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Pendragon

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Pendragon Pure album cover
3.90 | 527 ratings | 45 reviews | 33% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection


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Studio Album, released in 2008

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Indigo (13:44)
2. Eraserhead (9:05)
3. Comatose (I View From The Seashore) (7:41)
4. Comatose (II Space Cadet) (4:02)
5. Comatose (III Home and Dry) (5:55)
6. The Freak Show (4:26)
7. It's Only Me (8:16)

Total Time: 53:10

Lyrics

Search PENDRAGON Pure lyrics

Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

- Nick Barrett / vocals, guitars, keyboard programming
- Peter Gee / bass guitar
- Clive Nolan / keyboards, backing vocals
- Scott Higham / drums, backing vocals

Releases information

CD/DVD Toff Records PEND17CD (2008) UK

Special Edition released October 1st 2008
includes 80min DVD A Handy-Cam Progumentary

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Angelo for the last updates
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PENDRAGON Pure ratings distribution


3.90
(527 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(33%)
33%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(40%)
40%
Good, but non-essential (17%)
17%
Collectors/fans only (7%)
7%
Poor. Only for completionists (3%)
3%

PENDRAGON Pure reviews


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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by progrules
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars The last release by Pendragon I reviewed was Not of this world. The successor Believe I owe for quite some time now, I have a rating for it but it's very hard for me to review it. The reasons I will explain in the review for that one which I will do before long. The same is actually the case for this latest, Pure. But I cannot drag it on forever, I will have to reveal the reasons and unfold my personal mystery about the two latest albums.

Problem is that I have extreme mixed feelings about both but from now on I will confine to this album. First my dislikes and those are mainly my being fed up with the change in style of compositions and performance of Pendragon compared to the nineties era. I mean I don't know if the band (Nick) finally capitulated for the often heard criticism that the three successors of The World were all just copies of that album. I already said it in my review of NotW that I disagree with that, the 3 albums were different enough for me, I think they even got better and better since 1991. But no, the ciricasters had to keep hammering the band with this debatable fact so long until Nick probably must have thought: okay, I've had enough. I will do something different now. Too bad because all there's left for me and all the other fans of the Pendragon of the nineties (and I'm sure those are sufficiently there) are memories. Because that Pendragon is no longer there.

Having said that, I must admit they have returned to the former style slightly with this album, there are some very nice moments especially with the first and last tracks and also occasionally with the middle tracks but you have to sit out all the rest (metal riffs and strange vocal sounds etc) as well before enjoying those (scarce) moments.

I wonder what the mentioned criticasters will say now, now Pendragon have made changes in style and are innovating and more progressive, blablabla. They will have their way and the least they can do is appreciate Pendragon for it because if they don't there is nothing left and it will all be in vain.

4 stars for this album but it's rounded up and due to hope for the future which I hope will bring back the great compositions (Man of Nomadic Traits) and the great instrumental performances.

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Send comments to progrules (BETA) | Report this review (#184936) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Review by E-Dub
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Nick Barrett loves what he does. It's as simple as that. 30 years we've had Pendragon, and they've created some of the most memorable music in progressive rock. Up until recently the band has gone with a pretty tried and true formula of melodic progressive rock played through brilliant musicianship. With Believe in 2005, however, Pendragon sort of beefed up their sound with chunky guitars and gruff vocals. 2008 brings us Pure: an album of real music about real things. We also have real heavy music, with Nick drawing a lot of influences from this 'new metal' popularized by bands such as Riverside out of Poland, but still maintaining their melodic tendencies. The band have entered into a new phase of their music, it seems.

Pure, in essence, revolves around the purity within us when we're little, and how dealing with insecurities and outside influences gradually causes us to lose that as we get older. In the album's opening track, 'Indigo', Nick describes it in the accompanying DVD (available through the special deluxe edition) as the belief that when we're born, we're surrounded by an aura of indigo color. The new, more darker sound takes hold of your right away, with the very sinister intro to "Indigo". As the band kicks it into gear, however, you get that trademark Pendragon atmosphere. Making a statement is new drummer, Scott Higham, as he pulls off the double bass (ala Mike Portnoy) and the band is off and rocketing skyward. The first half of the song is peppered with the amazing guitar work of Nick Barrett, with nice nuances added for another layer of texture.

As volatile as the first 8+ minutes were of 'Indigo', the band pulls back for the remaining 6, and Nick shows why he's one of prog's best guitarists with a stunning guitar solo very reminiscent of David Gilmour, while Clive Nolan just shrouds the sound with lovely synths. In my opinion, it's one of Pendragon's best album openers and lays the groundwork for the album successfully and with vigor.

For 'Eraserhead', Nick intentionally offset the sound by coming at us with punk mentality, but with that trademark melody. What sticks out is the wonderful keyboard mastery by Clive towards the end, while trading punches with Barrett's solo guitar. As he has for decades, Peter Gee keeps the rhythm with young gun Higham with razor sharp precision. Very fun to listen to this band, who when hitting on all cylinders, are the finest around.

Pure's epic 'Comatose' is broken up into 3 sections: View From The Seashore, Space Cadet and Home And Dry. It's a song that goes full circle from innocence, cynical and manic, to returning a bit wiser. The opening section has some absolutely brilliance about 4 minutes in as Scott pulls off an incredible drum and cymbal fill while the old atmospheric sound once again greets us with some fantastic guitar work. It stops suddenly with a Beatle-like psychedelic synth until the band launch into Pendragon heaven with 'Space Cadet'. And whether it was by accident or deliberate, I love the digitized effect when Nick sings 'streak of black'. Very subtle, but so cool.

The middle section especially becomes troublesome as art imitates life...unfortunately. The character beaten down by the darker side of life decides to take a gun to school, and the way Nick carries this is chilling. Comatose (both lyrically and musically) embodies many moods and never lets up. Even when you think the pace has settled, the band gives you a round house kick to the senses and it's time to strap yourself in.

'Freakshow' is about one's intense insecurities as you enter adolescence. How it feels like everyone is watching you, as indicated in the lyrics: I don't want people to see the freakshow going on inside of me. The song opens with an all out assault on your senses with the heavy sound of the intro (played by 5 guitars), but still very melodic.

The last song, 'It's Only Me' starts off with just piano, guitar and harmonica played by Rod Crisp. A song about how resilient we are as children. How when during the tough times we're able to smile, but lose that ability as we get older. As unassuming as the song begins, it ends with an absolute glorious guitar solo, constructed in that patented heartfelt way that Nick Barrett handles so effortlessly. Admittedly, this song has yet to grow on me, but the solo is one of his finest.

As mentioned before, if you order from the band directly you can get the deluxe edition with a documentary of the making of the album. You not only are allowed access to the recording process, but see for yourself the wit of Nick Barrett. Some parts will either make you giggle or outright belly laugh. One note of interest is when he's driving and they stop at the gate of John Lennon's old estate where they shot the video for 'Imagine'. Overall, a nice edition that gives us a better understanding of what goes in to making Pure.

The anticipation I had for Pure was intense. I got the feeling that Pendragon (and Nick, especially) invested a lot to this project. The investment has paid off. What we have in Pure is music with an intense spirit and that makes us think while gripping onto our interest. It encompasses a lot of different moods and textures, but in the end it's undoubtedly Pendragon. I consider this album a masterpiece and give it 5 stars without reservation.

