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Neuschwanstein - Battlement CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.94 | 192 ratings

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4 stars I fell in love with this album from the moment I heard it. In fact, I consider it to be among the finest albums to ever come out of (the old West) Germany. There is however one major point that needs to be taken into account ... there are countless moments over the course of Battlement that are derivative of classic Genesis (and even though it's a late 70s album it bears a lot of the hallmarks of the sound that would eventually come to be known as neo-prog and thus ends up reminding me of Marillion, who of course came later). If you are one of those who resents "clone" bands, you are not going to be able to handle Neuschwanstein's liberal use of Genesis influences. As for me, the usage of synths alone make this a band worth listening to in its own right.

The opening piece Loafer Jack sees the vocalist chose a lot of Peter Gabriel-like melodies, but it is the keyboard playing that truly shines with some lovely melodic touches (I'm not sure who is responsible as Klaus Mayer was credited with flute/synthesizers and Thomas Neuroth was credited with keyboards for this album). When I first heard this piece I assumed the rest of the album couldn't match up ... but boy was I wrong!

Ice With Dwale, with its flute and acoustic guitar intro, sounds for all the world like a moment out of Genesis' most pastoral album Trespass. It also contains some delicate piano playing, and while I'm not all that enamoured of the guitar solo, the flute solo that follows is resplendent. Lyrically too this concept album is far from weak.

After the thundering crash of the intro of Intruders And The Punishment comes a segment that will remind hard-core Genesis fans of a passage from the group's classic The Cinema Show, and here passionate vocals atop the staccato rhythms again belong wholly in the Peter Gabriel/Fish tradition. The aggressive keys/guitar moment is one of my favourite segments of the whole album and the lengthy keyboard solo that follows will remind any casual listener of Tony Banks.

Beyond The Bugle is probably my favourite piece of all. It has a melancholic intro with fluttering flute, a lively vocal section and a glorious fiery battle section which kicks in around the 4 minute mark ... this segment really caught my ear not just because it's excellent but because it sounds really original too. The daring closing synth solo is simply the icing on the cake.

The urgent Battlement has a four minute opening instrumental section that sees some more top-notch playing although again I'm less into the guitar-work than the keyboard-playing. There's a vaguely Arabic theme that keeps cropping up from time to time in this one, and I'm not quite sure what time the drummer's playing in, but it sure sounds tricky. Then an ambient vocal segment takes over before erupting into some more superb keyboard-work.

Midsummer Day is another atmospheric piece that features a lovely vocal part over some terse emsemble playing. I particularly like the flute harmonies the second time the verse comes round and the keyboard solo over the high-energy acoustic guitar segment.

The concluding instrumental piece Zartlicher Abschied is suitably "post-battle", dominated by great acoustic guitar and flute with a glorious belated entry by the keyboards. It proves to be another highlight of a fantastic album.

I suppose Battlement is like a sinful pleasure. The derivative moments don't really hold up to close scrutiny and God knows I've lambasted enough other bands for similar "plagiarism". But somehow I suspect that anyone who really loves the sound of classic Genesis will be able to forgive this. I certainly did. ... 77% on the MPV scale

Trotsky | 4/5 |


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