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4 stars Mandalaband - Sangreal

My love for the Mandalaband dates back to 1976, when that tremendous album "Eye of Wendor" was released (on vinyl) with collaborations of members of 10cc, BJH and the Moody Blues(and Maddy Prior of course), what a beautiful album. David Rohl, the initiator of the Mandalaband was/is a producer turned Egyptologist. So it wasn't until 2009 he released, as Mandaland, a follow up on "Eye of Wendor": BC Ancesors. (The previous follow up albums were scrapped due to lack of income/interest for/of the record companies). Not with the "star" line up we saw in "Eye of Wendor" but still with the basic musicians and with Wooly Wolstenholme of Barclay James Harvest, came BC Ancestors in 2009. Now then, out of the blue (for me), the new album "AD Sangreal". With same line up as BC and probably the last musical contribution of Wooly Wolstenholme, he sadly died December 2010. This is a good successor of BC, somewhat more direction in the album I think. A lot more mellow moods as in BC. Not realy prog I think, but not far off. If you like BJH you're well off. What I like the most is the Gregorian chant on the album. But also the more up-tempo songs. For that reason I could compare this album a mix of "Journey" from Janus and the Enid's "Journey's End". As in every Mandalaband's albums there is a story to tell, and this one is: (from the website) Mandalaband IV brings you the legend of the Holy Grail? but not the tradition surrounding King Arthur and the Round Table Knights. This is the story as handed down to us through the Romano-Spanish tradition of the Sangria - the true history of the cup used by Christ at the last supper. Arriving in Europe with Mary Magdalene and Joseph of Arimathea, over the centuries, it was transformed into the mystical relic known as the Holy Grail. I think for every BJH fan a must have, for others this is a trully fantastic album if you like a fairy tale style of music, or indeed with a liking of British tradition/myths.

Report this review (#512064)
Posted Tuesday, August 30, 2011 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
2 stars Woolly Wolstenholme's final words

This is the fourth album released under the name of Mandalaband, the first two coming in the 70's (Mandalaband I in 1975 and Mandalaband II in 1978). It then took more than 30 years for Mandalaband III to see the light of day in 2009, and now in 2011 they present us with Mandalaband IV - AD: Sangreal. Like all the previous Mandalaband releases, this one too is a concept album. Musically, it is most similar to Mandalaband III in its pleasant mixture of World Music, New Age, Soft Rock, Symphonic bombast and some more modern sounds. Fans of Mike Oldfield, Barclay James Harvest, The Moody Blues and perhaps Vangelis will probably like this, but this new album is less good than all the previous ones.

Like on previous albums, there is a plethora of instruments played by a number of guests including Woolly Wolstenholme who took his own life shortly after this album was created. In tribute to Woolly, a new version of Barclay James Harvest's Galadriel is attached as a bonus track.

As I have pointed out in previous reviews, Mandalaband is not so much a band as a "project", similar to the Alan Parsons Project. The Alan Parsons of Mandalaband is David Rohl who is the main composer, orchestrator, producer and engineer. He also sings and plays various instruments. And he is also a professor of archaeology!

I recommend investigating the albums of Mandalaband in chronological order, this one is their least interesting so far. It is not bad as such, but it adds little to what they already gave us on the previous album.

Recommended only to fans (if there are any such?!)

Report this review (#602334)
Posted Tuesday, January 3, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars Many years back I managed to lay my hands on the second album by the Mandalaband. I was interested mainly because all members of Barclay James Harvest took part in tha project. The music turned out realy nice, in a way very much different from BJH but also reminiscent of the pastoral atmosphere that BJH used to come up with.

Last week I encountered this album in our local record store and since the album is dedicated to the memory of Woolly Wolstenholme I bought it immediately. I can surely recommend many of you to do the same if you like beautifully crafted, symphonic music with lots of intricate arrangements for flute, oboe, complete orchestras, brass sections, Indian instruments and, last but not least, electric guitar. The melodies are deceivingly simple, the lyrics are rather good telling the story of a holy Sangreal, a cup that could have been the Holy Grail but isn't, the vocals sung by different members of the project are not great but certainly very satisfactory and the overall feeling is just great. There are no stand-out tracks for me, although I like 'A bloodline born' and, of course, 'Galadriel' more than the other songs. I find this a really beautiful album, absolutely stronger than their first two albums (a far better production) because of the richer variety in songs and arrangements. And for those who really like BJH (like me) the fully new arrangement of Galadriel that is added as a bonus track is a absolute must: sung by Woolly, lushly arranged with orchestra, a different tempo yet very recognizable.

The art work is simply stunning, with all lyrics and the players in each song, accompanied by photos of all the people that contributed to the album musically. A very tasteful booklet is the result, a nice gem to look into.

For those who like BJH, Moody Blues, Renaissance or, maybe, the recent albums by Big Big Train, this is an album you won't regret to buy.

Report this review (#955554)
Posted Tuesday, May 7, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars The fourth album of the Mandalaband is a step forward. Where the third album misses balance this one has far more better songs and is a nice album to listen to. The songs have heads and tales (in Dutch: kop en staart) and especially 3 songs of the album makes it coherent. I will mention the best song on the album (at least for me): England's Heart and Soul. This song brings me back to the Eye Of Wendor and give me goosebumps, it could also be a hitsingle. There is also a nice rehearsal clip on Youtube of this song with the full band in action. The contribution of Marc Atkinson on vocals and ofcourse Wooly Wolstenholme of BJH (RIP) with a new version of Galadriel sung by the master himself makes it special. The first song on the album A Bloodlineline Born is also a highlight. You can't find the third and fourth album on Spotify, i don't know the reason maybe music licensing. I hope there will be a fifth album, already 10 years have past now, i shall check the website for more details. I rate this album with 3 stars but the 3 special songs on the album makes it 4. Have a fine listening.

Report this review (#2433130)
Posted Thursday, July 30, 2020 | Review Permalink

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