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THE HUMAN CONDITION

Saga

Crossover Prog


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Saga The Human Condition album cover
3.51 | 79 ratings | 11 reviews | 8% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection


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Studio Album, released in 2009

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. The Human Condition (6:51)
2. Step Inside (4:56)
3. Hands of Time (5:29)
4. Avalon (4:48)
5. A Number With A Name (4:51)
6. Now is Now (4:12)
7. Let It Go (4:47)
8. Crown of Thorns (5:46)
9. You Look Good To Me (5:22)

Total Time: 47:02

Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

- Rob Moratti / vocals
- Ian Crichton / guitars
- Jim Crichton / bass
- Jim Gilmour / keyboards
- Brian Doerner / drums

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
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SagacitySagacity
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SAGA The Human Condition ratings distribution


3.51
(79 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(8%)
8%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(35%)
35%
Good, but non-essential (42%)
42%
Collectors/fans only (9%)
9%
Poor. Only for completionists (5%)
5%

SAGA The Human Condition reviews


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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Queen By-Tor
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Cranking on the prog knob.

With one of their founding members gone, Saga takes a step in another direction. Apparently, this time around they've also decided to capitalize on the prog-headedness of a lot of their fans and have added plenty of elements of modern progressive rock into their music. The result is something that sits somewhere between good old hard rock, and completely modern neo-progressive music. The addition of a new vocalist, replacing the pipes of someone who had been with the band for around 30 years, makes this album something of a dangerous when when the fans are looking at it, after all, how will Saga still sound like Saga without the distinctive lead of Michael Sadler?

First, let's address the new singer. Rob Moratti is something of a brave soul to take over the lead of such an established band. There's many times that an exact situation like this turns into a heated battle between two singers and the fans, and usually results in the new singer being ejected to reunite with the old singer for some big 'comeback' album. Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, and hell, even Motley Crue weren't able to survive a change of vocals, so will this quasi-obscure long-running Canadian band be able to? Well, Moratti does a one hell of a job on the mic for this album, and he's actually one of the standout points of the entire ordeal. He's got a powerful voice that, while a little more 'typical' than that of Sadler, fits Saga's music nicely - he's also got enough range to deal with everything from the robotic The Human Condition to the ethereal Avalon. Whether Moratti stays as a force in the band is yet to be seen, but he's off to a good start here, and fans should be able to warm up to him.

Instrumental wise, things have changed a bit. While Ian Crichton and co are still able to churn out some memorable riffs and solos things in general sound to be played fairly on the 'safe side'. A good riff here, a solo there, nothing seems out of place, which makes the album work fairly well, but also keeps it from getting overly exciting at any given moment. While Saga is an established act, this album almost comes off as sounding like a debut for another band, a band that hasn't yet found their style yet so they're working off their influences. Not to say that the album isn't original, it's just not trying to push any boundaries.

As for the songs on the album, it's the heavier stuff that keeps attention better. Things get off to a thundering start with what's easily the standout of the album, The Human Condition. Crichton lays out some blistering riffs and the voice effects really give the song a good amount of depth. It's also a song that borders on 7-minutes, so anyone looking for something that lasts a good amount of time will find it here. Step Inside keeps things going with some more heavy riffage and a memorable chorus. Later in the album there's more fun to be had with songs like Number With A Name with its splashes of synths mixed with the corresponding guitars to make for some killer melodies - and the next standout on the disc, Crown Of Thorns, a song that plays out as fast and as impressively as the opening title track, but with a teaspoon more heaviness and a cup more darkness. Avalon is another worthy addition to the album, and while some of the backing vocals do border on cheesy at points the high shouting parts from Moratti make it all work in context and actually make for a very uplifting tune.

There are a couple moments on the album where the flow is broken, however. While the slow moments on the album are all certainly good the general feeling of the album is uplifting and mid to fast paced, so separating Step Inside and Avalon with the slow and mellow Hands Of Time makes you want to reach for the skip button if you're taking the album out for a drive, but when listening to the album from front to back it's not a song that is really that bothersome. The only other song that may catch you off guard is the final track, You Look Good To Me which breaks up the neo-prog-classic-rock feel with a kind of 80s stadium tune that feels harshly out of place. Yes, leave it up to us elitist, dead serious prog critics to pick on a song that's too upbeat and poppy for its own good, but this is a tune that may turn off some of the more hard core prog heads that get drawn into the album thanks to opuses like the title cut and A Number With A Name.

