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Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations) - Kalevala - A Finnish Progressive Rock Epic CD (album) cover

KALEVALA - A FINNISH PROGRESSIVE ROCK EPIC

Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations)

 

Various Genres

3.64 | 61 ratings

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erik neuteboom
Prog Reviewer
4 stars

*** THIS IS THE 2008 DEFINITIVE EDITION REMASTERED ***

- How wonderful to notice that in our current commercial Western society the Finnish progrock magazine Colossus and the French progrock label Musea joined in order to release in 2003 an ambitous 3-CD progrock project featuring many lesser known and unknown new progrock bands from all over the world. Meanwhile the first pressing sold out, other Colossus/Musea projects like The Spaghetti Epic and Odyssey also have very decent sales and soon we can expect a now project entitled Tuonen Tytar II featuring band members from Tillion, Ars Nova, The Watch en Glass Hammer, I am looking forward to it!

- But back to the 3-CD Kalevala - A Finnish Progressive Rock Epic (based upon an era in the Finnish history in 50 poems), this year (2008) Colossus and Musea decided to re-release the Kalevala project in a digitally remastered version with one bonustrack (on CD-3). It was a musical marathon to listen to all the 31 bands on the 3 CD's but I am delighted about the quality of all bands (some even surpassed their own level), I cannot trace a weak composition although some tracks are not really my cup of tea.

- DISC 1 (81:32) : all bands were asked to join the Kalevala 3-CD with a new composition, to use Seventies equipment and to sing in their native language. Apart from some bands that preferred to sing in English and some bands that couldn't purchase Seventies instruments, the lion's share succeeded in these musical goals. Especially on CD-1 we can enjoy a genuine vintage sound with cascades of Mellotron waves, Hammond runs and Minimoog flights, this is 'Vintage Keyboard Heaven'! The level of the 10 bands on CD-1 is high, I was blown away by the sound of Overhead (spectacular synthesizer work, strong interplay and lots of fine musical ideas), Simon Says (varied and exciting with some majestic choir-Mellotron, Sinkadus (24-carat symphonic prog with floods of vintage keyboards), Il Castello Di Atlante (warm Italian vocals and intense work on violin and guitar) and Magenta (from twanging acoustic 12-string guitar to sumptuous Hammond, Mellotron and Moog, topped by the beautiful Annie Haslam-like vocals). A very pleasant surprise was Haikara their sound: alternating and powerful with great tension between the classical and progrock parts. The Italian formation Moongarden is now a known band, in 2003 they already impressed with their unique blend of several styles, I loved the bombastis eruptions. Another strong contribution is by the American-French band Clearlight with a great build-up and sparkling Grand piano.

- DISC 2 (71:00) : This CD is less obviously drenched into the Seventies Classic Prog tradition. I was delighted about the instrumental compositions of the unknown Norwegian formation Orchard (very dynamic with propulsive guitar riffs and flute similar to Jethro Tull along excellent choir-Mellotron waves, warm classical guitar and a flashy synthesizer solo) and the English duo Elegant Simplicity (the intense guitar turns to fiery, then a compelling climate with solos on the Prophet 5 synthesizer and Fender Rhodes electric piano). The Italian progrock legend Museo Rosenbach was willing to cooperate and delivered a strongly build-up compositions featuring passionate Italian vocals, delicate classical guitar and lots of Hammond organ (unfortunately no Mellotron like on Zarathustra). Another good Italian band is Revalation delivering wonderful violin - and choir-Mellotron waves, exciting Minimoog and sensitive electric guitar, great! And more from Italy: Leviathan their neo-prog (varied and dynamic with swirling play on synthesizer and flute along warm Italian vocals) and Malibran (fluent and swinging with powerful guitar solos from the 2 guitarists and pleasant work on the flute traverse).

- DISC 3 (76:19) : Although this CD is the least interesting, the level remains decent, especially the English Qadesh (dynamic and varied, from Fender to mandolin), the Italian Cantina Sociale (wonderful flute-Mellotron, the strong work on saxophone and guitar along inspired vocals), the Finnish Aardvark (from folky to Heavy Prog with Floydian guitar and wonderful keyboards), the totally unknown keyboard-driven Swiss band Thonk (lush Hammond sound and some piano and Mellotron), the Italian Randone & Tempore (varied vintage keyboard souns and a bit theatrical vocals) and Cafeine from France (lost of shifting moods and howling guitar runs). The short bonustrack is by the promising Finnish band Viima, it contains a dreamy atmosphere with mellow saxophone and fine Mellotron waves.

- My conclusion: for at about 23 euros/30 dollars you get a huge pile of interesting, captivating and exciting (mainly) new lesser known and unknown progrock bands from all over the world, the cascades of Hammond, Minimoog and Mellotron will caress the ears of the symphomaniacs and progheads, highly recommended!

erik neuteboom | 4/5 |

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