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All Traps On Earth - A Drop Of Light CD (album) cover

A DROP OF LIGHT

All Traps On Earth

Symphonic Prog


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5 stars The year 2018 was in general a musically poor year. There are (at least in my subjective terms) only two 2018 prog releases which might be considered really essential and rated as instant masterpieces. One of them, Heureux! by Ange, solemnly opened the year. Another one, A Drop Of Light by All Traps On Earth, now triumphantly closes it. Usually offshoots are quite far from the 'root' artists. All Traps On Earth is not just an offshoot of Anglagard but their true continuation and development, maybe just because the band includes Anglagard's key members. A Drop Of Light continues the guideline started with the second album by Anglagard, Epilog. Undoubtedly Epilog, Viljans Oga and A Drop Of Light are three sequential links of the same evolutionary chain.

I still remember and will never forget blessed 1990s when I got acquainted with the music of Anglagard and became their dedicated listener. Hybris was nothing but cubed King Crimson and did not impress too much... just a good new music in the vein of good old music. But Epilog was a revolution in consciousness. A new paradigm, widened horizons, new relationships between sounds, new principles of arrangement... well, it's difficult to say what was NOT new and fresh in that mindblowing, breathtaking album. Two years later, the band split. Epilog became the epilogue indeed. The great novelty of the album seemingly had to remain a one-of-a-kind phenomenon.

Fortunately, the disbanding was not definitive. Sixteen years later (what are 16 years in comparison to eternity?!) Anglagard revived and released Viljans Oga, not Epilog, Part Two, but Epilog, Second Degree. And now, the band's branch made a next step (giant step I'd say!) in the same direction: please find Epilog, Third Degree, an in-depth non-invasive study on the morphology and anatomy of harmony in vivo, full of unexpected combinations of sounds, revolutionary arrangements (including brass instruments), unpredictable changes of the tonality... and jeweled with female vocal.

The last circumstance is particularly noticeable. As far as I can remember, this is for the first time in the Anglagard's history. And the vocal by Miranda Brand is amazing, she perfectly combines the operatic power and rush typical for (exempli gratia) Elena Obraztsova or Tamara Sinyavskaya, with the 'disappearing' softness of Kari Rueslatten.

Musically, the debut album by All Traps On Earth may be considered the next (4th) chapter in the Anglagard's studio discography (my apologies to the musicians if they don't agree!). And hopefully this album is not the last one in the direction of Epilog. Epilog is inexhaustible and deserves further development.

Report this review (#2084169)
Posted Friday, December 7, 2018 | Review Permalink
BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Änglagård founding member and bass player Johan Brand and former Änglagård, current Thieves' Kitchen keyboard player, Thomas Johnson, plus drummer Erik Hammarström and Brand's daughter Miranda on vocals = ALL TRAPS ON EARTH! If that's not enough to get your interest piqued, add a bunch of classically-trained guest musicians on a dozen wind instruments and you've got the foundation of a pretty high-potential band!

1. "All Traps on Earth" (18:15) traipsing into Zeuhl territory with quite some aplomb, I'm reminded of UNIVERSAL TOTEM ORCHESTRA and KOTEBEL throughout this song. The difference maker is the horns and Mellotron. And the bass--that loose, chunky, in-your-face bass! Awesome. (8.5/10)

2. "Magmatic Warning" (16:09) a dynamic and temporal display reminiscent of a weatherman's reporting of the rise and course of an Atlantic hurricane. The bombastic, almost violent opening is beautifully tempered by the song's slow, sensitive development over the following five minutes. Love the chunky flanged bass and Mellotron over which the flugelhorn wails. The following andante section of piano, bass and flute is beautiful and unexpected though obviously rather ominously positioned. The ensuing full-on eruption section is awesome for the way it captures the insidious and unremitting power and course of a volcanic eruption. Having just visited Pompei and Vesuvio, I'm not sure I agree with the choice of expression in the thirteenth and fourteenth minutes as things seem to quiet down and then slowly, inexorably build and release over the ensuing fifteenth and sixteenth minutes before suddenly (too suddenly?) subsiding. Cool song--especially great if one forgets the title. So Zeuhlish. (Is the Magma reference in the title also--or only--meant to cite the French Zeuhl band?) (9.25/10)

3. "Omen" (12:59) an orchestral masterwork--definitely putting on full display the orchestral training and talents of drummer/percussionist Erik Hammarström. Though the opening three minutes is quite ominous in a Zuehlish way, the melodic riff repeated from the fourth minute on is a wonderful earworm to latch onto. As vocals, trumpet and flugelhorn play with this main theme, the bass, drums, 'tron, vocalese, and percussion work is sublime--at times genius. The 'tron work in the seventh minute conjures up pure King Crimson 1969. The following section of staccato and centerless interplay reminds me quite a little of the talents and style of JACOPO COSTA and his LOOMINGS and CAMEMBERT projects as well as all his contributions to other AltrOck Productions bands (Yugen, Not a Good Sign, Factor Burzaco, Empty Days). Such a well constructed, fully "orchestrated" song! (9.75/10)

4. "First Step" (02:03) what starts out as a Russian-sounding solo piano expression becomes a brief and quite romantic whole-band theme. French? Inspired by Chopin? (2.5/3)

5. "Bortglömda Gårdar" (14:03) opens with 80 seconds of "harpsichord" sound over which male voice sings delicately (in Swedish) as other instruments and voices make small, subtle contributions. It's beautiful and "old" feeling. Then the full rock band kicks in with a bass-heavy complex weave of many instruments all seeming to be driving their own separate courses--though on the same wide boulevard. Within 90 seconds this comes to an end. (Perhaps all the vehicles are at a traffic stop.) Next, flutes, incidental tuned percussions, vibes, piano, and multiple female vocals lend the song an angelic visual before the opening section returns with religious harpsichord and male vocal. The ensuing interplay of Mellotron voices and flutes, harpsichord, and percussives is quite mesmerizing. Then, suddenly and inexplicably, at 8:20 a spacious section of multiple 'tron tracks, strolling bass, gentle and distant drums, and multiple trumpets rises. Then, at 9:45, just as suddenly, a full-decibel onslaught of Zeulish, goulish jazz takes over. The synth solo in the eleventh minute is certainly inventive. Then everything quiets down to ultra-delicacy again--with gentle piano repeating itself behind xylophone play. Flutes, synths and 'tron take over and play at a cherubic weave before fading away to allow the piano a full exposition of some quite stunningly beautiful solo play to finish the song. Amazing song! Perhaps my favorite song of 2018! (10/10)

As I listen to these songs the chunky bass and operatic female vocalese make me think that this is the same territory that the UNIVERSAL TOTEM ORCHESTRA has been exploring for the past 20 years, and then, alternately, I find myself thinking--as I do so often with all Änglagård albums--that KOTEBEL does this just as well if not better. The difference here, though, is the great bass sound mixed so far forward in the soundscape, the virtuosic use of changing and opposing dynamics, the brilliant use of horns and tuned percussion, and the virtuosic use of Mellotrons. The composers and producers here know how each and every instrument should and could be used-- much as a composer of classical music knows how best to use each and every instrument in his or her orchestra.

