "Sartori in Tangier", and also (with Belew) in the great use of dissonance on "The Howler".

Belew's vocals are very original for the time, especially on "Neurotica" where he delivers the vocal in a rap style, with lyrics throughout the album that hark back to the beat writers of the 1950's and 1960's.

The best track on the album is "Sartori in Tangier" with it's creative guitar and organ work, but many of the other tracks are excellent, including "Requiem", and I also very much like "Waiting Man" and "Neurotica".

Some of the tracks are not as strong, notably the opening two tracks, but all tracks are good, and whilst this is not a five star album, I would score it 3.64 and round it up to four stars.

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 Impala by TUBO ELSTICO, EL album cover Studio Album, 2018
4.05 | 3 ratings

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Impala
El Tubo Elstico Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Rivertree
Special Collaborator PSIKE Team & Band Submissions

4 stars Funny band name! However, stylistically they are flexible definitely, no question. With the focus on dual guitar action and varied rhythm work, plus minimalistic keyboard respectively synthesizer attendance. Post/math bands often enough are sounding single tracked, when it comes to my taste, or are exaggerating their trickiness. Though here we have a well balanced relation of finesse and accessibility to state. The six songs are completely instrumental, furthermore also striving for an eclectic blend of quite different progressive rock moves.

So come what may, yet the opener Ingravido - a thriving affair - will hold you in place, I'm sure. Antiheroe then may top this due to a gripping flow, including acoustic guitar and repetitive keyboards. Hereafter I was caught ... overall the songs are provided with a proper, fusionesque, even partially funky groove. Impala Formidable - the title says it all - if I had to sum this up with a short header, 'King Crimson Go Space Rock', it would be. A passionate progressive rock fan should not miss that. 4.5 stars so far for this improvement.

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 Another Brick In The Wall by PINK FLOYD album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1979
3.63 | 76 ratings

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Another Brick In The Wall
Pink Floyd Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by TenYearsAfter

4 stars

'The connection between Alice Cooper and Pink Floyd'

The first time I listened to 2-LP The Wall (early December 1979) I was confused, and disappointed: an interesting rock opera idea, mindblowing FOC graphics by Gerald Scarfe, but no epics, no long instrumentals and a cascades of dark lyrics. I couldn't get into the music and some tracks even disturbed me: the disco beat in Run Like Hell and especially the poppy overtones in Another Brick In The Wall Part 2. But 9 months later I was heading towards Earls Court in London, to witness Pink Floyd performing The Wall. On the boat one of the many Pink Floyd fans started to play Another Brick In The Wall Part 2 on his guitar and soon we were all singing 'We don't need no education. We don't need no thought control.' Wow, that was a great atmosphere!

The story of Another Brick In The Wall Part 2 started during the Animals tour in 1977, when Roger Waters told Bob Ezrin (producer for Alice Cooper, Lou Reed and Kiss) about the concept of The Wall. Bob Ezrin: 'It was Roger his wife Christie who approached me about doing The Wall. She had worked with me on an Alice Cooper project. The idea was, because this was so much Roger's own project and not a group effort, he needed a kind of referee between him and the rest of the band ' someone who could help him realize his vision and deal with the rest of the band without creating problems between him and them. '

After their meeting in 1977 Roger played Bob a demo that was essentially a 90-minute-long song. 'It started and just kept going. At that point, it didn't have any sort of commercial potential. In fact, it wasn't even organize-able in its form, but it was the genesis of a great idea.' Although Waters decreed there would be no singles on the album, Ezrin knew Another Brick In The Wall Part 2 was a hit the first time he heard it.

1. Another Brick In The Wall part 2 : The foundation of this composition is a pumping bass, a tight drum beat and catchy rhythm guitar. The magic comes from Roger his cynical voice, singing the provocative lyrics, the kids chorus and Gilmour his subtle and sensitive guitar solo, slowly fading away in the end. This is topped by a captivating video clip featuring the children, and the marching hammers, emphasizing the contrast between the innocence and happiness of children and the manipulation and destruction of adults.

The first version of the song had no kids on it. It was just one verse, one chorus, and out. Ezrin told the band, 'That's too short. We need it as a single. It's a smash, and we have to have it. Having done School's Out, I knew the effect of kids, If you want to touch people, most people respond to the sound of a child, for whatever reason. Whether it's children laughing or children crying, that seems to be more touching than hearing the very same thing coming out of the mouth of an adult. In all the cases where I've used kids, it's been for dramatic effect. And particularly in anything that has to do with school! I played it for Roger as a surprise, and the grin on his face was unbelievable. From that point on, not only did he get it, but I think he probably believed it was his idea in the first place!'

As Greek philosopher Aristotle said 'The whole is greater than the sum of its parts': this song is more than the sum of the music, the lyrics, the graphics, the videoclip, so much more and thanks to the genius triumvirat Roger Waters, Bob Ezrin and Gerald Scarfe I finally discovered it!

By the way, Another Brick In The Wall Part 2 turned out to be the huge hit single that Bob Ezrin had foreseen, but how ironical that Roger during The Wall behaved like the nasty and brutal teacher he was singing about!

2. One Of My Turns : This compelling song starts with the ultimate contrasting moods of the groupie her lust and Pink his depressed words, with melancholical keyboards. Then an agressive explosion by Pink, verbally and fysically, with a tight beat and fiery rock guitar. The final words of Pink are 'Why are you running away?', heartbreaking loneliness and despair, Pink seems to slide in a negative spiral of self-destruction (immediately I had to think about Syd Barrett and his infamous turns, due to his battle with the mentally desintegrating schizophrenia - my personal view - but overshadowed by heavy drugs abuse). A very impressive track with strong, pretty emotional vocals from Roger and intense raw guitar work from David, it matches perfectly with the agressive climate.

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 Nothing Else Matters (S&M version) by METALLICA album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1999
2.89 | 9 ratings

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Nothing Else Matters (S&M version)
Metallica Prog Related

Review by martindavey87

3 stars In an age where CD singles are extinct (or at the very least, nothing more than collectibles for die-hard fans), 'Nothing Else Matters' serves as nothing more than a three-song sample of Metallica's 1999 album, 'S&M'.

'S&M', a live album which saw the metal legends collaborating with Michael Kamen and the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, is an outstanding release, and holds up well to this day for its fantastic performances and sound. It's well worth checking out, and mostly makes this CD single redundant.

But with that said, 'Nothing Else Matters' and 'For Whom the Bell Tolls' are done incredibly, with the orchestra perfectly adding to the metal classics, without being either underwhelming or overbearing. And '-Human' (pronounced 'Minus Human'), a new song exclusive to the album, is a great addition, and is a nice little extra for this CD, and shows that even in 1999, amidst their alternative rock lunacy, that Metallica could still out heavy most bands on the planet.

While this is redundant today, especially to fans who already own the S&M album, it's still a nice collectible for anyone that has to own everything that Metallica has ever put out.

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 The Memory Remains by METALLICA album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1997
2.50 | 11 ratings

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The Memory Remains
Metallica Prog Related

Review by martindavey87

2 stars One of the better singles from Metallica's often underrated and wrongly dismissed 1997 release, 'Reload', 'The Memory Remains' is pure hard rock at its finest. With plenty of hooks, catchy sing-along lyrics, and "that vocal melody" (one of the few Metallica songs with a guest vocalist, British singer Marianne Faithfull), it holds up well as one of the better songs from the album.

Included with the title track are two demos. The first, 'Fuel for Fire', is a demo in progress of arguably the records most popular and well-known track, 'Fuel'. Admittedly, the lyrics are pretty laughable, but then, it's easy to say that when comparing it to the finished version we all know and love.

Then there's a demo of 'The Memory Remains', which is pretty terrible. Overly long, with very few distinguishable lyrics, most of it is just James Hetfield singing 'la la la' and 'na na na' over and over. Still, it's a rare look at what the band originally had intended, and if nothing else, this is what singles are made for.

Decent enough single for collectors only.

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 The Orchestral Tubular Bells by OLDFIELD, MIKE album cover Studio Album, 1975
2.50 | 174 ratings

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The Orchestral Tubular Bells
Mike Oldfield Crossover Prog

Review by martindavey87

2 stars I realise this review is kind of half-assed, but I don't really know what to say about this album. Released in 1975, just two years after the original, 'The Orchestral Tubular Bells' sees Mike Oldfield, alongside the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, play through his magnum opus 'Tubular Bells', in what's unfortunately a rather unnecessary live recording.

While 'Tubular Bells' has never been my favourite album (I gave it a three-star rating), it's no doubt regarded as Mike Oldfield's most popular work and has become one of 'those albums' that everybody owns. So why release a live orchestral version just two years later?

I can understand touring the album with a band, but performing it with a full-blown orchestra just seems a bit overbearing, not to mention, kind of boring. The music is fine, but honestly, when it all comes down to it, just stick to the original version. It's got a charm about it that this one lacks.

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 Uma Nova Realidade by CADIMA, SAMUEL album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2018
3.00 | 1 ratings

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Uma Nova Realidade
Samuel Cadima Progressive Electronic

Review by DamoXt7942
Forum & Site Admin Group Avant, Crossover & Neo Teams

— First review of this album —
3 stars This single track has come up to us in the hot summer of 2018 as one of tracks in Samuel CADIMA's upcoming creation. In his debut album he launched trippy, dreamy texture along with his splendid electronic sound departure, and via this stuff, amazingly, his musical appearance's got more delightful and tastier fully with major keys. A tad cloudy electric guitar touch is rather of my comfort. He says he always plays all instruments in the creations and that's pretty surprising for us because of his variation of sound appearances and approaches. We might beat time with our hands to this song without ourselves I guess, and the loud beat would be an apparent praise for his upcoming album in near future.

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 Knse by DEATHSPELL OMEGA album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2005
4.51 | 34 ratings

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Knse
Deathspell Omega Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

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

5 stars Starting with their third album 'Si Monvmentvm Reqvires, Circvmspice,' the French black metal band DEATHSPELL OMEGA went from a rather run-of-the-mill second wave clone going through 90s Darkthrone inspired motions and undertook a major leap of sophistication with their Satanic liturgical distortionfests with hitherto unthinkable experimentalism and progressiveness that catapulted the entire black metal world to a completely new level.This was also the beginning of the trilogy of albums that tackled metaphysical theology from a Satanic perspective with lyrics inspired by the French philosopher Georges Bataille.

Sandwiched in between the three albums 'Si Monvmentvm Reqvires, Circvmspice,' 'Fas ' Ite, Maledicti, in Ignem Aeternum' and 'Paracletus' were many EPs and splits. KNSE emerged as the first 'in-between' release and although technically classified as an EP, runs slightly over 36 minutes. During this period DEATHSPELL OMEGA, while black metal in menacing sonic demeanor, structured their albums more like progressive rock albums of the 70s. The official trilogy albums themselves mimicked the structure of vinyl double albums whereas some EPs such as this could count as fully fledged albums within their own right.

KNSE was intended to be supplemental material to accompany the 'Si Momvmentvm' album. The term KNSE is French for 'kenosis' which itself emerged from the Greek language (κένωσις, k'nōsis), refers to the self-emptying of Jesus' will and becoming receptive to the God's divine will which refers to the Biblical passage in Philippians 2:7. This release pretty much perfectly fits between the newly adapted 'Si Monvmentvm' and the even more challenging and experimental 'Fas - Ite.' While similar, KNSE exists in its own universe and delivers one of the most terrifying banterfests of DOS' avant-garde black metal career.

This EP consists of a mere three tracks simply titled 'I' 'II' and 'III' with the opener serving as the longest and casting an ominous spell with a four minute death march that slowly ratchets up the tension before bursting into the more famous jangle black metal dissonance that DOS have made their frightening signature sound. 'II' continues the indecipherable vocal litanies with ever changing mixes of guitar riffs, time signature changes and hypnotic percussive bantering until it reaches a frightening angularity of complete rhythmic breakdown by the end. 'III' calms down a bit with a Gregorian chant type of vibe dressed up in a dissonant blackened doom metal wrap. The track hypnotically lollygags in a near nine minute rant that ends the EP leaving a feeling of despair and sadistic sacrifice of the soul.

KNSE ups the ante manyfold. The musicianship is off the chart with the guitar and bass mostly existing as a single super instrument and the drumming all interacting in staggering complexity like the aural specter of the entire jazz, classical and metal universe unleashing the darkest forces of the underworld in unison. The production is perfect as it allows the more subdued build- ups to hypnotically seduce complacence before the full metal fury unleashes the full Satanic theological rage about esoteric theological rants about hypostasis and philosophical quandaries. In short, this is the absolute perfect example of an authentic progressive black metal album.

