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Grobschnitt - Rockpommel's Land CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.87 | 285 ratings

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5 stars Back in 1977, being just a very young kid (an Ernie ?), I had only just discovered the beauty of progressive rock and I felt myself painfully aware of myself perhaps having been born just a little bit too late to fully enjoy the genre at its genuine heighdays. There was word about 'punk music' all over in the magazines, the Greats-of-Old were dubbed as being 'boring old dinosaurs', and the first cracks were already beginning to show with Mr. Collins steering Genesis into the Cul-de-Sac better known as 'pop music'...

But hey there, wait a minute... I remember picking up a rather Roger Dean-esque album sleeve from the local record store's (you still had those, back in 1977...) collection and without even having listened to the album, I took it home - that sleeve just had to be some kind of an omen...

Turned out that I wasn't all too wrong about that. Even though the charmingly naive fairy-tale on which the album is based - read: The Pied Piper-meets-The Lord of The Rings, starring Giant Saviour Bird Maraboo as Gandalf, little Ernie as Frodo, The Magic Feather as a rather good-natured 'Ring', Mr. Glee as a well-willing Pied Piper, and the Blackshirts as the Orcs (or whatever - hope you understand I'm just joking here!)... this fairy-tale might well be just a bit too saccharine for many to fully enjoy, but who cares, when the music entirely makes up for this minor 'problem'?

Because it just happens to be the loveliest, soaring, naturally 'flowing', and even easily accessible - yes, that IS possible! - symphonic progrock imaginable. Ernie's Reise starts off dreamingly and even meekly, beautiful acoustic guitars giving a perfect intro to what's to follow beyond, getting heavier and heavier - "captivated by a moonbeam", indeed - subtely building up to more expressive outbursts. One can't help but notice the strong Chris Squire-influences from Popo, and what a surprise, he plays a classical Rickenbacker 4001... Another stronghold are Wildschwein's vocals - powerful and expressive. Never mind that heavy German accent of his, not at all. It just works. The band pulls out the entire collection of pure-prog keyboards, including the classical mellotron and organ sounds, as well as very Genesis- like airy guitars. Severity Town's mood is darker and heavier, after the initial light-footed intro on keys and piano. Apparently Frodo - sorry, Ernie - enters Mordor, here. Soon the rhythm section sets in full ablaze, the vocals get even more emotional, and both the keyboard intersections as well as the backline join in in the heaviest pure-prog imaginable. Notwithunderstandingly, the music remains easily accessible and naturally flowing, and like is the case with all of Grobschnitt's work, a welcome touch of humour remains part of this epic, despite its darker mood. Anywhere, the only song on the album clocking in at less than ten minutes, is a graceful, enchanting, heartfelt ballad with a melody so beautiful that it can easily stand up against the best attempts of both Yes and Genesis for this matter. Rockpommel's Land, clocking in at near to 20 minutes, forms the perfect, bombastic conclusion to all of the earlier emitted musical emotions on this album, I truly wonder if I ever heard such a true epic evolving like this one does - heavy, emotional, all instruments - layers of guitars, keyboards, fantastic drumming and immaculate Rickenbacker bass - jumping up-and-over each other - well let's just call it an ultimate attempt at true Symphonic Prog. You might have noticed, words fall short to describe this one for me. And let's not rule out Wildschwein's fantastic singing, here. "Was this the way to Rockpommel's Land, little Ernie began to fear?" Just *perfection*.

And now, in 2010, never having lost sight of contemporary prog, and as such, rather a fan of Porcupine Tree and Anathema nowadays than of the old-so-called-'dinosaurs', this is one of the very few 'classic' symphonic progrock-albums that I still regularly pull out to listen to, again-and-again, 33 years after its release. Even more than Yes' Close To The Edge and/or Genesis' The Lamb, which might well be telling something. Even more, I've just secured my tickets to Grobschnitt's upcoming live perfomance of this fantastic, legendary album in Dortmund coming October - I can't wait!

Hope this is enough reason for me to honour Grobschnitt's brilliant - and moreover, just lovely - Rockpommel's Land with a well-deserved five star-rating. And this is coming from a old-geezer-post-prog fan, no less, hey! *wink*

Antennas | 5/5 |


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