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Änglagård - Viljans Öga CD (album) cover



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5 stars I am definitely not the only one, but I cannot believe a new album from Änglagård is out! Back in 1994, they broke up following the release of Epilog and their performance at Progfest '94 (that performance was made available on CD two years later as Buried Alive). They talked like they'll never reunite. Then in 2002 they reunited, but without Tord Lindman. By 2003 it was clear they weren't sticking around, and sure again we thought we'd never hear from them again. Now there's a second reunion, without Tord again, and this time they managed a new album, Viljans Öga. How does it stack up to their first two? Very well, in fact this is just as essential. They take on an even more complex and grandiose approach than before, there are the occasions the passages veer close to RIO. But there are still plenty of that somber and pastoral passages. They still take that same approach as before, playing one thing, move on to the next thing, maybe revisiting a theme. It's plain they can hold their own with just one guitarist (Jonas Engdegård). How about the keyboards? Thomas Johnson still uses tons of Mellotron and Hammond organ, plus a little electric piano. This, just like their first two, is a totally quintessential Mellotron album. This is not an easy listen, that's for sure. You'll keep discovering new things every time you listen. On the opening cut, "Ur Vilande", there's one passage that almost sounds like a didgeridoo. No didg used, it just sounds a bit like one. Mattias Olsson was also credited to effects, so that didgeridoo-like effect was probably from him. Anna Holmgren not only plays flute, but even a little tenor saxophone, but they also included some guests for cello and other wind instruments. Since I received this, I just kept listening to it over and over. I am just totally amazed that after an 18 year silence that they come out with a masterpiece every bit as good as their first two. This is bound to be yet another classic, and likely easily the best of 2012.

The CD comes with a triple foldout, done in that Änglagård style, with forests, plus a booklet with poems to each song and artwork similar to that of Epilog. When I received my CD, I noticed the cover is actually darker and less chromatic that what's been posted online, which I actually like it better darker. The typefont is gold (like that of Epilog), rather than white.

I am ever so delighted about this new release. You collection isn't complete without it!

Report this review (#782033)
Posted Wednesday, July 4, 2012 | Review Permalink
Avant, Crossover & Neo Teams
4 stars At last, in their newest album "Viljans Öga", I suppose that ÄNGLAGÅRD might have completed what they wanted to play for anti-pop.

Under complex, eccentric rhythms and pitches, they spun out chilling, thrilling harmonies upon the edge, mainly with keyboard, guitar, and flute threads, that can blow us out into another dream. In my humble opinion, especially Anna's flute should not make us stay upon comfort but fling us out onto a hazardous cold crystal. Apparently by Jonas sharp-edged guitar sounds we cannot help weeping rather than uplift ourselves and spirit. And yes, the most comfortable and reliable are their deep / heavy / strict rhythms launched by Mattias' drums and Johan's bass.

All of the tracks in this album are 10 and more minutes long, and with frequent scene changes dynamically and dramatically, that can never be boring at all. Sometimes they throw breaking pitches like split-finger fastballs, sometimes stable heavy oscillations like big, splendid fireworks, and sometimes plaintive but beautiful melodies like flowery flavour of matured liquor. Sounds like that they'd approached this recording ready to take either a hard line or a moderate one as previously, and their aggressive playing has thrived basically on their tearful chord treatment, heard under riffs in the latter part of "Snårdom".

Consider it's meaningless to comment about each song indeed, but let me only say that they've never yielded to essence of pop or mainstream as above mentioned. Listen to their artistic symphony created with all instruments and techniques by them precisely, and we would get confused firstly and amazed / convinced finally ... that they should have done completely their original diplomatic strategy. Aside that every symphonic progressive rock freak could get fond of this stuff or not, we can mention that ÄNGLAGÅRD could construct their innovative ultimate music weapon named "Viljans Öga". Surpassed two albums upon their catalogue in this sense ... for me, not an extreme word, really.

Report this review (#784328)
Posted Sunday, July 8, 2012 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
4 stars When no-one suspected it anymore, news in '11 arrived that Anglagard was really finally working on their new album (we'd heard this ever since their short reformation of 03), no-one actually believed it, until their drummer Olssen actually posted some work-in-progress of the band's studio activities. Soooo, their Viljans Oga became the most-awaited album of the 12 year and it finally arrived just before their short tour starting with NearFest, though its distribution had been erratic for a long while. It was a risky bet from the band, to release a third album some 20 years after their debut, when almost a whole generation had passed by; the risk further that they could damage their near-flawless discography (well, the Buried Alive album was not to standard). Not to worry, though: the Swedes' latest offering is sonically very close to what their fans could've possibly hoped, even placing it sonically soùewhere between Hybris (only four lengthy tracks) and Epilog (all instrumentals, despite offering some inaudible lyrics/poetry). The icing on the cake being that the classic line-up is almost full, since only the bassist Johan Brand is a "newcomer". In terms of artwork, VO is very much in the bucolic and melancholic forest landscapes of their first two releases. So everything is set for a superb trip down the land of the Trons.

Right from the opening notes of the flute in Ur Vilande, you'll know that you'll be riding the usual Angla roller-coaster, from the melancholic passage to the head-twisting and mind-bending breakneck-speed passages. You'll even find some bass rumbles that could come from an (unannounced) didgeridoo, though it could death throes coming from some horn's tripes (there are low-register horn courtesy of guests Borgergad or Ackerstedt. The following Sorgmantel opens like a classical composition, but soon veers Yes-like with that typical Swedish-mustard flavour. The album-longest (16-mins+) Snardom is probably my fave on the album. Disappointment strikes with the closing Langtans Klocka that repeats endlessly a theme that seems lifted from McCartney's Michelle, to end up with a Klezmer version. Not exactly the way you'd expect an Anglagard album to finish, though.

Sooooo, yes, some 20 years after Hybris, the band is able to repeat their studio performance and manage to remain equal to theirselves. And if you expect another shot of Epibris or Hybilog, you'll get it no problems, but to be honest, I was expecting a bit "more" than just that. And in the light of that kind of expectations, Angla certainly didn't deliver? but did anybody else but moi expected that from them? (are you sure you're following me??)

Nota bene: The tour to promote this album presented a line-up that's almost totally different than the studio band, and from what I gather there will be two versions of the band? at the expense of the credibility of the Anglagard name.

Report this review (#784816)
Posted Monday, July 9, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars How rare is it for a band to reform after nearly twenty years and record an album that actually surpasses their earlier, legendary albums? I can't think of another example. But Anglagard have somehow managed it.

This is a truly wonderful album by a very inventive group of musicians. The quality of the composing is particularly impressive. Structurally, the music is closer to classical music than it is to standard progressive rock. It is certainly far removed from the standard formulas of neo-prog. Yet despite its complexities, it is accessible and full of feeling. It delights both the head and the heart.

The pieces might sound sprawling and chaotic on the first few listens, but after a while you can begin to discern the skill with which this music has been put together. Each piece is a long, twisting journey with interlocking themes coming and going, often repeated in different arrangements by different instruments in later sections. Each theme is usually pre-introduced in little snippets hidden within previous passages, before eventually brought to the forefront in all their glory and then put through some variations, only to disappear again into little snippets again. There is also a strong harmonic consistency throughout each of the four pieces. Because of all this, each piece flows smoothly despite the wild variations from one passage to the next. It is clear that the band has a strong grasp of compositional technique.

The tone and colors of the intruments are also beautifully captured and have a pristine feel, which adds enormously to the beauty of the music. This is an album which really comes alive with a good sound system or quality headphones. The flute and the bass in particular sound wonderful, but everyone in the band admirably plays their part.

This is a really special album that combines the musical language of 70's prog with Swedish folk and experimental avant tendencies to create a riveting musical journey. How could any prog fan not like this album? Perhaps those who like a lot of pop in their prog will find it hard going, but for me it is a stellar album that is destined to be ranked up with there with the greatest classics of the prog genre. Five stars, no question.

Report this review (#786322)
Posted Tuesday, July 10, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars After Hybris (1992) and Epilog (1994), comes Viljans Oga and does not disappoint. The Swedish masters have done it again, although they've waited 18 years too much. The instrumentation is the same, and so are the compositions. It's the same band, same atmosphere and same melodies.

