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Dice The Four Riders of the Apocalypse album cover
3.50 | 78 ratings | 14 reviews | 23% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
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Studio Album, released in 1992

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. War (11:00) :
- a) Ouverture (1:23)
- b) Fronts (6:17)
- c) Battle (2:37)
- d) Deserted Battlegrounds (0:43)
2. Disease (8:07)
3. Greed (7:47)
4. Death (11:53) :
- a) Requiem (2:10)
- b) Dance of Devils (4:24)
- c) Transition (1:08)
- d) Heaven (4:11)

Total Time 38:47

Line-up / Musicians

- Per Andersson / drums, percussion
- Leif Larsson / keyboards, Mellotron
- Örjan Strandberg / guitars
- Fredrik Vildö / basses, acoustic guitar

Releases information

CD Belle Antique 9225 (recorded in '77)

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DICE The Four Riders of the Apocalypse ratings distribution

(78 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(23%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(33%)
Good, but non-essential (33%)
Collectors/fans only (6%)
Poor. Only for completionists (4%)

DICE The Four Riders of the Apocalypse reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by lor68
4 stars This symphonic album from Sweden (of an eclectic-prog a-la Mirthrandir if you prefer), is characterized by a complex suite, being one of the most underrated albums of the late seventies (re-edited in the early nineties) and a great and important reference too, regarding some Swedish bands such as ANGLAGARD, SINKADUS and FLOWER KINGS. As for this reason only- it deserves almost the maximum score in my opinion. Naturally the focus is more on the instrumental passages than on the vocals, but the output is anyway excellent. The problem regarding the weak vocalist was quite important within their second album, dated 1978 and simply entitled "DICE"; instead the present small jewel, released on 1977 and issued on CD on 1992, except on a few prolix parts as well as on some uneven instrumental passages (but never forgetting its importance inside the symphonic prog-genre anyway!) as a classic reference is highly recommended... unfortunately at the end it could deserve one or two stars less, above all if you think of the best (more and more seldom to be found) modern prog-genre today, which compared to this "dated" work from Sweden (especially if you regard the style) could make you change idea, but nevermind...
Review by Progbear
2 stars After having heard lots of hype about this one, I was rather underwhelmed when I finally did get a chance to listen to it. Yes, on the surface there are strong similarities to Finch and Focus and the like. Yes, the musicianship is impressive and the songs are complex.

The problem is, the compositions are quite poor. The band members do come up with interesting motival ideas, but are absolutely clueless as to how to string them together into coherent musical pieces. As a result, there's not one memorable moment on the whole album. Well, apart from the bit in "Death" where they blatantly rip off King Crimson's "Lark's Tongues In Aspic, Part 2", cleaved in two by a cheesy rendition of "In The Mood".

I suppose I should cut them some slack as this was for all intents and purposes a demo, never intended for general release. Still, it's really not all that much in the end. All the elements are there, but something's missing. It's kind of like a jigsaw puzzle that hasn't been put together yet.

Review by kenethlevine
2 stars The introduction to the group here at progarchives mentions that fans of Mithrandir and Amenophis might lap this up. I haven't heard Mithrandir, but this entirely instrumental album bears no resemblance to Amenophis' elegant majestic work.

Dice seems to be very much from the ELP school in terms of use and sound of the organ, with perhaps even less emotion and warmth, if that is even possible. It is hard to pick out a highlight, but the main reason to listen might be for a fan of various jazz, classical, and prog classics to pick out the little snippets taken from these genres. Taken without insight respect, subtlety, feel for light and shade, sense of melody or timing, and with a misplaced irreverence. I take nothing away from the competence of these musicians, and to the possible limited appeal among prog snobs, but this one should have stayed on the shelf.

Review by Mellotron Storm
3 stars DICE released only one studio album back in the late seventies, and this isn't it. This was a demo they recorded but never released at the time, instead they released their self titled debut the year after they recorded this one. "The Four Riders Of The Apocalypse" was finally released as an album in 1992 ! I must admit i've been scratching my head wondering why this wasn't released back in 1977. This is a concept album and also an all instrumental record, except for the bonus track. I was reminded of YES and GENESIS quite a bit, and the star of the show is Leif Larsson who plays some amazing mellotron, synths, piano and organ. I have to say that the bass(Rickenbacker) stands out nicely as well. Two complaints though. First of all the sound quality could be a lot better and second this sounds too familiar much of the time.

