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Pendragon - Not Of This World CD (album) cover





3.90 | 514 ratings

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4 stars I've recently been acquiring modern (neo) prog-records on vinyl in order to elaborate on my love for albums like Arena's Contagion and IQ's Subterranea. Pendragon is one of neoprog's leading groups. At the heart of this band we find the songwriting, vocals and electric guitar of Nick Barret. The symphonic layering is provided by Clive Nolan (Arena). Within the neo-prog genre Pendragon is on the song-writing side of things with a sound that reminds me most of 'Misplace Childhood' era Marillion and 'Devision Bell' era Pink Floyd. Most songs revolve around relatively simple symphonic chord progressions with expressive vocals (though he sometimes over stretches the boundaries of his limited voice) of Barret and melodic guitar leads. At its strongest Pendragon writes epic melancholy songs that really hit base and set them apart from other groups. For fans of real progressive, diverse and and technically advanced rock the band might fall short - if compared to before mentioned bands like IQ and Arena. Sometimes this album reminds me of adult oriented rock (AOR) hits of the eighties and nineties.

My first impression of the Madfish 2lp is that it is wonderfully produced! A great, wide high-fi sound. The opening track 'If I Were the Wind' hits instant symphonic bliss with great emotional song-writing and a strong vocal performance by Barret. The opening lead guitar really sticks. With the second epic 'Dance Of The Seven Veils' the band fails to keep the parts challenging. To me it seems the adult-rock feel that focuses on the oh so deep personal revelations of white middle class males really falls short - as so often is the case with the neo-prog genre. On side two the 'Not of This World' epic opens very strongly with up-tempo synth leads, some great guitar solo's and great rhythmic interplay. On side three we find what is arguably the best track of the album, 'A Man of Nomadic Traits'. Here the acoustic songwriting of Barret and the succession of it's many parts really elevate the totality of it. On side four the 'Worlds End' suite also manages to keep the passion going and ends the album in a classic symphonic rock 'Euraka!-laden' fashion. Then again, these lyrics "They're flesh and blood / they were human beings" might not be as deep as the performers suggest.

In conclusion. I quickly gained a lot of connection with this album's stronger songs; mainly the opener and everything in the second halve. Yet - I wouldn't the describe it as a mixed bag per se. The double vinyl looks and sounds amazing and as a lover of high-fi the sheer quality of the recording keeps me content throughout. I might occasionally just pull out the second disc though. Surely recommended for listeners of modern song-based progressive.

friso | 4/5 |


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