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 Le Porte Del Domani by MASCHERA DI CERA, LA album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.05 | 245 ratings

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Le Porte Del Domani
La Maschera Di Cera Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

5 stars LA MASCERA DI CERA were one of the first modern RPI bands I got into and I was so impressed that i've gotten every studio album they have released. I did feel that their last album "Petali Di Fuoco" was not up to their usual high quality but man are they back in a big way with "Le Porte Del Domani". Now I do have to address their bold and ridiculous idea of making a part II of LE ORME's classic "Felona E Sorona". What!? Man I remember when I heard this I was stunned yet at the same time impressed at this idea. Who would have the stones to even consider such a thing? It just blew me away when I considered that other modern bands could also do sequels to seventies classics. It almost seems wrong to even consider this idea yet LA MASCERA DI CERA have done this process justice including the album cover art. I should mention that all of these tracks blend into one another.

"Ritorno Dal Nulla" opens in a spacey manner as bass, keys, drums and more join in as it builds. Great sound after a minute as that spacey atmosphere has eventually given way to some LE ORME- like instrumental work-outs. It's just gorgeous before 3 1/2 minutes with flute, mellotron and a lot of depth. It then picks up speed before turning heavier. Amazing flute melodies follow then a calm arrives before the vocals kick in around 5 minutes in. The mellotron sweeps through 6 1/2 minutes in and emotion follows as the vocals turn more passionate. Some nice guitar before 8 minutes to the end. "La Guerra Dei Mille Anni" is very Italian sounding with a jig-like rhythm to it. The laid back sections are contrasted with these and they make me feel so good. My God, the mellotron and passionate vocals 4 minutes in are so moving.

"Ritratto Di Lui" is slower paced with vocals and lots of atmosphere including flute. The vocals become more expressive with strings before it calms down again. "L'enorme Abisso" has a powerful intro of mellotron, keys and drums as the vocals kick in. The guitar a minute in starts to light it up as the keys swirl. Organ 2 1/2 minutes in then we get a strong VDGG vibe before uptempo flute and drums lead the way. I really dig the dissonant sax 2 1/2 minutes in as that VDGG vibe continues, then the mellotron storms the gate. It's so emotional 5 minutes in when the vocals return.

"Ritratto Di Lei" has plenty of atmosphere with female vocal melodies before the reserved male vocals take over. "Viaggio Metafisico" hits the ground running as the mellotron joins in then flute. How good is this just before a minute. Vocals arrive before 3 minutes. "Alba Nel Tempio" has a spacey atmosphere to start as some beautiful flute joins in then laid back vocals. Emotional vocals lead before 3 minutes as the guitar starts to soar then the mellotron joins in. "Luce Sui Dul Mondi" opens with strummed guitar as flute and drums join the party. Vocals a minute in followed by bass as the sound gets fuller. Emotion 2 1/2 minutes in as it all turns more passionate including the vocals as the mellotron floods the soundscape. "Alle Porte Del Domani" opens with fuzzed out guitar expressions before it kicks into a higher gear led by flute and drums. The flute steps aside as the drums continue with different sounds helping out. This sounds so good. The flute is back then the mellotron as the song and album ends.

I'm not about to acknowledge that this is my favourite album from this band but it's pretty darn close to what I had considered as their best in "Il Grande Labirinto". This is one of the best releases from 2013 without a doubt, and they must have made LE ORME proud.

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 To The Highest Gods We Know by COLOUR HAZE album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.00 | 1 ratings

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To The Highest Gods We Know
Colour Haze Krautrock

Review by Igor91

— First review of this album —
4 stars Colour Haze is stoner/psychedelic rock band from Germany that have become legends in the underground rock scene in Europe. I am a bit puzzled by them being categorized as "krautrock" here in PA. Yes, they are from Germany and they do have slight krautrock influences, but their sound is more of a blend of 60's and 70s' psychedelic and hard rock. Guitarist and vocalist Stefan Koglek's playing style is a mix of Jimi Hendrix and Tony Iomi with a dash of jazz and Indian/Middle eastern influence. Manfred Merwald is an excellent drummer, bringing a jazzy, slightly busy (but not too busy) backbeat to the music. Finally, Philipp Rasthofer's low-end bass gives added warmth to their sound. Koglek's vocals need some getting used to, but, overall, are pretty good for a German singing in English. The band's songs vary from short and structured, to 20-plus minute opuses.

"To The Highest Gods We Know" is their 11th studio effort (the 1998 album "Seven" is missing on PA's list as of 2/28/2015) and finds the band pretty much where they left off on their previous album, "She Said." There are some added strings and horns here and there, but most of the songs cover the same territory. That's not to say the album isn't good ? it is. The album begins with "Circles," which starts off with quiet jamming, slowly building to a pure stoner/psychedelic blast of heaven. "Paradise" is the short, rocker on the disc. "Uberall" is another solid tune in the same vein as "Circles" with the slow build to a crescendo of heavy, low-end guitar, with the addition of strings. The fourth tune, "Call" is roughly six minutes of a lone, repeated guitar riff with soft vocal lines, before launching into another powerful eruption of high-energy, stoner riffage to close out the final 2 minutes of the song. The standout track is "To The Highest Gods We Know," which is an instrumental, Indian/Middle Eastern infused dose of psychedelia. The tune starts out with beautiful acoustic guitar work from Koglek, then intermittent strings and percussion add to the sonic tapestry skillfully woven together by the band. As the song closes, you are left relaxed and satisfied. But then, after a few minutes of silence, there is a reprise of "Call" (not included on track listing) lasting just over a minute.

While not their best effort, "To The Highest Gods We Know" is, all in all, a solid album by these stoner/psychedelic rock masters. I would probably recommend the album "All" as a starting point for newcomers to the band. However, "To The Highest Gods We Know" would make a great addition to the music collection of anyone who likes their rock laced with psychedelia, occasional heavy riffing, and lots of great guitar work.

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 Ruínas Circulares by ALPHA III album cover Studio Album, 1987
3.05 | 3 ratings

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Ruínas Circulares
Alpha III Symphonic Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars During the summer of 1987 Amir Cantusio Jr. recorded the fourth album of Alpha III, it was the second time he performed a work entirely by himself, playing bass, drums, piano and keyboards.Titled ''Ruinas circulares'', this one was inspired by the tale ''The circular ruins'', originally written by Argentinian writer and poet Jorge Luis Borges in his ''Ficciones'' book.This was also the last work released by Cantusio under the Faunus label.

After the dreadful ''Agartha'' Cantusio couldn't do else than provide better and more convincing musicianship, having already an experience as a solo multi-instrumentalist.''Ruinas circulares'' is a largely instrumental album, still retaining many of the symphonic values of the previous Alpha III releases, not helped however by the below average, almost basement-like production.The music sounds decent enough with strong RICK WAKEMAN and TANGERINE DREAM influences, passing from Classical piano interludes to cosmic/Electronic acoustics and featuring a highly symphonic flavor inbetween.I doubt Cantusio played all the drums on the album, because these sound mostly like drum beats than natural performances, except from a few of pieces, but his keyboard executions are quite interesting, lots of organ and piano are delivered next to his standard synthesizer vibes.The varied atmospheres are the most acclaimed aspects on this album with melancholic themes followed by cinematic soundscapes and from Classical auras ending up to virtuosic keyboard pyrotechnics.Tracks are rather short, completing apparently a long, concept suite.Strange thing, I hear some hard guitars on ''Holocausto final'', although not credited in this album, while the 11-min. closer ''Danca para a eternidade'' shows Cantusio moving further into cosmic electronics, this is a slow-tempo synth-drenched suite, supported by light drumming, with depressive and spacious soundscapes and a heavy TANGERINE DREAM source of inspiration.

Decent Electro/Sympho Rock from the darkest 80's days.I admire Cantusio as a composer, although productionwise his works sound like B-movies fighting the budget of Oscar-winning films.Rock Symphony has reissued the album with a different tracklist plus a couple of bonus tracks.Recommended.

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 Sanctuary by IRON MAIDEN album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1980
2.76 | 27 ratings

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Sanctuary
Iron Maiden Prog Related

Review by thwok

2 stars The primary concern for rating music here at Prog Archives is, of course, its "progressiveness". This "Sanctuary" single by Iron Maiden, one of the most innovative bands in metal history, ranks fairly low on the progressive scale. This is pretty straightforward metal. I like Paul Di'Anno's singing, even though he is a very different singer from Bruce Dickinson. As others have said, Paul's voice fits Iron Maiden's musical style at this point.

This collection of primarily live music really demonstrates the talents of Clive Burr and Steve Harris. The guitarists, on the other hand, don't seem to be in sync. A listener would certainly expect better from Dave Murray. Of the three songs on this single, the title track would be my favorite. The sound quality is adequate. In conclusion, this is a good listen if you're already a fan of Iron Maiden.

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 The Great Divide by ENCHANT album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.53 | 85 ratings

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The Great Divide
Enchant Heavy Prog

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

4 stars Formed back in the mid Nineties, American prog band Enchant have come to be associated with heavy and complex arrangements mixed with soaring vocals and strong melodies. Fronted by the charismatic Ted Leonard, the band delivered seven studio albums and 2004's live set `Live at Last' before essentially going on hiatus, finally emerging in 2014 after ten years. This comeback album `The Great Divide' makes it seem like the band were never away at all, and in some ways it picks up exactly where they left off with just a little more sophistication and restraint, and it just may be the most enjoyable and consistent Enchant album to date.

One thing instantly noticeable in this latest outing is a more relaxed vocal from Ted. During their break, the singer became the new frontman for fellow American prog rockers Spock's Beard, replacing the departing Nick D'Virgilio. Ted's debut for that band `Brief Nocturnes and Dreamless Sleep' was well received by their fans, in some ways considered a real return to form for them. It was surprising to discover on that one that Ted had toned down his usual exhausting, sometimes overwrought drawn out singing style from the early Enchant albums. He's now learnt a great deal more subtlety without cutting back on his powerful range, making him a far better singer overall, and he thankfully employs that same style here.

Right from the melodic opener `Circles', it seems like the connection with Spock's Beard has also musically overall been a bit of an influence on Enchant this time around, and anyone looking into this band for the first time coming from the last Beard album should feel right at home here. A gutsy guitar driven rock sound with sleek synths and strong vocal hooks is the template here, with the band stripping back many of their earlier heavier elements and even introducing a few vintage influences here and there as well. `Within an Inch' is an early highlight with a frantic chorus that jumps up in tempo, but especially striking is a lovely reflective middle with gentle jazzy drumming, placid thoughtful piano and a soul-seeking lyric that wouldn't have sounded out of place on a Neal Morse album. The title track `The Great Divide' will be adored by Yes fans due to Ed Platt's nimble and blistering ripping Chris Squire-esque bass and Bill Jenkin's bombastic Wakeman-like synth stabs, and although the main tune is a little unengaging, the lyrics are very interesting and the chorus has slick harmony vocals. `All Mixed Up' jumps between plodding heavy grunt and subtle slinking grooves with a crooning vocal from Ted, who even pulls off some effective lady-killer swooning falsetto!

Guitarist Douglas Ott lets rip with endless shining soloing moments on the poppier and almost radio-friendly `Transparent Man', and with nice call and response shared vocals and a catchy chorus, it makes you wish all commercial radio music sounded as good as this! Same goes for the nice mix of acoustic and electric guitars and smooth intricate vocal harmonies of `Life in a Shadow', and I definitely relate to the biting chorus lyric. `Deserve to Feel' is one of the longer heavier tracks with plenty of fiery instrumental soloing back and forth between the musicians, actually not far off Dream Theater but definitely a bit more fun and playful, and the chorus is upbeat and warm. `Here and Now' is a welcome darker, more melancholic track with a very confronting lyric and sombre mood, and it finishes up the vocal pieces in a classy manner.

But Enchant decide to close the album with the amusingly titled instrumental `Prognosticator', which turns out to be an all-out total prog orgasm! So many manic tempo changes and aggressive whirling energy, there's everything from manic ELP-bombastic swirling organ assaults, dominating heavy guitar riffs and dirty grooves, slithering bass, Sean Flanegan's furious drum attacks, and even jangling Porcupine Tree-like acoustic guitar chimes. It holds together impossibly tightly, is another reminder that the band actually have a sense of humour, and it brings delicious vintage prog excess and modern power together in perfect unity! What a thrilling way to finish a great album!

Enchant show a great deal of maturity and musical sophistication on `The Great Divide', and not only do they deliver exciting and varied instrumental displays with emotional vocals from a singer who's never sounded better, they've also written some very relatable lyrics that lift the material even higher. It's appreciated to hear a prog album more grounded in reality, a world away from fantastical concepts and surreal imagery! If you like hard rocking progressive-related music that prizes strong lyrical and vocal elements just as highly as tricky instrumental displays, or perhaps you're a newcomer to the band due to the connection with Spock's Beard, there's so much to enjoy here. If you do decide to look into the album, be sure to go for the lavish double gatefold vinyl edition from Insideout Music!

It's good to have Enchant back, and even more satisfying that they're sounding better than ever!

Four stars.

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 Home by SYLVAN album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.38 | 39 ratings

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Home
Sylvan Neo-Prog

Review by rdtprog
Special Collaborator Heavy Prog Team

3 stars Sylvan are back with another concept album about the search for something we call "Home". This is the 8th studio album by a band that has been described Neo Prog, but don't let that tag fool you. The cd starts with quiet songs where the music is supporting the vocals. The band still got their love for classical arrangements and melancholic moments that has been well represented in the album "Posthumous Silence". Once again, we can find plenty of vocals/piano parts with some more upbeat and heavier parts where the guitar take a more dominant role. Many songs starts slowly and are build up into a crescendo at some point. The band spice up their delicate symphonic style with some heavy sections close to metal, but it's never too long that they get back to their main style. The album contains many highlights songs such as "In Between", "Shine" and "The Sound of her World", and my favorite was "Black and White" for the emotion level and the short original ending which looks like we're hearing the sound of a xylophone. If you like atmospheric prog rock with emphasis on good melodies and sweeping vocals, you'll have a good time listening to this one. I enjoyed the album like every Sylvan's releases, but i got a bit exhausted of listening to this 80 minutes album that put me in a mood where i am not sure i want to be.

