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Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
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 Torn Between Dimensions by AT WAR WITH SELF album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.84 | 27 ratings

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Torn Between Dimensions
At War With Self Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars "Torn Between Dimensions" is the debut full-length studio album by US, Indianapolis, Indiana based progressive rock/metal act At War With Self. The album was released through the Free Electric Sound label in February 2005. At War With Self was founded in 2002 by multi-instrumentalist Glenn Snelwar (also known for his work with Gordian Knot) and is essentially a one-man project. "Torn Between Dimensions" does however feature session work by drummer Mark Zonder (Fates Warning, Warlord, Slavior) and bassist Michael Manring (Windham Hill, Jeff Loomis, Jim Matheos...among others).

And with a trio like that playing together it's no wonder the musical performances on the album are of a high quality. Stylistically the music on the album is instrumental progressive rock/metal with strong jazz rock/fusion leanings and more than one nod towards latin music. While At War With Self is widely considered a metal oriented act, the metal elements are limited to some heavy riffing and occasional distorted guitar sections. A couple of darker tinged tracks also contribute to the metal sound, but it's actually 90s Al Di Meola releases like "Orange And Blue (1994)" and "The Infinite Desire (1998)", that I'm mostly reminded of. So there are as many latin influenced acoustic guitar sections, jazzy guitar solos, fusion influenced drumming, and ambient keyboards featured on "Torn Between Dimensions", as there are heavy distorted riffs.

The balance between the different stylistic elements is an important element in At War With Self's sound. At times the dynamic music works well and other times the transitions between sections are a bit more awkward sounding. There's is no doubt that Glenn Snelwar is both a skilled musician and a skilled composer when it comes to the techncial aspect of playing and writing music, but listening to "Torn Between Dimensions" there's very little on the album that really grabs me and pulls me in. I find myself more interested in the music from a musician's point of view than from a music listener's point of view, and although that sort of "musician's music" is always interesting from a technical perspective, the music generally lacks emotional impact and memorability.

The sound production is also a bit disjointed and although all instruments individually feature a relatively good sound (the distorted guitar tone isn't that well sounding though), the instruments don't always work well together in the mix. So "Torn Between Dimensions" is an album with quality assets and some issues and therefore a 3 star (60%) rating is warranted.

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 Septober Energy by CENTIPEDE album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.29 | 42 ratings

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Septober Energy
Centipede Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Kaelka

4 stars Brilliant, boring, haunting, nerve-grating, strange... A masterpiece or a piece of junk? Neither actually. "Septober Energy", for all its crazy ambition of putting 50 musicians together for a giant jam, remains forever as one of those incredibly bold projects such as only our (well mine, however) beloved 70s could produce. If you're to young to have been around in those blessed times, put it on the turntable, if only once, and think of it : that's what musicians didn't hesitate to do then, before the first oil crisis, when booze and cigs and various drugs were cheap, when it was not necessary to come up with a business plan or nice sale prospects before recording or publishing an album. When we (well I, however) were young.

So, not a masterpiece obviously, but a nice album which fully deserves the 4 stars I'm giving it.

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 Novum by PROCOL HARUM album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.27 | 13 ratings

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Novum
Procol Harum Crossover Prog

Review by SteveG

3 stars I had some reservations about listening to this new Procol Harum album as I had heard that Gary Brooker's voice was deteriorating over the last few years. At 72 year's old, it has. And that creates a dilemma as Brooker's voice was also Procol's sixth instrument which he used, generally, while singing with a lack of diction along with a pitch shifting change between the lyric's syllables.

To compensate, this latest incarnation of Procol Harum have ramped up their playing as they were always a bit measured and reserved in the past. Guitarist Geoff Whitehorn really shines as he is able to jump from Richie Blackmore like riffing to Eddie Van Halen like flourish's. New organist/synth player Josh Phillips stays away from the old Procol sound of Bach or Handel flourishes and is more in a supporting role. Bassist Matt Pegg and new drummer Geoff Dunn really click and set off some driving rhythms in the harder rocking songs like "I Told You", "Business Man" and especially on "You Can't Say That". Great songs, by the way.

However, Brooker struggles with the ballads on the album, as his voice can just barely cover the range of this material and generally sounds scratchy. The exception being the stellar "I Am The Only One", one of those magically emotive Procol songs that would even sound good if it was sung by Tom Waits.

Long time lyricist Keith Reid is oddly missing on this outing, but former Cream lyricist Pete Brown has stepped in and, naturally, fits right in with Procol's music. The production on this album is top notch and sounds quite warm, almost analog, and dynamic. The key to Novum is if one can accept Brooker's aging vocals and enjoy the music for what it is, or dismiss the album out of hand. I'm on the fence at the moment, but I suspect I'll fall off after a few more listens. I feel that 3 stars is suitable for the band's effort to deliver something of value fifty yeas after recording their first album. They have played to their strengths this time around and that in itself is refreshing.

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 Individual Unique by MEDEA album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.30 | 8 ratings

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Individual Unique
Medea Heavy Prog

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Medea is a dutch progressive metal band formed around the excellent guitarist Henry Meeuws. They released so far two albums, Individual unique and Room XVII in 2006. The music is very much close to another famous band from land of tulips Ayreon, but with their own twist and with a lot of great ideas. The debut is released in 2003 named Individual unique and has an very intresting concept - is about a young ambitious artist in 18th Century from Florence- Italy who is visited by the spirit of Michelangelo. Lots of cast of characters, female/male singers, musicians and all perform and give life to the story. Musicaly speaking is prog metal well performed with some bombastic parts , a rock opera I might say very much what Ayreon done in the past. The pieces are long enough to show us that the instrumental passages are well developed, some very nice guitar/keyboards moves, the opening Overture 1564 is excellent setting the mood for the rest to come, 'Day' & 'Night' the lenghtier track from here , clocking around 10 min is another top piece, Henry Meeuws handle the guitar pretty well and aswell the keyboards. All in all more then decent album in prog metal field, maybe not as great as their second offer Room XVII, but I like what I've heread on both albums, is a pitty that they've stoped only on 2 albums so far, promissing band for sure. 3.5 stars without hesitation.

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 Trip Hazard by BROTHERHOOD OF THE MACHINE album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.39 | 9 ratings

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Trip Hazard
Brotherhood Of The Machine Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Replayer

5 stars Trip Hazard is the Brotherhood of the Machine's second and, sadly, last album to date. In my humble opinion, the album improves on its predecessor by taking the best elements and further refining them. The album title is once again a pun, since "trip" can be taken to mean "fall" or "drop" as well as "journey" (which I venture can refer to both a physical and psychological kind).

Clocking at 48 minutes, the album exceeds the time limitation of the classic LP length, but is comprised of only three tracks. Trip Hazard is recorded in entirety by brothers Dave (aka Davesax1965 here on PA) and John Francis, whereas Future Imperfect included contributions from Janne Hanhisuanto. Dave plays keyboards, saxophones and drums, while John is credited with guitar. Featuring a stately Middle Eastern melody and percussion, Meditation of the Blue Serpent continues in the vein of the debut album's Samarkand Suite. Dave Francis' echoed saxophone makes a return, playing the main melody at times.

In a nod to its Berlin School influences, the second track bears the German title Hin and Züruck, which translates to "Roundtrip" or "Down and Back". Clocking in at over 36 minutes, this mammoth rhythm-oriented track serves as program music for a psychedelic train trip, complete with train whistles, rain effects, German vocal samples and sequencer parts that vividly evoke the chugging of a steam-powered engine. In spite of its length, the track maintains the listener's attention by having instruments and sound effects continually drop in and out and having the sequencer part change every few minutes. Interestingly, the sequencer patterns reflect the roundtrip concept by cycling in reverse order back to where they stated (something like ABCBA). To summarize: this is a great effort in the style of Berlin school electronica that should appeal to fans of mid-70s Tangerine Dream (interestingly, TD's 1979 album Force Majeure features a short section with train sounds). A bold effort, chaps.

The album closes with Flying Saucer Patrol, a high energy electronic rocker with Dave's thundering drums and John's distorted guitar overlaid on top of a pulsing sequencer part. This is a fantastic album closer that pumps up the listeners and leaves them wanting more; I'm just not sure on how to parse the title: does it refers to a patrol that is on the lookout for flying saucers or are the flying saucers out on patrol themselves?

Normally, I admit don't pay much attention to drumming in rock as perhaps should, except a few of my favorite drummers such as Bill Bruford, Ginger Baker, Ian Paice or Michael Giles. However, in progressive electronic music, I think it adds a personal touch to a genre that can often sound too coldly mechanical and synthethic (pun very much intended). In addition, the drums here sound very professionally recorded and not muffled at all, which is no mean feat for a self-produced recording.

I'm not sure whether the trip concept is restricted to Hin and Züruck or whether Meditation and Patrol are also meant to be trips, though I can see how they relate. Regardless, Trip Hazard is an excellent effort that should appeal to those who like their electronic music with plenty of drums and a psychedelic flavor.

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 Lost Mankind by SATIN WHALE album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.71 | 32 ratings

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Lost Mankind
Satin Whale Prog Related

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

4 stars It's hard to tell exactly what happened between this album from German proggers Satin Whale and their knockout first LP `Desert Places' only a year before in 1974. Their powerful Brain label debut was always very accessible but had a tough and constantly heavy bluesy guitar sound to its lengthy jazz-rock compositions, but here, whilst still delivering a very strong album (one that is often considered their best, in fact), `Lost Mankind' mostly sounds like a completely different band altogether. Satin Whale perform in a prouder symphonic style on this one with a streamlined melodic approach and polished production to its more varied, sophisticated and ambitious material, as well as offering much tidier vocals from an American singer no doubt brought in at the time to make the group more appealing to international audiences.

Right from the energetic and groovy opener `Six O'Clock', the change in sound from the debut is instantly noticeable. The pumping sax and trickles of Hammond organ that darted around `Desert Places' are still there, but the piece is far more compact and instantly tuneful backed up by a chorus of female chorus singers, and the lead vocals of Ken Traylor offer crisp English in stark contrast to guitarist/saxophonist/flautist Dieter Roesberg's heavily accented rasp on the debut. The title track `Lost Mankind' is a lightly playful symphonic piece with serene Mellotron, whimsical flute and humming organ that reminds a little in moments of a track like `In the Mountains' from Earth and Fire's second album `Song of the Marching Children', and `Reverie' is a pretty piano and organ interlude. Then it's all guns blazing for the eleven minute tour-de-force `Go Ahead', jammed with honking infectious sax blasts, jazzy darting flute, red-hot blazing guitar wailing and the Hammond organ out in full-blast, all woven to clever reprising themes. There's so much variety delivered with exemplary skill throughout this one, and it also serves as a fine showcase for new drummer Wolfgang Hieronymi.

The flip side's `Trace Of Sadness' is a relentless and boisterous Hammond-drenched rocker, `Midnight Stone' perhaps resembles a swooning E.L.P-like ballad where Ken's vocals almost remind of John Wetton of King Crimson, and breezy flute flits in and out of soft rocker `Song For 'Thesy' with jazz overtones and organ-driven regal bombast that echoes Focus, M. Efekt and Jethro Tull. Closer `Beyond The Horizon' again comes close to the first album with its extended instrumental stretches of snappy drumming, waves of break-neck frantic Hammond organ runs, joyous flute and bluesy swagger-drenched electric guitar wrangling, and the subtle and skilfully executed tempo-change sprints reveal again what a talented bunch of musicians these guys were.

`Lost Mankind would prove to be a real one-off from the group, with both the heavy Hammond-dominated rocking of the debut and grander symphonic fancy of this one largely removed by their more straight-forward and frequently AOR next album `As a Keepsake' in 1976, and so too singer Traylor as the proper band themselves resumed the vocals from then on (it would actually be very interesting to learn the circumstances as to how he came to be involved with the band in the first place!). The punchy debut might be their real special one, but `Lost Mankind' has stronger playing, ardent ambition and energy to spare, and if you're new to this superb German band, this would be a fine place to start.

Four stars.

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 Over The Top by JUMP album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.91 | 16 ratings

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Over The Top
Jump Neo-Prog

Review by Windhawk
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars UK band JUMP have been a going entity for more than a quarter of a century now, although this still will have them described as a part of the new scene in progressive rock by some. Self-described as an eclectic band, this is a venture with more than a dozen studio albums to their name, thousands of gigs too apparently, and at least so far rather safely tucked into the underground rock scene too for some reason. "Over the Top" is their latest studio production, and was self-released in the spring of 2016.

Jump is one of those bands where I just cannot understand why they haven't risen to a greater stature. These are well versed musicians and composers, with a good grasp for compelling melodies and with the experience to be effective in their songwriting as well as the execution of their tunes. A well oiled machine in that context, running smoothly and in a manner that should have a fairly broad reach. Lack of exposure may be a part of this obviously, but their main challenge may possibly be that they don't appear to orient themselves in towards any given niche market, and that the more mass market channels are closed to them.

In terms of progressive rock and related categories of music, I'd pretty much say that what Jump presents on this album is music residing somewhere in the middle between Marillion's "Misplaced Childhood" and Magnum's "On a Storyteller's Night". At times with tendencies towards one or the other, but more often the material consist of similar features and details but explore a sound that is, in fact, rather different from both of these. That some of the additional associations I noted were Dire Straits, Pink Floyd and Procol Harum may just indicate something as far as this observation goes.

An additional dimension brought in to the overall sound of this band is folk music. Rarely in a distinctly purebred manner, but there's something of a folk music undercurrent in most of the songs here. Subtle and downplayed to a greater extent than dominant and out in the open, but still this is an album that has a certain vibe or atmosphere to it that corresponds with this aspect. Rather far removed from the Jethro Tull's of this world I should add, I'd rather look towards the older more purebred folk rock bands as a possible source of inspiration for this aspect of Jump's material, and again emphasize that on most occasions it is a subtle more than a strongly dominant presence.

Plucked guitar motifs combined or alternating with firm guitar riffs, at times giving some of the cuts more of a hard rock feel in places, with tasteful keyboards and organ details on top, are the main ingredients of the songs here. At times in a more delicate and ballad oriented manner, in other places with a firmer and harder general feel. Occasionally adding a darker touch to the atmospheres created. The vocals are well delivered and well controlled, and the mix and production suits the material perfectly. It's a well made album on all levels, and while perhaps not quite as complex as many other albums described inside a progressive rock context, quite a few of the songs are in fact a bit quirkier than what your first impressions will indicate.

Jump is one of many bands out there that deserves a broader audience, and with "Over the Top" I'd say that the band documents quite nicely that they are, indeed, not yet fit to be placed into the category the album title may suggest. Fans of mid 80's Marillion and Magnum would be something of a key audience for this band in my book, and those who are should spend a few minutes getting to know the music of this fine band.

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 Leonardo - The Absolute Man by VARIOUS ARTISTS (CONCEPT ALBUMS & THEMED COMPILATIONS) album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.54 | 57 ratings

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Leonardo - The Absolute Man
Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations) Various Genres

Review by VianaProghead

4 stars Review Nº 117

"Leonardo - The Absolute Man" is a very personal project of Gardner's brothers, who created the musical project Magellan, and where all music and lyrics were composed by the creative Magellan's man, Trent Gardner. If you're familiar with the music of Magellan, you will know that Trent Gardner's composition are not of the usual chorus and verse type of songs, but complex epics, with developing melodies and reoccurring themes. Their music is quite heavy and usually takes some time to grow on you. The same goes for this new project of both Gardner's brothers.

This project is about the life of one of the greatest figures of the Renaissance period and one of the greatest men of all time, Leonardo da Vinci. This project represents a very personal point of view and a tribute of Gardner's brothers to him. As we all know, Leonardo was an Italian polymath man, who studied a significant of different subject areas such as painting, sculpture, architecture, music, science, mathematics, engineering, anatomy, geology, cartography, botanic and writing. Leonardo has often been described as the archetype of the Renaissance man. He is also considered to be one of the greatest painters of all times, and perhaps he also can be the most diversely talented person that ever has lived. I completely agree with Trent Gardner's idea that the life is unfair because some have everything and others have nothing. But for Leonard's happiness, we can say that, in life, Leonardo had almost everything we can get from life.

