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Pendragon - Pure CD (album) cover





3.89 | 604 ratings

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5 stars 2008 may not have been the best year for Prog in recent years but it has produced a small number of top class albums which could make my album of the year. These are from Beardfish, Ayreon, Opeth and Il Bacio Della Medusa. But they now have another contender to fight it out with, that being Pure, this brilliant new album from Pendragon. Before I get into it though I should say that I'm not the worlds biggest Pendragon fan and my acquaintance with them in the past has been off and on and there's a number of albums in their back catalogue I've not even heard. However what I can say is this album is the best I've heard from the band and that includes the highly rated The Masquerade Overture. The main reason for this is that Pendragon now have a heavier and darker sound which suits them.

The production is spot on; powerful, crisp and the balance between instrumentation allows everyone to shine where intended. Clive Nolan as expected has a rich, lush and full Keyboard sound, something I have always enjoyed in the past but probably more so from his work with Arena. Nick Barrett plays some diverse guitar from heavy riffing to cleaner picking to Gilmouresque soloing. New drummer Scott Higham is a good choice for replacing Fudge Smith. He's a powerful player yet reins it in when required and Peter Gee helps him keep the rhythm together with solid bass playing.

Indigo is a powerful opener and statement of intent. Starting with a dark sounding picked guitar riff, Nolans choral keyboards join in and the band pick really kick in hard on this diverse track lasting for nearly 14 minutes. It has a great, instantly memorable melody and despite the powerful nature of the track, it still has room for dynamics and on the second half the mood changes for a more laid back approach with some lovely fluid soloing from Barrett.

Eraserhead follows suit and is another powerful dynamic piece with an eerie dark vibe. Nolan's keyboards range from orchestral strings to more modern sounding cutting synths and once again Barrett's guitar playing is diverse.

The next 3 tracks actually make up a whole called Comatose. The first part, View From the Seashore gives the listener chance to catch their breath after the powerful first 2 tracks with a laid back piano dominated vocal section, but not for long as after 2 and a half minutes the band kick in with their heaviest riffing so far. It packs a lot into its 7 minutes 41 seconds and Higham contributes some powerful drumming. Space Cadet segues in as the second part of this trilogy and the standard of high quality melodic songwriting continues with dark overtones both musically and lyrically. The final part of Comatose, Home and Dry concludes the piece nicely, very laid back, melodic and beautifully and sympathetically played.

The Freak Show starts with a crunching riff before giving way to lush keyboards and fluid guitar soloing. It's a simple, straightforward but effective song, once again strong on melody.

It's Only Me is a great closer. It's a lovely laid back piece with Nolan's orchestrated keyboard work to the fore and perhaps Barrett's best solo of the album as well as some of his best vocals.

Pendragon have obviously put a lot of effort into this album, as if it's their last chance to prove what they're capable of and crafted a masterpiece. Barrett has requested that people don't illegally download this album, saying that it could be the final nail in the coffin for the band regarding releasing future albums if too much of this happen. Hopefully this will not turn out to be the case as Pendragon are playing more like a hungry new band than one that have been around for 30 years and I want a lot more of this excellent music. Easily worth 5 stars.

Nightfly | 5/5 |


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