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Pendragon - The Masquerade Overture CD (album) cover





3.98 | 598 ratings

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Tristan Mulders
Prog Reviewer
3 stars Pendragon - The Masquerade Overture

I bought this disc after hearing the song Paintbox on a Dutch radio show a couple of times and I really liked it. So when I came across an edition (with a bonus live track) of the disc I bought it. At the beginning I thought well it has its moments of glory, but overall I find it a bit pretentious and not very original.

The album starts of really nice with the song The Masquerade Overture which is actually only a keyboards-based song with halfway through some Opera vocals. (The 'lead' synthesizers do remind me somewhat of KAYAK's Overture on their 2005 release Nostradamus.) I like this overture a lot. The operatic part is actually just a few singers but the way it is mixed makes it sound like there's a whole bunch of them. I don't actually know what they are singing about - since it ain't in the English language - but it does fit the mood of the song.

Then the album gets in a bit of a dip. As good as Gold was a song that I quite liked at the beginning but it's mainly the vocals that turn me off. The vocalist isn't one of the best I think. The song does gain a bit of credit from me because I think Clive Nolan's keyboard parts (and those are many!) are well played and well thought out!

As said above I bought this album after hearing Paintbox a couple of times. Now after hearing the song a lot of times I must say this is one of the album's outstanding tracks. Again, the vocals are the worst part. I don't know what it is that I don't like about Barrett's voice, maybe it's a bit too 'romantic' or mellow. This is one of the only tracks on the cd I like because of both the keyboards as well as the guitars. I saw that this song is available for download through progarchives. I suggest you listen to it as it's mostly instrumental so the annoying vocals aren't there. There's a superb synthesizer solo around the 4 min mark which kind of remembers me why I think Nolan is such a good player. This song is also much more atmospheric than the other songs on the album. If you can find this cd for a few bucks grab it, it's worth it only for this song!

Now The Pursuit of Excellence might be the most annoying (neo) prog song I've ever heard. The vocals are terrible and Nolan's cheesy accordion sounds don't make it any better.

The intro to Guardian of my Soul reminds me a bit of the 70's prog, until the guitar starts a smashing solo; I just have to admit that the guitar playing gets better throughout the album. The first minutes are also very dreamy and this is a quality I really adore in prog music. The vocals are better than on the previous songs, maybe because he sings in a lower key?! The chorus is really too cheesy though. It's too happy compared to the first part of the song. That's a complete disappointment to me. Immediately after the chorus the song gets good again, too bad the chorus is so weak and over-happy. The guitars on this track are a bit Floydish if I may say so. This is very positive to me. I like the guitar riff just before the 7 min mark a lot. Why doesn't Barrett play his guitar this good all over the album?

Although the drumming on this cd is relative simple 7.30 min in Guardian of my Soul the drummer gives a smashing solo. This certainly gives the listener an idea of what Smith can do behind his kit, than why doesn't he use his talent????! Maybe he's not allowed?

The sixth song starts very promising with nice piano playing accompanied by another 2 synthesizer parts which is a trademark for this cd, it's mostly keyboard based with the occasional guitar leads. This is the first song that really has nice vocals! The song has a couple of typical 70's influences, especially on some of the vocal parts. The synthesizers (effects) around the 3.26min mark are very cool I think. Also when the guitar is a bit more in the foreground instead of adding to the rhythmic it's, again, having this typical Floydish sound.

The final track on the album is called Master of Illusion. The song's title does sound very promising so I'm curious if the song is good. It starts of like we are in a David Copperfield show. so that lives up to my expectations regarding the track's title. The drumming at the beginning reminds me of "On the Run" from Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon album. Again there are multiple layers of keyboards and there's a really cool on at the foreground. This song has a lot of different spheres. Most of the time it really sounds like an Illusion; that's something I like a lot. But the vocals. they're annoying. This guy just hasn't got enough variety in his singing style for me to truly enjoy listening to him. Somewhere around the 7 min the song has a break down and continues with a very minimal approach to space rock. This is so totally different compared to the rest of the album, although Paintbox also has this type of approach. I like this. Too bad there's too few of those moments on the cd. The album ends with an amazing guitar solo which is about 2 minutes long.

Overal there are a couple of things I can say about the album as an overall view:

The rhythmic guitars are a bit like Mike Oldfield's as on the song Moonlight Shadow, this isn't a positive fact! I find it sounding like the guy just learned to play the instrument! Remember, this is about the appearance on the whole album and about the rhythmic guitar playing, when it's more of a lead guitar it sounds quite nice, not outstanding, but nice.

I think I have to give a special mention to the cover of the cd, since the front cover is amazing. One of the most beautiful cd covers I've ever seen! This doesn't interfere with me rating the album, since I rate it based on the music, not the artwork.

I'm giving this cd a 3 stars rating because I find it to have a good second half but it's not essential or excellent. Pendragon's Pursuit of Excellence finally didn't really succeed (for me at least).

Tristan Mulders | 3/5 |


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