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Änglagård - Epilog CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.07 | 605 ratings

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4 stars The guidelines of this page tell us to be very careful with 5 stars rating, but when I make reviews of ÄNGLAGÅRD it's very difficult to be careful because the music is so majestic that's almost impossible to leave away the impulse to give the album the maximum possible rating.

The main difference between Hybris and Epilog is that this album is instrumental and much more mature, maturity should be good in any normal band, but in the case of ÄNGLAGÅRD it's hard to know because something I admired very much in the debut album is that innocence they showed. The band didn't cared how many influences they played with, so it was easy to notice Crimsonian passages, Yes sounds and Genesis chords all mixed together, almost like a child builds houses with his multicolor bricks, but they were able to build incredibly beautiful and intelligent music, almost as if the child would have turned into an architect who can make monuments using the same color bricks to remain innocent.

In Epilog their own sound is more developed, the listener still notices that King Crimson and Genesis had a strong influence in ÄNGLAGÅRD, but it seems more distant. The absence of Tord Lindman's voice may satisfy those fans who believed he was weak and maybe too feminine, but the sound is colder without him, you notice something is missing, even if you're not a particular fan of his vocals. The music is stronger and less derivative but they lost that naïve charm they had in Hybris.

The album starts with "Prolog" (Prologue), and what a way to begin, simply delightful music, I'm sure that any person that doesn't know about ÄNGLAGÅRD will qualify this track not as Prog' Rock but classical music. The Baroque atmosphere achieved with guitar, violin (by Martin Oloffson who is a guest) and keyboards is simply perfect, it's sad, melancholic but extremely beautiful. At the end you feel 2 minutes are not enough, they should have made this song 5 times longer.

"Hostejd" (Rites of Fall) is a song where all the band shows how much they matured, there's clear King Crimson inspiration, but they work it being less evident than ever before. The abrupt changes perfectly fit one after the other, the whole band's work is amazing, but Anna Holmgren's flute is the one that carries the weight of the track, you can feel the main melody as if it was surrounding the sound of louder instruments until they all melt in one. Also great drumming by Mattias Olsson who has better feet work than in Hybris.

"Rosten" (The Voice) doesn't really deserves a comment, 14 seconds of almost not audible sounds gives not too much to talk about.

"Skogsranden" (Eaves of the Forest) starts again with a flute semi solo by Anna, soon followed by the piano, again the band takes the path of classical music, but this time less baroque and more romantic until the piano an organ announce another sound explosion that remembers us we're dealing with a very complex progressive band that can go from classical to shocking rock and then to a soft keyboard and chorus section as almost no band ever before. In this track Thomas Johnson is outstanding, he uses piano, organ and mellotron with equal skills. The song ends with another surprise for the listener, a hard complex instrumental section that ceases in one instant without anything that makes the listener guess the end is near.

"Sista Somrar" (The Last Summer) starts with a soft piano that works as an introduction with a soft violin and guitar, the track remains calm and soft until about the 6 minutes when the complexities start, beginning with a strong passage followed by an almost silent section that leads again to another explosive and rhythmic chord where all the band show what they are capable of. Before the end there is a guitar and drums section that reminds me of Focus, specially to Jan Ackerman's solos, this resemblance is more obvious when Anna joins with her flute. A very complex song.

The album ends with "Saksnaden Fullhet" (The Fullness of Longing) another short track that may easily be confused with classical music, played only with a sad and melancholic piano. Simple and beautiful.

The album is as beautiful as Hybris and probably more complex, for most fans is their masterpiece, I can't disagree because it's obvious that ÄNGLAGÅRD is at this point a much more solid band, but still there are things I miss from their debut, specially the criticized vocals by Tord Lindman and the simplicity they left behind.

Sadly this is the last chapter of ÄNGLAGÅRD's short saga (Except for Buried Alive, an album recorded in Nearfest), as a bright star they shined with great intensity and illuminated the 90's but as anything so shiny they burned too fast. Lets hope for their rebirth, something not too hard when most of their members are still in the late 20's and early 30's.

This time I will restrain my high rating impulses and give Epilog four solid stars, even when 4.5 would be the exact rating IMHO.

Ivan_Melgar_M | 4/5 |


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