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Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
Van Der Graaf Generator - Pawn Hearts CD (album) cover


Van Der Graaf Generator


Eclectic Prog

4.42 | 1962 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

5 stars Woowee, what an album to review, what a band! I'd say out of all the bands here on this site, VdGG stands apart both stylistically and musically. They're the exact opposite to what you'd expect from a saxophone/organ/piano/drums band, and they take a much more agressive and chaotic path to prog than more well known (and more comercially successful) prog bands- the quiet etheral passages of Yes or Genesis style are few and far between.

As an introduction to the band, this album does not work. It is much far too eclectic and ambitious for any non-fans to get their head around in the first listen, and could very easily put a newcomer off VdGG for life if you introduce them with this Behmoth. My personal favourite VdGG album is Godbluff, you're probably much better off starting with that as it gives the exact same mood and emotional impression as this three song monument, in a much more accessable streamlined manner (without sacrificing 'progginess').

Pawn hearts certainly doesn't take the straightforward approach, but many prog fans will possibly feel familiar with the epic+two format which has yeilded stone-cold classic prog albums in the past, and as this suggests, it certainly is the most adventurous and daring. It just doesn't pull the punches, is all I'm trying to say- it's unlikely to convert any newcomers to the VdGG cause. The new listener should expect mind-rending on a high scale. (in all seriousness, i wouldn't recommend anybody of dubious or unstable mental state to listen to it on their own, especially not in the dark, or before going to bed.)

But Pawn Hearts is a masterpeice, well deserving of its five star rating (It has excellent performances from all musicians involved, via truly inspired songwriting) because it dares to tread where other bands rarely set foot, into the raging void, it stared straight into the dark abyss and shouts until it's collective throats are dry and bleeding. Lemmings eases you into the madness, Man-Erg tricks you and teases you with its insanity and Plague of Lighthouse Keepers attacks you, forces your head under and violently drowns you on its utter lunacy.

The maelstrom of my my memory is a vampire and it feeds on me, now staggering madly, over the brink, I fall.

retrorocker | 5/5 |


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