Although the 2012 album does not surpass the two earlier efforts, it is a classic example of superior compositional ability. There is simply no other band capable of this level of sadness, tension-control and attention to detail. No one can repeat this or clone it.

The standout track is "Snardom" (#3), with a perfect structure and unforgetablle melodical lines. It's on the same level as the best stuff on Epilog. It's exactly what you'd expect from Anglgard: "aggressive melancholic disorder", never a dull moment. The other tracks are superb as well, but not as memorable as Snardom.

Anna Holmgren's flutework has improved, in my opinion. She was excellent in the 90's, now she's even better: more accurate, courageous and unrelenting. The other guys are good as usuall, and Mattias Olsson's percussion ideas are wonderful as ever. They all sound like the best prog orchestra out there, by a long shot. No Jazz, no Metal, no Pop and no happiness. It's dark, gloomy and dramatic.

So, why only 4 stars? I don't find this stuff essential any more, in the art-history sense of the word. Anglagard have made their mark in the 90's, but now they are not exploring new grounds. Epilog was just Hybris taken one step further. Next to those two bright stars, Viljans Oga is not moving to any new direction.

A spectacular return of an elite group, for sure. Amazing studio recording, crsytal mix, the works. You have everything you would hope for, if you've known them before. But it's not a surprise, not even a mild shock. It's a musical delight, but not a musical milestone of modern prog. A very good purchase, but not a "don't miss" album in the history of sympho-prog.

Report this review (#786515)
Posted Wednesday, July 11, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars I'm surprised at how low key the promotion for the initial release of this latest offering from Sweden's Anglagard has been. The CD deserves much more exposure than it's received so far. I'm writing this from the perspective of a music lover who spent his teenage years in the 1970's, savoring the original releases within the prog genre. After a decade of musical disappointment in the 80's when I'd pretty much given up on the possibility of there being any interesting music produced again - a friend introduced me to a band he described as: 'An awesome new prog band from Sweden. Imagine someone singing the words to an Ikea catalog on top of odd time signatures with mellotron.' Well, he wasn't far off in his fanciful description but I'd also add the adjectives, brilliant, emotional and melodic to preface his words. So here we are, 20 years since I was exposed to the music of Anglagard and listening to the gift of new music from the band. First of all, Viljans Oga sounds like Anglagard. If I had been played any track from it in a 'blind' listening test I'd know it was them instantly. The unique analog keys, flute and guitar arrangements have that Anglagard feel to them that ties the music to the albums before. But the music on VO is more mature and the movement changes more fluid. The awkwardness that can be found in some of their earlier work is absent here. There are also some beautiful, melodic hooks that stay with me long after I've left turned off my player. I've found myself quietly humming the flute/ guitar theme that flows through 'track 3, Snardom' on more than one occasion. I'm also compelled to mention the beauty of the cover artwork and photography and how appropriate it is in reflecting the mood of the music within. Truly a thoughtful expression that seems to be lacking in contemporary music presentation. So, I've given Viljans Oga, a well deserved 5 stars, as I know his disc will be in heavy rotation in my player for a long time.
Report this review (#787583)
Posted Saturday, July 14, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars The return of Änglagård sees the band admirably developing their sound. Whilst there's clearly a continuity between the approach of this album and that of Hybris and Epilog, at the same time the band evade the trap of simply catering to the nostalgia crowd by repeating past glories. Instead, they take their sound forward by putting a somewhat stronger emphasis on the acoustic side of their sound; Jonas Engdegård's guitar playing approaches folky territory, whilst Anna Holmgren's flute performances, whilst always a highlight of Änglagård's material, is put in the spotlight like never before.

Compositionally speaking, it's the usual roller-coaster ride between peaceful, tranquil sections and brash outbursts of noise. There's a few sly references to their influences here and there; in particular, on the concluding track Längtans Klocka there's a span of circus music before the apocalyptic finale, which reminds me of the structure of Sleepwalkers - the concluding song of Van der Graaf Generator's Godbluff, itself a four-track reunion album from a prog unit which had been on hiatus for some years. A clever nod indeed - and yet, despite the presence of such references, at the same time the acoustic focus of the album sets the Änglagård sound apart from its inspirations a bit more in this release. In fact, I don't think it would be unfair to suggest that this may be the most original musical statement the band have ever made.

Report this review (#789908)
Posted Tuesday, July 17, 2012 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
5 stars Some of us wondered if this day would ever come. A new ANGLAGARD album ! Woot ! Woot ! It's been 18 long years since "Epilog" and the cool thing is that we get the same lineup minus Tord on guitar who's left. Johan is still here playing guitar though and at times he really comes to the fore like never before. Anna is back on flute and is very prominant but she also adds some sax this time around. Another difference is Thomas leaning heavily on the piano and synths while the Hammond organ takes a back seat. He still uses lots of mellotron thankfully. So yes there are some differences between this and "Epilog" and "Hybris" but there is no doubt that this is ANGLAGARD. We get four long instrumentals that add up to almost 58 minutes total.

"Ur Vilande" opens with solemn flute which is eventually joined by bass, cello, piano, acoustic guitar and more. These sounds seem to come and go and then it kicks in after 4 minutes with huge bass lines. It settles back with mellotron, a beat, flute and bass. It's fuller again with chunky bass as contrasts continue. Great section 8 1/2 minutes in as the drums and mellotron impress. Check it out before 9 1/2 minutes. This is vintage ANGLAGARD. A calm before 10 1/2 minutes then it picks back up with deep bass and more. Love the sound before 12 minutes then it turns intense. Mellotron alert before 13 1/2 minutes then it settles after 15 minutes with piano and acoustic guitar to end it. "Sorgmantel" opens with melancholic flute then cello and piano help out. It picks up before 2 minutes. Great sound. It settles after 5 1/2 minutes then kicks back in after 6 minutes. The guitar comes in lighting it up. I love how it builds 7 minutes in with mellotron. The bass and drum section is killer before 8 minutes. The guitar joins in along with mellotron. It calms right down late.

"Snardom" has a powerful intro with huge bass then the mellotron joins in as the drums pound. The flute comes and goes. It settles before 1 1/2 minutes but not for long. Killer bass and drums here. A calm 4 minutes in then it kicks in again. Such an uplifting section from before 7 1/2 minutes until it settles a minute later. Cello before 10 minutes as it continues to be laid back. Organ after 11 minutes but it's still mellow. It starts to pick up after 13 minutes and tasteful guitar joins in but then it starts to light it up late. Nice. "Langtans Klocka" is quiet to open, too quiet. Sparse piano comes in then flute. It picks up some before 3 minutes including acoustic guitar and mellotron. It kicks in hard before 5 minutes and the guitar rips it up with some angular melodies. It settles back after 6 1/2 minutes then turns fuller a minute later but it continues to change. A disturbing calm 10 1/2 minutes in then it picks up. Vocal melodies before 12 minutes. There's a 2 minute stretch in there that made me think it was a nod to HOYRY-KONE.

I still feel that "Epilog" and "Hybris" are better but "Viljans Oga" is also brilliant. The flavour is just a little different that's all. Besides this is still growing on me.

Report this review (#793833)
Posted Monday, July 23, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars Sticking it safe with their similar style of progging, this here truly feels like a continuation of the epic series.

Superior to even Epilog, as that album had a darker feel for it all around. This here is the whole package; each mood of Ãnglagard you've known to love is brought up in this. A classic, soft to drastically intense and instrumental-tight. The flute is far more present this time around. A welcome change, as it's one of my favorite aspects of Ãnglagard. Though that's my opinion.

Luckily in Viljans Oga, we have 4 ginormous epics that equal out to a total of 57 minutes. Obviously this shows they took their time before throwing out another album, making it picture-perfect. But what's so unique is that each song feels like a separate album. Perhaps the length of these songs, but the moods seem varied enough to have a different 'flavor', as it is. Ur Vilande has the essence of classical, Sorgmantel almost feels jazzy, Snardom hints towards a Crimson-styled Ãnglagard, while Langtans Klocka seems a bit Avant-prog. Though these are a brief synapses of these complex songs.

Quality is top-notch (as you'd expect nothing less from Ãnglagard) the instruments all seem to be in sync in a way no other band can. This is not lazily put together, these are world-class professional musicians.

All in all, everything is creative and original, an album for all prog-lovers. Symphonic, Crossover, Eclectic, Jazz, Avant Prog, unite!!

