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Albatros - Ursus CD (album) cover

URSUS

Albatros

Heavy Prog


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ProgShine
COLLABORATOR
Errors & Omissions Team
5 stars WOW! This is the first thing that came into my mind after finished my first listen to the new Albatros record, Ursus.

This band from Spain totally blew me off in the first spin of the record. Released my Musea it's their 2º full release and they've got an demo/ep as well.

The fact they're singing in spanish (the only exception being the last track 'Planeta Prohibido') makes the record gain so much life. And the vocals on this track are amazing as well.

The whole album have a 70's feel to it, but in any moment you feel that kind of 'I've heard it before', and that's amazing in my opinion, the band acomplished such a hard work with a whole 'new feeling' to Ursus.

The title track 'Ursus' is trippy, reflexive and have some Opeth, Riverside, Porcupine Tree moments. 'El Camino' follow the same path but with more keyboards.

'Loki' sound like a 80's metal mixed with Progressive and video game soundtracks (like Megadrive games), and... it works! 'La Ciénaga' is a beautiful instrumental piece with a psychedelic feel to it.

'Rey Lombriz' come with a lot of synths and a bit of a latin touch, a simple and direct song and open the path for 'Icaro', an amazing epic, full of 70's on it.

Neal Morse and Opeth, you've got a new friend on the top 3 this year!

Report this review (#572278)
Posted Monday, November 21, 2011 | Review Permalink
memowakeman
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Excellent album!

"Ursus" is the name of the second full-length album released by Spanish band Albatros, who back in 2008 had shared the wonderful "Pentadelia". With this return, three years later, they have created a strong album with wise compositions, complex tracks and an ambitious sound overall in which a mixture of elements can be appreciated. Here they put together seven songs that make a total time of 46 minutes. Be prepared for this great experience.

The album kicks off with "Ursus", it is great to have lyrics in Spanish, I always prefer bands singing in their native language, it adds a more personal touch where the cultural phonetics play a crucial role. The music is excellent, sometimes soft and mostly with that heavy prog sound with an emotional tune included. The guitar work is excellent, and I love how in the last minute we can listen to both, male and female vocals in the chorus. Great opener track.

"El camino de Swann" starts with a delicate sound, piano, guitars and a soft voice for the first minute. Later it makes a considerable change, becoming faster, heavier and with a great symphonic sound made by keyboards. The song perfectly flows, in these four minutes it takes us to a journey where different nuances and textures are shared by these talented musicians. Another thing I would like to remark, is that the lyrical passages are actually short, but they distribute them very well so in the whole track we can appreciate them.

Since the first second of "Loki" we can listen to a powerful sound where keyboards, guitars, bass and drums put together a sensational structure. A minute later the voice enters with the same energy and power. A wonderful intercalation between the instrumental passages and the ones with vocals can be appreciated here; after three minutes there is a crazy moment where the music is a complete trip, with that symphonic sound, complemented by heavy rock and of course a psychedelic touch. This is without a doubt a track that I would like to highlight, excellent composition.

"La ciénaga" is one of the longer tracks here. In these seven and a half minutes we will have different passages, firstly we will listen to two introductory instrumental minutes where guitars create a great melody, later the music slows down a little bit and the voice appears (with the female chorus included) and create a delicious softer passage with a charming atmosphere that takes with itself a psychedelic touch. After five minutes where the voice returns, the music becomes more emotional and makes you want to sing "necesito otra ración, algo que me de calor, que me acompañe hasta ti, porque eres tú mi eternal fe, necesito otra ración"; this particular moment is one of my favorites of the whole album.

"Rey Lombriz" is, on the other hand, the shortest song here. However, the intensity is high in the three minutes, so in spite it is short, we can easily enjoy this particular energy they share almost every moment. It finishes with some cool keyboards, and then, all of a sudden when guitars and drums appear again, we are actually listening now to "Ícaro". This track is excellent, and sums up what Albatros' sound is about, great heavy prog with symphonic tendencies created by keyboards, powerful vocals that put emotional atmospheres, cool instrumental moments with psychedelic nuances, and of course, great lyrics. After six minutes the music slows down, sharing a calm, relaxing atmospheric passage that contrasts with the inherent energy of the band, which is something really cool actually, because they show they can easily build up structures with some changes but without losing their essence, I mean, all the moments are little jigsaws that are necessary to complete the puzzle.