"Leonardo - The Absolute Man" is a conceptual album with the format of a rock opera performed by a great constellation of progressive rock singers. The cast of the singers is very extensive and corresponds to figures who took part in the life of Leonardo. So we have in this musical project: James Labrie (Dream Theater) is Leonardo da Vinci. Davey Pattison is Ser Piero da Vinci, the father of Leonardo. Michelle Young (Glass Hammer) is Caterina, the mother of Leonardo. Lisa Bouchelle (Mastermind) is Mona Lisa, the subject of Leonardo's favourite painting. Mike Baker (Shadow Gallery) is Giovan Francesco Melzi, a personal friend, companion and apprentice of Leonardo. Chris Shyrack (Under The Sun) is Ludovico il Moro Sforza, one of the powerful princes of Renaissance in Italy. Bret Douglas (Cairo) is François I the King of France. Josh Pincus (Ice Age) is Lorenzo de Medici, the man who ruled Florence. Steve Walsh (Kansas) is Bartolemeu Calco, the advisor of Sforza. Trent Gardner (Magellan) is Andrea del Verrocchio, the master of Leonardo. Robert Berry (Three) is Salai, the protégé and also the "adopted son" of Leonardo.

Beyond the singers, we have also the musicians. But when we look at the musicians we realize that Gardner's "Magellan" Bros, Trent and Wayne, are who really conduct the whole work. So, the line up of the musicians on this album is Trent Gardner (keyboards and trombone), Wayne Gardner (guitar), Patrick Reyes (guitar), Steve Reyes (bass), Jeremy Colson (drums), Luis Maldonado (guitar and bass) and Joe Franco (drums and orchestral percussion).

"Leonardo - The Absolute Man" has eighteen tracks. Of all, there are ten vocals tracks and eight instrumentals tracks. The structure of the work is like a rock opera. The characters sing depending on their roles and the music accompanies without too much protagonism. And I'm surprised to see Gardner's great sense of the composition structuring different intensities depending on the moment. But mainly this album has lots of melody. Vocally, this is a stupendous project, and all the participants really shine in their solo spots. Sections that feature Labrie and Pincus together, and Walsh, Shryack, Baker and Douglas, are quite good. The Magellan stamp is always present, especially in the chorus sections, where the Gardner vocals are full force. The women of the group, Young and Bouchelle, also turn in fine performances as well. Musically, there are some neat keyboard passages, very orchestral sounding, and some heavy guitar riffs here and there, but this is mainly about the vocals and the story behind it. I'm sure it must have taken Trent Gardner a while to put this all together and find the right singers to fill each part, but the end result is quite polished and enjoyable.

Conclusion: First, a word about Magellan and Gardner's brothers. I'm a big fan of Magellan. Magellan represents the second wave of American progressive rock music. About Gardner's brothers I've always respected and admired them. Their great fascination for the great values of culture was once more proven with this work. They had already done it with the choice of the name Magellan. Ferdinand Magellan (Fernão de Magalhães in Portuguese), was the name of a Portuguese navigator. He was the first man to complete the first circumnavigation around the world. As unfortunately the brothers are no more within us, here is my homage and tribute to them. "Leonardo - The Absolute Man", is an ambitious project where the concept works very well. It has great music and lyrics and is a very well balanced and modern work. The choice of the singers was very good and they made a perfect rock opera. The complex compositions and arrangements may take some time to get into, but at least you won't get bored. This is an album not to be missed.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

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 Futuristic Worlds Under Construction by RESIDENTS OF THE FUTURE album cover Studio Album, 2004
4.00 | 1 ratings

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Futuristic Worlds Under Construction
Residents Of The Future Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

— First review of this album —
4 stars This EP was released back in 2004, and was the first music made available by Yuval Ron & Residents of the Future. Given that it was another eight years before the debut album came out, and there has been nothing official since (although the band regularly tours, and has also released videos), they aren't exactly the most prolific act around, but don't let that put you off from discovering their music. This is an instrumental five song EP, clocking in at some thirty-three minutes in length, and somewhat surprisingly for a band led by a guitarist, starts with lots of synths. But, from here on in we have a band that is cooking, and are very much a band as opposed to a backing outfit for Yuval, who is indeed one helluva guitarist. The interplays between him and keyboard player Ofir Shwartz are reminiscent of how John McLaughlin and Jan Hammer used to play off each other, with each providing the backdrop for the other to solo against, while Yaniv Shalev (bass) and Yatziv Caspi (drums) are also given plenty of opportunities to show just what they can do.

This is jazz fusion, played by exponents of the art who know what they want to achieve, and can do just that. Moving forward to the current day, and Yatziv is still there with Yuval, although Ofir and Yaniv are not, and they are still very active and touring and playing internationally. This is incredible music, and there are more details on this plus everything else that is going on at his website, www.yuvalron.com. This is great music, and if you love electric jazz then this is simple indispensable.

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 The Clockwork Universe by THIEVES' KITCHEN album cover Studio Album, 2015
4.00 | 121 ratings

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The Clockwork Universe
Thieves' Kitchen Eclectic Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

5 stars

Whilst the core line-up of Amy Darby (vocals), Phil Mercy (guitars) and Thomas Johnson (keyboards, ex-'nglag'rd) were still here from the previous album, this 2015 album saw a few changes in the guests. Anna Holmgren (flute, 'nglag'rd) and Paul Mallyon (drums, ex-Sanguine Hum) have now been joined by Johan Brand (bass, 'nglag'rd), and this time there is no trumpet or cello. Although this is a Thieves Kitchen album, it means that of the six involved, half of them recorded the 2012 'nglag'rd album 'Viljans 'ga'. I have heard all of the TK albums, but it was 2008's 'The Water Road' where they made a significant musical leap, which is where Thomas joined the band. 2013's 'One For Sorrow, One For Joy' saw a continuation of that, so what would the 2015 release bring?

The one word that shines throughout this album is quite simple, 'confidence'. Here are a group of musicians who have been working together in one form or another for quite a few years now (Anna was involved as long ago as 'The Water Road' with Amy, Phil and Thomas), and they know what they want to achieve and trust each other implicitly. This is all about producing complex progressive music, but always allowing Amy to shine with strong clear vocals. She is at the forefront of everything they are doing, with everyone else combining to provide a suitable backdrop. This could mean acoustic guitars, or classic organ sounds, complex drumming, striking repetitive bass or clear flute. This is progressive music that can be incredibly complex, or simple almost to an extreme, melodic or discordant, languid or rapid, whatever is the right setting for the arrangement. They can be King Crimson, or Gentle Giant, Renaissance or 'nglag'rd, but first and foremost they will always be Thieves' Kitchen.

This is type of music that got me interested in progressive rock in the first place: I want to hear music that is complex and complicated, where the mind and ears wonder where they are going to be taken to next on a journey of musical adventure and exploration. At the same time, I want it to make total musical sense so that I don't get lost along the way but feel that I am being taken on a circuitous route to ensure that I don't miss any of the wonders that are available. This is yet another stunning album from Thieves' Kitchen, and I can't believe that it has taken me so long to write about it. But, I know that they are currently recording the next one, so hopefully there will be even more to hear soon.

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 The Great Unknown by GILLETTE, ERIC album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.67 | 4 ratings

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The Great Unknown
Eric Gillette Progressive Metal

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

4 stars

Apparently, this album came out last year, but it has only just come to my attention. Eric has of course been lead guitarist with the Neal Morse Band for some years, and here he is back with his second solo album. Those expecting prog in the same vein as his "day job" will find a few similarities here and there, but mostly this is melodic prog metal with influences taken from throughout that scene. I had convinced myself that the drummer just had to be his NMB compadré Mike Portnoy due to what is going on behind the kit, but further investigation revealed that it was none other than Thomas Lang (John Wetton, Robert Fripp, Glenn Hughes, Robbie Williams, Kelly Clarkson and many others). Also involved are Haken members Diego Tejeida (keyboards) and Conner Green (bass), so overall this is quite some musical powerhouse.

Those who have seen NMB will know already that Eric is a strong singer in his own right, and this is very much an album of songs as opposed to mass instrumental workouts. Of course, there are times when the note density is incredible, and he does his best John Petrucci impression, but there is way more on here than just Dream Theater complexity and long songs. Of course, he is used to the odd epic here and there when working with Neal, and it would have been surprising for there not to be one included, and the eighteen-minute-long "Escape" is stunning in the way it moved and folds. This is an album that will certainly appeal to those who enjoy prog metal, but it is way more than "just" that, with elements from Haken, DT and the softer sides of Neal Morse all being blended together in a way that is both immediate and makes for compulsive listening. This is superb from start to end.

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 Crystals by SHAMAN ELEPHANT album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.00 | 1 ratings

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Crystals
Shaman Elephant Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by aapatsos
Special Collaborator Prog Metal and Heavy Prog Teams

— First review of this album —
4 stars The problem sometimes with gem albums is that they get released in December and thus missed off our top lists. This needs to stop. Shaman Elephant add another worthy progressive rock album to the thriving scene of Norway. If prog rock is your destination, Bergen is the place to be, not sure what's in the water over there...

The title track carries a captivating main riff that reminds me of Sabbath's most uplifting moments and despite its 8+ mins duration its a track you would easily call "trippy" and would accommodate you on your drives. 'Shaman in the Woods' plays with late 60's psychedelia on a lethargic, druidic (sic) tempo; Woodstock, elephants, purple haze and you get the picture. Sounds like a lot of Rise Above Records artists who have developed a keeness of folk and paganism. 'IAB' is back on elevated grooves with semi-distorted riffs crossing Hendrix and indie rock infused with enough keyboards to differentiate it from the typical heavy rock sound. 'Tusco' bears the highest resemblance to co-Bergeners Seven Impale; the keys and slight distortion give it away while the track floats on a delightful and melodic smooth jazzy pattern of Mahavishnu Orchestra meets The Tangent. A creeping, doomy riff appears in the first 2 minutes of 'The Jazz' before giving way to a psych mid-tempo which would make Atomic Rooster proud of their legacy. Perhaps the only complaint is the rather unecessary couple of last minutes. The closer 'Stoned Conceptions' is a heavy blues epic in the vein of Led Zeppelin (...Since I've Been Loving You...) that attempts to, but only really does, kick off with a slight quickening and guitar solo in the last 3 minutes, resembling to the opener and thus finely completes the circle.

I can't really see why a prog fan would not enjoy this groovy roadtrip; particulary recommended to fans of Seven Impale albeit with a more straightforward, heavy psych and proto-prog vibe. A band to watch.

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 Celestial Fire Live in the UK by BAINBRIDGE, DAVE album cover Live, 2017
5.00 | 1 ratings

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Celestial Fire Live in the UK
Dave Bainbridge Crossover Prog

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

— First review of this album —
5 stars This review will be a long one but rest assured, it will be a good one.

Being a long-time fan of Celtic prog stalwarts Iona and deeply impressed by guitarist Dave Bainbridge's releases as well, I was looking forward to this new start for the mercurial multi-instrumentalist, as Iona has sadly put their career on hold, after the rather disappointing "Another Realm" album. Both 2004's stunning "Veil of Gossamer" and 2014's delirious "Celestial Fire" got perfect marks for me, exhilarating works that conjure profound images of time and space, with numerous examples of technical prowess and emotional expression. Throughout the latter, Dave's exemplary guitar work shines like no other, adding luxuriant keyboards to the mix but more importantly a colossal amount of energy and passion, features that went often missing on most of that "Another Realm" album. It was only fitting then that Iona members went their separate ways, presumably for the time being, recharging their batteries and concentrating on solo projects.

Dave has put together a new touring band named Celestial Fire and presented live them in the UK, going through some of his solo material, a few classic Yes covers as well as some rarely played Iona classics. Replacing Iona vocalist Joanna Hogg was not going to be easy but Sally Minnear (yes, you read right, Gentle Giant keyboard maestro is her dad) does a lovely job indeed, albeit in a different tone than the legendary Northern Irish vocalist. Fellow Iona colleague Frank van Essen supplies his usual dual punch of drums and violin (how often do you see that?) and two newcomers are added on bass and Chapman Stick in Simon Fitzpatrick (Carl Palmer's Legacy) as well as secondary guitarist Dave Brons. There are 2 CDs worth of music as well as a concert DVD and bonus material, which is the coolest idea ever for a reviewer as one can see who plays what and how well and intense they express themselves. A radiant package to say the least, recorded at Fibbers, York on October 1st 2015. Celestial Fire begins the concert on explosive and optimistic notes, waiting little time in sizzling the crowd with heavenly music and emotional release. The title track weaves into Roger Dean-inspired images of divine glows of infinite space, dense instrumental technique from all players and a bombastic approach that speaks volumes of their craft. Again, we have Yes music played by non-Yes musicians and doing it sublimely. Simon Fitzpatrick's bruising bass drone hits the speakers with a vengeance, always a great platform to permit melodies to thrive and expand. Van Essen is a polyrhythmic octopus, driving, pushing and propelling the arrangement with undeniable gusto, so it comes as no surprise that the blistering Bainbridge guitar feels free to roam, soar and scour unabated. Guitarist Brons shuffles some delectable slide guitar that is straight out of the Steve Howe book, showing some slippery licks and smiling widely in the process. The lovely Sally Minnear uses her angelic voice with feminine delicacy, a true treat to behold. Well-oiled machine right from the get-go. Impressive!

In all, Dave proposes 3 pieces from the "Celestial Fire" album, namely the title track described above, "Love Remains" and "In the Moment". 2 are from "Veil of Gossamer", the breathtaking "Until the Tide Turns" featuring a spectacular vocal display as well as "Over the Waters". The Iona material is taken from the classic "the Kells" album, 3 pieces including the title track, "Revelation" and "Chi-Rho". "Beyond these Shores" provides the title track as well as "Today" and the 2 part "Brendan" suite ("Voyage" and "Return"). Lastly for the Iona set, a single track from the stupendous "Open Sky" album in the form of "Song of Ascent #2". The classic and the immediately recognizable arpeggio on "Roundabout" and "Soon" section of "Gates of Delirium" are the Yes covers. Done to perfection.

The folk insinuations of "Today", featuring a tortuous Minnear vocal and surprisingly including a short bass solo, some tectonic skins bashing from Van Essen and a genuine zeal from all involved. Throw in Dave's celebrated bouzouki and the deal is done. The glorious Celtic chant of "Kells Opening Theme" sounds like a classic piece that transcends time, musical swirling mists permeating the dew-drenched valleys that evoke the deepest sentiments. Its companion piece "Revelation" offers a towering vocal performance, charging guitars, Chapman Stick and nifty drumming. Dave's staggering guitar style is spotlighted on the reel-like instrumental blowout "The Storm", which is as Irish as it gets, with blistering finger work and seemingly effortless technique, the man is a first rate guitar slinger, a sultry synthesis of Howe, Hackett, Latimer and Holdsworth. He "needs a little rest after that one?", no kidding!

One of the outright glowing jewels from his first solo album Veil of Gossamer is the spectral "Until the Tide Has Turned", a gently romantic ballad expertly delivered by Minnear's impassioned vocals and carved underneath by Fitzpatrick's gorgeous bass loops, while Dave concentrates on the elegant piano. This is so poignant and crushingly beautiful. Gulp! When Dave stands up and shoots off a sizzling, arching guitar solo, I mean I am slayed. Plunging into razor-sharp semi-jazz fusion on "Love Remains", the piano work is dazzling, hints of Chick Corea while Brons streaks the sky with lightning blasts, the buildup is extraordinary in terms of mastery and feeling. Sally grasps the microphone and does quite a melodic interpretation, heartfelt and profound, before the boys slam headfirst into a bombastic symphonic explosion, led by a mad synthesizer folly and a moody mid-section that floats serenely. Then things get ecstatic: bubbly bass backflips, schizophrenic drum rolls, infused by a blooming vortex of Mach 5 notes from the guitars and synths that wink at classic The Flower Kings. Fast and furious, at breakneck speed and yet under complete control, the extended axe solo is beyond explanation. A flurry of ivory delight puts this love story to bed. Thus ends the first set.

The second set flings "Over the Waters" into high gear, like a speedy low flying drone, screaming over hills and valleys before veering into the tumultuous North Sea, waves crashing and whitecaps cresting majestically. This is quite the guitar fest, a long and extended solo that is highly melodic and yet audacious. Sally wails in whispered serenity, and then both join as one sound that soars above the aquatic expanse, evoking a plethora of images and impressions. The playing by all instrumentalists is sheer nirvana.

