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Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
PROG ARCHIVES intends to be the most complete and powerful progressive rock resource. You can find the progressive rock music discographies from 9,915 bands & artists, 52,794 albums (LP, CD and DVD), 1,402,603 ratings and reviews from 58,277 members who also participate in our active forum. You can also read the new visitors guide (forum page).
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 Novum by PROCOL HARUM album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.27 | 28 ratings

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Novum
Procol Harum Crossover Prog

Review by octopus-4
Special Collaborator RIO/Avant/Zeuhl & Neo Teams

4 stars Ok, not all the over 70 vocalists have the same extension they had when they were young. Brooker is not an exception, his voice is still recognisable and fits perfectly but nobody can expect high notes like on A Salty Dog to say one title.

Also, the songs are quite dated. It's like a fantastic album has been recorded and put into a time machine just to appear 50 years later then its time.

You know what? I LIKE IT!

It's an excellent album. The sound quality is at today's level and doesn't sound too "vintage". Of course the songwriting is not evolved, but whoever likes the classic Procol Harum will not be disappointed by this "Novum" album. There's plenty of melodies, very British I'd say, with songs like "Can't Say That" which seems to come from the Blues revival years.

In the end it's like it was a lost album and I think that Procol Harum have done the best possible thing: instead of trying to be "actual" and renewing their songwriting they have done exactly what a fan wants: be themselves, even if it's everything but a reunion of the original members. Only Brooker is survived from the first album's lineup 51 years ago.

But this is a proper Procol Harum album. Fit for purpose. You won't find a new Whiter Shade Of Pale inside, but the whole album is very consistent. Not many peaks but absoutely no lowlights. In my opinion it deserves not less than 4 PA stars.

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 Thick As A Brick 2 [Aka: TAAB2] by ANDERSON, IAN album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.76 | 380 ratings

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Thick As A Brick 2 [Aka: TAAB2]
Ian Anderson Prog Folk

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Review Nº 121

'Thick as a Brick 2: Whatever Happened to Gerald Bostock ?' is the fifth studio album of Jethro Tull's front man, Ian Anderson, and was released in 2012. It's a follow up or a sequel, as you wish, of 'Thick As A Brick', the famous and highly acclaimed classic conceptual album released by Jethro Tull, in 1972, the mother of all concept albums, according to Anderson. However, before write about 'Thick As A Brick 2', I need to write a few lines about Jethro Tull, Ian Anderson and 'Thick As A Brick', to situate the context, why Ian decided to release this sequel in our days.

Jethro Tull is considered with Genesis, Yes, Pink Floyd, Gentle Giant, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, King Crimson, Van Der Graaf Generator, Camel and Rush, one of the best and most important progressive bands ever. Ian Anderson was always the band's image, the front man of the group, the brain of the band and the eccentric figure of Jethro Tull. 'Thick As A Brick' is in general considered the most progressive and the best release of Jethro Tull and the father of all conceptual albums. It's also in general seen, with 'Selling England By The Pound' from Genesis, 'Close To The Edge' from Yes and 'Wish You Were Here' from Pink Floyd, one of the four best progressive albums ever made. It's also a special album for me. My first contact with this album was in the 70's, at school, where one of my school friends lent me a recording, made on a tape recorder with low mono sound quality. Since I listen to it, since I became amazed with it.

So, forty years have passed since 'Thick As A Brick' was released and as most of you can remember, when it was released, it was involved in some controversy. The album was a collaboration between the band and an eight years old child, who wrote a complex poem that talks about the challenges of to get old, for a contest about a fictional kid, Gerard 'Little Milton' Bostock. In those time, and even today, many belie that Gerald Bostock was a real person. However, the child was disqualified because the judges considered that the poem, had little moral, and talked about the sexual life of father and son and the problems of their relationship. So, the judges preferred give the prize to a twelve years old girl, who wrote a simple essay about the Christian ethical values entitled, 'He Died To Save The Little Children'. So, Ian Anderson became very upset with that and he picked up in the child's poem and created a notable piece of music.

According to Anderson, when in our days he was thinking about the original album 'Thick As A Brick', he began to think: 'I wonder what the eight-year-old Gerald Bostock would be doing today? Would the fabled newspaper still exist?' So, it was in this context that appeared 'Thick As A Brick 2'. This new album is completely focused on Gerald Bostock, the fictional boy genius of the original poem on 'Thick As A Brick'. The story presents five divergent hypothetical life stories for him, including a greedy investment banker, a homosexual homeless man, a soldier in the Afghan war, a sanctimonious evangelist preacher and a most ordinary man who runs a corner store. By the end of the album, all five possibilities of live seem to converge in a similar concluding moment of gloomy of pitiful solitude.

It's also important to be said that Anderson and his fellow musicians delivered a finest progressive piece of music with this release. Certain musical themes taken from the original album make this second part very recognizable, but you never get the idea that the music sounds outdated. A modern approach and new recording facilities prevent you from listening to a 70's album. The flute playing of Anderson has always been his trademark and also this time it's prominent in the music. Maybe he doesn't sing as good as forty years ago, but the way he sings nowadays actually suits the music quite well. Compared to almost all of the albums of Jethro Tull recorded after 'Crest Of A Knave', the music has much more progressive rock elements. For instance, outstanding keyboard and electric guitar parts can be enjoyed throughout the album. Just like the first part of 'Thick As A Brick' the music sounds as if it's only one solid piece.

Conclusion: Anderson made a great job here. Inevitably, comparisons will be made with the original album. But this sequel has to be judged on its own merits. It's a very valuable successor of the first one and a wonderful addition to any prog collection. But it's a puzzle for me why Anderson decided to release this work as a solo album. By The way: Whatever happened to Mr. Barre? I really don't know. He's sorely missed, but his young replacement Florian Ophale acquits himself more than adequately. But, what made Anderson release 'Thick As A Brick 2'? I think that are two main reasons. First, his great love for music and his consciousness about the importance of 'Thick As A Brick'. Second, there is the philosophical existential question, which many of us have done for so many times. What would happen to me if I had followed another path in my life? Who would I be today? Of course, there aren't answers for these questions. However, I think I'm able to answer to one question. What would happen to progressive music if Anderson had followed another path? Surely, the progressive world was poorer, today. So, god blesses you Ian, for you are what you are.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

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 The Great Prophecy of a Small Man by MODEST MIDGET album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.74 | 61 ratings

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The Great Prophecy of a Small Man
Modest Midget Crossover Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

4 stars Modest Midget was a project put together by Lionel Ziblat, a classically trained composer, multi-instrumentalist and singer. This the debut album was released in 2010, with Lionel playing most of the music himself, along with a few guest musicians (most of whom aren't named ore recognised, so it isn't possible to even say how many people were involved). This really is one of those albums that is a reviewer's nightmare as not only are the songs quite different to each other, but there is such a fractured mix of styles going on that it is hard to pin down what is going on, apart from knowing that it is excellent (and then being frustrated at not having the words to hand to describe it).

The one band these guys do get compared to more than any other is Gentle Giant, but of course they sound nothing like them, although I can understand where some people may say that given some of the arrangements. It is spiky energetic music that at times brings in Zappa and Cardiacs, as well as plenty of British pop. I can imagine The Kinks having fun with this, but really have no idea why, nor why Traffic should also be included. But, I swear that if you hear this then it will all make sense, maybe. It is progressive, but in its truest sense, and mixed with so many Sixties pop sensibilities that one can almost see the Carnaby Street suits and swagger. It certainly sounds like an album that has come out of London, with some American influences, and not from an Argentinian who lived in Israel before settling in Holland. Confused? You should be, but all you need to know is that this is awesome.

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 A Night At The Opera by QUEEN album cover Studio Album, 1975
4.28 | 841 ratings

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A Night At The Opera
Queen Prog Related

Review by The Jester

5 stars Queen's A Night at the Opera, took its name from the Marx Brothers movie with the same title. It was released on November 1975 and it was the most expensive album ever made. (At the time). It became an immediate success, reaching No.1 at the UK album charts, and stayed there for 4 weeks, while in the States reached at No.4. The musical media praised the album on many occasions, but because the style of this album was not clear, they categorized it from Heavy Metal up to Progressive Rock. Of course, the truth - as usual - lies in the middle? The band was at its best form in this album, with Brian May's guitar leading many songs, or just 'painting' small melodies and solos in others. Roger Taylor and John Deacon hold the background very tight, while Freddie Mercury gives some of the best performances of his career. The album's opens with a three-song medley, including the "noizy" Death on two legs followed by the operatic Lazing on a Sunday afternoon, and closing with the Hard Rock-like, Im in love with my car. The lead vocals on Lazing on a Sunday afternoon, was sung in the studio, and reproduced through headphones in a tin bucket elsewhere in the studio. A microphone picked up the sound from the bucket, which gives that hollow "megaphone" sound. The A-side - of the vinyl edition of course - continues with You're my best friend and 39, both mellow and melodic songs. Sweet Lady, is a Hard Rock-like, distortion-driven song, written by Brian May. Roger Taylor remembers it as the most difficult drumming part he ever recorded. The A-Side closes with Seaside Rendezvous, which was Freddie Mercury's compostion, but although it is a rather unique song, it doesn't add something more to the album. The B-Side opens with the 8-minute-long The Prophet's song, writen by Brian May. It is a heavy Love of my life, writen by Freddie Mercury for his girlfriend at the time. It is one of Queen's most covered songs and one of the most popular songs in their live shows. Good Company that comes next, is a May's composition, but is nothing special. And right after that, comes the album's highlight, which is not other than the extremely famous Bohemian Rhapsody. When it was released as a single climbed at No.1 of the UK singles chart, stayed there for 9 weeks, and within a year sold over 1.000.000 copies. After Freddie Mercury's death in 1991 it climbed again at No.1 and stayed there for another 5 weeks. It is considered to be one of the best songs of the 20th century. and dark track, with a strong Progressive Rock influence and challenging lead vocals. At over eight minutes in length, it was the longest song Queen ever recorded. Next, comes the sweet and mellow The album's closing track is a "rock" cover version of God save the Queen, the Brittish national anthem. Concluding this, the only thing I want to say is that, in my opinion, A Night at the Opera is a must- have for any Rock music fan's discography. 4.5 stars from me

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 Time to Fly by MANTICORE album cover Studio Album, 1993
2.95 | 12 ratings

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Time to Fly
Manticore Symphonic Prog

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

3 stars 3.5 stars for sure

Manticore, this obscure prog band from Sweden with one album released in 1993, got little recognition , and I don't understand the low ratings either, really. Time to fly is the name of the album from 1993 is a symphonic prog album with all the ingredients to be a good one from start to finish. I like it , without any complains. Imagine a combination of The Flower Kings, Kalaban, IQ or with even Camel or Rick Wakeman here and there. The instrumentation is great, lots of great keyboards, hammond , nice guitars, the bass is aswell present at high level, so why these low ratings, never get it. The vocals are more then ok, not a dull moment. The pieces are long enough and have enough variation to keep the listner conected, lots of instrumental passages, that are sounding really intresting, like Running With The Stars, The maiden, etc. Above all, a very nice gate fold cover that is fiting perfectly in the overall symphonic prog sound. Definetly a keeper for me and easy 3.5 stars, that is meaning above good towards great. Unfairly unnoticed prog album from early '90s prog scene.

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 The People In Your Neighbourhood by LED BIB album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.09 | 4 ratings

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The People In Your Neighbourhood
Led Bib RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

4 stars

Released in the same year as the limited edition live 'The Good Egg', this 11 song seventy-two-minute long album is quite different. Although still incredibly avant-garde, progressive and insane, there is a far greater feeling of structure and control. The album title was inspired by a song from Sesame Street where the Muppets take people from different walks of life, from Ralph Nader to Martina Navratilova, and sing a song about how they are people from your neighbourhood. "Hey, an avant-jazz band are also the people in your neighbourhood," band founder Mark Holub says.

With their unusual line-up, the guys have managed to capture the essence of bands as diverse as Can and Art Zoyd, with Zappa also being thrown into the mix. This is not easy listening music, and was never meant to be, but has taken improvisation as a base and have then built on that to create something that is full of energy and is twisting and turning as it burrows its way into your mind like a corkscrew. Many people will find music as challenging as this to be something that needs to be avoided at all costs, yet I find myself being drawn to it like a moth to a blowtorch. This is all about upsetting the considered norms and taking the music when it needs to go, like a living breathing snake that is shifting its coils as it tries to decide whether to bite you and put you out of your misery quickly, or to constrict you until all breath leaves the body.

Jazz and RIO are combining to create something very special indeed, and musical explorers should seek this out.

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 The Good Egg by LED BIB album cover Live, 2014
4.00 | 1 ratings

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The Good Egg
Led Bib RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

— First review of this album —
4 stars

Drummer Mark Holub founded Led Bib in 2003 for his MA project at Middlesex University in North London, and the band made its auspicious debut on Feb. 24, 2004 (which happens to be Holub's birthday). Various players cycled through the band that first year, but by December the quintet's current line-up had solidified. Joining the Holub is bassist Liran Donin, keyboardist/pianist Toby McLaren and the potent alto sax tandem of Pete Grogran and Chris Williams. The unique instrumentation "makes us think differently about how the music's structured," Holub says. "You don't want to have two alto solos on every tune. We're more about group improvising, and developing tunes with sections that may or may not open up."

Musically, Led Bib sound quite unlike any other jazz band I have ever come across, with the rhythm section concentrating on one musical area, the twin sax something quite different, and Toby trying to keep it all together. His role is quite different to the normal keyboard player, as it feels that he more of the gel that keeps everything in place while the mayhem goes on around him, although he also joins in as well. This four-track thirty-three-minute-long album captures the band in their home environment, namely live in front of an audience where they can experiment and build from each other. Exciting and vibrant this 2014 album certainly won't be to everyone's tastes, but if you enjoy your jazz to be improvisational, avant-garde and progressing, then this could well be for you.