The album finishes with "Planeta prohibido" which will surely remind us to some older bands due to the great keyboard style that create a kind of retro-prog sound (though Albatros is not a retro-prog band). After a bombastic two-minute introduction, the music slows down a little bit and seconds later the vocals appear, here, with English lyrics that I honestly don't know why they decide to use. The keyboard work is fantastic here, as well as the dynamic and always constant drums. A psychedelic sound is now what dominates here, and perfectly finishes this extraordinary album.

What a great work by Albatros, I liked a lot "Pentadelia" but now I think I enjoyed even more Ursus, it is solid album that any progressive rock fan should appreciate. And though I would not consider it a true masterpiece, it deserves at least four stars without a doubt (4.5 would be better). So get it if you can, you will not regret.

Enjoy it!

Report this review (#653991)
Posted Sunday, March 11, 2012 | Review Permalink
b_olariu
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Second full lenght album or third from their career, named Ursus issued in 2011 at Musea records. Keeping the same attitude as on previous album and aswell the maner of composing, Ursus is another worthy heavy prog album from today prog realm. The compositions are not necesarly overly complex with lots of unnecesary instrumental noodlings but offers an unique musical side of the band who really knew to make an album worth investigated. Same heavy prog arrangements , going from slow to more up tempo moments one of the highlights is for sure La ciénaga or Loki with energic palying and overall great sound. Not better then previous one in my opinion but not weaker either but in same league for sure. 3 stars is well desearved.
Report this review (#798256)
Posted Thursday, August 2, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars As a huge fan of the Spanish progrock, I often search on speciliazed websites for old and new bands. On The Spanish Progressive Rock Page I noticed positive words about Albatros their debut CD Pentadelia (2008). It was just released so I directly ordered it, when I got it and played Pentadelia at home, it remained in my CD player for weeks!

In the spring of 2011 Albatros released the successor entitled Ursus, high expectations! During my first listening session the music didn't succeed to generate the same excitement as on Pentadelia, although the sound is pretty similar. But good progrock needs time and patience so I played it again and again. And then Ursus started to evoke that good feeling as on Pentadelia, in the end I am even more excited.

The album starts in the tradition of Pentadelia: first a compelling atmosphere with fiery wah-wah guitar and subtle Fender electric piano runs, then a huge tension between the bombastic prog and Floydian psychedelia, followed by a harder-edged guitar solo (evoking Alex Lifeson) and eventually heavy Hammond with distinctive Spanish vocals and again that fiery wah-wah guitar sound. The next track El Camino De Swann is another story: no Heavy Prog but music between neo-prog and melodic rock with delicate Fender piano, bombastic synthesizer flights and a fine guitar solo. The following compositions deliver more Albatros trademark. First heavy (with hints of Medina Azahara) in Loki featuring fat synthesizer runs and a part with prog metal and then the compelling La Ciénaga with heavy Hammond, catchy Spanish vocals and in the end a very moving guitar solo, I am on my way to Prog Heaven. The next track is also pretty surprising, this time we can enjoy a swinging Albatros in Rey Lombriz : fluent interplay between guitar and keyboards and again those distinctive Spanish vocals.

And now my highlight, the epic Icaro with some great musical surprises like an intricate duel between the Fender electric piano and slide guitar, along emotional vocals, fiery guitar and a flashy synthesizer solo, excellent work senores! The final composition of this album is exciting with the strongly build-up Planeta Prohibido. It features decent English vocals, especially the second part evokes goose bumps due to a mindblowing duel between the vocals on the vocoder and Arabian sounding synthesizer flights. This sounds like "Peter Frampton Goes Prog Andaluz", goose bumps!

So I needed some time to get into this new Albatros album but in the end I came to the conclusion that Albatros has released another strong and original progrock album. At some moments I feel the same thrilling excitement and pure motion as on the albums of early Uriah Heep, 76-83 Rush and early Riverside. This makes Ursus to a very exciting musical experience: adventurous, lots of ideas, guts, variety, strong work on guitar and keyboards ... all elements that match with genuine progressive rock.

If you are up to Spanish vocals this album could turn into a very pleasant listening session, highly recommended!

Report this review (#1871527)
Posted Saturday, February 3, 2018 | Review Permalink

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