Always a perennial Iona concert favorite, "Chi-Rho" keeps the bustling electricity flowing, albeit in a more traditional folk setting, ringing and chiming guitars, mandolins and the voice front and center. Blustery then sedate, the piece travels up and down the spine, sizzling guitars pirouetting in the haze. This is the proverbial breezy moment, a gentle reminder of tradition and accessibility, Sally singing convincingly.

The classic Yes hit "Roundabout" is given a more homey coating, it is after all a live experience, so the overt symphonics are downplayed here in order to focus on the thrill of the moment, a bass solo spotlight of the finest order. Fitzpatrick shows off tremendous dexterity, which is what the piece is famous for, brawny muscle and subtle technique all rolled into one, molesting his 6 string bass monster like a true maestro, expertly navigating the low end parts as well as the famous tingling arpeggios . Audience participation adds to the thrill but this is quite a jazzy interpretation and a fun tribute. 'Open Sky' remains my favorite Iona album and "Song of Ascent Part 2" is the loftiest point to be discovered there, a nearly 10 minute festival of spiritual journey and unlimited freedom. The godly piano guides the way, shimmering and dreamy voice phrasings adding to the ultimate liberation. Van Essen's delicate percussion decorates the throb, as the drums kick in full force and the electric guitar signals the upward elevation towards the stars. Evocative, you think? When Van Essen's glorious violin duets with Dave's piano, thus exulting in the utmost sensations, the spiritual high so many seek but do not always find, finally arrives. This is progressive rock at its sharpest, a moment in time that is awe inspiring, Sally humming gently, what a thrill?. "Beyond These Shores" is a song of crushing beauty, a whopping melody and profound emotional exuberance. Intense atmospheric keyboards meander into the violin's shimmering path, blooming into a sublime vocal foray, tempting the soul with a panacea of sounds that highlight the serenity of discovery, "wherever I may go?".

A two-part suite that has been rarely played in concert, the fairy tale embossed "Brendan's Voyage" and "Brendan's Return" is quite the exploration, combining historical anecdote with mystical surrealism. Once again, the overall impression of escape into the past and revisit hallowed ground, makes this perhaps the most overt prog section of the set list, focused on slick electric guitar curls up and down the spine, Minnear's soaring scat singing and that darn piano and accompanying synths. Bainbridge shows off his considerable talents on the lead guitar, peeling off glittering notes with effortless zeal, switching speeds and carrying on with unfettered passion.

The powerful epic leviathan "In the Moment" is just as glorious as on the Celestial Fire album, as it encompasses within one track, all the attributes that makes Bainbridge's music so utterly appealing and eternal, constantly reigniting the original thrill, as if it never even faded away in the first place, like some universal flame burning deep inside. Evocative, genuinely spiritual, empowering, positive and comforting, this is the power of music, able to instill various sensations on numerous levels while still proposing a honed dedication to artistic feeling. Sally sings "wisdom can be found?". Indeed!

Arguably one of the most beautiful pieces of music ever created in any genre, "Soon" has always been a spectacular marvel, a melody of cosmic preciousness and a simple musical arrangement based around extraordinary guitar manipulations (effect pedal, slide and synthesized sheen) and thus a fitting encore finale. A stellar performance by a genius artist. Having served as a replacement keyboardist for John Hawken on the recent "Hero & Heroine" revisited tour, I can only shudder at the realization that Bainbridge is tugging at my heartstrings, in that mythical Strawbs album will accompany me to my Iona graveyard and resting place. So it has been written.

A masterful package that deserves a huge audience. Right on top of my 2017 list as we speak as this is my kind of gorgeous melodic prog and an invitation to further dream.

5 heavenly sparks

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 Sound Dependence by POTAPOV, VYACHESLAV album cover Studio Album, 2003
3.51 | 9 ratings

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Sound Dependence
Vyacheslav Potapov Eclectic Prog

Review by zravkapt
Special Collaborator Post/Math Rock Team

4 stars This is the debut album of Vyacheslav Potapov from Kazakhstan. The music was written in the 1990s but the album was recoded in 2003. The music here sounds both different from his later albums and almost anyone else. Very original sounding. The main instruments here are drum machine and guitar; the style is avant and spacey with lots of improvisation. In contrast, his later album are more symphonic and/or jazzier with more diverse instrumentation. "Jungle" opens with backwards effects. After a few minutes grows into a groove. Varied vocal sounds follow. Once the singing begins it sounds very weird due to the playback speed and effects put on it. Tempo speeds up towards the end.

"Ant Hill" starts out almost funky sounding. Eventually it settles down into a bass solo on acoustic guitar. Ends with some bluesy guitar playing. "Hydro" is one of the highlights. Starts funky with an almost hip-hop styled beat. Music gets more busy with different acoustic guitars filtered through different effects. About halfway the beat gets faster and louder with blasts of keyboard-like sounds. Shortly after the tempo slows down. "After The Shadow" is upbeat and jazzy with weird sounding effects over toame from the amount of post- production applied to the album. A very good one-man-band project release which sounds uniqp. Gets more subdued sounding and atmospheric. Eventually gets more avant and menacing. Good short guitar solo over halfway.

All the albums of Vyacheslav Potapov are available on Bandcamp. Sonic Dependence got its name from all the post-production applied to the recording. I will give this album 4 stars.

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 (The System Of) Doctor Tarr And Professor Fether by PARSONS PROJECT, THE ALAN album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1976
4.00 | 1 ratings

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(The System Of) Doctor Tarr And Professor Fether
The Alan Parsons Project Crossover Prog

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

— First review of this album —
4 stars "Poe was preoccupied with entombment. Many of his characters have been incarcerated in some form or other - in coffins, brick walls or under floorboards. We came up with the 'taped' man - a mummy-like figure who is wrapped, not in bandages, but in 2" recording tape. (...) the 2" tape appropriately suggests that the album is done by a producer in a studio, as opposed to a band recording material they will play on stage. Although the clients were intrigued by this idea they did not desire a pictorial cover but preferred instead a precise graphic representation. The narrow strip of illustration shows a long shadow of the taped man." - Storm Thorgeson of Hipgnosis.

The taped man appears properly on the cover of this single, one of the three that were taken from the wonderful debut album Tales of Mystery and Imagination, in which all music is inspired by the horror tales and poems of Edgar Allan Poe. I'd say it's not only by far the best achievement of The Alan Parsons Project, but one of the finest rock albums of its time. '(The System of) Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether' is the most rocking song in it, sung by John Miles (my favourite A.P. Project vocalist, who also appears on 'Cask of Amontillado'). The story is set in a mental institution where the roles of the patients and the staff have been turned upside down. Due to the heaviness and a relatively repetitive structure the song is not among my personal faves, but it definitely works like hell on the album and increases the pure rock energy.

For the B-side was chosen the instrumental 'A Dream Within a Dream' that serves as a perfect opener for the album. Four stars must be given. As a separate release this single -- which reached No. 37 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and No. 62 in Canada -- is not strictly necessary, because one really has to get the whole album.

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 Detachment by BAROCK PROJECT album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.46 | 95 ratings

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Detachment
Barock Project Neo-Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

5 stars Many years ago, long before the days of progressive rock being back in fashion and being discussed in the mainstream, I had been at a gig in London. Afterwards the normal band of hardcore progheads had gathered together, and there was only one topic that everyone wanted to talk about, "Had anyone else heard this amazing debut album that had been released in the States?". The album was 'The Light', and the band was of course Spock's Beard, and it amazed me firstly that everyone knew about it when it was yet to be made available properly in the UK but also that we all felt the same way. Fast forward to 2017 and I was in conversation with Artur at MLWZ in Poland asking him he thought of the new Cast album, and while he loved it he wanted to know what I thought of the new Barock Project release as it was amazing. The following week I asked Windhawk up in Norway the same question, and received the same response, which got me thinking that if two of my greatest progressive friends both thought the same thing I really ought to get onto it.

A short time later and I had this, their fifth release, playing and I immediately knew exactly what all the fuss is about: this is incredible. It is music like this that first got me into progressive rock ? it is complex, it is magical, it keeps jumping into unexpected musical places, all with a sense of joy and happiness. I'm not going to bother trying to pick out all the musical clues and keys to their influences as they are many and diverse, but they have put them together in a way that is new and different, yet also incredibly melodic and the whole album is immediately accessible the very first time it is played.

The four-piece band of Luca Zabbini (lead vocals, keyboards, guitars (electric, acoustic & 12-string), mixing & mastering), Marco Mazzuoccolo (electric guitar), Francesco Caliendo (bass) and Eric Ombelli (drums, percussion) have been joined by three additional singers in Alex Mari, Ludovica Zanasi and Peter Jones and the vocals are wonderful, but it is the diversity of the music and how it is performed that keeps the listener glued to the speakers. I can't pick a favourite song, as whatever is playing is always the one I want to listen to most, whether it is with vocals and just a simple piano, or harpsichord, or something that is way more bombastic and over the top. These guys are masters of all the styles, and I am having a hard time understanding that they have been around for years yet it is the first time I have ever come across them.

That is something I am going to have to get on top of it, as if the rest of their output is even half as good as this then they are all essential. There have already been some incredible albums released this year, and this one may just be the best of the lot. This is indispensable. When it comes to progressive rock, it just doesn't get any better than this.

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 Eolian Reflections by ALPHA WAVE MOVEMENT album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.98 | 7 ratings

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Eolian Reflections
Alpha Wave Movement Progressive Electronic

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

4 stars Alpha Wave Movement's Gregory Kyryluk is already establishing himself as one of the modern prog-electronic masters with a large back catalogue of superb and atmospheric titles of great variety. Some perfectly fuse vintage Berlin School mystery with modern deep-space ambience like the classic `Architexture of Silence' from 2013, `Yasumu' and `Harmonic Currents' are deeply meditative and others are more obviously melodic such as `Horizons' or the recent `Kinetic'. Then there's 2014's `Eolian Reflections' that blends many of those styles into one exquisite work, containing six unhurried electronic pieces that rarely drifts into more static drone territory, instead offering endless subtle graceful movement, sometimes with just the lightest of grounded earthy tribal elements and never actually resembling `cosmic' music for even a second.

A gentle twinkling melody flits around opener `Canyon Reverie's dreamy and placid sighing ambient washes, the most subtle of didgeridoo groans quietly beside Kitaro-like electronic breezes and permeating exotic ethnic flavours throughout the quietly dramatic `Cliff Dwellers Dominion', and the low-key `Dune Reflections' comes the closest to a Steve Roach-like piece with its pristine and sustaining fuzzy hum that continually approaches and falls away. The shorter `Full Moon At Window Arch's languid shimmerings are teeming with life and wonder, `Natural Geometry's eerie ripples drowsy float over a subtle variety of percussive elements and acoustic guitar-like chimes, and luxurious pools of heavenly electronic caresses glisten throughout closer `The Crossroads Of Time & Silence'.

`Eolian Reflections' is a beautiful progressive-electronic work that just might be one of Gregory's most quietly defining Alpha Wave Movement releases to date. It retains a very warm humanity, something that's not easy to achieve when solely utilising electronics, and is ideal for newcomers who want a good representation of intelligent ambient/prog-electronic music that remains colourful, inviting and artful from a smart and varied modern composer.

Four stars.

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 Connections by RED BAZAR album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.92 | 4 ratings

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Connections
Red Bazar Crossover Prog

Review by maryes

4 stars Very good debut of this British band, although this musical main line style is a jazz-rock fusion you can hear another rock styles as for instance: heavy-prog in track 1 "The Meet" (something that reminds RUSH or TILES) ,a mellow soft jazz-ballad track 3 "Ride On A Wing" with some LARY CARLTON "flavor", a hard-rock "touch" in track 4 "Bass Tardo" with a Arabic acoustic guitar initial solo, the "sinuous" LIVING COLOR's heavy-metal funk main theme in track 6 "Walk the Millestone", the track 2 "Regards to..." and the last track "Connections" are the more eclectic songs in the album... mixing hard/heavy/jazz/ballad ! My rate is 4 stars !!!

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 Degmesin... Yagli Boya by MANCO, BARIS album cover Studio Album, 1986
3.00 | 1 ratings

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Degmesin... Yagli Boya
Baris Manco Crossover Prog

Review by Bilek

— First review of this album —
3 stars I divide Barış Manço's music into several phases; as with all artists/band I enjoy listening to. Roughly, there's the beginning phase (with twist and then standard Rock'n'Roll songs, netween 1962 and 1968); the Psychedelic/Anatolian Rock phase (1968 to 1971); pure Anatolian Rock / Progressive phase (1972 to 1979); Eclectic Progressive phase (including still heavy Anatolian influences plus some poppy aspects, 1979 to 1985); and outright pop phase, from 1986 to his death in 1999. But without going into such detail, I consider anything he produced up to 1985 "good", and after 1985 "bad", with gradual deterioration, of course. That is, after 1985 his albums go in this order: "so-so" "not so good" "OMG, did he really do that?" and "avoid at all costs..." Anyway, you can read about them in their separate pages, if I ever review them (or someone else does, for that matter...) While I draw the line between 1985 and 1986 (something really happened those days, because I share the same sentiments for most other Turkish artists/bands, not necessarily prog, not even rock) I can say that the line is somewhat blurred, and there are some aspects I don't like about the 1985 album (mainly, the synth sound), and while I do not consider this album I'm reviewing a Barış Manço classic, it does have more than a few redeeming qualities, and I'm writing all these to tell about them. Roughly, we can consider Barış Manço's 1970-1985 period "progressive"; and post-1985 as not so progressive... In fact, anything he produced after this album are not remotely prog, in any sense of the word. So, to use an analogy from Genesis, if 1985's "24 Ayar Manço" is Barış Manço's "Duke" (I chose that one, because I actually like that album, even more than And There Were 3!), "Değmesin Yağlı Boya" is his Abacab... And after that everything goes downhill, with only a few concert recordings to save the day! (Sadly, Manço did not even produce his "Three Sides Live" or "The Way We Walk - The Longs"... all we have afterwards is "Invisible Touch" over and over again!)

First of all, this album is notable for being the last one (for a long time, at least) to have all the members of Kurtalan Ekspres playing. The reason for this, according to many Barış Manço biographies and reviews on the web, is that he wanted to explore TV producing further (indeed, after hosting short segments in several shows from time to time, he started his own show to air on Sunday mornings in 1988), so in this attempt he pushed band music behind. The band still continued to exist, but they only played in concerts, and after some time they started to show up in his TV shows as well. Starting with this album, Manço began working with Garo Mafyan, one of the renown arrangers and keyboard players of Turkish pop scene at the time, notable for his "assembly line" approach towards music. That is, he was involved with arrangements & production of about ten albums a year in late '80's and nineties, and those are what I was aware of! Using digital keyboards, sequencers and computer programmed drumming to create an entire album (other than singing) is not a good idea, at least as far as Turkish music is concerned. I mean, this Garo guy is no Edgar Froese or Klaus Schulze! But I digress... Luckily, In the first album he worked with Manço and Ekspres, his involvement is quite limited. he is credited with arrangement of only two tracks in the album, and though he played the keyboards, most of the music was still produced in a band approach, i.e. there was live bass, guitar was a melody instrument, not just used for 25 second solos in select tracks, and woodwinds still have a prominent role in this album. That's redeeming quality number one. Unfortunately, the double drumming rhythm section that was employed in Kurtalan Ekspres since its formation (which, most of the time, included two drummers and an assorted percussionist, making it actually triple fold) broke in this album, when the long-standing drummer Caner Bora left, and former percussionist Celal Güven took over drumming duties, which he performed with an electronic drumkit... Now, I'm not against the use of such equipment, but especially in the eighties that technology was still in development, and they didn't sound very lively. Or, people down here just didn't know how to make good use of them :) In the previous "24 Ayar Manço" album Bora played acoustic drumkit, while Güven played both assorted percussion (such as congas) and electronic drums, so the sound was quite tolerable, with all the ryhtmic sequences coming from "live drums" (as we call them), and electronic sounds only adding flavor. Now, here we have only Güven, playing the entire thing in digitalized form... Not your ideal Anatolian Rock, I would say.. Still, a tad better than the totally computerized rhythm section, that would infect (almost) all Manço albums from this point on!