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 Looking Thru by PASSPORT album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.31 | 49 ratings

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Looking Thru
Passport Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars The relentless journey of the band named Passport continues at the fall of 1973.Doldinger would carry the band to Dieter Dierks's Studio in October to record ''Looking thru'', this time Frank Roberts was replaced by keyboardist Kristian Schultze, who was already an experienced performer, having played with his own band Kristian Schultze Set and the Ethno-Jazz combo Niagara, while he was a close friend of Curt Cress, playing later alongside the German veteran drummer in Curt Cress Clan and Snowball.

''Looking thru'' shows Passport returning to the sound of their inventive pair of first releases, without throwing away the new direction they had taken with ''Hand made''.In fact this one sounds the most Kraut Fusion album of the combo, regarding the displayed stylings, featuring spacious keyboards, light jazzy improvisations, funky rhythms, Fusion exercises and a nice dose of Kraut Rock freakness.Some superb jazzy grooves with nice work on clavinet and sax to go along with tremendous Fusion keyboard and piano fests, love the combination of jazzy electric piano with the sinister Mellotron strings in the background.The opening side relies much on the work of Doldinger and Schultze on keyboards and the tireless rhythm section with occasional sax bursts, it's one of the very fine examples of flexible German Fusion with charming keyboard soloing and balanced tempos.Second side sees Doldinger pickin' up his sax for some accomplished executions on funky lines, melodious themes and scratching jazzy workouts, always backed up by the omnipresent keyboards.It sounds a bit more ethereal and lightweight than the opening one, but still contains some pretty cool stuff with experimental synth lines and virtuosic piano solos.My main complaint comes from the album's length, this one is pretty short, barely exceeding the 30-min. mark.

Well-played German Fusion with a variety of rhythms and atmospheres.Better than ''Hand made'' and a major purchase for all fans of airy Kraut/Jazz Rock.Strongly recommended...3.5 stars.

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 Primus & the Chocolate Factory by PRIMUS album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.33 | 11 ratings

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Primus & the Chocolate Factory
Primus Prog Related

Review by Tom Ozric
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Primus And The Chocolate Factory. This is how the soundtrack would've been reflected had Willy Wonka laced his fantastic candies with LSD........ Here, Primus' Les Claypool has re-imagined the musical backing of Gene Wilder's 1971 classic fantasy film Charlie And The Chocolate Factory. And let's welcome back drummer Tim (Herb) Alexander, who seems to come and go as he pleases. What an eccentric collection of pieces this release contains. Typically quirky, 'out-there' and rather complex, nothing is 'normal' when it comes to Primus. This is one, curious band that's certainly difficult to classify. Also featuring the 'Fungi Ensemble' (Matt Dillon - Tabla, Vibraphone, Marimba) and Sam Bass ('Cello), the songs mainly feature Les on his upright bass, with sparse appearances with his resonator and regular electric basses, Tim playing his kit and nik-naks like how an orchestral percussionist would, Ler playing his skewed guitar lines as usual, and contributing lead-vocals (!) to a track. Let's just say that this album is a blast - it's pure humour, joy, and very Primus. Only Les can get away with twisting and old-fashioned classic into such a modern sounding, freaky extravaganza. And even my 14 y.o. neice gets a kick out of this one. Mostly made up of shorter, incidental links, main tracks that are stretched out beyond the 4 minute mark stand on their own as only Primus can arrange - heavy, avante and plain weird. Classic examples being the manic intensity of Candy Man and the child-like glee of Golden Ticket (traditional Primus). These 2 tracks are pure-gold, just like the ticket !! Elsewhere you can hear the Wonka 'magic' of Cheer Up Charlie, Pure Imagination, Semi-Wondrous Boat Ride and Wonkmobile, interspersed with the various Oompa- Loompa ditties offering the amusing lyrics (especially presented with Claypool's nutty delivery), and various instrumental snippets. I should mention that the Hello Wonkites and Farewell Wonkites pieces remind me of the intro of Pink Floyd's Dogs Of War track. This album may not be the funkified metal extravaganza their fans have been waiting for in the wake of the cool Green Naugahyde album, but it's still has enough fun/enjoyment, and replay value for me to give it a 4th star. And the 'Chocolate' brown vinyl makes it even more delectable......

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 Ra by ELOY album cover Studio Album, 1988
2.80 | 164 ratings

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Ra
Eloy Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Progfan97402

3 stars I found this LP for next to nothing at a Eugene, Oregon record convention. The seller was a prog junkie, and likes Eloy just as much as the next proghead, but I was under the impression he never cared for Ra, which is understandable, it's not well liked in the prog community. That's why I got it for next to nothing, along with several prog albums more worth noting, including Melody's Yesterlife (1977), a band that's not in ProgArchives (although should be).

I knew right away this was not going to be like Ocean or Silent Cries and Mighty Echoes. I didn't even expect it to be like Planets or Time to Turn, their best 1980s albums. It's not bad, although having a real drummer could have benefited big time (listen to Ocean 2 from a decade later, which had a real drummer in Bodo Schopf and you can see the difference). Put this against Ocean or Silent Cries and Ra crashes and burns. Put this up against popular mainstream music of the time like teen bubblegum of the Debbie Gibson and Tiffany variety, or cheesy hair metal of the Bon Jovi, Poison, Whitesnake, and White Lion variety, and this sounds like a breath of fresh air. The music is straight out of the late '80s. Digital synths (including the Yamaha DX-7) and drum machines all over the place, heavy metal guitar riffs (at least more tolerable than cliched hair metal guitar riffs as done by those kind of bands mentioned). There's no denying the intro of "Voyager of the Future Race", a nice ambient piece, and one could have imagine this becoming the Ocean of the '80s, but you know that wasn't going to me. But the album does have some really nice melodies, and not the most offensive of '80s sounds so I did find it enjoyable. Ballads like "Dreams" and "Rainbow" clearly showing them attempting to score a hit, and Frank Bornemann attempts a ridiculous falsetto he never did before, but does on this album (and on Destination and even parts of The Tides Return Forever). I guess this album probably would not have been so trashed on had it been released as a Frank Bornemann & Michael Gerlach album. I guess Bornemann felt that he'd be able to sell more copies by slapping on the Eloy name. I guess if you are strictly '70s for prog rock, you probably should stop at Time to Turn, and avoid anything they done after. But to my ears it's not bad, and I didn't expect it to be like their classics and found it nice listening, but not really essential, so three stars. Love that cover, though (which leaves such bad covers as Yes' 90125 and Big Generator, King Crimson's Beat, Emerson, Lake & Powell's sole album and ELO's Balance of Power totally in the dust).

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 A Spoonful Of Time by NEKTAR album cover Studio Album, 2012
2.73 | 52 ratings

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A Spoonful Of Time
Nektar Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Tom Ozric
Prog Reviewer

3 stars This recent-ish release, masquerading as a NEKTAR album, can be taken as another Billy Sherwood 'Prog Collective' project. Indeed, the current line-up of Nektar, featuring only 2 of the 'classic' formation in Roye Albrighton (guitars/vocals) and Ron Howden (drums/vocals), are joined by keyboardist Klaus Henatsch and multi-intstrumentalist/vocalist Billy Sherwood to form the core of the band. Then we have help from all sorts of top-notch musicians from Marillion's Mark Kelly, to Brainticket's Joel Vandroogenbroeck, Billy Sheehan to Rick Wakeman. I gather the 'lion's share' of the recording layed on Roye's shoulders, and helped re-ignite the Nektar brand. The songs are all 'classic radio songs' from the 70's, and actually vary little from the originals. They are mostly better and interesting selections from those days of 'hits', but unless you already appreciate songs like Steve Miller's Fly Like An Eagle, The Doors' Riders On The Storm, and even Gary Wright's Dream Weaver, this will be 'just another' covers album. From the 14 songs here, I was only unaware of Neil Young's Old Man, which features guest David Cross (King Crimson) on violin. Recommended highlights here being a very pretty 6min version of Floyd's Wish You Were Here, with the featured guest being the late, great EDGAR FROESE on keyboards, Riders On The Storm featuring a superb performance on the Hammond from legendary Rod Argent. A suitable Roxy Music tune in Out Of The Blue features Hawkwind's Simon House on violin, replacing Eddie Jobson's stellar performance on the 1974 original. 10CC are represented by a sweet rendition of I'm Not In Love, beautifully ethereal, and having a super Moog solo from Wakeman. The soul hit For The Love Of Money, which is played to death throughout the media, features guest drummer Ian Paice (Deep Purple), and woodwinds eccentric Nik Turner on sax - this lengthy rendition adding some deliciously spacey grooves, background mellotron sounds and suitable jamming from all. Having been fortunate enough to have caught up with Klaus H at an NYC Nektar gig, from memory he said the idea was suggested by manager John Lappen, immediately jumped-on by Roye and Billy, and was a lot of fun to work on. Definitely a solidly good album, perhaps a little light on the 'Prog', but an enjoyable listen never-the-less. 3.5 stars.

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 Follow (With Travis) by FRIPP, ROBERT album cover Studio Album, 2012
4.23 | 18 ratings

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Follow (With Travis)
Robert Fripp Eclectic Prog

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

5 stars What a beautiful combination. Fripp's soundscapes and Frippertronics paired with Theo Travis' own Ambitronics. These instrumental experiments are pensive and lovely, very accessible mostly minimal pieces with a lot of atmosphere. The music is completely improvised, but it all has direction and the tracks are titled appropriately to fit the ambience of the music.

The recording was specifically created for the best playback on surround sound systems, and, of course, Steven Wilson was brought in to produce the album. However, the sound is also excellent and crystal clear on regular stereo systems as well. The CD comes as 2 discs, the first with the regular recording and the 2nd with the surround sound recording which also contains 3 bonus tracks.

The music is very peaceful and meticulously played. It is also quite accessible in that there is not very much dissonance involved, but there is a lot of beauty involved and could be one of Fripp's loveliest collaborations. Except for a few places, for the most part there is no harshness as was evident on Fripp and Eno's collaborations. This particular music however was composed to be able to be performed in churches.

The first 3 tracks were thoughtfully named in that their titles fit their moods and feelings. "Soaring and Gliding" does just as it says, it gives you the feeling of free floating among the clouds. "Dark Clouds" is definitely a darker feeling which evokes the feeling of approaching and threatening clouds giving the feeling of an oncoming storm. However when the storm does reach the listener in "When the Rains Fall", the sustained notes in the background give the base of a staccato and arppegiated flute and reed sound which represents the rain falling softly. Simply beautiful.

Next is a short track which is a solo by Travis called "Hear Our Voices" which is a perfect example of how "Ambitronics" works. This track flows into the next track "1979" which is named after the year that Fripp's part was recorded. Travis adds his input over the top of the original track for an interesting sound which reminds me almost of a Native American sound.

"Open Land" has another nice ambient sound with more variation and the mood tends to drift towards a spacey feeling which is even more prevalent in the next track aptly named "Return to Saturn." From here the next track "Rotary Symmetrical" follows in what seems to be a natural way, but suddenly there is a harshness in Fripp's sound that seems to frighten up a flock of brass and wood that starts to flutter everywhere. The sound starts to approach a clinical sound somewhat more reminiscent of the earlier Frippertronic sound but with the added beauty of Travis' wind instruments. This departure into harshness prepares the listener for the final track "So There" which is a surprisingly more rock oriented sound, but not anything conventional. The last track tends to remind you that even though most of this album tends towards the classical composition, the music is really rooted in progressive rock and though the change is not abrupt which would have made the track feel like it was tacked on, the previous track makes this track feel like it is all part of the entire work.

This is an amazing sound. Even though Travis and Fripp have had previous releases, none of them have felt as cohesive and complimentary as this one does. It feels like these two geniuses have been developing their music to the point that they were finally ready for one another. Never has experimentation felt so natural and beautiful as it does here. If there are any recent Fripp albums that could be considered essential, it is this one. It feels like the culmination of the work of these two musicians has come about on this album, that the music from both artists have been waiting around for this moment to be heard in this way. I didn't expect this album to be as good as it is and maybe that sways my rating a little, but I must say that this entire album is extravagant and beautiful. Fripp fans must get this as it is essential in a cumulative sense and because it simply is a masterpiece of improvisation and experimentation.

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 Kivenkantaja  by MOONSORROW album cover Studio Album, 2003
4.33 | 51 ratings

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Kivenkantaja
Moonsorrow Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Alucard Draco

5 stars I am currently listening to a heck of a lot of Black Metal music and to me it's one of the most diverse genres of extreme metal out there. It's a varitety of sounds from Atmospheric Black Metal, Pagan/Viking Black Metal, a combination of Death and Black Metal, Gothic Black Metal and a bunch of other sub genres. Kivenkantaja is most definitely the Viking kind but a most Melodic one indeed. It's really a combination of Folk Metal and a Celtic style mood but done most epically.

The reason I rate Moonsorrow so highly - especially this album is that it's good music - death growls and all which create such an atmosphere that imagining the lands and culture from just listening to this album is so easy to conjour up in ones head and to me I think it's one of the most accessible of Black Scandinavian Metal.

It perfectly creates the loud and epic moments and merges the quieter more traditional folky moments together without ever seeming out of place. The band have got a fine keyboardist and multi instrumentalist in the form of Henri Sorvali from Finntroll, which is one way to make epic even more epic.

I personally rate every song as necessary and so perfectly formed and arranged that Metal as a whole is so much healthier for it and I have no hesitation in given this album the maximum rating of five. Also check out the following albums as Moonsorrow are no one hit wonders and keep getting better and better whilst adapting different styles at the same time, so treat yourself to this wonder of Extreme Metal.

