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Pendragon - Believe CD (album) cover





3.54 | 381 ratings

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4 stars When I slipped this CD into my player, I had to check again to make sure I had bought the right album. The erhu-like instrument (Chinese violin), the weird sound samples and the eerie Gaelic female chanting that open the album all sounded so unfamiliar. Then sure enough, the searing electric guitar that threatens to split the sky and the catchy rocker that follows ("No Place for the Innocent") quickly restored order. But the intro wasn't to be my only surprise: I discovered a well rounded Pendragon album with a fresh new sound and tracks that flow into one another in very unexpected ways.

The previous release "Not of This World" sadly had left me with a feeling of déjà vu; I had also found it overly dramatic, as if the whole CD had been made up swooping finales. "Believe" is 100% pure Pendragon but is more raw and wears an acoustic outfit, stressing the guitars over keyboards. It has a crispier, richer and much cleaner sound : no more syrupy/swampy arrangements that threaten to swallow all instruments into one big lump. Clive Nolan's keyboards, unfortunately, are not as present as I would like; but Nick Barret does a superb job on guitar, whether offering some Flamenco-style play ("The Wisdom of Solomon"), weeping passages à la Andy Latimer ("The Edge of the World") or a sizzling solo I can only compare to Jeff Beck ("We Talked"). At last, his voice seems to have undergone a complete transformation: his vocal performance is simply outstanding - the only weakness being the narrated parts that sound a little forced to my ears.

This being said, don't go thinking that "Believe" is an all-acoustic affair. Rather, try to imagine some genuine Pendragon grooves presented with a different twist, and enriched by lots of acoustic guitar as well as various unlikely instruments, especially exotic Asian ones.

After listening to the album repeatedly over the last few weeks, not only am I very happy with the band's new sound but I like the album more and more. I still very much "Believe" in Pendragon and surely, the CD is an excellent addition to any neo-prog collection.

Hibou | 4/5 |


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