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Karfagen - Messages from Afar - First Contact CD (album) cover

MESSAGES FROM AFAR - FIRST CONTACT

Karfagen

 

Symphonic Prog

3.97 | 167 ratings

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kev rowland
Special Collaborator
Honorary Reviewer
4 stars The work ethic of Ukrainian keyboard player Antony Kalugin puts us all to shame, as here he is back with the ninth album under the Karfagen name. This time there are no additional musicians, just Antony joined by Olha Rostovska (vocals, keyboards), Max Velychko (electric and acoustic guitars), Michail Sidorenko (alto sax), Oleg Prokhorov (bass) and Kostya Shepelenko (drums). Given there were three drummers and two bassists on 2016's 'Spektra', this has far more focus. Something which is somewhat unusual here, is this album ties in with an album by another band, namely Sunchild's 'Messages From Afar: The Division and Illusion of Time' (which I will be reviewing soon). Okay, so it's not that unusual when one realises that is another of Antony's projects, albeit with most of the same personnel, basically with the addition of two lead singers. This album is primarily instrumental, as although there are lyrics on the first number, vocals are normally only used here as an additional instrument.

Even before putting it into the player one is impressed, as the artwork is superb, and the band obviously think so as well as the booklet is actually a fold-out poster with the artwork on one side and band information and photos on the other. Released as a digipak, this screams quality even before listening to the music. Somehow I have managed to miss most of their career, having heard the debut album from 2006, then only re-discovering them after their last album, and again I find myself making a resolution to listen to more of their music as this is quite superb.

Modern, symphonic, very guitar-oriented progressive rock, the arrangements are highly structure and highly complex, interweaving between the different instruments yet somehow there is enough space for each to shine. Although the two keyboard players and guitars are generally the ones driving the melody, both drums and bass also take the lead. This is really clear on songs such as "Volcano Rabbit & Frog" where there are times where Kostya is very much the one in control and others where Oleg is providing some wonderful counterpoint to the main melody.

When it comes to instrumental progressive rock which manages to be both incredibly modern while looking back to the neo prog heyday of the Nineties, then it is hard to look past this, which is simply quite superb. Strong guitar, which sometimes sounds like Latimer, Gilmour or Chandler, it can also push far more into the metal arena and shreds than some may like. It is always backed up with a superb rhythm section while the keyboards continue to weave their magic. Superb.

kev rowland | 4/5 |

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