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Pictorial Wand

Symphonic Prog

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Pictorial Wand Face Of Our Fathers album cover
3.62 | 62 ratings | 9 reviews | 21% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2009

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. The Wasteland (11:12)
2. Struggle Of Autumn Leaves (8:41)
3. Prince Of War (8:19)
4. The Ghosts Start Dancing (11:44)
5. Verse Of Despair (6:10)
6. Face Of Our Fathers (9:33)
7. Circle's End (12:05)

Total Time: 67:44

Line-up / Musicians

- Mattis Sörum / guitars, bass, organ, keyboards, piano, percussion
- Tomas Di Sansimone / drums
- Arild Sveum / organ, piano
- Gunhild Olaussen / violins
- Live Kostöl / cellos
- Hogne Moe / flutes
- Tore Christer Storlid / vocals (Hope)
- Gry Tronslien / vocals (Love)
- Julie Christensen / vocals (Reason)
- Petter Selliseth / vocals (Pride)

Releases information

CD Unicorn Digital (2009)

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and to Rivertree for the last updates
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PICTORIAL WAND Face Of Our Fathers ratings distribution

(62 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(21%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(39%)
Good, but non-essential (25%)
Collectors/fans only (15%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

PICTORIAL WAND Face Of Our Fathers reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by avestin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars One man, Norwegian multi-instrumentalist Mattis Sĝrum, is behind this project started in 2003, bringing to his aid (much like Ayreon) musicians and vocalists (four on this album) to play and sing on his albums. Mattis plays the synths, organ and guitars on the albums. This 2009 release, is his second album and a concept one as well, after his 2006 debut, A Sleeper`s Awakening , which was a double album that was made while Mattis was a music student in Trondheim. It was there he found the seventeen musicians to help him create his vision and it took three years to make. This current album is released through Unicorm Digital, a Canadian based label that released superb albums from progressive bands like Karcius, Hamadryad, Mystery, Jellyfiche, Capharnaum, The Gourishankar, Karfagen, Nil, Nathan Mahl, Sympozion and many others; so Pictorial Wand are in a very good company.

The music is very emotional; it manages to convey very well a mournful spirit, a sense of torment and regret. The dynamic range is wide, as the music ranges from calm and serene landscapes to troubled waters where a heavier approach reigns, and where the music acquires a metal sound as well up until the emotional peaks of a song like Circle's End. The four vocalists also add to the richness and dynamics of the music and their voices very well match the vibe of the album and the feelings throughout. The musical style and sound seems to be influenced by Pain Of Salvation (for example in The Wasteland) and also to Ayreon (for example in The Ghosts Start Dancing).

Personally it took me some time to get into this album. Though it is accessible, melodic and beautiful, I needed some time for it to properly click and get into the particular sound that's presented here. And it did after four or five listening "sessions". The similarities to the aforementioned bands was serving as a kind of hook but I think that with further releases Mattis will find a more unique sound, which I would welcome. The song, Face Of Our Fathers for instance, very much sound like Pain Of Salvation to me (era The Perfect Element 1). However, even considering this resemblance issue, this is a very well done album, the music is beautiful, there are many hooks and striking melodies, wonderful performances by the vocalists and splendid keyboards work. What I appreciate mostly about this album, and this is something I look for in all albums, is a special sound-environment; I want the album to introduce me to a different place through the music; I wish for the music to be able to pull me out from where my mind is at present and transport me elsewhere. This is either achieved for example by the melody, by effects in the music, by excellent musicianship or by simply having a special sounding atmosphere achieved through the music. Face Of Our Fathers manages to have this effect on me with several of these above-mentioned ways. I'm highly satisfied with this album and I highly look forward to Mattis' next album.

Review by Epignosis
4 stars Pictorial Wand's sophomore album was my positive bombshell of 2009. Not at all sure what to expect, even after doing some reading and feeling intrigued by the artwork, I found myself stunned that such music should find its way to my ears. The album never runs out of fresh musical ideas, and once a theme has run its course, it is either reinvented or something fresh happens. The electric guitars are never overwrought with distortion, and they even have the good sense to go away sometimes. Intelligent but never bombastic keyboards of varying tones and intensities weave their way through the arrangements. The bass guitar and drums are the most subdued aspect of the album, but there is nothing wrong with an in-the-pocket rhythm section, especially when so much else is going on during certain passages. But the most amazing constituents of this album lie in the vocal duties and the melodies. Employing both male and female singers, both with strapping vocal cords and an indomitable sense of harmony, Pictorial Wand creates a commanding confederacy of talent and craftsmanship. Even though other acts have far greater fanfare, this is perhaps the greatest symphonic progressive rock album of 2009. Ladies and gentlemen, please do not ignore this masterpiece.