Overall, an album with a couple of absolutely killer songs that can give many of today's progressive giants a run for their money along with a lot of tunes that sound like they band's simply trying to play it safe. In the end this one is going to get 3.5, definitely recommended for fans of the band and people looking for interesting entries into this year's Neo-Progressive category. Worth checking out!

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Send comments to Queen By-Tor (BETA) | Report this review (#211564) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, April 17, 2009

Review by debrewguy
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Saga returns with a new singer. And what a return !

Now before I begin, I ask that any & all comparisons I make be understood as a way to describe this album for those who either do not know much of Saga, or who gave up on them after their initial glory days that ran up to Heads or Tales.

The Human Condition starts out the album with a "follow us if you can" guitar / keyboard run that sounds like a band re-energized. A treated vocal comes in at times, but this one should put a smile on musos' faces.

Step Inside keeps the pace up. In a way, it almost sounds as the group is reclaiming its " once upon a time" reputation as the first "Neo" band. It brings to mind recent New Prog like Pendragon's Pure & some Porcupine Tree in the heavy guitars. Heavy Saga ! But not ham-handed. The lyrics did seem a bit too simple at first, but repeated listenings dispelled any effect it had on my loving the music.

Hands of Time - here's is where I'll make my first comment on Rob Moratti, the new vocalist. Yes, his voice does recall Dennis DeYoung a bit. But on this song, if I close my eyes, I hear Roine Stolt. Not in the sense of imitation. But more in the way that his tone comes across as positive emotion in song. Indeed, this song wouldn't sound out of place on a Flower Kings album. But you could also compare it to early Saga like Don't Be Late, but coming to a calmly rising crescendo.

Avalon - I'm practically in the midst of bliss after this song. As a fan of Neo bands like Marillion, IQ & Pendragon, this one brings me back to the same good feeling as I had listening to these bands latest releases. Yes, there is the pop & AOR influence, but they add their bit of class, sophistication and prog to the song. The group's mix of old & new Saga is in full bloom here. I'm going to have to go through my collection to see if Ian Crichton influenced Nick Barrett, or did Ian pick up some things from latter day Nick. Truly, Saga is besting the best of the today's Neo scene with songs like this.

A Number with a Name - Ian Crichton and Jim Gilmour are back in classic Saga mode. Their interplay, which I so fondly remember from albums like Saga & Heads or Tales, is all over this song. A bit heavier on the guitar, a reminder of the aspects that Saga shared with Rush, but classic Saga. It brings to mind Saga's first song - How Long - with Saga's Gentle Giant influence coming through. Gilmour's piano at times reminds me of Kerry Minnear's playing from songs like Just the Same. Here Rob's vocals are reminiscent of Steve Walsh at his peak.

Now is Now - is best described as Saga doing classic Styx, or rather (smirk, smirk), Saga showing Styx what they could or should be doing. Moratti's voice here is a mix between DeYoung and Steve Walsh. Indeed, the solo section at the end reminds me of some older Kansas. Gilmour's array of keyboards on this song is fascinating. Floating Synths, tinkling piano, with an electric piano sound carrying the main melody. Add Ian Crichton pulling off a solo of Alex Lifeson heights.

Let It Go & Crown of Thorns- A Neo Rush ? Or did Ian Crichton pull an Alex Lifeson and push for a heavier sound. Heavier on guitar, with the keys more as backing. Apart from the vocals this could have fit well on recent Rush albums. But again, the similarity is due more to the aspects that the group shared with Rush in the early 80s. Of course, Gilmour keyboard playing outmatches Geddy's, and again we hear what led many to call Saga a Neo band before Neo.

