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Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Upon hearing ILUVATAR for the first time, your first impression is 'Wow! This is mind-blowing stuff! Great sound, sweeping keyboards, awsome guitar play, tight drumming; and what a fine production!'.

Indeed, at first glance, ILUVATAR sound very much like PENDRAGON (musically) and RUSH (vocally), and their material is just as lively. After only a few listens, however, I got a little bored with them because despite the nice sound 'packaging', their music lacks a certain depth - although I never felt that way about PENDRAGON whom I absolutely adore.

Of the nine tracks that make up the album, you'll find some well-dressed, catchy pieces such as "New Found Key", the 10-minute epic "In the Eye", the melodious ballad "Eagle", the sweeping "Exodus". But none approach the craftsmanship and magnificence of the haunting 7:26-minute long "Marionette". This one starts with eerie circus sounds (like pipe organ notes from a merry-go-round), where children's voices in the background mingle with the introductory keyboards notes - very effective and potent stuff. It develops into a magnificent wall of sound, something solid, a veritable symphonic rocker you can actually sink your teeth into, complete with musical phrases that will sweep you along. I'm glad I have bought the album if only for this incredible tune. It is also the one which prompted me to buy all their other albums. Not bad, really...

Report this review (#3532)
Posted Sunday, May 2, 2004 | Review Permalink
2 stars It has been a while since I last listened to this album from American neo-proggers Iluvatar. I remember feeling back then, that it was all a little too polished and not very interesting, and sadly after renewing the acquaintance the feeling remains the same. The musicians are very good, no doubt about it, but it never takes off for some reason. The style is aor- ish progressive, I imagine this is what Toto would sound like if they ever tried making an album in this category.
Report this review (#3533)
Posted Wednesday, August 25, 2004 | Review Permalink
2 stars Looking at the cover, your first impression might be that you found a long lost 70's American prog symphonic gem. Far from the truth, I hate to say. Not that the album is terrible, but imagine a mixture of Fish era Marillion musically and Rush vocally; kinda a sister of fellow American neo prog band Crucible minus the medival trappings. Sound intriguing? Well hold on, its straight ahead neo-progressive. If you like that kind of prog then dive in. Me, I enjoyed the track "In The Eye", which is the most progressive track, with 'Wait For The Call' which has a nice guitar solo towards the end, but otherwise its pretty mediocre. But hey, it came out during the prog low spot of the early 90's and I guess this is alll there was. At least until Anglagard, Spock's Beard and Flower Kings came along and brought it back into the spotlight......2.5 stars.
Report this review (#69537)
Posted Thursday, February 16, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars My english not so good, but i think that my opinion yes. Always i read an opinion of neo prog or music of this style of the 90 o later, the "expert" o "seudo expert" write the same, ever and ever and aver the same... it similar marillion style, o don`t do, its like genesis or like Gabriel voice. Its realy that the important?, or its the new style or the crative, or aport of the group. My favorite music is the neoprog, Marillion is my favorite group, But other groups like Iluvatar really very best groups, the work of the band is really good. like this album, very good. If you like Marilion or neo prog you love it, dont be afraid of bought this album, or Children, maybe the sound its like Marillion, but they aport other concepts, more fresh, more actual. Marillion is past, they let a history, but the music lovers don`t live of remembers or attack a new groups. Like Genesis with Marillion, give a oportunity, you won´t regret it.
Report this review (#76388)
Posted Wednesday, April 26, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars As a debut album, this is a strong one. Yes, there are hint of the old GENESIS an Peter GABRIEL. but it is not a bad thing to be compared to those big names. This album is an album you put on with a headset and dream away. This is my third album so I got them in a wrong sequense, however, the music stays timeless. Wait for the call is my favorite, it stays in the brain in a positive way!! 4 stars.
Report this review (#156647)
Posted Wednesday, December 26, 2007 | Review Permalink
Prog Leviathan
2 stars It's hard to be critical of this band and it's first release, since it really isn't that bad... but it's hardly anything especially good either.

For those not familiar, Iluvatar is typically classified as a neo-prog group heavily incorporating elements of classic groups (Genesis, Fish-era Marillion), performed earnestly but lacking anything especially interesting to catch one's ear. Songwriting is mildly ambitious, in regards to its atmosphere and occasional rhythmic flash, but performances are as bland as one could imagine. The production and style is very banal, with cheesy synth and straightforward guitars-- not bad mind you, just corny and ordinary; the listener will be struggling to find much to latch onto. McLaughlin's vocals are a mish-mash of influences, but lack much in the way of range and emotion.

Nice but not enough to stand out among the other neo-prog bands doing more, better.

