Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
A Cosmic Trail - II: Mistral CD (album) cover


A Cosmic Trail

Heavy Prog

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Bookmark and Share
Second Life Syndrome
3 stars I've got to admit something right off the bat here: This was a very difficult album to review. This album has some very epic moments, but it also has some offensively poor moments as well. It is such a mixed bag, so I struggled to come up with a number of stars that could rate it. The awesome artwork didn't help anything either because I tend to want to like albums with excellent cover art.

A Cosmic Trail is an instrumental band out of Germany that claims to tear down musical boundaries. They have a ton of influences ranging from jazz to folk music, and these certainly make it into the music. Their sophomore album 'II: Mistral' is quite an effort, and it is definitely intriguing. Each and every track is quite different; but, as I said, this results in a mixed bag of sorts. 'In Ertia', for instance, has a haunting ambiance and some awesome high-tuned guitar work. It also has some folk influences that blend this track into something special. Yet, the short opener, 'Calm', is a waste of space as it is nothing more than a classic rock guitar solo that feels wildly out of place on the album. For another example, 'Mistral I' and 'Mistral II' are both excellent pieces that include some creative guitar work and wonderful drumming. Yet, 'Thwart Progress' is a slightly pretentious piece of work that seems more like an impromptu jam than an actual song. However, "A Ghostly Whisper" is an excellent piece of ambient music.

The music is generally proficiently performed: I was especially impressed with the guitar work, as this takes center stage most of the time. The band claims to tear down musical boundaries, but I really don't get this as an overwhelming impression. Sure, there are some elements here and there, but the music is generally prog rock focused with some cool atmospheres and some wonderful flute thrown in randomly. All of it is well-done (I loved the flute), but it never really amounts to much. I think this album deserves a listen by fans of instrumental prog, but I don't think anyone will be captivated by it. It's an album I want to love, but there is just enough bad to bring down the good. Although, admittedly, the good outweighs the bad. Take that how you will.

Report this review (#991845)
Posted Thursday, July 4, 2013 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
Honorary Reviewer
3 stars From the title it probably comes as no surprise to hear that this is the second album from this German instrumental prog act, following on from 2010's 'The Outer Planes'. Apparently that CD is now completely sold out, so if you want to hear their music you are going to have to plump for this one. The label characterises them as a progressive metal act, and although I can see why they are stating that, given that the guitars can riff and blast away at times, but for a large part of the album they are far more atmospheric and about the feel and emotion. They paint a fairly bleak soundscape, with little in the way of warmth, which is reflected in the black and white artwork to boot. Apparently they work to the mantra of producing music that is 'widescreen cinema for your ears' and I get that, as this has a big sound it feels that it is out in the open landscapes as opposed to being constrained inside a tiny room.

Their music is obviously influenced by elements from rock, prog, metal, jazz, folk and soundtracks and they bring in twists and changes that create a distinctive atmosphere. However, there are times when one feels that they have slightly lost their sense of direction, and it isn't as vibrant and compelling as it could have been. It is always interesting to hear a fully instrumental prog album, and while not essential it certainly contains enough elements and ideas to make it definitely worth seeking out.

Report this review (#1005839)
Posted Friday, July 26, 2013 | Review Permalink
Errors & Omissions Team
3 stars An interesting album by this German band A Cosmic Trail! The band is formed by the quartet Markus "Ulle" Ullrich (guitars), Richard "Richie" Seibel (keyboards), Klaus Engl (drums) and Alex Palma (bass).

However, the instrumental Progressive Rock (that bends towards the Progressive Metal) presented in their second album II: Mistral (2013) is pretty much a work to have on the background as you do something else. I couldn't find myself paying a high amount of attention to the details of the album, which is always bad when you listen to an album, especially a Progressive Rock album.

But you have a good production and a good musicianship, especially in the track 'In Ertia' (probably the best on the album). Moreover, Alex Palma's bass playing is really good!

But then the album follows again a background kind of music with a few sparkling moments here and there. Interesting, well played, but... couldn't hold my attention all the way.

