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Pendragon Passion album cover
3.73 | 608 ratings | 32 reviews | 24% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2011

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Passion (5:27)
2. Empathy (11:20)
3. Feeding Frenzy (5:47)
4. This Green and Pleasant Land (13:13)
5. It's Just a Matter of Not Getting Caught (4:41)
6. Skara Brae (7:31)
7. Your Black Heart (6:46)

Total Time 54:45

Bonus DVD from 2011 SE:
1. Making Passion - A Handycam Progumentary (71:11)

Line-up / Musicians

- Nick Barrett / vocals, guitars, piano (7), keyboards, programming, co-producer
- Clive Nolan / keyboards, backing vocals
- Peter Gee / bass guitar
- Scott Higham / drums, backing vocals

Releases information

Artwork: Killustrations

2xLP Mad Fish ‎- SMALP970 (2011, UK)

CD Snapper Music ‎- SMACD971 (2011, Europe)
CD+DVD Madfish ‎- SMACD971 (2011, Europe) Bonus DVD with Making-of Video

Thanks to progshine for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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PENDRAGON Passion ratings distribution

(608 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(24%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(43%)
Good, but non-essential (21%)
Collectors/fans only (7%)
Poor. Only for completionists (6%)

PENDRAGON Passion reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Tarcisio Moura
4 stars Well, tell me about a grower!!! When I first heard this CD I thought it sounded awful! It seemed to me that this great band had listened too much to artists like Radiohead, Coldplay and the like... Too much for their own good maybe. Then, after a few more spins, you start to realise that the CD is not bad, just different. A few more and you´ll see that Passion is actually very good. And so on. I came to the conclusion, when I recovered from the inital shock, that Pendragon is one of the few prog bands to appear from the 80´s neo prog movement to actually have something new and relevant to show after all these years. And Nick Barrett is a rare breed indeed: he does write new stuff that is in essence the melodic symphonic rock he was always famous for, but also incorporate more recent styles blending them without losing his idendety nor his focus.

The results are stunning: even if you don´t like the music that comes from the CD, no one can deny those guys have made something that sounds modern and still very Pendragon-like. Along with all the new elements (tape loops, sound effects, unusual vocal harmonies, different song structures, etc) you´ll find generous doses of Barrett´s trademark emotional guitar solos and Clive Nolan´s brilliant, elegant keyboards fills (with a strong influence from Tony Banks of Genesis). This departure from their masterpiece The masquerade Overture is even more radical than on 2005´s Believe, but much more satisfying in almost all aspects. Pendragon is one fo the very few bands that achieved the rare feat of escaping the traps of being stuck with one succesful formula.

Although it was released in a relative short time after their last, the very good Pure (2008), Passion has no fillers to be found anywhere on the CD. All the tracks reeks of conviction and power (passion?). But my favorites tracks are the long ones: Empathy, This Green And Pleasant Land and Skara Brae, where there is room for the band members to show their instrumental prowness, proving how good and creative they can be combining the new and the old into some of the best prog stuff to be heard lately. Symphonic prog can be modern too!

The production is excellent.

Pendragon proved once and for all they can reinvent themselves after more than 30 years on business. Nick Barrett is not only one of prog´s finest songwriters, but also one of the most creative and enduring. He knows how to evolve without selling out.

Rating: Mea culpa. When I first heard this album I thought I´d ended up giving it 3 stars, if that much. I know some killjoy will rate it even less, sooner or later. It´s ok. Let´s respect people´s opinion. However, if you do pay atention to this album (with time and an opend mind) and give it the credit it is due, you´ll find hard to see it other than as it is: a very strong record for people with an open mind.

Review by lazland
5 stars A lot of the pre release hype about this new release from Pendragon, easily one of the most important bands to emerge from the UK in the 1980's, would have been enough to make a lot of prospective buyers think twice about investing their hard-earned cash. "Massive new direction", "shedful of new influences", and "Barrett does rap, but will the fans accept it?" are just a few of the ones I saw.