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 The Eye Of Fire And Fear by AS FOLLOWS album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.17 | 11 ratings

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The Eye Of Fire And Fear
As Follows Crossover Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars Ben Asaro hails from New York City, primarly a singer and guitarist, involved basically in several Heavy Metal projects like Phantom Isle, Twilight Odyssey and Urshurak.As Follows started initially as a side project of Urshurak, but evolved into a one-man band with Asaro measuring his talent on progressive compositions and releasing his debut album ''The eye of fire and fear'' in April 2014, a digital download on the bandcamp page.He arranged, sung and played all the displayed material, receiving some help on vocals by Gary Pickard, member of another New York City-based Metal group, Nevereven.

Despite being his first serious attempt in the Progressive Rock genre, ''The eye of fire and fear'' sees Asaro taking a huge step by recording two massive, over 20-min. long epics, apparently summing up a 50+min. concept work.It was quite reasonable that this had its certain flaws next to very interesting stuff, but overall the music is pretty cool.Both pieces are mostly guitar-driven with occasional synth- and organ dressing and some scarce Mellotron samplers and electric piano, sounding as a Heavy Prog album, sinking pretty often into some sort of spaciness and PINK FLOYD/PORCUPINE TRE-like atmospheres.Asaro does a great job on guitar with a set of sparkling riffs, slow-tempo, majestic rhythmic parts and some dynamic solos, surrounded by keyboard backgrounds and a few electronics pinches, sometimes rockin' quite hard, while others setting a spacious and cinematic enviroment.I find some of his ideas to be extended without any particular reason, but the album's atmospheric variations are very enganging and the result is far from tiring.The second piece especially sounds somewhere between RUSH, GONG, PINK FLOYD and contemporary Space Rockers FONYA, even recalling MIKE OLDFIELD in the lighter parts, the first one is more reto-sounding due to the sporadic organ, but overall expect a contemporary Prog Rock effort with the electric guitar in evidence.

Nice first attempt by Asaro, far from flawless, but definitely interesting, featuring some great guitar work and unique atmospheric parts.Recommended, especially if you love Rush, Porcupine Tree and Pink Floyd.

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 Gza Tsisken (Sky Way) by SINATLIS TSELITSADI album cover Live, 2004
4.29 | 5 ratings

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Gza Tsisken (Sky Way)
Sinatlis Tselitsadi Eclectic Prog

Review by Thandrus

5 stars My generation of Georgians should remember the stereotypes about Georgian rock music that circulated in their childhood. They should remember how would we build in each other's heads that rock music wasn't Georgian man's business and would blame it on the absence of some abstract "spirit". They should remember that majority of us, the "rock music lovers", never had even one tape of any Georgian music (with the exception of one table-song compilation maybe, just to make parodies and "elucidate the difference"). Et cetera, so forth and then some.

Hence in my childhood, my interest in Georgian music was mostly limited to music videos I commonly saw on TV. And the musical west seemed like a fairy-tale unrelated whatsoever with Georgian reality. So, with this status quo affirmed, I used to collect the music of King Crimson, Yes, Van Der Graaf Generator - I thought Can were English at that time, for I used to be told that only English write great rock music.

So when I was 14, I saw one man talking about his band's music on Stereo One (main music TV channel at that time) and he called it art rock. I was very surprised - then they mentioned the band name "Sinatlis Tselitsadi" (Georgian for "The Light Year"). The channel showed some interesting excerpts from their concerts, so I decided to find their CD that had been just released.

I managed to find this album only a couple of years later, when I got internet installed. I wouldn't say I liked it fully from the first listen, because despite music being harmonic, it's still quite complex and the sound is very non-standard, but it soon won my heart over - it just couldn't be otherwise for there's so much melodic beauty in it.

Sinatlis Tselitsadi's debut release (just like the sophomore one) is a live album, but you could only tell it by applauses - sound engineering is on high level. Overall sound of music is, as I mentioned, very unusual - band completely eschews bass and electric guitars and grand piano, atmospheric keyboards and the string section determine the sound. Gigi Gegelashvili's vocals, while not having very broad range, accentuate the music by the virtue of expressiveness.

As a result, Sinatlis Tselitsadi offers us extremely lyrical, "RPI-type" symphonic progressive rock, where beautiful melodies all follow one another. Even the most dramatic moments are full with contrasting lyricism, giving the impression of certain fullness.

Format-wise, music varies quite much - there are dark, multi-movement songs ("Somebody Walking Along" [9], "Circulation Of Time In Space" [10], "Escape From Paradise" [12]), a couple of well-development instrumental themes ("Prologue" [1], "Circle" [13]), short songs used for albums thematic development ("Town We Have Built" [2], "Möbius Strip - Part 1" [4]), short, beautiful interlude ("Etude For Children And Adults" [6]) and two breathtaking ballads - "Sea Passion" [3] and "R-atom" [10]. These two songs, located near the start and end of the album, form the most direct, loud manifesto of music's sentimental aesthetic.

Instrumentally, the performance is top-class. There are no contrived virtuoso passages whatsoever - everything serves the music's need. Although of the album is recorded live, musicians' high performance skills let the music flow freely between segments of different difficulties, moods and intensities.

Strange: if you asked me what I thought of this album right after the first listen, I'd have just said that it's just a good work, but as it often happens with harmonically complex music, I fell in love with this music so much that it became my favourite Georgian album. So, here you have the masterpiece of highest European level - something like Italian legends, PFM, Quella Vecchia Locanda, Celeste or Le Orme did. If these names don't ring any bell, then imagine Genesis with more classical music influences. If still no success - then hear Sinatlis Tselitsadi and then the aforementioned bands.

Sinatlis Tselitsadi is still active with changing personnel. In 2010, they released their sophomore live album "Generation XXI - Rock Cantata" and the next album is under way.

Originally written for www.georgianmusic.wordpress.com

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 The Cliff by PELICAN album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2015
3.00 | 1 ratings

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The Cliff
Pelican Experimental/Post Metal

Review by JJLehto
Prog Reviewer

— First review of this album —
3 stars Another Pelican EP, just enough to keep us satisfied, but leave us hungry enough to want more!

This EP consists of three remakes of their song, "The Cliff" released on their last album, as well as one original song, "The Wait".

The first remake, "The Cliff (Vocal Version" is just that, the original song but with vocals. This is of course shocking for the instrumental band, and unlike their only previous song with vocals which featured the singing in an airy, light style, this song features distinct, clear singing with lyrics such as "I'm gunna wait. I'm gunna wait here for you. You're running late. I'm gunna stay here for you. You're gunna love me someday." Honestly, I was a bit shocked...but it works. The vocals fit superbly and the lyrics, well they work! Also note the lyrics about waiting and the final song, "The Wait". Refreshing song.

"The Cliff (Justin Broadrick Remix)" is just that. Broadrick of Godflesh amd Jesu fame adds a noisy, industrial touch to the lengthened song, leaving it recognizable but clearly unique. The Palms Remix is done by Aaron Harris and Bryant Clifford Meyer from Palms, as well as the legendary Isis, and features the first song, (complete with vocals) but with some extra touches to it, such as Harris' classic drumming, some electronic touches, and a recognizable though clearly redone section of "The Cliff" with a nice ending.

"The Wait" is a Pelican song with all that we've come to love and expect. Beauty, power, subtle textured songwriting building to a powerful climax and of course the clean/heavy dynamic and powerful drumming.

So what to make of this little EP? Any Pelican fan will like it, and while it doesn't add much at all to their discography, take it for what it is: a fun, simple snack. The star power on this small EP is an intriguing touch, and while small there is a bit of a story to all of it: the first song, simply vocals added to an older song, is redone itself later. The lyrics in that first song, add a bit to the last, knowing what exactly "The Wait" is referring to, and perhaps adds to it's power and movement.

If you like Pelican, give it a listen. If you've never heard the band, give it a listen. The former should find it a simple, nice and fun EP, the latter will hopefully be encouraged to try the band's other material!

Good but non essential

THREE STARS

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 The Endless River by PINK FLOYD album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.50 | 349 ratings

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The Endless River
Pink Floyd Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by DrömmarenAdrian

3 stars Pink Floyd is a band I like more than I appreciate and "The Endless River" is an album I appreciate more than I like. I have not really wanted to get into this band's music of some reasons. Perhaps it's because they are so popular by average people. However, Pink Floyd is a perfect reserve I know I should love if I wanted. I am also quite sure it will be a day like that! Atom Heart Mother, Meddle, Dark side of the moon and Wish you were here are magical masterpieces and they are also the only records of them I have heard. Now have the band though quit with "The Endless River" which becomes their fifteenth studio album. Even the cover shouts out farewell.

The music is almost entirely instrumental and was recorded some years ago and features David Gilmour, Nick Mason and Richard Wright together with a bunch of talented guests. Eighteen tracks amongst which the majority are short and atmospheric. On a harmonic and lovely keyboard sound wall are put the confident drums and the typical lyrical guitar which this band is so famous for. The music is slow and it doesn't happen a lot but I must confess it's really pleasant to listen to. Many tracks are a bit too ambient for me but it's still very nice to hear the typical Pink Floyd sound on a 2014 release. My favourite parts are "Louder than words"(10/10) the only song with vocals, and how I wish all songs would have been as good as this. The last song from this band could be one of the classic songs as well. The song has similarities with "Wish you were here" for example. "Sum", "Anisina" and "Allons-y2"(8/10) are amazing tracks with wonderful melodies and fine guitars. "Surfacing"(7/19) is a great opening act for the final track and "Allons-y1"(7/10) makes me feel very satisfied too. All of the other tracks would I rate 5-6/10 and I could easily say that this album is decent from the beginning to the end.

This farewell from this great band thought contains too few masterworks and too many fillers, even if the fillers are quite good. I appreciate that the band made this conclusion and think that the future will give it a more fair judgement. My rating ends at 3.19 which meens three stars. Best song: "Louder than words"

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 Magician's Theater by KARFAGEN album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.71 | 89 ratings

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Magician's Theater
Karfagen Symphonic Prog

Review by DrömmarenAdrian

3 stars The reason why I chose to listen to and review this album was I really liked the previous album "Aleatorica" from 2013 and also that I was so amazed that this was a Ukrainian band. I actually visited Ukraine with my brothers this summer(Lviv and Kyiv). Unfortunately "Magician's Theater" doesn't manage to be as beautiful as "Aleatorica". The only thing that is better with 2014's album is the colourful cover which is appealing with all of its childish loveliness. It is a quite long album Antony Kalugin(keyboard, vocals, percussion,arrangement)and his partners have done. It lasts almost an hour and has nine normal length tracks and one long.

The last record was unique and special in my ears but these songs shine out just mainstream prog. I find it too heavy. The drums are beating and a lot of symphonic attempts are shown here and there. I though find it hard to feel the continuity within the tracks and the album. Over all, I find it rather pleasant to hear but not interesting and it definitely not gives my anything new. The shortest songs are also the best. "Turret"(8/10) is a lovely piece with medieval feeling and "Figment of the imagination 2"(6/10) are sweet too. A lot of songs are nice and works well but the "epic"(relating to its length""Magician's spell" are not coherent. It feels fragmented and a lot of ideas has been put together to perhaps create a long and impressive track. I wouldn't call it impressive though even if the instrumentalists are talanted(6/10).

My song to song rating ends at 2.85 which becomes three stars so it is fine music it is a big oppurtunity you like. I though am quite disappointed beacause I liked "Aleatorica" so much.

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 Apocalypse by MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.61 | 189 ratings

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Apocalypse
Mahavishnu Orchestra Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by DrömmarenAdrian

4 stars Mahavishnu Orchestra is one of the most famous and acknowledged fusion rochestras in the history of rock music. They were'nt active for so many years and their classical studio albums aren't very many but have important places in the history of prog rock. Especially "Birds of fire" of course but also their debut "The Inner Mounting Flame". Now I'm going to write some words about their fourth record(if we count their live record) "Apocalypse" from 1974, fourty years ago this year. It is a long record with a lovely cover where we see a flutist and a forest which is reflected by a lake. The record features, besides the band, the London Symphony Orchestra and it was produced by George Martin. The line up were John McLoughlin(guitar), Jean-Luc Ponty (electric violins), Michael Walden(drums, percussion, vocals, clavinet), Ralph Armstrong(bass, contra bass, vocals) and Gayle Moran(keyboards, vocals).

"Smile of the Beyond" has lyrical vocals which caresses the listener is a very harmonic musical landscape. This is the album's only track with vocals and taht is a bit peculiar in the world of mahavishnu Orchestra(7/10). This orchestra plays in one way very typical jazz music with long compositions where they vary some themes but at the same time the music is very rich and complex. The music is full of heavily expressed details and the compositions are well made. It not feels not like improvisation at all, which a lot of jazz music tend to in my opinion. The longest tracks are the album's best. "Vision is a naked sword"(9/10) is so magnificent and epic and balances all the time between being very pretentious and very humble(9/10). "Hymn to him"(8/10) is the longest song and experimental but in many ways classical. The cooperation with the London Symphonic Orchestra is interesting and worked out well. "Power of love"(7/10) and "Wings of Karma"(7/10) aren't the most itneresting songs I have heard but they are still harmonic and very enjoyable to hear. Over all this record is an excellent addition to a music collection and if you like fusion it is a must have. I rate the record 3.8 which will be four stars. Best track: "Vision is a naked sword"

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 Home By The Sea by GENESIS album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1983
4.69 | 7 ratings

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Home By The Sea
Genesis Symphonic Prog

Review by aglasshouse

5 stars Genesis' 'Home By the Sea' is probably the most outstanding track on their 1983 self titled (aka Shapes if you prefer). Most of the tracks that fill the album ranged from decent to good, but this track was the best. Many reviewers of the album (if they give it a fair shake that is) state that this is also the most "progressive" of the numbers. The band must have liked it too, seeing as they gave it a whole part two instrumental which lasted two minutes longer than the first part. I myself have already stated both in my review of it and obviously this one too that I love this song.

The song follows a basic yet strange plot. A thief attempting to steal from the home, stated in the title, before getting trapped and taken prisoner in the home by the sea forever more. There's many coinciding themes of darkness, creeping, as well as the overall attitude of a common thief sneaking through a house. Barreling riffs and clever songwriting make this an amazing song, who's second part brings in a more silly, synth-y approach which doesn't hold much water in the wake of the first part. Undoubtedly, however, this track is worth it, and deserves more praise than it gets.

