Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
Gary Hughes - Once And Future King - Part II CD (album) cover


Gary Hughes

Progressive Metal

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Bookmark and Share
The Founder of
5 stars The first word that comes to mind when thinking about these albums is... AWESOME! "Once and Future King" is a great blend of AOR and neoclassical/symphonic/power metal. Part I and II together form a fascinating tale told through an epic musical journey.

Part I - A truly excellent melodic rock epic! Part II - An excellent follow-up to Part I "Believe enough to fight" contains very strong performances by both Bob CATLEY as Merlin and EDENBRIDGE siren Sabine EDELSBACHER as Nimue in a wonderful duet.

Gary HUGHES certainly deserves credit for tackling a very ambitious project and putting his heart and soul into each of its 22 songs. My respect for making me enjoy 107 minutes of music.

Report this review (#26463)
Posted Tuesday, December 30, 2003 | Review Permalink
4 stars Part 2 opens strongly with "Kill The King", pure guitar power with some bombastic keyboards as support. The dark deep voice of Dc Cooper (Symphorce) as accompanying vocals is great. "There By The Grace Of The Gods (Go I)" and "I Still Love You (I Still Do)", both with Gary Hughes, the first is a rock song, the other a semi rock ballad. Lana Lane puts her best foot foremost for "Oceans Of Tears" which is again a track with a high sing-along feeling. Morgana, played by Irena Jansen brings us back with both feet on the ground. A very good rock song. With Sabine Edelsbacher (Edenbridge) as Nimue, we get another highlight entitled "Believe Enough To Fight". The voices at the end of the song are brilliant. "The hard way" and "Demon down" are both sung by Dougie White (Rainbow, Yngwie Malmsteen) as Mordred. Nicely old fashioned Rainbow... and yet...? "The Pagan Dream" with Sabine Edelsbacher sounds more like Rhapsody, which is not really my cup of tea. The instrumental "Deius" (though there are a lot of male voices) is what I really like, that is, if you can bare a male choir. Sean Harris (Diamond Head) as Galahad sings "Without You" as if he never did anything else in his life. Excellent song that grows on you each time you hear it. "Once And Future King" by Harry Hess (Harem Scarem) has everything an epilogue of a concept album should have. A gripping voice, a solid building up and a memorable ending.

Before you know it, the 101 minutes have passed by. For fans of the genre this is a real must. If you like Ayreon and Star One than you can buy this one blindly.

Report this review (#26464)
Posted Tuesday, June 15, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars First I have to say - I don't find this album very progressive at all - okay, it's a mix of rock, AOR or even pop choruses, power/heavy metal with symphonic touches but the music is very simplistic compared to most of the bands featured on progarchives. The guy who wrote the music, Gary Hughes, is also (or was maybe) in a popisch band call Ten. Although, music don't have to be better just because it is harder to play, so I'd say the geniality of this album (if there is any) lies in the songwriting. And since I still am more of a metalhead than a true prog listener I don't think I will have problems to give this album a fair rating ;)

Almost all the choruses on the album are sing-along choruses and I've had each and every one of them on my head, wandering around a whole day singing on them. So the album for me is totally based upon choruses, maybe not as much as the first part but still.

Since the songs differ a bit from each other I would like to comment all of them:

The album kicks of with Kill the King wich for me is one of the best songs. It was the same with Exalibur on Part 1. The song is very metal, but I kinda miss a cool cinematic intro as the one in Part 1 (written by genious Arjen Lucassen). The singer, DC Cooper (from the NWOBHM band Diamond Head I think) does a good job but is not a favourite of mine. Next song There by the Grace of Gods (Go I) is also a very cool song wich I did not like so much the first listenings. It is sung by Gary Hughes himself and is both soft and hard in a nice way - it even features very deep growling in the chorus. Then comes the shame of the album - I Still Love you. It sounds like a crappy pop song and it really is, it's the worst song on both part 1 and 2 and I just can't stand it. Skip this one. Oceans of Tears is sung by one of my favourite female singers in the world of symphonic music - Lana Lane. It's a down-tempo song wich is very cosy but a bit boring. It's definately okay. Rise from the Shadows is sung by another of my favourite women - Irene Jansen. I just don't get why she doesn't get to sing more songs - she does a fantastic job and though I prefer "weak" female voices she is just great. Her voice is really like an explosion on this album. The song is kinda metal and one of the better songs on the album. And then comes the only duo on the album, Believe Enough to Fight. It is to 85% sung by Sabine Edelsbacher from Edenbridge (from Austria), and she does a good job, but it's far from her best. I prefer her in Angra (she does guest vocals on Temple of Shadows), her best work in my opinion. The song fits her well though, she has very high pitched vocals and it's a slow song. The last 15% is sung by Bob Catley from Magnum who really is among the best singers on the album, and this is the only part he gets to sing on the album wich is really sad. And he only sings a short fade-out part in the end so it's not much of a duo song at all. The Hard Way is maybe the most odd song on the album, sung by a guy called Doogie White. He has a nice voice, not a favourite but okay. I have some serious problems describing the sound of the song so you have to listen yourself. The Pagan Dream is also sung by Sabine Edelsbacher and sounds a bit like a song that could be in the Eurovision Song Contest, maybe just a bit to hard - it's a metal song. Here she sings in a completely different way and though it's one of the most catchy songs on the album I don't really like it. Gary really should've picked another singer for this one is my opinion. The layered vocals in the chorus also feel very messy. Demon Down is also sung by Doogie White and reminds a bit of his other song, I still have problems to describe it but... well, it's "cool rock"... guess that doesn't say it, you'll have to listen. An ok song. Another dissapointment (for me) on the album is the short instrumental song Deius. I really looked forward to and instrumental song, it fits very well in an album with 95968632923 songs based upon pop choruses... so when I found that the song was one and a half minuted and was only march drums and darker male "opera" vocals singing on latin I was dissapointed. Maybe not bad but totally unescessary. Then comes Without You, sung by Sean Harris, not a favourite but he is okay. It reminds me a bit of the song "Make Believe" by Angra, he sounds maybe a little bit like Andre Matos... but when the chorus comes, just forget it. It's no more Angra. Not really bad but one of the worst songs on the album. Very slow. And the last song, the epilouge entitled Once and a Future King is just the stereotype of the last song on an epic album. It's very good written but reminds to much of Phantom of the Opera. And it's kinda boring, this kind of last songs use to be that. It fits in and feels nescessary but - boring.