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 Music From The Penguin Cafe by PENGUIN CAFE ORCHESTRA, THE album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.70 | 26 ratings

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Music From The Penguin Cafe
The Penguin Cafe Orchestra Eclectic Prog

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

4 stars Musical projects come together in strange ways and inspiration emanates from just as many bizarre encounters in life but amongst one of the stranger bands with an even stranger origin is the hard to classify PENGUIN CAFE ORCHESTRA which was conjured up when the founder Simon Jeffes was on vacation in the south of France in 1972-73 and got food poisoning from rancid shellfish. He spent several days in a delirious fever and had visions or nightmares rather of a future where everyone lived in big concrete buildings and spent their lives gazing into screens with cameras in everyone's rooms spying on them. In this same vision there were other choices and down a dusty road there was an alternative reality where an old building offered a refuge from the George Orwellian had finally taken over completely. The unique sanctuary space was called the PENGUIN CAFE and after that disillusive experience Jeffes would create the ORCHESTRA part of the equation to provide entertainment for all the desperate souls trying to escape the cookie cutter approach of musical composition.

Many of these visions stemmed from the fact that Jeffes was not only disenchanted with the rigidity of the classical music world but also sought refuge from the ostensive limitations of the popular rock universe. He became extremely attracted to various ethnic musical sources as well as the spirit and immediacy of folk music and began this new band with cellist Helen Liebmann to create a bizarre blend of modern classical music fused with instrumental folk, psychedelia (including electronica) and avant-pop. After finding a couple more musicians with Steve Nye adding electric piano and Gavyn Wright providing the violin, Jeffes spent the next few years constructing compositions for his new style of music and which caught the attention of Brian Eno who released the first album MUSIC FROM THE PENGUIN CAFE on his Obscure record label which depicts the scenes of a PENGUIN and human visitor with a mask on who was evidently attempting to escape that Big Brother dystopia that the world had become, a scene that reprises throughout the band's discography.

While PENGUIN CAFE ORCHESTRA seems to be primarily based in an ethnic and sometimes gypsy folk type of sound, it really ventures into many different musical arenas. While the first track "Penguin Cafe Single" sounds as if it's the theme song for the journey into the musical refuge that finds its way around a cello and violin based pop melody with excursions into folk and psychedelic territory, the true gem follows immediately with the seven piece suite "Zopf" which adds the additional musical contributions of Neil Rennie on ukelele and Emily Young providing the only vocal performances on the album. This multilayered suite takes a journey into an eclectic musical ride that begins with a melodic mellow rock and ska piece and continues to create an ever stranger soundscape as it ventures into avant-folk, lugubrious violin-drenched modern classical, an avant-prog type vocal sequence titled "Milk," a traditional sounding avant-opera, a "La Bamba" type of Latin rhythm and ends in a slow dreamy psychedelic build up of hypnotic electronic sounds that become more and more discordant with atonal counterpoints and an ominous atmosphere that sounds like something the electronic band Coil would delve into.

The following three tracks are quite "normal" sounding after the wild ride of "Zopf" ending the album with a more lighthearted chamber folk type of sound. The band would garner enough attention to score a supporting gig for Kraftwerk in 1976 and despite never really becoming a household name has remained somewhat of a cult anomaly favorite in the underground music world. A strange album this is indeed because every time you think you can pigeonhole it into some sort of specific genre it adds some sort of contradictory elements that take you somewhere you've never been before. MUSIC FROM THE PENGUIN CAFE does very much evoke the strange conditions in which the inspiration emanated from. It has a dreamy psychedelic quality to it with a fuzzy notion of what reality should be with rhythms and cadences that sound somewhat familiar but so very different from anything else around them. The album never really gets aggressive and remains firmly chilled out never turning the heat up above simmer but what it achieves is creating a surreal folky chamber music pot of quirkiness. A very interesting folk based album with the exquisite "Zopf" suite being the cream of the crop.

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 Jean Louis by JEAN LOUIS album cover Studio Album, 2008
4.23 | 76 ratings

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Jean Louis
Jean Louis RIO/Avant-Prog

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

5 stars JEAN LOUIS is a rather unique freeform avant-garde jazz meets avant-prog type of power trio from Paris, France. So original is their sound that they managed to come in second in the La Defense National Jazz Competition in 2007. Their self-titled debut release came out the year following and displays all their interesting fusion styles with a healthy diverse palette of eclectic influences. The band is a mere trio with Aymeric Avice on trumpet, Joachim Forent on double bass and Fracesco Pastacaldi on drums but like any excellent power triumvirate of sound, have the ability to encapsulate a much larger band experience with a huge swath of styles and eclecticism that makes this eponymous debut quite an intriguing listen. While no guitarist on board, Forent manages to make his bass sound as fuzzed-out as a peach orchard often reminding me of bands like Zu or Aluk Todolo in the process.

The rhythms are quite the strange mix of avant-garde jazz with Avice's angular trumpet playing style and avant-prog type of rhythmic or should i say anti-rhythmic spastic meanderings. So think a mixture of 60s Sun Ra with a Miles Davis flare mixed with Thinking Plague and a noisy math rock band like Lightning Bolt and you've got half the picture! This band doesn't stay still too long and after an intense hardcore workout they delve into extremely psychedelic meltdowns. Just check out the mind bending freakiness on "Airbus." In addition to the instruments listed i swear there are other sounds to be found on here. My guess is that they use different percussive objects as there are lots of clanking and banging sounds. There is also a distinct cello sound on "Tranche" which means there must have been some studio guests participating.

This album is a major wild ride that has taken me forever to find on physical format as the CD is out of print and quite expensive but can be heard on the band's Bandcamp site. This is one that must be experienced to be believed. The dynamic shifts from the passively surreal to the full out aggressive assaults on the eardrums is staggering as each member deftly weaves his respective instrumental riffs in a perfect complimentary way. This album has it all. Intricate melodies, scary storms of cacophonous walls of din, distinct jazz parts, avant-prog run amok and progressive workouts of exquisite virtuosity. The members of JEAN LOUIS are clearly aiming for the most ambitious of the ambitious music nerds out there of which i am one of! This is one of those relentless type of albums that just slaps you in the face with one surprise after another therefore I LOVE IT!!!

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 Supernova by IBLISS album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.46 | 34 ratings

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Supernova
Ibliss Krautrock

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

4 stars IBLISS was a short lived band that formed in 1971 in the German Rhineland region and is probably more famous for who was in the band rather than the music itself. In the fertile cross-pollinating musical streams of Krautrock, IBLISS was the next step of Basil Hammoudi who was in the band Organisation that morphed into the more familiar Kraftwerk. Likewise IBLISS contains another Kraftwerk connection in the form of drummer Andreas Homann who was on the debut Kraftwerk album. IBLISS differentiated itself from the multitude of Kraut bands of the era with the inclusion of a heavy percussive drive that was heavily influenced by Middle Eastern rhythms courtesy of Hammoudi having been born and raised in Iraq. In this regard their sole album SUPERNOVA has the same percussion heavy grooves as the first Agitation Free album, however IBLISS (the Arabic word for "devilish") is much more of a loose jammy type of album that focuses on meditative bass laden grooves with heavy drumming circles providing the backbone for psychedelic flute and sax solos.

While most of the album is a repetitive groovy vibe that allows the flute and sax to go gangbuster, there are also psychedelic electronic passages that eschew the jazz-fusion meets bellydance themes and enters into true lysergic arenas. While Andreas Homann is the main drummer, so strong is the percussion drive that three other members contribute as well. Basil Hammoudi not only dishes out beautiful spacey flute flutterings but various percussive sounds as does brothers bassist Norbert and guitarist Wolfgang Buellmeyer. Only Rainer Buechel has entered the percussion-free zone and stands as a sax and flute guy exclusively. The original album release was rather limited and first copy editions are quite rare with only 1000 or so having been created and has become quite the collector's item however a new remastered CD has been released most recently on Garden Of Delights and the sound quality is excellent.

This is one of the Krautrock albums you will either love or not. This is not one of those sophisticated monster freakout type bonanzas of the Amon Duul II type but rather a fairly repetitive light and fluffy jam session that offers up strong percussive beats with cheerful flute melodies along side with a jazz-fusiony saxophone presence that emerges from time to time. Rhythmically it reminds me a lot of the minimalism that Neu! would soon make their own although more varied along with an overall fusion sound somewhat reminiscent of early Embryo but never as sophisticated. These are minimalistic trance inducing tunes that never break into complex song structures but rather remain within a parade of pleasant percussion laden grooves with happy melodies along for the ride. All is instrumental for the most part but vocal utterings do emerge in cheers coming from the background.

While i readily admit that IBLISS was not the most talented band in the early 70s Krautrock movement, i find their sole album SUPERNOVA to be mesmerizing and a cheerful little listen nonetheless. This is basically four long jams that never stray into super proggy territory but stay well-grounded in the Earthly realms rather than straying too far into the sonic ethers although there are scant moments of airy passages. Despite the rather easy to digest sounds on board, this band still found a home on the Nurse With Wound List most likely for its unorthodox experimental voyaging into hitherto untried genre mixing however it still qualifies as a fairly euphoric heady musical experience. Personally i love this one.

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 Murderock- Uccide A Passo Di Danza by EMERSON, KEITH album cover Studio Album, 1984
3.03 | 15 ratings

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Murderock- Uccide A Passo Di Danza
Keith Emerson Crossover Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

3 stars Don't go in the shower!

Murderrock is the title of an Italian film for which the present album is the official soundtrack. I have not seen the film (which I'm guessing is some kind of horror movie), but I was positively surprised with the high quality music found here. Of course I am a massive fan of Emerson, Lake & Palmer, but I was never much impressed with Emerson's solo output until I came across this very nice soundtrack album. The best that I have so far heard from Emerson's solo works (not counting the Keith Emerson Band).

If you are a fan Alan Parsons Project you might like this album which has a similar mixture of electronic instrumentals and vocal numbers featuring different singers. The vocal numbers are certainly a bit on the cheesy side, but the instrumentals are mostly great! Some themes recur throughout the album.

I enjoy this!

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 Going For The One by YES album cover Studio Album, 1977
4.03 | 1769 ratings

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Going For The One
Yes Symphonic Prog

Review by grom63

2 stars This review was written because Going for the One is my most unloved album from early-middle period of Yes. But to my surprise it has high ratings on PA. I will try objectively explain my indignation. I apologize in advance for my bad English.

This album completely destroying Yes magic aura that had being all previously time in its first seconds. First composition beginning with rock-n-roll with the continuation variations on this theme. I think, that Yes originally was interesting because their music did not contain this kind of dance music. In addition, it was supplemented by uncountable number of simply formed repeats in the second part, which will be in abundance throughout the album. Following piece is quiet, slow and amorphous. There is nothing yours ears can cling on: random sounds of special effects without clear melody. «Parallels» is dynamic and sounds better in contrast, but no more. «Wonderous Stories» is just boring pop song.

At last there is main epic on this album where on awhile we hear the band YES, however this was not without appearing out of nowhere like sounds of sparkling stars (YES, are you seriously?) and other electronic garbage which begins to predominate over instrumental music. Then the listener is thrown into the swamp of incoherent and uninteresting music, completing all of this with pompous repeats.

Generally, this album can be characterized as permanent flow unconvincingly cheerful music with pseudo-exalted vocal parts and dominating of insipid and at the same time sugary mid-seventies synthesizers. Maybe it was an experiment, but definitely unsuccessful. Prevailing couplet-chorus structure with multiple repeats make impression willful lengthening of composition to reach long play format. Nearly total absence of interesting parts on the "natural" musical instruments, which, moreover, were drowned out by electronics, makes this album completely impersonal and not provoking interest. My score is 2/5 stars, very disappointing after the masterpiece album of 1974.

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 In the Region Of The Summer Stars by ENID, THE album cover Studio Album, 1976
4.50 | 2 ratings

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In the Region Of The Summer Stars
The Enid Symphonic Prog

Review by aapatsos
Special Collaborator Prog Metal and Heavy Prog Teams

5 stars Not an album for everyone, not an album for any time, an artistic expression unlike many others. A sound so vivid and epic at the same time, conceived in these often rainy and gloomy parts of the world, though still expressing a melancholia and optimism at the same time, round about the region of the summer stars...

An unconventional soundtrack for summer and winter, the first album under the The Enid moniker bears more resemblance to the music of Ennio Morricone, rather than "typical" progressive rock of the 70's. Classical music re- invented? Possibly. In fact, listening through its (sadly, only) 39 minutes, sceneries and movie excerpts come in mind, via pompous orchestration, sliding guitar phrases, dreamy piano and flute parts. The mood shifts quite often from the epic/grandiose/scary (yes, that too) to total tranquility and back again to complete the dance of emotions. If I had to look for references in prog rock, then those would be early Genesis and Renaissance.

The "vintage" feeling is portrayed in "The Lovers" and "The Sun", the adventure in "Fool/The Falling Tower" and "The Devil" in haunting atmospheres, and the climax is reached (intentionally?) in the closing two compositions, unraveling the quality and inspiration behind this record.

Beware: I find myself listening to this on repeat for numerous times and the same effect might have on you. You have been warned.

5 (rainy) summer stars

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 Forever Comes To An End by RIIS, BJØRN album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.07 | 9 ratings

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Forever Comes To An End
Bjørn Riis Crossover Prog

Review by Rivertree
Special Collaborator PSIKE Team & Band Submissions

4 stars As it is with any of Bjørn Riis' solo or Airbag drafts, in either case there's always some sort of highly melodic ambience and nordic melancholy to state. The given front cover image is exemplary for that, isn't it? This paired with a splendid Steven Rothery and David Gilmour inspired guitar playing, how could he fail? Well, it's somewhat astonishing anyhow, seemingly this main recipe won't wear off. While never ever sounding like pure repetition. Hence after being positive about 'Disconnected' recently, one year ago, Karisma Records are now providing another delicious offer with 'Forever Comes To An End', when it comes to my taste.