The album starts with "S.O.S. Aman Hocam" which sounds like a modernized Rock'n'Roll number in the beginning, featuring a cheesy '80's sound with a digital keyboard melody and the electronic drumming I just mentiond, luckily augmented by rhythm guitar. Manço lists all the letters of Turkish alphabet, and with "z" the melody changes and the guitar starts playing a riff; while repeating the title in a rhythmic fashion, on the background Manço lists some seemingly unrelated high-school course subjects (as diverse as chemistry, geography, biology and logic...). This pattern repeats twice, and in the second part the alphabet section is kept shorter, and as soon as "S.O.S. Aman Hocam"s come in, the guitar starts playing a killer solo, unfortunately buried a little in the mix. It is one of Bahadır Akkuzu's finest moments, and the song certainly doesn't overstay its welcome in its 6 minute run. In fact, it leaves me asking for some more. (S.O.S. is obvious, while "Aman Hocam" means "O Teacher")

The second song is a regular pop song, with some adventurous keyboard arrangement. Manço tells the story of how his grandparents met ("Babaanne" meaning paternal grandmother). It was a hit when the album came out, and a video was produced for it (in fact, I remember seeing videos of at least 5 of the 9 songs. Manço was indeed into TV those days).

"Nerede" is a slow blues number, based on one of the themes used in the film "14 Numara" in 1985 (Manço composed the entire score for the movie, he also used some of the other themes for other songs later, such as 1989's "Darısı Başınıza," see my review of that album) I know this, because I watched the movie just to catch the Barış Manço themes :) I personally like the tunes, especially the way they were presented in the movie (I saw it in youtube just for this reason!) but the song is a bit cheesy.

"Düriye" is a pop-rock number, not unlike Süper Babaanne. The opening (and ongoing) bass and synth riff and the following funky guitar is interesting, but that's pretty much it. The lyrics are derived from traditional Turkish sayings, as was Manço's custom around the time. In fact, at least one such song is included in each album from 1979's "Yeni Bir Gün" to 1992's "Mega Manço"... With acoustic drums this song may have sounded better IMHO.

The opener of side B in vinyl and cassette editions is another redeeming quality, at least for me. The song has a simple but familiar Barış Manço melody, and the lyrics are again derived from Turkish proverbs. The title (second part of the famous saying by Suleiman the Magnificent, coupled with the actual first part) forms the refrain. The saying basically means "health is better than wealth". Literally: "There is nothing else as worthy as government (state) in the public; there is no such govenment as worthy as health in the whole world" ("devlet" in the saying might as well be a double entendre, meaning both state, govenment, and "luck" in other contexts). As I said, the melody, as well as the entire song is simple, not having intricate solos or changing time signatures, but I like it, probably because it reminds me of similar earlier Manço songs, such as "Kazma" from 1983's "Estağfurullah... Ne Haddimize!"

The next song "Unutamadım" (I couldn't forget you) is a pretty standard blues number. As much as I hate blues (except when Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, or certain krautrock bands perform it!) the electronic drums make it worse! Even when the album first came out, and when I bought the cassete in 1990, it was my least favorite in the album, and time didn't treat it well according to my taste... Still, it doesn't keep me from singing it with screaming voice in Barış Manço memorial concerts held every year on February 2 :) (that's because it's a fan favorite)

Here comes the shining jewel of the album: "İşte Hendek İşte Deve (15 Yıl Sonra)"... It may have been the single redeeming quality of the album, which would prompt me to give 3 stars. It is the reason why I wrote the lengthy explanation in the releases information section. I repeat here: "İşte Hendek İşte Deve" is the 4th recorded studio version of the 1971 single. Parenthetical sub title means "15 years later." Saxophone solos near the end are variations of the solo played in the track "Kervan," first recorded in 1974 and released in the 1980 cassette-only album "Disco Manço" -- 15 years later obviously refers to the first recording/release date and the date of this recording, although in the meantime there was another rendition, in 1980's "Disco Manço." The version here is extended by another stanza, continuing the story told in the original song ("I have the same song in my lips, years later, today"). This my favorite version of the song, maybe along with the radio edit recorded around the same time with the original single version, but not publicly released until 1989. This makes the version here the fourth recorded, but third released version. Regardless, this is my favorite of all those versions :) The funky bass+keyboard+guitar riff opens the song, followed by a short woodwind section playing the main theme. Vocals come in, as with the Moğollar versions, and continues until the first interlude. The interludes are played by woodwinds instead of the guitar in the single version and distorted organ in the (then-unreleased) radio version. Then comes the second (newly-written) stanza, again followed by the same interludes, but this time variations with saxophones are played (based on the solos from "Kervan" as I mentioned above). As short as it lasts (about 25 seconds) it is my favorite part of the song, and in turn, favorite part of the album; also favorite part in all versions of the song! Following the solo, the closing stanza (actually, semi-stanza) of the original song is sung, and the song fades out, without singing the refrain once more (unlike the 1971 originals, which closes with the refrain; but then again, those versions had one and a half stanzas, and by this point in this version the refrains are already sung twice); which possibly makes this version better. The next (and final) recorded/released version (in 1999's Mançoloji) is based on this 15th year version, having the extra stanza, but not the new solos and the original half-stanza ending. and the interludes, played with guitar and organ in the 1971 originals and saxes here, are played with saz (bağlama) in that version. On a related note, the interlude melody is based on a traditional folk tune from Elazığ region of Turkey. Moğollar made use of that melody in a very eclectic instrumental single track they released in 1970 (commonly considered as the very first Anatolian Rock record), and when they started working with Manço the next year, it's no surprise they came up with an enhanced version of the melody. Too bad their collaboration didn't last, at least for another year or so.

Coming back to the album: the next song, "Osman" is one of the two songs arranged by Garo Mafyan (the other being "Düriye") but no big difference is felt with the other songs, presumably since he already exerted his influence on the driving instrument of the album, the keyboards. My friend Münir Tireli (munimonde) who writes experimental/progressive music reviews (both for Turkish and international scenes) describes the song as "epic", but I don't think this has anything to do with its length (with a very average 5 minutes, it is only the fifth longest track in the album; although 5 minutes is quite long considering Manço songs in general, and the entire Turkish pop/rock scene for that matter). The song tells the story of a forbidden love, touching very slightly upon the social injustice in Turkey. Music wise, it's a slow, blues-based, keyboard driven melody, with very few interesting moments. As such, I'm not a big fan. And I'm not fond of the tragic ending of the story, either... Probably the only thing appealing with the song that it is composed by the long-standing Ekspres member Celal Güven, who also happened to contribute to the composition of an all-time Barış Manço classic: Dönence (beware: don't expect any similarities, as the majority of Dönence is actually Nejat Tekdal's work...)

The album wraps with another band member Bahadır Akkuzu's composition, "Al Beni." It's a romantic song with a string-synth background and acoustic guitar riff. For years it had been my most loathed song from the album, so much so that even when I was cassette-bound I took time to fast forward the tape to the end, and either flip it to hear it from the beginning or move on to the next cassette... If I the CD had come out those days (and was accessible like the budget price CDs I bought in mid-nineties) I would've definitely skipped the track (i.e. stopped CD, since it's the last track). But for some reason, the song began to grow on me in recent years, so much so that I find myself humming it! Still, I don't think it's of interest to progheads. Add to this the fact that I find even the worst song by Barış Manço "listenable" and never change station when I chance upon any Manço song on radio.

I really want to rate this album 3 stars, because as much as it marks the turning point in Manço's musical career, where everything afterwards went totally downhill, it is also remarkably better than the first album I reviewed (1989's Darısı Başınıza, which I rated 2 stars) so it does deserve at least half a star more. In a Barış Manço site I probably would have rated this three and a half, a tad better than non-essential for Manço fans (still, not indispensible, but not to be totally overlooked either). Here, when the progressiveness is concerned, the album as a whole is definitely non-prog, with some progressive/experimental touches here and there, prog-related at best. If the ratings were over ten, I probably would've rate it 5. Manço fans should include it in their collection, of course, especially after collecting all the good stuff (all albums from 1975 to 1985, with a couple of essential compilations from the same period and earlier). This album provides a not-so-worthy, but not-hideous-either coda to that period. To make another analogy with a well known prog (related) band, if you like all '80's Alan Parsons albums (but all of them; not just Eye in the Sky; well, with the possible exception of Vulture Culture...) there's a chance you might find this one enjoyable... But first, go through everything before this, at least 5 or so albums...

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 In Concert by STEELY DAN album cover DVD/Video, 2008
2.00 | 1 ratings

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In Concert
Steely Dan Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

— First review of this album —
2 stars The American band Steely Dan released seven albums between 1972 and 1980, but quite soon they quitted touring, concentrating on the polished and sophisticated studio albums. Donald Fagen and Walter Becker reactivated the group in 1994 and released "Alive in America" next year. It was only in 2000 that a new studio album "Two Against Nature" saw the light of day. And on that same year they performed in New York, resulting in this 75-minute live album/DVD. My own relationship to SD is not a very strong one. I prefer a bunch of [relatively melodic] songs from their mid-to-late 70's albums and from "Gaucho", 1980. The comeback album I have never bothered to listen to.

The package has left musicians unnamed. Also the essence of the DVD itself is quite ripped-down: the concert just starts without any introductions, cameras concentrate on close-ups of the musicians, mostly on Donald Fagen since he's the vocalist. It goes on like this for a long time, no overviews of the band, the audience totally absent. It feels more like watching unoriginal, early music videos featuring just band playing. The picture quality is deliberately slightly unsharp.

Also, especially a couple of first songs, or actually each one (as many as 5) on the concert unfamiliar to me before, sound frankly quite boring. All based on a steady funk-ish beat. I'm not surprised to learn afterwards that they are from the then-new album. Amidst them are 70's songs, such as 'Bad Sneakers', 'Josie' and 'FM'. The performances are faultless and very faithful to the studio originals. Guitarist Walter Becker looks dead serious and joyless, and the large group, buried in anonymity as it seems at first, doesn't actually set the stage on fire either. Am I impressed? Surely not. I'd probably have better time with my self-compiled Steely Dan CD, reading a book simultaneously.

I felt a mild turn for the better in my reception, when Becker heartily introduces the group in the halfway. The song set (pretty average as a whole) at least features 'Babylon Sisters' and 'Kid Charlemagne', both on my SD fave list. And the three female backing vocalists are good looking. But this is one of those modest live DVD's that it's OK to see once but nothing more. I'm glad I only borrowed it from library.

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 Water World by POTAPOV, VYACHESLAV album cover Studio Album, 2012
4.17 | 11 ratings

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Water World
Vyacheslav Potapov Eclectic Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

4 stars VYACHESLAV POTAPOV or simply shortened to VP is a one man show from Almaty, Kazakhstan who released a series of albums in the 2000s in his own DIY fashion. WATER WORLD is his sixth release and what a major improvement in terms of both production and compositional finesse. When i say one man show i really mean that. Not only does VP construct all the tracks in his own eccentric style but plays all the instruments. One will hear guitar, bass, piano, drums and other percussion and many forms of sampling. Not only is VP gifted as a musician but is also responsible for his own cover art and this one depicting three green children on lily pads and intricate detail of waterfalls is not only a beautiful vision of the fantasy in the true progressive rock spirit. With WATER WORLD, everything came together and VP not only caught the attention of the prog world for his exquisite compositional and production skills but has been solicited by other artists for album artwork as well. While WATER WORLD is the sixth release of VP, it is the first to be issued on a physical format. The digital album was released in 2012 but the physical copy albeit lagging behind its initial release is finally seeing the light of day in the tender year of 2017.

Despite being a totally instrumental album, WATER WORLD is actually a concept album about two different civilizations on a planet in some far away place. They are known as the Krokuts and the Hunty. While it is impossible to comprehend the story through a mere listening of this sophisticated and dizzying complex music, VP has given me the green light to give his little story behind each track that hopefully will translate the music ideas into the heads of those who aren't music nerds! WATER WORLD is quite the eclectic mix of sounds and honestly is totally unique as i can't think of anything else i've ever heard that is an equivalent. Musically this one is all over the map with jazzy fusionist tendencies that also incorporate symphonic touches, ethnic influences, tribal drumming and absolutely bizarre transitions as one style tends to overlap with others and sometimes change things up quickly. This is music for musicians as the time signatures are so bouncy and ever changing that its practically impossible to predict where any given musical meandering will lead. Overall there is a strong jazz-fusion component in how the tracks are constructed with everything from Weather Report airy passages playing out to more erratic Return To Forever type of craziness but instrumentally speaking this is more of a rock / electronic hybrid with guitar and bass shining through in times of heaviness but ambient and ethereal atmospheres also permeating throughout.

I could have NEVER figured out the storyline by the music alone. It's far too nebulous and only with the tutelage of VP could i ever hope to assemble a sense of meaning to each track. To make this easy i have listed each track with the thematic explanation of VP in his own words. His English is very poor and i left his Google translations intact as not to corrupt the meanings. I explain a bit of the music afterwards.

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FIRST track "Intro (Unusual Island)"

ship was off course and got lost in a thick fog. In the morning when the fog, the sailors saw a miracle-island. In the center of this island stood a giant size lot of trees woven together and resembled a huge castle.

Musically: starts out as ocean sounds. Waves churning, seagulls with a simple piano line providing the musical setup and ends with a crazy guitar entering at the last second and fading out

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SECOND track "Vegetational Town - a: Great & Magnificient"

landed and began to explore unknown lands. All the flora and fauna differed from what they knew before.

Musically: begins the complex time signatures and changes in tempo with a frog croaking in the background. A funky bass line picks up a rhythm and then all prog hell breaks loose with mellotrons providing atmosphere, a jazzy rock with avant-prog touches. The music meanders into very complex arenas. I hear some Steve Howe inspired guitar licks, Zappa-esque jazz-fusion and even Chic Corea style keyboard runs and ultimately ends with crickets chirping in the background.

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THIRD track "Vegetational Town - b: Stem"

the study, the sailors met a miracle of nature - the tree, the stems of which gave off a glowing liquid that flowed on the ground and freezing was a very beautiful crystals. People have greed began to fill the backpacks and pockets of this strange breed. They do not know that for the local inhabitants it was the sacred tree, and exuding a fluid sacred tears of the gods.

Vegetational Town - including: Invasion of the Field Mice Night, when the sailors took a break. During a night's sleep, they are attacked by hordes of rodents. So people know that the island is not only beautiful but also dangerous.

Musically: begins with an ambient swirling effect of synthesizers in the background and then a jazzy interaction between the guitar and bass. Sounds somewhat like a psychedelic Return To Forever type of sound. The track continues mostly in jazz-fusion mode but picks up tempo with more rockin' percussion and bass.

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FOURTH track "Night Revelation Of Antackena"

about the uninvited aliens, the tribe Khunts turned for advice to his sorcerer Antakhena. Night Adelroth did the ceremony and learned that the aliens had defiled gods currently taking tears of the gods. He got really pissed. It gave people the rodents to scatter them around the island.

Musically: Tribal drums in frenetic speeds are joined by a much slower bass line but picks up fairly quickly and jumps into a frenetic jazz-fusion riff of the guitar with heavy bass and percussion staying chilled out in comparison. It picks up steam at midpoint

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FIFTH track "Geyser"

the same time. Race Krokus also held a ceremony. In their bogs were sacred geyser through which they learned about the aliens.

Musically: starts out slow with clean Floydian guitar lick and cymbals that quickly jump into a more jazz-fusion oriented mood setting. It becomes quite the frenetic jazz-fusion track with all the instruments creating a tempestuous rhythmic dance. The track goes through several shifts of rhythm changes as well as the usual eclectic mix of heavy bass lines with syncopated jazz-from-hell type keyboards

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SIXTH track "Games of Herbs"

beginning of a new day or early morning. I describe as rostitel'nost'û wakes up with first rays of the sun. As dew plays on every blade of grass and every leaf.

Musically: starts off with birds singing as a guitar line gently emerges into the limelight and has a rather Baroque J.S. Bach type of feel to it. Lots of different keyboard sounds dance together. Perhaps a lost Brandenburg Concerto? Well for a while at least. Remains classically rhythmic but becomes jazzy. Really amazing musical mixture here.

------

SEVENTH track "Wandering"

a new day and two tribes are feuding with each other Khunts (humanoid) and Crokus (crocodilopolis) gathered for talks. They decided for a short time to stop the war in order to join forces against the aliens. They decided with General witchcraft to inflict on people the magic that has the property of oblivion.