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 Live Studio by BALLO DELLE CASTAGNE, IL album cover Live, 2015
3.91 | 3 ratings

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Live Studio
Il Ballo delle Castagne Rock Progressivo Italiano

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

4 stars Lurking in the shadowy corner where the darker Italian prog bands dwell, Il Ballo delle Castagne closed out their 2014 with the recording of a live album simply entitled `Live Studio'. Performed live, sure enough, at the Nadir studio in Genova in the Spring of 2014, main composer Vinz Aquarian and his cohort Diego Banchero from fellow Italian dark prog masters Il Segno del Comando, along with other members of the band, played a selection of Castagne pieces and an interesting choice of covers by artists as diverse as Franco Battiato, psychedelic band Ya Ho Wa 13 and even German symphonic prog legends Eloy! The results are a superb little forty minute vinyl length live release, and fans of the band should greatly enjoy the results!

Marina Larcher's hissing chants and gothic priestess wail weaves around Vinz's weary vocal that's seemingly carved from a cursed altar stone throughout opener `Tema di Gilgamesh'. Heavy slab guitars and sprinkles of organ ploddingly lurch along until spacey swirling synths flitter around strangled electric guitar soloing in the climax. The slow burn bluesy/acid rock guitar strutting that quickly turns wailing throughout `La Terra Trema' over spectral church organ instantly calls to mind Antonio Bartoccetti's Antonius Rex, and Diego gets some playful jazzy bass soloing before Fernando Cherchi's drumming erupts to life with fiery purpose. Lusty foot-tapping guitar grooves saunter through the hallucinogenic synths and ghoulish female beckonings of `Il Viaggio', the most subtle of jazzy flavours dancing throughout, and a rollicking piece originating from one of Diego's side projects Egida Aurea, `Odore di Benzina', offers frantic dark funk, his relentless bass purring with wicked delight.

`I Giorni della Memoria Terrena' is a dramatic and dreamy reinterpretation of German band Eloy's `Appearance of the Voice', Vinz's distorted spoken vocal (with new Italian lyrics) groaning over reflective and tasteful guitars replacing those shimmering synth lines of the original. A further cover of Italian legend Franco Battiato's `Areknames' is given a frantic new-wave punky sprightly pop/rock makeover. A ranting narrated introduction over rising church organ builds a brooding mysterious menace throughout `Omega' before the band twist it into a devilish Black Sabbath stomp, and the band close on Ya Ho Wa 13's acid-rocker `Fire in the Sky', where endless scorching electric guitar soloing burns with hellfire intent, the repeated chanted chorus crushes your precious hold on sanity and a repetitive bass-line smashes down on your skull over and over for all eternity!

`Live Studio' is limited to just over a hundred copies, and despite it being a CD release, it comes in a glossy fold-out 7" LP sized sleeve, with the disc carefully placed in a plastic pocket inside. It's a beautiful presentation for a special little live document that, although not essential, offers a frequently exciting live performance with plenty of spontaneous fire and rough intimidating gloom from a fascinating darker Italian band. It's meant as a friendly gesture of thanks to fans for supporting the band, and while it's definitely recommended, the March 2015 release of their next studio album, `Soundtrack for an Unreleased Herzog Movie' promises to surely be even more exciting!

Four stars nonetheless.

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 Hand. Cannot. Erase. by WILSON, STEVEN album cover Studio Album, 2015
4.31 | 106 ratings

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Hand. Cannot. Erase.
Steven Wilson Crossover Prog

Review by floflo79

5 stars Here it is ! The album that I wanted the most for 2015 ! Two years after the amazing "The Raven That Refused To Sing", Wilson come back. And he shows that he is more creative than ever.

First Regret : An introduction song which is very cool, with gloomy piano like at the end of Nine Inch Nails' Closer, but with a typical Wilson melody. A great opening.

3 Years Older : One of the longest song of the album, and also one of the best. Pure prog, with great melodies, furious and calm sections, really cool.

Hand Cannot Erase : The title track is in fact the worst track on the album. But it's not bad. It's just pop. Pop is not really a problem, but the others songs are better, that's all.

Perfect Life : A atmospheric song, pleasant and really apperciable.

Routine : A 9 minutes great prog song, with beautiful piano and vocal work.

Home Invasion : One of the best tracks. Begin like a jazz rock jam, with awesome keyboard riffs, and great vocals.

Regret#9 : A great synth solo and a f**in amazing guitar solo. Just beautiful.

Transience : An acoustic interlude, very nice.

Happy Returns : A more pop song that I didn't really enjoy.

Ascendant Here On... An atmospheric final, great closing for a great album.

A wonderful album by the king Wilson !

5 stars !

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 Live At Leeds by WHO, THE album cover Live, 1970
4.03 | 104 ratings

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Live At Leeds
The Who Proto-Prog

Review by ster

5 stars I am really glad to see The Who include on PA. Due to my own personal definition of prog rock, bands like The Who, Led Zep, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath (among others) deserve to be considered prog since at the time of the their formation, rock music was progressing because of what these bands were producing. Tons of original ideas with players to back it up. One of my all favorite bands, The Who never stopped experimenting and constantly pushed the envelope of rock music.

Live At Leeds, The deluxe edition, is the only Who album you need if you are only going to own one. This one sports an incredible sound from such an early live record. Raw but loud and clear. It also shows how incredibly daring they were going off into improvisations on some tunes and how incredible John Entwistle and Keith Moon were as a furious and dynamic rhythm section. Also Pete Townsend seemed to never run out of ideas and he proves on this record that nobody did and ever will rock harder. Roger Daltrey needs no introduction as the greatest rock belter of all time.

Ever song on this record sounds MUCH better than their original counterparts. Just check out A Quick One While He's Away, Tattoo, My Generation for proof.

I wouldn't call this a prog-rock masterpiece in the "traditional" sense. But there is no way in hell I will ever give this record any less than 5 stars on any forum.

Now go get it, crank it up. You'll thank me later.

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 Hand. Cannot. Erase. by WILSON, STEVEN album cover Studio Album, 2015
4.31 | 106 ratings

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Hand. Cannot. Erase.
Steven Wilson Crossover Prog

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

4 stars 'Hand. Cannot. Erase.' - Steven Wilson (81/100)

I think it is a testament to the brilliance of Steven Wilson as an artist, that the least immediately gratifying album thus far in his solo career is still one of the most impressive things I've heard in these nascent months of 2015.

While I'm altogether certain I'm not the only one who longs for a Porcupine Tree reunion one of these days, Wilson's latest flagship has long since proved itself. His 'solo' phase has not been so much a continuation of that band's sound as it has been a liberation from the expectations fans might have had for any successor to The Incident. Porcupine Treeis synonymous with the sort of melancholic 'alt-prog' they're known for popularizing, but fans with a cursory knowledge of Wilson's music should know that was only a facet of his art. His poppiest tunes went to Blackfield. His love for drone and krautrock manifested themselves in Bass Communion and I.E.M respectively, and his longstanding collaboration with Tim Bowness (as No-Man) channelled ambiance in several shades. For any of the material that fell in- between these lines, a project under his own name was perfect. In spite of the heavy praise Steven Wilson has received for his eclectic solo work, I am positive a lot of the stylistic expeditions would have been given flak, had it been released with Porcupine Tree. An audience's preconceptions and expectations can make shifting sounds a tricky thing; this is something Wilson's pal Mikael Åkerfeldt might have taken into account when Opeth released Heritage (to intensely polar reactions) back in 2011.

The sleepy Insurgentes and - to an even greater extent - jaw-dropping Grace for Drowning pulled in sounds from every corner of Wilson's art. With these last two albums however, Wilson has let his love of classic progressive rock guide his approach. I don't mean to imply that Hand.Cannot.Erase. is a repeat of 2013's The Raven that Refused to Sing, but the open-ended, career-encompassing variety that had me obsessed with Grace for Drowning back in the day isn't so much a part of Wilson's solo material these days.

It's not the love note to 70s' prog rock that The Raven was, but Hand.Cannot.Erase. continues to pay homage to Steven Wilson's classic influences. His pop songwriting (one of his best talents, I think) takes a backseat to longwinded prog observations, the likes of which only usually seen once per Porcupine Tree record. "First Regret / 3 Years Older" is replete with Wilsonian vocal harmonies and successfully moving choruses, but its greatest charm lies in its not-so-subtle nod to A Farewell to Kings-era Rush. Yeah- I wouldn't have ever expected to mention the Canadian trio in a Steven Wilson review (his classic influences tend to rest near the psychedelic spectrum) but the precise basswork and bright power-riffs demand the comparison be made.

The comparisons don't end there either. "Home Invasion / Regret #9" starts with chugging, quasi-metal fare (it's not the first time Wilson's love of Meshuggah has found its way into his art) before it expands into a jazzy, King Crimson-esque exploration. From there, it falls into a longform, gradually building solo showcase shared between Adam Holzman and Guthrie Govan- again, this kind of chilled and soulful soloing could be traced to Pink Floyd, but so many prog rock bands have made use of it since that it may well be considered common property. "Routine" may be the only longer track here that escapes all quickdraw comparisons to classic prog. It's soft, varied and beautifully dynamic; I've seen a few people call "Routine" their favourite cut from the album; it might be a little over the place and rhapsodic for me to call it one of my favourites, but following the beautiful minimalism of "Perfect Life" before it, it's a refreshing switch of gears.

Hearing Wilson place an emphasis on this kind of tried-and-tested longform composition is both impressive and frustration. Wilson's natural talents with writing, matched with his encyclopaedic interest in the genre, his warmth as a producer and cast of brilliant musicians (some of them legends in their own right) make the least- involving moments on Hand.Cannot.Erase. a joy to behold. Coincidentally (and I may strike a note of controversy for saying so) those 'least-involving' moments all fall in the stretches of time Wilson hands the reins over to his backing soloists. Guthrie Govan stands as one of the best working guitarists today (his masterpiece debut Erotic Cakes is proof of that), but I notice my attention slipping whenever another extended guitar solo rolls around. From a technical standpoint Govan (and keyboardist Adam Holzman) hit all the proper marks, but the compositions fall into the age-old issue of making added space for the solos, without creating the dynamic surroundings to make it feel more than an expression of (their admittedly superb) technical musicianship. When it comes to some of these lax instrumental passages, I feel myself reeling back to thinking of the way Wilson masterfully opened up The Raven, with "Luminol". "Luminol" offered some of the best musicianship I've ever heard in the progressive genre, and felt consistently engaging in spite of its length. There wasn't a need to create longwinded solo passages then, and I don't think there was a need for it here.

I know I could have stopped with simply saying "TOO MANY SOLOS" and risked sounding like just as much of a curmudgeon, but the talent of everyone involved is worth far more than falling on old tricks like that. Barring that, any issues with Hand.Cannot.Erase. are negligible. Steven Wilson's work with would-be prog 'epics' has seen better days to be sure, but the three 10+ minute tracks grow with every listen. "First Regret / 3 Years Older" is the most contagious opener I have heard in a long time, and in spite of my criticism towards it, "Home Invasion / Regret #9" seems to get more charming with every listen. "Ancestral" was the slowest grower of the lot for me; the darkest note on Hand.Cannot.Erase. begins with Floydian melancholy, and erupts into one of the closest skirmishes with prog metal Steven Wilson has ever had. The dark atmosphere and oppressive riffs fly close to the heavy climax on The Incident, but unlike that album, Wilson makes sure to give the aggression due time to emerge and erupt.

Also quite like The Incident, the album's final moments following the climactic storm are tender. "Happy Returns" isn't quite as heartbreaking as "I Drive the Hearse", but I'm sure it was written in a similar mindset. To be honest, this sort of Porcupine Tree-ish tenderness and beauty strikes an even stronger note with me than the more progressive and overtly sophisticated material on Hand.Cannot.Erase. To anyone who's heard the album already, it shouldn't come as any surprise that the title track is my favourite song. "Hand Cannot Erase" is, without a doubt, one of the most infectious and enjoyable songs Wilson has ever written, up there with "Trains" and "Lazarus". The melodies are crisp, the lyrics intimate and Wilson's voice fittingly warm and passionate.

"Perfect Life" was a far less intuitive choice for a single, but it's come to hit me just as hard emotionally. The anecdotal spoken word (performed by Israeli singer Ninet Tayeb) is an intimate gateway into the album's concept of isolation. Foreboding electronic beats build underneath. Halfway into the track, the atmosphere switches from tension to tenderness. Steven Wilson's voice chimes softly: "We have got a perfect life..." From underneath that, a one-man chorus of harmonies emerge, themselves building up in layer and intensity until the song ends. I describe this moment because it is completely haunting every time I hear it; I know the word 'haunting' is tossed around in music reviews as many times as McDonalds sells Big Macs in a fiscal year, but this is one of the occasions that truly warrants the description.

To date, the only album concept from Steven Wilson that really meant something to me was Porcupine Tree's Fear of a Blank Planet. Deadwing and The Incident are conceptual works, but there's not a great deal of narrative or symbolic sense to make of them. I've always loved Steven Wilson's intimately poetic lyrics, but I've rarely cared to draw conclusions about the album concepts themselves. In the case of Hand. Cannot. Erase., the concept is more clear, although Wilson's left particular lyrical meanings up for an audience's interpretation. Suffice to say, the album's conceptual foundations (of a woman who isolates herself from human contact for three years) fall in line with Wilson's recurring anxieties towards modernity. Even if the narrative's character is female, the lyrics feel too personal to have come from anything but Wilson's own experience. What are we to make of the way the story ends? The woman finally re-enters society, but sees nothing has changed while she's been away. It's a bittersweet way to part ways with a character so disenfranchised with the isolation inherent in modern living. Still, it seems a brighter ending than the one shared by the concept's real-life inspiration; Joyce Vincent (an abused woman living in London) was discovered in her apartment three years after she died. Given the anxieties Wilson explored on Fear of a Blank Planet, it's not surprising he would have been moved enough to create art based on that story.

