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X-Panda - Flight Of Fancy CD (album) cover

FLIGHT OF FANCY

X-Panda

 

Progressive Metal

3.83 | 22 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Andy Webb
Forum & Site Admin Group
Admin / Heavy Prog Team
4 stars The flight of a lifetime

X-Panda is a very new band to emerge on to the already crowded progressive metal scene. Hailing from Estonia, a country not necessarily synonymous with metal or prog, the band seems to have declared their duty to forge their own path in the music world. Armed with professional music education and the drive to make some of the most well-crafted prog metal on this side of the multiverse, the band certainly has made quite a hit with their debut full length album Flight of Fancy. As jazz fans as well as metal fans, the band has encapsulated a love of melody within a love of technicality and metal. The glorious 70 minute album is comprised of eleven (or more accurately ten, not counting the intro) contains easily some of the best prog metal released in many years, with the mostly instrumental music reaching sonic heights not often reached by even the more established bands. The melodically dense music sends the listener on a fantastic journey, which is a feat for any band, never mind a young, yet-unestablished band. X-Panda seems to know what they're doing and yet they've just begun.

It's not often that I'll find a metal album that has a heavier (excuse the pun) emphasis on melody than it does on the "metal" aspect of the music, that is the crunching riffs, intense atmosphere, hard-hitting drumming, etcetera. X-Panda seems to have the "lighter" route, with songs noodling around delicate lines of melody and wonderfully orchestrated harmonic sections between the four instrumentalists. I really love how the drums work equally with the guitar, bass, and keyboards as a definite aspect of the music, weaving in and out of melodically-based rhythms and, as noted in the liner notes, Gavin Harrison- esque "rhythmic illusions," with sections seemingly in 4/4 actually being in triplet form of 12/8, polyrhythms of 7/8 feeling like perfect 4/4 until the perfect "unsynchronized" moment, and so on. While of course there were sections of the album where riffs dominated the music, these tend to not only be the weaker points of album but are also quite scarce across the entire play time.

Easily the best quality of the entire album is the joyful and ethereal quality the solos and melody take on in their context in the songs. Especially on the songs "Dickybirds" and the title track, the melody seems to become alive within the song, exploring new sonic depths not only due to the clean and well-done production, but because of their very nature of pure music. In the context of jazz-fusion tinged prog metal, such a style, especially on the piano, truly shines through and makes the album that much brighter.

In the end, X-Panda's debut album Flight of Fancy will easily go down as one of the better prog metal releases of the decade. Although through 70 minutes the songs begin to seem to blend into one near indistinguishable song (with obvious reprieves of memorable and distinct tracks), the album still holds its own right as a wonderful melodic journey. Of course the obvious influences can be derived from the music, with guitar solo structures and arrangements often having strong similarities to one Mr. John Petrucci and other typical progressive metal influences. However, these barely hinder the fact that the band has compiled a truly wonderful collection of ten (full length) songs for the listener's enjoyment - and enjoy it I did. 4 stars.

Andy Webb | 4/5 |

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