Report this review (#794445)
Posted Wednesday, July 25, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars It's been a lot of years since I was such amazed about a new disk. When Anglagard released Hybris we discovered a band that was on the same league as the old classics. Vocals were good but couldn't compete with the instrumental parts. In Epilog they took a turn to a even more personal style, more mature and eclectic. It was really sad they disbanded before doing a third record in the 90's. I could see them on stage for their short reunion years later. They were presenting a couple of new pieces so we could know how they were evolving. Because of this and also because they have such a personal composing and playing style it was not too difficult to imagine how their new music would be like. I was more doubtful about the degree of compromise the different members of the band could have with the project. Last time they met they only did a few concerts a wrote a couple of unfinished songs. But after so many years we are lucky that they did a great job in every sense. The four tracks are an small universe each of them. They require several listenings for increasing levels of understanding of the music behind, and each new listening they deliver more and more. That's what prog is about. Isn't it? There's just one problem with this album: It's the unbearable posibility of having to wait another 18 years for follow up Anglagard's music. Anglagard, what you do is unique and wonderful. Please enjoy writting and recording new music for the upcoming years!
Report this review (#796565)
Posted Monday, July 30, 2012 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
5 stars A multiple progressive disorder of beautiful mayhem!

Anglagard has always had a special place in my prog collection after their glorious triumph 'Hybris' in 1992. This album alone deservedly catapulted them to prog legends, especially for releasing the no holds barred prog in a year when prog was struggling to grab a foothold after a decade of regression. I admired Anglagard for holding on to all the things that made prog great; thus keeping the dream alive with complex lengthy song structures, incredible virtuoso musicianship and above all innovative time signatures and creative layered symphonic arrangements.

I was certainly not alone in believing that the band had come to an unceremonious end, but Anglagard have forced reviewers and music connoisseurs to rewrite the history books with "Viljans Oga". Two years after 'Hybris' the band released 'Epilog' and then in 1996 a live album surfaced with 'Buried Alive' and they were never heard from again. However, 2012 is fast becoming a year of prog resurgence with many older bands producing some of the best material heard in years such as Rush, The Flower Kings, and now Anglagard, 18 years later.

The vintage sound is prevalent throughout the glorious 'Ur Vilande', with trademark flute played brilliantly by Anna Homlgren from the original lineup. Mattias Olsson is a master on percussion as always, Johan Brand plays Bass and Taurus, Thomas Johnson is back on Pianos, Mellotrons and synths, Jonas Engdeg'rd returns on Guitars, but there is no Tord Lindman on this new lineup. The instrumental is lengthy but never dreary, featuring some incredible guitar and percussion augmentations. It is a wonderful start to the album and a promise of a masterpiece is looming from the outset. Anglagard are definitely back!

'Sorgmantel' begins with gorgeous flute over musical box chimes, and then woodwind and reflective piano enters the landscape. The sound generated is mystical and comes from a faraway kingdom that fires the imagination. As Brand's bass begins to pulse, swathes of keyboards dominate and then a new time sig with flute and guitar embellishments. The band are tight knowing precisely when to stop and start, and when they move into full flight with all musicians breaking out on their instruments, it is a delight to the ears. The music breaks to allow musicians to showcase their craft, Anna's flute solo chimes over Johnson's swells of keyboard, Brand's bass jumps in and out of Olsson's percussion meters, and then polyrhythmic time sigs are unleashed. Olsson's drums are a celebration of mayhem, and they drive the music along with a passion unheard since Magma's Christian Vander. Engdeg'rd's lead guitar turns aggressive on this, the keyboard runs are frantic, and the flute warbling is intense. This is Anglagard at their heaviest, and they lift to a crescendo of sound and fury.

'Snardom' is a delirious flute driven instrumental with a pounding percussion and layers of keyboards. The beautiful flute is mesmirising as always by Anna, but I love the way it interrelates with the noisier guitars and drums. There are tons of intricate time signatures to revel in, and an incessant heavy blast of staccato musical explosions. It has a King Crimson style rhythm and some undeniably effective sax blasts, creating beautiful mayhem. The bassline is awesome and the way the beat changes almost at will as guitar and flute compete for the spotlight is a stroke of genius. It settles into a dreamscape of flute, piano and acoustic vibrations, that lull me into a state of bliss, almost to the point of tears. It builds back into a haunting melody and it ascends to the stratosphere with high pitched fret work and sustained string bends; it does not get any better than this. I am in awe of this song; really it is a masterpiece of prog, and a throwback to the glorious 70s in every respect.

'Langtans Klocka' begins quietly with piano and an ominous drone. The flute comes in like an angel on wings of gossamer. My heart melts with the exquisiteness of Anna's flute playing. The atmosphere builds with an upbeat bright guitar phrase over jumpy flute and chimes. Eventually Engdeg'rd's heavier guitar crashes in and the time sig is wonderfully irregular. The bass is amazing and it plays off the percussion leading to a passage of xylophone and saxophone, with very odd intricate metrical patterns. The complexity of the music is astonishing, and it soon leads to a segment of melodic guitar playing along with the flute, until a slower pace locks in allowing the flute to pour over the music like honey. Violined guitar and mellotron soaks up the atmosphere and then an outbreak of loud music punches a hole through the fabric. It ends with a grand guignol circus theme similar to the themes on 'Hybris'. There are even some vocal intonations to accentuate the angular circus style. This is weird but deliriously off kilter enough to end the album on an innovative note, with xylophone and glockenspiel thrown in; it is impossible to predict Anglagard's music and that is one of its drawcards.

I cannot believe 'Viljans Oga' is as good as 'Hybris' and yet Anglagard have done it again, and it is one of the greatest albums I have heard in years. The dynamic music is mesmirising and without the vocals of Lindman, it is not marred in any way, perhaps even improved as we can just sit back and have our ears caressed by mindbending musicianship. I actually didn't think this would measure up to Anglagard's masterful 1992 opus, as that is a tall order. I was wrong in every respect. This is a bonafide masterpiece and one of the definitive prog albums of 2012.

Report this review (#800587)
Posted Sunday, August 5, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars I always considered Anglagard one of the best (if not the very best) examples of what a progband sounds like. This is not strange if you realize mellotron and flute are two very prominent prog instruments and are very significant in Anglagards music. On top of that the complexity and sometimes inaccessibility is right there as well and are of course features of progressive music. Anglagard has always intrigued me because of all this and maybe it's even more interesting this Swedish band is a contemporary band and is maybe the best example of a progressive band playing retroprog in an own style and sound. Also their obscurity with the general public is a proof we're dealing with true 100% prog and not by accident one of the most popular bands amongst the prog devotees.

This latest album has a lot in common with both predecessor Epilog as with the bands famous debut Hybris. Obviously Anglagard prefers songs between 10 and 15 minutes and somehow they fit the band like a glove. At least they are excellent in composing them; these songs are all great and are Anglagards trademark ultimately. And so they are on their latest Viljans 'ga. It surely amazed me checking out the tracks and finding out they are all winners once again. Like I said, the compositions are complex and somewhat inaccessible. They are also darkish but the real reason I like this album is that the songs are also pleasant for the ears. Not easy to digest but not too weird or experimental to like (or even love) either for a harmonic music lover like me.

It went through my mind that this album should actually be protected from the usual bashers. People that want to be different from the rest and simply therefore give this album one or two stars. Or give these ratings out of some sort of sick jealousy because this album rises higher than their own favorites. I think we all know what I'm talking about. And I'm saying this because this masterpiece deserves no bashing from anyone. It deserves the same respect as Close to the Edge or Thick as a Brick, albums that are also pinnacles of our genre. Of course I realize life isn't like that and neither it isn't on our site. But I would really love to see this album gets the respect from everyone that it deserves. And that it will keep the high rating it has right now (some 4,65) so that it will end up in our top 10 or 20 where it belongs. And in the end I hope the band will keep up the great job they are doing for two decades now. A deep bow for Viljans 'ga. And 5 stars of course.

Report this review (#801683)
Posted Wednesday, August 8, 2012 | Review Permalink
Eclectic Prog Team
2 stars My criticisms of Anglagard are steadfast and no secret, but on this album, they present their most interesting work. That said, the music is still all over the place with few themes to rely on and just a bunch of parts. Anglagard is a band that has no business making long tracks. They piece together crumbs and scraps that lack context and cohesion. Instrumentally, Anglagard should be a symphonic lover's dream, but compositionally, they are rot.

