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EMOTIONAL WASTELAND

Unicorn

Neo-Prog


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UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Unicorn is another one of swedish musician and producer Dan Swanö´s projects. Dan Swanö has played with many mostly metal orientated bands through the years ( Edge of Sanity, Bloodbath, Maceration, Katatonia), but he has never made it a secret that he loves classic prog rock and especially neo prog like Marillion and IQ. His band Nightingale makes a very nice kind of prog rock/ soft metal, very melodic and with Dan´s beautiful voice omnipresent. Unicorn is in the vein of Nightingale without reaching the good level of that band.

Unicorn plays some very poppy neo prog rock, with surprisingly weak melodies. The instrumentation is also very weak and to top it off the production isn´t too good either. I must say that I am surprised by this very weak effort from Dan Swanö as we´re used to much better things from him. This is really lame.

I am tempted to give this album 1 star, but on the other hand there are some nice moments and the album isn´t a complete failure. I will not listen to this again though. Fans of light neo prog rock might find this exciting, but I doubt it. 2 small stars for a forgettable album. What a let down. Listen to Dan Swanö´s work with Nightingale instead, it´s much better and deserves more attention than it gets.

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Send comments to UMUR (BETA) | Report this review (#159431)
Posted Monday, January 21, 2008 | Review Permalink
J-Man
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Who said death metal?

Dan Swanö is one of the most prolific and important musicians in the Swedish metal world. His multiple projects (Edge of Sanity, Bloodbath, Pan.Thy.Monium, Nightingale, Maceration, etc.) are almost all metal-oriented. With bands like Edge of Sanity, Pan.Thy.Monium, and Nightingale, he's shown his progressive rock influences with the extended song compositions and unique and complex arrangements.

Nightingale was almost pure progressive rock, but it did have an occasional metal riff thrown in there. Unicorn is Swanö's attempt at creating neo prog, and for the most part their second album isn't disappointing. I still have not obtained their debut album, but from what I've heard, this is similar stylistically. It sounds like a blend of Asia and Marillion to these ears. The result is a very poppy take on neo prog. There are a few moments that remind us of the 70's prog rock bands, but the majority of this album is pop rock with some neo prog tendencies. Overall, this is an upbeat and energetic album for the most part.

THE MUSIC:

"Emotional Wasteland"- The first song immediately shows us that this isn't the Dan Swanö we're used to. It's upbeat acoustic guitar riffing with a solo. When the vocals enter it gets softer, and it sounds very radio friendly. The melodies are strong, and the chorus is enjoyable. The outro is great. This is a solid and enjoyable opener.

"At The End of the Bridge"- This opens up with acoustic guitar chords and Dan's vocals. The verse sounds pretty gloomy and depressing, but the chorus is very powerful. This is very straightforward verse-chorus-verse pop rock song, and I think it's one of the weakest on the album, though the chorus is fairly memorable. In comparison to some of the other songs, it is not as good. The ending is solid, though.

"The Boy And The Impossible"- The acoustic opening has a nice vocal melody, but it's fairly forgettable. Suddenly, a more upbeat chord progression enters and a cool synthesizer line enters. The lyrics are pretty poor, but musically this song is awesome. The chorus is catchy and memorable. At the end it reprises the opening with female vocals. The outro reminds me very much of Pink Floyd. The guitar solo at the end has a David Gilmour sound to it.

"Hiding Again"- The album's longest song opens up with piano and vocals. I like the use of flute and cello, and it compliments the other instruments well. It suddenly turns into a very neo prog sounding synth melody. This short instrumental section serves as a bridge to the next verse. The first chorus enters, and the melody in this section is memorable. A light piano section begins, but it soon builds into a spacey section. It turns into a section that reminds me a lot of IQ. The rest of the song uses many of these same themes. There are female vocals near the end followed by a guitar solo. All in all, this is possibly my favorite track.

"Suddenly"- This opens up with a jazz influenced piano and guitar section. The key changes and goes into the main verse. I think the verses are really annoying to be honest. This is my least favorite song by a large margin. It has some decent moments that keep it from being a complete throwaway, but there isn't anything that is particularly good.

"The Sorrow Song"- This opens up with a beautiful guitar melody. Dan Swanö's vocals soon enter, and the melody is pretty good. The first half is soft, but it builds into the same section but with drums and it's a lot more emotional. This is followed by a good guitar solo. The section near the end is really good.

"The Spring"- This is an acoustic piece. It really does nothing for me, but it's pleasant enough I guess.

"Waterfall"- This song reminds me a lot of Asia, and it is one of my favorites from the album. I love the pop-rock sensibilities of this song, and the melodies are excellent. This reminds me a lot of 80's AOR.

"After Before"- The closing song opens with electric piano and saxophone. It sounds a lot like something you would hear on a smooth jazz station. The acoustic guitar solo flows into the first vocal passage. It is very soft, and the saxophone compliments the verses well. The chorus is pretty good, but this is not one of my favorite songs on the album. I really like parts of it. The ending is excellent, though.

Conclusion:

Emotional Wasteland is a really good album. I which more Swanö fans would appreciate this album, as I think it's a unique album in his massive discography. If you can find this album and you're looking for some really good poppy neo prog, I recommend you check into Emotional Wasteland. My rating would be a 3.5 for this good album. Since I don't think this is one of the best Swanö albums (even though it is one of his most unique), I will round down to a 3. Still this is a very good album, but it is not essential by any means.

3 stars.

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Send comments to J-Man (BETA) | Report this review (#255930)
Posted Sunday, December 13, 2009 | Review Permalink

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