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4 stars For those who love lush symphonic neo-prog sounds will love ILUVATAR's music. "Children" is loaded with heavy keyboards aka MARILLION/PENDRAGON with superb drumming and guitar/bass interplay. It is nice also to find a great male progressive rock lead singer who has a great range and that is what you get with Glenn Mc Laughlin. "Children" marks ILUVATAR's second studio release is a very mature piece of work. Songs are well written and performed with a delicate emotion. I should also plug the packaging with one of the best album covers of the 90's...
Report this review (#3539)
Posted Monday, March 15, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars Absolutely great!!!!! I friend of mine gave this CD to me (1997) and told me that it is MARILLION style with Gabriel's voice. And when I first listen to it I thought to myself "Marvellous, Grandious,...". Nowadays I'm just wondering why they have no more CD's since 1999. My favourites: All of them, but "The Final Stroke" just send me out of this world. It is perfect.
Report this review (#3543)
Posted Friday, May 6, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is one of the most creative and techinically precise prog albums to ever come out of the US. I liked this album so much that I flew a thousand miles to Baltimore to see them perform in person! The only shame is that they seem to have stopped producing music. The songs on Children are extremely polished and Glenn's voice has tremendous power and range. This masterpiece album is a must for fans of quality, well-developed Neo-prog.
Report this review (#42480)
Posted Thursday, August 11, 2005 | Review Permalink
2 stars While not creative at all, this American new-prog band had written a nice and melodic neo- prog album with a similar style of Marillion's 80s albums. Keyboards dominate the album, while Guitar acts more as a 2nd dominating instrument. The bass is interesting and interplays nicely with the other instruments at points. The drumming is nothing to write home about, but it good enough to create the relatively simple rhythms of the album. The vocalist has a great range, making his voice what I like the best about this album.

1. Haze is a powerful opener of the album with nice keyboard work and powerful guitar riffs. (6/10)

2. In Our Lives is an ok piece with good soloing but simple and uninteresting arrangement of sound. The second half is more interesting, with the children choirs. (5/10)

3. Given Away is a good song from the band that again fails to be creavite and powerful. (5.5/10)

4. Late Of Conscience is an overlong song with some good ideas (like the choir + harpsichord riff) and some filler. (5/10)

5. Cracker is less interesting than the first 3 tracks. There is some good guitar soloing around, but the song composition is slightly dull and uninteresting. (4/10)

6. Eye Next To Glass is a typical neo-prog ballad, and unfortunately ... I do not like the melodies. (3/10)

7. Your Darkest Hour is actually "eye next to glass" or seems like it. It is a heavier track than the previous one, but once again, the songwriting and chord progressions are not interesting (4/10)

8. The Final Stroke is a good track like the opener is. This is a big epic with nice musical arrangements and solos. The way the song is written makes it far from being a masterpiece though. (6/10)

So there you have it : a good album that unfortunately isn't groundbreaking, nor essential to a prog collection. While the musicianship is good, the musical arrangements and songwriting of this album is not very interesting, making it tend to bore the listener in some occasions. The melodies are also not very interesting either, making it not as memorable as most prog is.

My Grade : D+

Report this review (#43566)
Posted Saturday, August 20, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars Well, I bought this album (and follow up) mainly based on recommendations and a love of prog rock. I have to say that it was rather disappointing as there was nothing on the album that made my hairs stand up or possess the type of melodies that the best prog/neo rock bands do. I am also not a fan of the kind of singer that the USA tends to churn out with most neo prog/prog bands (apart from Neal Morse of course).

If my comrades in the USA think this is wonderful then I have no issue with this but can I ask them to check out RPWL, IQ, Pendragon, Riverside and Satellite (best album this year in Evening Games) to really appreciate true neo prog work that will have the hairs rising on the back of your neck and with vocalists who do not sound like 100 others.

Shame about the album but clearly there are so many better bands around who are doing more amazing things - Riverside for one.

Report this review (#43785)
Posted Monday, August 22, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars ILLUVATAR is my biggest discovery ever in ProgWorld. Everything is almost perfect with this band - music, lyrics, skills... Why ALMOST? Because the only one thing - WHERE IS NEW ALBUM, GUYS? Hopefully, band's site has been updated with the information that the work on new material is in process... Can't wait, really!
Report this review (#44989)
Posted Wednesday, August 31, 2005 | Review Permalink
2 stars After having heard the other two albums of Ilúvatar I should say that this one is a big disappointment for me. The musicanship and performance is just as great as before and after this one but compared to the other albums the composition is much weeker here. No outstanding tracks like "Indian Rain" in ASTDW or "Eagle" in the self titled first release. Drums and some of the percussion sound like samples from a drum machine of a synth-pop band and it's the same throughout the whole album and annoys me a lot.

