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Pendragon - The Masquerade Overture CD (album) cover





4.06 | 720 ratings

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4 stars (Edited in 2019) This is a school example of the Neo-Prog genre. Mighty and heroic to the point of being slightly pretentious and somehow pubertal. It all tastes like Marvel's superhero comics. I think most of this music is gorgeous and very enjoyable if you are in the right mood. Nick Barrett writes great prog compositions and plays guitar quite well, but his vocals sound ridiculously boyish. I could imagine for example John Wetton's strong voice fit this album's music much better. If you think of a more progressive cousin of Asia (1982-), you get some image of Pendragon.

Some brief notes on chosen tracks: 'Masquerade Overture' is an overblown opener with a keyboard orchestration and mini-choir vocals in Italian. 'Good as Gold' is very catchty and glorious. 'Paintbox' may be my favourite with its deeply emotional instrumental part. 'The Pursuit of Excellence' is again awfully overdramatic little interlude, and as it leans heavily on Barrett's theatrical singing I usually skip it. 'Guardian of my Soul' and 'Masters of Illusion' are the longest and proggiest tracks; they have some fantastic moments on their rollercoaster ride.

My copy includes a live version of 'Last Man on Earth' instead of the here mentioned bonus tracks. That track is actually my favourite, because I love the way it cites the Moody Blues song 'New Horizons'.

Now it's 2019: I was surprised to see how harsh my review 12 years ago was. But Pendragon was a recent acquaintance for me back then, and at first I was irritated by Barrett's boyish vocals which apparently made me see the music a bit juvenile too. Over the years Pendragon has become a bigger Neo Prog favourite of mine, and Masquerade Overture has almost become a minor classic as the first album I heard from them. I realized I had to raise my rating from three stars to four after I had rated The World the same. As I said in that review, the songwriting is sharper and more inspired here, resulting as a more dynamic album (though it sometimes is a bit overblown).

Matti | 4/5 |


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