Airbag fellows Henrik Fossum (drums) and Asle Tostrup (programming) are collaborating for the seven songs too. Regardless, 'I guess it is much more personal and me than anything I've done before', Bjørn Riis affirms. So designed for his first solo album actually, the title track is showing some real contrast program. I mean the hard riffing uptempo parts either way, taking turns with this well-known atmospheric prog charme we're already perfectly acquainted with. And then Absence and the following The Waves are smoothly gliding into a No-Man feel somehow, nice piano lines alongside with acoustic guitar and ambient patterns. Simply brilliant!

Have to confess that I really was anxious for the announced vocal support entering the stage, namely by Sichelle Mcmeo Aksum ... it takes some time ... except some female laughter(?) I'm effectively able to recognize her for the first time on Winter, another pleasant facet for sure. Perfect voice added, she definitely could have been more present anyhow. This track finally represents the album's beauty at best. I'd say 'Forever Comes To An End' marks his most varied and successfull effort (Airbag included). I'm steadily following Bjørn's steps for a while now without getting tired, and this one, including all participants as well as the production, seems to be his masterpiece so far.

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 Purgatorio by METAMORFOSI album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.35 | 15 ratings

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Purgatorio
Metamorfosi Rock Progressivo Italiano

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

5 stars The path of Italian RPI group Metamorfosi has been an interesting one. Starting, like many of the future defining Italian prog acts, with a humble little debut that mixed Sixties pop, gospel and folk elements (1972's `...E Fu il Sesto Giorno'), a year later they would deliver what would become one of THE legendary Italian progressive works with `Inferno', also one of the greatest keyboard-dominated albums in all of the genre, based around one part of the epic `Divina Commedia' (Divine Comedy) poem, a source that would continue as inspiration for continued Metamorfosi works over the decades. Despite a third album being written soon after the seminal 1973 work, the band split and it would remain unrecorded, at least until a version of the group reformed in the Nineties with a new bassist/guitarist and drummer, to be finally released as the gentler `Paradiso' in 2004. But with grand singer Jimmy Spitaleri finished with his commitments to fellow notable Italian proggers Le Orme (having performed lead vocals on their `Prog Files - Live in Rome' set and very underrated `La Via Della Setta' studio album between 2010-11), 2016 brings us the middle `Purgatorio' chapter of the tome, and while it doesn't hold too many genuine surprises, it's sublime, bombastic and lavish symphonic progressive music as only the Italian bands do so well.

A quick and overly simplified history lesson - The `Divina Commedia' is a long narrative poem written by Dante Alighieri, begun in 1308 and completed in 1320, and is considered a preeminent work in Italian literature. The poem presents an imaginative vision of the afterlife, separated into three sections - Inferno (Hell), Purgatorio (Purgatory) and Paridiso (Paradise). Written in the first person, the poem tells of Dante's journey through these three realms, guided by Roman poet Virgil through the first two, then by his courtly love interest Beatrice through Heaven.

The notion of purgatory is regarded as the intermediate state between life and death, in some beliefs a place a person goes to be judged to determine where their soul's eternal destiny is assigned - heavy going stuff! Sure enough, it means that `Purgatorio' is a much more frequently dramatic and darker work than the previous `Paradiso', one that allows for plenty of the classical bombast and theatrical flourishes expected of the group over lengthy and continuous suites of music. Throughout the album, they offer passages and lyrics based around the surreal events detailed in the poem, so please excuse the rather awkward descriptions that follow!

Right from the start, `Eco dagli Inferi' (Echo from Hell) is a foreboding gothic spoken-word narration over cavernous keyboard atmospheres that launches right into strident rocker `Catone' with Enrico Olivieri's humming Hammond organ and whirring synths, Fabio Moresco's pounding drums and Jimmy Spitaleri's commanding boisterous croon detailing a meeting with Cato, once a Roman military leader who now serves as warden to the entrance of the mountain of Purgatory. `Angelo Nocchiero' is a reflective interlude to convey a beautiful white angel in charge of transporting the souls residing in purgatory by boat, `Negligenti' a swooning lament detailing an encounter with those doomed to wait outside the entrance of Purgatory for a term equal to their lives on Earth, and the playfully malevolent `La Malastriscia', full of frantic instrumental organ pomp and a heavy wild vocal conveying a confrontation between a serpent/devil and the two angels that drive it away.

Covered over the following ten tracks, the arrival at the gates of Purgatory (`Porta del Purgatorio') leads to journeying through the seven terraces that represent the seven roots of sinfulness. `Superbi' (Pride) has relentless scathing synth-emulated orchestration and choirs, `Invidiosi' (Envy) is a sorrowful and thoughtful piano reflection and `Iracondi' (Wrath) is an infectious whirring keyboard theme with a jazzy electric piano solo in the middle. `Accidiosi' (Sloth) is a propulsive organ and harpsichord-laced interlude, `Golosi' (Gluttony) has a playful lurch to its slithering keyboard and electric piano stabs, and `Avari e Prodighi's upfront lead synth themes (with nice bass soloing from Leonardo Gallucci) and the electronic-dominated `Lussuriosi Purgatorio' convey Avarice and Lust.

At the summit of Mount Purgatory lies the Earthly Paradise (the Garden of Eden), perfectly represented by the purely instrumental `Paradiso Terrestre', an extended showcase for Enrico Olivieri's calming and victorious piano soloing and proud keyboard fancy. `Beatrice', the woman who symbolizes Dante's path to God, is a piano and vocal swoon, `Il Carro e L'aquila' details her triumphant arrival on griffin-drawn chariot and is grand keyboard-dominated pomp, and closer `E Rinnovato Volo' (renewed flight) is a stirring symphonic finale. With a glorious sweeping vocal, Leonardo's sweetly gliding bass and precious guitar chimes and a heavenly choral climax, it's a dignified and emotional tune to soundtrack her rebuking of his sins, his drinking from the River Lethe which erases his memory of past sin and restores his good memories, and prepares him for his ascent to Heaven (the third act of the Divina Commedia, which was adapted by the band on their 2004 album `Paradisio').

Please be aware - completely frustratingly, there is a world of difference between the LP and CD versions, with the vinyl edition leaving out seven tracks from the album. Admittedly the full album is definitely overlong at just over 56 minutes, but despite how amazing Giuseppina Laura Tarantola's watercolour cover art must look on the larger package, these sort of `highlights compilation' rearrangements to fit an ill-fitting format that here leaves out over 16 minutes of music is completely inexcusable (especially considering some of the stand-out pieces on the album like the instrumental `Paradiso Terrestre' are removed). If you're interested in the album and want the full experience the way it is meant to be heard, the CD edition is your only option.

`Purgatorio' was never going to be an `Inferno' beater (honestly, would ever would?), and some listeners may find that this really doesn't offer anything new when compared to many of the recent `comeback' albums from important vintage period Italian prog bands. But the amount of effort gone into painstakingly writing, producing and performing an interpretation of such a multi-layered and complex work is hugely commendable of the group, and their efforts actually encourage further study of the origin of the material that proves richly rewarding. In addition to Laura Tarantola's above-mentioned cover art and the gorgeous illustrations inside the accompanying CD booklet from Bruno Tarantola that have to be seen to be believed, `Purgatorio' ticks all the right boxes fans could want to Italian progressive music and the grand symphonic music of that country, truly `RPI' in its purest form, and anything less than top marks would be grossly insulting.

Five stars.

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 In the Region Of The Summer Stars by ENID, THE album cover Studio Album, 1976
4.50 | 2 ratings

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In the Region Of The Summer Stars
The Enid Symphonic Prog

Review by FragileKings
Prog Reviewer

4 stars First let me state that I am reviewing the 2012 remaster of the original 1976 album and not the 80's re-recording.

I am always excited to read about other symphonic rock bands of the 70s and when I read about the Enid in Stephen Lambe's book "Citizens of Hope and Glory: The Story of Progressive Rock" I was eager to give them a listen. After some sneak peeks (or sneaks listens) to samples of songs on Amazon, I ordered the album and I was not disappointed.

Most surprisingly is that while Yes and some other bands were recording rock music in a symphonic vein, the Enid appear to have been recording symphonic music in a rock vein. All tracks except for "The Lovers" (a piano solo) feature symphonic instruments with drums, bass, and electric guitar being just instruments in the symphony and not comprising a rock band that is playing with a symphony. For a debut album, the music is remarkably bold and complex. From the beginning, Robert Godfrey wanted this band to do things differently from other rock bands.

Aside from "The Lovers" which is beautiful but a little dull to me, the album is very enjoyable to listen to from start to finish. I normally have great impatience when listening to a new album as I want to find the songs I like the most and listen to them a lot. However, with "In the Region of the Summer Stars" I had a difficult time whittling down the number of songs to three or four favourites. I can now say that I enjoy "Fool / The Falling Tower", "The Devil", "The Last Judgement", and the title track best, but mention should go to "The Sun" and "Death, the Reaper" which I also enjoy.

This is not an album for everyone and I am surprised that I like it as much as I do. But this is one of those albums that really illustrate just how far progressive rock bands could go even in 1976 when prog is said to have been on its way out of fashion.

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 Irritant by SCHNAUSER album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.00 | 1 ratings

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Irritant
Schnauser Crossover Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

— First review of this album —
4 stars

With a twelve-year history and five full albums to their name, Alan Strawbridge, Duncan Gammon, Holly McIntosh and Jasper Williams are veterans of the music scene, and now they have embarked on the next step of their journey by bringing on board saxophonist Dino Christodoulou, and by signing with those nice chaps at BEM. Vocalist and guitarist Alan Strawbridge says: 'We're all really looking forward with Bad Elephant; enthusiastic and like-minded chaps with great taste and even better facial hair.' This is my first experience of Schnauser, and I am already starting to wonder what the other albums sound like, as this strange hotch-potch of styles is incredibly appealing, even though I'm not sure why.

Trying to describe this is, um, difficult. Okay, so let's get the obvious ones out of the way first ' they're heavily influenced by the Canterbury scene, and I am sure that the addition of the sax has exacerbated this, but there are heaps of musical references taken from the psychedelic scene of the late Sixties. Add to that a power pop sound that has elements of The Mothers of Invention, as well as the beat scene, and a wicked sense of humour then you may be getting close. I think I deserve a prize for picking up on the single melody line from 'Roobarb' which appears on 'Re-Mortgaging The Nest of Hairs' (did I mention humour?).

This is a very British album, there is just no way that any other country could bring together a mess of influences like this and make it into something that is quite special. There is a real 'indie' feel to much of this, and there will be plenty of progheads aghast at this being described as progressive, as they sound nothing like Yes or Genesis. No, they don't, they are Schnauser, and they're great.

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 Detachment by BAROCK PROJECT album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.13 | 142 ratings

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Detachment
Barock Project Neo-Prog

Review by The Jester

3 stars Barock Project is an Italian quartet that has been active for almost a decade, during which, they released five studio and one live albums. What they are trying to do is, to play modern Progressive Rock with elements of Barock music, which sounds like a good idea. All their albums seem to be equally good, with just a few ups and downs. I learned about them with their previous work 'Skyline', and I must say that I was pleased with it. Detachment follows the path of Skyline, but it is slightly better in my opinion. The production is very good once more, and the songwriting is very 'mature'. It includes 13 tracks, and has a total running time of 75 minutes. Here, you can find very beautiful and soft melodies mixed with some complex compositions, and an overall excellent musicianship. All the members of the band are very good musicians, and that is obvious throughout the album. As for the leading instruments, I would say that both guitar and piano are equally important here. Also, the vocals are in English, which is positive. Very pleasant surprise was the addition of Peter Jones as guest singer, who is participating in 2 songs; both of them beautiful ones. I didn't have the time to 'digest' the album yet, but based upon the first 3 listenings, I must say that it is a very good and well-made album, that definitely deserves attention. I believe each person who is fond of Progressive Rock, modern or not, will find some songs that he/she will like. As for me, the first songs I noticed immediately, are: Broken, Happy to See You and Rescue Me mostly, followed by Alone.

I will give 3.0 out of 5.0 stars, but maybe it deserves a little more than that'

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 The Incredible String Band by INCREDIBLE STRING BAND, THE album cover Studio Album, 1966
3.25 | 22 ratings

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The Incredible String Band
The Incredible String Band Prog Folk

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

4 stars One of the true pioneers in the British psychedelic folk scene was THE INCREDIBLE STRING BAND that developed from a mutual interest of folk music between the two founding members Robin Williamson and Clive Palmer in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1963. After a couple of years playing as a duo they met Mike Heron in 65 and quickly gelled into their new group and got snatched up by Transatlantic Records. Right from the start the trio were catching the attention of even big stars like Bob Dylan with their unique take on the mix of English folk, Woodie Guthrie styled narrations and local Scottish influences. While the band would expand on the second slicker album "The 5000 Spirits Or The Layers Of The Onion" and beyond, this eponymous debut is the only album to feature the original founding trio as Clive Palmer would soon take a sojourn to India and opt not to reunite with the others as they were becoming more and more successful.

As only a trio, the music is much more roots oriented on album number one and not nearly as psychedelic and experimental as what would soon blossom as the band got more comfortable expanding beyond their influences. Despite a mere threesome, this album has a wealth of instrumentation as the musicians were all very skilled and comfortable on many a noise making devices. It's a fairly diverse sounding album as there are many styles, tempos, dynamics and all three members shared lead vocal duties. Mike Heron played guitar only but Clive Palmer contributes not only guitar but banjo and kazoo. After leaving the group he would record a banjo based album ("Banjoland" in 67) that wouldn't be released until 2005. Robin Williamson also plays guitar but also fiddle, violin mandolin and tin whistle. The instruments appear on different songs and create an interesting contrast between styles.

