Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography



Eclectic Prog

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

A.C.T Imaginary Friends album cover
4.05 | 183 ratings | 20 reviews | 30% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

Write a review

Buy A.C.T Music
from partners
Studio Album, released in 2001

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Take It Easy (4:28)
2. Hippest Flop (4:48)
3. A Supposed Tour (4:42)
4. Biggest Mistake (7:49)
5. Imaginary Friends (5:51)
6. She/Male (4:48)
- Relationships (The Long One) :
7. At The Altar (0:39)
8. Svetlana (3:43)
9. No Perspective (1:07)
10. Second Thoughts (0:54)
11. Mr. Unfaithful (7:05)
12. Gamophobia (0:46)
13. Little Beauty (4:19)
14. And They Lived Happily Ever After (7:25)

Total time 58:24

Bonus tracks on 2004 remaster:
15. Mouse In A Maze (Saga's cover) (5:34)
Video. The Making Of Imaginary Friends

Bonus tracks on 2007 reissue:
15. Catherine
Video. The Making Of Imaginary Friends

Line-up / Musicians

- Herman Saming / lead & backing vocals, silent trumpet
- Ola Andersson / electric & acoustic guitars, backing vocals
- Jerry Sahlin / synthesizer, vocals, vocoder & drum machine (11), string arrangements
- Peter Asp / bass, percussion, backing vocals
- Tomas Erlandsson / drums, percussion, backing vocals, keyboards & lead vocals (2007 bonus)

- Pelle Saether / backing vocals (4,5), co-producer & engineer
- Johan Ederfors / string arrangements & conductor
- Anna Blomkvist / violin
- Karolina Sjöholm / violin
- Diana Crawford / viola
- Lisa Fagius / cello

Releases information

Artwork: Peter Asp with Åsa Kristensson (photo)

CD MTM Music - 0681-31 (2001, Germany)
CD Atenzia Records ‎- ATZ 02033 (2004, Sweden) Remastered by Dragan Tanaskovic with a bonus track plus a Video, and new cover art
CD Inside Out Music ‎- IOMSECD 267 (2007, Germany) With a bonus track plus a Video

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
Edit this entry

Buy A.C.T Imaginary Friends Music

A.C.T Imaginary Friends ratings distribution

(183 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(30%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(45%)
Good, but non-essential (16%)
Collectors/fans only (6%)
Poor. Only for completionists (3%)

A.C.T Imaginary Friends reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Greger
5 stars I'm not exaggerating when I'm saying that A.C.T is one of the most innovative prog/metal bands in Sweden today. "Imaginary Friends" were released in 2001 and the band was as playful as on their debut album "Today's Report" from 1999. Boring is a word so far away from A.C.T that you can ever imagine. Everything is as close to perfect as it can be. Their bombastic sound, the musicianship, the vocals, the compositions, the production, the orchestration and the innovative relationship they have to their music. You can find some reminiscences to QUEEN and DREAM THEATER, especially in Ola Andersson's guitar playing, but most of all I would compare them to a heavier version of the Swedish almost forgotten and underrated band Big Money.
Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I received this second album of ACT, a Sweden band, approx two weeks ago from the As I have listened to and enjoyed their first and third album (which also the latest) so I could predict what the music would look like with this album. And my prediction did not fall off track as this one is not different with the others. It delivers an upbeat, energetic and mostly fast tempo music with neat and precise arrangement in a cabaret style. There are frequent use of string section with violin and cellos especially during transition in quieter passages. Guitar riffs are not typical in progressive metal style but it has a balanced combination with rhythm style. ACT has successfully maintained their music consistently from their critically acclaimed debut album "Today's Report" to the last one "Last Epic".

This album comprises 6 individual tracks and another 8 tracks that form an epic called "Relationship - The Long One". As my CD is re-mastered edition it contains bonus materials, i.e. one bonus track "Mouse In A Maze" and a video footage that features "The Making of Imaginary Friends".

"Take It Easy" opens the album with an excellent combination of keyboard and guitar in a very fast tempo followed with an energetic and fast tempo music with nice melody. When the vocal enters the music it creates a happy-go-lucky nuance with an encouraging yet pretty simple lyrics like "Take it easy everyone should take it easy / You got to slow down, everyone should calm down". It's a paradox, isn't it? The lyrics suggest us to slow down but the music is an upbeat one. But it's so entertaining. This song has a great combination of vocal, guitar and keyboard plus dynamic drumming. I do really enjoy this track. Second track "Hippest Flop" performed a bit slower in tempo but still in a happy nuance with some quieter passages during transitions. The vocals harmony is really good; the music is neatly arranged. The style is dynamically changing unpredictably.