In reality, this stunning release basically pushes the band further in the direction commenced with the excellent releases Believe and Pure. Far heavier in outlook and execution than their earlier works, but without ever losing the excellent musicianship, thoughtful lyrics, and sense of grandiose pretensions that made a lot of us love them in the first place. And as for the rapping, I can reassure the public reading this that Barrett gives us about a minute on the opening title track and a bit more on Empathy, but Tiny Tempers or Snoop Woofy Woof he ain't, thankfully. In fact, without the pre release hype, you would barely notice it was there.

Passion opens deceptively quietly, with acoustic guitar leading us into the explosive sequence, both musically and lyrically ("drop my balls" indeed!). In fact, these lyrics repeat themselves in theme across the work. I get the impression that Barrett has thought long and hard in attempting to put across his disgust at much of modern society and politics. Dripping with bile in parts, and exceptionally thoughtful throughout, he is a lyricist who demands being listened to carefully.

The harder direction hinted at in the last two albums finds its most obvious successor in the exceptional second track, Empathy. In parts, very heavy, very well played, but interspersed with that lovely sense of symphonic theatre that the band have always executed so well. Turn your speaker volume up as far as you dare for It's Just A Matter Of Not Getting Caught - they will shudder at the intensity, and this track puts to shame many bands who pass themselves off as genuinely heavy metal. Skara Brae is just about the finest mix of symphonic and metal that you are ever likely to hear.

Longstanding fans of the band, such as myself, will delight in the incredible drumming performance of Scott Higham. It is absolutely no exaggeration to state that he really does bring a huge amount of energy to this band, and he is definitely better suited to lead the rhythm section of an outfit tending towards heavy prog territory.

But, of course, we do still have those gloriously lilting guitar solos by Barrett, one of the most underrated exponents of his craft in my opinion. Clive Nolan, as ever, brings to the band his wonderful sense of lush soundscapes (witness his remarkable solo one minute at the denouement of Empathy), and his quieter piano interludes are a joy to behold. He shines in this vein on Your Black Heart. Finishing off is Peter Gee, a great bassist, who clearly has fed off the energy that Higham has brought to the band.

It is difficult, as ever, to pick out highlights from a Pendragon album. Each of their works has demanded to be taken as a whole, and this one is no exception. However, to these ears, the longest track, This Green And Pleasant Land, at over thirteen minutes long, is up there with the finest pieces of music they have produced, and that means the finest of prog in my opinion. Huge in scope and execution, there are passages of pure beauty contained here. I don't think Barrett's guitar, set against a stunning backdrop by the rest of the band, has ever sounded better. Higham also proves himself very adept at leading the charge in lighter, as well as heavier, moments. The pace, at times, is utterly relentless and pulls you along absolutely willingly into another plain. In addition, the band show us they haven't lost their sense of humour when you are treated to a nice little Swiss yodel set against a throbbing bass line at the end.

Album closer, Your Black Heart, is also exceptional. It is a gorgeous ballad, just short of seven minutes long, and is, I suppose, reminiscent more than all else on the album, of earlier days. It is a marvellous way to come down from the sheer intensity of much of what preceded it, and the closing passage sends shivers down your spine.

In a similar way to the excellent XXV release by Pallas earlier this year, Passion is the sound of a band absolutely refusing to pander to and rest on past glories. It is the work of a band determined to push their own boundaries and stay relevant in the 21st century.

This is an album which "traditional" neo-prog fans, as well as those who love bands such as Rush and Dream Theater, will revel in. I cannot recommend it highly enough, it is a delight from start to finish. It is by far the finest album I have heard this year, and in rating it I bear in mind the mark of a great album - such a work should be one that you come back to time and again, over a period of many years, rather than a few, interspersed listens. This is an album which will blast out of my speakers many times in the future.

Five stars. A masterpiece of modern progressive rock, and quite possibly the finest thing this great band have ever produced.