Five stars; a masterpiece of complex, eclectic progressive rock music. This is much more than another progressive rock album: This album puts on display the absolute highest levels of compositional skill and artistry. If there's one album you buy this year--and really, seriously dive into--let it be this one!

Report this review (#2086498)
Posted Thursday, December 13, 2018 | Review Permalink
Progfan97402
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars I didn't expect Änglagård to quickly release a followup to Viljans Öga, but they probably realize quality vs. quantity. All Traps On Earth was originally the name of a composition Johan Brand had in mind, but then he got Thomas Johnson and Erik Hammarström (who replaced Mattias Olsson in Änglagård), as well as his daughter Miranda Brand. So All Traps on Earth, the band, was hatched, with the composition bearing that name as the opening track. Miranda delivers some wordless semi-operatic vocals, as well as having various guests for wind instruments.

Unsurprisingly the music is not too different from that of Änglagård. This album only demonstrates how much of that Änglagård sound came from Thomas Johnson and Johan Brand. There will be a lot of that familiarity upon listening to this; however, you can tell it's not Änglagård, as you don't get input from Jonas Engdegård and Tord Lindman (as they were obviously not present). That means less of the gentle, pastoral passages, you do get some, but it's more calm piano sections than acoustic guitar sections. Also there's some some jazzy tendencies (example: trumpet solos that would be foreign on an Änglagård album) and a stronger influence from RIO and Zeuhl. I suspect "Magmatic Warning" was likely in honor of the famous French band Magma. Looking at the booklet that comes with the LP, it shows Johan in his studio with his basses, guitars, and his keyboards, along with a bunch of LPs, most of them familiar to the prog faithful (I noticed Viljans Öga is one of them, which is no surprise as he was obviously responsible for the creation of that album). And then there's the Mellotron, in which both Thomas Johnson and Johan Brand use, a real M400, and the M4000D (basically a Memotron with the Mellotron name on it). It's very clear the choir are very much a real M400, complete with key click. Like Änglagård, this isn't an easy listen, but what an amazing album still the same. Due to the approach and consistent quality throughout, it's really pointless to describe highlights. It's a bit longer than the typical Änglagård album, but it's quality throughout.

This album is sure to be a hit with progheads everywhere, and this easily sits nicely with your Änglagård albums!

Report this review (#2086592)
Posted Thursday, December 13, 2018 | Review Permalink
5 stars I first wanted to say that I never review albums that I buy but this album and this band is some of the greatest progressive rock that I have heard since the 1970s! A Drop Of Light is not only the album of the year but it is one of the greatest prog albums I ever heard. I am a huge Anglagard fan and you do hear that wonderful dark heavy Anglagard sound with this band but they have a unique sound of their own as well.I honestly have to say that the highlight of this album is every song from start to finish.I first listened to this album on my Grado headphones and I could not believe how amazing this was. I felt like I was listening to a great band from the 1970s like Gentle Giant or King Crimson. I never thought that I would hear new music this great in 2018. It is very difficult to describe this music but it is some of the best prog you will ever hear. I urge all prog fans to buy this album and I guarantee you will be blown away!!!
Report this review (#2087025)
Posted Friday, December 14, 2018 | Review Permalink
5 stars *I rarely review albums I purchase, as I'm no writer. But being a Progressive Rock fan since Vanilla Fudge, & earliest King Crimson, I know what I'm saying here, although I may fail to say it with elegance. Of all the Prog albums I have purchased this year, (25 +) for me, beyond question, this is the finest of them all. Actually, it's one of the most interesting CDs I have bought in ages. I do not tire of it with repeated listens. It's filled with many different time signatures, beautiful, & dark melodic content, while effortlessly flowing through different genres, that possess many intense, & thought-provoking passages, with moments of absolute musical extasy. I was hungry for some complex/Intricate Prog that I wouldn't get enough of after several listens. My appetite is still being satisfied, & I've had this CD for over a week, listening to it very frequently. For me, it's a One-Of-A-Kind recording. There's much to digest here, so get started listening if you haven't already, & pat yourself on the back afterward. You will most certainly enjoy many pleasurable returns. There are elements of Anglagard, of course, & that's never bad. Also, King Crimson from the Islands, & Lizard era, with some John Wetton bass sounds, from my personal favorite KC era. Jazz, & Fusion...Canterbury, & Folk. It's all over the place. The use of vocals are excellent...not of the norm, & are a grand addition to this music. And finally, although other influences are present in this music, ATOE most assuredly stands up on its own, with its own originality. The ideas, compositions, & direction, is unlike anything else. This music constantly moves & changes...never staying in one place long. That's a very appealing aspect for me. I absolutely love this album! It's Progressive Rock at it's finest!! Again...Best Album Of 2018 in my book! Five Stars +
Report this review (#2087036)
Posted Friday, December 14, 2018 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is it, I guess. One of the most unique and mythical bands out of Sweden, Änglagård, transforms into All Traps on Earth. Well, not completely. Änglagård founding member and guitarist Johan Brand formed All Traps on Earth in a different line-up with Thomas Johnson (keyboards) and Erik Hammarstörm (drummer / percussionist) both from Änglagård as well. To fulfill this quartet band, Miranda Brand, daughter of Johan, joins on vocals. And with that said, it works brilliantly. It not only brings a fresh wind in the progressive landscape, it delivers in a way that it should be. Key factor for this new band is the addition of zeuhl like in the opener All Traps on Earth and jazz like in Magmatic Warning and the closing track Bortglömda Gårdar. The symphonic folk elements from Änglagård has been pushed back a little bit more. During "A Drop of Light", hard bombastic sounds and dreamy passages in combination with a range of gorgeous wind instrumentations and some incredible vocals are passing by. As a whole, this is a fantastic epic journey to go through that, most likely, will not disappoint. If a band is able to experiment in that kind of level, then, there's just nothing more to say. Just enjoy this masterpiece of progressive rock. Highly recommended. Mark my words!
Report this review (#2097228)
Posted Saturday, December 15, 2018 | Review Permalink
5 stars I guess I also have to put my two words about this wonderful album. I will tell you the truth, I didn't know what to expect. I am a huge Anglagard's fan and was hoping to find similarities but yet differences. When I listened to it the first time around, I automatically felt in love with the sound, the voices, the different use of instruments and the melodies... wow the melodies ! Johan Brand, Erik and the other musicians outdid themselves and delivered what will probably be the best album of 2018 and one that will survive as one of the best progressive rock album of all time. If you are not sure after the first listen, give it a few spins, you won't regret !
Report this review (#2097562)
Posted Sunday, December 16, 2018 | Review Permalink
Rivertree
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
PSIKE Team & Band Submissions
5 stars Offshoot, new outfit, solo project? Whatever, it's your choice. Bass player Johan Brand, known as a founding member of the acclaimed nordic prog band Änglagård, on this occasion ventures to move on his own feet. More or less, as he also relies on Thomas Johnson (keyboards) and drummer Erik Hammarström concerning the recordings. Anyhow, a solo effort (fixed yet!) often enough would mean experimenting with other styles and instruments. Regularly you don't want to offer a rehash from your mothership duties. First of all, the symphonic fundament is still evident. Besides some rare familiar references this nevertheless is something really coherent, unique. Convince yourself.