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Send comments to E-Dub (BETA) | Report this review (#185363) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, October 12, 2008

Review by Certif1ed
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Puree

Opening with nods and winks - some blatant - towards earlier Proggers, Pendragon kick off Pure with some Hawkwind-esque E-rooted riffage topped with occasional synth pads, and some Gilmour-esque guitar underlaid with dogs barking, reminiscent, well, obviously...

When the song kicks in, though, it's a bit of a disappointment - a kind of Snow Patrol riff, which quickly becomes a single-chord jam, followed by a heavy metal riff feeds to the first verse, which is fairly obviously Floyd influenced, with a simple melody line, and more of the metal riff to punctuate.

The overall feeling is of a well-crafted pop rock song, not Progressive Rock - but it's an enjoyable listen.

The intent is obviously to create something that sounds a bit like Prog, and the music for the second verse drops down a couple of layers, and adds some interesting vocal interjections - but the overall game plan is still simple song with accompaniment, the weaving organ line and guitar twiddly bits feeling somewhat on the messy side; just additional layers that the song doesn't really need.

There's a fairly predictable drop-down for the instrumental section, and some sumptuous sounds over the single- chord build-up towards the equally predictable single-chord heavy spacey section. This is stylised Prog, not the real deal - but that may not matter to you, as it has to be said, the sound is epic. However, it does get old pretty quickly - I long for some experimentation or something different - something that hints at other genres, for example, or something that mashes up the music until I can't predict what's going to happen next.

This is more like easy-listening space rock than Prog, to be perfectly honest, and the influences (or, at least, the main influence, Pink Floyd) are so on the sleeve, that I wonder why this is so easily accepted in the Prog community.

Eraserhead starts off a bit more promisingly - gone are the blatant Floydisms, but in are predictable rhythmic patterns - most of these seem to come from Twelfth Night (I recognise Creepshow and Sequences in there!), and again, this is a standard song with a kind of proggy vibe. Cliched lyrics leap out; I need you now like I need a hole in the head. Oh dear.

So after the relentless repetitive rhythms in the verse/chorus, presumably we're going to get a strip-down in the instrumental? Oh yes - there it is, bang on cue around 2:20. This will then build up, I predict, back to the original riffs - OK, it does this via a couple more iterations of the strip down. The insistent rhythms become more early Marillion in flavour somehow, in the final couple of minutes, but I wish there was more actual variation.

Now we have 3 pieces which are related by title; Comatose I, II and III, each with parenthesised titles.

The first begins promisingly with piano and voice - and this sounds like it might have come from a musical, except that the harmonic progression, er... isn't a progression - it's all built around a single chord, until the chorus section, which is a descending 3-chord lick.

Then a totally new and unrelated idea is used at 1:50ish, built around washes of single chords and textural pads, until a stark heavy metal riff is introduced - this really feels uncomfortable and tacked on.

Continuing this pastiche approach, the music is stripped back to the single-chord/synth layer stuff, but with the guitar, and the heavy section is re-iterated, and a new tangent is gone off on - this tangential approach I find really, really annoying. It shows a lack of composition foresight - this is not an artistic Progressive composition, but a rock band experimenting with putting bits and pieces together - and, to be frank, it doesn't really work.

Skipping quickly over to part II (5 minutes was more than enough of part I), we find a repetitive riff opening the piece, based around 2 chords, which feeds into a kind of Indie band song based on the same 2 chords. I just can't listen to this.

Part III starts off much better - but quickly falls into the same traps.

The Freak Show starts off like a simple heavy metal track, and is equally dull.

We finish up with It's Only Me, featuring a harmonica which kind of reminds me of Supertramp - and a reasonably inventive piano line, which meanders a bit, faltering, with no real direction. It sounds so much like everything else on this album that I stop.

Summary

OK, I really don't like this album - I could put up with a couple of tracks, but it gets so boring and uninventive. There's precious little to determine one track from another, and nothing musically interesting to a hard-nosed proghole.

That's not to say it isn't any good - if I was reviewing this without considering my Prog needs, I'd probably be kinder - but not much.

It's a nice enough album in its own way, but doesn't really add anything to the canon of music, let alone the canon of Progressive Rock!

Three stars is being generous on this site.

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Send comments to Certif1ed (BETA) | Report this review (#185919) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, October 16, 2008

Review by Tarcisio Moura
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars After the disappointing Believe I did not know what to expect next from Pendragon. Would they go back to their old ways and repeat themselves or would they try to find new direction and risk leting their audience down? Well, fortunatly Pendragon did release something that brings new elements to their sound and still remains the band we all know and love. The key figures to this success are passion, good work and inspiration.

Ok, this is not an easy listening album, specially if you - like me - is a fan of the band and lived through their marvelous time during the 90's, when each efford they put out only seemed to surpass the other. It takes some time to sink in. At the beginning I really thought that those heavy guitars were something unecessary, but now I think they do fit alright. This is no The Masquerade Overture of course, but if you compare Pure to Believe you'll see they are back to form in a glorious way. This album is full of great, fluid, melodic trademark guitar solos by Barrett, lush and elaborated keyboards by Clive Nolan and the rhythm section is working like they were together for ages, not their first CD with the new drummer Scott Higham. This is sure a team efford and it shines like that (Believe always sounded to me as a Barrett solo album, in a bad way).

I'm really happy to see that those guys have found their muse again. The whole CD is charged with energy and conviction. Ok, it is not perfect, those new elements don't always work, but most of the time they do. And you ought to admire a band that is trying so hard not to repeat a formule (it would be too easy for them to write a Not Of This World part II). The songwriting, arrangements and playing are brilliant and Barrett is singing better than ever. Clive Nolan too is showing some of his best works on the keys this time, while in Believe he was missing in action.

The production is perfect and there are no fillers. I guess the great track Freakshow could be a little longer while It's Only Me could be a little shorter, but those are minor faults in a powerful and refreshing CD. You don't see 25+ year old bands being so creative and in such a good musical shape everyday. My rating: 4,5 stars. Fans of Pendragon, rejoyce!

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Send comments to Tarcisio Moura (BETA) | Report this review (#186313) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, October 18, 2008

Review by Ivan_Melgar_M
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Symphonic Prog Specialist
4 stars A very interesting change

Since the release of Believe, it was obvious that PENDRAGON was facing a major evolution jump in their style, but still the pastoral and softer side of 4 men Genesis influences were present, now Pure is a giant leap, since I saw the art cover, it was obvious that something more aggressive and violent was happening in their music, and the music gave me the reason.

The great paradox is that they have not left behind their natural sound, they have sharpened it and mixed, with the soft Mellotron you can listen a heavy guitar that leads the band almost along all the album. Even Clive Nolan, one of the most talented Tony Banks pupils, has accepted this new sound and adapted his clean and pristine sound to this obscure and vibrant sound.

The change of the talented Fudge Smith for the more Rocker Scott Higham helped to accelerate the evolution, and even his distinctive voice blends perfectly with Nick's to create a new and unexpected sound in the border that divides Neo, Symphonic and Heavy Prog.

The album is opened with Indigo an almost 14 minutes epic that hits us from the start with a heavy distorted guitar and a strong drumming only softened by subtle Mellotron touches as the cherry over the pie. When Nick and the band start to add the vocals, it's obvious PENDRAGON is trying to change from the ATOTT fairytale oriented style to something more radical.