You Look Good To Me - Did I mention Gilmour's piano occasionally bringing Kerry Minnear to mind ? Well, here the main melody line played by Ian Crichton Gary Green's , a sound very reminiscent of an updated Just the Same from Gentle Giant. A pre-verse that Dennis DeYoung in his glory days used to be able to write effortlessly, onto a chorus that hits pop heaven . No improvised free jazz middle part, but a complete showcase of Saga's pop strengths, and how at their best, they can bring in prog aspects without sounding forced. A solo part more straight ahead than Gentle Giant's Just the Same, but a nice detour into the classic heavy guitar, and modern synth interplay thatCrichton & Gilmour do so well. And Brian Doerner, who I should have mentioned more often holds it all together with just the right touch.

All in all, this album should be gladly welcomed by old Saga fans, and I strongly recommend it to fans of Neo AND what PA classifies as Crossover Prog. This is joyful music, very welcome to these ears. And this is one that seemed to grow quickly on me.

Are Saga re-energized from the Contact 30th anniversary tour & that last show with Michael Sadler ? Are they re-invigorated because of having found themselves with a new singer ? Either way, this sounds like a fresh (re)start for the group. And nothing like starting at the top, eh !

Now off to Spin-It Records to see what LPs or CD that may have of Saga.

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Send comments to debrewguy (BETA) | Report this review (#212475) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, April 25, 2009

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars As you know by now, I am actually not an expert in observing the developments of SAGA music even though I like their music. When this album appeared in pre-order list on the net I clicked it right away because of two reasons: Firs, I like the fact that the band that was success in old days are now still making new album and second, I like the cover art work. Only then I was aware that in this album saga brings new lead singer, Rob Moratti. It was quite regretful actually knowing that Michael Sadler announced his departure after 30 years of fronting Saga and his voice had become an integral part of Saga music. People, the fans, must be wondering if Saga would still alive without Sadler.

But let me tell you the truth, the first time I spun my CD, I was blown away with the opening track which is actually the title track as well 'The Human Condition' (6:51). I could not believe that Saga could make such really wonderful composition in basically 'instrumental' setting. The beauty of the track lies in its dynamic style that flows from start to end of the song. The key to this song is basically the inventive keyboard work of Jim Gilmour that flows in relatively fast tempo music combined with stunning guitar of Ian Crichton. I have known the music of Saga for quite a long time but this style of music is different with their style. Yes there are elements of their roots but the overall style sounds like a new approach to me. It's powerful and it's a masterpiece opening track!

It sounds like Presto Ballet

Rob Moratti singing style is in the vein of Styx's Dennis de Young or Tommy Saw. His vocal does not sound similar with previous releases of Saga under Michael Sadler. In fact the overall style of this album sounds similar to new band called Presto Ballet. This proves to be right if you observe quite detail with track like the second one in the album: 'Step Inside' (4:56). The ambient of the music reminds me to Presto Ballet. It starts beautifully with keyboard work and it flows nicely into a stream of music in medium tempo pace. The gutar solo during interlude is stunning, tuned in relatively low volume setting. The rhythm section by keyboard is quite unique and it has Saga components, really.

'Hands of Time' (5:29) is a mellow track that starts with vocal on top of keyboard solo. When the music moves together with complete music instruments setup, the tempo does not really change and it stays with the slow tempo until it ends. The howling guitar part is inspiring. With 'Avalon' (4:48) the tempo starts to move up again even though not in fast tempo. 'A Number With A Name' (4:51) starts with guitar fills that are typical Saga music, followed with a groovy music combined with solid composition. AT this track you still can smell the music of Saga. When 'Now is Now' (4:12) enters, the music starts to bore me as there is nothing new that I can enjoy.

'Let It Go' (4:47) actually brings us back to the old days of Saga, but unfortunately when the vocal enters, it does not sound like an excellent track right here. 'Crown of Thorns' (5:46) brings the music back into fast speed. The guitar part is really stunning. The drumming is also dynamic. 'You Look Good To Me' (5:22) starts with guitar riffs followed by drums.

Overall, this is a good album especially for those have become Saga fans. Old fans of the band can still find basic elements of Saga appear here and there. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and merci mild - GW

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Send comments to Gatot (BETA) | Report this review (#229195) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, July 31, 2009

Review by Windhawk
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Not too impressive this latest production by Saga.

