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Pendragon - The Masquerade Overture CD (album) cover





3.98 | 597 ratings

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4 stars "I open my eyes and look up to the skies and I dream ..."

Now that I got into the Neo Progressive sub-genre, after Arena's "Contagion", I got this CD, mainly because of the reviews and because it's listed on the "Top 10" Neo Prog albums. Also, I've heard on a prog sampler the first Pendragon song I listened to: "Dance Of The Seven Veils" So, I expected of this to be a masterpiece. Despite of I don't think of this to be a masterpiece, I find "The Masquerade Overture" to be an excellent album (not something new, but very well done). This band is widely influenced by 70s Prog, like Pink Floyd, Genesis (specially), and Yes, and has of course a very symphonic sound, very different to what I heard from Arena (which is heavier); Clive Nolan here has much more participation, giving tons of atmospheres. On this album, I heard very melodic and sometimes romantic music, with some pop touches (from 80s Genesis). After the first listens I couldn't appeal to it very much, but then it started to grow on me and I've listened to it so much times I feel I can make a review now. So, let's go to the music:

"The Masquerade Overture" is the classical intro to the album. Very symphonic, with a lot of keyboards. I remember the first time I heard it I got surprised with the operistic voice, that makes a strong and imposing melody. Just fantastic !!

"Good As Gold" begins (as most of the songs of this album) with hypnotic keyboard line. Then enters the inspiring voice, as I wrote at the top: "I open my eyes and look up to the skies and I dream ...", oh beautiful !! (some people might not like this band because they can be too 'poppy' or melodic, but I do like this a lot). Nice chorus here, maybe a bit poppy, but nice. The solos show also the influence of classical music on this band.

Then comes "Paintbox", that seems to be a classic on the repertory of Pendragon, and maybe the best song of "The Masquerade Overture". And now I know why it's a classic. Starts typical 'symphonically', with good acoustic guitars and background piano. The chorus is memorable, maybe some of the sweetest melodies I've ever heard: "And paintbox you are my only hope, of covering the faded past and starting out once more ... ", it includes again a choir, that puts in evidence the Queen influence. The instrumental intermission is superb, and features a sad and memorable melody that is repeated along the song, just amazing !! Again we have here a poppy rhythm in the middle, with cool bass line and typical pop drum sound, which is joined by the keyboards then. It feels so good listening to this song, incredible !!

"The Persuit of Excellence", is the keyboard-based song of the album and the shortest composition: only 2:36. I don't know why, but I don't like this song very much, really. I can't find which is the problem, but it's OK.

"Guardian Of My Soul", is the follower epic (?). Starts with nice drumming; then the keyboard joins and it seems a rock symphony. Along the record, I realised that all the instruments "lay down" on the keyboard atmospheres, so Pendragon wouldn't be the same without Clive Nolan's keys. On this long song, we have some tempo changes that keeps the Prog listener interested, and an amazing guitar solo in the middle. Big reminiscence of Pink Floyd on that solo, obviously. There's a mini drum solo around 7 minutes, like an intro to the following solos. Ah, and the only rocker riff on the whole CD is here !! Overall, good; not as good as the first 3 songs, but good.

"The Shadow" follows. This one has a very classic Genesis influence. Similar to "Guardian Of My Soul", this one has nice transitions, and solos, adding also some beautiful arpeggios. Clive Nolan does a very good work here, as along the entire album. Good song.

The superb ending to "The Masquerade Overture" is "Master Of Illusion", the longest song here (12:51). I must say, that on the first minutes of this song, this seemed to me a joke, with that funny lyrics: "I'm the master of illusion, the master ...."; and a catchy 80s pop chorus ... Fortunately, the song starts to progress then, and some changes during the instrumental part, make this song unforgettable. The closing of this song is perfect: a typical Pink Floyd rhythm, and one of the best solos I've ever heard, with a duration of more than 2 minutes, and a closing classical melody in the middle that is repeated some times, and touches me; excellent ending to an excellent album !!

Overall, this is an excellent addition to any Prog music collection, and a big demostration of how good modern Symphonic Prog Rock can be. So, as Gatot says, highly recommended !!

Rating: 4.1/5

Barla | 4/5 |


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