Review by lor68
3 stars Well- regarding of the recent years- I thought of finding myself through a new uneven project once again... don't get me wrong, I mean, their identity has been remarked as a coherent music approach during the last years, I have to recognize; but unfortunately the same project has been also "trapped" into its stagnation (until the issue of "Not of this world" at least) - and this feature is still quite disappointing for me, when I think of it!!.

Nevertheless, even though my "benchmark" suitable to evaluate their new effort is always represented by "The Masquerade Overture" (perhaps their magnum opus, among many other "derivative" Neo-Prog works, with its merits and "shortcomings" in the same time), now probably this "Passion" is a new term of comparison for their future works.

The songwriting is good, sometimes looking forward a sort of mysticism, a bit strident but quite emotional in the vocal parts (actually the weak point of all the Pendragon's albums, but nevermind...) and moreover it's able to be "expressive" and a bit "imaginative" too.

In my opinion They are able to maintain the same mood like in the acclaimed "Pure" and, in spite of their "artistic" improvement, They haven't completely abandoned the old style of "Believe", a bit repetitive in their main melodic lines...anyway the opener title track rocks in a convincing manner and perhaps "This Green and Pleasant Land" as well, apart from the first minutes, quite mellow and a bit boring. In fact this latter epic number, being developed better than their previous song "Empathy" (when I hear Clive singing I'm not so happy, even though the mood is the same like in the title track) is characterized by the best guitar playing by Nick Barret (think also of "Feeding Frenzy ) and their vocalism is better than their old works mentioned above. However their style is evolving now towards a more personal music characterization and let me give them a 3 stars inside a true prog discography and 4 stars within an easier Neo-Prog discography.

Make your own choice, according to your liking!!

Review by Andy Webb
4 stars Listening Frenzy

Pendragon are one of those preliminary "neo-prog" bands of the 80s that really tried (but in the end failed until the 90s) to revamp the classic 70s prog rock scene. Their latest album, Passion, was one of the more highly anticipated albums on PA around the time of its release, and for a while it had one of the higher rating in the sub-genre. I can see why. This album may not be your average neo-prog album, with a much heavier almost metallic feel almost throughout. Chock full of infectious melodies and fantastic psychedelic-inspired rhythms mixed with rapid-fire mechanical filling and fantastic Portnoy-esque drumming, the album certainly has its diverse blend going on. With this supreme progressiveness going on, this is certainly one of my favorite albums of the year.

In previous reviews I've stated that I'm no expert on neo-prog. But I'm pretty sure this isn't really "neo-prog." But, it's still damn good. With the incredible blend of cinematic atmospheres with driving almost-metallic riffing sections, the album has an incredible dynamic contributing to this greatness. Although at times the album comes off as a bit too Floydian and at other a bit too popularly-leaning, the overall feeling of this album is a supremely harmonious, communicative experience of driving and infectious prog rock. With no shortage of head-banging moments and soaring melodious breakdowns, the album puts on a rollercoaster through the incredible minds of these fantastic musicians. As I hinted at before, the album isn't perfect, but it has an incredible feel the entire way through. The supreme riffing in Feeding Frenzy to the fantastic lyrics in Empathy to the fantastic epic (well sort of) This Green and Pleasant Land, the whole album is a just a real treat to listen to. And not mention it's a grower. This is my first Pendragon album, and my first listen I thought it was great. With the subsequent (and many) listens, I began to love it more and more. If you have hesitations about the album, listen to it a few more times and let those supreme melodies and that amazing atmosphere around the production. The mellow contrasting the heavy, spacey complimenting the melancholy, driving complimenting the hardness, the whole album is just a joy ride of modern progressive rock.

In the end, the album is overall, despite some minor flaws with some poppish melodies (especially the chorus on The Green and Pleasant Land) and some overly-Floydian rhythms at times, the album has an incredible sense of drive and passion (ha) all throughout. These guys certainly know what they're doing, and don't show any signs of slowing their musical incredibleness any time soon. 4+ stars.