"Ur Vilande" Strings, flute, and piano perform a lovely introduction as the bass and acoustic guitar soon join them, with flashes of Mellotron therein. That latter instrument appears after some heavy electric guitar. The sudden stop-start notes halfway through disrupt the composition. Then the music stops to let in some bizarre noises- why? Were proper transitions impossible to find? After that it's raucous guitar and silliness. What a pity. The last bit is a blast of heavy bass and keyboards that glide into flute and light guitar.

"Sorgmantel" Blown instruments make up the beginning of this track. This may be the band's best and more coherent section, with heavy bass, jazz guitar, flute, and other elements that congeal together in a decent way. Unfortunately, it degenerates into an unintelligible mess. And that's what the rest of the piece consists of: Pseudo-melodic guitar and a mess of noise, especially from the bass. Of course the band has to stop the music to add a different passage at the end.

"Snårdom" Lots of wild ambition is present here. There are some more Mellotron and flute passages, but otherwise, it consists of spanked bass and garish rhythms. It is a noisy affair with the various instruments all competing rather than complementing. Predictably, it tapers off in a softer passage that bears no relation to what came before. The only thing that makes sense in this piece contextually speaking is the guitar solo, which crafts a great theme. Until the piece mercifully returns to the wonderful theme of the guitar solo, the rest of it wanders.

"Längtans Klocka" Extremely soft, with piano and flute, the final track of this foursome begins tantalizingly. After two and a half minutes, more sprightly music enters, which is in the vein of King Crimson's "Moonchild," but is more intelligible. Initially, this is a pleasant thing to hear. But close to the five minute mark, it turns into an aural wedgie for the listener: Over the top and painful. There is one good theme (again, guitar led), but the rest bores me. The final three minutes is circus music- either as a tribute or as a joke, it makes no difference to me.

Report this review (#802173)
Posted Wednesday, August 8, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars Änglagård was born in 1991 out of the Swedish Prog Rock movement when Tord Lindman (guitars and vocals) and Johan Högberg (bass) put out ads looking for musicians with an interest for the progressive and innovative music of the early seventies. These ads were answered by keyboardist Thomas Johnson and guitarist Jonas Engdegård, who met with Tord and Johan, and these 4 became friends very fast. Drummer Olsson and flautist Anna Holmgren soon joined this group and by the spring of 1992 their first album, Hybris, was released. They disbanded in 1994, the same year of their second album entitled Epilog, after their final performance at Progfest in Los Angeles. Short lived as this was, Änglagård earned quite a bit of what would be considered critical acclaim for Prog Rock circles. Now here they are, reappearing again after almost a decade to present their new release, Viljans Öga. The promotion by the band for this album has been barely audible, and yet it has picked up quite a bit of speed in Prog circles through not much more than word of mouth.

The album consists of only 4 tracks, with the shortest track clocking in at 12 minutes long. Being instrumental, the music is a little difficult to describe, but I will attempt to give it the best description I can by saying it is like a musical journey through Alice's Wonderland. It is filled with beautiful and subtle complexities, sometimes startling mood changes, striking pace changes between peaceful and wild, at times odd harmonies and pitches, and some very interesting orchestration: guitars, bass, percussion, and keys being mixed in with wind instruments. As I listened to this album I was like a man under a spell ? completely captivated and never knowing what to expect next. If you have heard the old albums, Hybris and Epilog, trust me that the band have returned in rare form, and some crystal clear production gives them a new sparkle. And if you are unfamiliar with Änglagård, but have some interest in Prog at all, trust me this is a release you do not want to miss!

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Report this review (#807965)
Posted Monday, August 20, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars 10/10

This can only have been the most acclaimed return of the history of progressive rock.

Yes, they're back. Anglagard the banda that "resurrected" the prog in 1992 with Hybris, is back to the music scene after an absence of 18 years. Nobody thought that one day they would release another album, but here we are with Viljans Oga. Nobody thought that if they launch a new album this could equate to its two predecessors. Well, just listen Viljans Oga.

A masterpiece? Absolutely! 4 songs (or three, because I do not like the last song) make this album worthy of being in the pantheon of the best of 2012. All between 12 and 16 minutes! This is the prog dream. Well, I suppose vocals are highly unnecessary when it comes to Anglagard, is not it? Could have been taken from Hybris and were not present in Epilog (which I have not heard). The same happens here. It is pure symphonic rock, where the element is prominent flute of Anne Holdgren - who also plays sax in some moments. Guitars are more contained (acoustic guitar is used in abundance), also as Mattias Olson's drums, who still treats us to insane passages (see what it does to the Snardom 6:53)! Johan Brand's bass also has broad highlight, and lots of mellotrons, organ, piano and synths are a treat for the ears! The album is mostly acoustic, especially in the opening Ur Vilande. There slow construction processes and accumulation in the songs, but when they explode, you better be prepared.

It is difficult to describe the music. My favorite is Sorgmantel, even if it is shorter. I dunno, I love everything about her, opening with flute and xylophone, using synthesizers a la Genesis in there a particular part, the section with accordion, how it explodes to 7:27 minutes (this part gives me even a shiver down your spine!), and its end, with a guitar minimalist.

As usual with Anglagard songs are very varied, with several sections and moods, but we are facing a very dark album. There is space for circus music (in Langtans Klocka) and folk (especially in Ur Vilande) and even electronic pieces (Snardom). The album is quite eclectic, and shows a band quite mature (more than it already was in its infancy), who is not afraid to dare. And well, I do not can be more than happy for that, and I know several other proggers are happy for this wonderful feedback!

5 stars? Oh, this is the least we deserve Viljans Oga. Anglagrad handed us another masterpiece, and I'm not alone in wanting them to take less time to deserve another album!

Report this review (#810615)
Posted Sunday, August 26, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars Oh God.. This music can't be described in words. I'll try best i can. I'm a progressive fan for so many years, i've heard so many different music, complex structures, insane virtuosity, but this.. Viljans Oga is another dimension.

This album sounds most likely classical music. Even after 4-5 listenings, i didn't understand what was going on my ears?!?

First song "Ur Vilande starts" with an amazing melody that you can't remember for a few listenings even how hard you try. After this very few listenings, you're going to remember it, but still with some notes missing. And imagine this album is full of melodies like this. Oh Whatever, this slow entering passage ends with a great time structured, powerful drums and the song starts to sing like an engine which is powered by musicians from outerspace.

You can't guess how many minutes has passed, it ends and the second song "Sorgmantel" makes its slow entrance as the first song. After this entrance it progresses with different instruments in and out. But at 8:27, a melody comes out of nowhere and gives shivers down my spines. This part is an absolute beauty for every progressive fan i think.

The third song "Snardom" starts with agressive drums, bass and flutes. Time signatures are odd but played perfectly by this great musicians. Every part of this song is top notch. Best song in the album imho. At the end a great melody comes again from out of this world like the way how the second song ended.

Fourth song "Langtans Klocka" is a little different from other songs. Its mood changes so frequently, like 2 or 3 songs merged. But anyway its a great song to my ears. It ends with a weird, circus like music.

And at the end of my review, i wanna say: "This is classic, a real classic with pure genius, outstanding instrumental songs" Easy 5 stars for me!

Report this review (#812420)
Posted Thursday, August 30, 2012 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars It was with great excitement that Anglagard fans greeted the news that they had reformed and were recording their first album since Epilog way back in 1994. It is testament to the quality of their music that despite only releasing two albums prior to Viljan Oga they are regarded by many as one of the best post seventies prog bands, no, erase post seventies, make that simply one of the best prog bands of all time and a look at the PA top 100 albums will confirm this.

Listening to Viljans Oga is as if they've never been away and they've simply taken up where they left off all those years ago. Some may take this as a distinct lack of progression but who cares when the music's this good. It's Anglagard doing what they do best, i.e. beautifully composed and played symphonic prog. Those familiar with Anglagard will know what to expect; the mellow pastoral moments creating strong dynamics alongside the heavier bombastic parts, expertly weaved together with their trademark quirky touches. All this would count for nothing without the strength of the compositions. The four here follows past releases with an emphasis on long pieces, without reaching epic proportions, giving them ample time to flex their considerable musical chops as they twist and turn through countless complex sections shifting from beautiful melodies to dissonant (in a good way) parts and like most of their material, it's all instrumental.