While the psych crowds may find this one a tad ho hum, as a straight forward folk album with a diverse palette of influences, album number one is actually a very pleasant listen with catchy acoustic folk songs jumping all around the folk spectrum with an authentic roots music feel with nice narrative lyrics about everyday life but the flirtations with the psychedelic scene were taking root at this stage with the inclusion of a surreal tale of a magic blackbird and accompanying unconventional vocal styles and mixings of sounds. The album found two different album covers for the UK and US and wasn't particularly successful. While a few tunes were traditionals, the majority of tunes were written by the three members. After this debut album the band would officially split up but Williamson and Heron would reform the band add a few more members and seriously up the sophistication of the style and progressiveness. While this debut can't really compete with the albums that follow, THE INCREDIBLE STRING BAND is a fine debut release that shows the band's transition from pure roots to create mixings of those styles.

3.5 rounded up

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 The Battle by APERCO album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.89 | 17 ratings

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The Battle
Aperco Eclectic Prog

Review by HAL

4 stars Aperco from Tel Aviv, Israel presents themselves with their self-released debut album "The Battle". The CD comes in a very nice digipack cover with embossed details on the front, and a nicely crafted booklet with lyrics and credits. Aperco is Tom Maizel (guitar and vocals), Tal Maizel (keyboards), Yuval Raz (bass) and Dor Adar (drums).

"The Battle" presents itself as sort of a concept album with repeating themes from the instrumental, almost symphonic "Intro" to the closing track "Awaken". The second track "Focused" is of course heavily inspired by Dutch band Focus, but still could be pulled off Camel's "Snow Goose" or any early Camel album for that matter. Great flute playing from guest artist Eran Teicher opens the track and ups my expectations for the rest of the albums. "Another Day to Live" continues its Camel inspiration with a beautiful guitar solo opening, before acoustic guitar introduces the first vocal part of the album, and this reveals for me the biggest downside of Aperco's music. The vocals are weak and feels partly very strained and too often offkey. The instrumental parts with more guitars, and even a sax solo from guest artist Neil Kalman, very much weigh up for the poor vocals, as the overall song writing is quite good, even if they bring very little new to the fold.

"A Call for submission" open with different voices floating in and out, before the tracks falls into the same category as the previous track with rather weak vocals and long instrumental guitar passages.

The 11 min. title track is much more varied, with more instrumental passages, incl. piano and synths. Another highlight of the album! Next follows two instrumental pieces, with "Euphoria" kicking off in up- tempo fashion, before slowing down into almost ambient territory, slowly building into a Camel inspired tune with flutes once again added. Overall, a bit dull. "Delirium Before Lunch" is more experimental with more syncopated sticks and riffs, jazzy parts and sound collages. Tracks opens and closes with a solo piano, with a short acoustic guitar added at the end. This doesn't do much to me, I am afraid.

"Dissonant Sound Within" open with a rather lacklustre vocal part, before some very nice guitar soloing from the frontman kicks in and makes the track an enjoyable experience.

"Horizon" is a short instrumental piece with flute and acoustic guitar deeply rooted in Camel territory, before the grand final "Awaken". Similar only in name to the famous closing track from Yes' "Going for the one". Getting past the vocals in the opening section, an instrumental feast with flutes, guitars and keyboards unveils, culminating with a new take on the opening theme from "Intro" and "Focused".

Comparisons with Camel is inevitable, and obviously, Gilmour-era Floyd comes to mind. I would also like to mention Norwegian band Airbag among the closest references, especially on "Dissonant Sound Within". Front man Tom Maizel performs very well on guitars, but his vocals are sadly inferior to his instrumental performance. Production is not top notch, but still decent. Somewhere between 3 and 4 stars for this one, but "The Battle" ends on a high with the closing track, which leaves me in good mood and makes me probably play this album several more times. Rounded up to 4 stars!

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 Halloween by PULSAR album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.97 | 142 ratings

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Halloween
Pulsar Symphonic Prog

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

5 stars France produced several symphonic prog bands in the 70's, and PULSAR were among the best. Some have called them the French Pink Floyd, and it's pretty poignant if one doesn't take it too literally. The spacey debut (1975) has elements of psychedelia reminiscent of the Saucerful-era Floyd, as well as some electronic music flavours. The instrumentally oriented, wonderfully atmospheric second album The Strands of Future (1976) increased symphonic prog elements and shifted the band's style just a bit closer to Genesis. Thanks to its success, the band were signed to CBS and given the best studio equipment available for the third album Halloween. It has been hailed as one of the masterpieces of European symphonic prog. Undoubtedly the feelings of disappointment that some critics here have felt is due to all the hype they have seen on this album. Revealingly, many ratings (with the review included) are either five or three stars.

The 39-minute album has two side-long parts, both featuring titled movements that follow each other seamlessly. Part One starts with a girl vocalise in the melody of 'Danny Boy', backed with piano only. The longest movement 'Tired Answers' is at first very delicate and slow-tempo instrumental prog with synths, acoustic guitar and flute in the main roles, until the darker, horror-like mood sets in and the intensity grows. The keyboards dominate, reminding more of the Tangerine Dream between '74 - '79 than British bands such as Genesis. The third and fourth movements feature male vocals, sung tenderly in English. The perfectly produced sound is a beautiful combination of the acoustic and the electronic. The mood remains restrained, semi-creepy at best, in a rather mellow and romantic way, and perhaps some listeners would expect more edginess from a horror-themed work.

The second part is equally elegant, starting with a slow tempo delicacy with vocals. The vocals are even more central on the melodic and symph-prog structured second movement 'Dawn Over Darkness'. The flute makes a beautiful appearance. 'Misty Garden of Passion' is a mellow instrumental interlude, followed by a more intense, synth-oriented 'Fear of Frost'. One may think of the most prog-rock albums of Tangerine Dream (Cyclone and Force Majeure). The slow and majestic final movement has ethereal vocals and synths.

When I started this review I didn't know my rating. I've had the CD for four years but haven't listened to it often. Halloween may not be as unforgettable symph prog masterpiece as the certain British classics from Genesis, Yes, Renaissance, Camel, etc., but I can't really spot any faults in it. If you're in a suitable mood -- not expecting more edginess and originality -- you will most likely find a lot to enjoy on this excellently produced and coherent concept album.

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 ZePTO by NEBELNEST album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.81 | 40 ratings

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ZePTO
NeBeLNeST RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Progfan97402

4 stars This was the third album by this French band, released in 2006. It's now 2017 and they became one of those "Whatever happened to them" kind of bands. It seems their website was last updated in 2008, although still running. It sounds like when they were recording Zepto, they were having trouble with keeping guitarists. They started with Cyril Malderez, who was the original guitar and played entirely on their previous releases, and then there were Sebastien Carmona and Vincent Boukera. With a four year gap between albums, there surprisingly little change, despite the guitarists. Olivier Tejedor does appear to have larger reign on his keyboards, other than that, it's the same twisted King Crimson, Magma, and Anekdoten type of RIO. Parts of this are a bit even more "out there", but much of it is the same tried and true formula. If you like what they did on previous CDs, there should be no reason to enjoy this one. On the other hand they probably realize they may end up hitting a brick wall, and probably the reason we hadn't heard from them since. Still, this is a great album if you enjoyed their other, but like RIO in general, it's not for everyone.

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 This by VALDEZ album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.96 | 4 ratings

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This
Valdez Crossover Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

4 stars Whichever way you look at it, Valdez are a super-group formed by some of the finest of the progressive scene. The singer/guitarist is none other than Simon Godfrey (Tinyfish, Shineback and solo artist) who emigrated to the States in 2014, bassist/singer Tom Hyatt was of course in the much-missed Echolyn, while keyboard player/singer Joe Cardillo is from Cold Blue Electric and drummer Scott Miller (Stone Jack Baller) completes the band. If that wasn't enough, Echolyn's Brett Kull produced it as well as providing additional guitar and vocals. Tom and Simon met by chance at a comedy club in Philly and got on so well that they decided to jam the following evening at an open mic night. The duo were an instant hit with the crowd and as they left the stage, they agreed to form a band that would go on to become Valdez.

It is almost as if Tinyfish have joined forces with Echolyn, and in many ways I guess they have. For many of us following the scene in the Nineties, Echolyn was one of the most important prog bands to come out of America, with 'As The World' making a huge impact on everyone. Simon first made his presence felt with his brother in Freefall, but it was some years later that Tinyfish came to everyone's attention, with two incredibly well-received albums, and now here we have Simon and Tom working together in this new entity. This may also be the first time that Tom is back working with Brett in more than twenty years, given that Tom didn't rejoin Echolyn when they reformed in 2000.

So, enough history, what about the album? Well, it's a masterpiece of course. The worry when well-known musicians get together is that they can rest on their laurels and rely on their reputations to get them through, but here the guys have left their egos at the door and instead have concentrated on as wonderful a piece of crossover poptastic progressive rock as one could ever wish to hear. To say that this is a joy to listen to is to understate it immensely, and Simon in particular is a revelation. I don't think I've quite heard everything he has released, I've certainly heard most of it and based on that I can say that it is easily the best thing he has ever been involved with. It oozes class, has hooks aplenty, loads of space and room to breathe, and is just awesome.

I refuse to pick a favourite, as whatever song I am listening to is the best, whether it is the melodramatic or bouncy and vibrant, there seems to be nothing that these guys can't excel at. It really is an album that is packed full of songs, no over the top soloing or unnecessary note density here, it is all about what is best for the music as a collective whole. And I love it (in case you hadn't guessed). Truly essential.

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 Yesterlife by MELODY album cover Studio Album, 1977
4.00 | 2 ratings

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Yesterlife
Melody Crossover Prog

Review by Progfan97402

4 stars I'm happy to finally see Melody included in Progarchives. I bought Yesterlife on a recommendation, and glad I did. OK, so the cover is terrible, it's the main reason the album isn't known to a larger prog audience. In 1976 they released Come Fly With Me on the Pole label, which were more of demo quality (although be careful of the Tapioca version as it also contained material from Mahogany Brain). They got a deal with a proper label, Vogue and in 1977 released Yesterlife. A good portion of the album was actually remakes of material from Come Fly With Me, but now benefiting with a professional production. The music is dominated by the vocals of Diana Chase, apparently an American (which I don't doubt, given there is absolutely no accent in her voice, since English is her first language). Basically, nice, song-based prog there's often compared to the likes of Renaissance and Genesis, the latter coming from Gabriel-like male vocals from Patrick Frehner. Nice use of synths used throughout the album. The remakes are pretty recognizable from the originals, although the lyrics were frequently changed. "Merry Go Round" and "Welcome to Wonderland" were accidentally switched in the credits, as the album actually starts with "Welcome to Wonderland", then "Merry Go Round". The music is really nice, perhaps my favorite being the lengthiest one, "Wailing Wall". Not too often to find Jewish themed lyrics in a prog setting, but this is a rare example. Really love that one lovely vocal passage from Diana herself, plus there's some nice use of Mellotron flutes (too bad the Mellotron wasn't used elsewhere in the album).

Whatever the case, don't let the album cover scare you off, this is a nice album of semi-symphonic prog (no wonder it's considered crossover) with really nice female vocals. It probably won't set your world on fire, but worth your time.

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 Voyage by PRELUDE album cover Studio Album, 1979
2.92 | 11 ratings

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Voyage
Prelude Neo-Prog

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

3 stars Considering the `boom' period of what would later become referred to as the `Neo Prog' sound was the early Eighties and encompassed such groups as Pendragon, I.Q, Twelfth Night, Marillion and others, there's earlier examples of groups that were already playing in a classic-period Genesis manner, a band all those above mentioned groups used as a starting point. The first Saga album back in 1978 can now be looked upon as one of the earliest starting points that had that sleeker sheen, so too Austrian band Kyrie Eleiyson and their rough-as-guts 1976 Genesis-modelled `Fountain Beyond the Sunrise', as can this Belgian band Prelude and their debut from 1979. `Voyage' mixes symphonic keyboard-heavy arrangements and harder- edged metallic guitars with both English and French semi-theatrical vocals, all presented with a lo-fi `do-it-yourself' production that makes for a humble but enticing little work.

The band's statement of intent is clear right from nine-minute opener `Mox', a grand symphonic stunner of Vincent Fis' serrated guitars that also move through regal crisp runs, Benoit Van Der Straeten's bouyant chunky bass, Leon Paulus's peppy drumming and Michel Crosset's serene wisps of keyboards constantly rising in stature. David Piron's put-on theatrical snarl doesn't really come close to matching Peter Gabriel's charisma (if anything, in its worse moments it resembles Michael Schubert of the above mentioned Kyrie Eleiyson whose impression kind of sounded like Gabriel's `special' little brother!), but the reprising group chorus sung in French is catchy and easy to enjoy, and the piece holds a superb and dignified I.Q-like instrumental stretch in the middle. `Life After the Life' opens with chugging heavy guitars over sparkling electric piano and a strident beat, with the piece contrasting energetic little bursts with more dreamy interludes and even a brief spoken word passage. Both the spacey electronics swirling all around and David's charmingly accented English vocal remind of a band like Eloy, and the cool uptempo sprint in the finale with spiralling breakneck synth soloing will instantly raise a smile! Reflective chiming guitars ring throughout ballad `When' that describes a forest setting and long-passed romantic longings, and David's wistful yet delicately melancholic vocal holds a great heart-breaking dignity.

