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Moon Safari - Himlabacken Vol. 2 CD (album) cover


Moon Safari

Symphonic Prog

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5 stars Yes!! I've been waiting for this album all this year, and all these years. I remember Moon Safari was one of the first prog bands I discovered and instantly became one of my favorites.

Himlabacken Vol. 2, 10 years after Vol. 1, the wait was worth it. What a great record, the first 3 tracks are killer, maintaining the Moon Safari classic sound, but with some aggressive and heavier moments, like in "Between the Devil and Me", an excellent track. "198X" and "Emma, Come On" are happier, what we love about Moon Safari first albums. I really love the 80s vibe that this album has in general, you can notice that in the first tracks.

We continue with "A Lifetime to Learn How to Love" a beautiful ballad, really calm and peaceful, and then "Beyond the Blue", I was expecting something a cappella, but this song really surprised me, as it has a dark and medieval vibe and a nice orchestration. "Blood Moon" continue in that 80s line, a cool song, before the epic kicks in.

"Teen Angel Meets the Apocalypse". What can we say about this epic masterpiece. Totally different from other MS epics, I think this was an excellent artistic challenge for them, going into more symphonic and heavier moments, with a perfect orchestration.

And after all this progressive extravaganza, another calm song "Forever, for You" more in the old style of Moon Safari, and the closing track "Epilog", another excellent choir ballad, sung in Swedish, beautiful perfect finale, this album may be the best album of 2023.

Report this review (#2972230)
Posted Friday, December 8, 2023 | Review Permalink
5 stars MOON SAFARI ten years to have the sequel to 'Himlabacken' they released their 5th opus with Moog, angry guitars and heavy rhythm from the 80s of the prog metal movement.

"198X (Heaven Hill)" what the intro of 'Jump'... well almost, nevertheless an energetic intro which surprises and you need the vocals to feel the Yessian hints; melodic, fresh, airy title, catchy choirs and beautiful modern opening. "Between the Devil and Me" aerial, intimate, latent, prog intro; Mikael's drums put things in order, the title reminding me of TOTO; a cheerful Scandinavian AOR prog in fact, not a prog in the vein of a FLOWER KINGS no wonder that Tomas their keyboardist followed them; final return more prog metal with a good riff and the enjoyable guitar solo on fat synths, confusion and musical clarity. "Emma, Come On" on a JETHRO TULL, a MAGELLAN, a boosted YES, a MOON SAFARI whatever; short title nervous and showing their pleasure of meeting again. "A Lifetime to Learn How to Love" intimate melodic tune for a symphonic rise culminating halfway with Mikael's explosive rap; the melody is intended to be grandiloquent, an immersion in vintage prog without the heavy reminiscences of the 'déjà vu' genre, here it is the opportunity to start with grandiose, quite metallic tunes which give the pep like the Gilmourian solo of Pontus. "Beyond the Blue" short title, symphonic interlude to be taken as an anthem with choirs of eunuchs or angels and rolling drums, wonderful, introducing "Blood Moon" returning to a radio rock edit, understand a cheerful title, played easily, the recording is of high quality; fresh sounds, on YOSO from the 90s, bouncy, the thing where there is nothing to throw away, an air of something already heard too.

"Teen Angel Meets the Apocalypse" settle in; the prog title without a doubt; there it is reminiscent of FLOWER KINGS plus symphonic prog, opera in the distance for the expressive choirs; a slow scroll of notes, breaks and other drawers giving pride of place to the musicians' instrumentation with this baroque intro and this solo that the great Yngwie would have loved to do; the most this dithyrambic nine-minute break which starts with a crazy Neal MORSE, with a heavy riff; difficult to translate given the mergers, here's THE BEATLES, here's ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA, here's YES again, the BUGGLES, it's up to you to dive in; Be careful, I'm talking about musical overtones, but it's really a big MOON SAFARI playing here. "Forever, for You" acoustic guitar-piano before going on an attractive ballad with grandiloquent choirs and intense orchestration including an expressive sax; the good side is that it is attractive without pause, without this liability that many current groups have to overplay endlessly, causing any weariness; nay here, to their credit. "Epilog" with church organ for the solemn hymn and crystal clear acoustics to close.