Review by J-Man
3 stars If Passion does one thing right, it proves that Pendragon is still an innovative force to be reckoned with in 2011. Even 33 years after their formation in Stroud, England, the band still hasn't succumbed to treading on previously broken ground. Passion shows the famed neo-prog quartet with their heaviest, darkest, and possibly most unique album to date - whether or not that's a good thing ultimately depends on the listener. I happen to miss the light-hearted and symphonic atmosphere of masterpieces like The Masquerade Overture, but any band that would sacrifice innovation for album-repeats won't last long in this industry. As much as I appreciate Pendragon's heavier new direction on this album (I'm a die-hard death metal fan, after all!), I feel that it lacks part of what made them so enjoyable in the first place. Hopefully in future efforts they can find a way to merge the heaviness of this album with the memorability of their earlier efforts - that would make for one great album, to be sure!

Don't be mistaken by me calling this album 'heavy' - it's nowhere near the likes of the modern progressive metal leaders. But in comparison to the light-hearted, feel-good symphonic prog of their albums from the early 90's, this may feel like a radical departure for some. Heavy guitar riffs and a sleek modern production are the name of the game here, and Clive Nolan's once-dominate keyboard arrangements take a bit of a backseat on Passion. There are plenty of distinctly neo-progressive sections here, but I am more often reminded of Porcupine Tree and Riverside than I am of early-Marillion and IQ. This album takes the modern-edged Pure and strips away that last bit of 'eighties vibe' from the overall sound. For those hesitant to neo prog, this is by all means a good thing. I actually have a great appreciation for this newfound direction on Passion, but I feel the songwriting pales in comparison to the band's earlier masterworks. 'This Green And Pleasant Land' is by far the best track here - this is truly an excellent modern prog epic that will undoubtedly be remembered among the best of 2011.

Of course, as we're used to from Pendragon, the musicianship is outstanding across the board. Although I'm a bit disappointed by Clive Nolan's general lack of presence on this album, it just gives Nick Barrett's fantastic guitar work more room to shine. He's truly among the best in progressive rock - a perfect mix of Steve Rothery and David Gilmour, sure to satisfy prog rock enthusiasts. Peter Gee's bass playing provides a perfect foundation for the band and Scott Higham is also a mightily impressive drummer. These guys are simply a joy to listen to. The production is equally excellent - the sleek, modern sound suits the music perfectly.

When all is said and done, Passion isn't an album that's completely won me over. But that's what often happens when experienced bands experiment into new territory - they've released an impressive effort, no doubt, but it falls short of living up to their earlier masterpieces. This isn't the best starting point for Pendragon newbies, but it should satisfy fans of sleek, modern prog rock. It'll be interesting to hear where Pendragon heads next; this heavy, modern sound is one that Pendragon should undoubtedly master in the coming years. Passion is a good, but not outstanding, effort worthy of 3.5 stars. Although I'm a bit disappointed by this album, I don't deny quality - which is exactly what we have here.

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars I really thought time had passed this band by when I heard their 2005 release called "Believe".These guys put out three great albums in the nineties in "The World" , "The Window Of Life" and "Masquerade Overture" but "Believe" was average at best. Well fast forward a few years and they release "Pure" and I wasn't even going to bother until I saw all the high ratings and the news that they had become heavier. Well "Pure" lived up to the hype.They were back ! This latest album "Passion" continues where "Pure" left off as they've continued with that heavier sound but also they've implimented some new ideas which work well. There's a great article on the band in a recent Classic Prog magazine with some cool pictures of the boys.

"Passion" has this interesting soundscape to start as the vocals join in. It kicks in harder after 1 1/2 minutes. A calm after 4 1/2 minutes as an almost sinister mood arrives to the end. "Empathy" sounds so good to start out. Vocals around 1 1/2 minutes then it calms down with atmosphere before picking back up again with vocals. It settles after 4 minutes then the vocals return a minute later as it stays laid back. A nice soaring guitar solo around 8 minutes then Nick comes in speaking the lyrics. Not rapping as I keep reading. As someone who hears Rap a lot in my household from my two teens including listening to "The Marshall Mathers LP" and "The Eminem Show" on our way down to Florida this year I think I can tell the difference mofo. Piano takes over after 9 1/2 minutes then it turns orchestral-like to end it.