Side two's `Voyage', mellow electric piano and sweetly murmuring bass, dreamy and optimistic - blowing winds, dreamy soothing vocals, - `Life's melody is a mystical symphony', optimistic, lovely chilled-out electric guitar solo in the finale, making the piece resemble the genuine new-age loved-up sentiment of Steve Hillage's `Palm Trees' off his `Green' album. `Jesus, Come Back!' is the repeating pleading group chorus of the spirited track of the same name, loading with plenty of acid-rock wailing as well as being book-ended with runaway `Heart of the Sunrise'-like guitar snarls and wordless Yes-aping group vocal chants. The group ask him to return "to make peace", "for liberty", "to save us", "because you're needed" and, unless it's a misheard lyric, "for drugs!" Hopefully the band meant to fight the drug battle, not coax the good Lord back with the promise of drugs! `Suicided' is then a sombre symphonic closer full of supremely tasteful soloing, a touch of Pink Floyd to the plodding steady beat, murmuring bass and some of the more fiery emotional electric guitar moments, with an unexpected up-tempo burst in the final minute to lift spirits just that little bit more.

Hardly essential but definitely interesting nonetheless, `Voyage' may not always have the most lovable of vocals, the grandest of arrangements, the cleanest production or the most memorable of material, but it's well-performed, unashamedly and proudly `proggy' at a time when there wasn't a lot of attention being given to the style anymore, and it ticks many of the boxes that more forgiving fans of the so-called `Neo' sound should resonate with. The recent Mini LP reissue on the Japanese Tachika Records label offers a much more affordable price than the rare original LP's, so if you're a prog fan that already has all the major and minor essentials and want to start exploring some worthwhile little known obscurities, `Voyage' is waiting for you.

Three and a half stars.

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 Machine Years by TONEV, KALIN album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.14 | 5 ratings

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Machine Years
Kalin Tonev Heavy Prog

Review by Replayer

5 stars Having previously been the main force behind Bulgarian instrumental prog outfit TravelHouse, keyboardist Kalin Tonev recorded Machine Years as his first solo album, which I find to be a very impressive effort.

Machine Years is an instrumental prog album, the only vocals present being in the form of short samples. The album's cover is indicative of its retro-futuristic sound, blending 70s style riffing with electronic and contemporary influences. Kalin has developed a style of his own and the compositions' style is very cohesive, while also showcasing variety. The entire album is drenched in Hammond organ, drenched I say! However that is not to say that the album is dominated by the organ, which is often relegated to the background. Kalin also uses Mellotron string samples on several tracks in a sparse, but effective manner.

In addition to Kalin, who is responsible for keyboards, samples and programming as well as composing the music, the album notes credit three guitarists. Two of them, Biser Ivanov and Daniel Eliseev, had previously played with Tonev in TravelHouse. However, it is Nenko Milev who plays guitar for the bulk of the album. The bass and drums are programmed, but this is no slight on the quality of the album, as they sound real and they're played in a very natural manner, so that I didn't even notice until I read the album credits.

I'm not going to describe every single track, since there are thirteen of them, but rather cover a subset to provide an idea of the album's sound.

Human Not Machine sets the tone for the album, a heavy but joyous track loaded with Hammond organ, guitar riffs, and Minimoog.

Beings is the only track that features contributions from two different guitarists, namely Milev and Eliseev. The track alternates between heavier guitar-dominated sections and spacier synth sections.

Eliseev also appears on the next track, Dust, which abandons the heaviness of the previous tracks and is a spacy and mellow instrumental featuring an ethereal synth pad accompanied by acoustic guitar. A lovely composition.

Mad Dancer is the album's most diverse track, featuring an electronic intro and outro, wordless female chanting samples, distorted guitar riffs, frantic organ solos, and even Baroque organ fugues.

I particularly enjoy Kalin's Minimoog solos on on News from Nowhere, the album's longest track.

Garden is a introspective track, centered on a melancholy bass line and electric piano.

I must say that I enjoy Tonev's organ playing very much and that he has developed his own unique style that does not bring up comparisons with Keith Emerson, Rick Wakeman, Jon Lord, Tony Banks, Ken Hensley, David Sinclair, Peter Bardens or other notable rock organists I'm familiar with.

As a side note, I was offered a free review copy of this album. However, upon listening to the first track, Human Not Machine, on Bandcamp, I immediately decided to buy the album on the opening track's strength alone. It's albums such as these that make me optimistic about the future of prog and remind me that it's still alive and kicking. 4.5 stars rounded up.

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 Atom Heart Mother by PINK FLOYD album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.87 | 1937 ratings

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Atom Heart Mother
Pink Floyd Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by mike1259

5 stars After reading many of the reviews posted here I feel compelled to add my own. I am no huge Floyd fan yet I've always felt the band created this difficult masterpiece for me alone, although expressionism such as this is open to wide interpretation. For example, upon receiving the Nobel prize for 'The Old Man and the Sea' Hemingway was asked about the many metaphors it contained and what they could have represented. His answer was words to the effect that it all depended upon what the reader brought to the sitting! With that we understand reviews are only opinions and are neither right nor wrong. That being said I must say a lot of our fellow enthusiasts disqualify themselves by publishing negative reviews on albums that they just don't understand. They don't 'get it' so it must be a turd. Atom Heart Mother is a fine example of this. As far as accessablilty, the 'AHM' suite can indeed become very difficult. I personally feel the theme is the seeming cruelty of nature and as we delve deeper into the piece one concedes that since humans themselves are 'natural' their cruelty is natural as well. The music translates this so very well. The heavy, lumbering 'Father's Shout', the nurturing 'Breast Milky' and alluring 'Mother Fore' all challenge the listener to their limits and then comes 'Funky Dung', a kick-in- the-head effort to associate food with fecal matter. That deserves some meditation. Pink Floyd is well known for their so-called 'FreakOut' sections and 'Mind Your Throats Please' should be recognized as their most formidable. Never has humanity been served up such beautiful dissonance. I will maintain at this point that most of this album side was a freak of nature, yes, only by accident could a music group convey something so difficult. I digress - the band themselves didn't 'get it'. Thank You God

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 Mindscape by TRIVIAL ACT album cover Studio Album, 1997
3.97 | 12 ratings

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Mindscape
Trivial Act Progressive Metal

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars "Mindscape" is the debut full-length studio album by Norwegian progressive metal act Trivial Act. The album was released through FaceFront Records in 1997. Trivial Act was formed in 1992 as Cemetary Gates but changed their band name to Trivial Act in 1993. In terms of output "Mindscape" is their only official release, but they did actually record a second full-length album, which was released as a demo in 2001. At that point bassist Steinar Krokmo and drummer Stian Kristoffersen had however begun a new adventure with the subsequently more successful Pagan's Mind. None of those two play on "Mindscape" though where the bass is handled by Svend Ole Heggedal and the drums by Erik Wroldsen (the latter would join Red Harvest in 1998 for a longer stint.

The music on "Mindscape" is guitar/vocal driven progressive metal or in other words 80s influenced progressive metal without keyboards. There is a strong power metal influence in the music too and especially the vocals and the occasional use of choirs in the choruses lead my thoughts in that direction. The material on the 10 track, 69:34 minutes long album (the Japanese version features two bonus tracks), are well written and very well performed. It´s obvious that these guys are both skilled composers and even more accomplished musicians. The vocals are powerful and delivered with great conviction (reminds me slightly of Dio at times), the guitars are both hard and edgy, and more melodic and intriguing, and the rhythm section are tight and deliver an impressive precision attack.

While there are technically complex sections on the album, the music is not as such focused on that aspect of playing music. Instead "Mindscape" is generally a very melodic oriented album (examples of the most melodic tinged material on the album are found in tracks like "Rainbow Valley" and "Vanish"), where the technical playing is a means to an end, instead of being forced technical noodling. There are no odd sections put in for the sake of it, and when the band put in progressive parts, it´s always done in a tasteful manner.

"Mindscape" is a self-produced affair, and taking that into considering, the album is well produced, featuring a both powerful and clear sound. We´re so used to hearing keyboards on almost every progressive metal release these days (and back when this album was released too), that the soundscape sometimes feels a bit "empty", but it´s actually refreshing to hear a progressive metal release with some "room" in the mix.

Overall "Mindscape" is a quality release, but the fact that the band´s brand of progressive metal arguably sounded a bit old fashioned in 1997, probably sealed their fate, and the release of the album more or less went unnoticed by most fans of the genre. If you enjoy melodic progressive metal with strong power metal leanings (and no keyboards), this might be the release for you. A 3.5 - 4 star (75%) rating is deserved.

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 Il-lūdĕre by TEMPIO DELLE CLESSIDRE, IL album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.00 | 18 ratings

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Il-lūdĕre
Il Tempio delle Clessidre Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by progpromoter

4 stars ITDC is Back!

After three years from "AlieNatura" the wise band from Genoa, now enriched with the (not only) drummer Mattias Olsson (ex-Anglagard, Necromonkey, White Willow), is out with its third studio album.

As the preceding album, also in this case the title is a word game. The union of latin verb "ludere", that means 'the act of playing', with the italian article "il" generates a dualism between "il giocare" (the act of playing) and the verb "illudere", that means 'to deceive' or 'to generate expectations that will never be satisfied'

Actually, along the lyrics find place the sweet illusion to have the world at your feet when you're very young, the sad reality to face when you're adult, the tricks, the games, the consequences of love and the need to come back to act and think as a child, to go beyond obstacles otherwise insurmountable, if faced with an adult mind.

All is supported by ITDC's Music, every time rich and refined in arrangements, but here a bit different with the respect of past albums: now all the musicians are involved in composition, not only Fabio Gremo and Elisa Montaldo. This leads to more heterogeneus sounds, more rock oriented, though the lovely presence of Gremo's classic guitar works moderates the effect. There is more electric guitar, but Giulio Canepa takes away the usual RPI jazzy polite register, substituting it with more opened and distorted effects, very near to heavy rock. In the meantime Elisa Montaldo's great work of searching new fascinating sounds, unusual harmonizations and atmospheres sometimes ethereal, sometimes sumptuos and anxious takes place. The searching of new effects is extended also to vocals: always warm and emphatic the one from Francesco Ciapica, always sweet and touching the other from Elisa Montaldo, helped in the chorus line from Canepa and Gremo. Also Mattias Olsson, with his huge amount of percussion and samplers has given his contribution to the new aspects of ITDC sound.

In my opinion the best moments are "La Parola Magica", "Prospettive", "Nuova Alchimia" and "La Spirale del Vento", while "Manitou", with its evoking melodic line and the wise Olson's drumming, gives me a pleasant sensation of ethereal melancholy. I've heard both versions of this song: one sung in Italian by Ciapica (on CD) and the other sung in Japanese by Elisa (Live) and I prefer the second one because feminine voice and Japanese language render it more evoking and ethereal. You may find the Japanese version of this song only on CD Japanese edition. "Spettro del Palco" is the single come out to anticipate the album. The lyrics, the music and the video pay their tribute to Tim Burton and Danny Elfman and has the virtue to be quite catchy, but not too easy. "Gnaffe' " is the bonus track: it's inspired by Boccaccio's Decameron novels. It's a music trick, as to refer to album title.

Track by Track shivers

"Le Regole del Gioco" The album opens with sounds and atmospheres which bring you away, a nice piano arpeggio that seems to anticipate something unnamed, and footsteps with english conversation...

"La Parola Magica" Powerful track, but what has given me shivers is that crazy synth effect which jumps from right to left at the beginning of the second verse! If I know a bit Elisa Montaldo, she could have lost her sleep until she has found it in the right way!

"Come nelle Favole" It's an heavy rock song, quite unusual for ITDC. Here Francesco Ciapica shows his great vocal range. Great strong ending with two powerful solos: guitar and keys.

"Dentro la mia mente" It has a long coda (ending part), widely used in RPI. In this case it's enriched with histrionic Ciapica's vocalism who experiments a double voice effect as in the second track.

"Spettro del Palco" It's a good single song. It takes place in your mind even if it's not easy-listening as well. Once more I have to remark Ciapica's great interpretative vein. Please notice how does it change the sense of the words "nella mia mente" in the two different situations: in the first he is sweethearted in love, in the second he is hoplessly desperate! The piano coda anticipates the main theme of "La Spirale del Vento" ... and also this means "to play with music"!

"Prospettive" Starting from this song until the end of "La Spirale del Vento" in my opinion there's the best part of the entire album. Starting with an intro with classic guitar and piano, after the keys crescendo (with that bass chords I truly love!) the music seems to spirally close into itself to give space to Canepa loud screaming guitar, very inspired along the whole track. After the 6/8 bridges his solo is powerful and full of feeling. The coda is heart breaking. Very beautiful!

"Manitou" is ethereal, spiritual and sweet. The continual but suffused Olsson's percussion and his almost tribal drumming render this song a priceless musical pearl.

"Nuova Alchimia" is the track less easy to bear in mind. It practically hasn't an intro, almost showing an urgency of expression. The up-tempo singing, the solemnity of keys and the unbelievable atmosphere that lingers in the whole track find their fulfillment in the opera-symphonic ending, with the astonishing Elisa's chorals which give us pure emotion. Great!

"La Spirale del Vento" Beautiful piano intro with Olson's delicate cymbals work. The lyrics are almost autobiographical and talk about the choices we make, that seem crazy to others. The powerful synth solo opens the incredible epic and overwhelming ending. I must confess that I'd have preferred that the album would come to end with this track, because the bonus track misrepresents the fulfilment sensation that lets you to play the entire CD another time.

"Gnaffe' " It's almost a goliardic game, as mentioned before. Well played in mediaeval way, as it is.

At the end, "il-ludere" is a very good album. It takes a bit distance from typical RPI stylistics (we don't find long epic songs and continuous tempo variations) but still chained to it by the enriched arrangements (instrumental and vocal) and the search of unusual rhythm solutions and in something new or unexpected, which is the vital lymph for music REAL lovers. ITDC original and characteristic sound remains almost untouched, even if it pays a great tribute to past glorious prog bands

Please don't miss to listen to this album, you would bitterly repent!