Musically: a steady beat guided by frenetic guitar and groovy bass line. The keys provide atmosphere and tension builds as the recurring groove ratchets up. A brief pause and the keys become the frenetic rhythmic caffeine addicts for a while. While the general rhythmic drive stays the same, it's quite brilliant how the instruments pass the baton taking the lead and carrying it. In the middle of the track everything stops and a drumming display gradually gives way to a new jazzy guitar segment with heavy rockin' drums.

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EIGHTH track "Water World"

: The Taming of  the Geysers ii: ... and on the Water Surface To finish the job they collectively appeal to the mistress of the watery World. Mistress of the watery World through a ritual of "dance on water", which the sailors fall into oblivion. At first this dance is energetic and contains convulsively. The dance Mistress of the watery World produces the Taming of the Geysers. Then the dance turns into a plastic and beautiful ritual (... and on the Water Surface).

Water World. - iii: Detection woke up on the deck of his ship. They can't remember what happened with them before. Around thick fog. At this time two children of the tribe take care of Khunts found by a sailor, whom they found in the woods at night. That is why the sailor left on the island, about him no one knew.

Musically: morning sounds as birds and wolves do their thing and then a quickened groovy bass line meets a piano that seems like it's in its own world. Many counterpoints going on very early. Jazz-fusion feast of the senses with this one. There are many breaks in mood but tempo remains rather steady throughout. Style stays in jazz-fusion as well with a steady rock drum beat allowing the keys and guitars to perform jittery acrobatics all around it. Like most of this album, words don't do it justice. Too removed outside of the listener's experience to convey any sense of musical progressions.

-------

The good: WATER WORLD musically is a brilliant blend of electronic rock and jazz-fusion dished up with heavy doses of avant-prog sensibilities and sounds like no other album i've ever heard. The compositions are quite good and sophisticated and really do deliver an exciting flow of ideas within the context of the genre fusions mentioned.

The bad: unfortunately despite leaps and bounds above previous albums, this still sounds like a homemade product and in need of a more sophisticated production level. Often DIY albums sound as such because they are lacking the proper percussive drive and i feel that is also the case with WATER WORLD. The drum antics are adequate but it sounds programmed. Also i found it impossible to glean any sort of concept album as it's all instrumental and relied on the artist's input to understand it.

When all is said and done, WATER WORLD is an excellent piece of instrumental music that lover's of electronic rock, classical and jazz should appreciate quite well as the complexities of weaving these styles together is phenomenal however this is a rather heady album that requires extreme attention paid to the details for any sense to be had from it. There are really no periods of breathing room and is indeed a challenging album to appreciate, however if you are looking for something unique from an isolated geographical setting of the world, then by all means check out this fascinating sci-fi tale of different worlds all told in a Pekka Pohjola sort of narration by notes sort of way. It's really worth the effort.

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 A Life Within A Day by SQUACKETT album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.20 | 124 ratings

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A Life Within A Day
Squackett Crossover Prog

Review by Corcoranw687

4 stars I sort of left this one in the dreaded "pile", a box full of what I call "maybes and misses", but after being surprised by Steve Hackett on tour(in terms of how much I enjoyed it, although it is always a surprise to have a great show in Gatineau of all places) I decided to give everything of his that I owned another shot. This album has a lot to offer and now sits proudly and alphabetically sorted on the shelf! The vocals and lyrics aren't the strong point for sure (" A boy who loves his mam / Don't need to be a cynic / Happy at the clinic / Anyhow....") but Steve really gets to show off his incredible skill in a variety of ways, from the multiple solo sections in the title track to jazzier solos like in Can't Stop the Rain, or his trademark classical guitar sections like the tease in Tall Ships and the gorgeous Summer Backwards. Squire contributes as well, we hear him delivering unmistakable bass driving several songs, including Stormchaser (which wouldn't sound out of place on a Queens of the Stone Age album). He also contributes Aliens, which is kind of a cute song. I suggest giving this another shot of you wrote it off initially, we have more than a few flashes of brilliance from a bunch of great musicians. 4.0 stars

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 Ni Vent... Ni Nouvelle by MANEIGE album cover Studio Album, 1977
4.06 | 115 ratings

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Ni Vent... Ni Nouvelle
Maneige Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Progfan97402

3 stars Well, better late than never for Maneige, as far as I'm concerned. The great thing I like about Quebecois prog is many original LPs from many acts are not going for ridiculous prices the way Italian prog goes for. So I can get a nice little collection and not have it break my bank account, even if I do live in the States and usually have to pay extra for S&H to get them shipped from Canada. At least I got my first Maneige LP from a dealer in South Dakota (via Discogs), of all places. Maneige LPs, for the most part are pretty inexpensive (unless you want to seek out the "removed from the market as fast it was released" original cover of Libre Service, the one with the cartoonish gas pumps billowing smoke). Ni Vent... Ni Nouvelle was their first album on Polydor, after two albums from 1975 on Harvest. Apparently the group had a lineup change so it also affected the change in the band's sound. The group now focused on shorter songs, but a lot of them are segued anyways. Aeon Music (defunct prog rock mail order catalog, now an eBay seller) described it as "Good progressive fusion that reminds of Gentle Giant at times". Given the highly percussive nature of the music, I can see where that catalog was coming from (and it's not likely a coincidence given GG's popularity in Quebec). The band moved away from the chamber approach of their first two albums for a more jazz rock/prog approach, with more emphasis on drums and electric instruments, including electric piano. There is a bit of quirkiness where the Gentle Giant comparison comes in, and more melodic moments to gets one thinking of the Catalan band Gotic and their 1978 album Escenes (but it's unlikely Gotic heard of Maneige, given how Quebecois prog bands were usually not known outside of Quebec, even the rest of Canada, never mind in a place like Spain). There's perhaps a bit of a reminder of Sloche as well, that probably wasn't as much of a coincidence, as that band was also from Quebec, and already released both their albums before 1977. There's also a bit of a reminder of Zappa's instrumental stuff (when the xylophones dominate) or even Pierre Moerlen's Gong (because they too had a heavily percussive approach). I do believe the album is a bit overrated, as there's a few insipid moments I could do without. Still, it's worth having, but didn't quite set my world on fire.

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 Darisi Basiniza by MANCO, BARIS album cover Studio Album, 1989
2.00 | 1 ratings

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Darisi Basiniza
Baris Manco Crossover Prog

Review by Bilek

— First review of this album —
2 stars What I forgot to mention while adding the album is, that the last three tracks are all older compositions with newly written Turkish lyrics:

The music of "Güle Güle Oğlum" is one of the themes used in the film "14 Numara" in 1985 (Manço composed the entire score for the movie, he also used some of the other themes for other songs later) I know this, because I watched the movie just to catch the Barış Manço themes :) "Hatırlasana" is basically "Une Fille" from 1966, one of the French language songs Manço recorded (and released) with his then band Les Mistigris. And lastly, "Hayır" comes from his self-titled album from 1976. He wrote new Turkish lyrics over the melody of "Ride on Miranda" (which, interestingly, is also the album closer in the original LP).

Anybody who has collaborator privileges (thus, can edit album infos) please feel free to edit the tracklisting section, adding the info I gave above, in more standard words, and with better English than mine, if possible :)

The album as a whole, is of no interest to progheads, as there's hardly anything remotely progressive here. If you're into electronic music, you may like the extended instrumental intro of track 3, which was actually composed as the theme music of Barış Manço's then new TV show, "7'den 77'ye..." ("From 7 to 77"; as indicated by the title as well). He then apparently wrote lyrics over the theme and made into a separate song. In the official music video of "Delikanlı Gibi" the song started arouond 3:06 mark as in the CD, without the extended intro, as I mentioned in the tracklisting.

"Kara Sevda" is a standard hard rock song. It has an arguably better version in 1996's Live in Japan.

"Hayır" is one of the redeeming features of the album, the actual music hailing from 1976. Even with the heavy digital synth/computer programming backing track, it didn't lose much of its quality. Still, any proghead would prefer the original version, regardless of the lyrics.

The rest are uninteresting pop songs, I would say. "Günaydın Çocuklar" (Good Morning Children) is written for shildren, as the title suggests. There's an even a reggae song (track 2)! Even when it first came out and I gave it a spin in my cassette player every now and then (once a week, at least!), I didn't care much about side 2.

Being a big fan of Barış Manço, and even this album being the first one I bought, I don't care much about his post- 1985 music, which goes worse with each subsequent album. I admit enjoying this (and the two preceding albums) during early nineties when I didn't have much of his '60's and '70's material at hand, but as I gradually acquired those records (or tape recordings made from them) I gradually lost interest in his latter day material (I never really liked his '90's albums in the first place). With that in mind, I'd rate this album 3 stars in a Barış Manço site (or Turkish/Anatolian Rock site, for that matter), because of its historical value. But in a progressive music site, it would be surprising anyone would give it more than one star, and I will do it only because I'm a big fan of Manço's music in general. Hence the two stars...

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 Zentuary by BUDJANA, DEWA album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.06 | 52 ratings

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Zentuary
Dewa Budjana Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Despite all the globalisation, it may take a very long time for an extremely gifted musician to break into the knowledge of Western music consumers, if (s)he comes from a faraway country such as Indonesia. I hadn't ever heard of composer and guitarist Dewa Budjana when I received his latest album. He has made a musical career (between rock and jazz) for over three decades, and that's easy to believe when listening to Zentuary. Besides, one has to be somebody special to recruit well-known top musicians (drummer Jack De Johnette, our beloved bassist Tony Levin, keyboardist/drummer Gary Husband, etc). On top of that, Zentuary is a double album of 101 minutes in total. But there certainly are no compromises when the quality is concerned.

The naturally flowing music functions both as an object of dedicated listening and as a background music for e.g. reading. On the twelve tracks there's plenty of dynamics, nuances and, most of all, seamless team work in which the doubtless virtuosity never gets the bad taste of self-indulgence. As a guitarist Budjana has been compared to Bill Frisell and John McLaughlin, but in the end that's not an essential information, because the music gives pretty equally room for the other musicians. Numerous guest appearances add for example saxophones and instrumental or vocal contributions that increase the Far East exotism.

Both of the preceding reviews here have given full five stars. I'm extremely close to follow them ( -- what? there are even one star ratings, what the f*** were they thinking?), but here's my tiny word of criticism. Even though there are differences between the tracks, concerning both compostions and arrangements, in my personal listening experience I started to miss some more variety. A few side-steps into more ripped-down, individually oriented playing would have made the massive whole perfect.

I bet it takes several listening times to pick one's favourites. Most tracks are fairly long and it's not easy to remember where exactly was that brilliant bass solo or whatever highlight moment. On 'Crack in the Sky' at the end of Disc One, Risa Saraswati sings her Sundanese translation of Tony Levin's lyrics, and the compact, brief title track finishes the whole album in a spirited manner with the presence of Czech Symphony Orchestra. A strong recommendation for Jazz/Fusion listeners.

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 Ashore The Celestial Burden by DARK MILLENNIUM album cover Studio Album, 1992
4.00 | 1 ratings

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Ashore The Celestial Burden
Dark Millennium Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

— First review of this album —
4 stars "Ashore the Celestial Burden" is the debut full-length studio album by German death/doom metal act Dark Millennium. The album was released through Massacre Records in 1992. Dark Millennium was formed in 1989 and disbanded in the mid-90s after releasing two demos and two full-length studio albums. The years leading up to the release of "Ashore the Celestial Burden" were quite busy with both lineup changes and the release of the band's two demos taking up Dark Millennium's time. Lead vocalist Christian Mertens was out of the band for a couple of months and didn't participate in the recording of the "Of Spectre Their Ashes May Be (1992)" demo, but he is present on "Ashore the Celestial Burden".

5 out of the 10 tracks on the album are re-recorded versions of tracks from the two demos. "Black Literature" was originally featured on the "The Apocryphal Wisdom (1991)" demo and "Below the Holy Fatherlands", "Spiritual", "Wizardry Assemblage" and "Medina's Spell" were originally featured on the "Of Spectre Their Ashes May Be (1992)" demo.

Stylistically the music on "Ashore the Celestial Burden" is a doomy type of death metal with occasional progressive leanings. Haunting and melancholic guitar leads, brick heavy doomy riffs and rhythms, and some very aggressive and snarling growling vocals on top. But that's not all, because this is not solely a doom/death metal album and there are usually several tempo changes in the tracks and the band often play mid-paced (and occasionally slightly faster) old school death metal parts, which adds to the brutality of the music. When they do that they remind me slightly of their fellow countrymen in Morgoth. Dark Millennium also bring progressive ideas and song structures to the table and to my ears a track like "Beyond the Dragon's Eye" is a fully fledged progressive death metal track. The tasteful and clever use of acoustic guitars and piano on that track works really well. The addition of clean vocals sung by Gerhard Magin, also make that particular track stand out.

The musicianship are obviously on a high level and "Ashore the Celestial Burden" is also packed in a raw and suitingly dark sound production. It could have been slightly more powerful and well sounding, but it's a minor issue, and it's pretty great as it is.

While I mention progressive ideas and structures above, "Ashore the Celestial Burden" is an album where Dark Millennium successfully balance death metal brutality, doomy melancholy, and progressive sophistication. Which means that the progressive ideas never come in the way of the death metal brutality or the doomy melancholy and visa versa. And along with the skilled delivery of the music, the decent sound production, and the adventurous songwriting, that's probably the album's greatest strength. A 4 star (80%) rating is fully deserved.

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 Sentenced To Solitude by ENIGMATIC INFINITY album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.09 | 3 ratings

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Sentenced To Solitude
Enigmatic Infinity Progressive Metal

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Enigmatic Infinity is a young prog metal band from Hungary conducted by guitarist, backing vocalist, etc Nandor Tombor. He done everything is to be heared on the first offering of the band named Senteced to solitude issued in 2016. Aswell he is helped by the vocalist Mate Horvath who done a good job here. Now, this is the type of prog metal that I like, ok has plenty of influences from well known names in this field but is not a problem, the sound, the compositions are tight, we talking about one man band, besides vocalist. The guitar chops are towards John Petrucci kinda feeling or even Vai but are well composed. Imagine you listen to a combination of Dream Theater around Train of thought era with his own ideas, the result is quite enjoyble for sure. The pieces are lenghty , the title track has nearly 18 min, with some nice duels between guitar and keyboards and above all Mate Horvath has a pleasent voice for this type of music. All in all more then decent modern prog metal, I like it, 3.5 stars. If you like for example last album of Eric Gillette this is rtight there for prog metal fans.

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 Technical Ecstasy by BLACK SABBATH album cover Studio Album, 1976
2.76 | 350 ratings

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Technical Ecstasy
Black Sabbath Prog Related

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

3 stars Recorded around a blur of drugs, alcohol, spiralling ego, gruelling touring schedules and draining legal battles, Black Sabbath's seventh album `Technical Ecstasy' from 1976 is not the complete dud it's often reputed to be, although it's undoubtedly the poorest release from the classic Ozzy Osbourne-fronted line-up of the defining heavy rock group. It does have an admirable eclectic and diverse approach with ambitions of offering something a little more than just the usual sludgy heavy-metal riffs and doomy lyrics as well as a more sophisticated production, but it sadly doesn't deliver too much in the way of quality material, even if it still offers a few gems here and there.

Opener `Back Street Kids' is a reliably brash heavy chugger with Tony Iommi's galloping riffs, Geezer Butler's pumping dirty bass and a screeching Ozzy vocal that also throws in a few whirring synths courtesy of Gerald Woodroffe and Bill Ward's busy drumming. But it's the longer and dramatic `You Won't Change Me' that proves to be a real Sabbath classic - a defiant and blunt vocal from Ozzy delivering a confronting lyric that holds traces of the dark romance and despairing hope that permeates so many great Sabbath songs, backed to snarling evil riffs over gloomy synths and frantic guitar soloing from Iommi, all topped off with a cracking chorus. The much despised `It's Alright', sung by Ward, is a softer piano tune with traces of a Beatles-esque sound is fairly forgettable, but repeated listens reveals a harmless time-passer at worst. After quite an upbeat intro of skittering drums and buzzsaw guitars `Gypsy' tears through a multi-sectioned range of moods and ideas, but despite it not being the most memorable song, the slick studio production really goes to town to make it at least sound interesting and dense.

