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Ageness - Rituals CD (album) cover





2.84 | 41 ratings

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3 stars AGENESS were central prog revivalists in Finland in the 90's, and what's more, a pre-Ageness group called SCARAB existed already in the early 80's. They represent the clean Neo Prog style more than any other Finnish group before or after them. The first proper Ageness album Showing Paces (1993) showed GENESIS influences and admiration in a rather amateurish and naive way, both in music and in lyrics. The second album Rituals is notably more mature.

The leading man Tommy Eriksson (composing, keyboards, vocals) has a very distinctive voice comparable to Peter Nicholls of IQ. Especially the keyboards are audibly Tony Banks influenced (think of Genesis from A Trick of the Tail to the 1983 eponymous album). Other likely associations from these tightly performed, accessible songs include the 80's synth period of RUSH, and SAGA. The 32-second opening track is just a sonic vignette for synths and a voice sample. 'Forever Returns' is a bold and catchy prog rocker that SAGA might have done in their prime. Weak 'Chainsaw Murders' is hardly progressive at all. 'Freeways' feels like a cross between an average SAGA song and Fish-era MARILLION at their most commercial. Curiously the synth pattern in the quieter section resembles the one in Marillion's 'The Last Straw' ("we live our lives in private shells...", you know?).

'Polyphemus' also gives an association, as it begins with similar soft guitar chords as RUSH's 'Red Barchetta', but this composition manages to build less predictable progressive edge, and sounds pretty interesting compared to preceding mediocre songs. 'Hidden Space' is one of the highlights, a relatively slow song with melancholic depth and a fine acoustic guitar appearance. 'Take Us All' with an acoustic guitar riff in its core is a bright nice song, feeling slightly similar as Marillion's 'After You'.

'Silent Partners' dives into shady dramatics and offers surprisingly many cool prog details in less than 5 minutes. Following a little bit silly black humour song 'Problems' - another Marillion association! - , 'Ritual II (Renaissance)' is exactly what the album needed at this point: a classically oriented acoustic guitar solo. A pity that it lasts only 59 seconds... The 10-minute 'Mortal Wings of Sin II' is a sequel to a Scarab track, and a definite prog highlight here.

Sure, the influences and even some direct resemblances can be heard here and there, but Ageness also proves to have a personality of their own in this finely produced and mostly quite enjoyable Neo Prog album.

Matti | 3/5 |


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