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Wallenstein - Blitzkrieg CD (album) cover

BLITZKRIEG

Wallenstein

 

Symphonic Prog

3.76 | 71 ratings

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Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer
4 stars The first and arguably best album (although not my personal favorite) by this fondly remembered German band is one of the overlooked treasures of the early 1970s, and as close to a legitimate five star masterpiece as any near-miss can get.

The group began here as a quartet, led by keyboard maestro Jürgen Dollase on concert hall grand piano and mellotron (this was in late 1971, before Keith Emerson's ground-breaking Moog innovations had penetrated very deep into Continental Europe). The lack of any trendy synthesizers lends the album an air of primitive refinement, but make no mistake: the live-in-the-studio audio verité sound is louder and more aggressive than most keyboard-based Classical Rock, and unlike any of their more carefully produced later albums this one boasts a mildly lysergic edge, bringing it closer at times to the twisted spirit of Krautrock.

It's not a gentle trip either, despite the occasional detour into more traditional Prog lyricism. There's a crude orchestral splendor to some of the arrangements, and Dollase himself applies his weedy mock tenor to the pair of vocal tracks here. But it's on the two long instrumentals where the group really shines, in particular American guitarist Bill Barone, who throws himself into a couple of jams that make me want to reach for my blood pressure pills.

The aptly titled (and deliberately misspelled) "Lunetic" is suitably frenetic, with Barone soloing furiously over Dollase's spiky electric piano arpeggios, played at finger-breaking speed for twelve straight minutes. Elsewhere the more stately and episodic "Manhattan Project" builds to moments of near-epic grandeur over the course of its fourteen invigorating minutes, balancing the delicacy of a mellotron flute and grand piano with the raucous noise of Barone's over-amped electric guitar.

The band at this point had yet to style itself as "The Symphonic Rock Orchestra", but let's face it: who needs a numbskull label like that? Subsequent albums would trade some of the raw youthful energy here for a more sophisticated sound design, and suffer a little in the bargain. But for the time being this was as strong a debut as any group could brag of, and even today still shames a lot of what passes for original music.

Neu!mann | 4/5 |

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