Third track "A Supposed Tour" is a hard-driving rhythm song with some progmet flavor during opening, inserted with great violin work and piano. The structure combines the upbeat and slow beat brilliantly. When it reaches the bridge or transition piece the music slows down in melodic way augmented with violin work. The composition is really good as the music is precise and neatly arranged. Something interesting happened when I observed the lyrics of this track. It seems this represents the band's anger about their planned tour. Note this: "Offered to support an act and they were overwhelmed / Took them weeks to plan that trip / Everything was done to keep the costs down, budget was low, of course ." and the other part "Manager excused himself (and said:] - Just come again tomorrow .".

The fourth track "Biggest Mistake" is longer, with 7 minutes duration, and it resembles the similarity with other track of the other albums. Musically this track delivers a continuous flow of music with some sudden change or variation between complex and quieter passage - performed in happy mood. The album title track "Imaginary Friends" casts a little bit different style where the beat is slowing down a even though still in an upbeat tempo. There is some reggae component of this track. "She/Male" starts off with simple drum solo followed with stunning guitar solo followed with rhythm that remarks the entrance of vocal. Piano accompanies the vocal in inventive way - nice sounds.

The epic "Relationships - The Long One" starts with melodic lyrical part with sort of string arrangement and piano. The vocal is great. It flows suddenly to an upbeat music "Svetiana" with vocal and lead guitar at the background. Piano work inserts the music in a similar nuance like the music of CAST (Mexico) especially on piano and keyboard. The solo violin and solo guitar in the middle are stunning, especially when they are backed with an orchestra. The end of this track 8 features nice exploration of violin / cello, guitar and piano. It then moves to the opening of "No Perspective" where the singing style is something you usually hear in musical opera. It's really good! It moves back to high energy, melodic "Second Thoughts" where guitar plays its solo wonderfully! The music flows to riff-based music to "Mr. Unfaithful" where the guitar plays heavy riffs combined with orchestration and guitar solo. Oh man . this is really great. Especially when the keyboard and guitar performs solo. It's a great composition. With this track it proves that ACT is a band that is very hard to beat. It's a great band. "Gamophobia" is a short bridge. "Little Beauty" is a beautifully crafted song with excellent opening through piano / keyboard followed with excellent vocal. The soft passages with violin solo and keyboard / piano are truly stunning. The last track of the epic has so much empty space. The ending part is not the kind of music that ACT used to play, performed mellow with low register notes on vocal augmented with violin, cello and keyboard. It's not something that please my ears. But it's probably the band's effort to push their music.

Overall, this album is not as great as the other two albums by which I gave five stars individually. The weak point is on the epuc where it does not sound like a cohesive one even though eah individual track is excellent - except the last one. To me it's like disjointed part or a collection of songs instead of an epic. But I still consider this as an excellent addition to any prog collection (four stars) with a possibility to increase potentially into five stars. Keep on proggin' ..!

Progressively yours, GW

Review by Menswear
5 stars Aaah, Sweden!

Boy oh boy, we should hear more of this genre, but it's kinda hard to describe, there's so much to discover! Apart of the popish Beatles approach, ACT is fueling on Queen/ Savage Garden harmonies, Electric Light Orchestra / Supertramp melodies, Andromeda skills and Arena theatrical side. A splendid melting pot of genres all blended in a personnal fashion.

This record has lots of guitar grips and superb keyboard support, my thumbs are sore for being up all the time. BUT this recipe won't please everybody! Some will say that they spoil a lot of good grooves for the sake of (brutal and sudden) time changes, that they should exploit their heavier side since the juggernaut of talents in the bands ( read everybody).

Some on the other hand will find that the sweet, almost amusing side of the songs should be more put towards. They will say that this band doesn't need heavy guitars to be cool and that the vocals and arrangements are far enough to digest in one listening.

Like it or not, this is close to be the best of their rich discography and one heck of a kick in the arse when you discover them. It's good, it's fun, it rocks and entertain all in one. Despite they could sound like a boy band (like Mind's Eye), they are rockers with a studded pink belt.

To me, this is the most promising group of the second millenium and one of my top 10 albums.

Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars First signs of a growing fame appear for A.C.T shortly after the release of ''Today's report'', as the Swedish hit the road to play alongside Canadian veterans Saga.Two years later the sophomore album of the band was recorded and released on MTM under the title ''Imaginary friends''.