Secondly, maybe not important for one or two, but the band is not named Johan Brand Project or so. But he's the main influencer and composer of course, what means more artistical oppportunities in general. It took 5 years in the making, finally it's worthwhile, a highly recommended result. Sacral, provided with many twists, turns, breaks, odd time signatures. Sounds like a tiny classical orchestra goes prog. With a restriction though that the regular strings are substituted by the keyboards. Some like-minded supporters are catering for flute, clarinet, saxophone, trumpet aso. Johan's daughter Miranda serves some sacred operetta singing, moreover solely the last song Bortglömda Gårdar shows some regular singing, in native language.

They are starting with the title track, and then, in the aftermath, there's practically no need for another statement anymore. Man! What a discovery! Especially when you are a keyboard aficionado. Of course the allmighty mellotron won't be missed. You definitely should not avoid these traps. Strong composing competence, no doubts. I'm nearly overchallenged due to this range of impressions. King Crimson and Zeuhl fans should pay attention too. That means about sixty unpredictable and gripping minutes of sheer beauty, a new milestone of scandinavian symphonic prog. Preferably take your headphones and simply enjoy! Despite some tough competition 'A Drop Of Light' is a strong contender for the album of the year 2018.

Report this review (#2107749)
Posted Monday, December 17, 2018 | Review Permalink
5 stars Prog lovers, let's unite to thank Sweden! Indeed, we owe a debt of gratitude to the musicians of this country. The northernity of a population of only ten million people generously fuelled the gradual renewal of the 1990s and continues to this day. Examples include LANDBERK, GALLEON, ANEKDOTEN, THE FLOWER KINGS, OPETH and, of course, ANGLAGARD. Although not very prolific, this last group has deeply marked the second half of fifty years of prog. In November 2012, the band's current bassist and multi-instrumentalist, JOHAN BRAND, saw the light of inspiration for the project that will be discussed in this column. It was a simple bass note written on a Fender Rhodes piano that was the trigger. This melodic line haunted him over and over again and germinated the piece that gave its name to this new group, ALL TRAPS ON EARTH. From the beginning, it was clear to him that this music would not present any compromise. In 2016, he was joined by ANGLAGARD's first keyboard player, THOMAS JOHNSON, who has since worked on the three most recent THIEVE'S KITCHEN albums. He has become an essential part of the group, whether in terms of composition, record production or keyboard skills. His contribution is also praised by JOHAN BRAND in the album's booklet. Subsequently, ERIC HAMMARSTRÖM proved to be a logical choice for drums and percussion. Not only is he the current drummer of ANGLAGARD but he has also worked for THE FLOWER KINGS and BRIGHTEYE BRISON, quite a good track record, thank you. And JOHAN is very proud of the contribution of his daughter, MIRANDA BRAND, to the vocals. Rightly so, not only because the young lady's talent is obvious but also because the use of her voice contributes greatly to the atmosphere and beauty of the album "A drop of light". Even though these four musicians master a wide range of instruments, they have received the help of five guest musicians including PHIL MERCY, the guitarist of THIEVE'S KITCHEN. The other four use their breath to play flutes, saxophones, trumpet and Co. "A drop of light" represents five years of patient and hard work and it shows. Believe me, these efforts and all this talent make what passes between our ears deeply pleasurable, nothing less.

ALL TRAPS ON EARTH is the art of music and not the art of compromise. We first discover this when we see that the sixty- three minutes of music are shared between only five pieces, four of which are more than thirteen minutes long. We also hear it because on this record, the word progressive takes on its full meaning. Except for the very beautiful and short "First Step", played on the piano and mellotron, it is impossible to describe the pieces individually as they are in flux and changing. Throughout the album, you will not find long solos featuring one instrument over another. Nevertheless, the musicians interventions can be noticed, learned guitar, varied and powerful drumming, roaring and expressive bass, brass instruments that follow or mark the rhythm or played in short solos judiciously seasoned, and so on. It goes without saying that the influence of ANGLAGARD is very present. But it is the family spirit that we notice rather than musical cloning. Indeed, the voice, the brass and some percussions, among others, give the album its own personality. However, one obvious common point is the massive use of the mellotron. Each listening brings the daily recommended dose for any prog lover! You will also find some KING CRIMSON in the sound, whether it is from the "Red" era or from "Islands" or "Lizard". The music can also be a little disturbing like a GOBLIN or a ANIMA MORTE, also from Sweden for the latter. Occasionally, I felt a little Canterburian shiver. MIRANDA BRAND's magnificent voice can remind us of ENIO MORRICONE's cinematographic universe and add, here and there, a touch of opera. The vocal mastery she shows for her young age is remarkable. The contribution of wind instruments, among others, also gives jazzy accents at times. Don't worry, the sum of all these influences is perfectly controlled and often rather subtle. The music on offer, although diverse and intense, is in no way chaotic. On the contrary, we feel a complete mastery and all the work behind these compositions.

Certainly, "A drop of light" is a satisfying listening experience, but to appreciate it for its true value, you will have to devote time and attention to it. Trying to make it a simple tapestry or background music will not bring the same satisfaction. The frequent changes in rhythms and atmospheres, the moments of sweetness and calm, the various uses of the many instruments require, or even command, active listening for a greater pleasure and understanding. This music and the enchantment it can provide works much better this way. Even the song sang in Swedish that ends the album works well. Inspired by improvisations on a Chamberlin electronic harpsichord, "Bortgl'mda G'rdar" was the second piece composed by JOHAN. It tells the story of beautiful old country houses and the families who supported them. In particular, we find the most rocking moments of the album, beautiful lines sung in unison by the father and his daughter, a profusion of instruments and a gentle, even poetic conclusion to this exciting, demanding but rewarding album that exceeds the listener's expectations. It goes without saying that ANGLAGARD lovers will find their happiness with the musical proposals of Mr. BRAND and his acolytes. After all, it's been six years since the band's last studio album was released. And it was only the third album in the studio. However, progressive music lovers who want to get off the beaten track or who are keen on enriching discoveries could find their best musical moments of 2018 with "A drop of light". Unless there is a big surprise by the end of the year, that is exactly what happened to me. MIRANDA, JOHAN, THOMAS, ERIC and Co., I sincerely thank you for offering us your light.