It's a bit sad that he made this an epic album (it's about the tale of King Arthur). The booklet features storylines wich are very well written but the songs are mostly not epic at all wich gives a very strange and duality feeling to me... Again - the songs are well written, not always lyrically (at least NOT for an epic album - pop lyrics) but musically definately, almost all songs are very catchy and the arrangements and guitar solos are nice. The production is also totally acceptable. But it's far from my favourite epic album and if I should recommend an epic album based upon the tale of King Arthur I would certainly recommend Imaginations from the Other Side by Blind Guardian (not very prog) instead. But I bought this album for 29 SEK (something like 3$ 50 cent) so it was not a bad buy. I'd say get it, but don't pay to much for it ;) I also prefer this one a bit more than the first one - this one is more even.

And the rating - I'd give it a straight 7 out of 10 wich I actually would like to round upwards - because this is better than Part 1 and I would like to give that one 3. It's a good addition to any music collection if you want tons of choruses to get stuck on your head - but as I said, not very prog at all.


Report this review (#82088)
Posted Tuesday, June 27, 2006 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
4 stars The second part of the King Arthur concept album by genius artist Gary Hughes is even better than the first one. It is more epic, heavy and progressive, with some stunning performance by both musicians and singers involved. But, with such a team work, how could he go wrong? Certainly he was very fortunate to have all these people around to enhance his great skills as songwriter and producer (and he is also a fine singer!). The tracks are superbly arranged and played (great guitar and keyboards parts, always, very tasteful). The first ever AOR/Melodic Rock opera is something of a masterpiece in all aspects (even if the prog influences are maybe too subtle for most progheads).

Highlights are many, but I should pick up some favorites: the powerful drive of There By The Grace Of God, the poignant Believe Enough To Fight, with the very beautiful voice of Edenbridge´s singer Sabine Edelsbacher (as Nimue) and, in the end, a great duet with Bob Catley (as Merlin) and the grand finale with the epic title track (fine vocals by Harry Hess of Harem Scarem and an emotinal guitar solo by Chris Francis of Ten). But, again, as the first album, all tracks work very well together and there are no fillers. The artwork and booklet is quite good too, telling the whole story beside the lyrics. The only down side is that maybe the opener was not really suited to D.C. Cooper´s powerful voice (he sounds a little restrained here). Still a fine song, though.

Those two records make a highly successful work. A great showcase of Gary Hughes´s skills as songwriter/singer/producer. This CD defies definition. I can only say it´s great music.

Report this review (#185144)
Posted Thursday, October 9, 2008 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
3 stars Once and twice king

The second part of Gary Hughes' Rock Opera Once And Future King continues right where the first part left off. Once again we get a strong set of tunes performed by a wide range of guests (some of which are new and some of which return from part one). If there is a difference between the two albums, I would say that this one is more eclectic. Like the first album, this is a mix of AOR, Power Metal, and Magnum-esque Pomp Rock with some folky and classical touches. But, in addition, this second album also contains more genuine Prog Metal, and at the same time also more straight-ahead bluesy Hard Rock and even some Pop! Both albums have some very good songs, and a few not so good songs. Overall, I slightly prefer part one (but they deserve the same rating).

Among the returning performers we find the wonderful Lana Lane as Guinevere, Magnum's distinctive Bob Catley as Merlin, and Sean Harris from Diamond Head as Galahad. New additions include DC Cooper and Dougie White. Sean Harris really surprised me here with a superb vocal on the ballad Without You.

There is no doubt that Gary Hughes is a talented songsmith and a good vocalist. The production values are high and the cast is highly professional. Again, like on the first album, I don't think that anything here is in any way ground breaking or particularly unique. But it does live up the expectations set by the first part, clichés and all. Taken for what they are, both albums are good.

Report this review (#802944)
Posted Saturday, August 11, 2012 | Review Permalink

GARY HUGHES Once And Future King - Part II ratings only

chronological order | showing rating only

Post a review of GARY HUGHES Once And Future King - Part II

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.