No more naive children stories and soft legends, this is one of the heaviest Neo Prog tracks I ever heard, but of course not everybody changes so dramatically, if they wanted to keep their personality Clive Nolan had to provide the necessary relaxation with his elaborate sections. Excellent opener and a slap in the face of those who believed Neo Prog was soft and predictable.

Erraserhead starts more frantic (if this is possible) but with a more prominent participation of Clive Nolan, but when Nick starts to sing, their original essence is revealed, they haven't betrayed their style, the have simply changed it.- One of the strongest criticisms towards PENDRAGON was their predictability, once listening the first part you knew what was coming later, because they were a bit reluctant for dramatic changes inside a song, well, this is over,. you can expect anything from them, even terrifying screams and howls blended with the music, while an electric guitar played in an almost acoustic style provides some relief, a very good song for an album that really promises.

Comatose (I. View From The Seashore) begins more in the style of earlier albums, with a soft piano that supports Nick's vocals, again the band is privileging their melodic side over the new aggressive persona, even when the change is positive IMO, it's nice to listen some of the old band, but don't expect this to last too much, after a couple minutes the change begins and the music goes in crescendo announcing a climax that reaches with the heavy guitar and frenetic keyboards, and they go even further touching the limits of Prog Metal in some moments but again keeping something of their identity alive.

Special mention to Clive Nolan's fantastic performance and Scott Highan who really makes a difference.

Comatose (I. View From The Seashore) begins with a fast guitar supported by Clive Nolan and Peter Gee solid as always with the bass, as before, the song suffers several radical changes, but the most impressive improvement is the use of the Mellotron, when the song requires, Clive still uses it as in AROTT but when necessary he explores a darker sound previously unusual in the band.

As if this was not enough stylistic change Comatose (III Home and Dry) starts a bit dissonant (something almost impossible to imagine in PENDRAGON; probably the most melodic Neo Prog band), but they manage to come back to a sound that reminds of The Masquerade Overture as if they didn't wanted to abandon the sound that took them to the peak. The rest of the track has some PINK FLOD reminiscences, with Barrett playing some sections in David Gilmour's vein with Clive creating a dense atmosphere and even some sound effects, very nice change and a band doing what Prog is about, exploring possibilities beyond their usual sound.

The Freak Show is a return to the roots, melodic and softer but more melancholic and obscure than usual, again Peter Gee is impeccable, this track will probably be the favorite of the old time hardcore fans, because it's the closer they get to their natural sound, again nice change. The album is closed with It's Only Me and another unusual intro, this time with harmonica and keyboards, but as in The Freak Show is closer to early PENDRAGON than to this new aggressive band. As in The Masquerade Overture, the song flows from start to end with little surprises but with incredible beauty.

This is easily a four stars album and I could do an exception granting them an extra star, because any band that after 23 years and despite having a loyal fanbase, dares to change so dramatically, deserves a special recognition, but it's not a perfect masterpiece, so will have to stay with 4 solid stars.

As I said before in the Forum, Progressive Rock bands don't need to evolve or progress, but if they dare to do it, it's much better, great album for anybody, specially for those who believed Neo Prog is a bland, predictable and boring sub-genre.

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Send comments to Ivan_Melgar_M (BETA) | Report this review (#186521) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, October 20, 2008

Review by poslednijat_colobar
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Wow! What a surprise made by Pendragon! What a harmony! A candidate for best neo-progressive album of all time and a candidate for album of the year! The best album made by Pendragon so far and the first that deserve 5 stars! It is interesting firstly because of the fact that one veteran band with 30 years old career make something smashing like that. The album is constructed with so much variety and non-predictable moments, full of ideas and logical links between them. Secondly this album is successor of much weeker album like Believe. The first song of the album - Indigo - is typical long progressive rock song with two different parts - faster and harder first part and guitar softer blues-like second part. The second song - Eraserhead - probably the best Pendragon's song of all time. Musical variety and balance. Afterthat follows Comatose suite divided in tree songs. The most artistic part of the album with shiftings in tempo and repeating of some ideas in other vision. The second part begins from 3/4 of the first one. The third part begins with some ideas from the beginning of the first one, but again developed. The sixth song - The Freak Show - again mixture between harder and softer sounds. The last song - It's Only Me - the most melancholic song on the album and probably the weakest one(, but what a weakness!). The other important thing about the album, I want to say is the very balanced mixture all around the album between harder parts and softer popy and new wave parts, typical for neo-progressive rock music! Undisputed 5 stars!

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Send comments to poslednijat_colobar (BETA) | Report this review (#188130) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, November 06, 2008

Review by Nightfly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
5 stars 2008 may not have been the best year for Prog in recent years but it has produced a small number of top class albums which could make my album of the year. These are from Beardfish, Ayreon, Opeth and Il Bacio Della Medusa. But they now have another contender to fight it out with, that being Pure, this brilliant new album from Pendragon. Before I get into it though I should say that I'm not the worlds biggest Pendragon fan and my acquaintance with them in the past has been off and on and there's a number of albums in their back catalogue I've not even heard. However what I can say is this album is the best I've heard from the band and that includes the highly rated The Masquerade Overture. The main reason for this is that Pendragon now have a heavier and darker sound which suits them.

The production is spot on; powerful, crisp and the balance between instrumentation allows everyone to shine where intended. Clive Nolan as expected has a rich, lush and full Keyboard sound, something I have always enjoyed in the past but probably more so from his work with Arena. Nick Barrett plays some diverse guitar from heavy riffing to cleaner picking to Gilmouresque soloing. New drummer Scott Higham is a good choice for replacing Fudge Smith. He's a powerful player yet reins it in when required and Peter Gee helps him keep the rhythm together with solid bass playing.

Indigo is a powerful opener and statement of intent. Starting with a dark sounding picked guitar riff, Nolans choral keyboards join in and the band pick really kick in hard on this diverse track lasting for nearly 14 minutes. It has a great, instantly memorable melody and despite the powerful nature of the track, it still has room for dynamics and on the second half the mood changes for a more laid back approach with some lovely fluid soloing from Barrett.

Eraserhead follows suit and is another powerful dynamic piece with an eerie dark vibe. Nolan's keyboards range from orchestral strings to more modern sounding cutting synths and once again Barrett's guitar playing is diverse.

The next 3 tracks actually make up a whole called Comatose. The first part, View From the Seashore gives the listener chance to catch their breath after the powerful first 2 tracks with a laid back piano dominated vocal section, but not for long as after 2 and a half minutes the band kick in with their heaviest riffing so far. It packs a lot into its 7 minutes 41 seconds and Higham contributes some powerful drumming. Space Cadet segues in as the second part of this trilogy and the standard of high quality melodic songwriting continues with dark overtones both musically and lyrically. The final part of Comatose, Home and Dry concludes the piece nicely, very laid back, melodic and beautifully and sympathetically played.

The Freak Show starts with a crunching riff before giving way to lush keyboards and fluid guitar soloing. It's a simple, straightforward but effective song, once again strong on melody.

It's Only Me is a great closer. It's a lovely laid back piece with Nolan's orchestrated keyboard work to the fore and perhaps Barrett's best solo of the album as well as some of his best vocals.