We get started with "War (1st Impression)" beginning with "Ouverture" a short piece that really reminds me of ELP, in particular Mr.Emerson. "Fronts" features mellotron as marching style drumming and organ lead the way. It calms right down before rebuilding before 2 minutes back to the organ/drum melody. Whistling is heard as you can imagine the soldiers marching off to war. Another calm as the mellotron flows before 3 1/2 minutes. Guitar becomes prominant after 4 minutes and it reminds me of Howe. Check out the Wakeman-like keyboard work to follow. We are in YES territory folks. "Battle" features a flood of mellotron after a minute. Nice.The pulsating keys recall Banks. So much going on at this point(the battle). Very heavy drums end it. "Deserted Battlegrounds" is a reflective 43 second piece that ends the first impression. "Disease (2nd Impression)" opens with pulsating keys, then the chunky bass arrives, followed by the keys that recall Wakeman again. A calm comes in and this contrast continues. I really like the uptempo section 5 minutes in with mellotron. This is a cool YES flavoured tune.

"Greed (3rd Impression)" opens with organ as guitar, drums and fat bass join in. This track has a lot of energy on it. Some solo piano melodies before 5 minutes before we get back to the collage of intricate sounds. "Death (4th Impression)" like the War impression is divided into 4 parts. It starts with "Requiem" as what sounds like church organ comes powerfully in(hey it's death what did you expect). After some drums and bombast a calm arrives, the mellotron waves the rest of the way are incredible. "Dance Of The Devils" might be the best sounding song on here. It opens with drums, organ and mellotron before it all picks up speed as bass and guitar come in. A change then occurs after 1 1/2 minutes as it settles down even employing a short "In The Mood" interlude for fun. The levity continues until 3 1/2 minutes in when the uptempo melody from earlier comes back to end it. "Transition" is a one minute organ piece that is quite mellow. "Heaven" is the final piece of the concept. It features mellotron and organ that becomes dramatic 1 1/2 minutes in as drums and a fuller sound arrives. The sound calms back down before becoming massive again.

The bonus track from 1979 is called "Young Man's Delight". It's a 6 minute vocal song that is humerous and very well done. I like it.

Review by Atavachron
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Ambitious and dynamic second entry from these unsung Swedes, Four Riders of the Apocalypse is a dense mass of musical energy not unlike A Passion Play in its bold attempt to fit with the skill of a mortician and finesse of a four-star chef every loose scrap of edible meat and passable backfat into a single delicious galantine. The result is a most imperfect but uniquely satisfying affair. The nausea accompanied by illusions and frequent trips to the toilet later that night are well worth it. You only go around once.

Forget the even then passé arranging in four "suites" (it was a demo from the '70s), the album wouldn't sound any different if it'd been one long piece; 'War' full of military references, marches, fanfares, cadences, salutes, ruffles, and other quotes from martial music. And mid-period ELP, of course. Despite its title, 'Disease' is not sickly but bucolic mixed with wonderfully aimless prog rock led by Leif Larsson's more than capable keys, and reminds somewhat of American proggers Happy the Man. The rhythm section of Fred Vildö & Per Andersson must be commended for holding this potential mess of a record together, turning it into a reality and not just a band having fun. The cut closes on a single organ chord which in turn opens lively 'Greed' overflowing with polyhedral lines and deft playing, these four showing the unmistakable signs of a team committed to, more than anything, playing together. Great track.

Finally big and funereal 'Death' hallows the bitter end with its overdriven mics and near mayhem, and for a moment King Crimson's Red flashes through the synapses. The mix on Four Riders is not great, which is a shame. On the other hand, a perfect recording might have diminished this explosion of marvelous if rushed and deeply flawed rock energy. Who knows. I do know I'm glad they never re-recorded it. Here's hoping they never will.