While not a bad effort as such, I found this effort to be both uninspired and predictable. Contrasts between the darker, slightly gritty guitar sound and the lighter, gentler synth cascades is an effect used to death and beyond, and while the band's new vocalist has a distinct melodic delivery his input doesn't really add any sophistication to the excursions - no distinct harmonic nor contrasting part in the soundscape, just the midpart melodic element in between the greater contrasting ones in the massive soundscape Saga have opted to use on this disc.

Saga are good at creating catchy chorus parts though, and anyone fond of massive, rich synth cascades should find this venture intriguing - espcially if AOR is to their liking.

Personally I'm less than thrilled about this effort though. Okayish enough tunes, a couple of duds, but apart from Step Inside and Crown of Thorns none of the tracks made made a generally positive impression, beyond the scope of being nice efforts that should appeal to pomp rock aficionados.

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Posted Thursday, January 07, 2010

Review by Tarcisio Moura
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Sagaīs one million dollar question: can you imagine the band without their singer and charismatic frontman for 30 years, Michael Sadler? thatīs why I was quite aware of this CD for many weeks. But upon hearing it I found there was nothing to fear. In fact, it seems that the new singer gave the band a much n eeded shot in the arm. Ok, I havenīt seen the guy on stage and I canīt really say if heīs got such a strong stage persona as Sadler, but, boy, can he sing! He has a different voice but his style worked very well within the bandīs sound and personality.

And the songwriting also improved since their latest releases: I found the CDīs first half really stunning. To be more specific, the first four tracks are the winners. They show the band at their best with their progressive side on the upfront again. The remaining tunes are saved by the excellent playing, the new singerīs passionate perfomance and the general tasteful arrangements (a Sagaīs trademark),. Only the last song, You Look Good To Me sounded really weak and should be left out. Once again I should point out ian Crichtonīs brilliant guitar playing, the guy never seems to stop amazing me with his very personal style and endless creativity. Jim Gilmourīs keyboards work is also another highlight. Production is excellent.

Conclusion: The Human Condition may be a transitional work, the first with a new singer, but it sure is also very good. A hard album to rate:. A 3,5 star rating seems to be fair enough for now, but every time I hear the CīD I like it more, so I guess Ill round up to four... Iīm eager to hear their next releases. A promising re-start!

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Posted Friday, March 05, 2010

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Symphonic Team
3 stars Step inside

As I have already pointed out in some of my previous reviews, 1999 to 2009 has been a really prolific and consistent period in Saga's long career with no less than seven good studio albums in a row (of which the previous 10.000 Days is my personal favourite). The Human Condition is the most recent studio release by Saga at the time of writing and the latest in this uninterrupted series of good albums reaching back to the Full Circle album at the end of the 90's. Even if they never again came close to matching my all-time favourite Saga album - the excellent and very progressive concept album that was Generation 13 - the string of solid albums from the group in the new millennium is indeed impressive and, in my opinion, easily outshines anything they did in the 80's.

A criticism commonly directed against Saga is that most of their songs and albums sound the same. This has at least sometimes been true and made it somewhat difficult to digest their vast output despite its generally good quality in recent years. The present album is a bit different though, as it is the one and only Saga album without lead vocalist Michael Sadler who is here replaced by one Rob Moratti. The result of this is that The Human Condition does indeed sound different and, to be honest, this album could just as well have been made by a completely different band. Rob Moratti has the same kind of effect on Saga as Ray Wilson had on Genesis. Like Genesis' Calling All Stations (the only Genesis album with Wilson on lead vocals), Saga's The Human Condition is good but rather anonymous. Moratti has a fine voice, but it is not really Saga anymore. Still, it is impossible to deny that The Human Condition is a good album with some very good moments.