Anyway, you can try yourself on their Bandcamp:

Key songs: Cromlech & In Ertia

Report this review (#1120285)
Posted Saturday, January 25, 2014 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
3 stars 'II: Mistral' - A Cosmic Trail (59/100)

II: Mistral, as the album's name would suggest, is the second album from German proggers A Cosmic Trail. Though I'd never heard of the band or their well-received debut The Outer Planes before this, from what I've heard, the album was enough to get people excited. With II: Mistral, the instrumental blend of atmospheric rock and metal styles is enough to hint at greatness, but I'm left feeling like something's still missing in their sound. Although the weight of atmosphere over traditional technique makes the band's style more interesting than your average instrumental prog band, they've mostly played the execution part safely. It's resulted in a well-polished, but dry product. My feelings are mixed about it, to say the least.

A Cosmic Trail find themselves in that uncertain muddied area between rock and metal. The drums are pretty thunderous and the guitar riffs occasionally entertain a relation to sludge or thrash metal, but there's generally a sense of restraint that keeps the sound from becoming overtly heavy. Comparisons made to their compatriots in Long Distance Calling do not go unfounded; A Cosmic Trail explores a similar niche of instrumental prog and heavy post-rock. Even if the band writes their music with clearcut riffs and conventional guitarwork in mind, A Cosmic Trail have placed a surprising focus on the atmospheric side of their sound. Instrumental progressive rock and metal too-often place the focus on showboating and flashy musicianship, so it's only to II: Mistral's benefit that they have placed a weighted emphasis on composition.

It's arguably the songwriting on II: Mistral that proves to be the most impressive. "Mistral I" does a great job of developing ideas and fuelling a compelling atmosphere; "Cromlech" starts heavy but ends up floating towards post-rock melody by the end. "In Ertia" has got some sort of Agalloch-esque post-metal going on, and "Mistral II" ventures into the technique and finesse of bands like Scale the Summit. I wouldn't go as far as to call any of the tracks here excellent from start to finish, but there are plenty of great ideas throughout the album. The riffs and atmosphere are solid enough, but especially in light of their apparent labelling as a progressive metal act, A Cosmic Trail seem to play it a little too safe more often than not. None of the ideas are particularly wild or unpredictable, and this sort of formula has been taken to greater lengths in the past. The skill is here, but there's a certain level of risk-taking and 'wow' factor needed if a newer band would hope to build hype and excitement in prospective listeners. Unfortunately, I'm hearing none of that on II: Mistral.

As skilled as these musicians undoubtedly are, the album as a whole suffers from what I've come to call 'AC/DC syndrome'. A Cosmic Trail obviously have nothing to do with AC/DC or the Aussie rockers' artistic direction; rather, I mean it in the sort of barebones, restrained way their otherwise heavy music is performed on the record. Everything is calculated and coloured within the lines. The potential risks and variables that might have resulted in some sort of beautiful imperfections have been overlooked or purposefully cast out. A Cosmic Trail's album is free from objective 'flaws' so to speak, but it's come at the cost of sounding sterile. Especially for a band based around atmosphere, this really serves to hold the music back. Ultimately, I think A Cosmic Trail are the sort of band I'd much rather hear live. Technique is important in progressive music, but nowhere near as much as feeling. It's the latter end that's totally missing here.

I'm not entirely sold on what A Cosmic Trail have done with their second album. They're skilled to be sure, and some of the ideas here capture my attention. There's a missing essence of II: Mistral however that keeps me from being too excited over it. The skill and songwriting are both here, but the dry, tame place A Cosmic Trail take it falls far short of the band's potential.

Report this review (#1179247)
Posted Sunday, May 25, 2014 | Review Permalink
3 stars I think perhaps ProgArchives says it best when they say "Good, but non-essential." I haven't heard the first album, but this one is not bad. There is some good musicianship and I like the fact that they are willing to go the all-instrumental route. That's not something all bands can pull off. It means you need to have strong composing AND playing skills. If you've got vocals, you can sometimes let one or the other slide a bit.

Well this one sounds good! It's not really centered on one specific instrument, so it's not (for example) a guitarfest a la Vai or Satriani. Each band member has his moment to lead the compositions and take a solo. I did find myself occasionally questioning certain choices they made - why that keyboard sound? Did that part need to be repeated? But overall, it is worth a listen or two.

Report this review (#2490502)
Posted Monday, January 4, 2021 | Review Permalink

A COSMIC TRAIL II: Mistral ratings only

chronological order | showing rating only

Post a review of A COSMIC TRAIL II: Mistral

You must be a forum member to post a review, please register here if you are not.


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives

Donate monthly and keep PA fast-loading and ad-free forever.