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Änglagård - Hybris CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.37 | 1586 ratings

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5 stars The reputation that precedes this release and almost savior-like following Anglagard receives in the Prog community is intimidating. And for progoholics still virgins to these Swedes, the feeling of anticipation leading up to the first hearing is enough to make the most grizzled, jaded listener transform into a giddy schoolgirl completely disarmed and flushed with carnal desires. Few albums could live up to the legendary praise Hybris has enjoyed, and under such conditions stakes are indeed high for the unexposed who just dropped 25 bucks on this beautiful repackaging from the band in a 3-section gatefold. I mean, it better be good, capishe?

Among other things, Anglagard distinguished themselves as one of the bands active during the early 1990s that began a serious effort to revive and restore golden age progressive rock. The impact and ripples caused by that alchemical summoning of the classic period began showing up for years to come in other outfits - as Wobbler, the Tangent, Anekdoten - and in retrospect this six-piece deserves much credit for showing that rock 'n roll backed-up by real skills and big ambition can still be a good thing.

I must say, describing the predominantly instrumental music is a bear of a job, and I can't blame those who have (or will) thrown their hands up unable to write much more than, "It's great, with a lot of stuff going on and, well, you'll love it!" Indeed, and you probably will. That is if you appreciate the utterly high-class playing of pianist Thomas Johnson and flautist Anna Holmgren in support of founders Tord Lindman [voice/guitar] and Johan Högberg [bass]. 'Jordrök' establishes the sophisticated if grimly serious tone, the long winters to the north reflected in the chill and dark beauty of Johnson's piano, the band breaks open and the exploratory surgery begins-- one compounded theme interrupted gracefully by another; songs within songs; light folk met with anchor-heavy church organ; Malmsteenian guitar campaigns; a solo cello. Pastorale 'Vandringar i vilsenhet' moves slowly but picks-up, shuffling the genre deck between bass-heavy rock, sly keyboard flurries, and a Mexican guitar all interconnected by delicious little pieces of tissue, cartilage, fat and nasty bits. A sad trio of horns whimsically opens 'Ifran klarhet till klarhet', a perfectly alright if somewhat blah number, 'Kung Bore', this writer's favorite, unfolds with Passion Play-era Tull and more strings from south of the equator, and terrific bonus cut 'Gånglåt från Knapptibble' wraps things perfectly and would've made a fine closer on the original issue.

Surely deserving of 5 big ones if only for the amount of high quality material here that will leave most reading this quivering with delight as they devour measure after measure of some of the richest, most authentic stuff around with relish, the juice dribbling down their chins as they slurp up every last chunk of meat, tidepool of grease, and bit of marrow. Bon appétit !

Atavachron | 5/5 |


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