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Änglagård - Hybris CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.37 | 1586 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars It's easy to understand how a band like ÄNGLAGARD had to happen. Let's see what happened in the prog rock scene in between the thirteen years before "Hybris" came out near the end of 1992 right up to that time: punk, disco, and new wave brought an end of prog rock by 1979. People were getting so desperate for something from their prog heroes in the '80s, they'd even welcomed ASIA, which I thought was just a pop band trying to pander to the Lowest Common Denominator. YES and GENESIS went pop. The Neo-prog scene emerged (such as MARILLION) which while welcomed by many progsters, many others derided it as being nothing more than a modernized update of the GABRIEL-era GENESIS sound. By 1991-92, things were really looking down on some of the big name prog acts: YES gave us Union, which is regarded by many as a big disaster. Likewise, ELP gave us Black Moon, which wasn't all that great, in my opinion.

That gave room to a Swedish band, in which half the members were 17-18 (that is drummer Mattias Olsson, guitarist Jonas Engdegård, and keyboardist Thomas Johnson - the other half, being older, around the 23-25 age range consisted of guitarist Tord Lindman, bassist Johan Högberg, and flautist Anna Holmgren). This band was called ÄNGLAGARD. Despite having members of age where they were either too young or not even alive when many of the great prog rock albums came out, they were obviously not pleased with how prog was going. If they had to put up with ASIA, if they had to put up with Love Beach, only to have the band reunite 14 years later and give Black Moon, they knew they had to take matters in to their own hands. And this was their approach: ditch all digital equipment, never lay their hands on a Yamaha DX-7, get themselves a Mellotron and Hammond organ, get themselves a whole bunch of other instruments, as long as it wasn't made after 1975 (except for the Korg Poly/Mono synth that came out in 1982). Basically take matters in to their own hands.

If many people think just how original Änglagård are hadn't tried hearing albums like CATHEDRALl's "Stained Glass Stories", or side two of SFF's "Symphonic Pictures". In fact the opening cut, "Jordröck" sounds a like like side two of the already mentioned SFF album, but with plenty of HACKETTt-like guitars, and some really nice, gently, pastoral passages with that Nordic feel. The rest of the album is of the same high quality, unbelievable complex music from musicians who obviously play like they were ten years older than they really were. There are the occasional vocals in Swedish, but are only brief. There's enough Mellotron and Hammond organ to make any '70s prog fan happy. And in fact, the traditional '70s prog fan not happy with the neo-prog scene, and not happy with digital equipment more than welcomed ÄNGLAGARD with open arms, even from people who obviously don't bother with most albums released after 1977 or 1978. I can see how this band set the prog world by storm.

It might be hard to believe that this album was actually availble on LP as well as CD at the time. The LP, released on the long defunct Colours label out of Norway was beautifully packaged complete with lyric booklet which has lyrics to all the songs, as well as photos of band members, various other photos, and what band member played what (in Swedish - in which they also included an insert in English which described the history of the band up to that point, and the band members and the instruments they played).

No doubt about it, "Hybris" is definately one of the best '90s prog albums.

Proghead | 5/5 |


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