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Wobbler - Hinterland CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.80 | 264 ratings

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Anthony H.
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Wobbler: Hinterland [2005]

Rating: 8/10

Hinterland is the debut album from Norwegian symphonic progressive-rock band Wobbler. The Scandinavian prog-rock movement of the 90s is well-known to most fans of the genre. Bands such as Anglagard, Anekdoten, Sinkadus, and Landberk created a Mellotron-laden sound that fused retro-themed symphonic rock with heavy Crimsonian experimentalism. These groups are considered to be some of the most influential arbiters of the post-80s progressive-rock renaissance. Wobbler formed in 1999, during the tail-end of this movement. The band's stated goal is to "create or perhaps recreate some of the musical expressions of the early seventies." The first two minutes of Hinterland make this musical philosophy abundantly clear. I've always disliked the term "retro-prog"; simply because symphonic progressive-rock developed during the 70s doesn't mean that the style is somehow restricted to that decade. However, the term applies perfectly to Wobbler's music. Only vintage instruments are used here: real Mellotron, real Hammond organ, real Moog synthesizers. There are a few signs of modernity (many of the folk passages remind me of Opeth), but the album as a whole sounds like a genuine piece of 1970s grandiosity.

"Serenade for 1652" is a brief Mellotron intro with a medieval atmosphere. It seamlessly blends into the 27-minute title track. This piece is so absolutely cavernous that attempting to describe it would be a fruitless endeavor. There are mini homages to nearly every classic prog band here, and it all blends together wonderfully. The folky sections are gorgeous, and the intense keyboard-driven passages are undeniably invigorating. This track is a tour-de-force in every sense of the term. "Rubato Industry" is a Crimsonian track with fantastic bass work from Hultgren. The final three minutes of this track are absolutely top-notch Mellotron-laden heavy prog. The instrumental "Clair Obscur" begins with a lengthy piano/flute intro, but quickly transitions to hard-hitting and bombastic symphonic rock. There's an enthralling groove throughout the entire piece, and the Mellotron is majestic. A short piano coda concludes the album.

Many prog fans dislike the "retro-prog" philosophy, believing it to be more regressive than progressive. I disagree - symphonic-prog is a style of music, and there's absolutely no reason why it should be abandoned by modern artists simply because it was pioneered 40 years ago. Wobbler have created a superb album with Hinterland, amalgamating various influences to create a piece of work that serves as both a tribute and an original musical statement. All three full-length pieces are incredibly monstrous. However, while this is an amazing album, it's not soulful enough to warrant masterpiece status. These tracks don't leave an enormous impression on me. Regardless, this is an excellent and consistently engaging listen that will be adored by any fan of 70s-prog.

Anthony H. | 4/5 |


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