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Änglagård - Viljans Öga CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.26 | 1172 ratings

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5 stars Anglagard is one special creature, a strange animal within a massive zoo of fairly diverse species (a fitting description of progressive music, me thinks) and billed as symphonic prog yet closer to experimental than anything else. The foremost quality they possess in seemingly endless abundance is their own style of chaotic contrasts between the two extremities, whilst professing an eternal worship to the divine 'throne' instruments themselves, I have named King Mellotron and Lady Rickenbacker! The flute provides the serenity and the drums, the propulsion. Add a guitar and voila! Like a musical interpretation of 21st century living, the sounds emanating from their illustrious craft are both paralleling stress and comfort, refereeing work and play and signaling the directions towards heaven and hell. Complex, simple, authoritarian and yet anarchic, the music lives as a sonic dreamscape that hurtles through the spirit like some arctic phenomenon, utterly overpowering and yet fleeting. Others reviewers have autopsied this long awaited release and let us be reminded that Viljans Oga was 18 years in the making, so here is how I see and hear it.

Anglagard specialize in the 10-19 minute epic, a cinematographic entity that is fully arranged, orchestrated and composed as a creative work from a team of musicians who have completely stayed loyal to their 'raison d'etre', understanding their inherent individual value to the whole concept. "Sorgmantel" is a perfect example of their vision, a bold bass rumble that forges through mellotron mountains, flute clouds, guitar winds and percussive valleys, sometimes in complete harmony and then in raging disaccord, weaving into new realms of endless discovery. The talent is utterly phenomenal, all five members masters of their instruments, leading one to rightfully wonder how they pull all this off in a live setting?

This is not romantic, laid back, easy listening background music while one barbecues on the patio, guzzling down brews while the uncouth ladies nonchalantly apply another coat of nail polish to their already garish fingers! In fact, the poor girls might feel compelled to flee the monstrous sound in abject disdain and retreat to the powder room, clicking desperately onto some fluffy youtube vid, disposable flavor of the month. Anglagard will appeal instead to the same testosterone crowd as Magma, perhaps even Rush (Olsson can give Peart a scare) and any audiophile looking to be challenged by musicianship and melodic inspiration. Grilling the ribs and the zucchini will never be the same!

The brooding "Snardom" even has ponderous moments that will recall Focus '3' instrumental workouts such as "Answers, Questions" and "Anonymous Two", unafraid to include cello and jazzy guitar licks that seem closer to a harder Return to Forever. The charming flute wrestles with the manly bass, Thomas Johnson's keys enveloping elegance caresses the guitar screeches with imperial authority.

The windswept "Langtans Klocka" is a revelation, bringing a pastoral embellishment to their honed vision, perhaps closer to classical music that ever before, which may dismay the rockers out there, but Viljans Oga is not a remake of Hybris or Epilog, it's a natural progression. After such a long interval, what would one expect, a refried clone of an admittedly iconic duo of recordings? Just when you are about to become complacent, Brand's booming 4 string monster shatters the sweet softness with a sterling display of sound and 'maitrise', Johnson flushes the heart with torrential cascades of the mighty 'tron and Engdegard crushes some sensational licks (volume pedal slickness) while Olsson pulses madly again.

Beautiful mayhem indeed! Fab sound, artwork and packaging. Combine hard jazz fusion, symphonic splendor, folk accouterments and an experimental fervor, and you get Viljans Oga. Stubborn, insane, focused and slightly bizarre. Just avoid playing this for the prog hating ladies unless you really need some temporary space.

5 Eye's Wills

tszirmay | 5/5 |


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