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 A Token Of His Extreme by ZAPPA, FRANK album cover DVD/Video, 2013
4.12 | 14 ratings

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A Token Of His Extreme
Frank Zappa RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by rdtprog
Special Collaborator Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team

4 stars Frank was proud to say that he made this TV performance with his own money and added that it's the best DVD that has been made! You can't be more humble than this! This is a 1974 performance with the Mothers of Invention that was refused by American TV for obvious reason but was accepted by the more open French and Switzerland TV. It's only 73 minutes of great music and funny stuff with some strange animations that can only come from the mind of Frank or maybe a band like Tool... The song "Room Suite" is an improvisation between Frank and his partner Napoleon Murphy Brock about someone who orders something to eat in his hotel. It's just cool to see Frank laugh many times during this. As usual with Frank's music, the percussion side is always amazing with Ruth Underwood. Being filmed in the 70's this video is not comparable to today's standards but who watch this for the picture? Don't miss the great interview and performance on the Mike Douglas Show who Frank talk about the music artists he listens.

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 Stronger Than Hate by MEMORIES LAB album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.17 | 6 ratings

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Stronger Than Hate
Memories Lab Progressive Metal

Review by guitarhero

2 stars Congratulations on the debut of this group. I will be concise and sincere. I found this record with a few melodic sounds and I enjoyed the work of the guitar and battery well-interwoven with each other, although with these songs you can not do otherwise. Surely I would improve the voice where in many places the vocal lines are too tight to make them fit for instrumental parts. It is absolutely necessary to improve the growl and the high notes sung because of too much suffering. In general, however, I feel it is a good starting point. I'm sure next time you'll be downtown Congratulations and listening to the next

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 Jackson by KOREKYOJIN album cover Studio Album, 2006
4.62 | 27 ratings

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Jackson
Korekyojin RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Norbert

5 stars Jackson is the third full length studio album by Japanese progressive/avantgarde band Korekyojinn. This is a power trio featuring Kido Natsuki on the guitars, Yoshida Tatsuya on the drums and Nasuno Mitsuru on the bass. I consider myself a fan of some other projects of Yoshida and Kido (Koenjihyakkei and Bondage Fruit respectively), but I have heard nothing featuring Nasuno before this particular album. Korekyojinn means in Japanese "This Giant", this may refer on the classic bands This Heat and Gentle Giant. The disc that lies behind an artwork which takes us to the Easter Island is somewhat connected to This Heat, it is quite raw, mostly frantic, almost a progressie punk, progressive garage rock effort, but the King Crimson and Yes influences (mainly Relayer era) are easily detectable , influences by Gentle Giant are not really present. This is an instrumental power trio, and the 9 tracks of the 53 minutes long album certainly have some power. A good mixture of a menacing and a playful sound, the production is very natural, like the band would play at your room. The musicianship is exceptional, all three musicans do a terrific job, and it is really a well-balanced album, no instrument is way too dominant over the other two. Of course solos are mosty played by Kido, but he is he guiarists, that is hardly surprising. Time flies when I put on Jackson, I really enjoy all 9 tracks, there is a healthy dose of accesibility on this album, it is great fun to to listen, but you need certainly more time to fully understand the music offered by this fabulous trio. An instrumental power trio can't get much better than Jackson, in my book it is a timeless masterpiece.

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 Unfold The Future by FLOWER KINGS, THE album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.88 | 474 ratings

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Unfold The Future
The Flower Kings Symphonic Prog

Review by Norbert

3 stars Unfold the Future is the seventh studio album by Swedish progressive rock band The Flower Kings. Behind the not exactly beautiful artwork we can find 2 CDs, so this is the third of their 4 double albums. The first disc is about 74 minutes long, the second one is a bit shorter, it clocks at about 67 minutes. This is the debut studio album with The Flower Kings for my fellow Hungarian drummer Zoltán Csörsz, and guest singer Daniel Gildenlöw, mainly known as the mastermind of Pain of Salvation, and the permanent guest musician Hasse Bruniusson, most familiar from Samla Mammas Manna also featured here. The musicanship is excellent as on any album released by The Flower Kings, especially bassist Jonas Reingold and Zoltán Csörsz do an absolutely outsanding job. The problems arise with the compositions, we are talking here about an album which is more than 140 minutes long. So the quantity is huge, but how about the quality? This album is in the usual style of The Flower Kings, so Symphonic Prog mainly influenced by Yes, Genesis, Camel with many jazz rock fusion and some Frank Zappa influence in the mix. For me it is not a big issue if a band is not exactly groundbreaking if they write great music in the vein of their influences, but here I am not very plesed with everything I hear. The opening track is called The Truth will set you free, in stucture is somewhat similar of the legendary title track of Close to the Edge, but it is 31 minutes long, almost as long as a classic prog album like Per Un Amico. It features some Symphonic Prog beauty mainly in the vein of Yes, but also some sugarsweet, cheesy parts, which would not sound out of place at an Eurovision Song Contest. If it was under 20 minutes it could be an excellent piece. If The Truth will set you free is the "Close to the Edge" of this album, Christianopel is the "Waiting Room", but the Supernatural Anaesthetist is does not appear here. The other "jam" called Soul Vortex bores me even more. The purely jazz track The Devil's Dance School performed by Jonas, Zoltán and guest musician Anders Bergcratz on trumpet is other hand really cool. I really like Silent Inferno and the other "Devil's" track, Devil's Playground. This are well written and adventurous pieces, without musically embarassing moments. Devil's playground features for example beautiful Mellotron parts, and some great vocals by Daniel Gildenlöw. On the other hand I could do easily without Monkey business, Rollin' the Dice, Man Overboard, Vox Humana and The Navigator, to name a few. Although I have a soft spot an alternate version of The Navigator called Solitary Shell (It has nothing to do with the Dream Theater track) it has better arrangements, and it is shorter, 2 and a half minutes from this balladesque music is just fine. So mastermind Roine Stolt and his crew certainly have talent to write some wonderful music, but unfortunately focus and restraint are not the keywords of this album. I would rate a well-edited 65-70 minutes long version of Unfold the Future with 5 stars, but I can't rate with more than 3 stars the existing Unfold the Future.

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 Open Fire by ROOM, THE album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.19 | 15 ratings

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Open Fire
The Room Crossover Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

3 stars Having recently reviewed The Room's 2015 album 'Beyond The Gates of Bedlam" I now find myself listening to their 2012 debut, 'Open Fire', which is available through Bandcamp (I believe it was originally released in the States on Melodic Revolution Records).I don't know why it took them three years to follow up on this debut, but it certainly wasn't down to lack of quality or songs as yet again this is another really strong release. Martin Wilson has a memorable voice, and this melodic rock crossover neo progressive rock sound gives him plenty of room to shine. Andy Rowe and Andrew Rae keep the rhythm section nailed down, knowing when and what to play to either provide the others a backbone or dramatic emphasis, while guitarist Steve Anderson and keyboard player Steve Checkley are both adept at providing harmonies or solos as required.

It may have been released in 2012, but the heart of this album belongs twenty years earlier when the progressive scene was insular, robust and full of vigour. True, it was often the same people attending all the gigs, but back then there were loads of gigs to go to! With no internet, and virtually no press, the only way to get people to hear the music was by getting out there and gigging, and this music is very much at home with what was being released back then. Of course, Martin and Steve Anderson were very active during that period, and with this album it is as if the years in between just never happened. I can "see" The Room out there playing with Grace, Galahad, Landmarq and all the others from back then, but it is wonderful to know that music like this is still being performed and played with such passion today, and that The Room are a gigging outfit getting out there and showing the crowds that progressive rock is as relevant as it ever has been.

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 Signal 9 by MIRIODOR album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.07 | 8 ratings

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Signal 9
Miriodor RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

4 stars So the Canadians are back with their ninth studio album, and a slight change in line-up as they move back to a quartet, but as all of the guys play multiple instruments anyway there isn't a noticeable difference in that area. As with the excellent 'Cobra Fakir', the first word that springs to mind is 'staccato', as this is music that is rapidly moving around and for the most part doesn't have time for long held-down chords but just wants to get on with it. Coming from a RIO/Avant background, they have been listening to some of the early Canterbury bands as well as to King Crimson and Art Zoyd to create something that is always interesting and complex, and just a little different to much that is available within the prog scene, let alone mainstream.

It is the type of album that will polarise opinions, as those who like it will enjoy it a great deal, while others will fall into the 'what on earth are you listening to' camp, and won't give this album the time it both needs and deserves to get the most out of it. This is complex, with lots of melodies and counter-melodies, with Bernard Falaise often crunching the guitar against myriad keyboard sounds, but that can all change in an instant. It is music that does demand respect and attention, and those prepared to do just that will get a great deal out of this, as it is incredibly rewarding.

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 Stadaconé by SLOCHE album cover Studio Album, 1976
4.30 | 129 ratings

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Stadaconé
Sloche Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Walkscore

3 stars Sloche continued in a similar mode as their first album for this, their second and unfortunately, last, album. This one is slightly more complex and polished than the first, showing they had fine-tuned their chops, but otherwise represents little change in style. The first track starts off the album in clear jazz-fusion mode, with some good solos, but it also contains a few sections with silly singing (at one point they are singing something like "diggy-diggy dog dop"!). The second track "Le Cosmophile" also contains vocals, which appear close to the start of the song, before the sax solo kicks in. There are also some choir-vocals ('ahh ahh') on the fifth track. So, note that while other reviewers have characterized this album as completely instrumental, with vocals on three of the tunes this is not correct. But the vocals are, like on the first album, only appearing for short spurts, so I can see why someone might not remember them after only one listen. I am not as keen on "Le Cosmophile", nor the silly singing on the first track. But the remaining tracks are better. "Ill Faut Sauver Barbara" shifts between slow moody Rhodes piano themes, and Zappa-inspired complexities. "Ad Hoc" combines 70s minor funk with some nice guitar lines. The fifth track ("La "Baloune" de Vernkurtel Aug Zythogala") comes closest to the weather-report-like jazz fusion, but has a few interesting twists. The last track, "Isacaaron", at over 11 minutes is the longest track on the album, and indeed the longest in the band's discography. While the shifting between many themes on this last track fragments the composition, many of these themes are, like much of the rest of the album, still quite musical. After years of putting this on, I rarely want to listen to it all the way through, mainly due to the issues with the first two tracks, and the fifth track is not quite as musical. But the highlights here are quite good. I give this album 7.6 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which translates to 3 PA stars.

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 J'Un Oeil by SLOCHE album cover Studio Album, 1975
4.20 | 157 ratings

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J'Un Oeil
Sloche Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Walkscore

4 stars Inventive and Diverse

A number of great progressive bands came out of the francophone scene in 1970s Canada, often with names that evoked the wonders of interacting with our natural environment, for example 'Maneige' (my snow), 'Cano' (which sounds like canoe in French), 'Garolou' (which sort of translates as wolf guys), and here 'Sloche' (ie Slush in English ' the melting snow and ice often mixed with dirt we have to walk through every winter). Sloche only released two albums, and unlike the other bands I just mentioned, has a progressive fusion orientation. But I would not really characterize them as playing jazz fusion, especially on this album. Indeed, this is pretty diverse music, shifting among quiet piano parts and RPI baroque-ish segments, through synth-laden Tangerine electronica, Zappa-like RIO interludes, 70s funk, Canterbury-esque keyboard solos, bluesy electric guitar solos, Gentle Giant-like quirky parts, and ELP-like organ themes, all wrapped within an easily identifiable 70s francoprog sound. This album, their first, is also the more rock-oriented of the two, with vocals on every track (although the vocals are pretty sparse, and on the last track are only in the form of background choir). After multiple listens, I prefer this first album to their second album 'Stadacon', as I think it is more musical and fits together better than that album (I will post my review of that in a second). Every track here on the first album is great, musical, and completely distinct. I still enjoy listening to this album all the way through after years of listens. The first track 'C'Pas Fin Du Monde' (in English 'It is not the end of the world') starts off the album in a great way with some compelling synth-washes before introducing the main themes of the album and the vocals. The second and longest track, 'Le Kar'me D'Eros', begins with three minutes of excellent unaccompanied acoustic piano that is very nice. I also like the looser guitar and organ solos in the middle of this track. The third track, 'J'Un Oeil' ('I'm an Eye' in English), is a short and more typical francoprog rock tune, but quite musical. The fourth track 'Alg'brique', moves between quiet and thoughtful introspective jazzy sections, complex Zappa-like interludes, and quirky 70s funk with a silly 'strudel ping' vocal. I really like the second half of this piece ' reminds me of Roxy-era Zappa. The last track 'Potage aux herbes douteuses' wraps up the album very well, with both some faster odd-signature playing and a nice choir vocal. This is one of the often-overlooked gems of the 70s Quebec scene, and one I still listen to often. I give this 8.3 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which translates to 4 PA stars.

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 Heaven And Hell by BLACK SABBATH album cover Studio Album, 1980
4.02 | 506 ratings

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Heaven And Hell
Black Sabbath Prog Related

Review by Chicapah
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Sometimes I'm pleasantly surprised to find that my snooty, know-it-all assumptions about a classic band are unfounded. For decades I brushed off Black Sabbath as being nothing more than a one trick pony that made a name for themselves by merely being loud, brash and controversial. I didn't give them much credit for being all that talented because all I ever heard on the radio was 'Iron Man' and 'Paranoia' and neither song did anything for me. (Ironically, when I finally got around to listening to the LP those tracks are part of I realized there was a lot more going on than I anticipated hearing and I felt obligated to give it a favorable review. Who'd a thunk it?) While my taste in prog still leans heavily toward the symphonic and jazz fusion ends of the spectrum and always will, there's a part of me that enjoys high-quality hard rock quite a bit. Especially when there's plenty of creativity and imagination tossed into the mix. 'Heaven and Hell' fits that description to a tee.