Side two's misogynist-blasting `All Moving Parts (Stand Still)' is a funky bluesy romp that still remains just a little bit dull, and despite a shrieking vocal and stomping drumbeat, the throwaway `Rock 'N' Roll Doctor' seems lethargic and can't even offer a punchy memorable chorus. Downbeat ballad `She's Gone' is strangely elegant and melancholic with its gloomy orchestration and reflective acoustic guitars behind another tortured romantic lyric and genuinely passionate vocal from Ozzy, and closer `Dirty Women' is one of the more overtly `proggy' moments due to its lengthy instrumental runs with constant organ, melodic reaching guitar strains (and Tony's solo in the climax seems to go on forever!) but still finds time for a roaring vocal and plenty of ballsy chugging riffs.

Along with the band feeling the pressure of the emerging punk bands of the time and the pressure to remain relevant and vital, `Technical Ecstasy' found Black Sabbath in something of a no-win situation - deliver a more typical heavy-metal album and be accused of merely repeating themselves, or experiment with their formula and annoy the metal purists by shifting too far from their signature sound. Time and perspective actually reveals a perfectly OK album that sadly especially suffers when being compared to the classic run of the first six Sabbath albums that stretched from the self-titled debut in 1970 through to '75's `Sabotage', but seriously, what wouldn't?

Three stars.

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 Heterotopia by SCHOOLTREE album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.69 | 8 ratings

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Heterotopia
Schooltree Crossover Prog

Review by Corcoranw687

5 stars This is the best, 5 stars easy! Right from the start of my first listen I knew this was going to rock, the Overture lets you know what to expect, a ton of piano and synth and a feeling that we are hearing familiar sounds in a very modern way. I was reminded of Phideaux, Supertramp, and Kate Bush as the songs continued, but don't be mistaken, this album doesn't sound like any of them overall. There is so much here I couldn't take it all apart, but a few highlights: Edge of a Dream has 2 or 3 different refrains that are stuck in my head all day. How cool is The Leitmaiden with the synth and glitched vocals, and similarly, You and I using the two to create a creepy atmosphere before turning around in the second half. The ending of the latter and Into Tomorrow have me suddenly reminded of Marillion, those 80s synth and overdriven guitar soloing, and again, what a chorus! Power of the Ghost is single-ready but also one of the best songs on the album. This album is my most pleasant surprise of 2017 so far, 99 minutes long and I listen to the whole thing each time. You just have to hear this if you are a fan of concept albums or any of the mentioned bands. I think a talented group of musicians put a lot of effort in and have created a classic.

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 Symphonaire Infernus et Spera Empyrium by MY DYING BRIDE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1992
3.28 | 15 ratings

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Symphonaire Infernus et Spera Empyrium
My Dying Bride Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

4 stars SYMPHONAIRE INFERNUS ET SPERA EMPYRIUM is the very first release from MY DYING BRIDE released as an EP way back in 1991 as well as their first on their long lasting Peaceville Records label. While the 12 " vinyl edition released in 1991 consisted only of the 11:38 title track, the CD edition released the following year contained the tracks "God Is Alone" and "De Sade Soliloquay" which were released as a two sided 7" vinyl single limited to 1000 copies the year before. Due to startling originality of the inclusion of the melancholic session violin contributions of Martin Powell on the title track, MY DYING BRIDE gained instant recognition as a major innovator in the nascent death-doom metal sound that only Anathema and Paradise Lost were also developing at the same time period.

It's no doubt that MY DYING BRIDE caught the attention of the world with the track "Symphonaire Infernus Et Spera Empyrium" as it remains one of their most masterful compositions of their entire career exquisitely melding the elements of doom and death metal along with neoclassical darkwave with the addition of the soul piercing violin and highly sophisticated compositional conceptualization. With its humble intro it almost sounds like we're going to the Renaissance fair with its medieval violin setup but soon the down-tuned doomed distortion of heavy guitar riffs enter as does the death growls of Aaron Stainthorpe. The track deftly walks the tightrope of the classical and metal worlds with grace but also carefully paces the fusion effect with pure down and dirty death metal outbursts however the violin never strays too far for too long and always brings the listener into the eternal cauldrons of dread.

The remaining tracks are less symphonically complex and are rooted more in heavier death metal with elements of doom percolating through. "God Is Alone" and "De Sade Soliloquay" are perhaps the heaviest tracks that MY DYING BRIDE has ever released as they are blistering fast in tempo and eschew the violin trademark sound that pretty much defines them on every full length album that follows. These were siphoned from the cauldrons of their earliest demo material therefore sounds as primeval and raw as could be expected. SYMPHONAIRE INFERNUS ET SPERA EMPYRIUM is an excellent debut from MY DYING BRIDE and only one of two where Stainthorpe exclusively utilizes his death growls (the other being the following full-length "As The Flowers Wither." While the title track has gotten around on many of the compilations, the other two have not and can only be found on this EP as well as the collection of the first three EPs "Trinity." This debut release showed great talent that has been successfully in staying relevant for decades after this first hit the market.

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 As The Flower Withers by MY DYING BRIDE album cover Studio Album, 1992
3.65 | 48 ratings

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As The Flower Withers
My Dying Bride Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

4 stars After the attention getting debut of their first EP "Symphonaire Infernus Et Spera Empyrium," MY DYING BRIDE released their first full-length debut AS THE FLOWER WITHERS the following year in the vein of that EP's title track. This album is by and far the heaviest and most brutal of any in the MY DYING BRIDE discography with heavy emphasis on the blistering guitar riffing and pummeling bass and percussive attacks. The trademark lugubrious violins of at-the-time session musician Martin Powell are a vital part to the band's sound at this stage but all hasn't integrated together seamlessly quite yet. At this stage the classically oriented sounds as heard in the symphonic intro "Silent Dance" as well as segments within the larger tracks such as "The Bitterness And Bereavement" and "The Return Of The Beautiful" are more than present but it is quite apparent early on in "Silent Dance" that MY DYING BRIDE was very much an early pioneer of the death-doom metal sound along with contemporaries Anathema and Paradise Lost. AS THE FLOWER WITHERS is also the only full-length release where lead vocalist Aaron Stainthorpe exclusively utilizes his death growls which contribute to the overall soundscape giving a more dirty and raw metal feel as opposed to the slicker, more romantic Gothic utterings of his later clean vocal style.

While the longer tracks tend to portend the future of where the band was heading, some tracks like "The Forever People" are exclusively rooted in the death metal past with unapologetic heaviness and aggressive bombastic ear assaults sans any trace of symphonic effects of wailing violin. On the more progressive tracks like "The Bitterness And The Bereavement" the band utilizes all of their magic in one behemoth of a composition with sensual tear inducing violin wails meeting Sabbath inspired doom guitar chords stomping so hard that it registers on the Richter scale while the suffocating atmospheres deplete all the remaining oxygen from the room. As if the sophistication of their dread-inducing instrumental talent wasn't sufficient enough, MY DYING BRIDE has always delivered the most thought provoking lyrics based in painful romances, utter despair and complete collapse of faith and all of that was already present from the beginning having been fully developed at this stage as perfectly heard on some of the most sophisticated tracks such as the outstanding masterpiece "The Return Of The Beautiful" where all of their early and later sounds play together in perfect harmony.

AS THE FLOWER WITHERS is one of the most woefully underrated albums of MY DYING BRIDE's entire discography. While they pretty much steered their distinct sound exclusively into the atmospheric doom metal arenas starting with "Turn Loose The Swans," there is something mysterious and profound about this one. Not only does it retain the primeval ooze effect of nascent metal's birth pangs but has an intense energetic delivery absent from subsequent releases. The exclusive use of death growls may dissuade the fans of the romantic clean approach but i find this early sound of MY DYING BRIDE to be equally as compelling to experience upon returning visits. The progressive touches and the sophistication of the compositions puts this on a whole other level of the day and the dual guitar assaults of Andrew Craighan and Calvin Robertshaw are allowed to shine like on no other album that came after and even delved into Morbid Angel territory with blistering riffs and squealing solos on "Vast Choirs." While i'd be hard pressed to pick a favorite album from MY DYING BRIDE being that their canon is so incredibly consistent, i ,in no way, can rank AS THE FLOWER WITHERS as an inferior product. On the contrary i find this to be a stimulating attack of the senses that offers a higher octane value than anything that would soon follow.

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 The Thrash of Naked Limbs by MY DYING BRIDE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1993
3.12 | 12 ratings

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The Thrash of Naked Limbs
My Dying Bride Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

4 stars MY DYING BRIDE had such positive reaction to their innovative use of symphonic embellishments and violin in their unique signature sound that by the time they got to their 2nd EP they made violinist a full-fledge member of the band and steered their sound incrementally away from the aggressive death metal world more into atmospheric doom metal arenas. THE THRASH OF NAKED LIMBS followed the debut full-length "As The Flower Withers" and was the turning point where heavy guitar assaults were deemphasized and the dread inducing atmospheres accompanied by poetic visions of woe became the dominant force. While Aaron Stainthorpe utilized his death growls exclusively on the title track, for the first time he introduced his clean Gothic styled vocals which offered a new mood setting feel to their music.

While the title track is an expected death-doom track with heavy Sabbath inspired guitar in slowed down splendor, "Le Cerf Malade (The Sick Stag)" introduces a new aspect of the band, namely a propensity for thick brooding dark ambient passages. This track is exclusively instrumental with no metal to be found and has brief lyrics in French that are a fragment from a poem of the same name from the 17th century Frnech poet Jean de la Fontaine. "Gather Me Up Forever" proves they indeed a metal band and jumps back into the death-doom metal pattern that the title track dished out only some harder driving uptempo passages. This track is quite successful at showing how MY DYING BRIDE was masterfully composing doom metal with ambience and progressive touches and lots of attention paid to the most minute sound dynamics.

As heard on THE THRASH OF NAKED LIMBS, the transition was near complete but remnants of the early death metal stage of the band was still a significant part of the band's sound although less emphasized than on the previous releases. MY DYING BRIDE was cautious about morphing too quickly from one world to the next and only proceeded as it made sure that nothing sounded stilted or done so without a satisfying unification of the styles at hand. Personally i find THE THRASH OF NAKED LIMBS to be yet another exemplary and satisfying listen with three tracks equally interesting as they place emphasis on different aspects of the band's different strengths. As with the "Symphonaire Infernus Et Spera Empyrium" EP, this one can be found on the box set "The Stories" or the much easier found "Trinity" compilations.

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 I Am the Bloody Earth by MY DYING BRIDE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1994
2.36 | 8 ratings

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I Am the Bloody Earth
My Dying Bride Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

3 stars After the success of their second album "Turn Loose The Swans" where MY DYING BRIDE finally found an equilibrium between the intense death-doom metal guitar and growls with their neoclassical dark darkwave, they quickly released yet another EP. The third of these titled I AM THE BLOODY EARTH pretty much followed up the formula of "Swans" with a slow and plaintive pace that would become the band's own for the rest of their career finally breaking complete ties with death metal riffs and aggressive outbursts. Whereas the previous EPs could be considered albums in their own right for having a distinct feel, this one sounds more like a collection of three tracks that were released between albums.

The title track is a slow stomping doom metal number with lugubrious symphonic violin parts wailing away. Aaron Stainthorpe employs only death metal growls despite no death metal riffs entering the scene. There are also extra guest vocals from Ghost of the industrial band GGFH. Interest in industrial music is much more prevalent on the second track "Transcending (Into The Exquisite)" which is indeed a House remix that contains different elements from "Turn Loose The Swans" and utilizes a hypnotic beat and Nine Inch Nails type drive accompanied by a remix type of aesthetic to it making it sound more like a Ministry track than MY DYING BRIDE. Although death metal growls are mostly used there are also moments where Stainthorpe sounds like Marilyn Manson a little. This one is a little repetitive and obviously an experiment that they never tried again. In fact this track was removed from the compilation "Trinity" which featured the band's first three EPs and replaced with the single "The Sexuality Of Bereavement."

The remaining track "Crown Of Sympathy" from the "Turn Loose The Swans" album is also an alternate remix version but not industrial oriented. This retains the classic sounding of the album version and sounds simply like a different version with some nice atmospheric extensions. Personally i find this to be the weakest of the early EPs that were released during the early years of MY DYING BRIDE. While the three tracks are all decently done and quite pleasant to listen to, they just don't have the oomph or continuity that the previous releases did. The title track and the "Crown Remix" can be found on compilation "Trinity" while the entire EP as originally released can also be found on the limited "The Stories" boxed set. Personally the missing track on "Trinity" is not the most interesting of the lot so i would recommend that as a one stop shop for the first three EPs.

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 The Stories by MY DYING BRIDE album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1994
2.26 | 4 ratings

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The Stories
My Dying Bride Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

2 stars THE STORIES was the first compilation / boxed set from MY DYING BRIDE that released their three earliest EPs " Symphonaire Infernus Et Spera Empyrium," " The Thrash Of Naked Limbs " and "I Am The Bloody Earth" all in one handy one-stop shop product. This comp was released in response to the sudden popularity MY DYING BRIDE was experiencing as a result of the success of their very first albums "As The Flower Withers" and "Turn Loose The Swans" as well as growing demand from the heavy exposure during their early tours.

The only difference between THE STORIES and the following compilation called "Trinity" which was released a year earlier which also featured all three early EPs is that THE STORIES features those three EPs exactly as the original releases whereas "Trinity" removed the track "Transcending (Into The Exquisite)" and replaced it with "The Sexuality Of Bereavement" which was originally released as an EP in its own right (along with the other track "The Crown Of Sympathy (Remix)" but was only available to members of the short lived Peaceville Collectors Club Series.

THE STORIES was released in a green cardboard box with new artwork and an additional booklet with lyrics but was limited to only 3000 copies and has become somewhat of a collector's item over the years. This is truly one only for the most hardcore of completists since every track except "Transcending?" can be found on the much more readily available "Trinity" while the original "I Am The Bloody Earth" with that track is much easier and less expensive to track down. Personally i'll give it a pass. Rating is based on value as a compilation. See reviews for each EP separately.

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 Trinity by MY DYING BRIDE album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1995
3.72 | 8 ratings

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Trinity
My Dying Bride Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

4 stars TRINITY is one of the earliest compilations albums from MY DYING BRIDE released the year after their very first 'The Stories.' It is in fact basically the same album as 'The Stories' which compiled the band's three earliest EPs ' Symphonaire Infernus Et Spera Empyrium,' ' The Thrash Of Naked Limbs ' and 'I Am The Bloody Earth' all in one handy one-stop shop product. While 'The Stories' was more of a collector's boxed set of sort with special packaging and limited to 3000 copies, TRINITY has been the easiest way to obtain all three EPs without resorting to great expense. The two comps are essentially the same product musically speaking with one glaring exception and an important one it is.

Whereas 'The Stories' contained the EPs ' Symphonaire Infernus Et Spera Empyrium,' ' The Thrash Of Naked Limbs ' and 'I Am The Bloody Earth' in their authentic original forms, for some strange reason MY DYING BRIDE decided to jettison the track 'Transcending (Into The Exquisite)' from the 'I Am The Bloody Earth' EP and replace it with the track 'The Sexuality Of Bereavement' which was a non- album single that was released the previous year. While i am in agreement that 'Sexuality' is a far superior track to 'Transcending' i'm left a little perplexed why the former was nixed instead of simply adding the former to the authentic trilogy of EPs from this early stage of the band's career thus not making it a completely authentic experience. Unfortunately the 'Transcending' track has been completely written off and hasn't even found a home on the following comps including the 'Meisterwerk' releases.

The reason for disowning this track seems a little disheartening since despite not being the highlight of the band's career nevertheless is an authentic part of it even though it does have more of an industrial metal feel and is different than most of their other material. Despite this slight irritation i have to accept this album for what it is and what it is happens to be an outstanding display of a very talented death-doom metal band who knew how to construct some of the most beautifully depressing compositions of the day with such masterpieces as the track 'Symphonaire Infernus et Spera Empyrium.' TRINITY remains the most readily available way to obtain all the early EPs minus one track and is an interesting way to experience the band evolution from the early doom metal band with death metal outbursts to the more familiar symphonic death-doom band as heard in their early years. Still a brilliant flow of music despite the faux pas of a single track exclusion.