"The Wasteland" A dirge-like acoustic guitar, the tolling of a bell, and a funeral's sermon begins the album. Distorted electric guitar works alongside synthesizer until another guitar enters, setting up the verse. Despite the staples of progressive rock, this piece has a decidedly southern rock flavor with the tremolo guitar and grainy masculine vocals. Even the female lead vocalist has a smoky, Dale Krantz-Rossington sound to her. Overloaded with melodic themes, often layered one of top of the other, one may expect nothing less than heavy symphonic brilliance. Although stripped down during the guitar solo for a brief time, the piece erupts in a powerful counterpoint vocal section that has to be heard to be believed.

"Struggle of Autumn Leaves" Following the piano in the introduction, a web of synthesizer and electric guitar is woven together, ushering in a simple acoustic guitar and vocal. As with the previous piece, the vocals are outstanding, as they carry brilliant melodies with ease and vigor. Complex instrumentation- keyboard, violin, flute, and electric guitar- works over a steady bass and drum creating textures quite similar to those of Kansas.

"Prince of War" Dirty organ introduces yet another memorable musical theme. Other instruments encroach on this performance to create a more substantial interpretation. A soulful, mournful, yet skillful electric guitar solo does some dazzling things over a dark acoustic guitar and organ. Violin and flute return to the main motif, accompanied by hard-hitting punctuations and thick vocals.

"The Ghosts Start Dancing" A single, gritty guitar plays a pleasing motif alone, but soon a second guitar, and then other instruments join. The feminine vocals here are nothing less than stellar, particularly during the gentle refrain. Following a magnificent series of vocal passages, expertly-crafted organ and guitar solos tear through the music before everything winds down to the sorrowful exhortations of a mother and the prideful determination of her son. This woman's voice is not to be missed, folks. How expressive!

"Verse of Despair" Swampy guitar and synthesizer by themselves create two different moods, one melancholic and one hopeful, using a unique chord progression. Screaming lead guitar bridges the gorgeous vocal sections.

"Face of Our Fathers" Piano and organ deliver a wonderful melody, but the sound changes into something that might be described as light Dream Theater. Without dropping its somber vibe, however, the piece grows suddenly softer, which serves as a mat for some fine electric guitar gymnastics.

"Circle's End" The final track employs a more metal approach with a pompous riff. It quickly subsides, leaving keyboards, flute, and acoustic guitar. The song even uses vocals shrouded in effects, making them almost sound like a growl. After a brisk guitar solo and flute excursion, the music becomes somewhat dissonant and somber, relying on cello, piano, and other strings. Bittersweet violin brings in a heartfelt vocal performance just before the fiery conclusion. A brokenhearted denouement of acoustic guitar and synthesizer closes this monumental work of art.

Review by lazland
2 stars I purchased this on the strength of other reviews, and was expecting great things. Unfortunately, my listening tastes do not seem to accord with others who have reviewed or rated this album.

It's not awful, absolutely far from it, but neither, to me, is it anywhere near resembling essential.

The playing is excellent throughout, that much is sure. For example, there is a quite sublime guitar solo midway during Prince Of War, only for it to be spoiled by the vocals intruding at the end of it. In addition, I really like the female vocals. If only I could say the same for the male contributors, who spend far too much time growling, and out of tune at that.

I cannot help get the feeling that this is an album which has been thrown together in some way, with a very diverse set of influences, ranging from classic symphonic to hard prog, and this is the faultline running throughout this. It doesn't feel like a cohesive whole, rather more like a smorgasbord. Struggle of Autumn Leaves is a very good example. There are some lovely melodic moments in this, but the track all to often descends into a mix of what I can only describe as who knows what. Even in the crazier experimental days of bands such as Crimson and VDGG, there was a cohesive feel and theme to the music, and this just seems to be lacking here.

I would also say that I found the production to be absolutely awful, and this certainly detracted from the enjoyment here.

It is a shame I'm writing this review. I love Scandinavian prog, but this is the worst I have had so far.

An album that really does not know where it is going, and very disjointed, and I therefore award it two stars, in that it really is for collectors only.

Review by Tarcisio Moura
3 stars Funny how some albums are. When I heard about this Norwegian project I was very curious. Upon hearing some parts on the store I got very excited and quickly bought it. However, when I had the opportunity of listening to it with more atention at home in the next few days I was not as enthusiastic. Not that is bad. in fact it reminds me a lot of Arjen Lucassen´s Ayreon. It´s a one man project (Mattis Sörum) who plays most instruments and has several musicians and singers as guests, playing the characters of the story.

The music´s style here is very close to Ayeron too: leaning much more towards prog metal than to symphonic prog. it is quite melodic and well done. The vocal parts are dramatic (pehaps a bit too dramatic) and varied. The main problem here seems to be a lack of original ideas on the songwriting, while the arrangements and instrumental perfomances falls too much on common places. The general sensation is the one that you heard it all before and better.