Glenn McLaughlin who has a voice like the mixture of Fish, Gabriel and Geddy Lee does a great job on this album as well. There are some great guitar solos here and there but overall it is an average album: only songs "Given Away" and the last two track bring the usual standard of this nice band.

Newcomers IMO should better start with the other two albums (preferably with "A Story Two Days Wide"). 2 stars.

Report this review (#115624)
Posted Monday, March 19, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars The musicanship and performance is just awesome on this album, neo-prog at his best. I might say this is one of the best albums ever to come from USA, and why not one of the best neo-prog albums from the '90. For those who love symphonic neo-prog sounds will love ILUVATAR's music. "Children" is loaded with heavy keyboards a la Pendragon, Iq, Pallas, Marillion, and without question this release is a very mature piece of work. Songs are well written and performed with a delicate emotion. Haze is a good opener and the music grow with you with every piece you listen. So every track is good and if you don't own it, give it a try, worth for sure. 4 stars, and one of the best i know from neo-prog world, is even better than some albums that is praised all the time here in neo-prog. Don't let Iluvatar pass so easily near you if you are a true prog lover and you listen to well- developed Neo-prog.
Report this review (#126972)
Posted Thursday, June 28, 2007 | Review Permalink
Prog-Folk Team
2 stars Based on my limited but slowly growing knowledge of the neo progressive scene, after having sampled works from many major acts and their followers, my assessment of Iluvatar is that they are the American IQ. They rely mostly on Gabriel/Collins style vocals and a keyboard wall of sound with some guitars thrown in. As with many neo albums, I tire of being pummeled by incessant "emotion" for 60 minutes, especially when I doubt its pedigree.

The best material here is definitely in the 3 to 4 star category, chiefly "Late of Conscience" and "The Final Stroke", the latter being an epic with appealing variations and a few memorable tunes, while "Eye Next to Glass" provides a welcome break from the histrionics. But the album opens weakly with the undistinguished and aimless "Haze" and "In Our Lives", setting the bar low, to a level that even the better songs return too often. "Cracker" is also lame, with its ill-advised hackneyed attempt at hard rock. But then "Children" is rife with recycled motifs without context.

It seems that, like many neo bands, Iluvatar has perfected the Genesis-clone sound but lack the songwriting and arranging prowess to ever be confused with their heroes. Perhaps that is the definition of a clone - imitation without imagination. Because by chance, Iluvatar does hit the target often enough here, this recording has no trouble attaining the lofty two star plateau, but it is certainly not one meant for our children's children's children.

Report this review (#136287)
Posted Tuesday, September 4, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars not very original, i admit, but many Hackett-Rothery passages and solos, nice melodies you can recall, and even lyric and baroc passages. Even the vocals aren't so bad, so i think that for a neo prog album this can be enough. this is their best cd at my advice, but even the othe two are good (2.5 stars fors me). 3 stars for this one.
Report this review (#145228)
Posted Wednesday, October 17, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Iluvatar is one of the bands I discovered thanks to PA with the stream song Late of Conscience and I love the band ever since. So the least you can do is buy their albums and review them. I already did so with their debut album and now it's time for the second, Children.

The album opens with Haze, an energetic song showing the heavy side of Iluvatar. To me Iluvatar is an atmospheric band with great dreamy compositions, a bit like Clepsydra but still with a different sound. But here they show they are also capable of playing the harder stuff. Great song, 3,75*.

In our Lives is a song where the children they obviously made the album about are actually present as a choir, albeit for a short while. Nice idea and it works ok I believe. Nice song as well. 3,5*.

Given Away is one of the many tracks of this album where the electric guitar plays a prominent role. Dennis Mullin knows his job for sure. 3,75*.

Late of Conscience is the stream track I was talking about and up till today I think it's a terrific composition. One of the best songs they ever made I know by now. 4,25*.

Cracker lives up to its title because it's a cracking song, again pretty energetic. 3,5*.

Eye next to Glass is the ballad of the album, nice song but not the best to be honest. 3,25*.

Your darkest Hour can be judged the same way, though slightly better. 3,5*.

The Final Stroke is the other highlight to me and also the longest track of the album. By far the best composition with great variation. 4,5*.

I can come to the conclusion here that Children is a slight improvement compared to their excellent debut. I keep saying it as often as I can: Iluvatar is an underrated band. But of course that's also a matter of taste and preference. 4 stars well deserved.