Report this review (#2107811)
Posted Monday, December 17, 2018 | Review Permalink
poslednijat_colobar
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Anglagard II

All Traps On Earth appears practically after a reunion between the Anglagard musicians Johan Brand and Thomas Johnson, following the departure of the latter from the renowned symphonic Swedish band Anglagard soon after the release of their third studio album - Viljans Oga (their best to date in my opinion). They both, together with the current Anglagard drummer Erik Hammarstrom, Brand's daughter Miranda Brand and a couple of wind instrumentalists bring this alternative Anglagard line-up to new heights and development. The sound of the musicians continues to evolve, reaching new musical fields with inimitable and complex abundance of wind instruments entwined with the typical intensive and saturated symphonic line of the band. All these wind instruments help the album to touch a beautiful fusion domain. Extremely complex, profound and accomplished songwriting typical of this bandmembers amazes. A Drop of Light could easily have served as the newest best Anglagard album if that moniker was to be used. In spite of having three wonderful masterpieces Anglagard musicians continue to make another steps forward. The Anglagard musicians maintain their respectful status of the legislators of post-70s symphonic prog. Do not miss it!

One of the most complexly accomplished and balanced albums of the 21st century!

Report this review (#2110293)
Posted Saturday, December 22, 2018 | Review Permalink
5 stars It's truly a masterwork. Symphonic prog at it's best and beyond. It takes you to a whole different world. It's great to see some people responsible for those really legendary achievments years ago still developing, pushing the boundaries and making it all fresh and alive. I'am grateful to see that kind of approach. It's a lifetime devotion that makes this music possible to happen. A first song, a self-titled one (or the band was song-titled? ;) ) sets the standard for the entire album. Starts with some anxious ostinato on keyboards, and overdubbed vocals of Miranda. Mellotron joins in and you get to Epilog territory. Soon entire rhythm section gets in and provides some classic prog kick ass. It's basically nuts. Very intense playing. Some unique sounds come up along with all the well known prog instruments. Very rich sound, a lot of themes, extremely wide instrumental palette. Few different horns, each one well introduced in an appropriate section. But for most of the time music is really close to �nglagård. Which is not that obvious when it's gets to another tune. Magmatic Warning provides some distinct vibes. Extended trumpet solo and gentle Miranda's vocals make it a little different. Guess there was some Magma influence to it. Beautiful! Omen also features very nice themes, that remind of some cinematic composers. Short but amazing instrumental piece First Step driven by piano and Mellotrons leads to a final piece which appears to be a song. Bortglöma Gårdar takes you through the whole spectrum of different moods once again, and ends gently. And makes you want to comeback. I really recommend this amazing piece of art to any music fan. And every progressive rock lover must get one without a doubt!
Report this review (#2110871)
Posted Monday, December 24, 2018 | Review Permalink
5 stars Absolutely stunning! I've enjoyed Änglagård in the past, but this spin-off is something completely different! The complexity of the compositions and their brilliant execution by master musicians has me nearly in tears as I listen to this unfolding masterpiece. If you haven't heard it, imagine a grand orchestra composed of the King Crimson lineup on Lizard, with all the brass and wind instruments, the King Crimson lineup of Red, with the angular movement and thick mellotron and bass lines, and the La Nouba soundtrack from Cirque du Soleil with its operatic, often wordless vocals and you'll start to imagine what this album sounds like. I'm floored. Five stars only because I can't give it six!
Report this review (#2111384)
Posted Wednesday, December 26, 2018 | Review Permalink
5 stars Amazing album. Tough experience, to be honest. The band explores quite a lot of different areas, with wide and deep range of dynamics. From beautiful quiet symphonic melancholy to some screaming loud overdriven schizophrenia. Back and forth. Frequently. And it's rather gloomy all the time. Atmosphere of the album might be a little overwhelming. But the content itself is no less than amazing. It's actually a serious modern composition. There are many, many instruments, all used on purpose. There are all kinds of keyboards: Mellotrons (tons of them!), organs, pianos, synths... There is an entire wind section, all basic rock instruments and vocals and some orchestral percussion. All of these tools are used wisely, and it sounds so much bigger than just a band. There are so many textures, odd time grooves, breathtaking melodies, unexpected turns of events. Complexity is just outstanding. Pieces are very coherent. It's also produced extremely well. Sounds like years of hard work obviously. But most of all, there is some magic to it. It's a soulful, passionate, rich beautiful music. A fable from one of the darkest countries on earth. It's a five stars album, out of the question.
Report this review (#2111402)
Posted Wednesday, December 26, 2018 | Review Permalink
siLLy puPPy
COLLABORATOR
PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
5 stars By far, THE best prog rock album of 2018!

There's nothing like a good traditional prog album in the modern day. While there are many brilliant new forks in the road in the ever expanding musical universe that constitute progressive rock, there's something very comforting about the moments when a band with connections to the past takes a traditional true and tried stylistic approach and upgrades it for the modern era. Such is the case of a prog revival band that hit the scene in 1991 and was one of the major bands that launched the prog revival of the 90s which together with such acts as Dream Theater took the genre to new levels and an increased awareness of the musical history from which they stemmed. I'm talking about Änglagård of course, the slick and complex Swedish outfit that revisited the past, honed the chops of their primary influences which included King Crimson, Genesis, Gentle Giant, Trettioåriga Kriget and Van Der Graaf Generator just to name a few and concocted a unique and diverse musical amalgam of satisfying retro prog which assisted the once mighty genre back onto the world's stage.

While Änglagård was one of the primary movers and shakers in the new prog revival scene, the band after releasing only two albums ("Hybris" and "Epilog") seemed to disappear as quickly as it came but reappeared out of nowhere almost a decade later with the third album "Viljans öga." Once again the band took a hiatus after playing peek-a-boo with the public but this time didn't come back with a followup and rabid prog fans have been left in the dark ever since as to whether the band will ever emerge from the shadow world and release a much wanted fourth album. Come 2018 and still no new Änglagård album but perhaps the next best thing. One of the members, namely Johan Brand (aka Johan Högberg) had planned as far back as 2012 to release some sort of solo album but never quite had a firm grasp as to how it would actually sound and what sort of stylistic approach he would adopt. With some rudimentary pieces in place, the project sort of gestated slowly until some new developments occurred.

By 2016, two more members of Änglagård, keyboardist Thomas Johnson and percussionist Erik Hammarström found a common interest with Brand in taking the classic Änglagård and adding new elements that were missing from the original team. The intended solo album became the band ALL TRAPS ON EARTH which like the band from which it spawned, pays tribute to what came before and adapts the classic sound to the modern era. The first album A DROP OF LIGHT sort of picks up where"Viljans öga" left off except that this time around, the band expanded to include a wealth of new musical styles in the mix with an unfathomable number of instrumental overdrive woven into the musical tapestry to create one of the most vibrant and exciting retro prog albums of the year 2018. Joining this power trio from the once mighty band of symphonic prog wizards is the inclusion of Brand's own daughter Miranda Brand who contributes an amazing delivery of operatic wordless vocals that add an angelic human touch that was mostly absent from Änglagård's classic sound but in the process evokes prog's heyday Canterbury Scene acts such as Hatfield & The North.