The musicianship as expected is top notch, flute still an integral part of the band's sound and pleasingly they haven't abandoned their use of mellotron and despite the immaculate crystal clear and up to date production the music still has a very warm organic vibe.

Anglagard have now released their third masterpiece and whether it's as good as their nineties output is hard to say. However, Viljans Oga can easily sit alongside Hybris and Epilog as some of the most enjoyable symphonic prog I've ever heard. Absolutely essential and sure to be one of the albums of the year.

Report this review (#814341)
Posted Sunday, September 2, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars Änglagård can be appreciated in many ways.

Many marvel at their grand debut Hybris, followed by the equally grand Epilog, followed - guess what - by 18 years of hibernation, followed by the grandissimo.crescendo of Viljans Öga. I don't think anyone else has ever done it.

Others appreciate the unique hybrid subgenre they have developed .. I can't think of a good name for it, maybe "electric analog classical music"? You need to be really, really good musician to master this genre.

Unless PA ratings are inaccurate, most of us admire Änglagård for the superb musicianship, matched by equally immaculate sound quality and attention to detail.

As for my own Book of Prog, there Änglagård have scored yet another couple of points for "not making a less-than-stellar album in 20 years". An additional benefit could be that any of the three Änglagård albums consists of pure, neat, unadulterated 100% musical essence. Sit through any of their 15-min track and you'll likely find that every second of it has its place, gracefully fits into the narrative, and makes perfect sense in the context of the composition. Now, this is something!

Viljans Öga (along with their previous albums) is definitely one of the absolutely finest works of symphonic classical prog.

Report this review (#816563)
Posted Saturday, September 8, 2012 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars I want to make this clear: This is by no means a perfect album; I do not consider this to be one of the guiding lights by which progressive rock music should be compared or to which artists should aspire. It lacks the commitment and courage of using lyrics and vocals. It is, however, an incredible gathering of talented artists who have made a complete effort to create intricate compositions fully displaying their top-notch instrumental wizardry as well as And, for once, Anglagard has mastered tying into its complicated compositions both melody and emotion. I believe it is through their maturity that they have been able to discipline such an amazing collaboration. And, yes, I agree, that the stronger prominence of both acoustic guitars and woodwinds have helped bring this album to this level of not only masterful performance and presentation but to universal accessibility and acceptance.

While I appreciated the technical and instrumental mastery that it took to create Hybris, I found it repellingly cold and cerebral. While I found Epilog more engaging and melodic, not so pretentious, I still felt no long-term love for it. After intense and frequent revisits (even now) I still find little to no attraction to either of those albums. Viljans Ã?ga, however, has entered my heart. I play it often. It has the pastoral, spacious, melodic sections--and lots of them!--that my soul seems to require in order for me to want to come back to music--my favorite music. Whether it will make my All-time Top 100 is doubtful. Whether music listeners will want to rank this up there in the PA all-time Top 10 is not for me to say, but then, I do not consider Thick as a Brick, Godbluff, or Wish You Were Here, among the ten most seminal, influencial standard bearers of progressive rock music. Good luck, everybody! We're all counting on you!

Report this review (#820080)
Posted Thursday, September 13, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars These guys truly transcend time. With almost two decades separating this and Epilog it's hard to imagine they could employ the same writing prowess that made their first two albums so great. The album employs the same sound and writing as the previous. Beautiful passages mixed with intricate parts is what Anglagard does best, and the album doesn't disappoint in this regard.

There are only four songs and they are all fantastic. They do seem to go all over the place, but that just adds to the fun and chaos of the album. The songs are very similar to those on Hybris, so much so that if you switched the albums it may be hard to recognize when it was written (except for the up-to-date production, of course).

Overall, Viljans Öga is a very solid album. It is better than Epilog, but not quite as good as the masterpiece Hybris. For this reason, I give the album a well deserved 9/10.

Report this review (#826416)
Posted Saturday, September 22, 2012 | Review Permalink
Errors & Omissions Team
3 stars So far (and possible for forever) this is the 2012 album in Progarchives. Well, I don;t agree, but to tell you the truth, I never agree with Progarchives anyway.

This album, Viljans öga (2012) marks the return of the Swedish band Änglagård after a very big hiatus.

What can I say, there's nothing that exciting in here, at all. It's good in the Prog ROCK moments. But in the slow folk parts is quite boring most of the time. Especially if you only have 4 tracks that are over 13 minutes each.

As I always say: "Don't believe the hype", or you'll be disappointed.

Report this review (#837986)
Posted Sunday, October 14, 2012 | Review Permalink
2 stars Anglagard - Viljans Oga.

the third album by Anglagard is one that for a long while, noone thought would ever appear, but here it is nonetheless.

I'll start by saying that in my opinion Anglagard is and has always been an overhyped band. Their previous albums to me were full of great ideas, but were so incredibly incoherent that I have always had trouble listening to them from start to finish. Note that people often compliment this band for making very complex music. While this is beyond dispute, I find that it severely hampers the listening experience.

I will not go into great detail about this album, because the general critique on their musical style applies to literally every single song. The sudden stops, non-fluid transitions and chaotic feel is present in every song. The ironic thing is that great riffs, passages even, are also present in every song. These get me enthusiastic every time, only to be let down completely by what follows.

I would not recommend this to anyone who likes well-composed prog. I would however recommend it to any fan of Anglagard ofcours. Fact remains that for me, this feels like a ship crossing the ocean without a compass. To be blunt, I really don't understand what all the fuss is about. Complexity does not equal a good album.

My score is 4/10.

Report this review (#839672)
Posted Wednesday, October 17, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars My first impression of the long and eagerly anticipated album from Swedish band Änglagård was not very positive: all four compositions seemed to me very long, cumbersome, and I was a bit lost in them. This feeling, after repeated listening, was partially disappeared. Nevertheless, I still consider the album "Viljans Öga" to be somewhat weaker than their previous recordings from the nineteens.

What a pity that the album lacks occasional vocals, that (although in Swedish) had spiced, in such special way, previous two albums! Otherwise musically - nothing new under the Sun: significant bass guitar, sharp guitar riffs, all slightly tinged with sound of Mellotron and flute. In short, all the good things already known from the 70´s by bands like King Crimson, especially their Wetton period.

Their consistent (though somewhat amusing) clinging to the Swedish names of tracks, including the specific diacritics, adds to the band on mysteriousness. The best composition is for me without a doubt "Snårdom" with a bloody heavy guitar riff and quite well memorable tune, secondly the final "Längtans Klocka", containing a very similar melody as the theme song to miniseries "The Mysterious Island" after Verne from 1973, which I really had adored as a child. Quite acceptable is an introductory track "Ur Vilande" and as the weakest link seems to be the second "Sorgmantel".

All in all: 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4. Non-essential, non-groundbreaking, but still excellent comeback of this somewhat enigmatic band.

Report this review (#844660)
Posted Wednesday, October 24, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars Well, what an album this is for my first review here on PA. Not chosen an easy one to discuss due to the complexity of the music. I am so impressed by the quality and structure of it. I feel I need to be a musician to do it justice. But I am not, just a big fan of quality music and especially of progressive styles . As much as they are obviously influenced by early English prog they certainly have their own strong sound. Early Genesis, Yes, Gentle Giant and Islands period King Crimson come to mind but so much more here which I have not heard other bands do. They are Symphonic/chamber prog. It's truly amazing to think this is their first album in 18 years. To write such quality compositions (can't call them songs as all instrumental) and sound as if they have been playing this stuff for ever.

Their music is not easy to come by and I had not heard Hybris until I went onto You Tube to find out what they were about and hear why it sits at # 11 in the PA all time chart (but surely never as good as such classic albums as Larks Tongues in Aspic, Fragile or Nursery Cryme which are below it). Yes it's excellent but Viljans Oga is much better in my opinion. It is though a shame Hybris is unavailable. There are second hand copies on Amazon going for '23 or more and I am not paying that. Surely the band are missing out here as many would wish to own a copy of that album. Even Viljans Oga is not easy or cheap to buy, I would love it on vinyl but at '51.99 no way. This must be holding them back a little. Anyway here are my views on the album itself.