Pendragon have obviously put a lot of effort into this album, as if it's their last chance to prove what they're capable of and crafted a masterpiece. Barrett has requested that people don't illegally download this album, saying that it could be the final nail in the coffin for the band regarding releasing future albums if too much of this happen. Hopefully this will not turn out to be the case as Pendragon are playing more like a hungry new band than one that have been around for 30 years and I want a lot more of this excellent music. Easily worth 5 stars.

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Send comments to Nightfly (BETA) | Report this review (#188301) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, November 08, 2008

Review by Prog-jester
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars Seriously, I just can't get the whole fuzz around 'Pure'. Some loudly hyped albums click on me, but most of them don't. The same thing is with 'Pure' - it's definitely good, but undoubtely non-essential average PENDRAGON record. Okay, let's face it, it's heavier and over-produced (I wondering, why all Prog bands nowadays try to sound like PORCUPINE TREE?), not that much like previous 'Believe' effort, but still far from classic standards of 'The Masquerade Overture' lush deep sound. Leave alone soundproducing issue; the melodies, where are the melodies, Nick? All I can recall from the top of my head after 3 or 4 repeated listening sessions was 'The Creepshow' chorus. I've been listening to 'Pure' for weeks in hopes of getting the point of all that hype (I usually practise numerous listenings with albums that didn't click on me after first week of listening), I've been listening to it in different moods and times, and you know what? I simply failed to find ANYTHING interesting here. It's not bad, derivative, cliched, non-progressive or uninspiring - it's simply usual, ordinary and average. This is not what I expect from a band of PENDRAGON range after another average effort (which, at least, contained 'Sou by Sowest') and three years of waiting. A huge disappointment for me this year, another one along with SIGUR ROS and KAYO DOT. Not recommended

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Send comments to Prog-jester (BETA) | Report this review (#188795) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Review by ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Before this album was released, I was rather suspect in respect with its content. The former ''Believe'' was rather a deception for me. It was a step towards a less melodic music which I praise so much in Pendragon's repertoire.

I thought to get a preview during their anniversary tour which passed by my country on October 3rd, but for health reasons, I couldn't attend. So, I had to wait a few more days to discover their latest work.

The first time I listened to ''Pure'', I didn't really like it. Too hard, almost heavy at times: but this is modern disease I guess. Lots of neo-prog bands are heading in this direction nowadays. I don't necessarily embrace the move.

I decided though not to post my review only after a couple of spins and since ''Pendragon'' is one of my fave neo-prog band (together with ''Arena''), I spent some hours during the last six weeks to listen to this album.

None of the songs is bad of course (it must have been ages that ''Pendragon'' wrote a poor song) but superb and emotional moments are much scarce than before. When I say before, I mean their great trilogy from the nineties to which you can add ''Not From This World''.

The long opening track sets the pace for what this album is going to be. Almost metal riffs at times but decently faded in the whole of this Floydian-based song. One of the most melodic and conventional ''Pendragon'' song here is the beautiful and inspired ''Eraserhead''. All the passion from Nick is again sweating out of his guitar and he really delivers a great piece of music.

The heaviest number of all, it the hard to digest ''The Freak Show'': fortunately, it is by far the shortest track from this album (less than five minutes). It still holds some fine but very short melodic lines and refers bizarrely to ''Ziggy'' in the lyrics. But these are the only attractive parts of this song which I consider as the least interesting of this whole work.

''Pendragon-Nick Barrett'' reverts to their first love with the highly emotional ''It's Only Me''. I might be conventional here, but this is how I love this band the most: when they signed an infectious melody which is sublimated by the mellowish vocals and passionate guitars. Some might find it irritating but I just enjoy this type of song very much.

As usual, the band is also proposing a long pieces-suite. Almost a trade mart I should say. ''Comatose'' starts as a digest of this album: metal lines combined with symphonic neo-prog. I am not too much convinced by this mix though. When ''Pendragon'' plays this type of music, I feel it is somewhat forced; to meet the current wave of metal music.

I just hope that for their next effort, the band gets back with softer compositions which fits them better IMO. Like the final part of ''Comatose'': ''Home & Dry'' which is a glorious hymn to melody.

With ''Pure'', the band released a good album, but some magic is gone as far as I'm concerned. Three stars.

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Send comments to ZowieZiggy (BETA) | Report this review (#191096) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, November 30, 2008

Review by Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars The music here is worth 4 stars in my opinion, but the concept and lyrics force me to give it 4.5 stars. Haha. Usually it's the other way around. I must say that I was concerned with the direction this band was going after they released the "Believe" album. It had it's moments but really it didn't compare to such classics as "Not Of This World" and "Masquerade Overture". Fast forward to 2008 and this new record called "Pure" and what they've done is make it a lot heavier and darker than the sound on "Believe". It's the concept though that really intrigues me. E-Dub explains it really well in his review. We follow the life of this young man who like all of us had this purity as a child, but then we see that purity seem to disappear through life's problems, bad decisions, bad self esteem and on and on. "Where is the boy who used to smile and wave to all the passing strangers ?". This is where I need Finnforest's input.

"Indigo" opens with this low end sound as the guitar comes screaming in and the dog is barking.The dog is barking ? The main melody kicks in after a minute as riffs then vocals join in. Nice guitar after 3 minutes. It's darker before 6 minutes before it kicks back in with power. I like the lines "If I could just get one arm free..." Great section ! It's followed up with some gorgeous guitar from Barrett that goes on and on to the end. Fantastic ! "Eraserhead" hits the ground running and vocals join in before a minute. A calm 2 1/2 minutes in with background synths, some cool sounding guitar and samples. It kicks back in 4 minutes in with a good powerful sound. The contrasts the rest of the way are well done. I love the eerie section 8 1/2 minutes in to end it. "Comatose (View From The Seashore)" opens with piano and reserved vocals as synths and guitar sounds help out. A change 2 minutes in and then it kicks into gear heavily a minute later. Check out the guitar and drumming after 4 minutes. A calm 6 minutes in and we get some orchestral sounds after 7 minutes that disappear as drums join in. It blends into "Comatose (Space Cadet)". It turns dark and atmospheric after 2 1/2 minutes. Lyrically it's about how our subject has turned paranoid and decided to take a gun to school.

"Comatose (Home And Dry)" has this psychedelic flavour and when it gets fuller before 1 1/2 minutes it reminds me of PORCUPINE TREE. This is atmospheric with samples. Our subject is getting stoned and looking at his Hendrix posters. I like the guitar late as it lazily plays. "Freakshow" is like a kick in the crackers as we get repeated riffs then synths roll in before the guitar starts to solo. The riffs are back briefly. Vocals 2 minutes in.This song has such meaning about how as teens we start to focus on ourselves too much and worry what others think about us. "It's Only Me" opens with harmonica and piano.The harmonica definitely sounds like the sax on a SUPERTRAMP song. Vocals come into this laid back tune. It gets fuller before 4 minutes. Barrett comes in with this guitar solo that goes on and on. So uplifting. Piano ends it.

This is close to being a 5 star record. It may turn into that for me. Very cool that Peter Gee thanks "Andy Latimer & Hoov" in the liner notes. Get well Andy ! This is definitely a top 10 for 2008.