A DROP OF LIGHT despite the darkened album cover art actually evokes a lighthearted feel to the album's 63 and a half minute run. Much like the classic band that it evolved from, ALL TRAPS ON EARTH unleashes an epic sounding prog album of four lengthy tracks with a fifth tiny two minute inclusion that serves as a breather amongst the four sprawling adventurous behemoth tracks that exceed the thirteen minute mark with the opening "All Traps On Earth" clocking in over a staggering 18 minutes. Much in the vein of classic Änglagård, the music is very much centered in a classic symphonic prog setting that focuses on complex melodies of a classical nature and then forcefully develops them into sprawling prog monstrosities with a thick dense atmospheric overcast as time signature rich angularities march into infinity as they deliver stellar instrumental interplay and exquisite virtuosic workouts while supplemental instruments find their ways into the nooks and crannies. Yes, the similarities are stark and there is no doubt from which great band this new creation has emerged but there are differences as well!

Unlike the classic Änglagård playbook, ALL TRAPS ON EARTH embellishes the classic prog underpinning with a wealth of timbres and tempo changes. Firstly of all, there is very much a zeuhl martial rhythmic influence that protrudes into the mix at various stages but not the in your face sort of Teutonic Magma style, but rather the avant-prog infused style of the one hit prog wonder Dün. Likewise A DROP OF LIGHT finds jazzy touches with the help of stellar saxophones, trumpets, flugelhorns and clarinets. In fact there are five guest musicians that not only provide the horns but include flutes, recorders and extra guitars. The instruments performed by the power trio alone number in the dozens with every kind of organ, mellotron, keyboard and piano sound finding its way into the flow of things. Percussion is well tended to with the extra gusto of marimba, xylophone, glockenspiel, crotales, timpani, wood block, tam tam and Mike Oldfield's favorite of all, tubular bells! The tapestry of this music is woven in a much more diverse manner with the instrumentation and voluminous vocal grace of Miranda Brand's presence which takes this to a similar but distantly related sonic reality. While Änglagård could be cold and detached, ALL TRAPS ON EARTH finds an easier emotional connection with not only angular rhythmic swirls pounding away at the senses but sensual tender moments that offer easier on the ears periods of breathing room.

While clearly tailored for the modern era, there is no doubt that ALL TRAPS ON EARTH is a traditional retro prog album through and through. Through the lens of the Änglagård heritage, ALL TRAPS ON EARTH captures the initial 70s influences that made that band so retro on its own terms. Tucked into the edgy and complex nature of A DROP OF LIGHT are the usual classic prog influences such as King Crimson, Genesis, Van Der Graaf Generator as well as the more alienating zeuhl and avant-prog sounds mixed with the warmth of the Canterbury Scene. The music can be dark and forbidding as well as enlightening and elegiac all within the same composition and then moves onto more angular constructs but the overall vibe of A DROP OF LIGHT is as written on the packaging sticker "magnificent symphonic prog from Sweden." While my main form of modern prog entertainment often comes from the unfettered experimentations that pushes the genre into a wider array of expansion, there's no doubt that a perfectly executed slice of traditional prog that evokes the forefathers' master plan can be as exciting as the most cutting edge unorthodoxies. In recent years, we have been finding a new strain of retro prog reaching the qualitative magnanimity of their influences as evidenced by 2017's outstanding Wobbler album. ALL TRAPS ON EARTH is here the very next year to prove that it was indeed no fluke and that a new generation of classic prog is back. For all the hype that surrounds certain albums, many trends seem to only attract a portion of the prog world but every once in a while an album like A DROP OF LIGHT descends from the heaven's above as a musical unifying factor which in this case signifies the undisputed champion of best prog album of 2018! Hallelujah!

Report this review (#2111426)
Posted Wednesday, December 26, 2018 | Review Permalink
5 stars From my review at Sonic Perspectives, dated November 17, 2018:

As a reviewer, it pains me to compare this album to Änglagård, as it deserves to live and breathe in its own space and have its own identity. But let's face it, most people curious about this album are probably already familiar with the musicians who play on it, and want to know how it stacks up against the "day job" band of its creators. That said, any fan of Änglagård needs to buy this album. It's not exactly the same thing, but it will scratch the itch left by the six years between this writing and when the last proper Änglagård album was released. But if someone is not familiar with any of the music discussed here, it could work in reverse? start here, and see what you think, and if you enjoy it, then you have a great back-catalog adventure ahead of you. But, ultimately, the bottom line here is this was a monumental work taken on by Johan Brand and it is musical, beautiful, and almost akin to romantic composers of yesterday in its scope. In a 2018 full of insane amounts of top-notch releases in the genre, this one might fly under the radar a bit but is no less important than the big names selling out Royal Albert Hall. It deserves to be heard, pondered, and shared.

"A Drop of Light" is admittedly gloomy at times, but it's full of dark beauty, as well. The amount of music happening on this record is almost too much to be contained within two channels, but it's excellent from start to finish. It might be a bit too thick to wade through for fans of more crossover prog or neo-prog, like someone used to drinking Bud Light attempting a Guinness, but the destination is worth the journey, for those bold enough to try. Highly recommended, and I would give the album a 4.5 out of 5, which I'll round up to 5 here.

Report this review (#2111437)
Posted Wednesday, December 26, 2018 | Review Permalink
DamoXt7942
FORUM & SITE ADMIN GROUP
Avant/Cross/Neo/Post Teams
5 stars At the end of 2018, I've stumbled upon a surprising, amazing album of ALL TRAPS ON EARTH, that was created mainly by three 'nglag'rders (Erik HAMMERSTR'M, Thomas JOHNSON, and Johan BRAND). Veiled in a dark, depressive sleeve full of deep meaning, the soundscape in the creation goes forward as if it would absorb their previous world into the core or as if it would release their glory out from themselves and let them jump over completely. The melody lines or the rhythmic sentences have got more complicated and more dynamic than the Swedish symphonic legend, but you can feel vividly 'nglag'rd's atmosphere and their methodological sound construction along with such a critical, chilling artistic structure. Every track except the fourth "First Step" is quite long (over ten minute) but delightful time would be spent just a moment, let me say.

Anyway listen. The first self-titled track is the masterpiece, everything. All instruments can get synchronized and harmonized perfectly, under such a complex melodic / rhythmic situation. Cool, crazy, and powerful voices by Miranda (Johan's sister) sometimes sounds like a brilliant sunflower and sometimes like a dead dry rose. Wind instruments by some guest session musicians work like special collaborators without any blur nor distortion. A similar mention above can be done in the second track "Magmatic Warning" with slight delicate and fragile sentences in the beginning, and serious parts (each of which cannot be predicted at all) coming one after another. Heavier, deeper, and more introspective sound should be passing by, overall.

In the middle one "Omen" you can feel directly 'nglag'rd's similarity. Intensive, ardent, and magnificent wind instrument sounds are pretty effective and energetic. Slender, fragile Miranda's scat should move you to tears. Beautifully crystallized symphony based upon deep, heavy turf can stream comfortably. "First Step" is quite too short for them but quite condensed to still, safe and sound. You could be releived for a moment. "Bortgl'mda G'rdar" is the best epilogue for the artists and the audience. Along with fantastic chorus and harmony, their sound dogma is told from the beginning until the end. Quiet, gentle moments amongst hard, metallic phrases ... upon the recording in the studio, they might have looked deeply into your inner mind I imagine?