T1 Ur Vilande: Starting with some lovely pastoral flute then track builds into the main theme and great sounding mellotron, an old classic sound but sounding so fresh here. The flute and guitar combine to play the theme again ebbing and flowing in and out of the piece. From 11:00 in it takes another step up and the main theme returns and more mellotron and guitar work. This is Music of classical structure and complexity. They are obviously very highly skilled musicians and just hearing this opening track you know you are listening to prog of the highest quality.

T2 Sorgmantel: Starts off as Chamber rock, much like. They play such lovely melodies that keep you interested throughout, you can never guess what is coming next. Love the bass line from 7.45 in with elements of the main tune on mellotron coming back in joined by the guitar and then the whole ensemble taking to the piece to a wonderful climax. Then pulling back to the lovely flute only to build up again, and ending gently' fantastic stuff.

T3 Snardom: My favourite track and top track of 2012 so far too. So much going on here with some great ensemble playing and I can't get the guitar out of head from 7' in'such a classic soaring lead line tune and then even better at 13:50 taking the song to fantastic finish. Brilliant!

T4 Langtans Klocka: Gentle flute intro again. The use of flute is so good in their music, especially in this track. This leads into more complex Gentle Giant style moments and great guitar lines. Then a clarinet (I guess)brings in an a quirky tune sounding like a village band complete with vibes, this then gets a bit chaotic before the guitar pulls it all back again and the vibes come back in to end the track gently .. 'amazing stuff. As said this has not been easy to review, but I do know I really love it so much and with each listen I get more out of it. At about a dozen plays it is still gripping me. Off to play it again now, then again and'..

Report this review (#845003)
Posted Thursday, October 25, 2012 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
3 stars ANGLAGARD have a solid reputation amongst fans of progressive rock fans and their reunion and subsequent return to the studio has been a big and nice surprise for fans. And those fans will certainly not be disappointed. Anglagard continues their quest for vintage sounding symphonic prog exactly where they left it one and a half decade ago.

I must admit Anglagard's previous albums have never done much for me; their focus on technical musicianship could never distract from their failure to come up with anything I found remotely memorable. And while their best album so far, "Viljans öga" is an album that goes with a near dazzling perfection through the prog motions, but it is also one that shows a stunning disinterest for song coherence and purpose. They may have perfectly assembled all the ingredients needed in order to produce a mix of vintage GENESIS and YES, but there are not two bars of music here with as much of a hint of the songwriting mastership of those bands. Really, if this is a masterpiece of Prog then how do I rate "The Musical Box" and "Siberian Kathru"?

Just like their previous album "Epilog", "Viljans öga" is entirely instrumental. On both albums this seems motivated by lack of a decent singer rather then by artistic choice, and it certainly doesn't help to make the tracks distinguishable from one another. All song section segue into one another whitout ever really grabbing my attention, and less then 5 minutes into any of these long compositions the music simply fades to the background, failing to capture my ear.

Concluding, this isn't at all bad as background music, but this is far removed from the demanding and distressing Prog of the bands they seek to copy. Nice enough and not too cheesy, but nothing that urged me return to it a lot in the last half year.

Report this review (#851648)
Posted Tuesday, November 6, 2012 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Prog Specialist
5 stars No, it's not Hybris, but it's still ÄNGLAGÅRD

When a band enters into a long sabbatical after two excellent albums, their early releases become some sort of legend that nobody believes can be re-created, but when that same band announces a reunion after almost two decades, the fans expect more of the same...Well as I said before, Viljans Öga is not Hybris, doesn't sound similar or will take the audience by surprise as the unexpected debut did, but the quality and the beauty that made of ÄNGLAGÅRD the icon of the 90's is still there, surely less naive and daring (the musicians have matured) but the most important thing to take in consideration is that the magic is still there.

It's obvious for me that the lack of vocals affected my initial appreciation, despite the critics, the voice of Tord Lindman brought something especial and unique...but hey, we can't have everything they are back after 18 years, and also that mystic blend of dissonances, complex melodies and display of virtuosity makes of Viljans Öga the perfect complement for their already fantastic discography.

In the 90's ÄNGLAGÅRD was a daring band, they took all the existing risks, they jumped in the pool before checking if there was water in it because they were in their teen years or early twenties, today they are in their mid-thirties and seem to think more what their next move will be, but the style is the same, the KING CRIMSON inspired dissonances still surprised me and their melodies still reminded me of the dark and cold afternoons in Scandinavia, they are the same band but they have grown, and that is good.

What haven't changed at all is their rejection for mainstream, the shortest track has 12:06 minutes and the complexity is everywhere, ÄNGLAGÅRD sounds as well as any 70's iconic band, but with the advantage that they don't depend on the limits of the vinyl format, so they were able to release a 57 minutes album with the material they had originally created, no need to add fillers in order to reach the 90 minutes of a double Long Play or delete good sections to fit in a 45 minutes limit, so every second of Viljans Öga expresses the full talent of the band.

The band members have developed and their skills are more evident, but the greatest surprise for me was Anna Holmgren, who left that sweet innocent and melodic flute in the 90's to take more risks, surprisingly she doesn't provide the soft folksy relax anymore, she's part of the delightful aggression to the senses that the band wants to transmit us, now ÄNGLAGÅRD doesn't let us rest, they attack us from start to end with radical changes and elaborate passages that any Progressive Rock fan loves.

I won't talk about the tracks individually, it would be futile, because Viljans Öga has to be heard as a complete work, but if you ask me for my favorite one I would dare to mention the epic Snårdom and the closer Langtans Klocka, both are simply amazing and left me speechless.

As usual when reviewing an ÄNGLAGÅRD album, I have no problem with the ratings, as somebody said before Viljans Öga is full of "sudden stops, non-fluid transitions and chaotic feel", and that's why I love it, so in my opinion deserves no less than 5 solid stars. I only hope they don't make us wait another 18 years for a new album.

Along with Felicité Thosz by MAGMA and Genesis Revisited II by STEVE HACKETT, the best release of this fertile 2012.

Report this review (#860303)
Posted Friday, November 16, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars Another masterpiece from this Swedish band. Beautifull album more calm but very beautifull in music composition. More calm that Hybris and don't have many mellotron parts but have lots of duets in guitar bass, guitar keiboards and duets with second voice. We can listen a carefull and complex music composition, not in Space Rock vein, but with a fusion of Rock In Oposition and Sinphonic Rock. Lots of flute parts that made a old vein in music but in context it's really a great contemporary album. Complex music, not comercial, that to untherstand this work we must listen lot of times, and we find some new in wich audiction. If people like Hybris, this is a special modern continuation of music conception of this band. Beautifull to, and another great surprise of great Progressive Music. I'm follin in love with this album but really after 3 or 4 audictions. A masterpiece without any doubt. Mandatory.
Report this review (#882252)
Posted Wednesday, December 26, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars 8/10

A Strong Return.

After nearly twenty years, cult Prog Rock band Anglagard return with their third album, "Viljans Oga". Their debut album "Hybris", released in 1992, is already considered a major classic in the realm of Progressive Rock, and "Epilog" is a decent following to the masterpiece. The high anticipation of "Viljans Oga", as a consequence, was pretty understandable, and at its release, the album was immensely praised by fans. And it is for a reason; the band manages to keep the quality stakes high even after twenty years, by delivering another fantastic, complex, and challenging record.

Anglagard deliver to the public exactly what a fan might expect they'd deliver: an LP with extremely refined instrumentation, breathtaking musicianship, and excellent production. All four songs are structured to near perfection, and their songwriting skills haven't lost their power either. But it's in the executing and the planning where the band succeeds in the most, despite the fact that we're still dealing with great songwriters here. There is a noticeable difference on "Viljans Oga", and that is the absence of vocals. Although it would have been nice to hear at least a little bit of singing, to give more heterogeneity to the flow of the music, there really isn't a spot on the album where they could have been inserted, which means that in a way, their decision was a wise one. If there is one gripe that could have been fixed, that would have been the length of the whole thing: an hour for this kind of music seems to be a little too much, and there some parts in these four songs that could have been cut out, although all of the parts are pure gold.

"Viljans Oga" can't help but being a great album, perhaps not a la par with an album such as "Hybris", (considering that for accomplishing a full blown masterpiece, they simply needed to shorten the album and make the songs a bit more different from one another) but nevertheless a release worth revisiting again and again, because of its impeccable musicianship and fantastic songwriting.

