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Pendragon - Believe CD (album) cover





3.59 | 434 ratings

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2 stars Considering the lenght of their career, Pendragon is definitely my preferred neo-prog band. They haven't been very prolific during all those years (probably because Clive is also dedicated to Arena as well as to his solo career and his own record label managed together with Mick - Pointer).

Four years have passed between their last studio album ("Not Of This World") and this one. To be complete, five years separates their masterpiece "Masquerade Overture" from "Not Of This World". So, three albums in nine years. You can't call this very productive, can you ? But Nick admits than he is kind of lazy, so...

I have always been rather reluctant to consider Pendargon as a neo-prog band. To me, they sound so symphonic that symph prog is their genuine genre. So far.

Because with this album, the music is harder, almost no symphonic at all; which is rather a big move in comparison with their previous work. Here and there, they will revert to their original and beautiful style but only too scarce I'm afraid.

"The Wisdom Of Salomon" is the first example. Symphonic intro and brilliant spanish guitar play. We'll also get the brilliant and so emotional guitar play from Nick which has turned me into a Pendragon fan.

Pendragon has also released several long compositions throughout the years. This album will feature one as well. An almost twenty minutes suite called "The Wishing Well". It is made of four "movemenst" of which the first one is truely stratospheric. The very special female voice that can be heard on the opening track gets back here as well. It is almost a recitation from Nick. The whole being somewhat boring, I must say. Sounds a bit pretentious.

Things get a bit better with "So By Sowest". Actually, this is a typical Pendragon song. Wonderful harmony, emotions and all the stuff, you know. Some will argue that they always sound the same, but that's how I like them. Beautiful and accessible music. It doesn't hurt, really. Give it a try. During this number, some very nice acoustic guitar moment will transport you to the good side of prog heaven (because, there's no doubt there is a heaven for progheads, right ?). So, welcome (not to my nightmare but to my prog world). This song is my fave from this album.

I must say that the magic has gone a bit. This album is my least favourite one since "Kowtow" released in...1988. But I guess that it is only normal to be less efficient once in a while. Even if Pendragon has sounded rather similar for some albums, it is really obvious during "We Talked" that the inspiration is just short on here. And that's the problem with this Pendragon recording. While they try to be different, they are noisy and when they play some traditional pieces of music, the "déjà vu" feeling prevails. Too much. And you know how I like this band. But, I "believe" that fairness obliges me to say so.

There is also no real link between the four "themes". Each one being more a song of its own than a part of an ensemble.

This album is by no means a bad one, but I cannot be thrilled either. What I have appreciated enourmously with Pendragon was Nick's ability to write simple and beautiful prog songs with great melodies and fabulous guitar breaks. Almost none of these are included here (or too briefly like in "Two Roads").

I have read on their web-site that they are reducing their live appearences because they want to concentrate on their next studio album. I hope it will lead to something more interesting than this one. It is not "Learned Curved" which will change my opinion (although a very nice guitar breaks finally appears during the second half of the song).

The last number features again some nice acoustic guitar notes, but it is definitely too melancholic. An inspired guitar moment (which is very much remininscent of Carlos, I'm sure you know whom I am talking about) will only comfort me in my judgment that toolittle of these are availble here.

I would rate this album with five out of ten, but since it is not (yet) possible, I will downgrade it to two stars. I just hope that the next Pendragon studio album will be better.

ZowieZiggy | 2/5 |


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