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 Whatever Tickles Your Mind by AQUA TALK album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.00 | 1 ratings

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Whatever Tickles Your Mind
Aqua Talk Crossover Prog

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

— First review of this album —
3 stars Sounds like The Grateful Dead meets one of Turkish rock legends Bunalim, at least for me. AQUA TALK are a promising Turkish rock trio founded at the end of 2015 that would have a enthusiasm for playing progressive rock based upon Western Culture, and obviously sorta cultural fusion of East and West can be heard via their debut creation "Whatever Tickled Your Mind". I guess in Turkey might be cultural or religious bridges here and there (forgive me if I'm not correct) and their musical mixture is quite acceptable and enjoyable indeed, although there is not enough 'innovative' passion.

From the beginning of the first track "Dead Man's Dream" catchy folksy riffs like Dead in the mid 1970s are launched. Their soundscape could be called as pop / rock-based sound structural mixture methinks. Spacey psychedelia like Floyd, bluesy hard press like Bunalim ... various rock elements can be touched but basically of mainstream. Pop, delightful atmosphere are definitely around them. And simultaneously there are somehow tragic footprints. Wondering where they want to go whilst listening to this album ... and it's understandable they could share safe and sound all over the world, through such a fantastic opus. Do hope they will get much bigger in near future.

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 Like It Is: Yes at the Bristol Hippodrome by YES album cover Live, 2014
2.78 | 48 ratings

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Like It Is: Yes at the Bristol Hippodrome
Yes Symphonic Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

2 stars A (dull) venture

Having released Fly From Here - a belated follow-up to 1980's Drama - in 2011, and with four of the five members that originally played on Drama it would had been the perfect time to resurrect the Drama material and perform it side by side with the "new" Fly From Here material (especially as Jon Anderson was now no longer in the band). I would have loved to have a live album with all the songs from Drama as well as the full Fly From Here suite. The latter has never been featured on an official live recording. They did indeed play a couple Drama songs live and some from Fly From Here, but sadly no official live recording emerged from those shows.

A couple of years later they instead released this live album containing 1971's The Yes Album and 1977's Going For The One albums performed in their entirety. Now, I'm sure it would have been nice to be there on the night, but in the form of a live album this doesn't work so well. One of the charms of live albums is that songs from diverse sources can be heard in a new context. Performing the songs in their original album running order only tends to emphasise how inferior this line up is to the original ones. The weakest link is Jon Davison whose voice is too weak and thin to carry these songs. I catch myself wondering "why am i listening to this instead of the original studio album?" Besides, almost all of these songs have appeared on earlier official live recordings in much better versions. The only rarity is A Venture which haven't appeared on an official live album before.

While I am really glad that Geoff Downes got a second chance with Yes as there clearly was unfinished business there that he got to fulfil by re-joining the band and completing Fly From Here after all those years, it would have made lot more sense for this version of Yes to focus on the material that Downes played on originally instead of having him mimic Tony Kaye and Rick Wakeman which makes a lot less sense.

An unnecessary live release.

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 Karda Estra & Artemiy Artemiev: Equilibrium by KARDA ESTRA album cover Studio Album, 2002
2.23 | 9 ratings

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Karda Estra & Artemiy Artemiev: Equilibrium
Karda Estra Symphonic Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

3 stars I was having a conversation one day with Richard Wileman, and had been looking through his back catalogue and noticed that I hadn't heard everything he had released. So, this how I have come about to be listening to this 2002 album which was a collaboration between Russian composer Artemiy Artemiev (synthesiser, sampler, electronics, percussion) and Richard Wileman (guitar, bass, electronic and acoustic percussion, loops, vocal and woodwind arrangements), along with Ileesha Bailey (vocals, breathing loop) and Caron Hansford (oboe, cor anglais). Apparently, this was one of four collaborative albums released by Artemiev in 2002, and he has certainly had a major impact on the overall sound as there are significant parts where I wouldn't have said that this was a Karda Estra release at all.

It is the songs where Richard has the upper hand, such as "Open Window", where the album comes to life. The background stays where it belongs, and Richard's guitar provides a repetitive motif that works well, but there are many others where this is an ambient electronic album where Richard is not able to make the impact that he would if it was all under his control. That the artists recorded separately, Karda Estra in England and Artemiev in Russia, probably says a lot about the album itself. That Artemiev's name comes first on the cover probably says even more.

I have been a huge fan of Richard for more than twenty years, long before Karda Estra back when he was working as Lives & Times, but although there are elements that I really enjoyed, overall this is just too ambient electronic for me.

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 Jethro Tull - The String Quartets by ANDERSON, IAN album cover Studio Album, 2017
2.62 | 12 ratings

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Jethro Tull - The String Quartets
Ian Anderson Prog Folk

Review by BarryGlibb

2 stars Did we really need this? Maybe; but then again, probably not. I was intrigued a little...just a little. So I bought the CD thinking that I can listen to a string quartet arrangement of some Tull classics without too much input from Mr Anderson...how wrong I was.

You would think that Ian would let the String Quartet do its own thing? But no; IA couldn't help himself and had to "stick his bib in" and do overdubs with flute (not so bad) and his recently (i.e. 1987!) acquired appalling vocals on 6 of the 12 tracks. Listen to me Ian..... "YOU DID NOT NEED TO OVERDUB YOUR VOCALS ON THIS RELEASE, IT'S SUPPOSED TO BE A STRING QUARTET ALBUM!!!!!!"

This release might have been a winner if Ando (baby) had abandoned the idea of overdubbing his horrific vocals......Steven Wilson to the rescue in 2057 with the 5.1 Surround Sound 5CD and 2DVD 40th Anniversary Auditorium Edition, minus vocal and flute overdubs!

After the track "Pass The Bottle" had finished, the only thing that came out of my mouth was the word "atrocious". Honestly!

The only really, really good thing on this CD is "Songs and Horses" ...brilliant! Oh, guess what? No vocals on that track!

2 stars out of 5.

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 The Veil is Broken IV: Decay by SAN MARTIN, RODRIGO album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2017
4.00 | 1 ratings

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The Veil is Broken IV: Decay
Rodrigo San Martin Crossover Prog

Review by Anesthetized

— First review of this album —
4 stars A few weeks ago Rodrigo San Martín released the last section of his multi release rock opera The Veil is Broken. Section four, titled "Decay", ends the story of failed fictional prog rocker Robin and his turn to the dark side: commercial music. He became an international superstar but payed the price too heavily and here we have an explicit description of his descent into oblivion.

The music and performances are top notch, like the rest of the Rock Opera, and the depressive feeling we are left is heartbreaking. It's a tragedy, there was no other way.

Stylistically this is a very diverse offering: from typical rock, to acoustic ballads, funky sections and symphonic metal tracks, all mixed together in the typical progressive style of Maestro San Martín.

1 - Lost: we start with a familiar feeling. This is the most "Rodrigo San Martín" sounding track on the album, genrewise. It's a short song (under 3 minutes), but features many elements that characterize the artist tyícal "sound": strong vocal melodies, nice motif development (from themes that appeared on the previous parts of this rock opera), great instrumental work (featuring electric guitar and a nice mellotron section), incisive lyrics and a contrast between soft and powerful sections. So many elements (this time compressed in under 3 minutes) make a great opener for this last part of The Veil is Broken.

2 - On the Road: at the end of The Veil is Broken III: Coming of Age we were left on the point where, Robin (our prog rocker protagonist) sold himself to the machine and became a pop sensation. Here we have a direct continuation of that: the lyrics tell us how immensly rich and famous he has became, how his insane life on the road is, what he has done with his fortune, etc

How is this topic presented musically? By a typical Arena rock song, with pre recorded crowd and drum solo included included, to simulate a live performance.

It's something completely different from anything we've heard on a Rodrigo San Martín album and it's actually quite good, if you have an open mind and want some diversity in your prog rock.

The lyrics also reveal that Robin is really unhappy and "empty inside" now that he has fulfilled his dreams of stardom.

3 - Summer: this is a beatiful acoustic piece with some very sad lyrics that deepen the existencial crisis our protagonist is in. It's curious the selection of Craig Kerley on vocals here, since he is prominently known for his powerful heavy metal vocals, but the result is fantastic.

The instrumental pallete is minimal: acoustic guitar, bass, flute and some tasteful mellotron.

4 - There's No Way Out: this is basically a Nightwish song on a Rodrigo San Martín album. Lyrical vocals are masterfully done by Canela Sol once more (like she did on Incomplete), with Charlie Giardina singing the chorus.

It is powerful, melodic, heavy and features stellar instrumentation. And it's not something you would expect on a Rodrigo San Martín album once again.

5 - Meant to Be: another small little acoustic ballad, this time sung by Giardina (and with beatiful backing vocals by Canela Sol on the chorus). Not prog by a million years. The lyrics start getting more upbeat on this one: it seems our protagonist has reconected with his lost love from his teenange years.

It may be a little bit too much on the cheesy-happy side for my taste, but on the depressive level the last few tracks were carrying this one feels like a cup of water on the desert.

6 - Unleashed: and things went badly for Robin once more. This one is almost a direct reprise from the "part 1" track Lost Out. It features piano much more prominently and features a killer solo from Mr. San Martín. Nice way to recall more familiar grounds, that immense chorus needed some exposure! (it couldn't just appear once on the whole album)

7 - Like There's No Tomorrow: this is a weird one. Is it some funk/heavy prog song? Is that even a thing?

Influences on this track appear to be Red Hot Chili Peppers, Jethro Tull, Metallica and Pink Floyd, all mixed together.

It's very good and it's the most progressive track on section 4: great work by drummer Mike Buenaventura Lima and amazing vocal performance by Osvaldo Mellace.

8 - Time to Realize You'll Never Open Your Eyes: the album closes with a small acoustic piece featuring both male a female singers. It's astonishingly sad and beautiful, but a little underwhelming considering it's the ending to a 2 hour long piece of conceptual prog rock.

I signed up on this site to review this immense conceptual work Rodrigo San Martin promised us. I've reviewed the four sections that comprise the rock opera but I feel my work is not complete.

Rodrigo San Martín messed up: he should've released the whole thing as a whole, it's clear he composed it to be one two hour long piece of music (and if you add that the album was written to be played in random and have all the songs segue into each other in every possible order, more so).

I rate this last section four stars, but I think the four parts considered as a whole album, are undounteldly one of Argentina's finest prog offerings of the 21st century.

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 Sur Les Flots Verticaux by GAUTHIER, PATRICK album cover Studio Album, 1993
4.00 | 2 ratings

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Sur Les Flots Verticaux
Patrick Gauthier RIO/Avant-Prog

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

4 stars Very good keyboard-based Zeuhl prog from the former HELDON, MAGMA, and WIEDORJE keyboard artist. It is obvious that Patrick is an accomplished pianist and loves the Broadway vocal medium.

1. "Des pygm'es dans la ville" (6:34) I kind of happy Calypso Zuehl. (9/10)

2. "Sur les flots verticaux" (10:01) One of the greatest prog/Zeuhl 'classical' 'tudes ever written. The Coltrane, Orff and D'bussy influences are strong here. Gorgeous vocal arrangements and renderings. (10/10)

3. "Le train fant'me" (7:18) odd and unusual but hypnotic in the Zeuhl fashion, so I guess it's a success. Just . . . weird. (9/10)

4. "Odessa" (4:11) is pure classical/jazz piano soloing. Very Gershwinian. (8.5/10)

5. "Eleutheren" (8:17) is founded, unfortunately, on almost the exact same rhythm as song #3. The vocal expedition is different--more Magma and Broadway music styled (Manhattan Transfer)--though I hear monastic chant as well. Amazing "piccolo" bass play. Well performed, interestingly and creatively composed. (9/10)

6. "Zawinal" (8:26) another Broadway-esque/Manhattan Transfer-like song. Too repetitive, over-dramatic and drawn out. (7/10)

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 Kawana by ZAO album cover Studio Album, 1976
4.10 | 40 ratings

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Kawana
Zao Zeuhl

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

5 stars With a line-up of musicians such as this you really shouldn't go wrong:

- François Cahen / Yamaha acoustic piano, Fender electric piano, Korg synthesizer - Didier Lockwood / acoustic & electric violin, artianal bass violin - Gérard Prévost / Fender bass, hors phase bass, acoustic bass - Yochk'o Seffer / Soprano & Sopranino saxes, vocals, piano on F.F.F. - Jean-My Truong / orange double drums

1. "Natura" (7:03) sounds so much like a modern Pat Metheny Group epic--but it pre-dates all that! Piano, chunky and jazzy bass, and nasal soprano (sopranino?) sax all sound good together. Jean-My is a little quiet. (9/10)

2. "Tserouf" (8:59) a very tight funky jazz fusion song that could have come off of any of the American masters of the era--Miles, Chick, Stanley, Zawinal, even JLPonty, Area or Bob James! Great song. Very melodic. (9.5/10)

3. "F.F.F. (Fleurs for Faton)" (2:34) very nice little musical étude performed by piano, acoustic violin and bowed double bass--like a gift from Débussy or Fauré. (9.5/10)

4. "Kabal" (4:14) very tightly performed, fast-paced opening before stepping down to a slower tempo at 0:50 for some synth work--but then things ramp up again with EVERYBODY getting into the act MAHAVISHNU style. The bass and drum work remain super tight and focused at the bottom throughout this display of virtuosity. (8.5/10)

5. "Sadie" (3:43) opens rather loosely, as if walking by a Jean-Luc Ponty-like street musician. The sopranino sax, bass, and electric violin melodies and harmonic support throughout this oft-shifting tempoed song are gorgeous. At 2:40 we are even treated to an overdubbed solo track for the violin. Nice. Creative, inventive song. (10/10)

6. "Free Folk" (10:44) there's a very relaxed vibe throughout this song--like a WEATHER REPORT song. As a matter of fact, there's very little here--or on this album--that harkens to Zeuhl music. Feels and sounds like the Zao crew has shaken loose from the Vander clutches and moved fully into the jazz fusion fold. Nicely done. Probably the weakest song on the album--almost anti-climactic fill--but still good. (8.5/10)

The question is: why is Jean-My Truong so sedate and/or mixed so low in the soundscape?

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 Shekina by ZAO album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.91 | 44 ratings

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Shekina
Zao Zeuhl

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

4 stars Opening with one of my all-time favorite 'happy songs', "Joy!" (3:54) (10/10) a song that just grooves and gets into your bones so that you can't help but get up and dance, be happy, the rest of the album is interesting for the range of emotions it takes the listener through.

2. "Yen-Lang" (8:10) retains more of the band's Zeuhl foundations with its quiet start and slow build using a pulsing, bass-infused almost single chord (single key) melody line. Flute and strings are awesome on this one. (9/10)

3. "Zohar" (10:53) opens at breakneck speed with all band members laying it all on the line--though none more than drummer, Jean-My Truong. By the third minute the music transitions radically to an all-strings format. At 5:00 bass, drums, keys and percussion sneak back in while strings disappear. Cahen's experimentation with keyboard sound takes over for a bit. Though the band is tight in their occasional ensembleness, the song lacks cohesion and overall feels a bit more like a experiment in experimentalism. (8/10)

4. "Metatron" (8:17) opens with Zeuhlish voices and sax and bass before taking off on a run through a series of challenging sections of disciplined precision-timed chord sequences. At two minutes, driving bass and drum race us along while keys, horns and voices move at a deliberately contrasting snail's pace. Things finally shift around the frenetically paced drums as bass and keys open the way for some sax and keyboard solos. Very reminiscent of both Weather Report and even Brand X. Impressive song. Impressive drummer! (9/10)

5. "Zita" (4:38) opens quietly with strings and electric piano weaving into a little soundtrack chamber music exercise with a kind of sound similar to Eberhard Weber or Vangelis. The presence of the lone soprano voice slightly in the background is a cool effect. Beautiful and peaceful. (9.5/10)

6. "Bakus" (5:13) is just weirdness--though keys, bass and drums really put their Zeuhl chops on full display here. Really it's just Seffert's vocals--sounding more like the fore-runner of those from 21st Century Japanese bands Koenji Hyakkei or OOIOO. Solid song. (8/10)

Though Seffers, Cahen, Prévost and the rest of the band continue to move farther away from their Magma roots, and more into that of the Jazz-Rock/Fusion sub-genre, this is still an album I'd classify as 'Zeuhl'--unlike their next one, Kawana, which is pure jazz fusion (despite the addition of violinist Didier Lockwood). There's something I like so much about this album. Kind of like the way I feel about AREA's Arbeit Macht Frei versus the more polished and virtuosic follow up, Crac!