I wonder, were she alive to hear it, what the real-world Joyce Vincent would have thought of Hand. Cannot. Erase. The essential beauty of art and music is that it allows people to share their emotional experience, conveying the hidden depths of themselves to another person they have probably never met before. Humans feel more isolated than ever, and none moreso than in cities. The kind of feeling an artist like Steven Wilson brings to his music has never been so important. No, I'm not awe-struck the way I was with Grace for Drowning or his other best work, but Hand. Cannot. Erase. feels resonant and powerful. Wilson may play with traditional progressive notions here, but unlike your Flower Kings and Transatlantics, he never succumbs to them. By this point, Steven Wilson's solo work has become a monument, increasingly independent from the legendary prestige of his old band. Part of me still hopes he'll revive Porcupine Tree one of these days and follow-up The Incident, but I'll eagerly await anything of his if he keeps up with this brilliant standard of quality. The man has no signs of slowing down any time soon.

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 NichelOdeon Boxset/Compilation, 2013
3.67 | 12 ratings

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NichelOdeon "Bath Salts" + InSonar "L'Enfant et le Ménure"
Nichelodeon RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

3 stars 'Bath Salts + InSonar "L'Enfant et le Ménure' - NichelOdeon/InSonar (59/100)

I don't think it would be fair to call Bath Salts + L'Enfant et le Mčnurea real 'split' album; both are driven by the same core member (Claudio Milano) and both operate by similar guidelines. Both NichelOdeon and InSonar could be resomably described as 'avant-ambient' progressive rock, both projects' included albums are unreasonably long, both projects highlight Claudio Milano as a brilliant vocalist, and both employ far more guest musicians than they rightly know what to do with. In a sense, L'Enfant et le Mčnure and Bath Salts are close mirrors of one another. While the former goes for an 'everything but the sink' approach to avant-prog (that ultimately leaves it feeling indistinct) Bath Salts grounds the sound a little more, cutting out some of the unnecessary filler and capitalizing purely on Milano's voice. Between the two, Bath Salts is endlessly better than its counterpart. Listening to the two back-to-back only reinforces this notion.

Eating up over three hours cumulatively, Bath Salts + L'Enfant et le Mčnure isn't something I would recommend be heard in a single listen. Even one of these albums can be tough to get through at once; not necessarily due to the quality but the aimlessly subdued instrumentation shared by both albums. Even the strongest material here demands a level of patience some listeners may not have. If you're thinking about getting into this, check out the first disc of Bath Salts; it's the most grounded and consistent of the four CDs, and arguably delivers the best experience. As a final word, I'd like to bring attention to the album's packaging. The cardboard layer atop the CDs and booklets is plain, save for the green imprint of lips atop it. I think it reflects the music here fairly well; minimalism, with an almost out-of-place theatrical touch.

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 Hand. Cannot. Erase. by WILSON, STEVEN album cover Studio Album, 2015
4.31 | 106 ratings

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Hand. Cannot. Erase.
Steven Wilson Crossover Prog

Review by admireArt
Collaborator PSIKE Team

4 stars STEVEN WILSON, - Hand. Cannot. Erase. 2015.

Song by song perceptions-

1st one is like Steve Roach but in a lo-fi heavy/metallic world, perfectly translated into SW's idiom with an astounding and quiet complex song-writing. A 5 star song undoubtly.

2nd song- The first part of this song is something like SW meets America , the soft/folk US band, not the continent. Even though he adds up the P.T. anger, the main melody line is close to America's soft evocative passages, and the final part detours completely and turns towards YES , the way they should have ended up sounding like and not the s..t they chose to be.

The 3th song is the kind of POP/METALISH song that coud easily meet the radio-waves and catch a more undemanding audience. Of course, never pointing out to the silly parts of those audiences.

The fourth song takes a different direction, even commenting on its own musical roots, which is as admirably as humble, for SW to do so. This Mortal Coil, if that means something to the expertise prog-audiophiles, if not look for this project - " band" , to understand this tribute song. (they are not featured in PA, so look somewhere else).

The fifth song is quiet in the middle of great and boring. It travels at least 4 separate directions, although perfectly threaded, performed and sung, the melodies more than once are quiet anonymous , in comparison to its elder sisters. So far, the less inspired song or in PA's terms a 3 star song.

The sixth song will make all PT's and SW's followers super happy. It delivers the kind of material, that when played live, will surely be a highlight to remember. It even includes a great electronic metal-jazz/folk prog, grand-finale (inevitably Jeff Beck comes to my mind, but that is me).

Song 7 is the showcase of SW musical virtues (literally speaking), as his aquired knowledge in these his own fields. Therefore, expect intense riffs and solos, as mellow strumming and intelligent guitar works. Another 5 stars song.

Song number 8,explores again (track 4), the gothic side of SW's heart. A mellow/bombing, soft hearted unidirectional song. Super nice!

THE 9th, is introspective at first, then it turns out to be something like the possible future for P.T. if they decided to do so. Although the song writing is not that astounding, as it could have been, in those terms.

Song number 10, could be like the synthesis of the whole record so far, but kind of cutting short on some of its own highlights, which is quiet undeserving.

Song 11, the closure song, is exactly that.

****4 PA stars, strongly inclined to a future 5 stars project.

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 Bath Salts by NICHELODEON album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.55 | 13 ratings

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Bath Salts
Nichelodeon RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

4 stars 'Bath Salts' - NichelOdeon (74/100)

What is the strangest musical instrument? Some might quickly tell you it's the theremin or the kazoo- fringey musical tools that sound downright alien (or hilarious, respectively speaking) to the untrained ear. A few might even go a step further and bring up a range of rare and 'invented' instruments. I think the relative truth is much simpler. The strangest musical instrument is, without a doubt, the human voice. It's understandable why that notion's so commonly overlooked; even the best singers usually only use a fraction of their voice's potential.

I think Claudio Milano's art stems from this willingness to push those boundaries and explore the untapped potential trapped behind the veil of conventional singing. NichelOdeon's Bath Salts is minimalist in most other sense; with most of the backing instrumentation left up to harps and similarly subdued palette, plenty of room is available for Milano's to exercise every nook of his vocal chords.

The result of this oddly obsessive style is one of the weirdest albums I have heard in a long time. While it's well- possible that NichelOdeon were influenced in part by Italy's longstanding progressive rock scene (this was the expectation I had of the album going into it), the only significant crossover between this and RPI conventions are the vocals themselves; Italy's experimental music scene has always had a tendency to favour vocal theatrics, and NichelOdeon are no different. Claudio Milano's voice is emotive and wonderfully operatic; it's not a stretch to imagine him performing his part on stage before a crowded theatre.

The biggest initial surprise in NichelOdeon's sound is how subdued most of the instrumentation is. Although the music occasionally takes an unexpected turn (hear: the percussive jazz break towards the end of " L'Urlo ritrovato" ) most of the music is performed with the lightest of instruments; most significantly. There is rhythmic energy on Bath Salts. There were many times throughout the album where I felt like I was listening to a resonant harp performance in some Medieval court or tavern; other times- when more lavish strings came into play- it sounds like Milano is singing atop a classical chamber group. That only accounts for a part of NichelOdeon's work on Bath Salts, too. Clocking in at well over an hour and a half, it would be tedious to have taken note of every stylistic hiccup and detour. With regards to the album's overall impression, it should be enough to say that while the instrumentation is never bold enough to compete for the listener's attention, NichelOdeon echo enough variations on classical, jazz and ambient music to keep it charming, even if it sounds too restrained to have kept my attention without the voice of Claudio.

As Bath Salts goes on, the music becomes darker, more experimental; NichelOdeon don't stray far from the 'medieval-chic' instrumentation, but Claudio Milano's vocals become increasingly strained. On the first disc (Capitolo I. D'Amore e di Vuoto) Claudio is soft and warm, with dramatic heights ascending, only to reel in again. Capitolo II. Di Guerre e Rinascite is more experimental. There are times on the latter half where Claudio conjures his inner Mike Patton; familiar RPI-variety operatic vocals give way to a manner of overlapping screams, disharmonies and disjointed sprechgesang. The instrumentation never achieves a fraction of the same energy as the vocals, but NichelOdeon left many of their most jarring ideas for the final act.

While I love Capitolo I, the more challenging approach on the latter half actually holds the album back. True to Mike Patton traditions (if you're ever in the mood to listen to the worst album ever by the way, check out his Adult Themes for Voice) the screechy vocalizations wear out their welcome quickly. Claudio Milano is one of the best operatic singers operating within an experimental context, but no amount of vision or talent can make it enjoyable to listen to someone sound like they're choking on their own tongue.

It should go without saying, but Bath Salts is far longer than it rightly should have been. Despite the eclectic range of sounds, the ambient mood of most of it makes it sound a lot less diverse than it really is. Even having heard Bath Salts multiple times, I can't believe that over thirty musicians took part on it. It may just as well be considered the work of one man. Claudio Milano's voice is a treasure, and most of the album rides on that strength. Just like Peter Hammill (whom Claudio tributes in a cover of Van der Graaf Generator's "The Looking Glass" on the first disc) Milano is a vocalist who treats his voice like a full-fledged instrument. Even if I'm not thrilled by the album's more technical excesses, his voice is such that dozens of backing musicians cannot hope to trump it.

In the end, I'm not sure how to classify this unique expression. A deconstruction of Italian prog? 'Avant-ambient'. maybe? This is a beautiful album for the most part, but it's not for the faint of heart.

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 Bansheeface by PSEUDO/SENTAI album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.99 | 13 ratings

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Bansheeface
Pseudo/Sentai Crossover Prog

Review by memowakeman
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars A project that has no boundaries!

This is Pseudo/Sentai, a project that started by the will of Greg Murphy and Scott Baker, who have been creating music with no classification, with no labels, and despite I am reviewing their music for progressive rock sites, I wouldn't dare to say they are a prog rock project, because you'll find eclectic elements that might describe their music as Pseudo/Sentai's music, no other band sounds like them. In 2014 they created a new album named "Bansheeface", a 44-minute length baby divided in 13 tracks.

"Quantum Cardboard" starts with a helicopter's sound and then the explosive electronic sounds and drums begin, it is like having a funny journey to NES games, because the sounds will remind you of some video games. "Sleeping Closer to the Ground" brings vocals for the first time, and with them, an inherent power. Here the electronic is not the main element, here rock prevails, not in a classic way, but with a nice blend of heavy experimental rock and avant garde. The composition is very well crafted, and it is easy to sing and get on well with the music, in spite of that heavy sound. "Terraformed Transcendence" has a kind of AOR sound, but again, the music is not easy to describe or classify. The best you can do, is simply listening to it and let it do the rest, I am sure you will enjoy it, because though it has some aggressive moments, overall it brings a friendly sound that anyone would enjoy.

"Immaculation" is a wonderful track due to its awkward blend of styles. First you will listen to some electronic beats, and then acoustic guitar accompanied by hip hop like vocals. The music flows and they bring us different changes, but all of them interesting. In some moments I even remember Adrian Belew's music due to the vocals, strings, and that heavy full of energy sound. "Bansheeface" is a magnificent track, here is easy to be delighted by the talent and craziness of these guys. I love how their sound makes me feel alive, furious, energetic, and intense, they bring me back to life, and believe me, it is not that easy to find music or bands who help you that way. "Trap of Assassination" is a very nice and experimental short piece that has a strange blend of acoustic strings and electronics, with a kind of western sound, and some video game noises at the end.

"Black Matter of Machinations" drastically contrasts with its predecessor, here the mood is softer, with nice vocals (lead and back) that sing over nice atmospheric keyboards, cool strings and constant drums. I think is a catchy tune, which does not mean it is less complex or interesting. After a couple of minutes the intensity increases, the music releases a monster that screams and all the hidden energy is spread. Wonderful track! "Sleeping Closer" is a short, wild and tense track with female vocals and electronic background. "The Holy Metamorphacity" is one of the longer tracks of the album, and one of the best as well. The music created is first class prog/avant/electronic/heavy/rock that your ears will greatly receive. I love the vocals, all together make a great sound, and I love that inherent energy that provides satisfaction to one's wishes. The drums are amazing, and what they create with keyboards is fantastic.

"A Taste of Endangered" is a short instrumental track whose first seconds take me somehow to the desert, while the second part takes me to heaven, celestial voices hehe. "Classic Tactics of Geoncide" has enchanted me, mainly due to its mellotron-like background which never ceases, but also due to the vocals, tense bass lines and in- moments-dramatic-sound. It is impossible not to enjoy it and also not to move our head. It is like a hypnotic tune. "March of the Selkies" has a lot of energy on it, is a heavy piece of rage. It is normal to remember some other acts, and though I said Pseudo/Sentai has its own sound (because they do have it), bands such as Sleepityme Gorilla Museum, Adrian Belew, The Mars Volta or Rain Delay came to my head while listening to the album. The album finishes with "Mound of Seed, Seed of Earth", a shorter piece that brightly closes a wonderful record.

I know this band might not be for everyone's tastes, however, I would suggest you to give them a chance, they have their music in Bandcamp, so listen to them and you'll understand better what I said on my review.

Enjoy it!

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 Psychedelic Sleep by CRYSTAL PALACE album cover Studio Album, 2003
3.14 | 9 ratings

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Psychedelic Sleep
Crystal Palace Neo-Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars In 2003 Crystal Palace released what was supposed to be their third full-length album, titled ''Psychedelic sleep'', needless to say the band had yet to sign with a major label and this was another self-produced work.The drummer issue remains at the forefront for the band, previous member Sven Brehm had left the band and the new face behind the drum kit was Mathias Wallasch.