Report this review (#2972255)
Posted Friday, December 8, 2023 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars With each and every attempt to listen to this album I find myself so repelled by the overly familiar, overly saccharine, overly non-progressive foundational aspects of the music (every song!) that I have to abort. I try again and the same response. The thought of having to listen to 70 minutes of this drivel leaves me depressed and angry: "How will I be able to reclaim my wasted time?" And this is even before trying to pull together words for a respectable review. In the end I have decided that I cannot do it; I am not willing to subject myself to the abuse. The rating and 100 words of contempt will have to suffice. To summarize: This is Moon Safari sounding exactly like Moon Safari: stuck inside some kind of time and dimensional warp in which they think this is best product that they can produce. Sorry to disagree. They are very respectable musicians, but their music feels to me like that of the Beach Boys and I've never liked/enjoyed the Beach Boys; I respect them, but I listening to their music is an unnecessary and unwanted exercise in exposure therapy.
Report this review (#2972323)
Posted Friday, December 8, 2023 | Review Permalink
5 stars OMG! What an amazing album. Every minute of it is a joy to listen to. With songs and movements ranging from somber melodies to triumphant outbursts and every beautiful sound in between, Moon Safari has created one of the century's greatest musical masterpieces. Not a note misplaced, not a song that wasn't sung to perfection, and the flow of the music from one song to the next seemed natural, almost to be expected. This album is by far the crowning achievement for a band that has consistently created great music. So worth the wait.

I know, I know. One should hesitate before giving an album 5 stars. I'm thinking about that now as I write this review. I don't write many reviews because there are so many great artists and albums out there that deserve to be recognized and I just haven't got the time to write reviews for them all. But ever so often an artist and an album comes along that needs to be recognized for it's greatness and I believe this is one of those times. So from me they get a BIG, well deserved 5 stars.

Report this review (#2972766)
Posted Saturday, December 9, 2023 | Review Permalink
1 stars Ehm....

Could someone explain to me what is progressive about this album? Giving it a spin, it throws me back to the '70s and '80s. But not to the greats of progressive music. Heck, not even the mediocre artists of these times.

I find the musical themes cheesy and the lyrics corny. This is regressive music. There's nothing for me to cling on to. Obligatory guitar solos and strings won't cut it.

I don't see how this can be more than 1 star on a site that wishes to promote progressive music. There's plenty of good material to choose from 2023. This is not it. IMHO.

Report this review (#2973810)
Posted Wednesday, December 13, 2023 | Review Permalink
5 stars This long-awaited 5th album from Swedish progressive pop-rock band Moon Safari comes ten long years since their last album, Himlabaken vol. 1 (2013), but it is just as wonderful as their previous albums, and in some ways even better. Known for their multi-part vocal harmonies, bright effervescent songs and melodies, and complex rhythms and time signatures, they deliver a soaring, joyous album, with a definite nod toward bright 80's pop on several songs. The album keeps getting better as it goes along (some of the early tracks cling a bit too much to that 80's pop sound), with the obvious highlight being the 20+ min epic track Teen Angel Meets the Apocalypse, a magnificent multi-section stunner that has everything you could ever want in a Prog Epic and more (one of the great epic tracks, and probably the best song of the band's career). But there's much more here (70 minutes of brilliance), with the band even showing a bit heavier side in a few songs, as well as virtuoso musicianship, amidst the vocal sweetness. A most welcome release, sure to be enjoyed and played over and over. it's great to have some new Moon Safari back to enrich our lives. 4.5 stars.