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#192595) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Review by The Quiet One
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Purely Different

I can't re-tell about their previous since I don't have it, but I can say that from Masquerade Overture to Pure, it's definitely a new band. On this one Pendragon takes a bit more than just Genesis and Pink Floyd as their main influences, you can hear some Prog-Metal/Heavy Prog in the majority of the songs, rather than the semi-soft sound of the 90's with a lot of melody and stunning Moog solos. Pendragon of the 90's here is almost gone, except for Nick's stunning guitar solos, the rest is history:

The album launches with Indigo, a 13 minute song divided brutally in two halfs; the first half being dark and heavy, dominated by Nick's powerful guitar, Clive's keys are barely present and doesn't showcase's his talent; the second half is compromised by a soft rythm, very Floydish, lead mainly by Nick's guitar solo. I really don't think the passage from heavy to soft here is very well achieved, seems like 2 completely different songs, which it would have been better if they were seperated. Still, a powerful, though unexpected, intro for this album.

The next song is Eraserhead. Another song that is quite unexpected from them, from the semi-frantic intro with the un-typical Moog(for Pendragon) to the typical Pendragon chorus with Nick's nice voice. The song has a lot variation, once again, ending with some odd keyboard chords, but soon to Nick's unforgettable guitar.

-From the first 2 songs, you can't expect the typical Pendragon. You hear a much more fierceful band, exploring new territories as the ones mentioned before.-

The album continues with the three part epic, Comatose. Part 1 and 2 embraces all of the characteristics mentioned before. Some very heavy riffing and odd sounds performed by Clive. Part 3 is a bit more typical Pendragon, but you can definitely hear a different atmoshpere to it, the mood you heard on The Window of Life or Masquerade Overture is gone forever(well at least in this album). In general, it's a quite good performed and thought epic, it's just a bit of nostalgia of their old sound that makes it feel a bit weak for me.

For more oddities, you have The Freak Show. A heavy mainstream song. Besides the metal-ish opener, the song is quite simple compared to the rest of the songs of the album, once again the keyboards have a minor role on the song. Overall, a catchy heavy song.

The album ends with the romantic, semi-depressing(not a bad thing), It's Only Me. The song develops from the soft melody of Nick's guitar and Clive's piano, to a bit more powerful but still gentle on vocals, with Nick's fantastic guitar solo giving a special touch to the song. A nice ending to the album.

You may think that I don't like bands to change of style or that I'm close-minded, I must say that I like very much when bands change of style even more when they're stuck and don't know what to do, other than repeat old formulas. But in this case, the change of direction is quite radical and unexpected, still it creates a heck-of a album with some stunning compositions as the epic or Indigo.

In the end a well crafted album, but with some flaws like the focus on Nick's guitar, or having some experimentations which could have been omitted, also Clive's role in this album is almost null, which in Pendragon's case it's a big loss, since the keyboards used to have a very important role.

3 stars for me. For those who like Heavy Prog interpolated with Symphonic compositions, then this will be for your apeal. Those who expect synth solos, classic Neo-Prog compositions, you might be dissapointed with this.

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Send comments to The Quiet One (BETA) | Report this review (#195388) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, December 28, 2008

Review by Menswear
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Follow the evolution of the dragon.

Wheni discovered Pendragon, I had high expectations, because of my love for Clive Nolan and his keys. But what I didn't know was that the mastermind behind the band was Nick Barett and not Nolan. And I always had a love/ hate relationship with the band, depending on which track I listened. Some transported me in a world of fantasy and mystery (Paintbox for instance), but more than often, the whole aftertaste of their sugary approach just drived me nuts.

Did Pendragon also wanted to have a patrimony, like Marillion? Fish gave a lot of magic and fantasy to the band, including a jester as a main character. Well for Pendragon, the ''magic world'' theme seems to be recurrent. Ahrg, the cramps are back again. I don't really feel like being embarked by a smiling Harry Potter looking magician, taking off his hat to reveal a trail of stars leading to a wonderful place; that artwork seemed so cheesy, and it probably reflected on the music (read soapy and dull).

But hey, what happened? They brought a new and energetic drumming (double bass pedal!), some sharper guitars and modern keyboards! Wow, it's like a future version of a band that wanted probably to try something new, something fresh. And the results are talking for themselves: this rocks hard. Like Arena leaned toward metal with Opera Fanatica, Pendragon is ever knee deep in modern metal. Wow again, I hope Nolan saved some keyboard ideas for the new Arena album, because he never played that stuff with them!

A surprisingly aggressive album at times blended with the same Latimer/ Gilmour solos; well a definte bump into the future for a band that really needed it.

Congratulations Mr. Barett, you've win me back.

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Send comments to Menswear (BETA) | Report this review (#200081) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Symphonic Team
3 stars An attempt to "think outside the box"?

While all of the Pendragon studio releases from 1991's The World up till and including 2001's Not Of This World were quite similar to each other and followed a similar formula (even the album sleeves of these releases are similar!), 2005's Believe diverted from that formula and was different in many ways. This divided the fans. Some thought that Believe was the band's best album ever, while others thought it was one of the least good of their albums! Personally, I belong to the former camp. Even though I have never been a very big fan of Pendragon, I found Believe unbelievably good and certainly more interesting than any of the previous albums by the band. It somehow had more substance and a Rock edge that the 90's albums in particular lacked but at the same time it still managed to be 100% Pendragon.

This follow up, entitled Pure, is quite different yet again, both in relation to Believe and in relation to the earlier albums. The hard edge is even stronger here and some passages are even heavy and border on Metal territory! This is something that was totally unimaginable coming from the same band that made such lightweight albums as The World and The Masquerade Overture. It seems that the intention here was to bring the band's sound "up to date", but I must say that this modern production doesn't really fit the band that well. Pendragon was always a band that ignored trends and opted for a sound that somehow defied time, but here it occasionally sounds as if they are just trying too hard to be contemporary - they somehow come across as trying very hard to be something they're not. It is almost as if the band were imprisoned in a confined space, like the person trapped in a glass box depicted on the sleeve, for ten years, and when they finally escaped they didn't quite know who they were and exactly what they wanted to do anymore.

On a positive note, new drummer Scott Higham injects new energy in the rhythm department (but I like his contribution even more on the live DVD Concerto Maximo where he injects new life into older Pendragon songs) and Clive is back in full force here on the keyboards after playing only a minor role in the sound on the previous album. The acoustic side of the band that was stronger than ever on the folky Believe is, however, almost totally absent here. Some of the World-Music influences from that album remain, though.

But the most important thing in music generally is the songwriting, the material itself. And the songs on Pure are quite alright even if I find these songs less memorable than most of the songs from the previous three or four albums. The nearly 14 minute opener Indigo is the best of the set and this number holds up quite well in the overall Pendragon catalogue. Eraserhead is another strong tune with a nice riff. Yes, several of these songs are actually based on riffs rather than melodies and the usual sustained guitar solos! There are also some grey areas on this album. Even after repeated listens I don't seem to remember much from the three-part Comatose or the closer It's Only Me. They're pleasant, but they don't stick.

For me Pure was actually something of a disappointment, not only since the previous album had impressed me so much, but even in relation to earlier albums. Even the 90's albums, that I like but never have been too impressed by, sound at least more honest and "genuine" in a way that Pure somehow doesn't. Still, Pure is not a bad album but it is not, despite the high average rating, the best place to start investigating Pendragon. The aforementioned live DVD Concerto Maximo is a much better recent release from the band that contains a couple of songs from this album in addition to lots of classics.

