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Pendragon - The World CD (album) cover





3.81 | 469 ratings

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4 stars The third album of the long-lived British Neo Prog band PENDRAGON may not be quite as strong as what was to come after it -- my [other, slightly bigger] favourites are Masquerade Overture, Not Of This World and Believe -- , but The World is very pleasant in its melodic and emotional mellowness, as can be witnessed from high ratings. Those who don't like it at all are most likely such prog-listeners who don't appreciate the Neo Prog style in general, and who tend to despise especially its softer and more pop-oriented features, seeing them as weakness. But yes, this album surely could have more spine and edges, for the line between harmonic and mediocre/boring can be thin and depends mostly on the listener. At first I wasn't sure if my rating would be 4 or 3, but I'll round 3 upwards for the bonus track 'Sister Bluebird' which I believe to be included on most CD releases on the market nowadays.

Sonically and for the production The World is on the same good level with its followers; the differences lay more on songwriting which is a bit sharper on e.g. Masquerade Overture. Nick Barrett's guitar, reminiscent of Pink Floyd and Marillion, soars nicely, and Clive Nolan's keyboards finish the typical, polished Neo Prog sound. The opener 'Back in the Spotlight' with its U2-ish guitar sound has an energetic anthem-like feel. Not necessarily very proggy as a composition, but fairly enjoyable. 'The Voyager' quickly became a fans' favourite, Barrett says on the re-release's liner notes (2005). During the 12 minutes it contains some gorgeous melodies, romantic keyboard work and a passionate guitar solo. Even more emotion can be heard in 'Shane' which admittedly is a bit cheesy, almost like an 80's hard rock ballad. 'Prayer' is the weakest track, musically pretty forgettable in its lyrics-oriented sweet pathos.

'Queen of Hearts' is a near-22-minute epic in three parts. The first, 8-minute part is a bit boring (ie. over-extended), but the following parts are more inspired. As a whole it's not an album highlight for me, except perhaps for 'The Last Waltz' (Barrett's personal favourite, by the way). 'And We'll Go Hunting Deer' is a soft and a sort of pastoral song in a peaceful tempo. The aforementioned 'Sister Bluebird' (don't start thinking of Yes' 'Starship Trooper', no musical resemblance at all) may be my favourite on the CD, the moody emotion manages to touch me especially at the end where the words "sister" and "bluebird" are being repeated over the music that finally fades out. All in all, The World is best described as PLEASANT and is warmly recommended to those who enjoy both Neo Prog subgenre and mellowness. Others may not get very much out of this album.

Matti | 4/5 |


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