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The Samurai Of Prog - The Lady and The Lion and Other Grimm Tales I CD (album) cover

THE LADY AND THE LION AND OTHER GRIMM TALES I

The Samurai Of Prog

 

Crossover Prog

3.21 | 35 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Matti
Prog Reviewer
3 stars The multi-national recording project The Samurai Of Prog shows no signs of slowing down. In recent years we've had many many albums of TSOP and related, such as the solo album of Kimmo Pörsti, and The Guildmaster project with its folk orientation. The American core member Steve Unruh has been less, if at all, involved on several of those recent albums, but on this new release his contribution is very central. This time the album concept -- for which a sequel is undoubtedly to be expected later this year -- is built on the fairy tales of Brothers Grimm. As a literature lover I find that quite appealing to start with. It's nice to have the plot summaries of the tales in the booklet, but in the end I'm not happy of the way the story-telling occasionally dominates the compositions. I'll come to that later.

The instrumental opening track 'Into the Woods' composed by keyboardist Alessandro Di Benedetti (Mad Crayon, Inner Prospekt) is very charming in its airy melodic approach reminiscent of Camel -- ah, the flute! -- and Spectral Mornings -era Steve Hackett. 'The Three Snake-Leaves' (9:43) written by Chilean prog composer Jaime Rosas with Unruh's lyrics captures the tale's drama effectively. The music is very dynamic, at times heavy, and there are gorgeous soli for various instruments. Unruh's vocals remind me of early Marillion and Fish at his most dramatic (e.g. 'The Web' for the whispered section). Then comes another instrumental, 'Iron John' composed by Ton Scherpenzeel (Kayak). He was a core member in The Guildmaster, and also here he added some Old Music flavor although the track rocks too. This far the album is just as satisfying as one has learnt to expect from these hard- working guys and their contributors.

The latter half leaves me less impressed and a bit frustrated to be honest. The solo piano title piece by TSOP's long- time contributor David Myers is beautiful all right (I hear a slight pop ballad flavor à la Billy Joel, which is not a bad thing), but it is sandwiched by two vocally over-theatrical pieces where the narrative level gets way too dominant in my opinion. 'A Queen's Wish' (Di Benedetti/Unruh) is based on the fairy tale of Snow White, and Steve Unruh's vocals are accompanied by Phideaux's Valerie Gracious who acts as the mean queen. This is the album's longest track (11:36) and it contains excellent prog sections, but, as the vocals are mostly either narrative or pure voice acting, I can't help thinking of the audiovisual Disney fairy tales released in my childhood. In other words, the fine music becomes painfully secondary to the shamelessly melodramatic story telling. 'The Blue Light' (composed by Octavio Stampalia of Jinetes Negros) suffers from the same feature. Valerie reappears as a witch.

So, this time my rating is lower than for TSOP releases usually (five stars haven't been a rarity!), but I want to underline that it's mainly because of my disliking for the over-theatrical, story-telling oriented approach especially on two songs. This album is also relatively short compared to many preceding albums. The length in itself is not essential, but the lesser amount of quantity means there is less stuff to be fully charmed by. That said, the best TSOP albums such as Toki No Kaze are IMHO fantastic symphonic prog all the way.

Matti | 3/5 |

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