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 Winter Solstice: North by COIL album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1999
2.55 | 4 ratings

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Winter Solstice: North
Coil Progressive Electronic

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

2 stars This EP is the final in a series of 4 CDs that contain music inspired by the seasons. Each one of these CDs is so different, but that is usually the case with Coil, and that is what makes their music so interesting, you never know what to expect. Overall, this one is cold and ambient, the music definitely reflects the empty feeling of the winter season, at least in the north half of the hemisphere.

This EP has 4 tracks. The first track, "White Rainbow" is sparse recording, at least most of the way through, with inconsistent percussion, vocals that sound like Brendan Perry from "Dead Can Dance", except with all electronic synths and sounds. The song is sung in a chant style, but with one voice, no harmonies. This sparseness continues most of the way through, but towards the last few minutes, strange electronic noises start to take over the track until it obliterates the drone and vocals that have been dominating the song.

Next is "North" which is comprised of metallic electronic sounds, again quite ambient with a soft rhythm underneath. There is a lot of echo, and you can hear a indiscernible and processed voice that sounds like it is echoing through a dark hallway. No melody here, just experimental and spooky ambience.

"Magenetic North", the third track, is another electronic drone, with varying tones that swirl around. There are subdued, almost whispered, and tuneless vocals. There is no rhythm here, it's just mostly quiet and subdued. The feeling is loneliness and isolation. The best way to experience this is with a good set of headphones, in a darkened room, with your eyes closed. It's also a good time to take a nap, because it goes on for 8 minutes.

It's not Winter without a Christmas song, so, Coil puts a traditional folk song on as the last track. Titled "Christmas is Now Drawing Near", it is sung and performed by guests "Rosa Mundi". It is a Catholic song, and it sounds like it, with a little Celtic feeling to it. Strings provide a drone like sound while keyboards provide atmosphere, keeping things cold and mostly dark.

Strangely enough, the short EP is very relaxing, even with it's dark and somber tones. It is quite ambient and mostly drone- like, and you almost wish for something a little upbeat, but you don't get it here. It is decent enough for lovers of ambient drone music, and those interested in Electronic Prog might want to try it out. Otherwise, it is not very interesting. As a fan of ambient electronic music that is done well, I really have a hard time getting into this one. You would probably be better off finding the compilation "Moon's Milk" which contains the 4 EPs in this series, as they do work better together than they do separately. Otherwise, this lone EP is only for collectors and fans.

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 Son by OBIYMY DOSCHU album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.40 | 85 ratings

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Son
Obiymy Doschu Crossover Prog

Review by IconiK11

5 stars I have enjoyed everything about this album: pure voice of the leading singer; the way Ukrainian (I assume) language is bringing some additional magic to the vocals; tenderness and drama brought by the strings quartet and flute; dynamic riffs of the guitar. The music of "Son" brings some beautiful nostalgia and a little bit of sadness, but all of the emotions brought are saturated by the amazing aesthetics and good taste in arrangements. And it is very pleasant and rewarding that the musicians are not trying to "play" with the listener by inventing some artificial developments of the melody. The music they share with the listener is sincere and honest. It comes from the bottom of composer's heart and, therefore, touches the strings of listener's soul. This album is produced in a very talented manner and is an undoubtable gem in any proglover's collection.

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 Script For A Jester's Tear by MARILLION album cover Studio Album, 1983
4.22 | 1881 ratings

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Script For A Jester's Tear
Marillion Neo-Prog

Review by DarkTower

5 stars In 1983, musical world seems to be in a dead-end. While the big Zeppelin did crash after Bonham's dead, Pink Floyd was releasing the 1st Roger Waters solo album Final Cut. Genesis and Yes were going nowhere with the Genesis album (aka Shapes) and 90125.

Then radio station CHOM-FM started to play a song called He Knows You Know on a regular basis. It is that year I discovered Marillion. Script For A Jester's Tear still remains a masterpiece today and the best album produced by the band. Despite the poor drumming from Mick Pointer, this album has everything a prog lover can ask for, including the wonderful illustration from Mark Wilkinson.

Album starts with what is probably the most emotional song Marillion did write. Script is that good. I love this song. Everything seems perfect in this 8+ minute song. From the a cappella "So Here I Am Once More" to the final "Can You Still Say You Love Me", the song is a roller-coaster between great guitar solos and more quiet sections.

He Knows You Know and Garden Party are the most straight-forward songs and are very good. The Web and Chelsea Monday are both real gems with again great guitar parts by Rothery.

Then, the grand finale of the album, Forgotten Sons. Starting with sounds coming from many radio channels, including snippet of Market Square Heroes, the song hits us right from the beginning. Each and every musician has his shining moments. Even the drum is sounding good, thanks to the military march beat. The final section, sung by Fish, starting with "You're just another coffin" is just to give goose bumps.

With this first album, Marillion did help the progressive music to stay alive. I did listen to those songs thousand of times since 35 years, and they are as good as they were back in 1983. Masterpiece, I give 5 stars.

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 Across The Water by JADIS album cover Studio Album, 1994
3.54 | 100 ratings

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Across The Water
Jadis Neo-Prog

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

4 stars What really surprises me about Jadis second album (third if you count their very rare self titled album of demos of 1989) is that although Gary Chandler and company created a whole sound of their own since the very beginning Across The Water is very different from the celebrated More Than Meets The Eye, released only two years before. In fact, Jadis, for good or for bad, would never repeat itself along its career through the years.

Across the Water wont grab you so easily as its predecessor, it really takes more time to sink in, but once it does, youre hooked and a great showcase for Chandlers fine songwriting skills, as well as the bands prowess and originality. The classic line up of Chandler on guitar and vocals, Steve Christey on drums plus the IQ members Martin Orford (keyboards, flute, harmony vocals) and Jon Jowitt (bass) works as a tight unit, delivering a series of exquisite tracks like In Isolation, Touch and The World On Your Side. But their very best is the prog classic Daylight Fades, probably their best know song: an ethereal tune with a strong Pink Floyd leaning that is one of my favourite prog songs ever. The jazz piano break in the middle is both subtle and fantastic. The remaining tracks are not on that league, but they are very good anyway, especially if you like Chandlers unique guitar style: melodic, economical, very soulful and never overdone (traces of PFs David Gilmour again). His vocal delivering may not be the greatest, but he does a good job on it, being both pleasant and emotional.

With a crystal clear production, this is the kind of prog music that may not please much those who prefer the more bombastic side of the genre, but will certainly give great pleasure for those who like fine music delivered with subtlety and finesse.

Conclusion: a terrific release from one of the greatest neo prog bands of all time.

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 Two Sides Of Peter Banks by BANKS, PETER album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.26 | 57 ratings

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Two Sides Of Peter Banks
Peter Banks Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Review N 196

Banks is, of course, best known as the guy who played guitar in Yes before Steve Howe came into the fold. But, those who only see that part of the picture, though, are missing out on quite a lot. Banks first got his start with Yes' bassist Chris Squire in the group the Syn. After that, Banks and Squire moved to their next group Mabel Greer's Toy Shop. Banks left them when Jon Anderson was starting to become a presence on the scene. But, he hooked back up with Squire and Anderson. By then, they had added Tony Kaye and Bill Bruford to the line up and thus, Yes was born. After leaving Yes he formed the band Flash who released three albums before breaking up in 1973. Later in the same year he released this self titled solo album. With it, Banks showed clearly that he had the potential to become an interesting progressive rock solo artist, but strangely, instead of that he chose to disappear from the scene for the rest of the 70's.

'Two Sides Of Peter Banks' is the solo debut studio album of Peter Banks and was released in 1973. The line up on the album is Peter Banks (electric and acoustic guitars, ARP, Minimoog and Fender piano), Jan Akkerman (electric and acoustic guitars), Steve Hackett (electric guitar), John Wetton (bass guitar), Ray Bennett (bass guitar), Phil Collins (drums) and Mike Hough (drums).

'Two Sides Of Peter Banks' has nine tracks. All tracks were written by Banks except 'Vision Of The King', 'Battles', 'Last Eclipse', 'Stop That!' and 'Get Out Of My Fridge', which were written by Banks and Akkerman and 'Beyond The Loneliest Sea', which was written by Akkerman. The first track 'Visions Of The King' quickly builds from a thin layer of guitar sounds into a thick layering of electric guitar chords that are absolutely majestic, before dissolving into the acoustic intro of 'The White Horse Vale'. It's a beautiful electric guitar duet, Banks' classic volume pedal tones and Akkerman ringing out with sad and gothic feelings, characteristic of his work on Focus. The second track 'The White House Vale' is divided into two tracks, 'On The Hill' and 'Lord Of The Dragon'. This is a melodic guitar poem which showcases some of his own classical moves, with a brief interlude that presages the next piece, 'Knights'. It spends its six minutes meandering through all sorts of acoustic and jazzy wah-wah licks, before it in turn morphs into 'Knights'. The third track 'Knights' is also divided into two tracks, 'The Falcon' and 'The Bear'. It has a discordant riff that makes me think of some of the better and noisier moments of Yes, but it's not as prominent as I tend to remember it. There are a lot of quieter stretches with two or three layers of Banks noodling about, but the noodling has enough interesting stuff going on. And it builds into a really nice frenzy before the riff comes back. The fourth track 'Battles' comes around, after a brief reprise of some of the best sounds from 'Vision Of The King', and it's a bit of a noisy anti-climax. It's all fine, but that much build-up seems like it should resolve into something more. The fifth track 'Knights (Reprise)' brings back the 'Knights' riff with some guitar effects thrown in for good measure. The sixth track 'Last Eclipse' closes things out with some final call back to the 'Vision Of The King'. The quiet guitar meanderings bring the suite to a nice conclusion. All in all, the suite isn't spectacular, and it certainly doesn't live up to the side longs that Yes was doing at the time, but all Yes' fans should definitely hear it. The seventh track 'Beyond The Loneliest Sea' is a delicious mellow piece of Spanish flavoured guitar duet between Banks and Akkerman. It's comparable to any acoustic work that Akkerman made with Focus. The eighth track 'Stop That!' consists of the 14 minute jazz rock fusion jam. It's a decent jam, with Collins showing off his future Brand X like jazzy rhythms and Bennett contributing with some very active bass. Banks does his best to keep things interesting. While I basically enjoy it on the whole, I can't help but feel that Banks bit off a little more than he could chew here. I think Akkerman shines more than him, here. The ninth track 'Get Out Of My Fridge' sounds to me more like something I'd expect from a Howe's solo album than a Banks' solo album, courtesy of its focus on the kinds of electric prog boogie licks that are Howe's calling card. It's a lot of fun to hear Banks try to beat Howe at his own game. The interplay between Banks and Akkerman is a fun close to the album.

Conclusion: This album is more a collaboration between Banks and Akkerman than a true solo album. Akkerman has co-written credits on most of the tracks and even a full credit for the acoustic guitar ballad 'Beyond The Loneliest Sea'. The interaction of the two guitarists is what really makes this album stand out for me, they're both good on their own, and they're great together. It's a shame that Banks hasn't really gotten his full recognition as an outstanding guitarist in his own right. This album certainly won't be to everyone's taste, as a solo guitar album. Listening to this, I'm reminding of that seemingly long gone era of guitarists, who didn't need to rely at all on a cadre of effect boxes or studio trickery, but had a command of the instrument that can only be had by playing and playing and playing. It's really a great album.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

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 In The World Of Fantasy? ...and Other Rarities by MILLENIUM album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2014
4.06 | 16 ratings

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In The World Of Fantasy? ...and Other Rarities
Millenium Neo-Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

4 stars The complete title of this album is 'In The World of Fantasy? ' And Other rarities'. It was actually released prior to 'In Search Of The Perfect Chord', so the final epic song on that album features as the opening song on this collection, a taster for what was to come. Of course, reviewing this some four years later means that some of the impact of that is rather lost. All of the other songs are either rare songs taken from singles, alternative versions, demos or unreleased songs. It goes all the way back to the band's beginning in 2014, and then right up to date with an unrealized theme from the next album.

Normally with an album of this type, reviewers would say that this is a nice set for completists and those who are already fans of the band, and move smartly onwards and not bother listening to it. But, what we have here is one of those rare instances of a rarities collection that is actually a bloody fine listen indeed. One of the real joys on this one is 'Born In 67', where keyboard player, band leader and label boss Ryszard Kramarski provides lead vocals on the demo. Contrast that to the Beatles-like 'The Prose Of Life' that follows it, and I can guarantee that any listener will be smiling (at least I was). I believe this CD was only released as a limited numbered edition, so I don't know if it is still available, but all progheads should grab this if they come across it. These days, most progheads when they think of Poland always think Riverside, but in truth there have been a great deal of wonderful bands out of that country in the last 20 years, and to my ears Millennium are right up there with the very best.

