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Änglagård - Epilog CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.07 | 605 ratings

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Prog Folk Researcher
4 stars Änglagård’s second and final studio release doesn’t rise to quite the level of their debut album, but it sure comes close. There is still a fan club website dedicated to the band which includes a running petition to have the band release another album, and I have to say that it’s hard to imagine such a reunion wouldn’t be successful. The group tried a brief reformation without guitarist Tord Lindman a few years ago, but one has to wonder if the motivation was still there, as it seems to yield little more than a few live appearances and the occasional ‘new track’ popping up on various websites.

This is an entirely instrumental release, but considering the scarcity of vocals on the first album I’m not sure this is really a drawback. What’s more noticeable is the preponderance of lengthy slow, almost airy passages that give the album an overall less energetic feel than their first release. Also, the keyboard and guitar work here are much more reminiscent of King Crimson’s tendency toward a fusion type of sound. On the first album the arrangements seemed more structured, a bit less dissonant, and frankly a little more pompous, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing for symphonic rock.

The opening “Prolog” is promising with its spidery flute and classic piano tones, but as this gives way to the lengthy “Hostsejd” the strident mellotron and fusion-like guitars set an altogether different tone than the Baroque stanzas that marked the debut album. This in itself is okay, since simply repeating their previous work wouldn’t have been all that interesting. But the segue to the long and repetitive keyboards and recurring dropoffs throughout this track get to be a bit tedious without the context of lyrics to help shape the moods. This comes off as an epic-like tale, which I’m sure it what it was meant to be, but the short free-form poem that goes along with the track doesn’t do justice to the range of moods expressed here.

After the brief transition of “Rösten”, “Skogsraden” (Eaves of the Forest) kicks off another lengthy and moody piece. Again, the accompanying poem is a bit cryptic, perhaps referring to some Swedish folk-tale or something – not sure. Here again the piano work is impressive, and the mellotron is energetic for the most part and stretches the traditional role of its sound. But again as well, the transitions are rather weak and there is no real context for making sense of them.

On “Sista Somrar” (The Last Summer) the long, almost inaudible intro seems inconsistent with a more forceful and upbeat sound one would typically expect for a song about summer. Perhaps way up north there in Sweden summer has a different mood and connotation that is does in places where beaches run deep in bikinis and beach balls. This seems more like a song about the ‘last days’ than it does the ‘last summer’. Or perhaps I’m missing the point altogether. Regardless, this ends up being the most animated work on the album, but it takes a while to get going. The acoustic guitar and piano toward the end are quite beautiful, and the final mood actually reminds me a bit of Opeth circa Blackwater Park. This is a complex work, and requires many listens to gain full appreciation.

Finally the album draws to a close much like it started, with delicate and mournful piano and light string-keyboards, quietly fading and leaving a uniquely Nordic sense of hope in its wake:

“I look in the deep brook, and I see a birch leaf floating by.

I believe that under that rock leads a path to heaven.”

Just a bit inconsistent, but at the same time an intense and quite rewarding experience, this final studio release of Änglagård’s is well worth a few spins for anyone who enjoys extremely well-arranged and intense symphonic music. Four stars might be just a bit of a stretch, but not by much.


ClemofNazareth | 4/5 |


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