Report this review (#914231)
Posted Saturday, February 16, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is the only Änglagård record I have heard som can not compare with the earlier versions of this band. This "Garden of Angels" makes incredible living music from the 21th century. It has so many spectras of progressive music in it. I saw Änglagård perhaps two months ago but then thay had already switched members since this record. I also bought the album on vinyl and have listen to it some times thereafter but primarily before the concert.

The album contains four long tracks and I can't pick a favourite of these tracks. Every has their own beauty and gives the listener some time of thinking and musically journey. The pieces are: "Längtans klocka", "Sorgmantel", "Snårdom" and "Ur vilande" all of them fantastic music. What so amazing in this music is the melodical flute wandering and it is also very melodical, strong and melancholic. It throws us back to the seventies without being nostalgic. In the guitar you can hear King Crimson but the feeling is more of Camel but more advanced arrangements. It is very strong music without a fixed place in time and space. I am convinced people will listen to Änglagård in the far future. The audio quality is perfect and you can relisten to this many times without getting bored. The lp version has one song on every side (a double lp) but you have to play them with single speed. Very dynamic music.

It's not a disc I would recommend to someone unused to prog rock but for us prog nerds this is sweat as candy. This music is very melodical and very pretentious, exactly what it shuld be to please me.

Report this review (#949297)
Posted Thursday, April 25, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars I highly recommend a hibernation to save them for another twenty years.

After nearly two decades , Anglagard still can really impress. "Viljans Oga" is an excellent album, it has the same quality of "Epilog" and is almost comparable to "Hybris", which in my opinion remains their unsurpassed masterpiece.

It is a totally instrumental album with four long compositions that recall the style of the great masters of '70s progressive; influences of King Crimson, Genesis and Yes are evident, as always, but this time the songs reminds me very much the style of Magma and other experimental jazz-rock band from Canterbury (Soft Machine, Henry Cow, Hatfield And The North).

The song structure is extremely complex, even more than in the previous albums. It is a very difficult album to digest and you may not like it at first listen; after three or four listening, however, emerges the real value of masterpieces as Sorgmantel (full of virtuosity and jazz-oriented, with a great crescendo in the central section, around minute 7) and Snardom (the second half of the song is amazing, with a beautiful romantic theme that closely resembles the Italian progressive and PFM in particular).

There are incredible rhythmic variation (the work of Mattias Olsson on drums is really breathtaking), romantic atmosphere with mellotron, cello and flute in evidence, and finally the hardest moments, that are very reminiscent of King Crimson in the Fripp-Wetton-Bruford era.

Needless to say, this is a must-have album, not only if you are a great fan of this band. Despite some short drop in quality here and there (sometimes the technical and spectacular virtuosity causes a little coldness), all the songs are interesting. It is one of those albums that I always doubt whether to assign a rating of four or five stars (a really 4,5 stars).

Final rating: 8/10.

Best song: Sorgmantel

Report this review (#959436)
Posted Wednesday, May 15, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars I've wanted to review this album for a while, but honestly didn't know where to begin. This is one of the most interesting albums I own. It doesn't sound like anything else in my catalog for many reasons. It's also one that I felt would end up falling by the wayside, as on the 2nd and 3rd listens, I felt like I just wasn't getting into it. But something kept me coming back...

If I know an album won't work for me, I usually have a definitive reason why. This was not the case with Viljans Oga. All I knew was that it contained four highly dense compositions with highly contrasting moods, ideas, and textures, along with much more that only the most discerning minds can perceive with few listens. Not knowing why I didn't understand this album kept me coming back, even when it felt laborious and tedious. But then one day, something changed for me. I don't know what, but now I see the picture more clearly.

Here's what changed: I stopped thinking about this as just a rock album. This is also a classical album.

My reasoning behind saying this is that I listen to this album as I would a symphony. We as prog fans listen to our rock albums with a much greater attention to detail than someone not invested in the listening experience who puts the hits radio station on as background noise. But the classical listening experience is different still. It's not something that can easily be defined, but the listening experience changes between these two mediums, despite the fact that prog utilizes many classical traits by its very nature. I'm not trying to say the difference is ineffable as a cop-out. But compare and contrast how you would listen to In the Court of the Crimson King and Mahler's Ninth Symphony. Now replace Mahler's symphony with Viljans Oga. There's the difference.

This album has successfully confounded me, challenged how I listen to music, forced me to change my perception and values of what matters the most in prog, and ultimately helped me grow as a listener and musician. The album has inspired me to approach my own classical writing with a more energetic mentality. Through hearing this, I began utilizing modern instruments in my compositions in a way I never would have thought to do before. This album bridged the gap between classical and commercial music for me. It is a trail-blazer and an indispensable milestone for prog, as it definitively rewrites the rule book on what progressive music is, what it can become, how it can be appreciated, how we assess its value as listeners, and with what mentality we approach such music in order to enjoy it to its fullest capacity.

And to top it off, the compositions are truly wonderful. They display tremendous artistic depth, wonderful contrast, dazzling technical displays, variety and surprises that will keep you guessing, and truly emotionally invigorating melodic and harmonic ideas of tremendous depth. If you don't like it at first, I won't be surprised. This is a real grower, one of the hardest to get into in my entire collection. But once you start getting it and it grows on you, your appreciation will only go higher and higher. It holds a place apart from a conventional top 10 for me. It inhabits its own space and its value is assessed with a unique set of standards. But trust me, it more than just exceeds those standards. It throws out the play book and hits you hard with some trult amazing music. 5 stars is the only appropriate rating for this monolithic achievement.

Report this review (#1073020)
Posted Tuesday, November 5, 2013 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Prog Team
5 stars The legendary, cult favorite, Swedish prog band Änglagård had gone into hibernation after two incredible albums. Most of us thought never to return. Even the two albums, "Hybris" and "Epilog" were out of print. The rarity of the recordings only added to the band's mystique. In 2002 they decided to test the waters and try rehearsing together, only with Tord Lindman choosing to bow out. This resulted in some live performances and new hope from the fans. It was however short lived as Jonas, Anna, Thomas, Johan and Mattias retreated back to their separate lives. Then in 2009 "Hybris" was rereleased, followed by "Epilog" in 2010. There was also news about the band reuniting and recording again. 2012 saw a new dawn with concert dates and their first new studio album in 18 years, "Viljans Öga." Änglagård lives!

For those of you not familiar with Änglagård, you should be. There is a reason why the return was a major event in the prog community. Even one original member short (Tord has still not returned), this is one of the best bands you will ever hear. So good in fact, there was little concern about measuring up to the legacy after being gone for so long. I personally just about did backflips when I found out I was going to see them perform at NEARfest. Unfortunately the new album was not available before that time. I did manage to snag a copy before the performance and discovered that "Viljans Öga" is another masterpiece.

Honestly it did take a little more time for me to attach the masterpiece label. Hearing three out of the four tracks live certainly helped but digging into the CD a few times confirmed my original assessment. It is one of those albums that gets better every time you hear it. They seamlessly weave so many ideas through their compositions that there is almost always something new to discover. Plus, these musicians being at the pinnacle of virtuosity are never anything but captivating. Experiencing music like this reminds the connoisseur of why the obsession exists.

The album essentially carries on where "Epilog" left off. Entirely instrumental, dark moodiness and almost schizophrenic ups and downs prevail. I do however see a stylistic shift genre-wise. I'd say symphonic still works as a label but I am hearing much more RIO (rock in opposition) or avant-garde influence. This should come as no surprise as I believe that element was always present. It is what made Änglagård more than just a 70's prog revival in the first place. Incredibly I think each musician has improved as well. The maturity has seemed to transform them into people that belong more in the company of orchestral musicians than eclectic rockers.

Make no mistake Änglagård still rocks. Their swirling, angular crescendos still exist along with frenetic rhythms and howling mellotron. True to symphonic ideology this is of course blended with sullen softer passages. This may not sound like a stretch from the earlier work and it isn't. The craft is being further perfected, as any master would do. Moving toward the avant-garde side of things has also made things more challenging for the band and the listener as well. There is no expectation that anyone will be easily brought in through the tightly woven density. Effort will be involved and isn't that true of anything worthwhile anyway?

