Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
Änglagård - Hybris CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.37 | 1592 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars A masterpiece of proghead's frustration.

This is a nice little record, but a few issues need to be addressed. First of all - - this is NOT the album that sounds like it was recorded in the seventies, as many tend to claim. Nor played, nor composed. It's certainly got some of a 70's charm, but that's about it.

What about the sound?

The album is sort of a mixed bag - utilizing wide spectrum of progressive rock influences from late sixties to mid-late seventies, all that spiced up with the nineties productions. Organ sound of Hammond is polished with crystal clear production. Moods produced by Mellotron vary from hilarious to magnificent - unfortunately band inclines towards the "choir" sound, which always sounds unnatural if played on keyboard - it simply sounds like "oohs" and "aahs" played on a 8-bit sampler. Those sounds were not unknown in the seventies (RENAISSANCE springs to mind), but the presentation here is bearing a reflection of an extra decennium in history of pop music. Korg Mono/Poly, certainly, failed in a role of a Moog-like soloing synth. Other keyboard instruments are fine, more or less. I would rather prefer to hear those instruments at their best: Mellotron for the organic pads (not only string ones) and Korg for arpeggiated bouncy oscillator sequences. Guitar stands out as an instrument (along with the drums) because it's played very beefy and with emotions, both dirty and clean when necessary, in a good tradition of Gilmour and Latimer. Bass sounds everything but the seventies, but it's decent enough. Flute too; perhaps a bit too mellow and without harsh edge. Please note I'm only talking about a sound here, rather than about melodies. More about that later. Perhaps the instrument that stands out the most is the drum kit - drums are played well, precisely, energetically and ...modern. A bit formulaic at the moments (from symphonic prog standpoint) but I just love the monstrous dynamics provided on "Vandringar i Vilsenhet", where reverb applied to a dry snare created an outstanding atmosphere - the ultimate goosebumps moment of this band.

Vocals are not outstanding, bet they're not annoying neither, and in my opinion they fit in an overall picture quite nicely. A few verses (sung in Swedish) are scattered here and there, but tracks are mostly instrument-oriented.

What about the structure?

All the songs are longish, multi-part compositions, often combining lovely, mellow flute melodies accompanied with acoustic guitar with electric monsters of furious phrases containing the wall of guitar sounds and keyboards sounds, underlined by drumming, often repeating the almost-similar pattern in slightly different time signature, sometimes playing the same pattern through different major or minor scales (if you're looking for a blues scales, look elsewhere.). Sometimes a melody is going into a slow crescendo surrounded by a non-conventional rhythmic pattern, mutilating itself into something else but not entirely different, changing the textures and making a musical journey more vivid and interesting. There are hints of similar themes played in foreground, just to be found on some absolutely different place in background, like a hint or a reference of band's musical expression. Which is a great thing and a characteristic of a good songwriting.

So, what's wrong with the picture and why?

Let's start with my most subjective impression. High expectations. I always wanted to hear, buy, possess, listen and enjoy some new band, with their hearts on a right place, playing uncompromising progressive rock in a good old seventies style. My expectations were even higher after all these positive reactions by people all over the world - the people that, it seemed, have a musical taste very similar to mine.

And after discovering ÄNGLAGÅRD, a disappointment occurred. Hey, they don't sound very 70's! OK, that is not relevant because the music is what counts.

What about approach?

Well, most of time is lovely, sometimes beautiful. Arrangements are very intelligent. But my overall impression is that album sounds very hermetic. Like these guy were forced to play symphonic progressive rock. I'm sure they all loved it, but it seems that they forced the values of today's definition of prog rock - rather than enjoying the era of art-rock when it was young and fresh. Don't ask me what these values exactly are - because I'm not sure myself, and I'm talking about my gut feeling here - simply put, all the elements are here, but album lacks the zeitgeist. I would be much happier if only band dared to jump over that artificial restriction that they gave to themselves.

How that reflects the music?

After ÄNGLAGÅRD, I never wished to hear retro-prog band again. But not for a good reason. The band is obviously influenced by giants of progressive symphonic rock - I don't need to name them here - and I had found traces of PFM, other prog bands from Scandinavia, and by Jove, that flute melody that starts in 04:44 on "Kung Bore" sound like the essence of ex-Yugoslavian prog rock scene. I would really like to know the detailed influences of this band. Here's an example: "Gånglåt från Knapptibble" starts with mad xylophone sections, breaking into exploding unison riff in x/y time measure, a little bit later everything is calming down until the band reached acoustic passage resembling the B-side of CAMEL's "The Snow Goose". After a short organ idea, the band strikes again with BOOOM! the craziest mixture of VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR and KING CRIMSON and it sounds like madness. Powerful, grotesque, you name it. What I hear from that is SMACK! SMACK! blood pouring from the nose, the guys (and girls) from the band beating with instruments the hell out of an average pop iconoclast, there you go SMACK! this is for all the years of torturing us with your cheesy pop music SMACK! now take this!! while music is rolling in a distorted picture, penetrating into brains...

Yes, I know it's silly, but that's how I feel - like this album is a labour of frustration and a canalized energy of (bad) vibrations rather than labour of love. Furthermore, I don't have an impression AT ALL that band had a great time recording this - I guess they are (or were) close friends, but despite the numerous lovely melodies, there is not much seconds that sound like the band members were enjoying while playing this, let alone having fun. This album could really be compared to a birth; it's a debut and it's tedious.

This is an album that could be recommended to the fans of symphonic progressive rock who won't mind cold atmospheres and difficult-to-swallow music and attitude.

clarke2001 | 3/5 |


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Share this ÄNGLAGÅRD review

Social review comments () BETA

Review related links

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives