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Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations) - Odyssey - The Greatest Tale CD (album) cover

ODYSSEY - THE GREATEST TALE

Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations)

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5 stars ODYSSEY - THE GREATEST TALE is a brilliantly designed concept-boxset with a huge, feature-rich booklet. The 3 CDs containing 9 longtracks (9 chapters) of the -wellknown- greek saga, every song is far beyond the 20 minutes border !!!

Is this a good or bad sign for a CD ?....well, let's see...

CD1:

...to my own surprise, the whole first CD is a winner from beginning to the end. All 3 songs are outstanding, with great musicianship. highly enjoyable stuff....simply mindblowing after first listening ! Masterpieces! Nothing more to say, you have to listen yourself.

CD2:

With the first song of CD2 comes a little break. XII ALFONSO's song is very strange in the beginning, it cannot hold the high-standards of CD1, but is getting better to the end The endpart is very nice. Overall a solid work, but it can be better.

Second song from SIMON SAYS is much better overall. A great band from Sweden!

Third song from CONSORZIO ACQUA POTABILE is very complex structured, featuring brilliant keyboard-sounds. This song is getting better and better 'til the end... For me, the best song on this CD.

CD3:

First song from TEMPANO has great complexity and marvelous keyboard parts. (I must buy more from this guys next time. A very interresting band)

Second song from MINIMUM VITAL is a very melodic one, great hooklines, easy, catchy, also quitting in a great endpart.

Last song on this boxset (...and my personal favourite) comes from brazilian band AETHER. A simply amazing song with great melodies, wonderful guitar-work and cool basslines. The song is recorded perfectly in reference-class soundquality ! AETHER once again reaching highest prog-standards...a MASTERPIECE Waiting for their next studio-album. I'm curious about it. Don't let me wait too long, Alberto. Please! ;-)

Like CD1, all songs of CD3 are fitting perfectly together. The "funfactor" is positive !

Bottom line:

Bombastic 220 minutes of great progmusic. This is MUSEA's best output in 2005. (Maybe their best output altogether...) A MUST HAVE - BUY OR DIE !!!

CD1-RATING: 5 STARS CD2-RATING: 4 STARS CD3-RATING: 5 STARS

OVERALL-RATING: 5 STARS

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Send comments to Grendelbox (BETA) | Report this review (#63680)
Posted Saturday, January 07, 2006 | Review Permalink
erik neuteboom
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars I would like to start with my conclusion: NOT TO BE MISSED IN ANY SERIOUS PROGROCK COLLECTION!!!

This lavish international progrock project includes 3 CD featuring nine more or less known progrock bands (each one 'epic' composition) and their musicians and instruments and a 56-page booklet that contains drawings, lyrics and stories about this project and the Greek saga the Odeysey (about Odysseus and his travels on which he met Cyclopes and Sirens).

CD1 (73:29) 1. Opener is Canadian band Nathan Mahl, led by multi-instrumentalist Guy LeBlanc (keyboards, bass and guitar). He colours the alternating music very pleasantly with his vintage keyboards (Hohner clavinet, Rhodes electric piano, Moog and Hammond), the fiery electric guitar is a strong counterpart. During the more than 20 minutes Nathan manages to keep my attention due to great soli, a wonderful vintage sound and lots of strong musical ideas. 2. Argentine band Nexus is my favorite band on this project and they don't disappoint me, the music delivers splendid early Keith Emerson inspired keyboards (fat Moogs and powerful Hammond), some heavy and propulsive guitar riffs, warm Spanish vocals, a piece with classical guitar and many great breaks, accellarations, build-ups and 'grand finales', A MASTERPIECE! 3. USA band Glass Hammer is perhaps the most known progrock band on this 3-CD, they sound here very familiar to their fans: dynamic and alternating with a melodic and accessible progrock sound featuring wonderful vintage keyboards and fiery electric guitar.

CD2 (79:23) 4. XII Alfonso from France sounds very original: an opening with classical orchestrations, choir samples and percussive sounds, then many musical ideas like jazzy with a Hammond solo, dreamy with twanging guitar and soaring keyboards and bombastic with sparkling piano, fiery guitar and flashy syntehsizers. 5. Simon Says from Sweden is another favorite of mine (I love their album Paradise Square from 2002). You have to be up to the a bit theatrical and very distinctive vocals but the duo-keyboard players deliver an outstanding and varied sound. The guitar soli are fiery (he uses an E-bow) this composition is build upon many strong soli. 6. C.A.P. is an experienced Italian band with powerful Italian vocals, lots of organ and piano and some fat, very spectacular sounding Moog soli. This song sounds fluent and often bombastic, C.A.P. is just another good, new Italian band.

CD3 (68:07) 7. Tempano from Brasil is the most original but also less accessible sounding band on this 3-CD. The track starts with church organ and opera-like vocals, then adventurous and a bit wayward progrock featuring sensitive electric guitar work, wonderful choir-Mellotron and great synthesizers. 8. Minimum Vital from France makes alternating and melodic prog with that special blend of church organ and Mike Oldfield- like electric guitar (flowing and fiery). The bombastic final part with howling guitar is very moving. 9. Aether from Brasil is the warm and pleasant final act on this 3-CD. they sound traditional with strong echoes from the neo-progressive movement with music that ranges from swinging with fluent electric guitar to dreamy with soaring keybards and mid-tempo with exciting synthesizer flights. The end is beautiful with sensitive acoustic guitar.

I would like to end with my intro: NOT TO BE MISSED IN ANY SERIOUS PROGROCK COLLECTION!!!

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Send comments to erik neuteboom (BETA) | Report this review (#64760)
Posted Saturday, January 14, 2006 | Review Permalink
infandous@exc
4 stars I can admit that I was not able to listen to this all in one sitting. After all 9 songs, all over 20 mintues can be a lot to take in all at once. Still, since it is 9 different bands, each taking a track, it makes it much easier to digest. I've said in other reviews that I love these Collsus releases, and this is no exception. Unlike Kalevla, each band here gets over 20 mintues to explore their piece of the epic poem "Odyssey". Two of the track are completely instrumental, and with one exception the ones with vocals are done in the bands native language. Personally, I enjoyed the songs on the first CD more, but that could easily change with repeated listens (Minimum Vitals contribution to the 3rd CD also stands out in my mind as being very good). All in all, another excellent release by Collsus. When I first read about these projects, I didn't see how they could really work and thought they were a disaster waiting to happen (seemed like much of the negative aspects of prog pulled together to make a project). With Kalevala, I was proven wrong. And while that album still remains as the weakest of the projects (probably because of each band only getting a single, 10 minute or less, song to fit into the epic poem context), I still think these are all great projects.

(By the way, I'm STILL waiting for The Spaghetti Epic to appear here in the prog archives!!!)

A solid 4 stars for this.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#66073)
Posted Sunday, January 22, 2006 | Review Permalink
fabrizio.moro
4 stars I must admit that I bought the triple-CD hypnotized by the art-cover, a wonderful painting that is clearly inspired by the extraordinary italian 1971 TV movie of the Odyssey, featuring Irene Papas as Penelope and Bekim Femiou as Odysseus.... and then....after a little moment of disappointment due to the orrible plastic fat case of the work, I started listening to the terrifying 3 and half hours mass of music, of course it keeps more than two or three days to understand clearly what we have in our hands. And what we have is.... FANTASTIC SUITE-PROG-MUSIC ! It is very hard to decide which of the 3 cd's is better, so I will not bother you with this argument, the only thing I can say it's that each of the 9 composition is well orchestrated and performed, never bombastic and never fragile; maybe you could say that many of the musical moments of the operas are not really related to the Odysseys poem, but... enjoy the music instead ! 4,25 stars really...... and great value for the money, don't forget.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#68659)
Posted Tuesday, February 07, 2006 | Review Permalink
progrules
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Here's one I'm longing to review for a long time and actually I'm still not quite ready for it. But I can't postpone it any longer. I have to at least make a start with it and perhaps complete it later on. And this is because this is a unique project, one of the very few progressive efforts I'm immensely impressed by. As an ultimate epic freak I imagine myself in paradise with this 3 CD treat. I can tell you, I cannot believe how good this is. The reason why I waited so long for the review is that I want to do an ultimate review over this immaculate performance. But to do that I will have to listen to these great songs more than 10 times so that's over 40 hours listening material in total. And I don't have that much spare time and there's also more I have to listen to. So that's why but patience is running out with me and I will at least make a start now.

I already have been profuse with superlatives and that is fully justified. It's one thing that there are 9 epics on this release but that's on itself no guarantee that it's also a great success. I also have some other epic releases by this label (Colussus of Rhodes and Spaghetti epic no.1) and they are far less at least where my personal taste is concerned. But on this one it's one high quality piece after another. Of course they are not equally good, that would be a miracle, in fact I can make a list in right order from excellent to good, let's do that first before we will do the real review (I know them so well by now that I can at least make this listing): 1. Nathan Mahl (5*) 2. Aether (5*) 3. Nexus (5*) 4. Minimum Vital (4,75*) 5. Glass Hammer (4,75*) 6. Simon Says (4,75*) 7. Tempano (4,5*) 8. XII Alphonso (3,75*) 9. C.A.P. (3*)

But even the last in line is good enough to gave praise for at least parts of the epic. To close down this first part of my review (to be continued ...) I can say the first three of the list are absolute masterpiece tracks, the next three are very very good and the last three are still very much worth while so it will go without further explanation that the total score is the ultimate one: 5 stars. And it's a hundred percent guarantee that if you're a true epic lover you can just do one right thing and that's do everything possible to get this music and it's a certainty that you will love it !!

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Send comments to progrules (BETA) | Report this review (#158644)
Posted Tuesday, January 15, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars If you like 70's prog at all, this is yearning to be bought. (You will hear sounds of Yes, Genesis, Lots of ELP, and Pink Floyd, and some King Crimson)

Each song is a journey all on its own, taking your mind to a distant Greek fantasy. The level of musicianship on this project exceeds the vast majority of musical standards nowadays.

That is all I can say of this wondrous album. If you crave an epic journey through music, here is a large serving of it, waiting to be consumed.

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Send comments to OzzProg (BETA) | Report this review (#168324)
Posted Monday, April 21, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars ODYSSEY "The Greatest Tale" a 3CD prog epic from Finland's Colossus group and MUSEA Records.

Favorite discs: 1, 3, 2.

DISC ONE

1. NATHAN MAHL. Instrumental with excellent really enjoy the piano and electric guitar 'dance' during the softer parts. Great seering guitar soli towards the end. Just a little too modern in effects and stylings for me-and not enough changes and variations in tempo and instrumentation. 6/10

2. NEXUS. Mostly instrumental begins with leadership of some great organ and drum work, filled with many engaging tempo and sound/mood changes, each as engaging and melodic as the one before. The few vocal parts are sung over a very quiet, peaceful section by the very pleasant voice of Lito Marcello, eventually turns to a jazzier section with Roye Albrighton-esque guitar intro turning Camel/Latimer-esque before reverting to more ELP-like sounds. The final ten minutes see the use of effects on vocals in imitation of Greg Lake's on "21st Century Schizoid Man" and some very entertaining theatrical stylizations a la Peter Gabriel at the end. So many shifts and changes all so surprising and delightful. LP Prog at its absolute finest. 10/10

3. GLASS HAMMER. A very polished, Broadway-like production. I love the use and interplay of the five vocalists. Outstanding harmonies. The opening section with piano and two female vocals is breathtaking before breaking into a "Watcher of the Skies" organ, pulsing bass and rhythm section a la "Apocalypse in 9/8." The use of electronic effects on Steve Babb's voice as Ulysses/Odysseus certainly distinguishes him and presents the anger and frustrations of his struggles. Absolutely beautiful ending dialogue & choruses before a magical instrumental fadeout with guitar solo searing away. Were it not for Matt Mendians' tendency to pulse the kick drum in a ProgMetal fashion, this would be one of the better jobs of trying to recreate a 70s drum sound. Overall excellent Kansas/ELP keyboards. And, still, an awesome job of putting a true theatric epic feel to the epic that begat all epics. 9/10

DISC TWO

4. XII ALFONSO. A very interesting instrumental which IMO pays homage more to the space-psychedelic beginning with an unusual yet enticing choral intro over Latin percussion. This stops to allow a spacey Camel/Nektar-ish section to develop before a bluesy organ is introduced to play over the psychedlia and waves which is then followed by a gorgeous Oldfield-like acoustic guitar serenade then moving into an Oldfield/Vangelis-like section complete with Tibetan gutteral chanting and industrial keyboard effects and some great Oldfield-ish electric guitar work. Everything stops to introduce what sounds like some kind of theme music from a Tim Burton movie, over which the Oldfield guitar work continues. Once Simba and the Oompa-Loompas depart, we a re treated to a pretty piano section reminiscent of Erik Satie, before the rock opera kicks it up into outerspace hyperdrive with a longsome pure Camel key and axe interchanges. Great, haunting finale and exit sections. Overall: Theatric with perhaps a bit too much Adiemus meets Mike Oldfield for my taste; love the space music and still very good prog: 7/10.

5. SIMON SAYS. These guys seem a bit too derivative to me; originality is lacking and the vocals (Daniel Fäldt) are just not 'tuned' (on pitch), engaging or emotionally believable. (Nor are the female harmonies, for that matter.) I always love their instrumentation choices and their skill is unquestioned, they just don't have enough 'new' to say, IMHO. The Andrew Tillison- and Tony Banks-like "Maelstrom" and "Mother of All Monsters" instrumental parts are pretty awesome, with interesting drum play and Hackett- then Latimer-like guitar, and the band/composition and even vocals capture the chaos and energy of the Scylla-Charybdis encounter very well. 8/10

6. C.A.P.- Excellent representatives of PRI. Another truly winning theatric composition and performance "Primo Movimento" has one big message: These guys can sing! I'm listening to The Phantom or Les Mis!! "Secondo Movimento" is more instrument based though no less emotion-packed. "Terzo Movimento" begins with a Tangerine Dream feel (except for live drums) turning into a Nektar-like driving rhythm for fuzz guitar and key solos. Solo piano bridges into the organ backed interplay of the voices of Athena, minimoog, and Odysseus. "Quatro Movimento" portrays the emotional reunion of Odysseus and his son, Telemachus, with wonderful drama and force (thanks to some powerful Led Zeppelin rhythms). Wonderful piece. 9/10

DISC THREE

7. TEMPANO. Begins with quirky, often Crimson-esque rhythms and instrumental coloration with tragic-comic voices (Odysseus as the Beggar) before moving into an excellent slowed-down Floydian section with strong English male vocals (Pedro Castillo). Then back to Bruford-era Crimson music complete with treated vocals. A bluesy-vaudvillian Zappa-like section hangs on for a long time before breaking for a more Kansas-like final section in which acoustic guitar strumming backs some more strong English vocals. Very interesting piece worthy of repeated listening. 8/10

8. MINIMUM VITAL. Everything I read about this group refers to the Mike Oldfield electric guitar sound. That's for sure! While many musical styles and interesting things are going on in the rhythm and keyboard sections, every guitar solo renders one into Oldfield's Incantations album, which is too bad because these musicians are excellent and have a very interesting, rather-jazzy composition style. Scaled down "Third Movement [Penelope's Lament]" with its acoustic and electric guitar interplay is the song's highlight. "Fourth Movement [to string the bow]" just doesn't capture the drama of this scene, fades without conveying the tension of the moment before battle. 6/10

9. AETHER. Wow! Now that's a beginning to companion a fight! Great composition with wonderfully engaging sounds and melodies. Amazingly rich and balanced mix of all of the instruments-no one is too dominant or too drowned out. If only the Aether sound was more in keeping with the theme of 70s instrumentation and effects. Still, they have a great sound, a powerful presence. Definitely a band I'll be seeking out now that I've heard them here. A wonderful finale to an amazing music collection (even though the vocals could be stronger). 9/10 OVERALL

Will listen to over and over: Nexus Aether C.A.P. Glass Hammer

Worth repeated listening: Tempano XII Alfonso

Still good Prog: Simon Says Nathan Mahl Minimum Vital

VOCAL WORK

Glass Hammer-The Broadway-quality interplay of five vocalists is awesome. C.A.P.-Like I said: these guys can sing! Kudos aeternal to Italia! Nexus-Lito Marcello is excellent singing in Spanish Tempano-interesting and unusual. More surreal than perhaps appropriate for The Odyssey, but fitting for their style of music. Aether-good but nothing extraordinary. Simon Says-Daniel Fäldt just doesn't hit the notes and is a bit too pretentious-as are so many Neo-Prog and Metal vocalists, IMO. Like other reviewers, I wish singers would sing in their own (beautiful) languages. Minimum Vital-too dominated by instrumentation and Canterbury/Fusion structures.

CAPTURES 70s SOUND Why are today's drummers, engineers, and producers so adverse to recording drums without the gating effects, letting the hits decay naturally? (Or how bout some Stomu Yamashtu or Narada Michael Walden flanged drums?!!) C.A.P.-by far the best restraint in the use of purley 70s instruments and sounds (including the drums!) Tempano-definitely mixing up a wide variety of 70s sounds and styles in interesting and not-too derivative a way. Nexus-excellent Emerson-like keys, song structures, 'feel;' drums too NeoProg. Glass Hammer-excellent keyboards, though a bit more American in feel than the Euro Prog that truly defined the genre. Aether-Compositionally flawless. A bit too much use of modern technology. Minimum Vital-flashes of 70s brilliance but more NeoProg, 80s Oldfield-Canterbury-fusion Simon Says-uses all the NeoProg tricks and twists but not 70s enough, lacking their own distinctive sound. XII Alfonso-not sure what era this one fits into. Defies categorization, IMO. Nathan Mahl-too modern, ProgMetal

As above: AN ESSECTIAL ADDITION TO ANY PROG LOVER'S COLLECTION!

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Send comments to BrufordFreak (BETA) | Report this review (#212580)
Posted Monday, April 27, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars I can admit that I was not able to listen to this all in one sitting. After all 9 songs, all over 20 mintues can be a lot to take in all at once. Still, since it is 9 different bands, each taking a track, it makes it much easier to digest. I've said in other reviews that I love these Collsus releases, and this is no exception. Unlike Kalevla, each band here gets over 20 mintues to explore their piece of the epic poem "Odyssey". Two of the track are completely instrumental, and with one exception the ones with vocals are done in the bands native language. Personally, I enjoyed the songs on the first CD more, but that could easily change with repeated listens (Minimum Vitals contribution to the 3rd CD also stands out in my mind as being very good). All in all, another excellent release by Collsus. When I first read about these projects, I didn't see how they could really work and thought they were a disaster waiting to happen (seemed like much of the negative aspects of prog pulled together to make a project). With Kalevala, I was proven wrong. And while that album still remains as the weakest of the projects (probably because of each band only getting a single, 10 minute or less, song to fit into the epic poem context), I still think these are all great projects.

A solid 4 stars for this.

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Send comments to infandous (BETA) | Report this review (#215140)
Posted Tuesday, May 12, 2009 | Review Permalink
Marty McFly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Errors and Omissions Team
4 stars We can just admire someone who's able to write something. Each "track" has its own mood, each tells part of this great story (personally, I admire/like/love/adore/worship (maybe) Ancient Greek history a lot (currently have Ancient Greece (first millennium before Christ). Difference makes each band, because for example you have different experience from Glass Hammer and Nathan Mahl. Personally, I don't know how is this connected with certain parts of Odyssey. And if you know "Tardigrade" by Simon Says, you'll feel like at home when listening to their contribution here. Not exactly Tardigrade, but quite close in style and feeling. After all, it's the band I know the best from these selected on this release.

4(+), prepare to taste very long album, maybe too long for you. You'll feel (maybe) that it's too big for human to understand it, to grasp its features, but believe me, it is possible, even not for everyone (as my case illustrates, when I reached the end of this album, I didn't remember what was in the beginning, but am I to blame ?). Even it's hard album, not in terms of prog difficulty, but in terms of length, it is a good album.

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Send comments to Marty McFly (BETA) | Report this review (#268700)
Posted Saturday, February 27, 2010 | Review Permalink
The Truth
COLLABORATOR
Post/Math Rock Team
5 stars Absolutely stunning (and huge) concept album!

It was a fantastic idea to combine all of these bands together to make one large product that tells the story of The Odyssey and the idea is well finished with the music. Prog rock at it's absolute best is how I describe this album, each track shows how different the bands are and yet they all come together so well! Of the 9 bands, I had only know Glass Hammer and Simon Says (which I will immeadiately point out are the best two songs) and they perform extremely well.

I know this is asking A LOT but at some point you need to just sit down and listen to the album as a whole. That is asking a ton, it's more than 3 hours of music but it really gives you the full experience.

Hard to describe the monstrousity, but I did my best... Go ahead and give it a try!

(First review in a LOOONG time, appreciate any feedback)

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Send comments to The Truth (BETA) | Report this review (#278239)
Posted Friday, April 16, 2010 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Some of you know i'm not the biggest fan of concept albums especially if they are double albums. Well this one is a triple album, and it's not your seventies triple album with 2 hours of music. No this is well over 3 1/2 hours in length. We get nine bands with each doing a long suite of well over 20 minutes, in fact one track is over 28 minutes. As usual we get very thick and detailed liner notes with this Colossus project. As I scanned the nine bands who are participating there were three that I was looking forward to hearing. NATHAN MAHL, NEXUS and MINIMUM VITAL. I was familiar with all the bands except for the Italian band C.A.P. who actually turned out to be the biggest surprise for me in a positive way.

NATHAN MAHL are a Canadian band who are fantasitc players and i'm a big fan of their "Clever Use Of Shadows" album. I must admit I was disappointed with this track overall.There are a lot of synths used on this one. In fact when the guitar comes to the fore before 21 1/2 minutes it's a welcomed event. 3 stars for this track.

NEXUS from Argentina are up next and they've never let me down. I think I have most of their albums and the keyboards play a big role in their sound.This is a top three track and worth 4 stars.The organ work is incredible.There are some reserved male vocals but not many.They even turn into a jazzy mode at one point. Great track. GLASS HAMMER and me just don't get along (haha). So I wasn't expecting a lot and they really did surprise me here. I like the chunky bass early and throughout and also the organ and guitar late. Male and female vocals here. 3 stars for this one.

XII ALFONSO from France are next and they impress early with the atmosphere and choir-like vocals. A calm ends all of that around 2 1/2 minutes. I find this one drags quite often. A lighter mood comes in before 14 1/2 minutes. 3 stars for this one.

SIMON SAYS is my least favourite. I just can't get into this band and unfortunately this track is no different. I do like the sampled mellotron though. 2 stars for this one. C.A.P. is an Italian band and they impressed me a lot with this track.You can hear the sounds of pigs then flute joins in followed by acoustic guitar.Vocals before 2 minutes then it all turns more passionate. A calm after 6 1/2 minutes then it turns jazzy then it picks up. It settles again as contrasts continue. Love the section from 13 1/2 minutes to after 16 minutes. 4 stars.

TEMPANO from Argentina opens their song with spoken theatrical vocals as the organ comes and goes.The music kicks in just before 2 1/2 minutes. Some nice guitar after 4 1/2 minutes. I'm most impressed with the guitar on this one. 3 stars. MINIMUM VITAL offers up the best track in my opinion.This band from France has it all. Great sounding guitar, organ and vocals. I love this track ! 4.5 stars.

AETHER was good with that pulsating organ early before the guitar takes over and some nice chunky bass. A calm with vocals 3 1/2 minutes in. Atmosphere settles in before 1 1/2 minutes.The mood and tempo continues to shift. Good song. 3 stars.

So overall i'm giving this 3 stars but keep in mind that every wriiten review on here before mine is 4 and 5 stars.

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#477573)
Posted Wednesday, July 06, 2011 | Review Permalink
AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Team
4 stars When I saw the length of this magnum opus I was quite taken back as it is 220 minutes of full blown prog attempting to capture the mammoth tome of Homer's "Odyssey" in musical form. Jammed on to 3 CDs this is quite an arduous task in itself, to listen from start to finish to such a monster, however it is certainly masterfully produced and quite astounding musicianship and compositional structures. There are 3 tracks of over 20 minutes in length on each CD, so in effect it is a series of epics that work like a classical multi-movement suite encompassing the whole legacy of Homer's masterpiece. The undertaking is certainly ambitious and will take some patient prog ears to endure from go to woe, but it is a journey, a quest, and something unique for those who would dare to venture in. The main drawcard for me in taking the "Odyssey" test is the addition of such class acts as Glass Hammer and Nexus, though I was very unfamiliar with other artists so in a way it is like a samper, as one can sample what these bands offer and perhaps discover some hidden treasures.

The album opens where 'The Odyssey' begins, with 'Chapter I: Of Longings, Suitors, Deities And Quests...' presented to us by Nathan Mahl, a Canadian band led by multi-instrumentalist Guy LeBlanc who plays bass, guitar, and keys, including mesmirising performances on clavinet, Hammond, Moog and electric piano. The guitar is prominent and howls and soars along the crest of ambient waves. The atmosphere is a cinemascape of symphonic grandeur and majestic power.

'Chapter II: El Regreso-The Return' is by Argentine proggers Nexus, a very popular group that certainly makes their presence known on this opus. They prefer a sound akin to ELP with pounding Hammond staccato phrases and a mixture of heavy guitar to acoustic vibrations, taking the listener on the journey with subtlety and finesse. The Spanish vocals work well with the thematic content and this must surely rank as one of the highlights of the album.

Glass Hammer is the most well known band of the 9 on offer here, and I certainly looked forward to sitting under their enimitable style of prog for over 21 minutes. They play a track called 'Chapter III: At The Court Of Alkinoos', no relation to the Crimson King's Court, but just as good. The keyboards blaze with power and the guitars are captivating. This is one of the best songs I have heard from the American proggers and well worth seeking out for Glass Hammer fans.

CD2 begins with France's XII Alfonso with their massive epic 'Chapter IV: From Ismarus To The Land Of Death (I. Ismarus, Land Of The Cicones/II. Seventeen Days Of Open Sea/III. The Land Of The Lotus Eaters/IV. The Land Of The Cyclops/V. The Island Of Aeolus & The Land Of Laestrygonians/VI. Circe's Island/VII. The Land Of Death)'. It is a 26 minute excursion into symphonic territory, with choirs and a solid percussion attack. The jazz touches and swathes of synthesizers are dynamic, but I particularly like the Hammond blasts and guitar sonics.

Simon Says play a masterful song 'Chapter V: Minds Of Mortal Men - Meander Tales'. The Swedish band are virtuoso musicians with twin keyboard battles and searing guitar licks, with the use of an E- bow at times.

C.A.P. are from the Rock Progressive Italiano school of thought and their track 'Chapter VI: Sulle Ali Del Sogno - Odissea: Libri XIV, XV, XVI' showcases their talents. The keyboards are a dominant force especially the use of Moog synthesizer. The Italian vocals hold nothing back and it is a distinctive sound generated to cap (no pun intended) off another wonderful CD.

CD3 begins with Brazilian Tempano's 'Chapter VII: (I. Hecatombe/II. Book XVII - Odysseus Arrives At The Palace/III. Book XVIII - The Suitors Torment Odysseus/IV. Book XIX - The Beggar Meets Penelope/V. Parnasus)'. It begins with cathedral organ grinding and operatic tones in the vocals, makig this a genuine fish out of water on this project. The Mellotron is haunting and creates foreboding atmospheres of grandeur and cinematic imagery.

French band Minimum Vital offer 'Chapter VIII: Etranger En Sa Demeure', with more church organ sounds and beautiful electric guitar soloing. There is a certain bombastic feel to their approach and the guitars are absolutely glorious, soaring to the stratosphere.

Brazilian band Aether close the album with the oddly short-titled track, 'Chapter IX', that clocks 21:31 minutes. It is quite a dreamy track with loads of synths and swirling spacey nuances. The guitars rise and fall along the plateau of keyboard ambience, making this one of the most beautiful pieces on the box set.

At the end of the album one is left with a sense that they have experienced one of the grandest most majestic albums, harkening back to the vintage 70s years when prog bands churned out music like this without fear. The fact that "Odyssey" was released during 2005 makes it all the more astounding and the collaboration of the 9 bands is a one off and a treasure to be savoured. It is not an album I would turn to often due to the challenging and overwhelming length, but it is certainly worth a visit now and then to experience the power of Homer's classic, and the beauty of music at its highest calibre.

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Posted Monday, September 10, 2012 | Review Permalink

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