Report this review (#160721)
Posted Monday, February 4, 2008 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars ILUVATAR took their name from a character in J.R.R.Tolkien's book called The Silmarillion. I don't know if it's a coincidence that the title of the book has the word marillion in it, but that would be a great reference point in desrcibing this U.S. bands music. This was one of those occasions where I wasn't expecting much from this record and promptly got blown away after one listen. The emotions in this recording are something else, but I like everything about it including the lyrics which are so meaningful and thought provoking. Even the cover art is amazing.

"Haze" begins 30 seconds in with beautiful piano melodies as the rest of the band including vocals come in. The sound becomes more aggressive 1 1/2 minutes in. The drums are crisp, the bass is heavy and the organ is great. I just love their sound. Themes are repeated and the mood changes. Passionate vocals after 5 minutes followed by some beautiful guitar. "In Our Lives" opens with a stunning organ, drums and guitar melody. It settles down as organ then vocals arrive. The sound starts to get fuller. A childrens choir comes in at 2 1/2 minutes sounding incredible. A nice guitar solo follows. You can hear children playing in the background. Some nice bass as the sound builds. The choir is back again followed by some great guitar that goes on and on as drums pound away and bass throbs. "Given Away" is a laid back track that opens with waves of synths as guitar is tastefully played. Reserved vocals come in and a fuller sound 1 1/2 minutes in. So emotional. Drums become quite prominant after 4 minutes followed by an excellent guitar solo. Amazing tune. "Late Of Conscience" opens with a dark atmosphere. Synths and vocals before 1 1/2 minutes. Drums and a fuller sound follow including some raw guitar. Nice synth solo 5 1/2 minutes followed by a guitar solo that soars. Perhaps the best part of the song is the melancholic ending.

"Cracker" is brighter and more uptempo. It kicks butt for the first minute and then vocals,synths and drums create a good melody. Some nice guitar 2 1/2 minutes in and it's even better later at 4 minutes. Check out the organ / bass / guitar melody 5 1/2 minutes in with drums all over the place. "Eye Next To Glass" is different with the almost mono-toned vocals and samples of people speaking in the background as guitar and keys play tastefully. There is some guest flute played on this one as well. Waves of sound and lots of atmosphere before the vocals return 3 1/2 minutes in. After 4 minutes is so emotional as waves of synths keep coming and continue into the beginning of "Your Darkest Hour". Then a great melody of bass,drums and guitar are joined by vocals. Synths washes arrive. I love the calm that arrives 2 1/2 minutes in. Fantastic sound after 4 minutes including an outstanding guitar solo. "The Final Stroke" opens with piano. There is mellotron in this one as well. Guitar shines 2 1/2 minutes in and goes on and on. Piano is back. Synth solo 4 1/2 minutes followed by waves and waves of mellotron / synths until it ends before 7 minutes. Banks-like synths pulse as drums and bass help out. Great section. Solo piano 9 minutes in as drums and bass join in as the sound builds. Ripping organ 10 minutes in as blistering guitar joins in.It settles after 11 minutes with vocals returning before 12 minutes to end song.

This truly is an excellent recording that Neo-Prog fans should enjoy immensely.

Report this review (#165408)
Posted Monday, March 31, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Children" by Baltimore group Iluvatar has a gentle Genesis feel that is immediately apparent both in the rhythmic sector as well as the guitar and keyboard work but most especially with Glenn MacLaughlin's smoky Collins/Gabriel voice paving the melodic avenues. "Haze" starts out with all those hallmark traits we all know and love, elegant piano, organ and synths from Jim Rezek , Dennis Mullen providing jangling guitar strands and a stinging lead , a sharp well- crafted opening barrage. "In Our Lives" has a tinge of Galahad, a children choir used to maximum effect and three sumptuous axe solos, all flutter and feel while Glenn rages along emphatically, infuriated about unnecessary youthful alienation. "Given Away" tackles the topic of orphanage with graceful class, a timelessly painful ordeal that has no real therapy, so the guys really heap on the symphonics , turning this into an ostentatious and heartfelt message of hope amid the despair. The vocals are stunningly close to Phil Collins' timbre and the lead guitar excursion is outright lovely. Very nice track, indeed. The nearly 9 minute "Late of Conscience" is possibly more natural in feel, a swinging ballad with scouring Mullen leads amid the well-endowed keyboard pangs, MacLaughlin singing his heart out with vivid passion and flair, sounding closer to Michael Sadler of Saga fame. The chorus is bold and powerful; a magical allusion of harpsichord and echoing synths, an absolute joyride. Mullen's sustained lead fade out is authoritative. "Cracker" is a harder edged guitar/organ charge that while interesting just doesn't have the same previous fantasy, perhaps more cheese than cracker (oops! that was corny!) and despairing subject matter about faith. The shimmering "Eye Next to Glass" is a haunting little piece, armed with sweeping keyboards and serene vocals, ringing guitar arpeggios and voice effects, almost experimental in scope that really pins some serious medals on the entire work, showing that the progressive spirit is not just formulaic. Bravo! "Your Darkest Hour" is another massive jab into the melancholia of resilience amid obscurity and gloom, frilly organ runs vying with rumbling drum fills, a brief slithering synth solo that weaves like some searchlight peering in the mist, this perhaps closer to Marillion territory finalized by a sweet guitar solo. And for a final 12 minute epic "The Final Stroke" is just that, a romantic piano-led lullaby that addresses life's legacy, the motor that revs our lives and that guides our journeys, hopefully consecrating those "misplaced childhood" dreams. Another interesting piece and a theme that impels introspection and afterthought. The album's undisputed acme. 4 precious kids
Report this review (#253557)
Posted Sunday, November 29, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars A very good melodic Neo-Prog album from this american band. Admittedly it did not bring anything new, but then Neo is quite by definition a "regressive within the progressive" sub- genre, isn't it?

