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Neuschwanstein - Battlement CD (album) cover

BATTLEMENT

Neuschwanstein

 

Symphonic Prog

3.95 | 156 ratings

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Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Oh, how I love this album - Neuschwanstein's "Battlement" has got to be one of the most prominent German symphonic prog releases of the 70s, and definitely, it is one of my all-time German prog releases. This band started as an instrumental quintet in the mid 70s, under the heavy influence of early 70s Genesis and following a parallel trend to that of Novalis and Eloy (a recurrent tendency toward the display of ethereal keyboard layers ands ornaments), albeit developing a more complex repertoire and having some musicians exploring their own technical skills more proficiently. There are also noticeable influences from "Moon Madness"-era Camel and, to a smaller degree, Wakeman's early solo work. During their early years, the band had already written a prog suite based on the legendary literature classic "Alice in Wonderland", which only comes to show how deeply involved Neuschwanstein was with the artsy demands of prog. Keyboardist Neuroth and flutist Mayer founded the group and in many ways acted as the leading musicians, since their instruments are the most featured in the compositions, and eventually, their only recorded album. But let's not dismiss the other members: the rhythm duo of Zimmer and Schwarz proves to be very solid through the mood shifts and odd time signatures that appear in the repertoire; meanwhile, Weiler delivers lots of fine solos and textures on his electric lead guitar, appropriately complementing the synth and/or flute in many occasions. Vocalist/acoustic guitarist Frédéric Joos entered the band when it was decided that Neuschwanstein needed to emphasize the melodic aspect of their music, and with him on board, you can tell that the band effectively benefited from that: Joos' taste for folkish sounds and evocative vocal timber (something like Gabriel-meets-Bornemann) add a new element to join the somber ambiences and pompous orchestrations that are so crucial to the band's essential sound. 'Loafer Jack' kicks off the album with a minstrel-oriented high spirit (Hermann Rarebell guests on drum kit for this one) in a very catchy manner. 'Ice with Dwale' goes to more languid places, displaying a more introspective mood: the acoustic guitar chords and flute lines are this song's main anchors. In my opinion, it is from track 3 onwards that the band's musical genius is shown up and developed to its full potential. 'Intruders and the Punishment' and 'Beyond the Bugle' display a captivating epic sensitiveness without losing touch of the melodic richness. The band works as a perfectly oiled ensemble, full of majesty and energy in these two tracks and the namesake following one, which is, IMHO, the album's apex, with Neuroth serving as a most efficient master of ceremonies with his keyboard arsenal (Moog, string synth, grand and electric pianos, mellotron, organ). 'Battlement' comprises some of the most somber segments in the album, as well as some of the dreamiest passages, all of them matched together with immaculate fluency. The penultimate song is the bonus 'Midsummer Day', which brings back some of the romantic vibe of track 2, but with a slightly enhanced tension that is pretty much related to what we found in tracks 3-6. The guys of Musea were clever enough to leave the original closer 'Zärtlicher Abschied' as the CD's final track, since it works effectively as such. This is an amazingly beautiful instrumental that mixes the splendorous magnificence of standard symph prog and the joyful nuances of folk music: its celebratory spirit is undeniably irresistible, right from beginning until the ending fade-out. The delicious dialogues of flute and synth and the melodic elements occasionally provided by the lead guitar are perfectly sustained on the rhythm section and the harmonic basis laid by the acoustic guitar. Delicious!, really delicious! My overall rating for "Battlement" lies somewhere between 4 ˝ and 5 stars: that is, much more than just excellent and pretty much close to the masterpiece level, so I'll round it up to 5.
Cesar Inca | 5/5 |

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