4.5 stars.

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 Pisara ja Lammas 2 by ABSOLUUTTINEN NOLLAPISTE album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.83 | 3 ratings

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Pisara ja Lammas 2
Absoluuttinen Nollapiste Prog Related

Review by Mortte

5 stars ...and I had to wait two years! But got reward of it. This part 2 has maybe little bit more seventies sounds than the first. The story continues immediately. Album starts with strong beats and continues very beautiful and dramatic way, when shepherd is near the bed of his dying mother. Next "Taverna" is again very progsong with many parts. The same kind of synth sound is to be heard, when drop moves from sheep to lady, as it was heard in the first part when it fell into sheep´s neck."Sovinto" (=reconciliation) is a acoustic piece. "Lammas Matkustaa" (the sheep travels) is quite straightforward, but very beautiful piece. "Heinäsirkka" (=grasshopper) is again very prog piece with very apocalyptic atmosphere. "Saapuminen Planeetalle" (=arrival into planet) and "Muodonmuutos Heikentää" (=shapesifting weakens) are a little bit more straightforward songs, but prog elements come back in "Kirves Tummuu" (=axe is getting darker). It has some themes from the first album, also the ending music piece after words "ash sucks all the light itself" really describes those words. Then comes "Synnytys" (=birth). This piece starts same way as the earlier record song "Lammas Saa Vainun", but soon changes little bit lighter. The last song "Paljastuminen" (=exposure) is really dark and depressing. There is partly same theme as there was when shepherd was with his dying mother. The words "child gurgles dead language and goes backward" gets really describing music. The song ends into silent piano and vocals. After that comes "Loppusoitto" (=grande finale) which is same theme as prelude. It´s almost too glad after that horrifying end, but like in Greek plays, it releases listener to all the distress of the end.

These albums causes many questions. Of course there can´t be just good without bad, because with bad you also know what´s good, but how about the planet where is no good? Are we going into that direction? Also in this album shepherd can´t pass his destiny, also not the lady. So if you believe in destiny, is there any reasons to try to change it?

Absoluuttinen Nollapiste really made the albums with lots of thoughts. But is the reason the albums have not been very much in the front that people today doesn´t want to think these kind of thoughts? With this kind of world as today I think we should. It´s of course always possible the plays of the ancient Greek, that handle the good and the bad and the unconscious of the mankind didn´t make their society better. Anyway I think we need the bands like Absoluuttinen. They´ve said they will make more albums, even another concept album in the future, but at least this year they have been very quiet.

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 Pisara ja lammas 1 by ABSOLUUTTINEN NOLLAPISTE album cover Studio Album, 2012
4.38 | 6 ratings

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Pisara ja lammas 1
Absoluuttinen Nollapiste Prog Related

Review by Mortte

5 stars Hard to understand why this two part masterpiece of Absoluuttinen Nollapiste has gained so little attention. Of course it had very great reviews when it was released in Finland, but quite soon after part 2 had released it went to the unknown. Hard to understand also why there seem to be no interest internationally, because the reason can´t be Finnish-language singing: there are Haikara and Circle fans outside Finland. This is also musically, but specially lyrically just great! Really of course there should be lyrics translation into non-Finnish listeners.

The lyricist Tommi Liimatta started to make this entity already in 2003. Lots of thinking really shows, because in this album he goes deeper than anywhere else in his lyrics. Even this is scifi-story, there are elements from the ancient greek, even Bible. This is a story from the good and the evil. Unlike Adam and Eve, the "evil" sheep can´t choose, the evil was put into it. Also it´s interesting the evil is sheep which is symbol of innocence in the Bible. You can also make a connection to the Gosbels although in this album the evil is born in unnatural way. There are also elements from the trilogy drama of the Greek tragedy. With all these mythologigal elements the story is very easy to connect also these days. I haven´t listened very much prog music after seventies outside Finland, but at least in Finland there are really few these kind of concept albums made. Also even seventies prog I think only Peter Gabriel was capable to connect the fantasy and myths world into the present time. Of course it´s possible Tommi got some influences from Magma´s world when making his story.

I try to tell the story of the albums. There comes "planet good" near the earth. Representer of the planet is bored, because there is not anything evil in the planet. All the bad has put into one drop and he decided to send it to earth. Meanwhile beautiful lady, who seems to have some magic talents leaves her home and meets shephard. The drop falls into the neck of one shephard´s sheep. Shephard sees the dream that tells he should look all his sheep`s necks and put away the sheep which have a sign. He finds the sign and imprisons the sheep. But sheep changes to a man and seduce the lady and she´s get pregnant. Meanwhile shephard has just been in the near of his dying mother´s bed where mother warn him. The evil sheep wants to go to the "planet good" and they let it go. After that earth starts to die and shephard and lady goes also to planet good. Sheep has caused a lot of bad in a planet good and it will be executed. A child of lady and sheep is born, when lady understand what it is, she jumps from the balcony and will be pierced to a candelabra. Shephard looks to his "son" and son makes the other sheep run him down. And story ends.

Music has build into these albums to give a support to the story. So there are very little normal songstructures and without knowing lyrics it could be sometimes difficult to understand the directions where music goes. Anyway there are lots of great melodies, so the album can be enjoyed also just as music. To me this album sound and some parts also music reminds late seventies and early eighties Genesis. The sound world in this first album has something from the eighties, but not in a bad way. "Alkusoitto" (=prelude) brings some of the album themes as instrumental and in the end there is sung prelude of the story. "Planeetta Hyvä" (=planet good) is a slow sad piece. But the next "Juhlija" (=party animal) and "Nainen Lentää" (=lady flies) are true celebration of the melodic prog music friends with their really many parts. "Kohtaaminen" (=meeting) is one of the greatest songs in this whole entity, it´s quite bombastic at first, but changes quiet in the end. In a "Pisara" (=drop) sheep gets the drop and the song is very dramatic. In "Paimenen Uni" (=dream of shephard), "Lampolan Aamu" (= the morning of sheep shelter), "Lammas Näkee Naisen" (=sheep sees the lady) the music direction goes to the more ordinary. But the great prog elements comes back in "Lampaan Etsintä" (=seeking the sheep). In the end of this piece comes again the sung prelude theme, so the first part is almost in the end...but there is yet one left: "Lammas Saa Vainun" (=sheep gets the scent). Album ends in a very dramatic way, when sheep changes to a man and gets the scent that he can seduce the lady. After this end I really waited the next part...

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 Comes The Storm by ABBFINOOSTY album cover Studio Album, 1996
2.87 | 8 ratings

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Comes The Storm
Abbfinoosty Crossover Prog

Review by Windhawk
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars UK band ABBFINOOSTY were active in the 1980's and 90's, and managed to release two albums before breaking up. "Out of Abbfinoosty Comes the Storm" was the second and last of these, and was released through the now dormant progressive rock oriented label Cyclops Records in 1996.

I understand that this album really isn't an album that can be attributed to the band Abbfinoosty. It was planned and created as a solo album by Asif Ali, while the label apparently tried to tie it up to his former band Abbfinoosty. Hence the somewhat creative title of the album on the cover art, while the spine of the CD reads this as a production by the band "Out of Abbfinoosty" called "The Storm". It is, in essence though, a solo album. But as the greater majority of retailers will sort this production under the Abbfinoosty moniker, due to reasons stated, I will not add to the confusion by attributing this album to Asif Ali as a solo artist other than in the description given here.

What we do have is an album that is by and large somewhat confusing. Creative for sure, but a creativity one might describe as being too free and uncontrolled, and arguably also suffering from a mix of too much enthusiasm and lacking quality control. As an album experience this one is a bit all over the place in most aspects, with moments of brilliance appearing in otherwise murky material, some really fine standalone creations, a few compositions that can't be described in any other way as clunkers as far as I'm concerned and many songs that are, well, pleasant enough.

Blues based hard rock, typical 90's synth pop, melancholic Floydian tinged creations and some rather typical mainstream rock ballads are the main ingredients of this CD, some executed much better than the others. Some of the more keyboard dominated creations suffer a lot from keyboards and synths with that dreadful clinical 90's sound to them, those who recall that era will know what I'm talking about when they come across those creations. But other creations, like the brilliant cosmic and Floydian landscapes of Interstellar, use the same kind of instruments in an altogether more interesting manner. This track in particular is the moment where this album shines the brightest too, where the talents and creativity of Asif comes into full bloom.

Much of the remaining material suffers from various kinds of weak aspects, or at least contains sounds and atmospheres with much more of a niche and narrow appeal. Asif's vocals is among those, he does have a fine voice actually but I get the impression that he by sheer enthusiasm is carried away too often, relinquishing the fine voice control needed to make the vocals an elevating rather than detrimental aspect of a song. This is especially the case in the songs that demands a strong vocalist to maintain tension, the ballads as well as some of the songs with more of a sparse arrangement. The attempt to create a menacing mood on Cyberspace among the tracks of the latter category.

As an album experience, "Out of Abbfinoosty Comes the Storm" is just about as confusing as the chosen title of this CD. It is creative and eclectic, but with many features of either a detrimental nature or a more distinct niche appeal, it isn't eclectic in a good way. A production worth checking out by those who tend to enjoy an album where creativity is given free reign at the cost of quality, and especially those who find joy in uncovering the good bits from an album that for most will be a roller-coaster ride kind of experience.

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 Last Chance To Hear by CRAVEN, BEN album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.86 | 40 ratings

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Last Chance To Hear
Ben Craven Crossover Prog

Review by Windhawk
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Australian composer and musician Ben CRAVEN first appeared back in 2005, initially releasing music as the one man band Tunisia, but subsequently opting to release future albums under his own name. He has four full length albums to his name so far. "Last Chance to Hear" is the most recent of his these, and was self-released in the spring of 2016.

It doesn't take all that long to understand that Ben Craven has a certain passion for progressive rock, nor that his possibly greatest sources of inspiration lies in the more mainstream oriented parts of that musical universe. His material is easy on the ears and the mind, and he appears to revel in the creation of moods and atmospheres to a much greater extent than to create complex structures, challenging arrangements or to push the boundaries of music to the borders of one extreme or another. Distinct melodies, flowing instrument motifs and arrangements revolving around harmonies rather than disharmonies is the order of the day here, and the sound is open, warm and inviting throughout.

There are a few different flavors of the genre explored on this production, but the kind of material that dominates are compositions I'd describe as orchestral-oriented, ambient flavored compositions that resides firmly inside a symphonic progressive rock tradition. Some traces of Genesis here and ELP there can be found, albeit not all that often, what is more often the case are creations without a clear and distinct nod to any of the well known giants really. Subtle orchestral effects and floating keyboard layers combines with careful guitar embellishments and occasional elegant piano motifs to form subtly dramatic creations with ambient tendencies, relatively gentle affair but with tension, drama and the odd firmer detail here and there that adds nerve and emphasize the careful dramatic nature of the material. Pink Floyd fans will find a few of the more gentle guitar solo runs familiar, but on occasion Craven shows that he isn't a stranger to the joys of hard rock either, with a few forays into areas of a harder edged and firmer general expression. There are also some exceptions here and there, like the rockabilly meets Genesis charms of Revenge of Dr. Komodo, or the delicate, melancholic piano dominating final track Mortal Remains.

Those fond of atmospheric laden, cinematic progressive rock should find Craven's most recent studio production "Last Chance to Hear" to be a generally appealing production. Symphonic progressive rock fans that enjoy ambient and orchestral details combining in landscapes with occasional similarities to the likes of late 70's Pink Floyd appears to be to be something of a key audience for this CD.

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 Innate by EYOT album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.00 | 2 ratings

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Innate
Eyot Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Chalcobalt

4 stars Serbian group playing progressive jazz rock with a overriding classical touch due to the extensive amounts of the lead instrument piano. The piano is driving the swaying melodies but the bass and guitar play is way more sophisticated than simple background chording, they usually explore their own melody lines for a truly broad and complex sound wall. It is by no means overwhelming of power, but rather subtle where each song are built up to crescendos, just to fall back into lower energy levels. Drumming is a case on its own, intricately setting the pace with originality and inventiveness. A beautiful and dynamic instrumental album filled with emotion, great composition and plenty of distinct moods.

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 Interview by GENTLE GIANT album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.75 | 639 ratings

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Interview
Gentle Giant Eclectic Prog

Review by Kepler62

4 stars It may seem a superfluous endeavor to review an album that was released over 40 years ago but Gentle Giant's 1976 album Interview is worth a brief retrospective glance over. At the time progressive rock itself was in question as a viable commercial prospect and Gentle Giant were at the peak of their popularity. Stylistically they had pretty much exhausted the possibilities of their singular "everything but the kitchen sink" approach to composing and playing music on their previous "Free Hand" album. In recognition of this quagmire they came up with this clever psuedo-concept album that commented on how distant the music industry was from artists and their art in the form of snippets of a mock interview inserted between tracks with noted rock journalist Phil Sutcliffe playing along.

Although it includes all the idiosyncratic elements that made their music so wondrous Interview may elicit some "you've got to be kidding me" reactions for those not acquainted with some of the light-minded and whimsical musical attitudes that comprised Gentle Giant's otherwise less than straightforward technically challenging music. Interview occupies an interesting place in the epicenter of the career of this unique band. Progressive rock was in it's death throws and devotees of the Gentle Giant would notice the toned down instrumentation and more "modern" sound, retaining it's usual adventurous spirit on tracks such as the reggae infected "Give it Back" and the sometimes bluesy "Timing". The album also spawned one of the best loved Gentle Giant tracks, "I Lost My Head" as well as the discordant "Design", another fan favourite that is littered with all kinds of musical outlandishness. So Gentle Giant was still held in high regard by their fans and "Interview" even did well with the press in spite of the climate within the music industry towards outdated progressive rock "dinosaur" bands.

Gentle Giant was even an oddity within the progressive rock realm of the early seventies but attracted a curious dedicated following so it's difficult to find a yardstick with which to measure them. While Interview could have suffered under the shadow of the monumental "Free Hand".during a busy period for the band, keyboardist Kerry Minnear has insisted on more than one occasion that the band fared well under pressure and Interview is a testament to this observation. After the release of the album in the spring of 1976 further albums from Gentle Giant became somewhat more subdued and less audacious but Interview will always stand as a critical moment at the pinnacle of a remarkable career.

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 Halcyon by HIDDEN LANDS album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.92 | 5 ratings

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Halcyon
Hidden Lands Neo-Prog

Review by Rivertree
Special Collaborator PSIKE Team & Band Submissions

4 stars 2017 will evolve to another glorious Prog year, it seems, very promising. I'm continuously coming across new inspired albums appearing on the scene. In terms of niveau and style HIDDEN LANDS are acting similar to Sanguine Hum, Iluvator and maybe Nice Beaver somehow. All are representing a sort of remoulded modernized prog orientation, while flirting with some pop and art rock appeal too here and there. This quartet is hailing from Uppsala, Sweden, the musicians are experienced, singer Bruno Edling and Hannes Ljunghall (keyboards, guitar) for instance are deriving from a predecessor unit named Violent Silence.

Meanwhile 'Halcyon' is their third production actually, promises diversity, and some real prog pearls are emerging sooner or later, this counting the album opener in for sure. The Prince Of Goofs bears a rather tricky execution, though also runs in a catchy manner anyhow. Or let me also emphasize the (partially) uptempo No One Is In This For Love, which won't let me go anymore, inviting to sing along on top of that. Besides the electric piano Ljunghall caters for a somewhat quirky synthesizer within. This may annoy one or two, but definitely not me. A perfect tune! Ulleraker on the other hand appears like something I normally would expect from an avant band.

Or by way of variation with The Silent Service we also have an extended charming (quasi pop) ballad at hand. Not my preference basically, but this is really really well done. So finally I take the risk to claim, this is something for connoisseurs. No filler, and melodic compositions overall, though challenging, not straightened in any case. Bruno Edling delivers a very good singing voice, the focus is on the instrumental expansion anyhow, including enough room for solos like on the closing Rooftop Farewell. Eh ... now it feels like it's time for the preparation of the 2017 best-of list at the latest.

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