In conclusion, this album should climb up to the top of 2018 progressive rock scene. How awesome.

Report this review (#2112302)
Posted Saturday, December 29, 2018 | Review Permalink
Nogbad_The_Bad
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl & Eclectic Team
4 stars Well this was a pleasant surprise at the end of the year, good solid retro prog with a darker zeuhly feel from the Anglagard alums. Not sure it's bringing anything particularly new to the scene but a good enjoyable album. Not much more you can ask for. Recommended for anyone into Anglagard or similar dark symph instrumental music. The vocals tend to be of the wailing variety which fits the music well.

The core of the band is Johan Brand (keyboards, bass & vcals), Thomas Johnson (keyboards), and Erik Hammarström (drums and percussion), with Miranda Brand on vocals. There are a bunch of guest musicians playing horns, reeds, guitar and the like.

Report this review (#2112922)
Posted Monday, December 31, 2018 | Review Permalink
1 stars The main qualm I have with this album is that it adds nothing to what has already been done. There's nothing innovative about this album. It's not very progressive in that way.

This album is very classically-driven and can get quite boring in places. Nothing sticks with me after listening to this. The only track I especially like is "Bortglömda Gårdar", which I would give a 7/10. The rest all kind of blends together and does nothing for me.

This album was once at 10, a position way too high. It's been slowly falling since, which is restoring my faith in this site. While the music is good, it's nothing groundbreaking. Maybe I'm just not getting it, but I've given it more than a few listens and while it is strong compositionally, it's just not nearly as good as so many other albums and artists. Above everything by Gentle Giant? This beats "Relayer"? "Moving Pictures"!?

I also find "Hybris" to be a stronger album than this one, and even "Hybris" is ranked way too high on this site.

Report this review (#2113464)
Posted Tuesday, January 1, 2019 | Review Permalink
rdtprog
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Heavy / RPI / Symphonic Prog Team
5 stars This one came as a surprise just like the Hybris album 25 years ago. The project is the work of a founding member, bassist of Anglagard with other members of the same band and guest musicians. The result is a new kind of Anglagard with more intricate song structures and an atmosphere that sound like a movie, remind of Goblin at times. If the guitar has a minor role, the music is so rich with other instruments: mellotron, flute, sax, trumpet etc., that you don't suffer the lack of guitar. All this instrumentation is accompanied by the voices of Johan Brand's daughter Miranda who gives a dreamy atmosphere to the music. The symphonic music here takes the usual mood changes but with even more complex and unusual song structures, some light jazz, Canterbury tones, and avant-garde music. The songs can hit you with some sudden majestic passage that is embellished by the sound of a new instrument. This album sound if Anglagard had left the door open to the world and invite many people to the family using all the instrumentation you can use in the prog rock genre to craft a masterpiece that you learn to discover his great beauty with each listens.
Report this review (#2117336)
Posted Friday, January 11, 2019 | Review Permalink
3 stars Arrangements well though out albeit a bit unsophisticated and stark in certain cliche ways. In many ways this music is a parody of itself with its machine-like wandering and familiar voicings and textures. If you love this kind of stuff you will find it highly enjoyable because it is very well done. But it is mining old ground and such herky-jerky asymmetrical play is soon intellectually boring unless the arrangement does something dramatic, especially in terms of density and texture. Its really a form of what I call Progzak, doing all the sort of instrumental proggy things without much sense of overall structure other than certain head banging jaunt thru whatever-feels-good-changes.

The quiet sections are by far the most interesting and I'd like to hear whole pieces developed out of these. There is definitely a gift here. Some nice sounds at times and overall a clear moodiness that makes one think of cold northern landscapes. But then when the drums and big textures return I feel a bit slapped around.

Well recorded and easy to listen to if you can dig it. Some of the quiet sections deserve 4 stars.

Report this review (#2118912)
Posted Wednesday, January 16, 2019 | Review Permalink
jamesbaldwin
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars This is the twentieth review of "A Drop Of Light" which until now has only 19 reviews (but in total 207 ratings). And it is, with so few reviews, at the twelfth place in the prog album ranking of all time, after "Fragile" and before "Larks Tongue in Aspic" (thirteenth), followed by "Nursery Crime" (fourteenth). I must confess that this fact gives me the creeps. The summit is a few positions higher up. Do I really listen to an absolute masterpiece of the history of progressive rock? Is "A Drop Of Light" able to keep up with the greatest masterpieces of Yes, King Crimson, Genesis (and Pink Floyd and Van der Graaf)? I don't know, I usually wait two or three years before writing a review, because I prefer to "settle" an album for various seasons. But with this review I want to start writing my impression on the contemporary prog, knowing that I could change my mind on this Lp in the next future. So what is my impression? Well, I can't say Ihad the thunderbolt.

This music, very cerebral and convoluted, very composite, seems to me a display of compositional and executive ability, of original arrangements, rather than the result of clear, crystalline inspiration. I don't discuss the high class of the initial suite "All Traps on Earth" (18 minutes, vote 8), the initial lyrical opera tone (Miranda Brand), the orchestral passages that mix lyric singing, obsessive rhythm and suond almost heavy metal. We are dealing with a very eclectic symphonic rock, the insertion of wind instruments (saxes, trumpet and flute, I guess) is very original, and the frenzied rhythm seems a race to want to surprise at all costs, but what is affected is the pathos, the emotion, which has no time to develop because the mind remains dazed.

The second song ("Magmatic Warning", 16 minutes: another suite, almost entirely instrumental, vote 7,5), which begins with the grand piano (Johan Brad, the factotum: composer and arranger and producer), soon follows the orchestral atmosphere at a frenetic pace (with more melodic flashes) than the previous one. Listening to it, I begin to realize that the pieces I like the most are the less orchestral ones, where the most "noble" instruments are heard: saxophone, flute, clarinet, trumpet. There are various enjoyable moments, but on the whole the piece lasts too much, the last 5 minutes are dragged along, save for a jolt towards the end, when the tone becomes more solemn and the lyric (mezzo-soprano?) voice of Miranda enters. The beginning of "Omen (13 minutes, vote 7,5/8), again in lyric style, recalls the King Crimson's "Pictures Of A City" (as already some moments of the first song). When the orchestral part arrives together with the lyrical voice, I can't deny that I seem to have already heard those musical moments, and after a while I get the impression of listening to something extremely verbose and devoid of a central melody, of a bearing structure. Again, the less orchestral pieces seem to me when the wind instruments peek out. I begin to think that the album is logorroic, hyperproduced and formed by continuous instrumental variations on an absent central theme. These critical observations don't indicate that the music is bad or poor: on the contrary, the music is high class and extremely refined, but does not reach, in my opinion, the top of excellence, just for the reasons mentioned.

