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Änglagård - Hybris CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.38 | 1614 ratings

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5 stars "Hybris" is the debut full-length studio album by Swedish progressive rock act 'nglag'rd. The album was originally released on CD through the Mellotronen label in late 1992 and on vinyl through the Norwegian Colours label. "Hybris" has since seen several reissues. The original version of the album featured 4 tracks while later reissues feature a 5th bonus track in "G'ngl't fr'n Knapptibble"

The relatively inactive 80s progressive rock scene in Sweden, which had been pretty active in the 70s, made a major comeback in the early 90s with acts like The Flower Kings, Anekdoten, Ritual and Landberk. Few artists have been met with almost universal praise as 'nglag'rd have though. They didn't exist for long the first time around and only released two studio albums before they disbanded, but especially "Hybris" is widely considered a "classic" Swedish progressive rock album.

...and it's apparent why that is when listening to the album.

The first thing you notice when listening to "Hybris" is the high level musicianship. These guys (and girl) are outstanding on their instruments. They successfully balance their playing between organic dynamic playing and precision interplay. Flute is the dominant lead instrument in the mellow folky sections, while the busy drumming, keyboards/synths, guitars and bass form the basis on the more energetic parts of the album. Vocals are sparse, mellow and delivered in the Swedish language.

The music is heavily rooted in 70s progressive rock and while a combination of Kaipa and King Crimson is a much too simplified description of 'nglag'rd's sound, I think it'll give people a general idea of how the music sounds (I heard a few nods toward Genesis too). The lush and occasionally folky symphonic progressive rock of Kaipa (the sparse Swedish language lyrics also point in that direction), the dissonant darkness of mid-70s King Crimson and the beautiful and mellow acoustic guitar sections of Genesis (as heard in "Ifr'n Klarhet Till Klarhet"). It's a great combination of mellow and heavy elements that make "Hybris" a very dynamic listen.

The tracks range from 8 to almost 13 minutes in length, and there is a lot going on in each track. This is not an easy listen and even seasoned progressive rock listeners might find themselves challenged quite a bit. But that's of course also part of the appeal of the album and it certainly ensures longivity. This is the kind of album where you'll find new details every time you give it a spin. Initially I found the compositions a bit disjointed and I struggled to understand them as full compositions and not a bunch of great ideas thrown together to form tracks. The more I've listened to the album though, the more all the pieces seem to form a coherent puzzle.

But it's not only the musicianship and the songwriting that are top notch. Add to those two important elements the fact that "Hybris" features an organic, detailed and powerful sound production and we have a high quality product on our hands. The only flaw/issue, if you can call it that, is that the music isn't particularly original sounding (it's still highly adventurous though). Most elements on the album have been used before by various 70s progressive rock acts, but I guess it's the combination of elements, that makes "Hybris" such a strong release. To my ears this one deserves it's "classic" status and a 5 star (100%) rating is deserved.

UMUR | 5/5 |


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