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Änglagård - Hybris CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.38 | 1583 ratings

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2 stars Bored Rock

Having felt rather bitten by Epilog, a less than amazing album, I decided to give Anglagard another try - and Hybris certainly starts out sounding a lot better than its successor.

Despite its overall proggy feel, however, it's rather over-crammed with repetition that puts it well in the shadow of bands such as Genesis, and ultimately is a Prog wannabe, with plenty of precise and well- practised execution skills, but a severe shortage of clues in the composition department.

Indeed, the first thing you notice about Jordrok is the extremely close similarities with Genesis in timbre and style. The composition is somewhat weaker though, erring more towards the improvised than the composed, with a lack of overall feel for where the piece is going and an emphasis on creating different sections that sound nice individually, but collectively tend to lose the sense of purpose, and have a proggy feel for the sake of sounding and feeling proggy rather than actually progressing. By 6 minutes I've really lost interest in where the piece is going, and am having severe deja vu on all the musical ideas that are presented.

A quick analysis of the multiplicity of sections (as this is clearly composed in sections rather than as a free-flowing piece) should indicate why I feel this is weak as a composition;

We start with a piano ostinato - essentially a 4 note motif with a high pedal G, giving an 8 note loop in the right hand. The left hand then plays a rather simple noodly improv underneath this, with no strong feeling of melody, but reasonable success in finding dark and moody tones - albeit with too many harmony-weakening open octaves for my taste. This stops completely, then a transposed variant of the intro takes over, and these two ideas are then interspersed and layered with 'tron, and noodled about with before the band join in with a repetitive Yes-like riff. A guitar solo kicks in - but is based around arpeggios and lacks any kind of melodic sensibility, as does everything that follows.

A welcome break to something quieter is dropped to around 2:50 - which builds and drops back again. There are some nice guitar tones here and tinkly bells... then, despite the building feel, it's all dropped back even more, which I find structurally irritating. Open octaves from the bass weaken the underlying harmony and remove all drive from this section - which incidentally sounds like a cheap Genesis imitation almost all the way through.

Then an organ thunders in with an idea completely unrelated to anything that's gone before, and drops back yet again to a quieter idea. The percussion and guitar join in for yet another build-up to another Marillion-alike solo with more irritating open octaves from the bass.

And so it goes on.

Obviously we could analyse in more depth - but there will be no surprises. The sections all feel like they were written in separate sections then tacked together, and the perpetual build-ups and breakdowns just smack highly of lack of creativity in composition.

The huge perfect cadence at 8:14 should have marked the end - that's what perfect cadences, especially drawn out ones like this are for. But no. There's more stuff created in another session that's unrelated to the previous material. The quiet ending is a coplete anti-climax.

Kudos to the band for having (and borrowing) a lot of musical ideas, but no kudos for creating a sprawling mess of the over-indulgent kind that gives Prog a bad name, that would have worked better as several much shorter tracks.

The other 3 pieces are more of the same - there are plenty of good ideas mixed in with the bad ones, but not a single piece that comes across as a cohorent whole. The material itself is strongly rooted in Genesis and Yes, and ideas from 1970s Prog Rock generally - and, as with Epilog, I do not hear a Progressive Rock band as much as a band playing music in a quasi-Classic Prog style.

But it's all unconnected ideas that run into each other either via build-ups (that usually feel a complete let-down when you discover that the end result is a rather uninspired and highly repetitive riff) or the occasional tangent -ie stopping dead, then playing something else.

King Boring

The production is probably the highlight of this album - each instrument is very clear in its part of the sound stage and there are some really great tones - the bass is rich and fat, the Stratocaster-clear guitar tones ring out, the percussion packs a wallop when it needs to and has the right level of sizzle and tinkle for the quiter moments, and the keyboard lines are satisfying and analog sounding.

But the music is dull, boring, and a welcome omission to anyone's Prog Rock collection.

Certif1ed | 2/5 |


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