According to what I've read, the boys in Black Sabbath (despite their own share of destructive hang-ups) got their fill of Ozzy Osborne's dreadful habits after making eight albums with him commandeering the mike and kicked him out the door. It just so happened that singer Ronnie James Dio was unemployed and pleased as punch to step in when the invitation was received. Within the first few seconds of the opening cut, 'Neon Nights', one can tell it was a near-perfect, serendipitous match made in, well, heaven. The tune features a driving Deep Purple-ish, Highway Star-like motivating riff that doesn't waste time making a bold statement of purpose. When Dio opens his mouth it's a done deal. He pours uncompromised energy and excitement into the song that announces the group's timely resurrection from the doldrums of burn out mediocrity. But what shocked me most was Tony Iommi's guitar solos. They sizzle and pop like wet bacon on a hot skillet. I wasn't expecting that at all. 'Children of the Sea' is next. Its subtle opening leads to a weighty progression that might've grown tiresome if not for Ronnie's awesome vocal tour de force. And, once again, I was knocked silly by Tony's blazing guitar lead. They also display admirable arrangement skills by letting the track die down a tad in order to set up a power-packed ending. 'Lady Evil' sports a more traditional, straight-ahead rock & roll vibe that does a fine job of keeping the momentum ball rolling at this juncture. The lyrics are pretty lame but who cares? This foursome sounds like a band that's firing on all cylinders. 'Heaven and Hell' follows and, while it starts off like a throwback to their earlier minimalist productions, Ronnie jumps into the fray and gooses it with a freshness and vitality that can't be denied. They rev up into speed metal mode for a spell and then finish with an unanticipated Spanish guitar segment that I found delightful. Overall, this terrific number shows off a great deal of maturation in their songwriting acumen.

'Wishing Well' is a tight rocker from the get go. I get the feeling Mr. Dio brought some of what he learned from fronting Rainbow into the sessions as far as how to structure tunes like this one in a way that isn't overly predictable or patronizing. 'Die Young' benefits from sideman Geoff Nichols' dreamy keyboard contributions and the contrast they add keeps the proceedings from turning stale. (I'm a big fan of variety so the fact that each cut has its own character is a major plus in my book.) The middle section is nice and proggy, too. Gotta say it's hard not to be constantly blown away by Ronnie's incredible range and intensity. The man was one of a kind. 'Walk Away' is next and Iommi's switch to a slicker guitar tone comes at just the right time. It distinguishes this tune from the others right off the bat. It erects a much more radio-friendly aura yet it doesn't detract from the album's central mojo at all. Instead it demonstrates efficiently the versatility that helped keep them relevant in that era. They conclude with 'Lonely is the Word'. Tony, bassist Geezer Butler and drummer Bill Ward combine to present a knock-down-the-walls, bang-your-head arena rock riff that could satisfy any crowd of rowdies anywhere and Dio's voice slices through the din without any difficulty whatsoever. I really like that they tossed in a brief jazzy interlude along the way. Humbly I find it necessary to reiterate that, to my amazement, Iommi had by this time turned into a monster guitarist that I would've bragged about to my friends had I been paying attention. A little late now.

Black Sabbath was either fortunate beyond belief or extremely wise to recruit Ronnie James Dio when they did because together they made a damned good record. The musical landscape was changing rapidly as the 70s came to a close and a lot of their contemporaries were deteriorating into starving dinosaurs as Punk and New Wave were fast becoming the rage. By bringing new blood into their band and letting him contribute and blend his unique artistry into their foundational sound they were able to give their reputation a huge boost as they entered the 80s decade. 'Heaven and Hell' reached #9 in the UK and a respectable #28 in the States, no small feat for an established-but-aging rock outfit in that uncertain era. Sadly, the Dio/Black Sabbath marriage didn't survive past their follow-up LP together but they can be super proud of this one. I can't find a darn thing wrong with it so I give it a solid four-star rating. This is how sledgehammer rock is supposed to sound, kids.

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 Folklore by BIG BIG TRAIN album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.04 | 398 ratings

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Folklore
Big Big Train Crossover Prog

Review by lazland
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Folklore is the ninth studio album released by BBT, and was an instant top five album for me in 2016. It develops the themes inherent in English Electric, particularly the second part, and sees, for me, the band developing very nicely into the natural successor to one of our finest, and best loved, pastoral progressive rock acts of the classic era.

What, another Genesis tribute allegation, you ask? No, not a bit of it. This band, not particularly in terms of approach, but most definitely in terms of their use of English lore and joyous storytelling of our heritage are, to me, the modern day Jethro Tull. Think of that band's wonderful folk rock period between Songs from the Wood and Broadsword...., transport it into the 21st century, and here we go. London Plane, with its tale of a boat squadron on course to Runnymede, could quite easily fit in on any one of those Tull masters. The chorus of this soars.

The album explodes into sound with the title track. Pure folk prog, with Longden's flute and Rachel Hall's exceptional violin playing right to the fore. The latter, to me, is a very welcome addition to this band. Her playing on this and the live set released on Stone and Steel are exceptional, and her backing to Longden's feeling lead vocals complement each other very well.

The band now boast eight members, living in disparate areas of not just the UK, but literally the world, with Rikard Sjoblom adding important textures on guitars and keyboards, and the drummer from America who I regard as being the finest modern exponent of the trade, Nick D'Virgilio. His work shines on this, and both also contribute backing vocals, making the band sound throughout as a vocal and instrumental symphony.

Along The Ridgeway uses both Hall's violin and the welcome return of the brass section to great effect. It segues effortlessly into Salisbury Giant, a huge figure which one adorned pageants in medieval Wiltshire, now housed in a museum there. These are gentle pieces, with intelligent use of orchestration creating a solemn, thoughtful, mood. Longden sings it beautifully. I fell in love with his voice on the wonderful Martin Orford swan song, The Old Road, and he is, to me, a world class vocalist.

Brass and violin also introduce us to the exceptional The Transit Of Venus Across The Sun. The lyrics, vocals, and music take me back many years to when I was a young man fascinated by the vastness of the visible night sky, and wondering just what it would be like to fly there, a la James T Kirk. You are taken to this place on the "so many words left unsaid" sequence, before Dave Gregory produces a scintillating guitar solo leading the entire outfit in a symphonic burst of pure noise. Quite lovely.

Wassail has attracted some criticism. It is beyond me why. When I first heard it on the EP release of the same name in 2015, I knew we were in for a real old treat with the forthcoming album. Whilst the accompanying video, costumes and all, might seem a tad corny, this is prog folk at its most powerful, with swirling keyboards and thunderous riffs, led by Spawton on bass and D'Virgilio on drums moving things along at a fair old pace. The story itself is of pagans travelling between houses and orchards wassailing, boozing to hearty effect on Wassail, a rather strong mulled cider.

There is one track on the album that I still struggle to "get", and that is Winkie. The story behind the song is straightforward enough, that of a World War Two flying hero. It is played well enough, with the drums especially moving things along swiftly, and Longden evokes true emotion in The North Sea passage when radio contact with the plane is lost. However, it is, to me, slightly too breathless and wordy at times to truly impress. Great in parts, but not as a whole.

The epic length track on the album, clocking in at 12.40 minutes, is Brooklands. This venue, of course, was the world's first motor racing circuit, and the track evokes all of the romance and thrill which that venue brought to the pioneers who raced there, the smells of the engines, and the crowds who followed the sometimes dangerous exploits of the participants. I love the thoughtful guitar lead, whilst D'Virgilio excels on a tuneful drum pattern, with Spawton producing a deep, growling, bass line. A great story and tribute to a time long passed away, this is intellectual prog folk at its peak. The section leading to the denouement has the entire band, keys, flute, violin, rhythm, guitar stretching themselves to the limit, before we come down to earth gently with a delicate vocal.

All which precedes, though, leads up to the biggest thrill, the final track, the sumptuous and beautiful Telling The Bees. I didn't think that the band could better Hedgerow, to me a highlight of prog rock in all the time I have listened to this great genre. This one does it, in spades. It plays to every strength this great band have. It aches with emotion, and has, at its heart, the memories of a loved father, honoured in old custom by telling the bees of a life and love. "The joy is in the telling", and the telling is a wonderful noise. This song evokes memories of loved ones no longer with me, and I sing it at the top of my voice, but with love and fond memories, not sadness, the way such fond memories are meant to be. This is a gloriously uplifting track, and yet another reminder of why this band are so special. Listen and let the emotion wash over you.

This is yet another fine release by a band who I hope will continue to carry the torch of quality English progressive rock for many years to come. Four stars, and simply excellent.

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 The Torture Never Stops by ZAPPA, FRANK album cover DVD/Video, 2008
4.22 | 18 ratings

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The Torture Never Stops
Frank Zappa RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by rdtprog
Special Collaborator Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team

4 stars There's only one Frank Zappa and only one that can do this kind of music! This concert made in Halloween presents the late 70's and early 80's music of Frank with many songs that could have been even shorter if they did not include the usual Frank guitar solo. My mind is drifting away when I hear his guitar solo. I prefer to see him conduct his musicians and hear the funny lyrics and music when it's going in his unpredictable direction. The songs are flowing smoothly into each other so that you can see the show as one long song. It is impossible to enjoy everything the man has done in his career because he has played too many styles with the Mothers of Invention or with his synclavier albums, but everyone can see how original was his music and the man who have always stick with his views on many subjects with satire and cynism. This DVD is a great place to start for someone who can be disturbed by the experimental nature of some others videos he has done. This one shows you how the musicians are perfectly synchronized to play this complex music the Zappa way. I just imagine how much more albums he would have done if he was still alive...

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 Misplaced Childhood by MARILLION album cover Studio Album, 1985
4.24 | 1884 ratings

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Misplaced Childhood
Marillion Neo-Prog

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Misplaced Childhood represents a significant moment in my music listening history. At the age of 14-15 I was listening to the vinyls of my elder sister and brother, Dire Straits being my first favourite band. There were a bunch of prog oriented early 80's albums too, by e.g. Asia, Saga, Rush, Yes and Jon Anderson that I found interesting. At the time I didn't yet buy vinyls myself, I used to tape music on cassettes. And then I saw this band on TV, it was some New Year's night concert featuring many artists - I don't remember who the others were. I do remember the line "do you remember" repeated several times, and the singer had some red paint on his face. I purchased Fugazi as my first vinyl and persuaded my friend to get Misplaced Childhood. So begun my most dedicated fandom period of my life, lasting for a couple of years.

Since it feels awkward for me to write a review for such heavily reviewed album, I first thought to write one for the 'Kayleigh' single. I'm getting tired of reviewing singles so much, so here's my very subjective view on this famous Neo Prog milestone. I bought it on CD several years later at the early 90's, but it isn't my favourite of the Fish era, that honour goes to Clutching at Straws. And up to this day my reception of Misplaced Childhood is somewhat ambivalent. Like many other prog listeners, I find it a bit cheesy as a whole, with the super-clean production, sugared synth carpets and sentimental guitar solos.

'Pseudo Silk Kimono' is irritatingly all cheesy synths, but it functions as a conceptual mood-setter, followed seamlessly by the radio-friendly song for lost love, 'Kayleigh' (which I have as a ringtone on my phone nowadays!), which is seamlessly followed by another radio-friendly love song, naively romantic 'Lavender'. What is this? A potpourri of pop songs? Luckily, 'Bitter Suite' and 'Heart of Lothian' are multi-part compositions with various moods. I love the quietest, more mystified parts ("A spider wanders aimlessly...", and later, "It's getting late for scribbling and scratching on the paper...") whereas 'Blue Angel' and 'Wide Boy' sections are really cheesy, especially for the guitar solos. On the next album there's a lot more diversity in guitar and keyboard sounds. Is Misplaced Childhood perhaps over-produced in a way, emphasizing the sentimental concept?

The album is practically two side-long, pauseless entities, and that's definitley one of its strengths. The second part (side of the vinyl) contains the ultimate highlight, but there are also songs that feel like fillers to me. 'Waterhole (Expresso Bongo)', terribly boring. 'Lords of the Backstage' is refreshingly bold and bright. 'Blind Curve' is a magnificent journey into deep, sore emotions, and finally there's new blood on guitar parts too. The melody in 'Mylo' is spellbinding, and the creepily quiet section 'Perimeter Walk' gives goose bimples. Unfortunately the 'Threshold' section returns to the cheesiness and the similarily wailing guitar solo by numbers heard on the first side. 'Childhoods End?' is a fine, sunny and powerful catharsis after all the dark emotions the concept album has gone through. The synth solo at its end sounds very Genesis-like. But for me 'White Feather' is a boring anti-climax.

This is definitely an important album, but the certain weaknesses and the overall cheesiness make me round my 3½ stars downwards. This is not to say I wouldn't understand five-star ratings perfectly well!

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 Come Fly With Me by MELODY album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.05 | 2 ratings

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Come Fly With Me
Melody Crossover Prog

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

3 stars Assumed they should be another incarnation of a British legend England, but surprisingly they've finished recording this material in November, 1975 already. Their definite masterpiece 'Merry-Go-Round', that features enthusiastic voices, dramatic plus psychedelic keyboard works, deeply heavy drumming and bass explosions, must drive me crazy and thoughtful.imaginative. Their days when progressive rock scene might be upon the phase of decline should be full stomach in another sense I guess, and even such a low-qualified, unpolished album 'poorly produced and mixed' (it says this album was created as a demo version for the following album and it might not be known why P'le Records released this material, but who cares?) can make the audience dream a fantastic dream with their rough but flamboyant passion for progressive rock. There are a lot of cases a well-refined album cannot impress us anymore, I imagine?

We can call this obscurity as another art rock salad mixture with heavy, psychedelic, and symphonic directions. Variation of soundscape cannot be heard enough but rough, fuzzy diversity in kinda 70s progressive cage we can find out via this album. Ethnicity or weird keyboard-oriented colourful psychedelia sound excessive especially in a short track "Death Rebirth". Bluesy battles of guitar and keyboard plays with dry-fruity female voices give us a hint of French-based fashionable vibes in "Viens Voler Avec Moi". There are other cool but poppy catchy song messages here and there (and pity that not all of them cannot be felt innovative) but well understood they might have got massively inspired by psychedelic rock / art pop vanguards, and it makes sense this 'demonstrated' work would have been dedicated to their pioneers. Basically unpolished but splendidly powerful intention we can notice via their mystic creation. Worth listening to.