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Send comments to SouthSideoftheSky (BETA) | Report this review (#250707) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, November 15, 2009

Review by snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars My first Pendragon album was Kowtow, I was heavily disappointed , and just decided to forget about this band. After many comments from all possible sides, I realized, that I started from possibly their worst album, and decided just to give the band one more chance. So, this time I made my homework a bit better and choose their fresh album (2009) with one of the highest rating in reviews. Let see, what happens now!

From very first song I was pleasantly wondered by energetic level and music heaviness. For sure, this album is influenced by power/prog metal. Long composition included some melodic acoustic interludes and even eastern motives! But main problems still occurred - comparing with classy symphonic prog or prog metal bands, music is very simplistic and musicianship level is only average. Even if few good guitar solo occurs, drummer is low tech, and vocal is below any critics.

Second song just confirmed my first impression. Being melodic, composition's structure is taken from average power metal band from 80-s. Guitar solos are not bad, but not personal at all. Drummers shows there really good class, however.

Third song started from ballad-like half spoken intro, later continued as mid- tempo melodic, but very predictable symphonic composition. Somewhere in the middle metal guitars/drums broke monotony, but it didn't change atmosphere too much...

I decided just listen album till the end. Final impression - for sure, this work is better than my first experience (Kowtow), but in fact contains very average music ,full of pieces, borrowed from different bands from 70-80-s. Even if some moments are not so bad, simplistic musicianship, very uninspired vocal and lack of originality just left very unpleasant feeling.

I like very different music, but most of all want to hear original work of professional musicians. Unhappily, it didn't happened again. And this vocal - I think they could better be instrumental band ( ok, then there will be more visible other problems).

I believe band's fans are not too much interested in my review. I just put on paper opinion from music fan, who isn't a big neo-prog lover. Possibly, could be interesting for similar background listeners.

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Send comments to snobb (BETA) | Report this review (#260742) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Metal Team
2 stars After not being all that impressed by The Masquerade Overture it took me a while until I would give Pendragon another chance. I met the first signs of praise towards Pure with high skepticism, but after seeing that the admiration didn't seem to slow down there was just no way for me to ignore its status as one of 2008 best albums. I almost felt obliged to check out Pure and finally did so in the beginning of 2009. My verdict --- below average.

The first few spins of the record really shocked me due to the complete change of direction from the sound that I experienced on The Masquerade Overture. Eventually I began to recognize many of Pendragon's trademarked hooks which didn't actually deviated too much from the Neo-Prog formula. As for the modern styled sound, it did impress me at first but let's face it, there isn't much here that we haven't heard before. Despite a few interesting moments non of these compositions are that well executed. In my opinion Pendragon tried way too hard to sound like younger progressive bands i.e. Porcupine Tree and lost their own unique identity in the process. Even if I clearly signaled that I didn't really like Pendragon's style on The Masquerade Overture, I'm sure that they would eventually succeed to win me over if they continued to sound more like themselves.

The album-opening track Indigo does have the potential of becoming a truly great composition but the themes incorporated into it drag on for way too long and end up loosing their momentum halfway through the track Comatose is a typical example of adding three completely unrelated pieces of music under a conceptual banner piece. Part I, View From The Seashore, is the longest and most engaging part of the trilogy while the other two have almost no appeal on me whatsoever. There is some type of a dramatic ending added to Home And Dry which, I guess, is suppose to sound more epic. Personally I just can't hear past all the different artist references featured on this 6 minute tune.

The Freak Show feels almost like a breath of fresh air after the very slow-moving Comatose, the more direct lyrical approach works much better and so does the shorter song format which could have added more sense to songs like Indigo. The album closing It's Only Me is another one of those slow, almost atmospheric, rock tune that could easily make sense when heard on your local rock radio station, but I lack that tight approach to this style which has already been perfected by Pink Floyd.

No, Pure is definitely not an album for me. All the different approaches that Pendragon goes through on this record don't make them sound modern nor atmospheric and only makes me want to question their intentions. I'm sure there are enough moments here to make the fans feel excited about their favorite band finally expanding their horizons to appeal to a wider audience, but I really hope that this new audience is able to see that it's only smoke and mirrors.

**** star songs: Indigo (13:44) Comatose (I View From The Seashore) (7:41) The Freak Show (4:26)

*** star songs: Eraserhead (9:05) Comatose (II Space Cadet) (4:02) Comatose (III Home And Dry) (5:55) It's Only Me (8:16)

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Send comments to Rune2000 (BETA) | Report this review (#294138) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Review by lazland
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Sometimes, the easiest thing in the world to do is to stick to a tried and tested formula, and sort of meander along satisfying a loyal base of fans.

That would have been the easy thing to do for Pendragon, one of the most important bands to come out of the neo prog wave in the UK in the 1980's.

Thankfully, for all of us, and I say this not to decry their earlier efforts, which I love, they have, with this latest release, shown themselves to be a true progressive band, in that they have built upon the already incredible neo foundations, and taken their music to a new level.

The opener, Indigo, is a good case in question. At turns extremely heavy, in line with much of the better heavy prog of recent times such as Riverside, but also fantastically melodic, witness the exceptional guitar work by Barrett, who sounds as if he really means it. This track is, at turns, symphonic, neo, heavy, and melodic. In other words, it has everything, and is a fantastic epic track which makes you know that you are going to enjoy the whole experience.

After this experience, Eraserhead opens in the same mood of intensity, before reverting to more neo type, with some nice Barrett vocals. Very heavy, though, and quite moody.

There is a three part epic, by the name of Comatose. It is supreme, neo prog at its best. The first part, View From The Seashore, is the longest, and I just love the contrast in mood with what went before. Keyboards and vocals create a very satisfying melancholic mood here, prior to returning to the extremely heavy riffs that went before. When the mood changes, it does so with an intensity which is almost too much to bear. It ends with a fantastic violin concerto, which leads nicely into part two of the epic, Space Cadet, which commences with the same level of pace which preceded much of it, but then slows down for the introduction to Home And Dry, the final part of the epic track.

This is, by far, the most recognisable part of the album so far to traditional Pendragon fans. It is wonderfully atmospheric, with some bittersweet vocals and lyrics, accompanied by a band at the top of their game in creating a true symphonic wonder.

The opening of Freak Show takes us back to the almost metallic vibe, but this does, very shortly, lead us into a fantastic melodic guitar solo by Barrett. A track of changing contrasts and moods, very direct, and lyrically, very clever in its nods to musical and personal influences. Nolan's keyboards, by the way, make a welcome return to the fore at the end of the track.

The album closes with It's Only Me. This is a wonderfully atmospheric track, perhaps reminiscent of Porcupine Tree at their best., which deals with childhood. It features quite the most fantastic guitar solo at its heart as the track begins to play to its close.

This is an album of huge contrasts. Heavy, moody, dark, beautiful, it has it all. They are a very good band, who have tried to do something a little bit different, and should be applauded for this.

A 3.5 star album, rounded up to four for the fact that it is showing us a brave new direction.

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Send comments to lazland (BETA) | Report this review (#305759) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Review by Flucktrot
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Don't let the 3 star rating fool you. I do like this album, and I sincerely appreciate the effort to change things up a bit. However, I never consider it "great" at any point, and there are numerous places (largely in the second half of the album) that do little or nothing for me. Other than those concerns, there is a good deal of very solid work to be found on Pure.