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 In Search Of The Perfect Melody by MILLENIUM album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.85 | 130 ratings

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In Search Of The Perfect Melody
Millenium Neo-Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

4 stars Some fifteen years on from their debut, and the 2014 version of Millennium still featured four of the five musicians who had played on 'Vocanda'. Of all the wonderful progressive bands I have heard from Poland, it is with this one I feel the most affinity, as they have consistently released great albums throughout their career, and this shows no sign at all of that changing. As with their previous album they brought in some guests on vocals and additional instruments (interestingly both Darek Rybka ( saxophone) and Grzegorz Bauer (drums) joined as full members in 2017), to add additional polish and effect. The use of saxophone in modern progressive music still feels fresh, and that is again very much the case here.

This neo-prog outfit takes cues from the likes of Pink Floyd, but IQ are obviously also very much an influence, and there is always a firm concentration on songs and melodies. Singer Lukasz Gall has a wonderful voice, and is always kept to the forefront of the sound, and the female backing singers add a touch of finesse, with 'Girl From A Glass Sphere' in particular managing to be beautiful, modern and timeless all at once. The last song on the album, 'In The World Of Fantasy' is also one of the longest in their canon, stretching in at twelve minutes. It tells the story of a composer obsessed with the desire to write the perfect tune and ready to sign a pact with the devil to achieve this goal. The band see this as a tribute to Mozart, Beethoven, Bach, Brahms, Handel and Wagner and also to 'legendary art rock bands and timeless compositions such as Genesis, "Supper's ready", Pink Floyd "Echoes", Yes "Close to the edge", The Alan Parsons Project "The turn of a friendly card" or Marillion "Grendel".'

This digipak is a fine addition to any prog lover's collection, and I feel so fortunate that I have been able to hear so much of their work. This is the ninth album of theirs that I own, and is either their 10th or 11th studio release (depending as to whether you consider the debut Millennium album to actually be the second Framauro album or not), and all of them are very high quality indeed. Truly one of the great Polish progressive bands.

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 Lies And Butterflies by MYSTERY album cover Studio Album, 2018
4.03 | 90 ratings

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Lies And Butterflies
Mystery Neo-Prog

Review by The Jester

4 stars Almost a month ago, the Quebec-based Neo-Prog band Mystery, released its 7th studio album, which is the 2nd with Jean Pageau on vocals. Since I enjoyed all of their latest albums, (starting with Beneath the Veil of Winter's Face), I added this new album of theirs almost immediately to my collection.

The album opens with the 17-minute long Looking for Something Else, which is really something. Maybe it could be a couple of minutes shorter if they were trying to avoid the ' unnecessary in some occasions ' repetitive tunes, but it's ok; I can live with that. The album closes with another long song, the 15-minutes-long Chrysalis, which also could be a little shorter in my opinion.

Further than the 2 epics, 'Lies' includes 5 more songs, all of them melodic and beautiful, in the usual style of Mystery. This time the band followed the same music path, and presented an album that will definitely satisfy their fans, and the fans of Neo-Prog as well. The voice of Jean Pageau is excellent once more and it matches perfectly with their music.

Lies and Butterflies is ' in my opinion ' a very good album, not only for the fans of Mystery or Neo-Prog, but also for people who can appreciate a melodic album, with beautiful and ' on many occasions melancholic ' tunes and easy going turns and twists. Without being something groundbreaking, it is a really enjoyable album. Give it a try! Favourite songs (so far): Looking for Something Else, Something to Believe in, Dare to Dream, Come to Me. My Rating: 4.00 (out of 5.0) stars.

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 V by SCALE THE SUMMIT album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.35 | 24 ratings

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V
Scale The Summit Progressive Metal

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars SCALE THE SUMMIT are a four piece band out of LA and this is album number five for the group. For some reason I was thinking they were a Post-Rock band simply by their name but no this is all instrumental, complex, melodoic, heavy and pleasant Prog Metal. Two guitarists, a bassist and drummer. I'm not going to say a lot about this one. It felt like every song had something I enjoyed about it but then every track also had something I wasn't that into. Yes each song has contrasts and different themes as they like to change it up a lot. I mostly enjoyed the melodic and pleasant parts although the start of "The Isle Of Mull" with the guitar echoing and intertwining with the other was cool, but like I said they don't stay in one place long. The riffs and heavier sections didn't do much for me and overall as I just feel I have a lot of instrumental Metal I like better than this album. A band well worth checking out though as they've released six albums so far and man these guys can play.

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 Wish You Were Here by PINK FLOYD album cover Studio Album, 1975
4.62 | 3790 ratings

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Wish You Were Here
Pink Floyd Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

5 stars This album has been reviewed so many times. How do you say something new about this that hasn't already been said? How do you review an album that almost everyone is familiar with? How do you say anything critical about something as perfect as this album? I don't even know where to begin to talk about an album that I have listened to so much, that I know every single note by every instrument involved, every word that is sung and every single effect used. And I can listen to it again, even now, and still love every second of it, that it hasn't lost any effect on me. The album is timeless, amazing and there still is nothing else like it out there.

If you are on this site, and you still haven't heard this album or you have not formed your own opinion, then I say you have some work to do. Don't read this review until you at least listen to the album. Then come back and read it and make your own decision as to if it is or isn't one of the most amazing things you ever heard. Then come back and see what I think about it.

I am going to review this album now.

It's amazing. It's perfect. 6 stars on a rating scale of 1 to 5 where 5 = Essential and 6 = Perfection That's all!

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 Tudo Foi Feito Pelo Sol by MUTANTES, OS album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.06 | 106 ratings

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Tudo Foi Feito Pelo Sol
Os Mutantes Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

4 stars For such well known, groundbreaking and respected band like Mutantes, Tudo Foi Feito Pelo Sol got surprisingly few comments and reviews, which contribuited to my desire to write mine. By the time this album was out the only remaining original band member was guitarist Sergio Dias Baptista. Mutantes had lost not only the creative mind of Arnaldo Dias Baptista but also the services of the celebrated bass player Liminha (who would in future years become one of the best and most sought of producers in south america). Sergio was never really comfortable as a band leader and although he did find excellent musicians to fill in the blanks, the group never regain their former status or groundbreaking production. Still, they were capable of delivering a superb prog album with Tudo Foi Feito Pelo Sol.

When it came out it was met by a good reception from the prog audience in Brazil - it sold pretty well for the style - and, not entirely surprising, received some quite harsh remarks from critics, who called them mere copycats of "foreign music". Without Arnaldo Dias Batista genial touch and Rita Lee's penchant for mockery Mutantes were incapable of being the anarchic, original and musical mixed bag they once were famous for. And although part of it was true, I (and many others) always felt the "new" Mutantes did have their own take of prog music and some of their brazilian roots were still there.

Listening to the album nowadays I still think they were really fantastic and wish this line up could hold on and deliver a follow up (personnel changes plagued the band from then on), but they would not. Songs like the instrumental Pitagoras, Desanuviar and the title track are fine prog tunes that made us feel so proud of having our own symphonic progressive band during the heyday of the style. We were starving for something like that! Other more rocking tracks like O Contrario de Nada ' Nada and Eu So Penso em Te Ajudar were also good ones and sure live favorites to dance to, but clearly were not the best of their repertoire (a whole prog album would be more fitting, but then they'd be even more criticized if they did so). Anyway, the point is: all songs are at least good, inspired and very well performed and produced. That in a time when recording facilities in Brazil were few and people who actually knew how to use it even rarer. The instrumental parts are really powerful but one thing that really stands out for me are the vocals: although Sergio does not have the greatest voice, he knew how to sing even the most difficult parts and the harmonies were elaborated, original and spot on, something most brazilian bands lacked badly, then and now.

All in all a very good prog album that stood well the test of time. I know it is not like their previous works, but it is an excellent effort, specially if you like symphonic prog, with strong Yes and Italian influences.

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 Long Night's Journey Into Day by REDEMPTION album cover Studio Album, 2018
3.64 | 19 ratings

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Long Night's Journey Into Day
Redemption Progressive Metal

Review by javajeff

3 stars Let me start out by saying that I am a huge Ray Alder fan, and A Pleasant Shade Of Gray is a favorite album of mine that I play regularly. I love Fates Warning, so naturally Redemption has been another progressive metal band to interest me with the Fates Warning connection. Ok, so you decide to replace Ray with someone else. Say, what? I do not understand why this happened, but I cannot take anything away from Tom Englund as he does a fine job on the album. As you would expect from a Redemption album, there is excellent musicianship. Long Night's Journey Into Day is another album with Nick Van Dyk's signature flavor of progressive metal. But it is missing a spark. Let me state my second beef with the album. U2's New Year's Day in the middle of the album. Now, I love the original song by U2, and listened to it a ton the 80s. The Redemption cover is decent, but it should be a bonus track at the very least and placed at the very end album. Do not interrupt your creativity with a cover. I am not a fan of covers to begin with, and I rarely find ones that I like. When bands release deluxe versions of albums where the second disc is a covers disc, I buy the standard version. If I want to hear an album by a band, I will buy that band's album. I am really not into these types of novelties, and I wish bands would stop doing it. Is there some sort of loss of creativity where the need is to leverage other band's stuff? I am finding Long Night's Journey Into Day tough to swallow, and I doubt it will have the longevity that I put into Snowfall On Judgment Day or The Fullness Of Time. I thought The Art Of Loss was an excellent release as well. I will give some more listens to Long Night's Journey Into Day, but when New Year's Day starts, it really is a bizarre addition to this lackluster release.

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 Lies And Butterflies by MYSTERY album cover Studio Album, 2018
4.03 | 90 ratings

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Lies And Butterflies
Mystery Neo-Prog

Review by gertjanvm

1 stars Mystery is a typical example of a band that leans back in satisfaction. The sales will be high, fans are adoring the band. It's understandable the band wants to retain this success. But to record an album with really 0.0 progression? Lies and Butterflies is no more or less than a long stretched version of the previous albums. A total lack of creativity, in my opinion. This is also apparent from the ever-repetitive tunes. In the first 4 minutes of the opening track, a simple tune is repeated 28 (!) times. And then the lyrics. "Come take my hand", "The world goes round and round". Come on, Mystery, you can do better, much better. A disappointing and boring album?

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 Origins by LARUE, LISA album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2018
4.00 | 1 ratings

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Origins
Lisa LaRue Crossover Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

— First review of this album —
4 stars Origins' is a collection consisting of compositions and recordings from keyboard player Lisa LaRue from as long ago as 1992, up to 2016. stemming from 1992 through 2016. It is incredibly varied, as it includes pieces such as a spoken word/keyboard collaboration with Gilli Smyth of Gong, some she composed and recorded for modern ballet, selections with John Payne (Asia Featuring John Payne, GPS, Dukes of the Orient), Michael Sadler (Saga), Ryo Okumoto (Spock's Beard), a collaboration with Italian composer/keyboardist Federico Fantacone, and solo pieces. Other musicians involved include Mitch Perry (Talas, Aerosmith), Don Schiff (Rocket Scientists, Kracked Earth), John Baker (Forever Twelve, Mars Hollow) as well as Steve Adams, Brenda K, Michael Wheeler, Merrill Hale, Svetlan Raket (Par Lindh Project), John "Yafke" Timothy, Michael Alvarez.

It is a wonderful collection of work, containing so many styles that one never knows what is going to happen next. "256 Leagues Above New Orleans" combines jazz-style electric piano with shimmering synths and wonderful flute to bring together thoughts (at least in my mind) of Native Americans riding over the plains, and then there are others where Steve Adams provides incredibly fluid electric guitar, while it is always a pleasure to hear Don Schiff in the mix. There is so much going on that the album could have become disjointed, spread over two discs it is nearly two hours in length, yet there is always the desire to know what ideas are going to come through next, how it is going to come together.

LaRue isn't a flashy "look at me" extravagant player in the realm of Wakeman or Emerson, but instead has a strong understanding of arrangements and what is needed where. There are a few numbers that drift into delicate New Age territory, but there are many others which are far harder, with real presence. The album ebbs and flows, and the result is that listeners such as myself, who haven't previously heard much from LaRue, will feel inspired to search out more of her back catalogue. Now that she is with MRR, I am sure we will all be hearing quite a bit more of her activities, and I for one am very pleased about that.

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 Canti, Racconti e Battaglie by IL FAUNO DI MARMO / THE REBUS album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.91 | 13 ratings

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Canti, Racconti e Battaglie
Il Fauno di Marmo / The Rebus Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Il Fauno Di Marmo an italian heavy prog band founded in 2001, initialy they were named The Rebus but chanced in Il Fauno di Marmo in 2012. The Rebus released 2 little known albums Homonymous in 2002 and Acroterius in 2005, both good but gone under the radar in prog circles.

