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Pendragon - Believe CD (album) cover





3.54 | 386 ratings

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4 stars PENDRAGON are a band that never ceases to surprise me (in a good manner, indeed!). When I thought they had reached their peak with "The Masquerade Overture", a great album released in 1996, the band after almost an entire decade gifted their fans, appreciators and proggers in general with this stunning conceptual work - of course, I know they have a 2001 release (not yet reviewed by me) which I consider a step behind if compared with "Masquerade"; but it's not the case for "Believe".

The best feature here is the sound; in reality, PENDRAGON, although included as a basilar neo-prog band have left the style a long time ago. "Believe" is a blend of symphonic prog with the traditional art-rock fluid, fueled by spices of folk, pop and romantic tunes, but the overall atmosphere simply rocks. This is what we could name properly and doubtlessly prog-rock. Also the production, the arrangements and the band's musicianship are enjoyably high. Lyrics are fair but they simply may reflect the way I felt them, since English isn't my native language.

Just like they've done in "Masquerade", PENDRAGON chose a kind of bombastic opening for "Believe", but instead of the operatic track heard in their 1996 work, they opted by a more smooth approach mixing space & new- age making the hearer wanders for almost 3 minutes with the title-track until Barrett's voice announces: "and now everybody." and we have a rock explosion: hard, sharpen, sour, even a little sorrowful, that goes by the name of 'No place for the innocent' and from now on things take their course. Fine vocals and nice guitars are heard. 'The wisdom of Solomon', the following track, has an ethnic intro, catchy and weird simultaneously, replaced by poignant guitars and sweet keyboards accompaniment for the second segment and again replaced by some of the most catchy tunes of the entire album.

And then we are faced with a 21' plus suite that goes by the name of 'Wishing well', which by its shift is divided into 4 songs linked by some of the best bridges heard currently in the prog-rock scene - a dazzling adventure, a blend of fine pungent and uplifting moments, from hectic to peaceful, from nothingness to completeness, from here to nowhere; this special epic-like segment pays per se the album in its entirety. If one wants to divide the suite, I recommend being amused with '2 roads'.

'Learning curve', a song that points to the album's end is a bit cheesy although honest and well crafted, even being above average it's the weakest track here, while the real ender, 'The edge of the world' closes the album in a lovable manner: fine vocals, great guitars and ambient keyboards - all running in a kind of crescendo to bid a nice farewell for "Believe".

This album is one of PENDRAGON's best moments. A masterpiece? Not totally sure, let's wait 5-10 years ahead but the prospects are good. For awhile, an excellent addition to any prog music collection.

Atkingani | 4/5 |


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