If you've just about had your fill of nu-, new-, or any-similar-prefix- metal, then Pure will certainly rub you the wrong way, because it isn't breaking new ground by playing faster, harder, or screaming louder than anything that has come before it. But for Pendragon, there are some definite advantages: Barrett has taken the vocals down a notch and been showing off some new guitar tricks. Couple that with Higham's very convincing Gavin Harrison impersonation (only in certain places), and there's some serious potential for riffing. Nolan is no stranger to the genre given his Arena background, and as expected moves deftly between lush soundscapes and noodly solos.

The opening extended pieces, Indigo and Eraserhead, are the highlights for me, with some nice heavy grooves (but nothing over-the-top) and plenty of front-and-center guitar for Barrett. I don't blame them for veering away from this formula, as you never want to fill an entire album with the same type of material. However, these new directions are generally of lower quality in my opinion. Take the Comatose suite: they take some definite chances--and are to be congratulated for the effort--such as the chamber music hoedown to end section one and the angsty fadeout to end section two, but the results end up a bit underwhelming.

I recommend this for those who might appreciate a light metal/neo-prog mashup. It's still Pendragon, and there's certainly still some cheese to be found, but perhaps now it's a bit more provolone than the old fattening Velveeta we've become used to in previous albums.

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Send comments to Flucktrot (BETA) | Report this review (#314355) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, November 11, 2010

Review by Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Although over repeated listens I've found myself less and less impressed with Pendragon's Pure, I do applaud their decision to shake up their sound a little rather than stick with the tried and tested formula which had held true from The World to Not of This World. However, the new sound they unveil on Pure doesn't quite grab me. The fact is that they are far from the first band to combine neo-prog with darker, heavier musical styles - hell, Clive Nolan's own Arena had already been there and done that five years before on Contagion - and in this case, I really don't think they make the fusion work. The whole album feels just a little "off" - some of the songs are alright to listen to, but the added murk and gloom doesn't reveal new musical treasures, it just obscures them.

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Send comments to Warthur (BETA) | Report this review (#733179) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, April 19, 2012

Review by Second Life Syndrome
COLLABORATOR Post/Math Rock and Crossover Teams
4 stars I've been pondering this album for a couple months now, and I honestly don't fully know how i feel yet. This is Pendragon, but it isn't. This album doesn't contain the soaring guitar work (mostly), the keyboard nirvana, or even the delightfully profound themes. However, that does not mean that this album isn't good. In fact, it's excellent.

It seems to me that Clive Nolan decided to take a bit of a back seat on this album. Nick's guitars are front and center, as they feature a much heavier sound than Pendragon's previous albums. Indeed, it seems that they tried to inject a little metal into their sound, as the drumming is a little faster and a little more technical, too. I have no problem with this, even though I feel Pendragon didn't need this. All of this, however, doesn't mean the Nolan is absent. There are still some amazing keyboard atmospheres, such as on "Comatose" and "Indigo". Though, the guitar work is way more prevalent, if a bit sloppy when it comes to the metal portions.

Pendragon is no metal band. They get slightly heavy here, but they can never hide their roots when Nick busts out one of his old school soaring solos (that are sorely missing from most of this album). When you hear it, the Pendragon of old comes washing back over your mind. Ah. This album, though, is still a keeper. It features some amazing tracks like "Indigo", the multi- track song "Comatose", and my favorite "Eraserhead". This album has a funkier, darker groove to it, and features some strange violin interludes and plenty of subtle arrangements. So, it contains vital elements of Pendragon, but the guys are certainly trying new things here. I admire that.

The dark tone of the music is accompanied by a much dark theme. "Pure" involves a trip through the mind of a disturbed teen, perhaps the type that would go on a shooting spree at school. It's scary really, as we hear the apathy and the hopelessness of the teen's thinking.

All in all, this is an excellent album that represents a new direction for Pendragon. Gone are the light and airy instrumental fireworks, and in steps a grittier, dark feel for subtlety. It still hits on the right notes, but perhaps not as effectively as some of their older work.

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Send comments to Second Life Syndrome (BETA) | Report this review (#1092322) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, December 19, 2013

Review by Isa
PROG REVIEWER
Isa avatar
4 stars |B+| A diamond in the rough!

After having listened to this album since it came out back when I was a teenager in high school, I felt it was high time that I wrote the glowing review (for my context) that this justly deserves. I have had very little taste for neo-prog at all compared to the other prog styles, but I think of this album as one of its only bright-shining stars. Keep in mind that this review is coming from someone whose main experience with the band's work is the album about which I'm writing, though I have heard songs from their earlier and later material and was less impressed. What's more, this is an album which seems to be standing the test of time since it came out.

First off, this is actually, if I'm digesting the lyrics right, essentially a concept album about the loss of childhood purity (purity regarding innocence) as a person matures into adolescence, and the consequences that this can have. This an album with real depth in the relationship between these ideas conveyed by the lyrics and the way that they are expressed in the music, which is my main reason for such praise for this work of art.

Indigo is a clever and fluid song, with some heavier guitar riffs, great vocal melodies and lyrics, great contrast between sections themselves, very smooth and natural transitions between sections (which is difficult given the previous point), clever keyboard work and sound effects, gradual shifts of mood, and an interplay between the textures of the instruments that just hits the spot. Very little music can pull off having most of the instruments playing most of the song and simultaneously achieve such diverse and dynamic textures as can be found in this track, whilst never deviating from the general mood of the song overall. Wow! What's more, the melody and effects of the vocal track really dig into the ideas created by the lyrics, which as a classical singer is always a huge plus for me. My only complaint is that there are parts where the musicians' timing with each other's parts isn't always quite right on, and this is true for other parts of the album, but this is something that is probably only noticed by more advanced ears. The composition is brilliant though, in my opinion.

Eraserhead is a pretty effective use of the division of seven, as far as the composition is concerned, though it's speedy enough that the musicians seem a little on the edge of being off sometimes (unless the composition is tricking me into thinking that... hm). A very lively introduction, with singing that is mostly in tune most of the time, and great effects on the guitar. I like the more calm section that it transitions to, some nice guitar work. The strange voice is indeed strange, but works well for the context of the song somehow. Good work on the cymbals from the drummer for sure. The vocal harmonies on this track are well placed and sung, and put emphasis on the lyrics where it is due, which I appreciate! The lyrics have the theme of teenage rebellion mentality, playing into the theme of the album. The keyboard sections is very creative and great, and leads in splendidly to a solo trade off with the guitar. I love the modulation about 8:10 or so in. Great song with a nice ending.

Comatose, all three parts, represent in my mind some of the best, most classy, and most creative work from progressive rock from the past century so far. This is where the theme of the album really comes into play: the lost of childhood purity. "Where is the boy who used to write his name in the sand? Where is the boy who used to smile and wave to all the passing strangers?" This is followed by a beautiful, sad sounding violin, expressing this sentiment, which creatively transitions to the more active section of the song, with the lyrics "become the dark skies" leading into a dark heavy metal section, expressing, perhaps, this transition into a more chaotic and emotionally turbulent stage of childhood development? Then this heavy section turns into a more positive and energetic, almost AOR sounding section. I love the growing energy toward the end of the first movement, what a fantastic guitar riff! And what a dramatic transition to the soft section with a string section, ended with fast string playing. So creative, and that's just the first movement! Movement II: Space Cadet does indeed conjure the image of an astronaut flying into space in my mind, with the keyboard bends and what not. I love the variations on the vocal sections, every time they repeat the main vocal line, the instruments are doing something slightly different (yes, this is a neo-prog album, believe it or not...). Interesting how a drone is used toward the end of the song underlying the other parts. How creative, ending the movement a Capella, I would've never thought of that, and it puts due emphasis on the lyrical content. III. Home and Dry starts off with a very unique song texture that I don't think I've heard in my many years listening to even progressive rock, with the keyboard and sound effects over the acoustic guitar. The chorus is beautiful, with effective, almost perfectly placed echo and reverberation effects on the vocal parts. So many great things so say about this three-part epic overall, especially the masterful use of sound effects. My only complaint is sometimes the theatricality of the vocalist isn't all that convincing, but he's making a good effort to put personality into the lyrics that he's saying, which is only commendable and isn't done nearly enough in rock music. To me, this is some real masterpiece material coming out of neo- prog, which is a huge compliment coming from me.