Review by Matti
4 stars Swedish prog group DICE released one album in 1978 and disbanded, but one year before the album they had recorded this work that saw the light of day in 1992. My first impression, listening to the 11- minute opener 'War': a bit muddy production but very powerful, ambitious and dramatic symphonic instrumental prog with lots of organ. ELP reference is therefore obvious but maybe the compositions remind me more of YES and GENESIS, with some Scandinavian touch ŕ la KAIPA. Oh, now the guitar got very Steve Howe-ish! Followed by Emersonian organ fireworks.

'Disease' starts in a more careful manner but the tension increases along the way. Indeed there's an Apocalyptic feel in this hectic music. Again, some Foxtrot-era Genesis type of sounds. Good melodies, and apart from slight sense of less natural cut-and-paste progress in multi-part composition, the dramatic, narrative feeling stays pretty well in balance. 'Greed' has a fast tempo and by now I'm getting a bit frustrated at the ELPish, virtuotic approach. Tiresome prog in large doses to me. Happily there are delicate piano interludes, more in the style of Wakeman than Emerson. Hmm, it's soon followed by a hilarious, jazzy section that makes the ELP side stronger again.

The four-part 'Death' starts very doomily with sinister organ joined soon by the whole band. I like the creepy, quieter part with Mellotron's flute sounds. Death approaches, help us dear Lord! The final section ('Heaven') has a cathartic grandiosity.

Could have been nice to hear some occasional vocals too, but I respect their decision to stay instrumental. The musical talent in this quartet is very notable. The named influences are rather clear along the way but still this is a worthy addition to a prog collection, so I'll round my 3˝ stars up.

Review by Conor Fynes
3 stars 'The Four Riders of the Apocalypse' - Dice (63/100)

Barring the band logo (did Disney ever see fit to sue their butts?) the cover to The Four Riders of the Apocalypse was enough to get me interested in Dice. Though technically a 1977 album, the album apparently didn't get a substantial release until '92, long after the original progressive zeitgeist had died down. With that sort of enigmatic history, Four Riders is practically begging to be called an obscure gem of prog rock, and prior to listening to it, I was begging right along with it- after all, there's nothing like discovering a lesser-known masterpiece. Indeed, Dice were onto something interesting with their concept-based instrumental prog. The fact that there are shades of excellence in Four Riders of the Apocalypse makes it all the more disappointing that so much of the album underwhelms me.

There's something about the classical bombast of symphonic prog that suits it to images of battle. Yes' "The Gates of Delirium" (from 1974's Relayer) was a perfect example of what Dice tried to accomplish here; it was tense, chaotic, and formed a distinct arc outlining the beginning, middle and end of a battle. Dice certainly nail the rising action of a battle in "War" (complete with a martial whistle and marching rhythm during "Fronts", but they have a tougher time capturing the energy and violence of the battle itself. The "Battle" itself is distinctly less pretty than the rest of the suite (it sounds like an impression of ELP's "Toccata") but never once do Dice ever reach the heights of energy so much of the album seems to hint at.

While I'm most sold on the diegetic charm of "War"'s marching sequence, "Disease" is arguably Dice's best composed and performed track. It has a firm basis in Genesis' pastoral beauty, but jumps time and again into chaotic "Toccata"-esque forays. "Greed" is the most jovial of the four compositions, led by Örjan Strandberg twangy electric guitar in a way that puts them somewhere in the neighbourhood of Yes. Even though "Death" should have had more stopping power than the other 'Riders', the album's longest track feels like a mess compared to the first three. Some blatant musical references to King Crimson's "Larks Tongues in Aspic II" aside, there's little that stands out in the album's last chapter.

Dice echo the pomp of classical composers well enough, and the idea of writing a progressive mini- epic for each of the riders of the apocalypse is a great idea in theory, but the way Four Riders of the Apocalypse has turned out feels anything but consistent. The production is middling at best, and the two longer pieces lose steam before the end. These are black marks on an album that had the potential for greatness; as tends to be expected for bands of the genre, Dice are great musicians who sound well at home in the instrumental format. Sadly, like so many of the obscure gems that lay hidden in wait for prospective listeners, they weren't active long after the album was made, fading to the status of a footnote, to be admired by some of progressive rock's more adamant fans.

Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Symphonic Rock Swedish band, formed in early-70's by two friends, keyboardist Leif Larsson and guitarist Orjan Strandberg.As a duo they had already started writing original material, influenced by the likes of Procol Harum, Gentle Giant, The Nice and King Crimson, before meeting drummer Per Andersson and finding also bassist Fredrik Vildo through an ad.Dice recorded material for a full-length release already from early 1977 at the Frescati Studios, what was actually to become the ''Four Riders of the Apocalypse'' album, released only some 15 years later by Belle Antique.

At this point Dice had no lead singer and focused on writing complex and progressive all instrumental material with a dense and pompous sound, influenced by the likes of E.L.P., KING CRIMSON, KAIPA, FOCUS and GENESIS.I am pretty sure that you find every note in this album like if played previously by a Prog legend, so in terms of originality Dice had not much to offer.But musically their ideas were pretty nice, complicated, intricate, romantic and definitely out of fashion, when talking about 1977.They made proper and continuous use of the Hammond organ and Mellotron and had a deep sense of Classicism in their arrangements, which ended up to sound quite melodramatic with bombastic, laid-back and pompous passages.Guitar work appears to land somewhere between ROINE STOLT, JAN AKKERMAN and ROBERT FRIPP and the keyboard parts are coming straight out of a GENESIS or KING CRIMSON album.The arrangements are mostly impressive with symphonic overtones and some light jazzy pinches, going from organ-drenched fanfares to melodious themes and from rich, powerful interplays and sudden tempo changes to fairytale-like tunes and harmonies.Belle Antique made a great work on refining the sound and the recording quality sounds pretty fine to my ears.

Do not expect a personal style by this Sweidish band.Be ready though to listen to some well-crafted Symphonic Rock with Classical variations and grandiose musicianship all the way.Warmly recommended.

Latest members reviews

5 stars Dice was founded in 1972 by Örjan Strandberg and Leif Larsson, after the two had previously played in other bands. Strandberg and Larsson saw themselves not only as musicians, but also and above all as composers, and so their first jam sessions were more like writing sessions. Among other things ... (read more)

Report this review (#2589468) | Posted by prog_traveller!! | Friday, August 27, 2021 | Review Permanlink

3 stars I feel compelled to reflect on effort here - in place of achievement. So, what's wrong with this album? Nothing really, but everything. Let me explain. These rather talented cats have obviously been inspired by ELP and to a lesser extent perhaps Gentle Giant. Their combined skills appear to be ... (read more)

Report this review (#1160028) | Posted by Anon-E-Mouse | Thursday, April 10, 2014 | Review Permanlink

3 stars The artwork promises a lot. The music is not that interesting though. This is an instrumental album from this Swedish band (not to be confused with the German band with the same name) and it goes down the ELP/Fusion path. That means bombastic intros and keyboards. The rock-classic music fusio ... (read more)

Report this review (#248212) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Thursday, November 5, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Sweden has always seemed to be a bastion of progressive music. Dice were a top-notch symphonic rock group from the 1970's with virtuosic musicianship and compositional skills, occasionally marred by less-than perfect vocals, but still an outstanding group. The story of their albums' release date ... (read more)

Report this review (#170725) | Posted by emkogceo | Monday, May 12, 2008 | Review Permanlink

3 stars This is quite an interesting one, if only for the concept. The music here is pretty good, and I think the songs are well built. An instrumental prog rock album was pretty rare back in the day, so this gets a few originality points in my book. I actually like the flow of this album, I don't thi ... (read more)

Report this review (#118654) | Posted by Turion | Tuesday, April 17, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars An incredible masterpiece from this band. Along Kaipa, they should had influenced all the swedish prog rock that appeared in the 80's and 90's. Almost instrumental, a stunning complexity and mix of virtuosity, with the delicious mellotron and excellent guitar and keyboards parts. Awesome, don' ... (read more)

Report this review (#19417) | Posted by Melos | Tuesday, March 22, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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