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Pendragon - The Masquerade Overture CD (album) cover





4.05 | 697 ratings

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4 stars After listening to the awful The World, I had some lower expectations for what has been claimed to be Pendragon's best release, The Masquerade Overture. Fortunately, this time I'm in agreement with other listeners out there, so maybe I'm not so strange after all (except for merging into sofas).

The Masquerade Overture starts off with a wonderful operatic beginning. This is truly promising. It gets even better with As Good As Gold. Barrett's vocals are significantly better than The World (the only other release I have and so the only one I can compare this with). The production and mix have greatly improved and Clive Nolan delivers some great keyboard playing, living up to the expectations I have become accustomed to from his work with Arena. Paintbox features some great guitar solos from Barrett and again, more great keyboard solos from Nolan. A great song! The Pursuit of Excellence is sort of like an interlude. It's nothing special, just something to tie things together.

The fifth track is Guardian of My Soul. Other than the aforementioned interlude, this is the weakest track on the album. It's good, but seems rather disjointed. It lacks direction and is quite wordy (similar to songs by Citizen Cain, but lacking the musical direction). However, the album recovers with another great song in The Shadow, again featuring some great guitar playing and excellent keyboard solos. The finale is Masters of Illusion, strong in Genesis and early Marillion influences and ending with a fantastic guitar solo.

Having only heard The World and this album, I can't yet make the determination if this is the best Pendragon release, although from reading other reviews, it may very well be. It sincerely is much, much better than The World and one of the better neo progressive releases I've heard in recent years. It's not quite a masterpiece, but well deserving of four stars, thus an excellent addition to any prog collection. It is a must have for neo prog fans.

progaeopteryx | 4/5 |


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