At this point it is pretty secure to say that A.C.T had established their own personal way to express their ideas.Their QUEEN-meet-ABBA-meet-DREAM THEATER style is fairly grounded on extremely dense and technical musicianship, which surprisingly contains numerous incredible, striking melodies.Elements of Classical Music, Heavy Metal, Rock Opera and cheesy Pop are combined with generosity and intelligence with most of the tracks being pretty short, but sometimes they are tightly connected to form longer pieces.The most amazing thing about the band is the fact that the musicians are virtuosos, executing their parts with technique, but this is very far from a complicated album, this is a monster release full of memorable tunes.A great number of breaks and sudden twists leads from punching Prog Metal with symphonic keyboards to Classical interludes with strings (with no less than four guest female musicians on cello, violin and viola) and from laid-back, lyrical pictures to fast-paced cartoon-like music.The bombastic orchestrations and grandiose moments are constantly present with DREAM THEATER being a dominant influence, but they often lead to syrupy, ballad-like atmospheres with sweet vocals.All tracks are filled with rich sounds and colors, featuring pompous keyboards, strings and guitars with a Neo-Classical style in evidence.Beautiful stuff.

Fantastic release.These guys opened a whole new world for Prog music, later to be honoured by bands such as PROFUSION or SEVEN STEPS TO THE GREEN DOOR.I do not even know how to call this.Neo-Classical Pop Metal?Maybe.Great and highly recommended music.

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This definitely my favorite A.C.T album to date! There is not a single weak or average track and on top of that Imaginary Friends also features the best long track compared to the ones off other A.C.T releases. Considering all this I actually have very little to say about this album's content since I believe that the music basically speaks for itself.

I've always considered Ola Andersson's guitar style to be under-appreciated by the general public but just listen to his performance on Svetlana. He switches his performance for every single part of the song while still maintaining a great balance with the rest of the performances. This is what I call great musicianship! I really can't stand when skilled guitarists get attention for playing slick solo performances on band recordings. It's just not enough being great at your craft but instead musicians should be judged by how well they incorporate their performances in the overall band-sound.

I would recommend this album to anyone who likes complex music with a blend of melodic vocals that almost makes you believe that you are listening to a popular rock record! But don't be fooled, there are a lot of musical ideas that you probably will miss upon the first listen. But thanks to the huge replay value you will have no problem of spinning this album enough times to acknowledge this great work of art.

***** star songs: Hippest Flop (4:48) A Supposed Tour (4:41) Imaginary Friends (5:50) At The Altar (0:38) Svetlana (3:42) No Perspective (1:06) Second Thoughts (0:54) Mr. Unfaithful (7:04) Little Beauty (4:18)

**** star songs: Take It Easy (4:27) Biggest Mistake (7:49) She/Male (4:47) Gamophobia (0:46) And They Lived Happily Ever After (7:23)

Total Rating: 4,56

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Imaginary Friends" is the 2nd full-length studio album by Swedish progressive rock/metal act A.C.T. The album was released through MTM Music in March 2001. Itīs the successor to "Today's Report" from 1999 and features the exact same five-piece lineup as the predecessor.

The material on the album features elements from various genres of music and there are many stylistic elements and artists which could be mentioned as influences on A.C.Tīs music. Iīd mention among others Dream Theater (the "Images and Words (1992)" album), Sieges Even (the "Sophisticated (1995)" album), 10cc, Queen, ABBA, The Ark (the Swedish pop/rock band) and Saga. A combination of progressive metal elements and sophisticated/art pop/rock elements make this an eclectic sounding release.

The music is very melodic and most tracks are easy to sing along to, but they are structurally complex enough to keep a progressive rock listener entertained. The album features 6 regular length tracks (4 to 7 seven minutes long) and one longer track (25:51 minutes long) titled "Relationships" which is divided into 8 shorter parts. The music features an overall cheerful/uplifting mood and the lyrics are generally tongue in cheek humorous. Thereīs definitely some great humour involved in this band and one of the biggest praises I will give to A.C.T regarding the music on "Imaginary Friends" is how many positive feelings listening the album evokes. One of the highlights of the album is the fast-paced and energetic "A Supposed Tour" but album opener "Take It Easy" also ranks up there. But as such all tracks on the album are excellent quality material. Intelligent and memorable compositions.

The musicianship is of high class. This music might have an easy listening pop feeling to it but itīs certainly challenging in terms of technical playing and compositional details. Keyboardist Jerry Sahlin uses some great sounds to my ears and lead vocalist Herman Saming has a distinct high pitched voice that might take some getting used to but he is very skilled. His voice could be an aquired taste though (not that he sounds like Geedy Lee from Rush, but the situation is probably similar).