In 2012 they changed their name into Il Fauno Di Marmo after making a deal with the Italian label Andromeda Relix. Currently the line-up consists of Francesco Bonavita (keyboards), Alberto Ballare (bass), Luca Sterle (vocals, flute), Luca Carboni (drums) and Valerio Collella (guitars).

Il Fauno di Marmo released so far a single album in 2013 named canti, raconti e battaglei. Well, I like lot this one, this type of heavy prog I can listen every day, mellotron, hammond all over, bands like Delirium, Abiogenesi or A Piedi Nudi are certenly similar, Ossana is another influence. Nice vocals, nice flute, all musicians shine from start to finish

The opening piece Benvenuti Al Circe is a great up-tempo prog rock track lots of a Hammond organ, emotionally sung lyrics by Luca Sterle and second voice Frederique Sterle, and with lots of tempo changes and a nice violin solo. Madre Nature is a short but nice folk rock song in the vein of Jethro Tull. There is also an instrumental Nova Res, who is quite intresting, the longest Hop Frog is killer, 11 min of Biglietto per L'Inferno meets P.F.M. but all done in Il Fauno di Marmo style nice flute and sophisticated hammond.

All in all, more then great release, at least for me, excellent art work aswell, one of the most intristing heavy prog albums I've heared in last years from italian school, still little known in prog circles, even the album was released 5 years ago. 4 stars for sure.

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 Unsung Prophets & Dead Messiahs by ORPHANED LAND album cover Studio Album, 2018
3.84 | 56 ratings

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Unsung Prophets & Dead Messiahs
Orphaned Land Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Booba Kastorsky

5 stars I didn't really dig OL music before, even though I tried a few times. Even Mabul didn't impress me much: cookie monster vocals overshadowed for me other elements of their music I could like.

This is my favorite Orphaned Land album, period. I found myself listening to it a few times in a row, then put it aside for a few days or even a week or two, and then come back again.

They evolution reminds me evolution of Opeth that started as a band with cookie monster vocals and black metal arrangement, and then evolved with one of the most sophisticated modern prog metal band (with emphasize to prog). The album is packed with excellent melodies, lush and interesting arrangements, and a lot of "extras" that I like so much: choruses, folk and classical instruments, exotic percussion, etc. Just look at the list of guests and instruments they play!

The opened track is a superb prog/symphonic metal song that has it all: catchy melody, pomp, female chorus, and on top of it symphonic and Middle Eastern orchestral arrangement. And don't forget excellent guitar work! This is a blueprint of the album,and the rest of the songs are in pretty much the same vein plus a couple of ballads with strong Mid East folk taste. Another highlight is Chains Fall To Gravity with superb Hackett-like guitar solo. And its solo is actually Steve's! The only thing to complain is four tracks here feature monster vocals. I still don't understand why some people like it over clean voice, especially if the vocalist does have great clean voice?! The good thing is it sounds quite organic there and doesn't spoil the overall sound too much. Probably because the music is still lush and femail chorus smooth it up somehow?

Anyway, even if you drop those cookie monster four tracks (that are not that bad, actually) , you still have over 1 hour of great prog/sympho/ethno-Oriental metal extravaganza with excellent vocals and arrangement. And excellent sound quality! My top 2 album of 2018 so far (right after Perfect Being).

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 Somewhere / Anywhere by MILKY WAY GAS STATION album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.00 | 1 ratings

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Somewhere / Anywhere
Milky Way Gas Station Crossover Prog

Review by Steve Conrad

— First review of this album —
3 stars Set Your Clocks to "Unhurried"

Milky Way Gas Station, hailing from the Netherlands, consists of Rob IJpelaan, vocals, guitar Niels Hoppe, guitar Harald Veenker, drums Jeroen Vriend, bass

Several other musicians were guests on this album, their debut.

I could swear I hear keyboards, but darned if I know who plays them.

According to the band website biographies, three of the four members played in KRAMER, a band with which I am not familiar.

When I say "unhurried", this refers not only to the pace and timing of the album, but also to the process of rehearsing and recording this album. Apparently the tunes emerged and re-emerged over a five year period.

Pink Floyd references are unmistakeable.

Especially track 4, "37, Pt. 2" brought "Dark Side of the Moon" to mind, with the absurdly powerful female vocals in the mix.

Yet practically throughout, with the powerful sustained keyboard and guitar chords, fretless bass guitar making appearances, slide guitar tones, use of acoustic guitar passages, and so on, Pink Floyd could be heard.

Certainly there were differences

For instance, the vocalist had his own timbre, clear, somehow plaintive, expressive. Guitar tones were varied, from clean or slightly treated, to singing distortion, to sweep picking. One or both guitarists have great technique, tone, and taste.

The band says, and I agree: It's about the songs.

These range from 3 minutes and change long, to north of 26 minutes for the epic closing track. Each is unhurried, taking time to develop, simmer, and wind down. There is passion, but it is restrained passion. I suspect lyrics to the songs were important but didn't have access to these in time to write this review.

If I had one suggestion

Hone these down a bit! It could be most listeners won't mind seventy minutes of material and the unhurried pace- but I certainly noticed it.

Oh, and another thing

Let those ladies sing some more! Wow!

Overall, I liked this album a lot. There were lots of textures, variations, singing synth solos, and stellar guitar work. Drums and bass were terrific and in synch.

Rating- I'm saying 3.75, AWFULLY close to 4 stellar fill-ups.

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 With Teeth by NINE INCH NAILS album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.14 | 67 ratings

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With Teeth
Nine Inch Nails Crossover Prog

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

4 stars After the huge success of 'The Downward Spiral' and 'The Fragile' along with some EPs thrown in there for good measure, Trent Reznor was riding high, but was also battling with drug and alcohol addiction. Also, during this time, Reznor faced writers block. This was not a good time for Nine Inch Nails, or the fans. The public was getting restless for a new NIN album. 'And All That Could Have Been' was released in 2002 and it was a double album, one disc live, the other studio tracks. This was an excellent album, and worked to appease the fans for the time being.

Fast forward to 2005 before Reznor was ready to release another album. Excitement was generated when news started coming in that an album was on it's way. When the album did finally come out, it shot right up the charts. People were expecting that loud and inventive music that Trent was know for, the same wildness and ingenuity that existed before.

For the most part, the critics and the fans were happy with this album. I know I was happy with it, but there was a little something missing in there that was hard to pinpoint. Nevertheless, this is a decent album, not quite as major of a release as the previous albums, but it was still satisfying. The album was originally supposed to be a concept album with songs and music dealing with the way addiction can lead to either a downfall or to recovery. By the time the album was finished however, Trent admitted it wasn't a concept album except for maybe in a loose sense where the songs could be listened to individually, but would also fit together nicely as 'friends'.

Right off the bat, you can tell things are different in that the first track doesn't come blasting out at full volume like you would expect. However, there is a lot of tension in 'All the Love in the World' and it builds and builds. There was some electronics, but there was also some organic sounds that were mixed to the front, piano and percussion. This was a pleasant surprise. But the way the music builds and builds is just what this album need to start it off, and by the time you reach the end, your heart is racing and your blood is boiling, and hallelujah, NIN is back!

'You Know What You Are?' follows as an upbeat and loud track and carries on with the excitement. 'The Collector' veers off in a progressive direction with some interesting and constant meter changes, and you end up with a great track that continues in the same style as previously, and by now, you are convinced that NIN is back with a vengeance. Things would be amazing if only they would follow this same trend through the album.

But this is the point where we seem to lose the forward motion of the previous tracks. 'The Hand That Feeds' is only a straightforward rock song and sounded pretty typical for the time, so it was released as a single. This same straightforwardness continues through 'Love is Not Enough' and 'Every Day is Exactly the Same' not that these are bad tracks, they just don't have anything really different and unique about them. So things begin to get a little disappointing at this part of the album.

'With Teeth', the title track, brings the hope back however, and sounds a lot more inventive and unique, especially with the sudden drop in volume and intensity in the middle of the track where things become more ambient and spacey for a while and builds back up. Great use of dynamics in this track. 'Only' is another single from the album, and is an excellent reminder of the greatness of past NIN hits, and, even though the beat is steady and pretty standard, it is very catchy and the variation of instrumentation in the background keep things interesting and exciting. The chorus is repetitive, but it is easy to see why this song would be considered another anthem in NIN's repertoire.

'Getting Smaller' starts out with some great noisy and industrial sounding effects, but it soon lapses into mediocrity with a rapid fire beat and a song sounding too much like it's trying to repeat past successes, and only succeeding in sounding copycat more than reminiscent of the older NIN. 'Sunspots' has a great bass line, but other than that, it is nothing special again. There are some places in these two songs that approach being industrial, but the effects aren't enough to carry the song into greatness as before.

'The Line Begins to Blur' is a attempt to return to the slow, dark sound of 'March of the Pigs' et al, and it does so, but after following a couple of more commercial sounding tracks, it loses it's effectiveness. By itself, it would probably fit quite comfortable in the loudness of previous albums, but with it's placement on this album, it loses its power. 'Beside You in Time' is a study in tension with somewhat subdued vocals, and tension building over a drone. This one is better, and more unique. This would be a hint at the type of great music exploration on the album 'Ghosts'. 'Right Where It Belongs' ends the original release, but it is a little weak especially considering the previous track. Again, it isn't a bad song, but it is not the finale you expect to hear after the song preceding it.

Overall, this is still a great NIN release, and in the complete context, is a good album. Unfortunately, there are weak points among the very strong points. There is hope that the NIN of the past is still there, but there are tracks when that special something is missing, probably because Trent is experimenting with other styles and sounds. There is nothing wrong with this, and in this case, it doesn't completely destroy the album, but for a while, things won't get any better in the next album 'Year Zero'. Still, 'With Teeth' still manages to come out it all as a solid 4 star album.

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 Phantasia by LITE album cover Studio Album, 2008
4.13 | 44 ratings

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Phantasia
Lite Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars I can't say math Rock is one of my favourite styles of music but certainly there are exceptions. That "Discipline" album by KING CRIMSON seemed to spawn a myriad of bands seeking to do the same thing. And while impressive when done right often I'm left cold. So yes this Japanese band surprised me with this 2008 album called "Phantasia". I did not see this one coming just like in grade four when my teacher came up to me from behind and hit me on the side of the face with the book she was holding. Well done! Two guitarists, a bassist and a drummer make up this all instrumental quartet and we get some guest cello on the final track.

"Ef" is a top three. I mean how good does this sound right out of the gate. That guitar and bass especially as the drums join in. It settles to a catchy beat before 1 1/2 minutes then laid back guitar joins in. Love that bass before 2 minutes. This is just gravy before 3 minutes, so good! "Control" has a stuttering start before settling in with impressive drumming and guitars. It settles back before 2 minutes but it's heavy, then it picks back up to the end.

"Infinite Mirror" makes me dizzy just thinking about it. This is my favourite track. Fast paced intricate guitar lines as a very catchy beat with bass kicks in. I can't stop moving to this. It builds before 1 1/2 minutes to this insane groove that sounds amazing. It settles back again before kicking back in before 4 minutes. "Shinkai" has Post-Rock styled guitars to start. Drums and bass join in just before a minute and soon that's all you hear as the guitars stop. They're back quickly though. Love the bass and drums on this one. Heavy stuff before 3 1/2 minutes.

"Black And White" has such a clean and clear sound to it just like the whole album. Guitars intertwine as the bass joins in. Riffs before 2 minutes and the drums that follow impress. It settles right down after 3 minutes then builds. Excellent! "Interlude" is just that, a short 1 1/2 minute piece of mellow intricate guitar and what sounds like water. "Ghost Dance" opens with guitar as drums and a full sound kick in quickly. Check out the bass before a minute along with the guitar. Great sound here. A calm then it kicks in hard before 2 1/2 minutes.

"Solitude" starts out with static as melodic and laid back guitar plays over top. It kicks in around a minute, no static here. Again a nice clear sound and it's still laid back. Such a pleasant sound. It kicks in hard at 3 1/2 minutes then settles back a minute later before hitting us one more time like teacher. "Phantasia" has outbursts of power early on and check out that guitar. Nice. So intricate and well played as he picks and strums. Quite an impressive track overall but not a favourite.

"Fade" is my other top three. Oh yeah! A nice heavy sound here with lots of bottom end. It settles back a minute in and settles even more 2 minutes in as beautifully picked guitar leads the way as it builds until they hit us hard 3 minutes in. It settles again and this sounds incredible with those massive bass lines and that guitar. They kick back in at 4 1/2 minutes before settling back one more time. "Sequel To The Letter" ends it with intricate guitars ala "Discipline" then drums after a minute. Cello 2 1/2 minutes in provides a different flavour to this closing number.

So yes I highly recommend this album, I haven't heard anything else by them but this one blew me away.