I do not know if all these member changes had sucked much of the band's lust for writing material, but this supposed third effort by Crystal Palace was less than 33 minutes long.The title of the album is also a bit misleading, because this one has nothing to with Psychedelic Music neither comes up as a sleepy effort.To the contrary, ''Psychedelic sleep'' moves along the lines of the previous efforts, being a highly energetic, mostly Neo Prog album with some heavier leanings and some strong resemblances to the music of JADIS.The songwriting is pretty cool and, even if all tracks are rather short and lack the true spirit of Prog Rock, the material is well-played with some monster melodies and very good vocals.As with JADIS, the music is basically guitar-driven with the main contribution by the keyboardist coming in atmospheric, semi-symphonic backgrounds, I would love to see the band becoming a bit more complex in certain moments, but the songs are quite nice, the structures are pretty typical of the genre with atmospheric changes and some bombastic parts mixed with chill-out moments.The guitar duo of Hegner and Jaschob deliver some exciting moves here, either being some lovely atmospheric solos or some heavy riffing.''100 miles from Eden'' is old Crystal Palace at their best, nice synth- and guitar-based rhythmic Neo Prog, a bit reminiscent to TRISTAN PARK and ENCHANT.

Solid album to say the least and definitely a goodie for Neo Prog buffs.Its length is pretty reduced compared to the past works, but I guess you can't have it all in the game of life.Recommended.

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 Sensitivitā by COSCIENZA DI ZENO, LA album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.89 | 162 ratings

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Sensitivitā
La Coscienza di Zeno Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars ''La Coscienza di zeno'' became a sellout within a few months of its original release date, no wonder when considering its amazing quality.The band was still busy, after accepting the invitation to participate in two Musea compilations, ''Decameron: Ten days in 100 novellas - Part 1'' and ''The stories of H.P. Lovecraft''.Meanwhile, sometime in March 2012, they would welcome veteran keyboardist Luca Scherani in the place of the departing Andrea Lotti.Several lives would follow during the year, some of them next to Italian Prog legends such as Locanda delle Fate, Maxophone and Garybaldi.La Coscienza di Zeno then signed with AltRock Productions' sublabel Fading Records and in summer 2013 comes the second album of the band ''Sensitivita'', recorded with a few guests on flute, strings and Mellotron.

This is a case of a rather flawless album, a clean production, a powerful, bombastic and grandiose symphonic sound with enough twists and turns to satisfy even the most demanding Prog fan and very good Italian vocals, split between hard and warmer singing.Moreover the tracks are quite long with thematic variations and rhythm alternations, the music is both romantic and dramatic and the composing level remains pretty high.The main problem with La Coscienza di Zeno's second album is the more pronounced use of the synthesizers and acoustic piano over the analog keyboards, showing the band moving slightly from the retro aesthetics of their debut, plus this album is executed with perfect performances on instruments and vocals, but seems to lack the pair of killer compositions and atmospheric intelligence of the first work.It strangely sounds however a bit more balanced with a tight and confident sound, passing through soft and dynamic arrangements, showing some love for Classical Music and jumping in the same wagon with LA MASCHERA DI CERA.Very Italian-sounding with evident inspirations from P.F.M., BANCO DEL MUTUO SOCCORSO, MUSEO ROSENBACH, CORTE DEI MIRACOLI (propably the best comparison here) and IL BALLETO DI BRONZO, featuring extended instrumental variety, flavored by some strings and flute and even some slight theatrical edges.

It would be unfair to compare this work with the band's debut, because such masterful albums come out once in a while.''Sensitivita'' is a great work of Classic Italian Prog, the vocals are simply fantastic and the arrangements are mostly very interesting with series of impressive and inspiring moments.Strongly recommended...3.5 stars.

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 Corvus Stone II by CORVUS STONE album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.07 | 253 ratings

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Corvus Stone II
Corvus Stone Crossover Prog

Review by memowakeman
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars This is the second child of Corvus Stone, a multi-national band whose first album was edited back in 2012, entering to the complex progressive rock world with a daring 79-minute record. With "Corvus Stone II" they repeat the dose, because once again Pasi Koivu, Colin Tench and co. bring a daring 79-minute album, divided in 16 pieces. Personally, when I wrote the review of their first I aid it was really long, so there were moments where I felt lost, where I did not enjoy it as I would have loved to, and I have to say that this same feeling happens now with this new album, but with a lesser impact. However, I have understood they charm lies on their eclecticism, they will to compose and create prog rock whose songs might not be related to each other, but are very well crafted. Of course, I have enjoyed more Corvus Stone now.

It starts with "The Simple Life", a very nice two-minute introduction to Corvus Stone's eclectic journey. The first that caught my attention was the keyboards, and then the vocals with a sweet symphonic sound, so the beginning is bright, let's see what happens next. "Early Morning Call" has some cadency, it is a nice instrumental track that could be used as a film soundtrack, it is easy to put some images in one's head. "Boots for Hire" is the first long composition, reaching almost the nine-minute mark. The sound is pretty interesting, a kind of bluesy introduction with a soft spacey background. At minute 2 vocals by Stef Flaming enter, opening the gates to a brand new song, because it turns into a psychedelic piece, at least for the next two minutes. Then it slows down and morphs again, and again. This is one of the virtues of Corvus Stone, they change in every single second, they dare to change, which is something good.

"Sneaky Entrance to Lisa" is a 30-second interlude by Colin Tench. It leads to "Purple Stone", whose first seconds are dedicated to a car speeding up. Later the music enters in a rocky mood, with vocals by Blake Carpenter, so the sound is a bit more theatrical. It has nice details such as the bass lines, but I must say this is not my favorite song at all. "A Stoned Crow Meets the Rusty Wolff Ratt" is a longer composition, which contrasts a lot with the previous one. Here the sound is more delicate, it has acoustic guitar and nice atmospheric keyboards at first; later it changes and becomes rockier. After four minutes there is a nice passage where keyboards take leadership, adding that symphonic sound. The song runs and flows nicely, with maybe one or two pauses that I would omit. Of course, drums are great in this particular track.

Another short interlude comes with "Lisa has a Cigar", a classical track by Pasi Koivu. "Mr. Cha Cha" comes right away, a nice instrumental song with a cool rhythm and a rock style, I assume it is a kind of rendition (or maybe mockery) to the Cha Cha Cha genre, I don't know. "Dark Tower" is another interlude, a very nice one, this time with Carpenter's voice. "Scandinavians in Mexico" shares a nice even danceable tune, it actually sounds delicious, it is like a blend of rock, jazz and Latin rhythms. I have to say these guys are very talented, they have the capacity of creating great eclectic music through online ideas, and they have are capable of complementing each other's ideas, which give as a result these so different songs.

"Mystery Man" has again Carpenter's vocals. This track is pretty nice, atmospheric and melancholic; I liked how they slowed down here and show a slighter face of Corvus Stone, though after some minutes the song becomes deeper, more passionate, with a great guitar work. This is one of my favorite tracks. "Camelus Bactrianus" is sung by Timo Rautiainen and if I'm not wrong, lyrics are in Finnish, and though it is impossible for me to understand, the music and the vocal color makes it truly enjoyable, with a kind of somber mood, interesting. "Uncle Shunckle" is a wonderful instrumental track, another one of my favorites here. I think the musicianship is excellent, each and every instrument makes its own party, but at the same time, one leads to another and so on, I mean, they perfectly complement each other.

"Eternal Universe" is another very good track, this time sung by Phil Naro, and it returns to the softest side of Corvus Stone. But well, the epic comes next with "Moaning Lisa", a 14- minute piece where Sean Filkins sing, so it is pretty reminiscent to Big Big Train. The first five minutes are pretty sweet, pastoral, easy to dig and I would also say, beautiful. Then it begins to morph, the electric side appears (it was acoustic-driven at first), so a great blend of guitars put a wonderful atmosphere, while Filkins vocals become more passionate little by little, adding a nice diversity of elements such as Spanish folk, jazzy keyboards and heavier percussions. The music flows, I love how the song does not let you go, I mean, you remain interested and expecting new and new surprises. Their richness of sounds will keep you enthusiastic while listening to it, so what you have to do, is relax, enjoy the passages and let the music do the talking. Finally, "Campfire" provide the last two minutes of this excellent, challenging record.

I invite you to discover Corvus Stone's music, it is an amazing blend of genres and elements with a positive and satisfying result. Enjoy it!

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 Turn Off by SHAMALL album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.06 | 157 ratings

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Turn Off
Shamall Neo-Prog

Review by KayPa

4 stars I must admit, it's hard to categorize this album. But I will do my best. You should know that I am not a fan of that 'typical' progressive rock music with frequent meter changes, complex time signatures, static compositions made on a drafting table, buzzsaw-sounding speedy guitar soli'. Undoubtedly, that kind of work is made and played by highly crafted, very talented individuals. But after turning off the player, each time I feel discomforting and unbalanced because that music leaves no traces, there is nothing to think off or to feel afterward. I got really mad listening to the highly acclaimed releases of supergroups. Why do I'm writing this? Before I will lose some words about Shamall's 'Turn Off', I would give the chance to every progrock-nerd or clock-counter to leave the stage right now.

Everyone else, who is still here and will have an open-minded heart, will enjoy 'Turn Off' as a completely rounded rock album with psychedelic, symphonic and electronic elements. Chill-out phases alternate with memorable guitar and keyboard soli. Lots of instruments with occasional male and female vocals build the works. The whole thing is a natural flow between heavy guitar passages, extended instrumental parts and ambient soundscapes. There is no special 'song' to emphasize (except 'the creeping dead' maybe), because you have to listen to this album in its entirety to gather its full potential. Music and art work are as great as its message. The sound on my old huge stereo speakers is just unbelievable.

I still love the good old classic rock like Marillion, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Jethro Tull, Genesis, Supertramp, Pink Floyd of course, some progressive rock like Ayreon, Riverside, Lunatic Soul, Karnivool and most of the recent stuff from rock bands like Pop Evil, Nothing More, Five Finger Death Punch or Starset. But 'Turn Off' really hit me when I listened to it everytime.

Of course this is no new milestone, but definitely one of the best releases in the last years. 4 and a half stars!

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 The Incident by PORCUPINE TREE album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.69 | 1226 ratings

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The Incident
Porcupine Tree Heavy Prog

Review by Queen By-Tor
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

2 stars Dead leaves at the end of the Tree.

There's something heartbreaking about The Incident that I've never quite been able to put my finger on. The story at the core of the album would probably like me to believe that it's the entire concept that puts a damper on each and every listen that I have of the album but that's just not it. If the album had actually achieved what it had set out to do by hitting my heartstrings in a way that made me feel for a character or concept the album would be a triumph - and that's not how I feel.

No, the heartbreaking thing about The Incident is that the whole thing feels lackluster. Half-assed. Effortless. Tired riffs and monotonous singing may have attempted to bring across an emotion that started with the rather nihilistic Fear of a Blank Planet but without the care and attention that was brought into each well crafted song. The 55-minute song cycle that makes up the first disc of the album has so few ideas stretched out over so long a time period that often times it feels like a drone album done by a drone band trying to expand into rock and roll without knowing how. The guitars clunk, the vocals whine and there are very few standouts that make my hair stand on end the way this band usually can.

Even Time Flies, the notable standout (and single) of the album is not without major flaws. Clocking at nearly 12-minutes it becomes the only song to actually leave a place in the listener's mind. However, any prog fan with depth to their catalog will not easily be able to dismiss the fact that it rings so heavily of the riff to Pink Floyd's Dogs that they will likely be put off of it.

The redeeming part to having made purchase of this album is the second disc. What a shame that is is only 20 minutes long! If they had combined this with the Nil Recurring recordings and released that as a kind of FOABP 2 they would have been met with much greater success! The odd tone and grumblings of Bonnie The Cat ring back to their Signify days while expanding on their current themes. Flicker is such a haunting melody that it DOES send shivers down my spine and Remember Me Lover takes us back to a darker version of Up The Downstair and finally ends off the hour plus long album.

In conclusion, The Incident is not without it's merits. It is simply unfortunate to see a band so lauded in the progressive, metal and alternative communities release an album that feels like an afterthought. Steven Wilson clearly had other things on his mind when the album was released, having already released his album Insurgents. His solo career has taken the music of Porcupine Tree to an entirely new level and continues to be truly progressive, but it's too bad he left the Tree to fall with no one around to hear it.

2 stars for an album that is worthwhile for the 2nd disc (a must for fans) but an ultimately disappointing, perhaps final, release by a once titan of the genre we adore. If you have not already become familiar with their music check out Up The Downstair or The Sky Moves Sideways if you are a fan of Floyd-flavored psych rock, or Deadwing and Fear of a Blank Planet for brooding Opeth style psych-heavy-progressive bombast, or Stupid Dream and In Absentia for top notch song-driven crossover prog with feeling. Avoid this release until familiar with what made the band an impressive force and solidified Steven Wilson as a demi-God of music.

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 It's A Love Cult by MOTORPSYCHO album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.90 | 30 ratings

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It's A Love Cult
Motorpsycho Eclectic Prog

Review by Progrussia

4 stars After Motorpsycho were heavy, and before they were heavy again, they were plain old rock'n'roll-y. On It's a Love Cult, they continue the lusher avenues explored on 2001's roots rock- jazzy-country Phanerothyme, but a little more aggressive this time around. This features such songs as the psychedelic power pop of Uberwagner or a Billion Bubbles in My Mind, the rollicking Neverland and Composite Head, the pastoral Circles and The Mirror and the Lie, the complex pop rock of Serpentine, country-flavored What If, the quiet jazziness of This Otherness, the hard rocker Custer's Last Stand. For a band that started out grungy and often (mis)labeled as stoner rock, Love Cult features rich arrangements and strong instrumental performances. A bar where they'd play this kind of music would instantly be my favorite.

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 Uomo Di Pezza by ORME, LE album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.25 | 516 ratings

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Uomo Di Pezza
Le Orme Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by presdoug

5 stars After the important and groundbreaking album "Collage", a definite musical step in the right direction for Italy's Le Orme, next comes this excellent follow up album "Uomo Di Pezza". Any way you look at this album, technically, emotionally, spiritually, dramatically, it is a winner.

The great thing about this record is that there are no weak or out of place elements to it. Aldo Tagliapietra's voice is as emotional and moving as ever (my not knowing the Italian language does not hamper me in appreciating his fine vocal delivery), and instrumentally, the band is firing on all six cylinders; inventive drumming by Michi dei Rossi, who always has that perfect sense of timing and dramatics, the well crafted and executed bass and six-string guitar of Aldo's, and of course great, classically inspired to the fore keys playing by Tony Pagliuca, all co-existing to make a wonderful recording. And the resultant atmosphere created by these musicians is unique in it's way, despite comparisons with Emerson, Lake and Palmer's sound.