Report this review (#2977033)
Posted Monday, December 25, 2023 | Review Permalink
4 stars Before I concluded the list of my favorite albums for 2023, I was waiting for only this one to come out. A very nice comeback album for these guys. The vocals, 80s-styled production, Musicianship songwriting...everything is fine. The overall sound is brighter than on their previous albums, The melodies are still there, and the perfect instrumentation too. Can hear influences from the 70s bonus point goes for ACT/Dream Theater vibes. There are a few choruses that are reminiscent of a mix between Queen and Elo. "A Lifetime to Learn How to Love" and "Teen Angel Meets the Apocalypse" are among really best tunes in their career.I recommend to everyone who knows them through this album that they listen to their previous discography. It is very worth it.
Report this review (#2979029)
Posted Wednesday, January 3, 2024 | Review Permalink
4 stars Oh dear there are some miserable people out there. "Drivel" is very "destructive" as opposed to "constructive" and quite offensive. This IS progressive pop/rock (in Aor circles is called "Pomp") and quite similar at times to Styx circa Grand illusion, who are in the prog-related category, which I feel is probably where Moon Safari should be placed. If you a fan of the more melodic side of prog you could do a lot worse that grab yourself a copy of this album and check out their back catalog too (as I will be doing). A firm 4 stars for me and a top album of 2023.
Report this review (#2989863)
Posted Friday, February 9, 2024 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
Honorary Reviewer
4 stars I have no idea what has been happening in the Moon Safari camp, but it has been ten years between albums, which is quite some wait given I gave 'Himlabacken Vol. 1' maximum marks. I note there has been a slight change in the line-up in that while Petter Sandström (lead and backing vocals, acoustic guitar), Simon Åkesson (lead and backing vocals, piano, organ, Moog), Pontus Åkesson (lead and backing vocals, electric and acoustic guitar), Sebastian Åkesson (backing vocals, assorted keys, percussion) and Johan Westerlund (lead and backing vocals, bass guitar) are still there, drummer Tobias Lundgren, who has been on all the other albums, is no longer involved and instead there is Mikael Israelsson (backing vocals, drums, percussion, keyboards, piano). Mind you, Mikael joined the band in 2015 so there is a still a long time between drinks, for whatever reason.

The band has two lead singers in Simon Åkesson and Petter Sandström, but one of the really important aspects of Moon Safari is the important use of vocal harmonies throughout. When I first heard them, I described them as The Carpenters in a prog setting, and while they have moved somewhat from there, those harmonies are still incredibly important in a sound which has much in common with the pomp and circumstance of classic Styx, Starz and other American bands from the late Seventies. That they are Swedish and performing in the 21st century does not matter as the material and musical performances are very strong indeed, and somehow, they manage to cut through the sugar levels so it does not leave a bad taste in the mouth. The album is not as over polished and over produced as one might expect given the musical style, and this manages to keep it rooted, and once again credit must be given to Rich Mouser who mixed and mastered this at the Mouse House Studio, bringing all his experience with the likes of Spock's Beard to keep this fresh and interesting as they mix pop, pomp and prog to create something which is very enjoyable on first play and only gets better. We can only hope it is not 10 years until the next one as Moon Safari continue to operate in their own style of prog, and long may it continue.

Report this review (#3048781)
Posted Saturday, April 20, 2024 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album from 2023 is quite possibly one of the best Prog Rock albums of that year. They finally made it to sound just like the album that is missing from the eighties albums dyscography.

1. 198x (Heaven Hill) song is a great tribute to the eighties and a great introduction to the new album, considering they haven't released an album in over 10 years. 2. Between The Devil And Me is a song that perfectly describes what this band really plays. It reminds a lot of the Journey band, a little bit of the glam bands of that era. They have a visualizer video for this song. Maybe it is the best representative from this album. The over 10-minute arrangement perfectly depicts what pop-prog influences should sound like today. 3. Emma, ​​Comme On is an excellent version of the prog influence with high pitch singing and very good synth and guitar passages. 4. A Lifetime To Learn How To Love is a song that balladically introduces the simpho - festival sound. Great singing and guitar solos. 5. Beyond The Blue is Baroque sounding track. 6. Blood Moon is just like Queen from the eighties era. A bit of synth rithm and guitar harmonies, with great vocals. 7. Teen Angel Meets The Apocalypse is totally great epic track. Just like some unrecorded movie from the past. Great classical passages, pop multiple singings, atmosferic acoustic guitars, piano synths. Progressive metal moments are very special. Just great stuff. Very original and positive track. 8. Forever , For You is a track that longer ballad should sound like today. Great polyphonic singing, acoustic instruments, just great. And after 7th minute of the track and onwards, they are showing their prog metal and pop rock skills. 9. Epilog starts with a church bells also with an organ. Singing is just like christmas tracks but in a way that this album deserves an great outro. Overall this album deserves more attention from the prog rock collectors. Such a refreshing album. 5/5

Report this review (#3058787)
Posted Sunday, June 9, 2024 | Review Permalink

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