"Feeding Frenzy" is dark with atmosphere to start as almost spoken vocals join in.The guitar kicks in at a minute then the drums follow. Hell yeah ! I like the lyrics too. It's nasty before 2 1/2 minutes. Killer track ! "This Green And Pleasant Land" is mellow with reserved vocals until the guitar and a beat come in after 2 1/2 minutes when the vocals stop.They're back a minute later as the sound gets fuller. Great sound after 6 minutes. Guitar then comes to the fore before 9 minutes. A strange ending to this one. "It's Just A Matter Of Not Getting Caught" is spacey to start as harp comes in. It's fuller with a beat and guitar but it's still spacey as the vocals arrive. It turns heavier 1 1/2 minutes in. I really like this song.

"Skara Brae" sounds really good as the guitar grinds away then the vocals join in. it settles but not for long. A calm before 3 minutes with vocals and atmosphere. Great sound after 5 minutes. Beautiful sound after 6 1/2 minutes to end it. Fantasic ! "Your Black Heart" is my least favourite. It's mellow with reserved vocals, piano and more. It's just too generic after all that i've heard.Take away this almost 7 minute song and this is a 4.5 star recording.

Congrats to the guys for another winner. Peter Gee, Nick Barrett, Clive Nolan and the relatively new guy Scott Higham. A very solid 4 stars and another impressive outing.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
2 stars Purely predictable

After the highly popular Pure album, it is perhaps not surprising that Pendragon continues on the same musical path with Passion. This means a modernized and beefed up version of what the band did in the 90's. Indeed, the melodies here seem to be gathered from the same source as those of The World and The Window Of Life albums (good, but hardly my favourites) but played in the heavier and harder edged style first explored on Pure. The production here is perfectly contemporary and modern, but the way in which Nick Barrett writes the material (and sings it) remains exactly the same as always - except, ironically, with less passion than in the past. If Pendragon has 'progressed' at all in recent years, it is only in terms of how they now sound, and not in their general approach to making music, which offers no real surprises. With Pure there was at least the novelty of this modern sound of the band, but Passion is for me an utterly predictable release after the success of the previous album. Being predictable is not necessarily a bad thing though, but with some of the weakest and least memorable material since 1988's Kowtow, I find it hard to be passionate about Passion.

While in general I like the heavier and harder edged side of Neo-Prog (particularly Clive Nolan's day-time job: Arena), I must say that this new and heavier style of Pendragon very often comes across as forced and does not suit this band at all. It is true that I found the 80's and 90's albums by Pendragon to be a bit too sweet and fairy tale-like and it is true that beefing up their sound was just what I would have recommended them to do. But though a good idea on paper, the end result is not very appealing; the song writing and vocals of Barrett and the modernized and heavier sound mix like oil and water here. (Unlike on the very successful live DVD Concerto Maximo, where older songs are played with more power and passion than ever before).

Passion is a merely decent Pendragon album for me, fully listenable but hardly remarkable in any way, and the least good Pendragon release in many a year. To my ears, Passion is the product of a band on auto-pilot. I would recommend this album only to those who are already fans of the band and simply cannot get enough of Barrett and co. and don't mind more of the same. Beginners should definitely start their investigation of Pendragon elsewhere.