This album is the perfect transition from the previous "Collage" to the next one, "Felona e Sorona". No look at, or appreciation of, this band would be complete without "Uomo di Pezza". Actually, no seventies prog collection, period would be complete without this masterpiece-it is that essential. 5 stars, no less.

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 I by TAIPUVA LUOTISUORA album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.39 | 12 ratings

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I
Taipuva Luotisuora Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars After the nice introduction to the public with their debut, Taipuva Luotisuora signed with their hometown label Kaakao.Meanwhile the line-up was expanded to a six-piece core but without Hermanni Vuorisalo on drums, instead Tatu Laurila and Taneli Korpinen had entered the team on drums and percussion repectively.The second album of the band, simply titled ''I'', was released in 2005.

They picked up the sound of their debut album and throwed in some heaviness in the electric parts, as this point the band seems to walk on parallel ways with Belgians QUANTUM FANTAY, introducing space inventiveness, rhythmic guitars and a bit of Folk in a nice Space Rock package.Unlike the Belgians though, their more folky touches, performed mainly on kantele and flute, had a strong oriental edge, recalling the 70's Kraut Folk acts, and creating ethnic soundscapes over cosmic, multi-layered synthesizers and electronics.Drums are very pounding and the guitar-driven parts are quite mascular, they even enter some PORCUPINE TREE-like territories during these heavier moments.The new album even contains a 15-min. long instrumental, ''Tropiikin hedelmia soseena'', divided in four movements and showcasing the Finnish at their most diverse execution.An exchange between powerful riffs and neurotic electronics with ambiental textures and acoustic injections, while parts of the piece sound very melodic and certain guitar moves are inspired by Eastern Music.And after the display of groovy, spacious sounds they have chosen a calm instrumental to close this work, ''Sohvatyynyja jaannöslangoista'', based on soft piano, violin and hypnotic drumming.

Among the interesting groups of modern Space Rock.All these bands had Ozric Tentacles as their guiding light, so do not expect something very personal, but the material is passionate, psychedelic and very, very dynamic.Recommended.

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 El Reloj II (aka Al Borde del Abismo or Segundo Album) by RELOJ, EL album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.97 | 23 ratings

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El Reloj II (aka Al Borde del Abismo or Segundo Album)
El Reloj Eclectic Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars Despite releasing two warmly received albums in mid-70's, El Reloj were well-known in Argentina since the early-70's as a premiere Hard Rock band, led by bassist Eduardo Frezza and lead guitarist Willy Gardi.They had played numerous lives, before taking a break around 1971, when second guitarist's Gregorio ''Goyo'' Felipes life was cut short due to a terrible accident.They returned the following year with new member Osvaldo Zabala on second guitar and the standard entries, Juan Esposito on drums and Luis Alberto Valenti on keyboards.In 1973 their debut single sold about 30,000 copies and in 1975 they released their first full-length, self-titled album on RCA Victor's Vik sublabel, recalling the powerful Heavy Rock of Deep Purple.The following year a second self-titled album came out on RCA Victor, today known as ''Segundo album'' or named after the track ''Al borde del abismo''.

El Reloj sounded a lot like an Italian Hard Rock/Prog band, let's say somewhere between OSAGE TRIBE and CAPITOLO 6, featuring high-pitched, irritating vocals and basically a largely guitar-based sound.The DEEP PURPLE influences are still apparent in some of the tracks, mainly due to the rhythmic tunes or organ-based passages, but this second album of the band was much closer to RUSH.Even more impressive their incredible guitar workouts and complex twists evolved a slight ''Red''-era KING CRIMSON edge.The material is very energetic, often quite complicated with unexpected tempo changes and strong, mascular riffs, surrounded by very good work on organ and piano and featuring a third guitarist in a few numbers, Carlito Mira.All pieces are quite short with the aforemtioned surprising musical values, played mostly in fast tempos and delivered with an angular edge.The exception to the rule comes from the 10-min. ''La ciudad desconocida'', a nice, melodramatic attempt on Symphonic Hard Rock with a bit more emotional vocals compared to the rest of the album, epic proggy passages with crying guitars and fiery riffs and some trully great and dynamic Hammond organ waves.

Cool Argentinian Hard Prog, very similar to the Italian bands of the period.Dual and even triple guitar fests with complex themes, supported by pinches of keyboard dominance.Quite attractive and warmly recommended.

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 Fly From Here by YES album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.41 | 824 ratings

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Fly From Here
Yes Symphonic Prog

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Okay, so I am admittedly a huge fan of Yes and I even gave "Drama" 5 stars which I still and always will believe it deserves. So, with the return of Trevor Rabin and Geoff Downs (both from the "Drama" lineup) and the long standing band members Steve Howe, Alan White and Chris Squire, I thought we had something that would really work here. But wait, who is this Benoit David? Why isn't Trevor singing lead this time around? Oh well, it's bound to be another great album like "Drama" right? Even without Jon Anderson? It all worked before!

Not this time. This sounds like Yes cover band. Oh wait a minute, it almost is! The lead singer here sounds like a poor man's version of Jon Anderson, he sounds like a cheap imitator. Even with the amazing musicians who are Yes regulars sound like they are forcing everything. Everything about this album screams out Imitation Yes.

Okay, so we do at least have a 24 minute multi song suite, so that looks interesting, right? Don't be fooled. It is a song that was already demoed to be a song by The Buggles (Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes new wave band) and it was rejected from any original track listings on any of their albums. So how in the hell did they think it would be worthy of a Yes album? Do you know what it sounds like? It sounds like a Buggles song.

I can't help but be disappointed here. This album just lacks emotion and heart felt dynamics. It sounds like a bunch of amateurs trying to copy a progressive rock formula. The only thing going for it is the sound is well produced, but that is all wasted by having to listen to a plastic sounding imitation. No originality here either. Everything just sounds like a poor rip off.

I don't like being so negative, but I hold some very high standards for a band I have loved throughout the years, a band as hugely influential as Yes. This album is a shame for me, it makes me hesitate to admit my love for Yes. But, Yes afficianados will understand, I'm sure. Yes is still one of the best, just not in this incarnation. This isn't Yes, it's only a bad imitation. I wish they would have released this under The Buggles moniker. At least then everyone would have expected the results, not that it would have made them any better.

Where is the band that I loved so much? This gets 2 stars only because the production is great, the rest of it is awful.

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 Adrenaline / Leaves by GATHERING, THE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1996
3.00 | 1 ratings

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Adrenaline / Leaves
The Gathering Experimental/Post Metal

Review by thwok

— First review of this album —
3 stars I will start my review by confessing that The Gathering have become one of my favorite bands. So, I have to admit some bias toward anything they put out! This EP needed to be reviewed, so I did so. Anneke van Giersbergen had become the lead singer by this EP, Adrenaline/Leaves, was released. She is a very large part of the reason for the band's success. She has a terrific alto voice, although I wish there was more variety to her singing. The band's early material is often considered simple, derivative death/doom metal, and usually not given a lot of respect. However, these songs come from The Gathering's breakthrough album Mandylion, which is excellent.

All three songs are good ones, with "Leaves" probably being my favorite. I don't care for a lot of versions of the same song, but in this case the second version of "Leaves" takes up less than a third of the total playing time. This is a good listen for anyone who is interested in The Gathering and wants a brief introduction. This is certainly not their best EP or single; some greater variety could have boosted the over all rating. Adrenaline/Leaves is a good introduction to the innovative sound that first brought The Gathering to the world's attention.

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 Fly By Night by RUSH album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.32 | 887 ratings

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Fly By Night
Rush Heavy Prog

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Rush's 2nd full album effort in my opinion is their weakest from all of their earlier albums from their debut album up to "Moving Pictures". Granted, Rush was working hard to find their sound, and they do move a little bit away from their straightforward Rock sound of the debut album towards a Hard Progressive sound, but they don't quite nail it down very well. To me, "Caress of Steel", their next album does a much better job of expanding their sound than this one does. I know that probably contradicts what most people say, but, I love "Caress of Steel" even if it is a little disjointed and "Fly By Night" to me is rather substandard in comparison. It even sounds more like a 1st album than the debut album does.

There are a few great songs here at least that hold their own when compared to the best Rush songs, namely "Anthem", "Best I Can" and the multi-movement epic "By-tor and the Snow Dog" and these songs throw the most light on the greatness that was to come later, but the rest of the album seems to sag. Most of the 2nd side of the album is much softer and sounds like an attempt to be radio friendly. Of course, this made the title track accessible and has become one of the band's most famous songs, but it pales in comparison to Rush's usual output. The usual emotion and energy of Rush's music is missing and this creates a weak album.

I can't rate this as a 1 star because it's not a poor album. The 3 strong songs here make it a good album, but just don't expect a lot out of it and you may find it somewhat enjoyable at least. Nothing really makes this essential though when compared to the greatest Rush albums. So, it squeaks by with a 3 star rating because of the excellence of 3 tracks and a very cool looking album cover.

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 In Action/In Synthesizer Sound by PINK MICE, THE album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2004
3.13 | 6 ratings

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In Action/In Synthesizer Sound
The Pink Mice Symphonic Prog

Review by presdoug

4 stars After reading the bio on this band, I was intrigued beyond belief; finally an early 70s recorded German band that was in the vein of early Triumvirat, my favourite band of all time. And upon listening to the music on their two studio albums from 1971 and 1972, respectively, the music of The Pink Mice has been a delight and pleasure, to say the least.

I can appreciate classical music in a very big way, and the group go to great lengths to transcribe and play sections of it from some composers I truly admire-Mozart, Beethoven, Bach, Grieg, Haydn, to name a few. Nothing is more "Classical Rock" than The Pink Mice. Both albums stand up as strong efforts, without either one being a "weak sister" of the other. While they don't broaden out their music in long suites the way Triumvirat used to, they don't really need to, as their direct transcriptions of pivotal sections of important classical music pieces get "to the point" in an effective, and attractive way. What an improvement this group is over the Lucifer's Friend sound that preceded it.

The Pink Mice were a class act, and are undeserving of the pitifully low ratings they have garnered in these quarters. They are excellent musicians and obviously knew how to strike a chord, figuratively and literally, with the classics. I feel that I am getting the best of both worlds when I hear their music, a devotion to important sections of classical pieces in a rock format. I am in wonderment that I never heard the band until just very recently, considering how close to great home turf they are for me, musically. I can't help but admire these guys. 4.5 stars, really.

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 Flowermix by NO-MAN album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1995
2.67 | 24 ratings

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Flowermix
No-Man Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

3 stars This is the companion remix compilation for "Flowermouth" which I consider a masterpiece. This collection however is not consistently good throughout like that album. It is completely made up of remixes of tracks from Flowermouth, but, except for a few exceptions, they don't really add to or improve the original tracks. We can talk about these tracks a little bit and you can decide for yourself if it merits the effort to locate this compilation.

The collection starts off with "Angeldust" which is a great remix done by Steven Wilson of the track "Angel Gets Caught in the Beauty Trap". The remix features guitar and soundscapes from Robert Fripp and it stands out because of the effective use of Frippertronics and improves the original track. It also features sax from Mel Collins (also originally from King Crimson) spotlighted even better than the original track. However, the Flowermouth reissue contains this particular track as a bonus track, so you are just as well off to get the track on that album. The next 3 tracks are "Faith in You" (the first instance of "You Grow More Beautiful" remixed by Prophets of Bliss) which has a hip hop sound that moves into electronic techno territory that to me distracts from the beauty of the original track, "All I See" which is a repetitive remix of "Soft Shoulders" made for the dancefloor and not for casual listening, and "Natural Neck" which doesn't do anything for me. These 3 tracks are not even close to challenging except for the effort it takes to stay interested in the music and they add nothing to the originals.

"Heal the Madness" is a great remix that starts out very atmospheric and builds from a spacey, somewhat ambient sound to a nice beat that actually stays interesting because of the lack of extensive repetitiveness that is overwhelming in the previous 3 tracks. After that you get another version of "You Grow More Beautiful" re written by SW and featuring a funkier sound than the original. This one is probably the only "traditional" sounding song on the entire album and adds a different character to the song than the original without ruining it.

After that, you get 2 more repetitive remixes, "Sample" which is a techno sounding version of "Simple" without any kind of feeling that made the original great, including the fact that the vocal loop from Lisa Gerrard is either missing or pushed so far into the mix that it means nothing, and next is "Why the Noise?" which is a reworking of "Teardrop Fall" with the vocals remaining fairly intact, but it is rougher sounding than the original and more dramatic, but not really worth the effort of the remix.

Last of all is "Born Simple" which is a 12 minute foray into Frippertronic soundscapes and SW electronics and it sounds more like SW's other project Bass Communion than it sounds like a No- man remix. It is a great example of Fripp's atmospheric guitar special effects put to effective use, but it is also available as a bonus track on the original album's reissue, although it is about 3 minutes shorter than the "Flowermix" version.

In my opinion, even with the great tracks on here, it still isn't worth searching this one out. You are better off finding the amazing "Flowermouth" album where at least you get 2 of the 4 better tracks that are on this compilation. The other 2 great tracks are not enough to redeem the rest of the compilation from it's repetitiveness and inability to add much to the original album. Taking this compilation on it's own merits though gives it a good rating, but it really isn't essential especially with the bonus tracks now available on "Flowermouth"

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 Platte by ELECTRIC ORANGE album cover Studio Album, 2003
3.06 | 9 ratings

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Platte
Electric Orange Krautrock

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Studio album number six from the retro-Krautrockers of Electric Orange is even more heavily in debt than usual to the groovier explorations of CAN, sometimes to an almost slavish degree, in tracks like "Holzbock": seven-plus minutes of perfectly simulated Jaki Liebezeit rhythms and spiky one-chord Michael Karoli guitars. The expanded CD even includes a bonus cut with the explicit title "Dedicated to MK", but all the free-form organ vamping makes it more an "Homage to IS" (Can keyboardist Irmin Schmidt).