Songwriting: 3 Instrumental Performances: 2 Lyrics/Vocals: 2 Style/Emotion/Replay: 1

Report this review (#168785)
Posted Saturday, April 26, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars ILUVATAR's story goes back in 1983 in Maryland,USA with the formation of the progressive rock cover band ''Sojourn''.While the years passed by,''Sojourn'' were turning from covering famous songs to composing their own material.In 1992 they were renamed to ILUVATAR and thus,begun an intense live activityfor the group.In 1993 ILUVATAR released their eponymous first album,which was a really hot-seller for their label,Kinesis.The sound of ILUVATAR is split between the 70's soft symphonic prog rock and the 80's accessible British prog rock and they sound actually like a cross between GENESIS and bands like IQ or PENDRAGON.All tracks are well-arranged and performed,covered with beautiful,atmospheric keyboards and nice guitar melodies,while Glenn McLaughlin's voice seems like a mix between Peter Nicholls of IQ and Phil Collins.This is very nice and easy-listening prog rock,based on great melodies,symphonic delicacy and sensitive vocals,recommended for all lovers of soft-symphonic progressive rock.

Report this review (#202822)
Posted Sunday, February 15, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Several years ago I checked out many (some 200) streamsongs (downloads back then) and I remember there were two new bands that stuck out for me: Anglagard and this Iluvatar with Children's Late of Conscience. Anglagard was the most special to me but Iluvatar was the band I hoped to find with their extremely melodic neo prog. In that sense it's truly of the same quality as Pendragon, Clepsydra and Satellite. As soon as I realized that I resolved to buy all their albums. So far I bought the first three and their last is more of a compilation so I might as well forget about that one.

This debut is the last one I bought but the first I will review to keep things in the right order. First track is the title track (same name as the band's name) and is a short instrumental overture with a dreamy atmosphere (3*).

In the Eye is a short epic consisting of three parts. First part is the longest (Look us in the Eye) and starts pretty fierce for Iluvatar standard. The band is not known for an aggressive approach but here they prove they can also play in an energetic way. The second part (Blind) is more in the same style but totally instrumental. With the third part (Through the Eye) the vocals are back and round this great mini-epic off in a worthy way (4*).

Eagle is a wonderful, more ballad like track with a much more quiet impact than previous song. With this one we are introduced to the two extremes this band is capable of. Another high class track (3,75*).

New found Key is one of the shorter tracks and is not really of the same high quality as the previous two. Still the basic standard of Iluvatar is so high it still deserves 3,25*.

Exodus is a song that's charactarized by a continuous acoustic guitar riff of 10-15 notes going on for 7 minutes and is thus played somewhere between 75 and 100 times. You would think this starts to bore after some 20 times but somehow it doesn't. And that's amazing I think, the other elements of the song are so impressive it keeps its value and beauty. For instance another acoustic contribution from 4:00 till 6:00 is very compelling and makes this another successful song (3,75*).

Wait for the Call is a song for which the same description as the one for New found Key can be used. Also the rating is the same (3,25*). Good, but not really significant.

Dream Visage starts strangely with a deep vocal sound but soon after gets to become a regular Iluvatar track. Special feature of this one is the stand out vocals besides a nice atmosphere at times (3,75*).

Marionette is the highlight to me, a song that can compete with the best songs on their later albums. Especially the instrumental part in the second half makes it a magical composition (4,5*).

Emperor's new Clothes is a dignified closer of a very good debut by Iluvatar (3,75*). Some great guitar here.

I give it 4, although rounded up (3,7). Recommended for all neo progressive fans. This band deserves more attention than it got so far.

Report this review (#204773)
Posted Sunday, March 1, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Iluvatar are named after the supreme deity of Tolkien's Middle Earth, a mysterious and distant figure who is not discussed especially directly in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings; what we know about this character, we know mainly from the Silmarillion. Which is, of course, the book which Marillion took their name from (chopping off the "Sil" to avoid any legal unpleasantness)... so that's a fairly clear hint right there where the band are getting their inspiration from.

Sure enough, this is fairly straight-ahead neo-prog in the mould of early Marillion, with perhaps a dash of Pendragon added. I was ready to give this one an average rating and move on... except that to my ears there's something special to it which makes it earn a higher rating than I'd usually give to fairly unoriginal neo-prog groups. Take, for instance, vocalist Glenn McLaughlin, whose vocal style is in the main rather generic and bland... except he's able to add just a little extra pinch of emotion and sincerity to his delivery than the vocalists of many similar generic neo-prog groups. The same goes for all the other instrumentalists, the band's talents coming together to powerful effects on tracks such as the spooky Marionette.

In short, Iluvatar play a style of perfectly generic, middle-of-the-road neo-prog... except they play this style significantly better than any of the other groups partaking of this particular style. Maybe they don't have the sheer personality and individuality of the top rank of neo-prog bands, but I'd say they're amongst the best of the second tier.

Report this review (#613946)
Posted Friday, January 20, 2012 | Review Permalink

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