Take the style of Genesis' And Then There Were Three / Duke period, combine it with melodic Neo such as Jadis and some other typical cliches from Marillion Fugazi period or IQ and you get a pretty good idea of what this album offers: nothing new but they still somehow manage to create their own sound, and it sounds really good provided that you are keen on this style of music.

The keyboards of Jim Rezek dominate the soundscape, with good guitar interplays by Dennis Mullin. The bass is quite good as well and the drums while not being particularly outstanding do their job nicely enough. The vocals of Glenn McLaughlin sound as a hybrid between Phil Collins, Fish and Gabriel, in other words they fit perfectly with the music style, although his singing is sometimes a bit too nasal for my taste.

The quality of the songs is very consistent, all of them really good and they provide a good dynamic flow alternating a sufficient range of different moods and tempos. Even if it stays fairly melodic all throughout, it does not lack harder energic moments. The strongest tracks are the opener "Haze", the wonderful mellow "Given Away", "Late of Conscience", "Eye Next to Glass" / "Your Darkest Hour" (the former of which I tend to consider as the intro to the latter) and the 12 minute long "The Final Stoke". In other words, practically the whole album is really strong, and the other 2 tracks "In Our Lives" and "Cracker" are not bad at all either, just a bit weaker according to me.

The production is fairly good and as a plus the Dali-esque cover is great.

For sure purist die-hard proggers seeking innovation, experimentation or dissonance must stay away from this album as from the plague, but if you are receptive to melodic Neo this is a very enjoyable record.

Report this review (#292931)
Posted Sunday, August 1, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Iluvatar's second album sees them expanding their range of classic neo-prog reference points, adding a welcome IQ influence to their sound (whereas the preceding album more closely resembled Marillion). This is particularly evident in Dennis Mullin's guitar playing; meanwhile, Gary Chambers' vocal and lyrical approach recall Fish's characteristic cadence at points. The end result of all this is an album which once again manages to present standard middle-of- the-road neo-prog, but does so with such confidence and at a sufficient level of quality that they stand out from most of the other Marillionalikes out there. Neo-prog fans will probably find a lot to enjoy about this one, whereas those who can't stand early Marillion and IQ won't hear anything to win them over here.
Report this review (#621020)
Posted Friday, January 27, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars Iluvatar presents us their masterpiece CHILDREN which is a complete neoprog sound with nice guitar movements and keyboard environments all the way through. Completely inspired in early Marillion, Iluvatar created good compositions. Sometimes the songs sound a bit from the eighties. Had Iluvatar been known, maybe this album would have had a lot of excellent reviews in the mainstream world. All the songs maintain a rhythm which never falls to mellow sounds, although I feel that maybe at times it was necessary to vary a bit. Late of Conscience is the track that got me more, and Your Darkest Hour has really good orientation. The concept of the album is also really good.
Report this review (#1017271)
Posted Monday, August 12, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars First of all, cover art is amazing! I'm not a very good fan of Neo Prog, since a lot of bands I listen to fail to attract me, but this band surprised me when I heard their first album. This one is much better than their debut, the Neo flavor is here but also a more accesible Genesis influenced music.

Pros: +High quality Neo Prog. +Cover art (again). +Easy to get. +Late Of Conscience and Eye Next To The Glass are the best ones IMO.

Cons: -Some dry and disperse moments. -I sometimes feel that keyboard lack

Veredict: while it is not essential for general prog lovers, it is an accesible work from the 90's, better than the first album (which I would say is a 3.5 tars album), not so old but no so young, nice! Ilúvatar's first two albums are musts for Neo-prog lovers.

Report this review (#1186493)
Posted Friday, June 6, 2014 | Review Permalink

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