After a track of two minutes ("First Step"), perhaps the most melodic piece on the album, conducted by Johan Brand's piano, arrives the fourth and last suite, "Bortglömda Gårdar" (14 minutes), with, strange, a vocal incipit. Maybe this is the better track of the album (vote 8+), thanks to the melodic moments, the trumpet solo (there are many instruments that I love in this album, the arrangement is really sumptuous and composite, but no instrument makes a real unforgettable solo), the vocals passages. "Crescendo ending".

Overall we are between three and four stars. For the moment I remain cautious.

Vote album: 8. Rating: Three (and a half) stars.

Report this review (#2119532)
Posted Saturday, January 19, 2019 | Review Permalink
5 stars I usually don't review music, but after listening to this album for a couple of weeks, I feel that I have to write a few lines. For this is really amazingly good!

My expectations were quite high when I two years ago heard that Änglagårds bassist Johan Brand was writing music for a solo project. And the expectations have really been fulfilled!

All Traps On Earth consists of Johan Brand on bass, keyboards, vocals etc., Thomas Johnson on piano and various keyboards, Erik Hammarström on drums and various percussions, and Johan's daughter Miranda Brand on song. All of them are excellent musicians. In addition, there are several guest musicians.

Listening to A Drop Of Light is like stepping into a magical world where just about anything can happen. You are taken through a varied musical landscape with beautiful melodies, jazzy influences, sometimes almost slightly ghosty moods, alternating with more intense and "crazy" parts.

Sometimes the music sounds like sunlight that seals through the foliage in a forest glade, sometimes you can almost hear the outrageous troll stomp and tumble around, followed by something wonderfully jazzy, or something that could have been well suited as film music ... Yes, it is difficult to describe the music, and the experience is certainly different for each one.

The music is varied, complex and intricate, not least rhythmic. Themes are repeated, varied and developed, intensive parties move into quieter and more airy. You can hear influences from classical prog, jazz, RIO, Zeuhl, avant-prog, opera, film music and modern classical music. Maybe even a little Swedish folk tone. Of course one can also hear the kinship with Änglagård, but All Traps On Earth is not a "Änglagård clone", it is something completely different. Although the music spans such a large field, the work hangs together and it never feels sprawling. The instrumentation is rich with lots of wonderful mellotrons and other keyboards, various woodwind instruments, percussions etc.

Miranda Brand's rich alto voice gives an extra dimension to the music. The song is often wordless, ie the voice is used as an instrument among all others, which is very effective. There is only on one track - the beautiful "Bortglömda Gårdar" - with lyrics.

"A Drop Of Light" is a great album that should attract many more listeners than the traditional prog rock listeners. It may not be as easily accessible to the unaccustomed listener, but the album grows the more you listen, I promise!

The entire album is out for listening to Spotify, but I suggest that you should buy it. I am very grateful that there are still musicians who put their whole soul down in doing this ambitious and uncompromising music. Well composed and well produced. This is definitely the Album of the year (2018) for me!

Report this review (#2121568)
Posted Saturday, January 26, 2019 | Review Permalink
4 stars "Great but quirky"

Website info: "All Traps on Earth is the name chosen by Anglagard's founding member and bassist Johan Brand for this project of his, involving keyboard player Thomas Johnson and drummer and percussionist Erik Hammarstrom from the same 'source band'. They are joined by Johan's talented daughter, Miranda Brand on vocals, as well as a plethora of guests from the Swedish scene. Almost five years of painstaking work and an obsessive care and attention even for the smallest details have led to the creation of an exceptional work."

Inspired by the cascades of euphoric reviews and praise from fellow progheads, today I have listened to this album. To be honest, with a healthy amount of scepsis. Because I am not very much into experimental and too varied music. Well, after a few listening sessions I have to conclude that this music evokes very mixed feellings. One hand I am blown away by the very compelling and dynamic symphonic rock parts, soaked with majestic Mellotron choirs. And the muscians are outstanding, with awesome interplay. But on the other hand I don't feel comfortable with the multiple turns into RIO, avant-garde and experimental, or pure jazz interludes. And I can't stand the high pitched opera-like female vocals. Listening to All Traps On Earth is also like listening to King Crimson their many faces, from 24-carat symphonic rock to strong avant-garde overtones, the hints are obvious, along others like Goblin, Zeuhl and Canterbury.

So if you are up to a blend of symphonic rock (like first Anglagard and King Crimson) and a variety of styles and wide range of instruments, this is a spectacular album to discover. Personally it's too quirky for me, and I don't like trumpet, flugelhorn and high pitched opera-like female vocals. But what an adventurous and daring music, like Italian prog sensation DAAL, prog is still alive anno 2019!

Report this review (#2132609)
Posted Wednesday, January 30, 2019 | Review Permalink
5 stars "Rare Masterpiece Alert", everyone. This one took a little time to digest. Anglagard fans like me were drawn to this album, almost by instinct. Over time you learn to realize just how brilliant this album really is.

Painstaking attentio to detail. Amazing ear for pure analog sound. Outstanding arrangements. Marvelous transitions and compositions. Super-complex musical thinking. A challange to every prog listener.

This album bites your soul away. The beauty of utter musical terror will blow your mind, if you mind is still alive. These Swedish masters are just as perfectionist, as pure, as inspiring and as melodic as Anglagard.

"A Drop of Light" is much more than another European art-rock project. It's a spellbinding exercise in musical philosophy. It's dark but full of depth and creativity. It posseses all the necessary elements for a thrilling listening experience.

You can spot the MAGMA influences pretty quickly, but this is no MAGMA clone. You can spot the Anglagard refrences pretty quickly but this one is an original work of art. Once you reach the last piece (Bortglömda Gårdar), your brain goes places far away, like a cinematic adventure. Sung in Swedish, once translated to English, you get caught up in the immortal lyrics and ultra-beautiful vocal work.

What can I say? albums like these don't come often. Maybe once in 3, 4, 5 years. Johan Brand and his pals have done it, and it sure wasn't easy for anyone of them. The painful work is clearly self-evident. I bow down to this amazing achievement, which came from nowhere. A perfect storm, it's everything you can ask for.

Report this review (#2138633)
Posted Friday, February 22, 2019 | Review Permalink
5 stars Devastating, powerful, driven and full of beautiful moments.

These days I rarely have time to write reviews but for this record I had to make an exception. I purchased the it almost as soon as it came out and listened to it a couple of times. My initial thought was; this is intense. It had all the elements that makes a music great for me. It took additional concentrated listening sessions to familiarize myself with all the melody lines and the intricate structure of the compositions. Now I reached a point where this record is firmly in my ALL TIME top 5 best records list.

Last time I was this excited about a piece of music was in 2009 when Barbaro (Ma Non Troppo) was released by Present. Since then there has been several notable releases but nothing has reached to the top 5, "all time" level for me.

Musical structure is complex; although it incorporates many musical styles, they are unified into seamless compositions. Transitions between musical styles are exceptionally smooth. I think this is so because the transitions between various instruments are so flawless that everything fits together in absolute perfect harmony with the musical structure.