"Imaginary Friends" features a powerful, clear, and well sounding production, which suits the material perfectly. So upon conclusion itīs a high quality album through and through. Itīs highly recommendable to listeners who are looking for progressive rock/metal with an uplifting atmosphere, played by skilled musicians. A 4 star (80%) rating is fully deserved.

(Originally posted on Metal Music Archives)

Review by The Crow
4 stars After the wonderful debut "Today's Report", A.C.T managed to release a very worthy successor...

"Imaginary Friends" is not a departure in style from "Today's Report", and it doesn'st really surpases it in terms of quality... Maybe the main difference, is that "Imaginary Friends" is even more accesible than the band's debut album. Take it Easy is a very catchy song, with a dynamic chorus; She/Male is very funny, similar to Cat Eyes of the previous album; Biggest Mistake is the best track of the album, with a wonderful chorus and ending part, although the song is very reminiscent to Saga... The epic Relationships is also very good, maybe better than the epic Personalities in "Today's Report". So this collection of easy to listen but still complex tracks are maybe perfect for a band's newcomer.

The sound of the band here follow the path of the first album, being a curious mixture of Queen, Saga, Dream Theater, jazz, cabaret... But finally getting a coherent and catchy result. The range of influences is not so high in this second offering, but it's still huge.

Talking about the musicians, the Ola Andersson's guitars are marvellous again... This man has a great style (on Svetlana he rocks!), with a wide range of abbilities, and wonderful sound. The another pilar of A.C.T's distinctive sound are the Jerry Sahlin's keyboards, they give a fundamental part of the band's eclectic prog. The rest of the guys they also play in a great level.

Best tracks: Take it Easy (an A.C.T's trademark song...), Biggest Mistake (the most catchy and emotional song of the album, although it's almost a copy of some Saga classics...) and the epic Relationships (specially Svetlana and Mr. Unfaithful).

Conclusion: "Imaginary Friends" is not better than "Today's Report"... In my opinion, it's even under the the band's debut. Nevertheless, it has more accesible tracks and a great epic, being a worthy purchase both for newcomers and A.C.T's "aficionados".

My rating: ****

Review by Marty McFly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Sweden, again. This country is decreasing the value of my 5-star ratings (just joke, this country is proving very prog at all). This one is another guilty pleasure, I feel very good when listening this, but yet I know that maybe I shouldn't. Nevermind, the feeling is the most important thing for me, let's leave all these negative (and unfair thoughts) behind and visit Sweden once again (not last visit I hope ... no, I know).

It's melodic. A lot, but not so much that it would make most people feel bad (every time, there will be someone complaining. Hopefully, because they present different point of view, as Prog-Jester keeps telling me from time to time. And that's good, because I keep forgetting this important fact, also from time to time). It's sometimes hard, like a metal, but in general, it doesn't induct feeling like listening something hard/heavy. I guess that melody element is softening it a lot. Vocals are very interesting, but while listening for example Hippest Flop I feel strange. Good, but again, it's perfect example of these guilty pleasures. Is it good to feel good, is it appropriate ? Well, let's assume that it is, for good sake of everyone. So my suggestion is that we should just enjoy it. That's biggest advantage of this record, but other parts are here too. These that makes goof prog album. Try to watch (hear) bass lines here (you'll be rewarded, don't worry), strings arrangement or these things.

4(+), remember, guilty pleasure ? But it's good to listen mostly these album you're sure you'll like.

EDIT: Can be quite tiring after some time. Not much you know, just it's too much emotions at one time from this album. Let's assume that it's very good album, right ?

Review by snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Second A.C.T. album is interesting one as well as their debut was. Not very usual combination of great melodies, excellent vocal (multi layers), very competent arrangements. Combination of pop-rock, heavy metal and art rock. Are they "Queen" of XXI century?

Difficult to say, and they don't have such great thing as Freddy's vocals on board. But ,let say seriously - they are capable to take this niche. I like strings and piano sound, rhythm changing, strong back-up vocals, perfect melodies. Lead vocalist is great even if not so recognizable as Freddy Mercury.

Really nice and different album. Happily, without overloading of metal riffs, they could destroy this great music.

Recommended! Not for heavy metal purists for sure, but for wide range of art-rock lovers and for everyone who missed these interesting eclectic sound combinations from late 70-s.

Review by ProgShine
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars What makes me like A.C.T so much is their unique blending of styles.

Since I listened to their debut Today's Report, I've payed more and more attention, cause they're Progressive Metal, but they aren't, they're AOR, but they aren't, they're are classic Prog Rock, but they aren't.