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 Rausch by RAUSCH album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.00 | 1 ratings

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Rausch
Rausch Neo-Prog

Review by Windhawk
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

— First review of this album —
3 stars US composer and keyboardist Doug RAUSCH made his initial foray into the world of recording artists in 2009, choosing his surname as band moniker and album title. A production several years in the making, with a lot of blood, sweat and tears shed along the way, judging by the liner notes brief description of excruciating birth pangs.

Doug Rausch is a guy I expect to hear a lot from in the coming years. In interviews and statements of his I've seen, it is clear that he has a strong passion for sophisticated rock in general and progressive rock in particular. And while this initial album may not be a shining piece of prog perfection, it is a diverse and well-made production. I'd suggest fans of '70s Queen as a probable core audience, but the perfect crowd for this disc would be someone able to appreciate good mainstream-oriented music as well as art rock. In my opinion, that is. Overall, a promising start for a young composer and musician who should have a long and fruitful career ahead of him.

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 Civilisation by SOUTHERN EMPIRE album cover Studio Album, 2018
4.20 | 50 ratings

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Civilisation
Southern Empire Crossover Prog

Review by David64T

4 stars For my first review on Prog Archives, I think it's only proper to put virtual pen to virtual paper and contribute a review of a release by one of the few "prog"bands that is based in my own home town of Adelaide, here in Australia.

Civilisation is the second album released by the Adelaide-based band Southern Empire.

After a disconcerting false start to the first song (several bars of what resembles a very scratchy gramophone record), the album gets off to a punchy start with Goliath's Moon, a well-crafted song written by guitarist Cam Blokland - over it's 9 minute- plus length, this song detours into some significant guitar pyrotechnics before returning to the well-crafted chorus, which becomes something of an earworm after a couple of listens.

The remaining four songs offer the sound of Southern Empire stretching their legs into more diverse musical territory and styles. Cries for the lonely stretches out to 19 plus minutes but doesn't outlast it's welcome.

The centrepiece of the album is Crossroads, which shares considerable musical and lyrical overlap with the song Travelling Man (The Story Of ESHU) as recorded by United Progressive Fraternity; UPF is the "other" band that, like Southern Empire, can trace it's ancestry to the earlier talented Adelaide band, Unitopia. Crossroads, like "The Bridge That Binds" (from the first SE album), twists and turns throughout it's 29 minute length through a range of styles and atmospheres from world music to a heavier onslaught; like "The Bridge That Binds", I find I can listen to it over and over again without losing interest.

Innocence & Fortunewraps up the album with yet another 9 minute-plus song that I've also found lasts up to repeated listening.

In a nutshell, this album is highly recommended to anyone who enjoys the music of bands such as Spock's Beard and IQ in particular, and of course Unitopia, with distinct - but not overwhelming - detours into progressive metal. More specifically, if you enjoyed the first, eponymous, album by Southern Empire, it is extremely likely that you will also enjoy this second musical expedition by SE; I think it's fair to say that Civilisation offers a continuity of approach but with diverse song-writing that never left me thinking that I was listening to "Southern Empire v.2". If you're not familiar with SE, I'd recommend that you give both their albums a listen.

A Rating of a strong 4 - this being my first review, I am not sure that I will ever give any album a rating of 5, apart from the known shortlist of "masterpieces of progressive rock music" (DSOTM, TAAB, CTTE, etc)

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 Gerard by GERARD album cover Studio Album, 1984
3.42 | 34 ratings

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Gerard
Gerard Neo-Prog

Review by TenYearsAfter

4 stars 'Outstanding Heavy Prog debut album from Japanese Gerard'

Back to 1984, in the year that Yes conquers the world with the smooth progressive pop single Owner Of A Lonely Heart, Marillion rules with the Neo-prog from Fugazi, Rush embraces electronics on Grace Under Pressure and Dutch keyboard hero Ton Scherpenzeel shines on Stationary Traveller by Camel. On the other side of the world Japanese formation Gerard is scouting the borders between harder-edged symphonic rock and Heavy Prog, in a pretty exciting way on their eponymous debut album.

Their story started when keyboard player Toshio Egawa (his mother was a piano teacher) decided to leave the popular Japanese Heavy Prog band Novela and found his own formation Gerard, including guitarist/singer Yukihiro Fujimura. The name is derived from a clothes store in Tokyo. After their highy acclaimed eponymous debut CD (1984) and successor Empty Lie, Empty Dream (1985) Yukihiro Fujimura left Gerard in order to found his own band Vienna. These first two Gerard albums are pretty original Heavy Prog, but then the music gradually turned into more and more ELP and UK influenced. During the years Gerard suffered from multiple line-up changes, with only prime mover Toshio Gerard as the constant factor. Between 1991 and 2011 Gerard has released 11 studio albums, the CD Live In Marseille (1999), the live DVD Chaos Live (2000) and the limited edition compilation box Meridian (1998). Their latest effort is entitled Visionary Dream, from 2011, according to Toshio Egawa (August 2018) the band Gerard is no longer active and nowadays he plays in other bands. During the years Toshio Egawa has been a very prolific musician and also joined Earthshaker (once Don Airey was a member ), Sheherazade and Fromage. And he contributed to the Bohemian Symphony Project (with former fellow Novela musician Terutsugu Hirayama) and Keyboard's Triangle I and II (the first edition with Ars Nova).

Listening to the first Gerard album is an overwhelming musical experience: what an awesome blend of hardrock guitar and 'symphonic rock keyboards', what a tension between the mellow and bombastic parts, and what a dynamic interplay between the musicians! Prime mover Toshio Egawa turns out to be a Japanese answer to the legendary keyboard wizards from the UK: he has the the elegant virtuosity from Rick Wakeman, the ultra-bombastic approach from Keith Emerson and the androgyn looks from Eddie Jobson,

1. Meridian (2:57) : An intro with church bells, then an increasing sound of a powerful guitar riff, followed by cheerful synthesizer flights and a bombastic eruption with dazzling synthesizer runs. Then a slow rhythm featuring howling electric guitar leads and finally again those sensational 'presto and vivace' synthesizer runs, supported by a powerhouse rhythm-section. This instrumental track clocks only 3 minutes but so much happens, a very exciting start.

2. Orpheus: (8:51) I) I cry for help II) Decision III) Elysium : This long composition delivers lots of changing climates: from dreamy with strong interplay between piano and guitar to a mid-tempo with pleasant native vocals and bombastic outbursts with lush Hammond and fat synthesizer flights. Halfway a captivating break featuring an ominous climate, led by powerful guitar runs, first slow and then fiery. Strong points are also the variety, interplay and tension between the mellow and bombastis part. Like in final part, with first a bombastic eruption, then an accellaration and finally dreamy piano and vocals, Gerard takes you to every mood in the galaxy.

3. Incantation (9.09) : This other long composition contains a cascade of shifting moods and again a huge tension between the mellow and bombastic parts. Toshio Egawa shines with his fat synthesizer flights and majestic Mellotron violins. Halfway a strong build-up with powerful electric guitar and sparkling piano and a very dynamic rhythm-section. This culminates in a compelling and sumptuous grand finale with lush synthesizers, mighty Mellotron, Moog Taurus bass pedals and fiery electric guitar, it sounds like a heavy version of W&W Genesis, goose bumps!

4.Lasting Memory (5:13) : After a beautiful intro with classical piano arpeggio's the music alternates between dreamy and bombastic. The one moment a buzzing fretless bass and mellow piano work, the other moment sumptuous outbursts with Mellotron and bass pedals. The final part features glorious Mellotron violins, slowly fading away, again goose bumps.

5. Revenge (3:35) : This track is mostly inspired by Toshio Egawa his former band Novela, with an un-tempo beat and dazzling synthesizer flights, then a short part with propulsive drum beats and Mellotron violins. In the second part a spectucular duel between a biting electric guitar and flashy synthesizer work, Gerard their version of Lord and Blackmore, but made in Japan.

6. Melting Time (9:37) : This is one of the highlights on this album, what a varied and elaborate composition. It starts dreamy with wonderful native vocals, topped with subtle strings and piano. Then a slow rhythm, gradually the music turns into more lush, culminating in a spectacular break with powerful organ waves, sensational synthesizer flights and biting electric guitar runs.To me it sounds like 'Steve Vai meets UK', very exciting. The final part is breathtaking, after sumptuous eruptions the music slowly fades away, but then a crescendo and a final outburst with heavy guitar, bombastic keyboards and an excellent rhythm-section. Like a long and intense, extended 'eargasm', wow!

7. Visionary Dream (4:24) : A strongly build-up ballad with lots of delicate musical ideas. First dreamy with warm native vocals and piano, then a slow rhythm with passionate vocals, gradually turning into a mid-tempo with fiery electric guitar, flashy synthesizers and powerful drums. The final part sounds very subtle with soft twanging electric guitar, a wonderful conclusion.

8. Midnight dreamer (4.27) : This final track is a blend of melodic ' and symphonic rock featuring mainly native vocals but the title is sung in English. The structure is pretty simple but the colouring adds an extra dimension: a heavy guitar solo and bombastic eruptions with fat synthesizer flights and deep Moog Taurus bass pedals. A crafted song but to me it sounds a bit commercial, like an attempt to make a single. I had rather seen one of the other compositions as the final track.

What a debut, it's so exciting, varied, dynamic and elaborate. And Egawa delivers floods of virtuosic keyboard work, topped with Fujimura his excellent powerful guitar play, in perfect balance.The pleasant Japanese vocals are a special flavour. Highly recommended to the fans of Heavy Prog (like Journey and Angel in their early years), harder- edged symphonic rock(like Kansas and Eighties Eloy) or keyboard extravaganza like ELP, Trace and UK.

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 Guilty of Innocence by STRATOSPHEERIUS album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.95 | 2 ratings

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Guilty of Innocence
Stratospheerius Crossover Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

5 stars Joe Denizon is a highly acclaimed electric violinist, who performs in various different bands and multiple sessions, and when he is with progressive rock/crossover group with Stratospheerius, he also provides lead vocals. The line-up is completed by French guitarist Aurelien Budynek (Cindy Blackman, Vernon Reid), bassist Jamie Bishop (The Syn, Francis Dunnery), and drummer Lucianna Padmore. There are a few guests also involved, and I notice that one of these is guitarist Alex Skolnick, who most people will recognise as being from Testament, although he is also involved in multiple other forms.

When I look on ProgArchives I note that there are four albums, including this one, and I am somewhat at a loss to realise that not a single one has ever had a rating put against it, let alone a review. How can it be that music as good as this just never gets appreciated by the very people who would love this if they came across it? Okay, so that same is true for me as this album was released in 2017 but I have only just heard it, and already I am wondering what the others are like. One of the issues with this is where to start when trying to describe it, as there are just so many differing styles at play. The easiest is when they are in the funk groove, as that is definitely 'Slam' era Dan Reed Network, but when they head into highly complex and intricate runs all I can come up with is Steve Vai-ear Zappa, if Vai played violin instead of guitar.

At the same time all of the music is highly melodic, and just so damn enjoyable to listen to. It is polished, it is powerful, and I find it impossible to listen to it without moving some part of my body. This is infectious, with no cure in sight. The arrangements are tight, everyone bounces off each other, and is one of the most poptastic progressive album one is likely to come across. They state that their influences include Yes, Spock's Beard, Muse (there is a cover of 'Hysteria' on the album), Frank Zappa, Mahavishnu Orchestra, and King Crimson but surely we must add UK, Jean Luc Ponty and so many, many more. Awesome.

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 Camoufleur by GASTR DEL SOL album cover Studio Album, 1998
3.42 | 10 ratings

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Camoufleur
Gastr del Sol Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars A fairly highly respected album in the Post-Rock genre this was released back in 1998. A rather large cast of musicians offering up four different types of horns, two violinists and one of them playing viola. Lots of acoustic guitar, reserved male vocals, keyboards and the usual rock instruments. This one is kind of all over the place and yet you know it's the same band if you know what I mean. I can't say this grew on me at all, in fact it was almost a chore to get through it despite reading many glowing reviews across the web. Just my tastes I suppose.

"The Seasons Reverse" has an uptempo beat with acoustic guitar and laid back vocals early on. A catchy track and one of the better ones but I'm not even really into this one. Some dissonant horns after 2 1/2 minutes and an almost island vibe. It calms and slows right down before 4 1/2 minutes before ending with a funny conversation between and English adult and a French kid. Best part of the album.

"Blues Subtitled No Sense Of Wonder" has pulsing sounds as relaxed piano joins in. Vocals before a minute with experimental sounds. Laid back horns replace the vocals after 2 minutes. Suddenly it turns fuller with vocals at 3 minutes. It settles right down again before 4 1/2 minutes to the end. "Black Horse" is a song most seem to love but I don't like it early on with the violin giving it an almost Country vibe. Soon before 2 minutes picked guitar takes over that's impressive but it goes on too long ending before 4 minutes as a calm takes over to the end.