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 Kore Wa! by TR-OND AND THE SUBURBAN SAVAGES album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.00 | 1 ratings

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Kore Wa!
tr-Ond and the Suburban Savages RIO/Avant-Prog

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

— First review of this album —
4 stars Quite comfortable.

"Kore Wa!" is the second album of SUBURBAN SAVAGES that has been recorded / produced for seven years and finally released in mid 2017. Actually I've mysteriously got impressed at the sleeve and the title of their newest album (a Japanese phrase "Kore Wa!" means "this is!" in English), and currently I appreciate stumbling upon their fantastic stuff and themselves. Not only the exterior but also the musical contents have completely knocked me out. I have assumed they would feel familiar with Japan and Japanese culture, and made sure of this via their soundscape seasoned with Japanese (or related) folksy melody lines. Well understood why seven or more years were needed for creating material for "Kore Wa!". Via this stuff we can hear a variety of melodic appearances they might possess in their inner space.

It's crazy amazing that avantgarde complexity and pop, catchy intensity come one after another like a merry go round. Such a well- matured, melodically-balanced movement cannot easily be heard even in progressive rock scene or something. The opening starshine "Fade Into Obscurity" lets us know enough (and their fragile chorus is fantastic too). In "As I Am Dying" deep, heavy, and mysterious anxiety will pop up and hide out under the complicated cloudy sky. The titled track might be sung in (especially old-fashioned) Japanese language but I cannot understand their "words" but unique and challenging sense.This song (with "hoy hoy hoy!") could not remind me of Japanese kabuki nor kyogen lol, but we can find their strong motivation to adopt every element all over the world and digest enough for the sound launcher rich in their originality.

Eventually I've got immersed in this creation not because I'm a Japanese but I'm fascinated by sound innovation. Woohoo.

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 Nude by CAMEL album cover Studio Album, 1981
3.61 | 659 ratings

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Nude
Camel Symphonic Prog

Review by KolbiterProg

4 stars Nude is a conceptual album, like many in the Progressive Rock scene, but it has to be analyzed by its different aspects, the musical composition, the originality, the depth of the theme. The first time I listened to it, I was fascinated by Andy Latimer's melodies that showed a deep connection with the story that makes up his concept. In the end, it shows us a story with the sensitivity that impresses on the music and the history written in the lyrics. Well, to the subject, Nude tells us the story of a Japanese soldier at the time of the Second World War. The album begins with the experience of living in a country like Japan at that time, calling on the armed forces to fulfill their country and sees in its own flesh the horrors of war on an island in the Pacific. These horrors paralyze him and make him lose his sense, which he recovers perhaps days later. To his surprise, he is alone on a deserted island, he was simply so indispensable, he did not figure or maybe if, like a low in the Japanese army. History takes its turn, he has to stay there and follow the rules that were established, to fulfill his duty, hoping that help will soon arrive to take him with them. This was a real story of that soldier, Hiroo Onoda who spent 30 years on an island, thinking that the war was still going on. It shows the human side of a soldier who, being only one piece on a huge board in that war, was ignored and left to his fate. Musically it is very well done, in my particular taste Drafted and Lies are my favorite, but it really is to listen complete. I liked it a lot as they carry a style of narrating a story with a very good development and in the end the climax and resolution that leave us the message of the album.

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 Masquerade 20 by PENDRAGON album cover DVD/Video, 2017
4.11 | 9 ratings

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Masquerade 20
Pendragon Neo-Prog

Review by rdtprog
Special Collaborator Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team

3 stars For the 20th anniversary of the "Masquerade Overture" album, the band recorded this show in their familiar venue in Poland. But you wouldn't know it is filmed at the same place because the lighting is very different using not as much various colors. The picture quality is ok as the sound and camera work. The band has a new drummer, Jan Vincent Velazco who has played in various styles of music and his now working with the band in London. He does a good job replacing Scott Higham. The band played the complete "Masquerade" album in the first part and some new songs in the second part. It seems to me that they didn't choose the best songs they could on those new songs, I might have to listen to those again to make sure. I don't think this DVD is better than the previous ones, so I don't think it will appeal to the old fans, but a new fan can't go wrong buying this because the band is constant as the stars shining at night. Their music still shows some Pink Floyd influence with a little modern approach in their later material. Pendragon as never been to me my favorite Neo-Prog band, probably because their music doesn't have enough of that darker style of IQ and that I will always prefer Genesis to Pink Floyd...

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 Psalm 6 by ROZ VITALIS album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2016
3.43 | 16 ratings

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Psalm 6
Roz Vitalis RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by 302

3 stars Actually 3,5.

The best part of the EP is the contrast that is created between instruments especially in songs "Psalm 6" and "Prophet". Musicianship is excellent. I warmly recommend this album to those who like surprises and complexity in the music.

Album reminds me about the book The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1949) by Joseph Campbell, which tells universal story of the hero's travels.

EP starts with song "Psalm 6" a quite nice and rythmic start with bass and drums, then the trumpets set in. Trumpet seems to play totally different song. Nice contrast. After the start it almost turns to church music with organs. It reminded me what it was to sit in the church and listen psalms. Then the music flows quite melodically with fluit, keyboard and guitars leading the music to the end.

Second song "Trattamento 2" is melodic keyboard driven peace.

Third song "Prophet" starts again with keyboards quite serenely but when bass comes along it starts to feel more threteaning, again contrast between different instruments is quite apparent. And towards end the whole song seems to get quite disturbed. You can easily create a story in your head about the travels of a prophet.

Fourth song "Denial of access". Once more the instruments are playing different songs creating interesting tensions inside the piece.

Fifth song "Passing over". The music gets more light and cheerful here. Keyboards are leading the music forward. I find the bass playing in the background nice.

Sixth song "Trattamento 3" ends the EP. This is again keyboard leaded music.

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 Odysseum Galacti by ARCHITECTURAL METAPHOR album cover Studio Album, 1994
2.48 | 7 ratings

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Odysseum Galacti
Architectural Metaphor Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by prophet10

3 stars An interesting debut album. The early version of the band claimed influences by John Cage, Karlheinz Stockhausen and AMM. The experimental side is heavily on display as some songs wash in and out, barely hanging to a thread of structure. We've Come For Your Children and Waterwheel are the most 'normal' pieces here, drum machine driven with powerful guitar. Anu is a nice building piece, like a melodic Saucerful of Secrets filtered through Gong and several hits of acid. A cover of Hawkwind's Sonic Attack gives another point of reference. The final two tracks have the band down to a three piece and more in the Amon Duul side of space rock. Chaotic, but to a purpose, I'd recommend this for fans of really out there freak out bands of the late 60's and early 70's.

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 Heaven & Earth by YES album cover Studio Album, 2014
2.38 | 500 ratings

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Heaven & Earth
Yes Symphonic Prog

Review by dosware

3 stars As a hardcore prog and YES fan, I am surprised they released a decidedly non-prog album. I can empathize with the disappointment voiced by many long time fans of Yes- the archetype of Prog. And that's where my criticism ends.

After my initial WTF experience hearing this mostly sedate and decidedly non-prog album, I realized there was something else unique and artistic happening here. I keep listening to this album- not primarily as a prog fan, but as a fan of emotional and complex pop music long gone from the airwaves. YES remain great songwriters, composing amazing hooks with top production- this album puts current popular music to shame. There is not a bad track on this album.

This is Yes's most innovative album since Drama.

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 Hat And Field by AIN SOPH album cover Studio Album, 1986
3.89 | 41 ratings

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Hat And Field
Ain Soph Jazz Rock/Fusion

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

4 stars Japanese instrumental four-piece Ain Soph released a greatly admired debut `A Story of Mysterious Forest' in 1980, and despite a reworked line-up here of departing and returning band members, their follow-up arrived six years later, entitled `Hat and Field'. Unsurprisingly, with that title, the band frequently performed music in the Canterbury sound style, but they were also just as likely to incorporate strong symphonic elements and plenty of fiery jazz-fusion, and it makes for an exciting and dynamic set with frequent moments of prettiness and soothing moods as well.

Hardly unexpected with a title like `The Swan Lake', the opener is a prancing symphonic swoon with jazzy soloing breaks, flecked ever so gently with a medieval fancy and touches of soft whimsy that reminds instantly of Camel and wouldn't have sounded out of place on their `Snow Goose' album. `Little Pieces part 1' is a low-key electric piano and dreamy synth interlude, but then it's all business for the ten minute, five-part `Suite - Hat and Field' epic. The band showcase an excellent use of reprising elegant and warmly embracing themes, many that again remind of Camel with the crisp electric guitar melodies, pristine acoustic interludes and serene synth airiness. A last minute blast of fuzzy keyboard wig-out busyness sees `Suite' oddly move right into `Mizzle' that closes out the first side, a frantic jazz-fusion race with plenty of twisting-turning heavy guitar snarls, rumbling drum tantrums and unravelling Seventies-flavoured Mini-Moog runs.

`Canterbury Tale (for Pye Hastings & Richard Sinclair)' opens the second side, a cheerful and romantic symphonic devotion to the two Canterbury scene notables of chiming acoustic guitar magic and mellow electric guitar soloing, reminding of both Caravan and even Richard's time with Camel. `Magic Carpet' is a solo-heavy rocker, `Little Pieces part 2' a lovely piano reprise of the first part from the flip side, and the infectious closer `Pipe Dream' has a jazzy spring in its step and provides plenty of happy-go-lucky back-and-forth rollicking playfulness with fuzzy electric piano noodling and stirring Andy Latimar-flavoured guitar work full of dignity and grandness.

Admittedly a few short stretches come close to being just a little bland, and the Eighties production sometimes gives the music a slightly clinical sound (but hey, even real-deal Canterbury-related LP's like National Health's `D.S Al Coda' from the same decade occasionally suffered the same fate), but this is a hugely charming album, delivered with the technicality and professionalism that is a consistent characteristic of Japanese prog-related groups. Listeners wanting a fine jazz-fusion/symphonic/Canterbury crossover disc should absolutely investigate this one immediately.

Four stars.

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 Big Hogg by BIG HOGG album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.13 | 4 ratings

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Big Hogg
Big Hogg Canterbury Scene

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

3 stars Sounding as if they've been hibernating near a Scottish Loch for the last 40 years suddenly emerges what sounds like everything contemporary of all the 70s Canterbury favorites such as Soft Machine, Caravan and Hatfield and the North. Hailing from the extremely un-Canterbury Celtic northern city of Glasgow, somehow the members of BIG HOGG had found an affinity with the lovely whimsy of the jazz, psychedelic rock and folk all having a little love affair with each other. Well, it seems the slumber is over and after many decades a few bands have decided to join the ranks of the geographical specific style of bands that never ruled the roost but have since become cult icons in the fringe world of progressive rock revival. BIG HOGG not only displays their worship of everything Canterbury on their self-titled debut album but display a stealthy command of all its different aspects although on the mellow down home type of style as heard on the earlier 70s bands.

So, add all the ingredients of Caravan, early Soft Machine and a healthy dose of blues rock, English folk and even jazz pop and then six band members playing guitars, trumpet cornet, tenor horn, trombone, flute, bass and percussion, oh and then add a few more extra helping hands to receipt spoken word poetry, play a little alto sax, hammond organs, Rhodes piano and skronk baritone and you have all the ingredients for a hugely fat sounding album that proves that the little scene by the River Great Stour is hardly dead at all and increasingly more explored as the 21st century progresses (think The Winstons and Amoeba Split) and what we have here is a stellar example of retro-prog that despite wearing more than a few influences on its sleeves, still finds enough differentiating vectors to create a nice fresh take on things.

It all starts with 'When We Were Young' with a quirky rock guitar riff finding a Robert Wyatt type vocal style punctuated by jazzy instrumental counterpoints. Proving that their no one trick pony, the second track 'Dog People' takes a jazzier approach for a while before reeling into a psychedelic free jazz frenzy accompanied by a spoken narrative delivering a poetic prose before a thumping bass and horn section steal the show and create a full-fledged Canterbury-tinged rocker fortified with jazz-pop sensibilities and then changing vocal styles to a more Captain Beefheart type of schizoid blues man mode. While the music seems to be a little too serious at times to qualify as a full-fledged candidate for Canterbury inclusion, the humor is more subtle as the boogie-rocker 'Turn To Prayer' explains in the situation with a few curse words interspersed nicely. 'Rabbit Plateau' changes gears into acoustic folk territory with sensual flutes on valium mode but joined by a distinct Caravan-esque guitar riff complete with echoey psychedelic atmospheres. Another notable track includes the frenetic 'Bad Salad Boogie' with it's Ornette Coleman sax freak outs accompanied by a more tamed bass and horn groove with all those jazzified time signature jumps so beloved by fans of National Health or Gilgamesh as the track mellows out.

Perhaps my main complaint about some of the newer Canterbury worshippers is that they try overly hard to be too faithful to the original sounds of the 70s and perhaps out of respect never venture too far into experimental realms however as heard on the first Picchio Dal Pozzo album, it has been proven that extreme originality with shocking results can be yielded from these influences. In the end BIG HOGG plays it a little too safe on their debut even if they pay all their tributes with technical precision in the proper Canterbury playfulness. A beautifully designed album that seems to fall just a tad short from competing with the heavyweights of yestercentury. Still though, if you're seeking some freshly constructed retro-prog of the mostly Caravan type branch, then BIG HOGG will not disappoint although with all the instruments on board here, i keep wishing they would expand their sonic tentacles a bit.

3.5 rounded down

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