Musicianship is superb. Erik Hammarström's drumming is especially outstanding. At times bass woodwind instruments are so uncommonly aggressive, it gives you goose pimples. Base guitar is the tent pole where everything else hangs from. I love its fuzzy, distorted, in your face sound. Even the supporting guest musicians are all masters of their instruments. It is a pleasure to put the headphones on and take the music apart instrument by instrument and appreciate the skilful communication between players throughout intricate and complex compositions.

Due to the musicians' origins, it is hard to not discuss Anglagard in this context. Anglagard is one of my favorite bands and I am very familiar with their sparse discography. Yes there are moments where you can recognize the Anglagard sound and its style but All Traps On Earth is much more complex, aggressive, dynamic and incorporates a huge variety of musical styles and influences into a single organic sound. I listened A Drop of Light and then immediately switched to Viljans öga. When I compared these two masterpieces back to back a few things stood out for me: Anglagard was way too melodic, it had many pastoral passages which went on much longer than anything in A Drop of light and it had, excessive amount of flute. I think A Drop of Light could not possibly be the next step from Viljans öga. It is more like a bifurcation occurring at Anglagard before Viljans öga was released and now Viljans öga and A Drop of Light are in a parallel but completely separate musical paths.

I also very much enjoyed the sound of this recording. The closest I could come to explaining what the recording sound like is like is perhaps calling it "Dusty" as in ray of sun traversing a dusty room. I really like this sound quality instead of crystal clear recordings; it suits the music absolutely perfectly.

I cannot conclude my review without mentioning what a significant contribution Miranda Brand makes to this record. Her tone and immaculate delivery is significantly contributing to the success of this record.

Report this review (#2150149)
Posted Wednesday, February 27, 2019 | Review Permalink
Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars All Traps On Earth isn't Anglagard, but it's terribly close to it, with multiple members of the band joining with Miranda Brand (daughter of Anglagard bassist Johan Brand) adding an important extra texture in the form of her impressive vocal talents. Without distinct words, this is very much in the realm of voice-as-instrument, which might prompt some listeners to draw comparisons to classic Magma, whereas musically this very much feels like part of the Anglagard family tree, with the mid-1970s King Crimson influences perhaps peeping through a little more prominently than usual.

The total package isn't quite as groundbreaking as Anglagard's early works were, but it remains an impressive accomplishment and establishes this side project as a force to watch out for, should they decide to lay further traps for unwary listeners.

Report this review (#2184895)
Posted Tuesday, April 23, 2019 | Review Permalink
5 stars After several several spins of this beautiful album, I'm ready to say it's a 5 star masterpiece. There's a nearly unmatched attention to detail as well as many layers of vast, varying instrumentation throughout every song. Pair this with flawless production and you got a great recipe. I love that the songs aren't afraid to strip down and get very quiet developing into these very flowing, somewhat rustic feeling sections. This album sort of takes what Anglagard has done in the past (worth noting 3/4ths of the members of this band are from Anglagard), and adds several elements of Avant Garde and Zeuhl, as well as a much greater emphasis on symphonic instrumentation. Specifically in the very abundant use of woodwinds throughout. A lot of the music is just straight up menacing and carries this heavy feeling of doom. If you're looking for something happy and cheerful, this ain't it. But if you're looking for some dark, heavy, mindbending, mellotron soaked symphonic somewhat retro prog, this is simply the cream of the crop. I purchased the $40 double LP on a bit of a whim, and initially it was a lot to take in. However, the more I came back to it the more I realized that each listen revealed so much new stuff to pick up on. My favorite track is the opening title track, but this isn't to discredit the rest, as I believe all that tracks are nearly equally as great as one another. The opening minutes of buildup just gets my heart racing, and when it finally pays off its like getting smacked in the face by a brick.

5 stars

Report this review (#2234158)
Posted Sunday, June 30, 2019 | Review Permalink
5 stars A Drop Of Light is a masterpiece that I would call an instant classic. Listening to it, I would not change a note. Also, I would rate it higher than the three Anglagard releases. I just enjoy it more, so that is what I am using as a metric for scoring the album. Since All Traps on Earth is a spin off from a couple Anglagard members, it is very similar in style, presentation, and song structure. With only 5 tracks, A Drop Of Light features four long songs and one short song to complete the album. As expected, the musicianship is amazing, and the compositions are top notch. It feels like someone put layers and layers of love into making this music. It is a must own for everyone that loves progressive rock, and especially the complex brooding King Crimson style of dark aggression.
Report this review (#2288127)
Posted Wednesday, December 18, 2019 | Review Permalink
2 stars Alright, deciding to rewrite this review too, but I'm not changing my overall thoughts on the album. I still believe that this album is fairly lazy of the bassist of Anglagärd to not change much about the style of either band he is in. I also think that Anglagärd did this style of music better, but am I going to give those two opinions as my review? After further consideration, I decided to listen to it over again and was still not compelled. This album is good for those prog fans.who do enjoy Anglagärd but for me, I would like to see something a bit more fresh, something the bassist can do with his skills without trying to sound too much like the other band. I can understand why people see this review as lazy but try to see where I am coming from. As a musician, I am not going to write similar material in all the bands I am in, I'm going to want to try something different for each band. That's why in my mind, this isn't much different than Anglagärd, therefore I cannot give this a higher rating. I tried to enjoy album since the day I got it, but it seemed that the vocals and the overall sound of the album just didn't work for me nearly as well as something like Hybris.

Hopefully this new review gives you some food for thought, and maybe you will see my side. You don't have to agree with me, but I cannot give this album anything higher than 3 stars, because that simply would be lying about my actual thoughts and i would rather be honest about this album. There are some decent moments every here and there but it's an inconsistent album with some mindless instrumentation, nothing emotional, and the singing to me is probably the worst thing about this album. I'm not trying to insult anyone, but I think this album could've been a lot better.

Report this review (#2377542)
Posted Wednesday, May 6, 2020 | Review Permalink
Menswear
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Return to the Haunted Woods.

Attention all seekers of sonic goodies, we have a solid contender here. Anglagard....er...sorry, All Traps is more or less the same canvas as their brother Anglagard. And that's good news. Really good. Althought my scandinavian phase is behind me (13 years ago already), it feels nice to plunge again into a chilly country again.

Althought it's not carbon copy (about 70% the same), All Traps are shooting more brass\ woodwinds jazzy moments in the mix. Many times I thought of King Crimsonesque saxes and mellotrons. This time, and fortunately, they've thrown in a new element: haunting feminine 'Aaahs', making some moments pretty vampiresque, to say the least. But basically, it's pretty much the formula we all know and love: haunted woods on a very cloudy, windy day.

Even though All Traps sports all the ingredients that made it's counterpart Anglagard a treat, it also carries the same flaws: every track sounds the same. I was hoping a bit of variety in the textures, but no. Again, I feel that I'm listening to one continuous track for an hour. Same glockenspiel, flute, organ, Hackett guitar, Ricky bass, jerky back and forth rhythms, making at times the album quite monotonous, a long trip with the same landscapes. Some like it. Some find it annoying.

To Each His Own.

Report this review (#2378916)
Posted Sunday, May 10, 2020 | Review Permalink

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