"Each Dream Is An Example" just isn't my thing with the relaxed piano and horns. Some vocals 3 minutes in and harmonies before 4 1/2 minutes. "Mouth Canyon" has relaxed picked guitar and atmosphere. Some crying guitar and vocals to match will follow. "A Puff Of Dew" is kind of dark, slow and experimental. Reserved vocals after a minute and more join in. The vocals stop after 2 minutes as it continues to be experimental and slow. Vocals are back before 4 minutes. "Bauchredner" has acoustic guitar melodies lasting for 4 1/2 minutes when drums kick in then horns a minute later. Catchy stuff.

This was the last we heard of this American band and this was their fourth studio album. Again the bottom line is that I had a hard time appreciating what I was hearing.

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 Another Language by THIS WILL DESTROY YOU album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.04 | 10 ratings

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Another Language
This Will Destroy You Post Rock/Math rock

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

4 stars There are several post rock bands out there that use a basic formula and that is starting off with a slow and soft section that builds and crescendos to a climax and ending with a loud and usually chaotic ending. This formula can start to get old after a while unless the band starts adding some ingenuity to the formula, or retaining the post rock sound without even using that formula. The best post rock bands do this, like Mogwai, Sigur Ros, Mono, Godspeed You! Black Emperor (and all of it's spin offs), and others. This Will Destroy You is another band that should be considered in this group of post rock band elites.

They do use this basic formula for the most part, but there are plenty of variations on it to keep things interesting. They are also not afraid to veer away from it and also experiment with the formula. Their original debut EP "Young Mountain" really does well to show this inventiveness and establish this band as one of the best, but for some reason, they have been ignored by a lot of people who love this type of music. The band also gets compared to "Explosions in the Sky" which is a good comparison, but they don't really care for this comparison and say that their next album will prove that they are much different. Of course, there are some similarities since they are in the same genre, but I find that This Will Destroy You is a lot more adventuresome and experimental with their sound.

"Another Language" is currently their most recent album, though there are talks to do more, which is good. It follows in the same vein as "Young Mountain", except there is more of a metallic sound to this album. Reverb is used a lot heavier on this album, which makes for some beautiful and atmospheric passages throughout the music. Dynamics are well utilized here too, which was also the case with "Young Mountain". With the use of reverb here though, the louder passages are very chaotic and heavy sounding, and at times, the effects can almost make you think you can hear some vocalizations deep in the mix, but that is not the case.

There are other effects done with the strings that give the music some very interesting atmosphere. This is really apparent on the softer track "God's Teeth". This one does not have any crescendo, but stays pretty soft throughout, and the track becomes more of a shoegaze style, but with a lot more interesting aspects added in. Shoegaze to me, can sometimes get quite un-emotional and boring, but this track does not become that. The band considers this album to be more of a "doom- gaze" style, taking aspects from doom metal and shoegaze music. Personally, I still find the first half of this album very post rock sounding, as was the case in the past, just with more reverb and loudness. The second half is more quiet, sometimes almost ambient and slightly drone like, but remaining interesting throughout. The reverb effect that is used extensively here, makes the music darker and thicker, almost orchestral and cinematic in feel with a lot of distortion in the loud passages, but I don't hear the doom metal aspect so much.

The album is completely instrumental as usual. The music does become more interesting and varied as the album goes on. I was hoping for this because too much of the same style or formula tends to get stale quickly. Although, I don't find the band quite as inventive as some of the post rock bands I mentioned earlier, they are still willing to try new things and utilize effects that make them and their songs unique. I continue to consider this a band worth checking out, especially if you are a fan of post rock. They just don't tend to get noticed as much as their peers, and they should be recognized for their unique sound.

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 Mind Mapping by TRAVELHOUSE album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.44 | 9 ratings

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Mind Mapping
TravelHouse Crossover Prog

Review by SonomaComa1999

3 stars REVIEW #14 - "Mind Mapping" by Travelhouse (2008). 08/10/2018

My random journey through the ever-expanding prog universe has brought me to an obscure work of crossover out of the Eastern European nation of Bulgaria. Travelhouse only released one album in its existence, that being the 2008 album "Mind Mapping". The band is led by keyboardist Kalin Tonev, whom alongside guitarist Biser Ivanov, are the two main musicians on this album, with the bass and drums largely being programmed in by Tonev. That being said there are two songs on this album that feature an organic quintet, but the bulk of the rhythm section on this album is coming from the computer.

Travelhouse markets itself as a crossover prog band which fuses many different styles from the genre. The two most evident faces of this band are the seventies-style synth based keyboard style of Tonev obviously drawn upon from genre legends such as Wakeman and Emerson, and the heavy industrial guitar riffs of Ivanov which will command comparisons to 90's-00's King Crimson or even Tool. Throughout the course of "Mind Mapping" these styles collide with each other; this is an entirely instrumental album outside of some programmed vocals in the beginning, and the band takes great care in ensuring each song has its own unique atmosphere. Travelhouse's music is very accessible on a musical level, with the band making use of catchy instrumental motifs which blend the old analog style of prog with a modern rock twist that is very refreshing to listen to.

The band starts off with the expositional "Route No.1" which opens in an ambient haze alongside an ad nauseam repetition of the track title. When the music hits, we are treated to a very heavy guitar riff with some rather simple and prodding drums in the background - typical of the drum machine. Tonev comes in with some well-placed and catchy synth interludes that diversify the soundscape in a good way. The band blends the old and new of prog with these dynamics; it's not a bad opening track at all. After about three minutes they make a hard shift, stopping the music entirely before embarking on a gradual reprise coda that brings us to the end where we segue into "A Guru In Love." This is a rather radical changeup from the rocking title track, as we drift away from dark and industrial themes and towards a more upbeat and symphonic style. Here we get a lot more of the synth in a rather fleeting tempo that evokes images of a Bohemian valley; one good thing Travelhouse does is aptly naming their pieces in a way that fits with the overall mood and tempo. Not only does this help the listener keep track of the movements the band goes through over the course of this hour-long album, but it also gives the listener a canvas on which to envision a subliminal theme to go along with the instrumental music. For example, we can imagine a more psychedelic landscape on this tune. While the band is notably doing work on this tune, the overall motif is retained over the course of almost seven minutes, which rather tapered my interest as I dug into the middle portion of this one. I feel that Travelhouse is definitely better off in that industrial fusion groove that we saw on "Route", and at this point I was sort of rooting for the band to return to those motifs later on in the album. My request is partially granted with the third track "Black Coffee Mornings" which features more of that burly guitar. Similar to "Guru" we get a fast-moving tempo on which the band moves over at a good pace. At this point it seems that Travelhouse moves off in a more modern and digital direction; I'm not trying to say that the previous piece sounded old-fashioned, but rather the band seems to be exploring themes that we would commonly see in modern lounge rock while giving it a progressive twist. In many ways the band tows the line between progressive and peasant rock, but they definitely make an effort to challenge the listener, which is good to hear. I generally like the themes on "Coffee" and the abject length of the tune does not make me weary as the band projects more of that heavy modern prog onto my eardrums. Tonev provides a very solid keyboard outro; I feel that when the keyboard is used sparingly at the forefront of the music, the band gets the best results. We get a shorter yet equally modern interlude track titled "Clouds" where the band brings on another guitarist in Daniel Eliseev; one major thing I sense from this performance is that it draws heavily upon the work of rather mainstream rock guitarists such as Satriani. It's not the style that is being copied here but rather the general theme of eloquent, soft, and cool twenty-first century guitar work; that being said the song title makes sense. Not much else to say on this one.

I feel that the band begins to get a little off track with "More Magic From Oz", which is notably more experimental and evokes rather scary and dark musical themes with the keyboards to boot. Out of all the tracks on "Mind Mapping" this was the one I was least impressed with; I just feel there's no method to the madness despite such progressive dissonance. It's almost as if Travelhouse was trying too hard to be progressive here, but I think the biggest issue I had with this track is that it features too much keyboards just like "Guru". We get some sporadic guitar here and there, but this is largely a keyboard-centric piece. The nine-minute "Dark Gentleman", the longest track on the album, provides much more alluring sound structures. Immediately we get this eclectic intro that rings heavy in your ears, and you can tell that the band is going to delve into the heavy side of their music right before the riff hits. This ring goes in tandem with Ivanov's riffs to make for a really grandiose background. As is the case with prog songs that vault the eight- minute mark, there is a lot to absorb, but Travelhouse keeps it strictly dark and industrial. This is really where I feel the band is at their best, and they milk every second of it. One thing you will immediately notice with the band's individual tracks is that they don't feature radically different parts that are separated by interspersed tempo breaks, but rather each song works off the same motif for the entire run time, something we would associate more with generic rock music. Overall "Gentleman" is a very solid track, which provides a solid rebound from its predecessor. To cap things off we get another short fleeting interlude in the one-minute "Blink" which is like a less-interesting version of "Clouds" without the guitar. Not much else to say about it.

Now that we're about 2/3 of the way through "Mind Mapping" we delve into the first part of a three part series titled "Archived Travels: Neutron I" which lasts for just over six-minutes. We immediately get thrust into a rather erratic guitar intro that is backed by some organic drums. Yes, for the first time we get a real drummer in Pavel Milenov alongside a return performance by Eliseev; only the bass now is programmed. Travelhouse delivers once again with some well-timed riffs and Camel-esque symphonic style which makes for an enlightening listening experience. The advent of double guitars works very well, and when the three-minute mark rolls around I am blown off my feet by perhaps the most sick Ivanov riff of the entire album - too bad it only lasts very shortly. If this track is any first impression as to what this prog-style musical mini series pans out to be, then it makes a very good one, and I'm cautiously awaiting the other two parts which make it up. However, before we get to that we are treated to "Travels of a Son of a Gun [Dark Gentleman Unleashed]" which presents itself as a sequel to the nine-minute tune we listened to a few tracks ago. It opens up with a brief reprise of the "Route No.1" programmed vocal recital, before giving us a teaser of "Gentleman's" motif, namely the industrial drum-driven part. I was personally expecting a little bit more from this reprisal, as the band ultimately decided on replaying sounds that we've already been introduced too without much modification. Even the ambient keyboard part which I enjoyed the most from that song is only sparingly used and hardly elaborated upon, and really, things don't get much better as we pull into "Keeping the House: Neutron III [Coda]" which I consider to be a part of the "Archived Travels" series. In reality, the band uses the song as a musique concrete closing piece which reuses many themes from previous songs. Given that this is supposed to be the official end of the album, I strongly feel that it wasn't as strong as it could have been, even though I applaud the effort to go with musique concrete as I typically feel it is a safe way to end an album in a unique way.

The band does add a bonus track which completes the link between the "Archived Travels" series, that being "Archived Travels: Neutron II" which is finally performed by an entirely human band, with Mario Ivanov entering on bass behind Milenov on drums and the double guitar formation. With a quintet assembled, the band gets to work making what is probably the strongest song on the album, even though it is ironically not "actually" considered to be a part of "Mind Mapping" in its original incarnation. Seriously, I would consider this to be an amazingly strong song by general prog standards; it continues on the path set by the first part but is way more aggressive, which really suits the band's sound. There is an obscene amount of guitar on the first part, and after a hard tempo break we get a very spacey sounding middle section which immediately screams David Gilmour; once again I am impressed as the band really takes all of the raw materials at its disposal and constructs them properly throughout the entire runtime. I feel that if you include this piece as an actual part of the album you get a much more cohesive and grand ending to the entire shebang if that makes any sense.

Travelhouse's sole studio album is a rather pleasant listen out of the crossover sub-genre. It is a good collection of instrumental music that is easily accessible and listenable. Kalin Tonev organizes a sound that fuses traditional keyboard-driven prog with that of modern prog metal, and it comes out rather refreshing, but sometimes monotonous and unchallenging. I think the biggest drawback apart from some rather long and unimpressive songs is that of the lack of a true bassist or drummer throughout the album's duration. This problem became immediately evident on "Neutron II" which is by far my biggest takeaway from the album. With the real people playing instruments, you get a deeper and more eclectic sound that cannot be reproduced by a computer. I feel that if Travelhouse featured the lineup from this tune across all the songs we would have had a very solid album, but otherwise it is a "good" piece which really fails to resonate. Surely there are some good motifs used here, but it is not really worth delving back into an obscure album for it, as it seems there are a plethora of bands making this kind of modern sound these days. I give "Mind Mapping" a respectable three-star (72% - C-) rating that shows it can compete with contemporaries and even some average works by the prog elite, but lacks the oomph that allows it to separate itself from the pack in a very large and diverse prog universe. Would recommend to any fan of lighter prog metal with a retro-prog touch.