In truth the young quartet from Aachen isn't really aping Can; they're proudly maintaining a historical legacy of likeminded instrumental wanderlust. And, honestly, the band couldn't have chosen a better role model, even if they never had any hope of achieving the same level of influence or fame.

Don't expect anything too deep or challenging here. The music, even in longer workouts like the 20- minute "Kwark", is structured like a casual jam session instead of the more intuitive 'instant composition' practiced by their role models. But on a strictly superficial level the album is very satisfying: an often thrilling and always affectionate '70s throwback with a very contemporary sound (not a contradiction, for these guys).

What's ultimately missing is that vital spark of Inner Space originality, and the excitement of true discovery. But even secondhand Krautrock can be an adventure worth taking.

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 Belighted by IAMTHEMORNING album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.98 | 250 ratings

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Belighted
iamthemorning Crossover Prog

Review by Kjarks

5 stars This young russian ensemble takes us to an enchanting promenade amid very original musical landscapes, sometimes soft and quiet, sometimes tormented and even furious. Marjana's sensitive and sensual voice is a perfect guide to follow and it is made more moving again by Gleb's omnipresent, subtile and skilled keyboards play.

In my opinion, "Delighted" is more mature, more accomplished than their very promising debut album. The combination of classical instruments and rock elements is not an innovation in itself, of course. But, here, it's not only an addition (like it has been so often since rock bands want to prove they can create elaborate music !) ; it is a total fusion. We can not conceive this music in another way. And that is very innovative.

Moreover, icing on the cake : the packaging is splendid and that can not be neglected.

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 Little Brother Is Watching by BUMBLEFOOT album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.00 | 2 ratings

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Little Brother Is Watching
Bumblefoot Progressive Metal

Review by floflo79

3 stars Bumblefoot is one of the most skilled guitarists of all time. Some of his songs like Guitars Suck, Guitars Still Suck, I Can't Play The Blues or Real are amazing. 4 years after the good Abnormal, Bumblefoot come back with Little Brother Is Watching which is a concept album, I think. On this album, Bumblefoot stopped a little bit the weird and very fast guitar solos, and made more melodics songs, which is a good idea. The songs are epic, with great backing vocals, big drums and good riffs. The voice of Bumblefoot is better than before, he is a great singer now. From Clots to Higher, the songs are great. After, it's a little bit repetitive, but stills pleasant. The finale (Never Again) is pretty epic and some of the solos are really cool, like the one on Don't Know Who To Pray To Anymore. A good album but not essential so 3 stars. It's still one of the best efforts of Bumblefoot, just behind 9/11 and Hermit.

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 Iron Maiden by IRON MAIDEN album cover Studio Album, 1980
3.82 | 429 ratings

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Iron Maiden
Iron Maiden Prog Related

Review by HunterD

4 stars Atomic metal punks! Steve Harris can disavow the UK punk scene all he wants, but there is a punk steam wafting up from the metal grates in the dank alleys of Iron Maiden's memorable debut. It may even be the earliest ancestor of crossover, alongside the road dogs in Motorhead.

Of course, this is due to a few elements, one being that the musicianship of the band had yet to reach that level of refinement that they would further hone on "Killers," before bringing Bruce Dickinson into the mix and elevating Eddie from a street punk with eggs in his hair, to a figure bigger than the Devil. The other element is Paul Di'Anno, who brought a grungy element to Maiden's sound during their first two albums. This punky tone Di"Anno brought to the game felt a bit out of place once Adrian Smith joined and the band could really wail those guitars to perfection on "Killers," but he's the right guy for this record. It's not the Iron Maiden we came to know and love, but it's a great album, listening to it is like watching an Enzo G. Castellari movie where scary punks rule the streets, with a gothic edge.

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 Cross Purposes Live  by BLACK SABBATH album cover DVD/Video, 2003
2.65 | 8 ratings

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Cross Purposes Live
Black Sabbath Prog Related

Review by HunterD

2 stars I've always had a keen interest in Black Sabbath's back pages, the days without Ozzy or Dio, when it was a chaotic line-up from album to album with Tony Iommi at the eye of the storm. For awhile, Iommi found a stable presence in the form of singer Tony Martin, who served behind the mic during many thankless years. It's true that Martin was a bit of a poor man's Ronnie James Dio, but the guy was a good singer. He cleaned up well on "Eternal Idol" and "Tyr" went on to be unexpectedly influential in Nordic metal circles.

What the "Cross Purposes" live video reveals, though, is how deficient he was as a stage presence with Sabbath. Dio always looked a bit silly in his medieval elf outfits, but he had such a way of owning it that his charisma won out and made us love him as he pointed the horns at the audience. Martin just doesn't seem to know what to do, and his hair makes matters worse.

Still, I always enjoy seeing how Sabbath's rogues gallery of singers handle the classic songs over the years (Ian Gillan in particular was a scream). Getting to hear Martin handle the classic material is what makes this a "fans only" affair. He's best, though, when handling his own songs, like "Anno Mundi" and "Psychophobia," which are both fantastic tunes. In the end this video may have been better with more of his material, but you can't do a night of deep cuts from "Eternal Idol" and "Headless Cross" at a Sabbath show without expecting to incite a riot. The book has been shut for awhile now on this era, and some of the records are tough to come by these days, but it's an interesting look at a show during Sabbath's lean years, which judging by the crowd, would probably make most bands fat.

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 Gentle Giant  by GENTLE GIANT album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.87 | 863 ratings

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Gentle Giant
Gentle Giant Eclectic Prog

Review by HunterD

4 stars How can Gentle Giant's debut LP not be considered anything other than an essential entry in any prog collection? I'm not just talking about the music, I'm talking about that album cover. That dorky, smug Scottish giant, with those happy Keane-ish eyes. It's like he knows something you don't. They say to you, "yeah, this band is called Gentle Giant. I'm a big, cuddly Scot. I enjoy mandolins and Punch & Judy shows. You think that sounds lame? Joke's on you, little guy!" It's an image that, like King Crimson's schizoid man or Rush's star man, has become representative of the genre. Even before I ever listened to Gentle Giant, the cover of this record was what leaped to mind whenever I thought of seventies progressive rock. Not owning it is like not owning "In the Court of the Crimson King" or "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway." It's like loving gangster movies, but not having seen "Little Caesar." It's not the best gangster movie, but it's an iconic one, goddammit!

Okay, enough about the cover, what about the music? It certainly is GG's heaviest record, with more of a blues rock influence, but it has the eclectic elements in place that would bloom on their subsequent releases. I must admit that after hearing albums like "Acquiring the Taste" and "Octopus," I didn't spin this one again for awhile. "Acquiring the Taste" is such a quantum leap from "Gentle Giant" in terms of musicianship and progressive songwriting, that it made "Gentle Giant" seem like an album where a band is simply hammering out their sound. And yet, I missed the heaviness of the album, which is why I always feel compelled to return to it, and I always listen from "Giant" all the way to "The Queen," which is actually the only throwaway on the album, but it always lets me know I've reached the end.

This self-titled debut is nowhere near the finest work that Gentle Giant put together in their brief-but-prolific career, yet it's still a must, a perfect starting point for getting into one of the finest bodies of work progressive rock has ever offered.

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 Flowermouth by NO-MAN album cover Studio Album, 1994
3.93 | 116 ratings

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Flowermouth
No-Man Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Flowermouth is No-Man's 2nd full album and what a beauty it is. It is full of great, atmospheric sounds, sometimes ambient in a few short passages, sometimes featuring drum loops you can dance to, other times offering an atmospheric jazz/rock fusion and other times discordant sounds. Each track has it's own great characteristics and surprises, the one constant being Bowness' airy vocals which work in every scenario presented here.

This album is also loaded with guest artists that add to the quality of this music. It's a huge thing first of all that the usual two man crew of Tim Bowness and Steven Wilson are helming the band and we are in capable enough hands right then and there, but you also get so much more here. In "Angel Gets Caught in the Beauty Trap", you get the muted jazz trumpet sounds of the great Ian Carr, in "Shell of a Fighter", you get full on space rock sounds of Wilson's Porcupine Tree co-hort, Richard Baribieri, and in the beautiful "Simple" you get looped vocals of Lisa Gerrard from Dead Can Dance that add to the mystery of that song. On top of that you even get some killer guitar solos from Steven Wilson and plenty of evidence of his involvement throughout the album, even though the overall sound is far from Porcupine Tree, but it is still brilliant.

Okay, so if that isn't enough for you, let's throw in 2 King Crimson greats, Robert Fripp who plays guitar on 5 of the tracks and adds some Frippertronics on 6 tracks (including the 2 bonus tracks) with 'Born Simple' being all instrumental with all Frippertronics and Steve Wilson's electronics making for something that sounds more like Wilson's other project, Bass Communion. Also, Mel Collins from the earlier (and also most recent) incarnations of King Crimson plays sax and/or flute on 3 of the tracks (including a lovely flute solo on the amazing song "Animal Ghost"). What other excuse would you need to check this album out?

The other reason for the importance of this album is the excellent musicianship, production and songwriting prevalent throughout this album. Everything here is utilized and executed wonderfully. The overall sound is atmospheric like I said before but with so much more thrown in to keep it interesting. The entire album, even with all these great musicians participating, is very cohesive even in it's variety. There is plenty here for space rock fans, for electronic fans, for jazz fusion lovers and yes even some passages that would please avant garde fans. All of this is tied together by Tim's vocals and Steven's instrumentation. No-Man was a very talented band, but there were only a few of their albums that were able to reach the essential status. This is one of them. There is quite a varied amount of No-Man material out there, most of it hard to find in the U.S., but this album is definite must-have for Steven Wilson fans, you definitely hear a lot of his influence here. Also, KC or Robert Fripp fans should search out this album because he has so much influence and guest time on this album to be considered a band member.

Very psychedelic at times and very complex and jazzy at others, yet the album is very accessible. This it a great doorway into the music of so many artists, but also for Progressive Rock in general. It is an underrated masterpiece and should be explored by all lovers of the genre.

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 Riding On A Tear by ZOMBY WOOF album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.79 | 35 ratings

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Riding On A Tear
Zomby Woof Symphonic Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars Zomby Woof came officially to life around 1973 in Reutlingen from the ashes of a no-named early-70's band, featuring guitarists Heinrich Winter and Udo Kreuss, bassist Frank Keinath and drummer Thomas Moritz.When Keinath left the band, Kreuss moved to bass and Ulrich Herter had joined as a second guitarist, while Matthias Zumbroich and Matthias Seelmann-Eggebert joined Zomby Woof on keyboards and organ respectively.After a long period with several lives Moritz and Seelmann-Eggebert quit in 1976 and ex-Puppenhaus' drummer Bea Maier joined the band.The following year they released their debut ''Riding on a tear'' on Jupiter Records, captured in a former cinema in Dachauer Strasse in Munich.

Zomby Woof played a refined Symphonic/Art Rock with lots of melodious passages, somewhat moving away from the typical spacious Teutonic sounds of the era or the Baroque approach of Novalis and Triumvirat and sounding a bit like CAMEL flavored by the interim, slow-tempo proportions of GROBSCHNITT, based on light Hammond organ parts, elaborate guitar moments, plenty of synth lines and managing to creating a laid-back, epic sound with complex arrangements and well-connected thematic variations.The material is quite often vocal-oriented, but even the shortest track contains a bunch of breaks and stylistic switches, they even recall GENTLE GIANT at the funky/psychedelic effort of ''Requiem (Part I)'' or the long ''Dora's drive''.Keyboard work is awesome, characterized by Mellotron, clavinet and electric piano injections and endless organ and acoustic piano interludes, I am bit surprised they had two guitarists, because the material is mostly keyboard-oriented with quirky grooves and moves and some blistering, grandiose orchestrations.The music is mostly dense with lots of interplays and influences even knocking the doors of Fusion.This certain approach has its exception on ''Mary walking through the woods'', this one sounds a lot like NOVALIS with Classical references on piano and symphonic keyboards all the way along with the dramatic, atmospheric singing of Ulrich Herter.

The allbum sold pretty well, around 5000 copies reached the hands of buyers, followed by a rare nowadays single.In 1979 Maier and Winter left to form Alarm, replaced by drummer Achim Czech and lead singer Harald Horvath.David Hanselmann also joined Zomby Wood prior to the recording of the second album ''No hero'' at the Galgenberg Studio in Schwabbach.This work eventually never saw the light, sounding more poppy and accesible.The band split up in 1980.

German quirky and polished Sympho Rock in the vein of Ramses and Shaa Khan.Melodic compositions with non-stop keyboard showering and occasional entries into complex exercises.Warmly recommended...3.5 stars.

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 Formen Letzter Hausmusik by TIETCHENS, ASMUS album cover Studio Album, 1984
3.00 | 1 ratings

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Formen Letzter Hausmusik
Asmus Tietchens Progressive Electronic

Review by progadicto

— First review of this album —
3 stars Asmus Tietchens is one of the most underrated eletronic music pioneers in mid 60's. He starts his career making concrete music and experimenting with electronics until Peter Baumann (from Tangerine Dream) compromises with Asmus to produce an album.

Since that moment, Tietchens has released over 40 albums of irregular quality perhaps this one, "Formen Letzter Hausmusik", is a remarkable achievement into his career.

Noisy, experimental, almost avant garde. Reminds me some Peter Frohmader "Nekropolis" electronic imporvisations or an insomniac Klaus Shulze but a little less inspired perhaps there are some intentioned ambiguous and morbid atmospheres based on dark dense and minimalistic keyboards and synthesizers and fullfilled with almost annoying distorted metalic effects; in fact, more than be labeled as an "electronic" artist I dare tos ay that you'll heard on this album some of the most dark avant garde experiments of the mid 80's.

Perhaps it's a very uniform album which fluctuate between intentioned mysterious atnmospheres and very hard experimental effects there ar some highlights to mention such as "Hydrophonie 1", "Kammermusik 1" and "Studie Über B-A-C-H". Not one of the top electronic avant-garde pieces of all times but at least a very enjoyable experimental album.

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