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Pendragon - The Masquerade Overture CD (album) cover





3.98 | 598 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars I started my reviewing process almost five months ago now, and I am ready for my fifth-hundredth review. And it will be dedicated to "The Masquararade Overture".

Simply because I love Pendragon, and that this album is one of the best of the sub- genre in which it is categorized here : neo-prog. I always have considered though that Pendragon holds more symphonic sides in their than neo-prog ones (except for the poor "Kowtow").

When you listen to the "Overture" you will definitely brought into an abnormal mood for a neo-prog band (although Arena will also produce similar parts). It sounds almost like an opera. Grandiose and pompous. Not the best track indeed on this get great album, but different, unusual.

The first "true" song is their extended version of the single "As Good As Gold". It is far more interesting : a great and very pleasant intro will lead to this very catchy song. A jewel of a poppy track. A perfect description of its title.

Most (if not all) of the songs featured on this album will be extremely melodic and symphonic. We won't need to wait for long to get the following example; as soon as with "Paintbox" the same beautiful atmosphere is fully present. Admirable guitar solo of course. The finale of this track is very spacey and yes, it sounds as Floyd.

Keyboards will play a bigger role on this album (which might increase this full symphonic sound). Clive being really superb on the keys on this work (as he almost is BTW). As far as Nick's voice is concerned, I guess it is like a hate or love case. It happens that I just love it. His guitar play is of course extremely passionate. It reminds Latimer who is also a passionate man, as I am.

The only weaker number is "The Pursuit Of Excellence" a sort of folkish little tune. Since it clocks at less than three minutes, no real harm is done.

The brilliant intro for "Guardian Of My Soul" is another symphonic jewel. After a low tone vocal part, Nick returns back to his most emotional one. This song is maybe a bit harder than most of Pendragon song for a moment, but we'll revert to the symph side with great and effective keys. Although this song is rather long, I never feel it is boring. It is not my preferred track of the album : it is only one song out of five excellent ones.

The mood of "The Shadow" starts a bit sadly. Nick's voice is of course perfect to convey this feeling. Still, he is such a positive person (at least when I saw Pendragon live in 2006) and the sadness will disapear to leave the room to a more optimistic tone with loads of keyboards and, of course, the wonderful guitar as usual. Some might say, another mellow guitar break but when a band is capable of aligning so many great instrumental parts, it becomes almost a second nature. And I have the greatest respect for this.

The closing number is another long and sublime track. I don't know if Pendragon is a "Masters Of Illusion". But for sure they know how to write nice pieces of music. This one is a very fresh symph pop song. The same structure of course (this is easy music, isn't it) ? But so effective and wonderfully played (with heart and soul, not by a tortured intellect).

Apart the original CD featuring these seven songs, there is one release with a live version of "The Last Man On Earth" from the previous "The Window Of Life" (it is the version available on "Live ...At Last! released in 1997). Apart from some audience participation, it is almost equal to the studio track (which was brilliant, FYI).

A third packaging features a bonus EP with four numbers. Shorter versions for "As Good As Gold" (the single format which skips the brilliant intro) and a very short edit of "Masters Of Illusion". The track "Schizo" is very much Floyd oriented (Gilmour era). It must be a tribute I guess since the backing vocals are really typical floyd one from that era. Another great song. Even bonus tracks are gorgeous ?

So, what else do you want ? A nice artwork ? You'll get it as well !

Finally, we'll get a final part for "The King of the Castle" which will definitely puts an end to this very nice epic. This part is 200% symphonic. Quiet all the way through with an incredible duet between Clive and Nick on the acoustic guitar. Really nice and another great bonus track.

Highlights are too numerous to be named.

"The Masquarade Overture" closes a fantastic trilogy of albums started with "The World".

I can only can be thankful to Pendragon to have brought me these musical sensations. Yes, they might play simple music, so what ! As I have said in my review for "Time Honoured Ghosts" (BJH), during the old times of prog (1975) BJH was one of my favourite bands (together with Genesis, Yes, Floyd, Van Der Graaf and ELP in my order of preference). I referred that such an old freak like me needs to get some breaks from time to time and listen to less complex music. So unlike Hughes, I am not at all baffled that a person like "Alucard" can rate this album with five stars. So, will I.

ZowieZiggy | 5/5 |


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