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Pendragon - The Masquerade Overture CD (album) cover





4.00 | 619 ratings

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Cygnus X-2
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars What an impressive outing from this English Neo-Prog group. It certainly feels more symphonic in structure and in the music, but it is tagged as Neo-Prog because of the group's past. Anyway, The quasi-concept The Masquerade Overture is one of the masterpieces of the neo-prog genre, and should not be missed out by anyone. From the structured guitar riffs from Nick Barrett, to the over-the-top Tony Banks-esque keyboard work from Clive Nolan, this album is dripping with progressive nods from Genesis and Pink Floyd. The lyrics are also very well done, many of the tracks discussing the battle between good and evil, only to end in a climatic and rewarding ending.

The album opens up with the operatic Masquerade Overture, in which a choir sings and gives the album a more epic feel. A very tasteful introduction into this album. The next track, As Good as Gold, has a very floydian intro, in that it is very atmospheric. When Nick Barrett's first solo comes through, the neo-prog bonanza begins. The song soon takes a very upbeat shape and a catchy chorus. The Genesis influence is apparent, with sprawling organ and synth work from Nolan. The next track, Paintbox, has a very Supper's Ready type intro, with 12 string guitar and flute added to the mix. Within the 1st minute, there has been a chorus and a guitar solo. Nolan's keyboard work (mellotron, I think) on this track shows the Genesis influence even more. As soon the song picks up in pace, the listener is taken on a ride through various textures, expansive guitar solos, and some standout bass work as well. The Pursuit of Excellence could quite possibly be the cheesiest song ever written. A very emotional vocal performancedoesn't really help the overdramatic/cliched synths. The next track, Guardian of My Soul, begins with some standout drum work from Fudge Smith, and right from the beginning, the guitar work from Barrett takes the forefront. With a memorable riff and some of the best lyrics on the album, this song is a treasure to listen to, all 13 minutes of it. To conclude the album are two songs, perhaps the best songs on the album, The Shadow and Masters of Illusion. The first one starting very quietly with grand piano from Nolan, and soon evolving into a very emotional piece with a great vocal performance from Barrett. The final track features a catchy chorus, and some great work by all of the members of the group.

Overall, this is a great neo-progressive work of genious. My only complaint is that Barrett's voice can get a tad on the annoying side, and The Pursuit of Excellence (makes me cringe every time I listen to it). Almost a 5/5. 4.5/5.

Cygnus X-2 | 4/5 |


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