There are hints and touches of Yes and Gentle Giant here and there, but the general direction the band has taken here is a step towards (light and melodic) Prog Metal and (harder-edged) Neo-Prog. I hear a bit of Dream Theater and maybe IQ and Pallas in the better tracks, but also an AOR/classic Hard Rock flavour. The typical "Pomp" of classic Saga is not really here anymore, but the catchy melodies are still here. The opening, nearly seven minute title-track is almost entirely instrumental, and despite it being one of the best tracks on the whole album it did make me wonder if they were deliberately postponing the appearance of the new singer as far as possible. The only lyrics featured in this track is "running from the human condition" sung in a very Yes-like melody. Very good stuff! Morratti finally stepped up on Step Inside, which is another strong track. Indeed, the whole first half of the album is really strong with the superb Avalon standing out as my favourite. The second half of the album is weaker, however, with only Crown Of Thorns being up to the standards set by the first half. The closer You Look Good To Me seems especially disappointing.

Style-wise this album is different from other Saga albums in a refreshing way. Quality-wise it is not as good as the previous 10.000 Days - in my opinion, the peak of 00's Saga and the culmination of a long series of good albums - but on a par with other recent albums like House Of Cards, Network and Trust. I'm sure that many Prog fans would enjoy this album, even some of those that normally don't like Saga.

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Posted Saturday, August 06, 2011

Review by Second Life Syndrome
COLLABORATOR Post/Math Rock and Crossover Teams
5 stars Wow! That is the first reaction I had to "The Human Connection" from prog rockers Saga. Not only do these guys have an awesome name and an affinity for cool covers, but they also know how to provide us with plenty of neo-prog goodness.

This album happens to be the only album without the original singer, Michael Sadler. That's just fine, as Rob Moratti has an incredible voice. Smooth, soaring, and powerful, Rob's voice is one of the driving forces behind this album. However, the music itself is a powerhouse, too. The combination of driving instrumental passages, delicious bass lines, pseudo-electronic keys, dynamic piano, and guitar riffs with a subtle crunch all come together to form an epic sound full of solos and beautiful melodies. Catchy chorus galore and rocking moments add a touch of reality to the music, but progginess is ever present, too. The bass guitar especially is fantastic, and I was pleasantly surprised by the technical ability shown on the drums.

Time is running out, my friends. That is kinda what this album is saying. The human experience is ever trapped in a downwards spiral of time. At the same time, stop worrying, as that is the way of the world. I found the concept to be rather solid, and lyrics also to be really well written. Song after song goes by, and every single one is strong. I think "Hands of Time", "A Number with a Name", and "Crown of Thorns" are all stand-outs. Yet, I think the offbeat, unexpected track "You Look Good to Me" is my favorite, as its stilted verses and the incredible instrumental passage near the end both addict my ears. I was really surprised by this album, and I can't seem to get away from it.

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Posted Thursday, October 24, 2013

Latest members reviews

5 stars Now is now... Now is not then. And Saga solidly place themselves in the now with "The Human Condition", which I think is a brilliant progressive album. It blends in guitar-driven hard rock with at times very complex almost fusion jazz-like elements and utilizes both traditional pop/rock song st ... (read more)

Report this review (#256780) | Posted by Time Signature | Saturday, December 19, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars So this album is diffrent from the earlier works of Saga. That does not counter the fact that as far as progressive rock goes, this is a monster album. Good melodies all through, great instrumental performances and a confidence out of this world is what we are presentet on The Human Condition. ... (read more)

Report this review (#221395) | Posted by Robinanimate | Tuesday, June 16, 2009 | Review Permanlink

3 stars There a few ways to measure the worthiness of a CD we can look at the production quality and in this case its very good almost excellent, then we can take into account the musicality and once again very good albeit a little more progressive then Saga of the past and a bit heavier as well, there's ... (read more)

Report this review (#213104) | Posted by Yorkie X | Friday, May 01, 2009 | Review Permanlink

2 stars To get it out of the way: Saga have a new singer, Rob Morrati, who finds himself in the difficult situation of replacing Michael Sadler. Well, he doesn't sound like his predecessor, more like your average AOR singer (take Styx' Dennis De Young and you get the idea). I don't have a problem with th ... (read more)

Report this review (#209757) | Posted by saalfeld | Wednesday, April 01, 2009 | Review Permanlink

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