Conclusion: after repeated spins I stil have the same feeling: a good record and nothing more. Nothing´s really wrong here but it also failed to generate any real excitement. Certainly this project can do better in the future if mr Sorum comes up with stronger tunes and more convincing perfomances (specially on the instrumental side of it). My final rating keeps shifting between 2,5 stars and 3. I´ll round up to 3 because overall it´s a pleasant CD. Face of Our Fathers is worth check it out if you like this style of music.

Review by J-Man
4 stars Verse of Despair

After hearing all of the praise for Pictorial Wand's sophomore album, I couldn't wait to experience Face of our Fathers myself. This Norwegian project is a one-man-band of sorts, being entirely composed by Mattis Sörum, who also plays guitar, bass, keyboards, and percussion. Although I had pretty high expectations for the album, many of them were far exceeded. Calling Face of our Fathers incredible is no understatement, constantly boasting top-notch musicianship, breathtaking vocal melodies, and haunting compositions. If you like somewhat operatic symphonic prog with heavier touches every now and again, this is a highly recommendable release. The talent of Mattis Sörum is undeniably stunning - the music that he's created is remarkable and well-worth all of the praise that it's garnered. Although the album isn't quite a masterpiece, Pictorial Wand is surely a band to keep your eye on in the coming years.

The music on Face of our Fathers is a cross between gritty southern-symphonic prog in the vein of Kansas, the theatrical aspects of early Genesis, and heavier operatic tendencies in the vein of Ayreon or Pain of Salvation. It's a satisfying and original mix of classic prog and more modern prog metal influences. The instrumentation is often unconventional for modern symphonic prog, frequently featuring violin and cello, which even further adds the apparent Kansas influences. Every one of the seven songs is on the longer side, with the lengthiest being over 12 minutes. Thus, this is a rather long album, clocking in at almost 70 minutes. There are a few parts that "drag" a bit, but they are, thankfully, few and far between. The vast majority of Face of our Fathers is a miraculous journey worth taking. As I've mentioned earlier, the talent exerted from Mattis Sörum is amazing, and the other musicians are terrific as well. It's especially worth noting the vocalists Tore Christer Storlid, Gry Tronslien, Julie Christensen, and Petter Selliseth. These vocal harmonies are just breathtaking, and are utilized perfectly. Any person who enjoys great vocal arrangements will be in heaven with this. Vocally, I'm often reminded of Pain of Salvation especially.

The production, while slightly unprofessional, is still excellent. Everything is clear and easily audible. It's great to hear some a group who doesn't fall into the over-produced symphonic prog trap.


I was expecting a lot from Face of our Fathers, and I can confidently conclude that this is every bit as good as I thought it would be. If you like good ole symphonic progressive rock with some modern amenities, this is the album for you. It's every bit as great as the beautiful artwork that accompanies it. 4 stars are well-earned for this modern masterwork. Great job on behalf of everyone involved - I can't wait to hear more!

Review by b_olariu
3 stars 3.5 stars really

Pictorial Wand is Mattis Sĝrum, he formed this band a decade ago releasing so far two albums. The second release Face our fathers is a complex eclectic kind of prog rock with twists and turns and all the ingredients to be a fairly solid album in this field. The head of the band Mattis Sĝrum who provided the guitars, bass, organ, keyboards is helped by a bunch of musicians who coming with the rest of the insstrumenta like cello, violin, flutes and aswell vocal passages. I needed more then few spins to really get into this album, is very demanding, on the eclectic side pf prog with slightly symphonic parts here and there, very lenghty pieces, all are from 6 to 12 min, each one being very well constructed with influences from old school like Knasas to prog metal like Ayreon, but without being a prog metal album in the end. The female/male singers offers a wide varity of vocal passages, very well presented. Maybe my fav tune is the title track Face Of Our Fathers, clocking around 9 min showing that Pictorial Wand knows to compose solid intresting music. Little known in prog circles, Pictorial Wand definetly needs more attention, both album are well worth investigated. 3.5 stars for sure.

Latest members reviews

5 stars This is quite a diverse release, very melodic with excellent use of the long list of collaborators. It is a sombre piece, with a mix of male and female vocals, piano, flute, violin, cello and acoustic passages, lots of variation, all in all, quite symphonic. That said, this could quite easily ... (read more)

Report this review (#289175) | Posted by praj912 | Monday, July 5, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I accepted Face of our Fathers today. I had no particular waiting except that the majority of the comments that I read were a posifif. I knew Pictorial Wand with their first album A Sleeper' s Awakening. This album left me a good memory, there were good things on this double shooting. With Fac ... (read more)

Report this review (#245727) | Posted by spacefolk | Thursday, October 22, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I am a bit shy. Shy because this is my first review, and shy because no one has yet to review this magnificent work. But because this work is so magnificent, and nobody seems to be aware of it, I am compelled to speak. Get out your headphones; dust them off and put them on. The only way to l ... (read more)

Report this review (#235613) | Posted by DrZom | Friday, August 28, 2009 | Review Permanlink

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