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 Точное время / Precise Time by HAPPY 55 album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2018
4.02 | 3 ratings

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Точное время / Precise Time
Happy 55 RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

4 stars I still don't know why Happy55 didn't put more tracks on their 2016 release, 'Warm Things', which just wasn't long enough in my mind. But, after three albums, the band decided to release an EP which contains three more numbers from the 2016 St. Petersburg session. This sounds a little more produced, especially on the second song, 'All Green', which commences with spoken voices layered over the top of each other (in Russian), before the piano kicks in. There is an incredible clarity of thought, with ideas bouncing around and being responded to by all four involved. Again, themes are repeated, expanded upon, twisted and changed as each of the quartet strive to take the song to the next level.

In some ways this has the feeling of free jazz in the way they are reacting, but the music is much tighter with complexity being taken as a given, yet everyone keep[ing up with each other. This really does feel to me like King Crimson being twisted and pulled and amended into a piano led force of nature. I only discovered the band because they contacted me through ProgArchives, and I am so very glad they did, as this is yet another stunning artist I am going to keep my eye on. For all fans of progressive music that is attempting to push boundaries, yet are exciting and incredibly enjoyable all at the same time.

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 Warm things by HAPPY 55 album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.00 | 1 ratings

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Warm things
Happy 55 RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

— First review of this album —
4 stars Happy55 is a Russian group formed in Voronezh in 2007 by pianist and composer Yaroslav Borisov and drummer Alexander Bityutskih, with the line-up completed by Nikita Bondarenko (electronics) and Gennady Chukhlov (clarinet). They describe their music as chamber electronic and acoustic avant-garde, and consider their major influences to be Sergei Prokofiev, Igor Stravinsky, Charles Ives, Trilok Gurtu, King Crimson, Can, Autechre and Herbie Nichols, so one can already feel what the band sounds like.

This album is taken from the first part of a session which took place in St. Petersburg in 2016, and has been released on the French- English label Bruce's Fingers. It is based strongly on Borisov's piano, which can be delicate and easy to listen to, or just striking some discordance which makes the listener a little uneasy. Also, the gentleness can also give way to some harsh and rough staccato attacks. The rest of the band may be making their presence felt by not playing at all, adding to the melody, or playing at odds, but always somehow maintaining an affinity to the main approach. It really does sound as if Can, Art Zoyd and King Crimson have sat down and had a discussion, and then come up with a piano-led approach instead of guitar, also adding some industrial noise elements into it, which can take it in different directions. The use of a clarinet provides warmth to what is sometimes quite a bleak approach. I only wish that they had included more of the session, as at just 28 minutes long these four songs really whet the appetite for more. Avant prog/RIO aficionados need look no further, and I know I've said it before but there is great music coming out of Russia that really needs further investigation.

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 Elvenefris by LYKATHEA AFLAME album cover Studio Album, 2000
4.13 | 61 ratings

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Elvenefris
Lykathea Aflame Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by fmatah

1 stars I never write negative reviews, but based on the hight rating here at Progarchives I made the mistake to buy this record. I have no doubt that the death metal fans will be very happy hearing it, but I don't see any relation with the progressive rock I like. Let's keep our things apart. This is not a superficial opinion, I really listened several times the CD with an open mind and read references about the band. and I still don't find any esthetical connection with progressive music. I can only give it one star, this is only for those who want to explore another genres. I cannot say that the record is bad, only that it's not progressive.

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 Sistema Solar by WERLANG, GERSON album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.41 | 8 ratings

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Sistema Solar
Gerson Werlang Crossover Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

3 stars Originally released through Musea Records in 2015, and now reissued digitally by Progshine, this is the second solo album from Brazilian composer and musician G'rson Werlang. Werlang is probably more well-known for being a member of Po'os & Nuvens, who have released half a dozen albums to date, as his only other solo album was back in 2008. Musically this is quite a pleasant album, with a good combination of electric and acoustic, and he is a fine guitarist. It feels incredibly relaxed, with seeming swathes of keyboards layered to provide a backdrop for either his guitar or vocals to be put against. It is the vocals that really let the album down in many ways. I generally don't have any problems with lyrics not being in English, but here the vocals are often pushed to the front and they really aren't very strong. With them also being in a foreign language I found them quite a distraction, so much so that I soon found myself wondering what an album of his would sound like if he decided to release one that was purely instrumental. He has loads of ideas, and the use of accordion combined with electric guitar and striking piano on a tango is inspired, as it fills the mind full of streetwalk cafes and feels incredibly genuine. But, for me the vocals are a real issue, and I just couldn't give this the attention that the music really deserves.

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 Pacifisticuffs by DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.19 | 78 ratings

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Pacifisticuffs
Diablo Swing Orchestra Progressive Metal

Review by Evolver
Special Collaborator Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams

5 stars One of the finest albums of 2017!!!

This album was my first encounter with Diablo Swing Orchestra and they made quite an impression on me. I have since gone back and listened to most of their albums (and am now about halfway through purchasing hard copies). I understand that many of this band's fans are upset about Annlouice Loegdlund leaving the group, in my opinion, Kristin Evegard is an improvement. Her lyrics are intense and exciting, and her voice is like Kate Bush with an intense amount of attitude, easily moving from kittenish seduction to venomous vixen and back in a blink of an eye.

Musically, DSO somehow manages to weave countless different musical styles together seamlessly. In "Knucklehugs", they go from a standard rock anthem into a rollicking bluegrass romp, with a cello taking the usual fiddle solo. "Superhero Jagganath" (another song where Evegard excels) blends Nordic metal with Hawaiian sounding passages (some sung in an Elvis-inspired twang). "Jigsaw Hustle" starts with a disco riff, but breaks out into crunchy prog-metal riffs. The only song that comes close to a traditional modern swing orchestra sound is "Karma Bonfire", and guess what, they are fantastic at this as well.

My only complaint, however slight, is that I can't understand many of the lyrics, as some of them are drowned out by the delightfully bombastic instrumentation.

I can't imagine anyone who won't be blown away by this album.

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 The Bedlam In Goliath by MARS VOLTA, THE album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.49 | 484 ratings

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The Bedlam In Goliath
The Mars Volta Heavy Prog

Review by ScarletViper

4 stars Ah yes, the Bedlam in Goliath - when I found this page on these forums, i was suprised to find that this album is so... divisive. Since this is my first review, I probably won't make this too long-winded. That being said, I think this album is exceptionally good - one of my favorites for sure (right behind Frances the Mute and Amputechture for me).

The good things about this album:

1. Stunning musicianship is found on this album, as is the norm with the Mars Volta. Dare I say, some of their best work with songs like "Goliath," "Metatron," and "Was Simulacra." 2. Energetic. Holy crap, the momentum this album has is ridiculous. While some people listen to this album and hear a disjointed mess, I hear some of the Mars Volta's most climactic and fast-paced songwriting to date. Is it a little bit entropic? Sure. But is it forward-driving and consistent? Definitely. 3. Experimental. As per usual, the Mars Volta does something different with this album. While sometimes this can be iffy (I'm not a huge fan of the robot voice in "Askepios" and "Tourniquet Man"), the sophistication in songwriting doesn't disappear amidst the shouting, heavy percussion, and guitar solos. 4. Great songwriting. Many of the songs (at least to me) are memorable. The endings to songs like "Ouroborous" and "Goliath" are some of their most climactic, exciting works yet. Songs like "Cavelettas" and "Soothsayer" continue the Mars Volta tradition of messing around with time signatures and dissonances to create an odd, but haunting feel.

The (potentially) bad things about this album: 1. It lacks the slower, eerier moments of albums like "Amputechture" and "Frances the Mute." Almost the entire album is a wall of sound. This can make it a bit jarring for a new/ inexperienced prog fan and/or Mars Volta fan. 2. It isn't as punkish as Deloused, but does go a little bit more towards the energetic punkish vein. It is at a bit of an odd place between Deloused and Frances/ Amputechture. I could definitely see where the complaint that this album is inconsistent or doesn't know what it wants to be might come from. 3. As aforementioned, the experimentation sometimes feels unnecessary and egregious. This is a nothing complaint for me, but its worth mentioning - this isn't a great album for somebody new to this band.

These downsides are more objective, however, then personal problems I have. This is a great album in my book. Overall, I give it an 8.5/10

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 Martian Chronicles Live by SOLARIS album cover DVD/Video, 2015
4.64 | 13 ratings

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Martian Chronicles Live
Solaris Symphonic Prog

Review by TenYearsAfter

5 stars "Top notch 'rock meets classical' prog from Hungary"

Hungarian formation Solaris is one of my favourite bands from the Post Classic Prog Era (1967-1979), what an exciting musical encounter between rock and classical! I am still delighted about their studio-albums Martian Chronicles (1984) and (2-LP) 1990, and the Live In Los Angeles CD release. I have discovered Solaris in the early Nineties in the Syn-Phonic catalogue, in those days a kind of pocket version of the Bible for progheads.

The Hungarian formation Solaris was originally founded by some school friends in 1980. The band's name was derived from the title of book by SF writer Stanislaw Lem. After they made impression on a talent contest at The Budai Park for a massive crowd (mainly youth), the band was offered an opportunity to make a record. In '80 Solaris released their first single entitled Rock Hullam (actually this was a split single, Solaris got the B-side). They released the second single Eden/Counterpoint in '81. In '84 Solaris released their first album The Martian Chronicles, it sold almost 40.000 copies. In those days progrock was popular in Hungary: Omega had crowds of 100.000 spectators! In '90 the controlled Hungarian record company was finally willing to release early Solaris recordings entitled 1990 (a 2-LP). Then the members of Solaris went their own way and joined or founded new bands.

In 1995 Solaris was invited as the headliner of the Progfest Festival in Los Angeles by Greg Walker, mastermind behind the USA progrock label-mailorder service Syn-Phonic. He succeeded in persuading the band for a reunion concert (recorded on a 2-CD and partly on a video with other progrock bands Ars Nova and White Willow). The band got a standing ovation by a bunch of progheads! A year later Solaris performed on the Rio Art Rock Festival, organized by the Brasilian proghead Leonardo Nahoum.

On December 27th 1998 guitarplayer Cziglan died of an incurable illness. One year later Solaris released their third studio-album entitled Nostradamus, featuring work from the late guitarist Cziglan. And in 2014 Solaris stunned the world of prog with a new studio-album entitled Martian Chronicles II, in 2015 followed by a live CD and a live DVD/CD set, entitled Martian Chronicles Live. This review is about that set.

The concert was recorded in Hungary in 2014, in a wonderful and cosy theatre, with full house. Solaris start with a JM Jarre inspired electronic intro (Martian Chronicles Part 1) featuring sensational Moog Voyager synthesizer flights, with subtle use of the pitchbend button, and very pulsating arpeggiator notes, it sounds evenmore impressive and lush than on the 1984 album. Then gradually the other members enter the stage and we can enjoy Solaris their awesome blend of rock and classical, including delicate work on the flute traverse. An impressive solo piece on the piano (from tender to sparkling) emphasizes the strong influence of the classical education of all members. Solaris continue with playing Chronicles Part 3-6: an outstanding and dynamic rhythm-section, great interplay, spectacular soli on synthesizer, guitar and flute and, last but not least, Solaris their trademark featuring The Holy Trinity of keyboards, flute and electric guitar, wow! The music varies from up-tempo beats and bombastic outbursts to slow downs, accelarations and dreamy atmospheres, very dynamic and compelling, performed by excellent musicians. One of the highlights is Mars Poetica: two keyboards players and two guitarists delivers outstanding interplay and soli, and again we can enjoy The Holy Trinity as multi-instrumentalist and band leader Attila Kollar switches from electric guitar to the flute travers, what an amazing musician. This track is followed by a mid-long and inventive drum solo.

The concert features also a tribute to the late guitar player Istvan Cziglan (cancer). First a wonderful duet entitled Duo between the flute and acoustic guitar. Then an emotional and very impressive piece featuring screen projections and a mime actor, he does a very good job by expressing the pain, anger, despair, illness, fighting back and finally the death, supported by great music on tape by Solaris, including guitar by Czigi. The composition Counterpoint is another tribute, now to drummer Vilmos Toth (who recently passed away) with images from Vilmos and the exciting Holy Trinity. This is followed by the piece Solaris, it starts dreamy with flute, then a slow rhythm with a moving guitar solo, finally with a wah-wah sound (by Tamas, the son of keyboard player Robert Erdesz).