I find the last two songs, Freak Show and It's Only Me, to be sort of the tapering-off-the- album material after the band has already shown us their most masterful stuff that they've made for the album. I do like the use of material from Indigo on Freak Show, though the chorus is a bit drawn out and lackluster with the vocal melody, and the ending is kind of (okay, very) abrupt. It's Only Me is a better track, and starts off with a harmonica that plays oddly similar style and even some of the exact same notes as the harmonica on first song on Supertramp's Crime of the Century (perhaps another reference to the theme of the album, as that song that's perhaps referenced is about children becoming disillusioned growing up in School. Hm...) I like their use of the opera voice and strings in the background, and the chorus is really very nicely voiced with the vocal harmonies and the harmonic progression, which modulates the key very subtly and beautifully. The band does some cool stuff with the song ending this rock-solid album.

I consider this album essential for anyone interested in Neo-prog, because I regard this album, quite frankly, is some of the most masterful material by not only the band but the entire style in general. I'd almost call it essential just because it towers over almost all other neo-prog out there, even the other albums of the same band, but I do not think of it as a masterpiece of prog music, though much of what can be heard on this album definitely is.

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Send comments to Isa (BETA) | Report this review (#1092398) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, December 20, 2013

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Report this review (#1277018) | Posted by FragileKings | Tuesday, September 16, 2014 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Pure is a nice album from a nice band. From album to album, Pendragon has been consistent in both their overall sound and their approach to music. Pure is no departure from these norms. Pendragon's sound uses lush keyboard sounds to provide a very thick atmosphere, with various guitar tones ... (read more)

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4 stars Pendragon's first album came out in 1985. They recorded their most significant album, The Masquerade Overture, in 1996. You would think that Pendragon's leader/writer/vocalist/guitarist Nick Barrett would no longer have anything new to offer. That would be a mistake. With this album, Barrett ... (read more)

Report this review (#442774) | Posted by BobVanguard | Wednesday, May 04, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars "Pure" is not only my favorite album of neo-prog (along with "Contagion" from the Arena), as it has to be one of the most underappreciated works of progressive rock and a strong contender for album of the year. Unlike their albums of the 90s, the sound of 'Pure' is very dark and forward-metal (ve ... (read more)

Report this review (#394244) | Posted by voliveira | Friday, February 04, 2011 | Review Permanlink

3 stars I'll call it a flavour. The Pendragon flavour. Neo-prog with Pendragon's flavour. And sadly, Pendragon's flavouring isn't my favourite... Yes, I'd read the reviews beforehand, "The saviour of Neo-prog, etc,etc", and yes, eventually I was sucked in. Actually, I'd heard 'Indigo' (the first trac ... (read more)

Report this review (#278276) | Posted by sussexbowler | Saturday, April 17, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I've followed Pendragon since their beginnings as a bunch of young lads who wanted to sound like Genesis. They've had their ups and downs (well, the only real down being Kowtow) but have made some brilliant albums along the way. The Masquerade Overture seemed to be their absolute peak... subse ... (read more)

Report this review (#269624) | Posted by scouser14 | Friday, March 05, 2010 | Review Permanlink

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Report this review (#263728) | Posted by Candlejack | Sunday, January 31, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars After 'Believe', which I thought was very poor, I thought that Pendragon would never top 'Masquerade', but to my delight, they have. I think this is an outstanding prog album, but I cannot work oput exactly why it is their best. It is recognisably Pendragon- Nick Barrett's usual gruff vocals a ... (read more)

Report this review (#259403) | Posted by dmwilkie | Tuesday, January 05, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This is my first album by Pendragon so I am not judging it based on any previous incarnation of their music. In my opinion, its a great album with and interesting concept worthy of 4 stars at least. The packaging in the hardback book it gorgeous and the making of DVD is interesting. My only b ... (read more)

Report this review (#204683) | Posted by proggesser | Saturday, February 28, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Wow, Ik know Pendragon for a long time and I liked the previous albums. But I do not like them as much as this one! After a lot of listen sessions I presume that this record lasts only 20 minutes. It actually takes 53:10 minutes but time flies when you having fun. Scott Higham is a energetic ... (read more)

Report this review (#203783) | Posted by J@pie Mol | Friday, February 20, 2009 | Review Permanlink

1 stars I have come to the painful realization that I don't really like Pendragon. I thought they were one of my favorite bands, but it is more accurate to say that The Masquerade Overture and Not of This World are two of my favorite albums. Pendragon HAS changed, and I wish them well on their new jour ... (read more)

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4 stars Although they have been around for ages, i have never really liked Pendragon...each time I have listened to them I was fairly disappointed....However, I read some of the reviews on this site and listened to a few tracks...I then got the album...With Pure they have taken a new direction...one that ... (read more)

Report this review (#194609) | Posted by Peachy | Sunday, December 21, 2008 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I never paid much attention to Pendragon - and when I listened to kowtow before listening to Pure I almost didn't bother to give it a spin. Is this the same band? I've now been listening all day and Indigo is back on and I'm not turning it off. I've seen the critiics bemuse the fact that this ... (read more)

Report this review (#193845) | Posted by jruckeriii | Monday, December 15, 2008 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I must admit that I'm completely stunned by this CD. I loved Not of This World end expected something similar. Now it's very different but so enjoyable. Even my daughter (14 years old) says well this is modern music ! that she can like (not the case with the older releases of Pendragon). To me t ... (read more)

Report this review (#192876) | Posted by lgoffine | Saturday, December 13, 2008 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Hailing from england a nother great progressive rock band Pendragon has made their 11th studio album. From a prog band that has made music together since 1978 they sound more vital and fresh then most of the music out there these days. Like some of the old league progressive rock band's tend to m ... (read more)

Report this review (#189461) | Posted by Confetti | Sunday, November 16, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars For those fans who follow Pendragon activities also during composition periods, this Album has been like the birth of a son. Nick has been updating on their website, the starting and the growing of any song, with comments and small samples of the various compositions. Until the final publication ... (read more)

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Report this review (#186796) | Posted by robbob | Friday, October 24, 2008 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Wow! It's a rare thing when a band being in business for 30 years records an album, on which includes completely new, modern elements into theirs style without losing any of their former character. And this is the case of the album, Scott Higham acting like Rick Wakeman joining Yes and lifting P ... (read more)

Report this review (#186365) | Posted by RaphaelT | Sunday, October 19, 2008 | Review Permanlink

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Report this review (#185296) | Posted by huge | Saturday, October 11, 2008 | Review Permanlink

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