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Pendragon - The Masquerade Overture CD (album) cover





4.03 | 663 ratings

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3 stars For over half of "The Masquerade Overture", PENDRAGON seems to be righting the ship pummeled into the rocks by "The Window of Life". First and foremost, they seem suddenly aware that songwriting is an indispensable component of less complex prog, and several shining examples here include the memorably melodic "As Good as Gold" and the emphatic "Paintbox". The interjection of a short and reverent choral number "The Pursuit of Excellence", also affords variety and a break from the intensity. "Guardian of My Soul". is mostly impressive as well, looking back to MIKE OLDFIELD in its hypnotic keyboards and forward to SATELLITE, while incorporating unlikely world music influences, particularly of the Latin variety.

Unfortunately on the two lengthy closing numbers, the band reverts to old rambling habits and lazy compilations, with only a few respites, most notably in the "King of the Castle" segment as "The Shadow" winds down. This emotionally lilting vocal theme establishes the potential of PENDRAGON to humble most fellow neo prog acts, a potential hitherto rarely realized. For instance "Master of Illusion" is just as notable for its lack of inspiration and focus, from the stomping rhythms to the bland chorus and beyond.

I must say I am generally quite satisfied with this mid 1990s album and can understand its significance among aficionados of this style, even if it lapses into entrenched behaviors on occasion. For the most part "Masquerade" plays to PENDRAGON's strengths and doesn't attempt to dress itself up as something it is not.

kenethlevine | 3/5 |


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