The most interesting part of this concert is the first live performance of their Martain Chronicles II album from 2014. The music is in the vein of trademark Solaris but more adventurous and varied. It features a classically trained female singer and a saxophone player, the music sounds very dynamic with a bombastic conclusion featuring powerful saxophone work and wah-wah guitar. Part Two contains tender classical piano and jazzy acoustic guitar, gradually a more lush sound and in the end sparkling piano and expressive female vocals. Although this new music is not always my cup of tea I am impressed by Solaris their skills and musical ideas, what ahigh level! The official concert is concluded with three more tracks from Martain Chronicles I, my highlight is the sensational up-tempo track Apocalypse featuring a very dynamic rhtyhm-section and again exciting interplay between the Moog, flute traverse and propulsive electric guitar riffs, goose bumps, this is trademark Solaris in its full splendour! The concert ends with two encores. First E-Moll Concerto Allegro Con Molto: a longer version, ranging from tender flute and piano to heavy guitar work and a lush Hammond sound, awesome 'rock meets classical'. Finally Micky Mouse, an up-tempo track with sensational Moog flights, sparkling flute and propulsive guir riffs, finally supported by pleasant Hammond waves.

During this (mainly instrumental) two hour concert Hungarian formation Solaris showcase that they are one of the best progrock bands in the Post Classic Prog Era. So highly recommended, especially to the fans of Camel, Jethro Tull, Focus, Yes and early Manfred Mann's Earth Band.

P.s.: The CD version of this concert is the same as the DVD, except 3 deleted tracks: the drum solo and Duo and Beyond.

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 House Of The King / O Avondrood by FOCUS album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1976
2.47 | 6 ratings

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House Of The King / O Avondrood
Focus Symphonic Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

2 stars Red Sky at Night

House of the King was orginally released as a single in 1970, and has since then appeared on numerous other singles and album releases. What is of particular interest on this 1976 single is the B-side, O Avondrood. This song was originally recorded for a Dutch various artists compilation, and constitutes a rare instance of a Focus song with lyrics in the Dutch language. The text is borrowed from the Dutch poet Jules Deelder, and is put to music by Jan Akkerman and Thijs van Leer. Some may recognize the melody from the instrumental version entitled Red Sky at Night, that was included on the Ship of Memories album.

Avondrood, literally "evening red", is the Dutch name for the phenomenon that in English is called afterglow. (The English title of the instrumental version "Red Sky at Night" needs no further explanation). I think that both versions are very beautiful, and fit with the topic, though the instrumental version has more enduring value.

There is a clip on YouTube from TopPop 1976, in which Thijs van Leer and Jan Akkerman play to the song.

A rarity that will be of interest to serious Focus fans, but most will be satisfied with the more widely available instrumental version

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 Metamorphosis by HAMNESIA album cover Studio Album, 2018
4.57 | 5 ratings

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Metamorphosis
Hamnesia Progressive Metal

Review by Alezavo9

5 stars This album has been a pleasant discovery. I really appreciated the fact that in 2018, this five young guys gave us proof that there is still good Progressive Metal around. From the first track, "Prologue", is clear the wealth and the variety of the sound which started with the violin and then the electric guitar and the bass are flanked by beautiful effects from the keyboard. "One Step Forward" introduces the brilliant and sweet voice of the vocalist, (that I recall plays the violin in the whole work!). The lyrics have also a great importance in the album, which is a concept. Here the protagonist exposes his trouble and the fears he will face during the chess game, witty metaphor of life and its choices. The third track, " The Black Cave" is one of my favourite song in Metamorphosis. Definitely, is a short song, (less then two minutes), anyway the piano, the armony and the melody of the voice, have a strong impact to the listener, and in my case, gave me powerful emotions. After this brief reflection on himself, in "Desmoterion", (first single of the band), the prog soul gains the upper hand. In this song I loved the bridge between stanza and refrain, and I really liked the versatility in the numerous steps, managed to connect beautifully. The final solo, before the end of the song with the last refrain, is an amazing alternation of the guitar and the keyboard, and shows the skill, the technique, but also the musical taste of these great musicians. And then we arrive at the fifth track, "Nova". Here I feel to get out of balance, and to assert that this is an authentic masterpiece. The song is more accessible and catchy than the others, but it doesn't lose in genius and creativity. Rather the violin motif, the flut component, the whole track, expecially the filled and bright final, is powerful and do not forget easily. Very good also the title track, "Metamorphosis", one of the longest in the opera, and the more experimental and risky but fully successful. All the musicians here gave their best in the recording. In "Fleeting Throne", seventh track of the album, the element which I distinguished is the extraordinary wealth of ideas and the research of sounds from the keyboard player, (without taking anything away from the other components). Very good, indeed, also the folk bridge. "Onirikon", name that give perfectly the sense of the song, is another pearl. The presence of the bass here is essential and once again the voice of the singer arrives straight into our hearts. Direct refrain and masterfully thought. The last song, "Noctudromos" started with a hopeful and positive motif, a guitar harp where the woman starts singing again. The song is long, but with very slow passages, like the piano after the refrain, and then more pushed moments. Particular, the pad in the background during the instrumental part. Overall, a work of exquisite workmanship, and given the young age of the group members, I am convinced that the boys will make their way, It's only the beginning. Hamnesia is the face of prog's future In Italy.

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 Landor by GOAD album cover Studio Album, 2018
4.00 | 7 ratings

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Landor
Goad Eclectic Prog

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

4 stars I'm glad to notice that I have more or less acquired the taste, when it comes to the raspy voice of Maurilio Rossi, the leading figure of this Italian band. When I reviewed the previous album Silent Moonchild, I really had difficulties to get past the vocals. Now they don't bother me anymore, and I enjoy the Neo-ish, atmospheric music as a whole.

Before getting into the new album Landor itself, I'd like to start with the supplementary disc offering the live performance -- at Parterre Theatre, Florence, 1995 -- of Goad's debut album Tribute to Edgar Allan Poe (written in the 80's, released in 1994). [ BTW, when I saw the title for the first time, I wondered for a moment if it refers to the American author, or the seventies Italian band of the same name. Of course it's a tribute to the classic horror story writer, what a silly doubt! ] Since the album page misses the 1995 line-up, here it is: Maurilio Rossi (vocals, bass, bass pedals, keyboards), Marcello Masi (synth guitar, bass pedals), Roberto Masini (violin), Giancarlo Gaglioti (drums, percussion) and Diana Crepaz (vocals). In the beginning the creepy atmosphere is created by synths, soon joined by the weeping violin, vocals and the rest of the band. The tempo is slow and the soundscape quite mellow, despite the sinister mood. Also the sound quality is surprisingly good. I'm not very familiar with a synth guitar, but occasionally the guitar sounds are central. After the three-part opener comes a relatively straight-forward song 'The Sleeper' featuring female vocals and a slight country-rock feel.

The whole work avoids being very heavy, but the mood is always strong. Apart from title tracks 'Dream Within a Dream and 'To One in Paradise' there's not much similarity to the Alan Parsons Project's Poe-themed debut; Goad's approach also lacks the similar story-telling power. In a blindfold test I'd probably guess this Neo-ish Eclectic Prog to be from the 80's/90's, from the era when prog was low and there was an underground feel to prog activities. I'm thinking of the early TWELFTH NIGHT or Finnish SCARAB, for example. Goad's Poe tribute is an interesting obscure album with an epic unity. Haven't heard the studio album, but I believe this live version won't pale in comparison.

Over 30 years later Goad is still going strong: Landor is a very fine new album, not that far stylistically from the debut. Maybe the vocals (resembling Steve Jolliffe in the 1978 Tangerine Dream album Cyclone) are a bit closer to normal than in Silent Moonchild, without losing the deep passion? Or is it, as I said, only about acquiring the taste? Perhaps also the music is this time less inferior the vocals and has more instrumental passages. anyhow, Goad won't let any of its fans down with this nocturnal 50-minute suite and the supplemetary live disc.

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 Son by OBIYMY DOSCHU album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.40 | 85 ratings

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Son
Obiymy Doschu Crossover Prog

Review by AndrewNazarenko

5 stars A nicely and very professionally done progrock, I dare to say - a masterpiece! After a long pause another milestone from Obiymy Doschu. It might be a surprise for someone, but their previous studio album Elehia gave a feeling that it was a birth of something important. Strong melodies, excellent sound, classic background, attractive and somewhat minor mood - in this album the Ukrainian group reached another level - they are now deserve a fair place among the best European progrock bands. Give it a listen and enjoy the Album. P.S. Interesting, Ukrainians know how to compose and play progrock!

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 Pacifisticuffs by DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.19 | 78 ratings

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Pacifisticuffs
Diablo Swing Orchestra Progressive Metal

Review by HarmonyDissonan

5 stars THIS HAS BEEN ONE OF MY FAVORITE ALBUMS THAT I'VE PICKED UP IN THE LAST COUPLE OF YEARS, EASILY!

And I've got a fairly substantial collection! So what is this album like? It would be too simple to describe it as Klezmer! That wouldn't do it justice! I would say it's got a Klezmer feel to a lot of the music within it, but there's so much more! I love the Brass, the keyboards and drums, the bass-the growling bass (my personal favorite portion of this many faceted album!) The male and female and 'grandpa' vocalists! The production value is outstanding! Although most of the music is very intricate, the quality production allows everything to be heard simultaneously. I also love the way the tempos are altered quite regularly within most of the individual tracks. It's a fun album! It's a very positive romp through a hodge-podge of stomping bliss! They intermingle seamlessly swing, jazz, classical and a touch of funk and some slight touches of down-home country bluegrass! Now if you're looking for something amazingly psychotic and to me truly inspired than look no farther, this is the album for you! It's mostly fairly hard driven, multi-personality laden music with a generous helping of brass! I love it, as well as the lyrics. Here's a taste from the opening song: Knucklehugs (Arm Yourselves With Love): ARM YOURSELVES BROTHERS AND SISTERS, ARM YOURSELVES WITH LOVE, STAND UP STRAIGHT, WALK TALL AND PROUD, TRANSCEND AND THEN RISE ABOVE. Personally I can't recommend this album enough, I just love it!

Take care and enjoy God's gift of music!

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 Heaven's Open by OLDFIELD, MIKE album cover Studio Album, 1991
2.49 | 171 ratings

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Heaven's Open
Mike Oldfield Crossover Prog

Review by thief

1 stars It's fascinating how unpredictable Mike's (Michael's?) career turned out to be. But if I were to pinpoint the most puzzling period, it would be 1989-94, hands down. In this context, "Heaven's Open" is a crucial piece of the puzzle.

To my knowledge, "Heaven's Open" is the most light-hearted, "I don't give a damn anymore" album up to that point. Stylistic choices point in this direction: another portion of inane pop songs, bits of reggae, female choirs popping out like mushrooms, and that incomprehensible long track on B side, bordering on cacophony so often... Clearly it wasn't a work of great vision or artistic importance, just a batch of loosely developed ideas. What's more, Michael was the lead singer for the first time, not counting him reminiscing childhood days on "Ommadawn". I'm not too sure what lay behind this decision; it generally fits my view of "Heaven's Earth" as a partial joke. Not that the vocals are atrocious - he does ok in a limited range - but to sing an entire album? Worth noting, he hasn't repeated that feat, as of 2018.

Side A tries to be catchy and fancy with sleek basslines and new generation of synths/samplers. There isn't much to say about these tracks, I'm afraid. "Make Make" is too repetitive and silly, not my cup of tea. "No Dream" picks up a bit during second half, but let's be honest: too little content to pull out a four, let alone six minutes song.

Surprisingly, "Mr Shame" works for me quite well. So called Sassy Choir sounds hot and fantastic this time, actually the whole chorus section is very recognizable and satisfying. Bonus points for nice keyboards and Michael not spoiling the show. The highlight, even if it's more R&B influenced than prog rock.

"Gimme Back" is just a pure reggae kitsch in my eyes. Skip it ASAP. The title track is a relief, in comparison - so buoyant and single-worthy. Not enough to save the album, but it has good moments.

I don't know what to make out of "Music from the Balcony". On one hand, I'm always fond of Oldfield's side-long epics, but on the other, this one is vastly different than others. It's split almost evenly between unmelodic experimentations with tribal drums, odd monkey samples, sudden bursts of synthesizers, and uptempo, guns blazing funky bits. Admittedly, there are also brief, uplifting moments refusing that scheme, especially towards the end, but the general impression stays the same. Mike opted to mix chaotic pieces together without stressing too much about structure. The result is intriguing, but after repeated listens I think it's more about experimentation, seemingly without rhyme or reason, than actually Good Music. Strange, since 20 minute tracks usually were the highlights of his 80s output.

It's quite possible that Oldfield decided to rush recording process a bit to free himself from Virgin contract. At least that's how this album sounds in general, and the hidden message at the very end - F*** OFF - seems to confirm it, if you ask me. I recommend you to check out "Mr Shame" and "Heaven's Open" if you enjoy poppy side of Oldfield. And maybe try "Music from the Balcony", if you have much time on your hands. Who knows if it clicks with you - for me it's the poorest "epic" of the era. In these circumstances, it's hard to justify two star rating, especially when I consider "Islands" a decidedly better album.

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