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Änglagård - Hybris CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.37 | 1586 ratings

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5 stars Austere darkness, fuming mists floating upon the frozen lake and out of the dense woods, raging dissonance purveyed by some kind of Nordic insolence, talented and taciturn musicians from Sverige (Sweden for those who don't know) who exude their national characteristics with gusto. The entire atmosphere is angrily phosphorescent as if some distant firework display was motivated to shock the silence. The sheer contrast between smooth mellotron/flute intermezzos and the booming Rickenbacker, brief church organ, slippery guitar and monster drum onslaught is the defining quality that makes Anglagard so endearing. They write in their booklet introduction some rather fateful words, illuminating the sensory process that went into creating such a concise piece of music. "This music is built on a very human base?through conflict. It's created with the thought of each person's momentary feelings, with a lot of variations as a starting point. Personal feelings and the impulsiveness has been the hardest adversary in our struggle to put the tunes together. We don't seek a well-balanced or predictable entirety. This pot is cooked by six fanatic cooks, each one a victim of hybris". Fine fighting words and it dawned on me quite quickly that only true proggers could get into this bizarre concoction, as the soundtrack to a hot date and sweaty tryst this is definitely not!

The music requires not only effort but patience as well; the clashing rhythms and tempos rival the extreme improvs of veteran jazz fusion outfits, with an obviously grittier prog style. The polyrhythmics abound, dense sonic jungles that shudder all over the scales, complex structures with simple note selections. Bassist Jonas Hogberg is a tremendous figure, craving solid lanes for Mattias Olsson's Brufordesque drums, a powerful combo that slams with the best of them (like compatriots Anekdoten and Landberk = the 3 founders of prog Renaissance in Scandinavia), while two guitarists weave some serious tapestries and keyboardman Tomas Jonsson colours the entire palette with blitzing runs on a variety of vintage instruments. The 4 tracks form an entity that makes it difficult for me to slice and dice track by track or pick out some specific solo or other. This is a perfect example of team play where the whole means so much more than the parts, also why they disappeared rather quickly after only 2 studio albums and a live job. Rumours abound though! As for influences, it's not as clear cut, though one can detect overt Genesis moments, with Anna Holmgren's flute one can smell the KC bouquet and the mad rhythms can amuse the Gentle Giant. Throw in some ELP runs (the Hammond B- 3 /drum play in particular), a heady dose of Nordic folk and we really start cookin'! Truth is that this is very unique and original, at times demented melancholia to the point of paranoia, or should I say desperation, yet somehow also peaceful and contrite. The unending time signature changes are defiantly boggling the mind and the excitement from the constant unknown is utterly compelling.

As a few fans and critics have mentioned , Anglagard is to be lauded for reigniting the phoenixed torch in 1992, a time that still seemed bleak for the progfan and for exhorting by example thousands of unknown musicians to instill some music into their music (if you know what I mean! And you do). Others have nicely dissected this masterstroke nicely and it would be hard for me to not pin five asteroids on this one but with the added notation that this ain't an easy listen by any stretch.

As an essay on obscure virtuosity, this earns the bottle of akvavit, a jar of lingonberries and 5 golden crowns.

tszirmay | 5/5 |


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