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Änglagård - Epilog CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.07 | 605 ratings

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5 stars What happens when you take the "rock" out of symphonic rock? Anglagard's Epilog may not be all the way there, but they do offer us a window into another sort of prog that doesn't seem to be as frequently explored.

The album's predecessor, Hybris, was a powerful and captivating work that was nonetheless slighted for perhaps being a bit too "retro" - that is to say, while it was a unique and excellent album, it seemed to be fully immersed in the spirit of the 70s, resulting in Anglagard to be dubbed by some as "the sixth member of the Big Five." Whether this degree of classic prog influence is a positive, negative, or neutral element is up to the discretion of the reader; however it's presence is indisputable.

Epilog, however, is a step, if perhaps not quite a leap, towards a more idiosyncratic sound for the band. The influences are still present, and sometimes easily identifiable, however the composition takes a twist away from Hybris and instead leads towards a darker, more subdued sound for the album, resulting in a much more subtle and mature recording. This subtlety, naturally, is a curse as well as a blessing - whereas Hybris had me hooked from the opening notes, it took several listens to appreciate Epilog.

The album opens with Prolog, a moody, haunting introduction. The track's absence of any sort of drum beat, vocals, or electronic instruments (minus the mellotron) combined with a tight melody and logical structure seem to make this the essence of "symphonic rock, without the rock."

The meat of the album is the next three songs - three compositions over the ten minute mark (punctuated by a curious 14 second recording of microphone feedback) allow the band to fully explore the depth of this new direction (albeit, with a strong rock element than the opener). Hostsejd is my least favourite of the three, as it seems to have the loosest structure - nevertheless, it manages to captivate through angular, slightly dissonant heavy segments, beautiful mellotron and flute passages, and of course, the band's signature "stop-go" method of leaping between the pastoral and the violent.

Skogsranden is an instrumental reworking of the Tord Lindman-era song Ganglat Fran Knapptible, which can be found on some pressings of Hybris (as well as the After the Storm benefit album for Hurricane Katrina). The two are fairly similar apart from an extended piano and flute intro on Skogsranden. Whether one prefers vocals or instrumental music will likely determine which version is more enjoyable.

Sista Somrar is my personal favourite cut of the album. A bleak, despair-filled introduction eventually gives way to a raging middle section, with devastating rhythmic work and stomach-churning melodies. The chaos subsides into a mournful closing segment which eventually recapitulates themes from the beginning. Masterful and in my opinion one of the darkest songs in all of symphonic prog.

A two minute piano piece closes the album, and the beautiful but despondant work lays the previous chaos to rest, serving as a fitting farewell for the band - an "epilog" indeed.

Despite the fact that it is not the most ground-breaking record in prog history, Epilog nonetheless sees Anglagard establishing a niche for themselves - I can't imagine any other band making an album like this - and the result is one of the most mature - and arguably greatest - prog albums of the 90s

KingCrimson250 | 5/5 |


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