American Idol fans don't waste your time. I highly doubt these are the people that read my reviews anyway, but just in case? "Viljans Öga" is for the educated musical palette. It is the equivalent of an Angelo Gaja Barolo. If you aren't ready for it, go to the grocery store and get yourself some white zinfandel.

H.T. Riekels

Report this review (#1148122)
Posted Friday, March 14, 2014 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Anglagard is one special creature, a strange animal within a massive zoo of fairly diverse species (a fitting description of progressive music, me thinks) and billed as symphonic prog yet closer to experimental than anything else. The foremost quality they possess in seemingly endless abundance is their own style of chaotic contrasts between the two extremities, whilst professing an eternal worship to the divine 'throne' instruments themselves, I have named King Mellotron and Lady Rickenbacker! The flute provides the serenity and the drums, the propulsion. Add a guitar and voila! Like a musical interpretation of 21st century living, the sounds emanating from their illustrious craft are both paralleling stress and comfort, refereeing work and play and signaling the directions towards heaven and hell. Complex, simple, authoritarian and yet anarchic, the music lives as a sonic dreamscape that hurtles through the spirit like some arctic phenomenon, utterly overpowering and yet fleeting. Others reviewers have autopsied this long awaited release and let us be reminded that Viljans Oga was 18 years in the making, so here is how I see and hear it.

Anglagard specialize in the 10-19 minute epic, a cinematographic entity that is fully arranged, orchestrated and composed as a creative work from a team of musicians who have completely stayed loyal to their 'raison d'etre', understanding their inherent individual value to the whole concept. "Sorgmantel" is a perfect example of their vision, a bold bass rumble that forges through mellotron mountains, flute clouds, guitar winds and percussive valleys, sometimes in complete harmony and then in raging disaccord, weaving into new realms of endless discovery. The talent is utterly phenomenal, all five members masters of their instruments, leading one to rightfully wonder how they pull all this off in a live setting?

This is not romantic, laid back, easy listening background music while one barbecues on the patio, guzzling down brews while the uncouth ladies nonchalantly apply another coat of nail polish to their already garish fingers! In fact, the poor girls might feel compelled to flee the monstrous sound in abject disdain and retreat to the powder room, clicking desperately onto some fluffy youtube vid, disposable flavor of the month. Anglagard will appeal instead to the same testosterone crowd as Magma, perhaps even Rush (Olsson can give Peart a scare) and any audiophile looking to be challenged by musicianship and melodic inspiration. Grilling the ribs and the zucchini will never be the same!

The brooding "Snardom" even has ponderous moments that will recall Focus '3' instrumental workouts such as "Answers, Questions" and "Anonymous Two", unafraid to include cello and jazzy guitar licks that seem closer to a harder Return to Forever. The charming flute wrestles with the manly bass, Thomas Johnson's keys enveloping elegance caresses the guitar screeches with imperial authority.

The windswept "Langtans Klocka" is a revelation, bringing a pastoral embellishment to their honed vision, perhaps closer to classical music that ever before, which may dismay the rockers out there, but Viljans Oga is not a remake of Hybris or Epilog, it's a natural progression. After such a long interval, what would one expect, a refried clone of an admittedly iconic duo of recordings? Just when you are about to become complacent, Brand's booming 4 string monster shatters the sweet softness with a sterling display of sound and 'maitrise', Johnson flushes the heart with torrential cascades of the mighty 'tron and Engdegard crushes some sensational licks (volume pedal slickness) while Olsson pulses madly again.

Beautiful mayhem indeed! Fab sound, artwork and packaging. Combine hard jazz fusion, symphonic splendor, folk accouterments and an experimental fervor, and you get Viljans Oga. Stubborn, insane, focused and slightly bizarre. Just avoid playing this for the prog hating ladies unless you really need some temporary space.

5 Eye's Wills

Report this review (#1166701)
Posted Monday, April 28, 2014 | Review Permalink
5 stars Review Nº 219

'Viljans Oga' is the third studio album of the Swedish symphonic progressive rock band Anglagard and was released in 2012. As happened with 'Epilog', 'Viljans Oga' is a completely instrumental work influenced by the progressive music of the 70's, of Genesis and King Crimson. But, it's also deeply inspired in the classical music. Still, Anglagard's music is also strongly influenced by the Swedish folklore music with its recognizable Scandinavian melancholy.

Anglagard is part of a whole breed of young progressive rockers. Like some other Sweden bands, like Anekdoten or Par Lindh Project, they write lengthy symphonic pieces and they sound like many of the big 70's acts but they always play with a very tough and own sound. Anglagard got itself noticed in the small international circles of progressive rock in the 90's, when they were formed. In twenty years they only released three studio albums and two live albums, until now.

In relation to the line up on the album, it has some changes in relation to the last line up presented on their previous album, their debut live album 'Buried Alive', in 1996. The guitarist Tord Lindman left the band and wasn't substituted. The bassist Joahn Hogberg also left the band but was substituted by the new bassist Joahn Brand. So, the line up on the album is Jonas Engdegard (guitars), Thomas Johnson (piano, mellotron and synthesizers), Anna Holmgren (flute and saxophone), Johan Brand (bass and taurus pedals) and Mattias Olsson (drums, percussion and noises).

'Viljans Oga' has four tracks. All music was written and arranged by Anglagard. The first track 'Ur Vilande' has an acoustic pastoral introduction lead by Anna Holmgren's flute and Mattias Olson's vibraphone, assisted by the cello and the piano. The theme develops in a suggestive status of the classical music. Then, the track develops gradually and naturally, very peaceful and masterfully supported by Olsson's magnificent drumming and Endegard's guitar. It has also some occasional mellotron eruptions in the early King Crimson's vein. This is an excellent way to reinterpret the classic progressive rock. The second track 'Sorgmantel' with about twelve minutes long is, imagine, the shortest track on the album. It contains a few upbeat musical moments and it's probably the most melodic number on the all album. Curiously, the music flows smoothly and continuously in spite of the very often tempo changes. The second part on the track ups in terms of intensity, with a very powerful organ work and some dramatic flute parts. The striking contrast between the mellotron and the distorted guitar is magnificent. Once more we are in presence of the classic rock at its best. The third track 'Snardom' which opens the theme with a dramatic and energetic way propelled by Olsson's drums and some spiced synthesizer sounds is a song dominated by Anna Holmgren's flute and Johan Brand's bass line that take the centre of the musical stage. Some of the quieter moments of the song have some more fluid melodic sections, featuring a very lovely guitar performance. This is a more energetic song than the two previous tracks. But it's perfectly in the same vein of those tracks, contributing to the perfect music balance of the all album. The fourth track 'Langtans Klocka' brings to the album an autumnal tone with an extremely elegant and almost classical style. This is a track with excellent guitar riffs twined by some beautiful bass lines and a great drum performance. The guitar and flute works provide occasionally solo spots on the song very well supported on the back by the keyboards. The track's rhythm, stop and start, so common and typical on Anglagard's music, are even more evident than in other previous numbers. This song continues the general mood of the all album and represents a perfect and natural way to close the album.

Conclusion: My first contact with Anglagard's music was more than ten years ago, here on Progarchives. And, again, I'm deeply thankful to this music site. Till those years the band had only released 'Hybris', 'Epilog' and 'Buried Alive'. So, as many of we know, in those years we were convinced that 'Buried Alive' would have been the swan's song of Anglagard. Fortunately, the future would prove this wasn't true. Against all expectations, Anglagard would come to release their third studio album, 'Viljans Oga'. So, after have heard 'Viljans Oga' for several times, I remain, again, deeply impressed by another album of this band. In my humble opinion, 'Viljans Oga' takes up where 'Epilog' left off way back in 1994, but with even more maturity, both in the composition and in the performance. This time the major influences are, in my perspective, King Crimson and the classical music. But, to complete entirely the all picture, the usual familiar and typical Scandinavian very dark and pastoral mood tinged by a very special touch of Scandinavian folk coupled magnificently with the prog music of the 70's and the classical music, and added with a very cohesiveness in the writing, which gives to Anglagard's music a very unique, intricate and beautiful sound. With this fantastic album, I would dare to say that Anglagard rose from the ashes just like a reborn phoenix. I sincerely hope that they can keep on shining at their highest and still illuminate us for many years. It's always a pleasure to know that prog is still alive.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

Report this review (#2078657)
Posted Monday, November 26, 2018 | Review Permalink

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