THAT makes them interesting, you can see a heavy riff AND a violin, like in 'A Supposed Tour'. You have all these pop melodies all around, and Herman Saming vocals are unique!

I guess they have a unique sound in general, I, at least, don't know any other band that looks like them!

It's good to see they are recording a new album right now as I'm writting this little review.

Review by b_olariu
4 stars A.C.T from Sweden is one of the intresting bands emerged in progressive field in last decade or so. Imaginary friends is their second album from 2001 and by far their best from all 4 albums released byt he band so far. This type of prog is so hunted by many listners in last decade, with fat sound and great ideas overall. The music is a mixed of everything with influences from Queen, Styx, bombastic arrangements and they toying even with some prog metal passages, but in the end A.C.T. is nothing but an excellent band with their own ideas and delivering a very solid album. All pieces are strong special, at least for me the first part of the album, with great guitars, nice voice and blistering musicianship.This is the type of singable release, happy atmosphere and fun to listen. 4 stars easy, definetly thir most complete album.

Latest members reviews

4 stars Listening diary 25th March, 2022: A.C.T - Imaginary Friends (progressive rock, 2001) A.C.T's incredibly distinctive brand of pop-prog-metal-rock opera is already very evident here, and though it's not quite as complete as on Last Epic, it's still worth celebrating. Whether you love this music r ... (read more)

Report this review (#2713290) | Posted by Gallifrey | Friday, March 25, 2022 | Review Permanlink

4 stars ACT is a fun-loving and disco-loving hard rock, sometimes metal band from Sweden. And with songs such as Hippest Flop (or, Hip Pest Flop, as sometimes I've seen this title written) and She.Male how could you not be fun? OK, sometimes they're serious. But mostly they love good melodic hooks. They ... (read more)

Report this review (#1140665) | Posted by Progrussia | Sunday, March 2, 2014 | Review Permanlink

5 stars My personaly Favorite album!!! it has all the A.C.T elemnets in their best form!!Trully magnifiscent, inspired and VERY VERY original music here! The fisrt 6 songs are so great you can't choose between them.and then it's the big medley of smaller songs as was done on the first album(reminding a ... (read more)

Report this review (#169664) | Posted by camelspotter | Saturday, May 3, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Their sound changed from their first release in a good direction. Now is much more powerful and the rhythmic section is really good. They really have this time that mature sound approach which was missing on the first release. The obvious influence from other bands is not evident as on the fir ... (read more)

Report this review (#124313) | Posted by petrica | Friday, June 1, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars A.C.T. is a very nice Swedish band, focussing very much on the comercial easy listening side of progressive rock, with cheerfull tunes, nice guitars and a beautifull voice. The sounds reminds me very much of Valencia, a Dutch musician who became famous with the song and album Gaia and also Que ... (read more)

Report this review (#93787) | Posted by tuxon | Sunday, October 8, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars A dead ringer for Harem Scarem? Ok.....and you are serious? It's like comparing Apples and Hondas. Obviously a statement from a neophite. Harem Scarem is a four piece rock band from Canada who play radio friendly rock/pop. ACT is much more complex, 5 piece, heavy keyboards, huge vocal arr ... (read more)

Report this review (#92084) | Posted by DaveFman | Tuesday, September 26, 2006 | Review Permanlink

2 stars If "Imaginary Friends" is any indication of their entire catalog, then A.C.T. is a disappointment. Ola Andersson is one talented guitarist, but his work seems wasted on rather uninspiring and erratic arrangements. The band has some great moments for sure, but the songs all seem to lose direct ... (read more)

Report this review (#54328) | Posted by MostlyCranky | Tuesday, November 1, 2005 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Their sound is too bombastic. I like to compare this as a pop-version of Spock's Beard and for example City Boy's album "The Day The Earth Caught Fire" is much better than this. It is also a light version of Queen and it is hard to compete with Freddie Mercury on the vocal side. Compared with ... (read more)

Report this review (#17121) | Posted by | Saturday, November 13, 2004 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Very good second effort of this band. Perhaps melodies arenīt so straight as their previous work, but has an overall superb production & playing. I could assure that the plan of their songs has NO relationship with bands life DREAM THEATER and all that stuff, except only in the sound of the guitars. ... (read more)

Report this review (#17118) | Posted by | Wednesday, February 11, 2004 | Review Permanlink

Post a review of A.C.T "Imaginary Friends"

You must be a forum member to post a review, please register here if you are not.


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives

Donate monthly and keep PA fast-loading and ad-free forever.