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Pendragon was one of four bands with Marillion, IQ and Pallas that fought the music industry with progressive music flag in the early eighties. Marillion was the most popular from the four because they made a deal with major label, EMI, while the other bands did not. Despite that I have to admit that Marillion music was much stronger and solid compared to the other three bands. But that's the past. Today, the other way round the three bands are getting solid, consistent and better in terms of musical quality and performance while Marillion is the lackluster. Why? It's because Marillion does not have a solid music concept on their musical direction. They were the one who proclaimed as hero of neo-progressive music (a simplified form of symphonic prog) but lately the new singer, Hogarth, wanted to move from neo-prog scene. Unfortunately they did not know which paths they should take, and at the end they are half-way thru with Radiohead-like music, but with unclear direction. The result is a vulnerable standpoint in the kind of music they play. Yes they have Brave, Marbles but then what? They go nowhere. I think Marillion should rethink the way they make their music. Sorry guys .. I have to tell you the truth because I WAS a die hard fan of Marillion (my name was printed in pre-order of Marbles) and want you guys to get up: make a better music, do not sleep too long.

Let's look at the other three bands. IQ is getting solid and better with their albums. Pallas is having its XXV album that sounds excellent as well. And Pendragon is excellent with this latest release: Passion. In fact, Pallas and pendragon new albums (2011) have heavy tracks like the opening track of this Pendragon's album. And let's have a look on Pendragon "Passion".

A solid album that flows nicely ...

I have the CD long time ago but had no time to write a review due to my profession workload. It was quite strange to me hearing the opening track Passion that sounded weird at first listen. Miraculously it grew on me and I started liking this track especially due to the shout that Nick Barrett say "Drop my balls?" which sounds something Pendragon had never done before I believe. The more I spin the CD the more I like this energetic and rockin' track with riff-based style. It;s really an interesting track.

It flows almost seamlessly to the next beautiful track "Empathy" (11:20) that starts in an ambient style, moves with a nice rhythm section. The tempo is basically medium with some spacey nuance in its opening. The limited power of Nick's better makes this track sounds nicely and very enjoyable. The track has a nice break with guitar fills and it provides good variation of style. The interlude sounds very nicely especially when it is combined with Barrett's voice. The music changes style many times but it still maintain good coherence as a whole.

"Feeding Frenzy" (5:47) starts with a soft guitar fills and bass guitar followed with keyboard. After mellow introduction for approximately 1 minute it moves to heavier music. I salute these guys as they are getting old they still maintain a song with this kind of speed. "This Green And Pleasant Land" (13:13) opens with a guitar fills and keyboard that remind me to the parts of King Crimson "Lizard" album even though do not exactly the same. It's another excellent track. What I like about this track is the ending past that has heavy music with relatively fast tempo. It's really excellent. "It's Just A Matter Of Not Getting Caught" (4:41) is a mellow track. But the music turns heavier and faster in terms of tempo with the sixth track "Skara Brae" (7:31) - another interesting track. The album concludes with a mellow track "Your Black Heart" which actually a mellow track and should not be placed as concluding track.

Overall, this is an excellent album. I have been listening to this album many times but I still like to play this album in its entirety. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Review by m2thek
2 stars Passion is the 9th album from the long lived British band, Pendragon. Though my familiarity with the band is limited to their 1996's The Masquerade Overture, I can see the update to their sound with their latest release. However, while Pendragon's music may have kept up with the times, Passion has too few redeeming moments to make it worthwhile, and is overall a fairly bland 2011 release.

The first thing you'll notice about Passion is that it has a much rougher edge than Pendragon's previous albums. There are a lot of heavy guitar riffs, and some slightly growly vocals, each of which contributes to the album's overall sound. Besides the more metal- influenced guitars, the atmosphere is created by wide synthesizers that fill in the gaps in the music. Although there is a pretty characteristic neo-prog feel here, the synthesizers are much more subtle than other albums in the genre and the rest of the instruments rarely get drowned in a keyboard wash. The other notable instrument is clean electric guitar, which provides plenty of slow moving, melodic solos in every song.

It is the vocals, however, that drives the music forward, and is what the music is based around. While no song is purely a standard verse-chorus affair, the majority of each song is taken up by vocal sections, and the instrumental breaks are short. The normal singing is generally fine, though only occasionally moving. While the rougher vocals don't even approach the kind of growling you find in metal, they're not done very well, and usually come off as corny. The lyrical themes are the most interesting thing about the singing, and as you may have guessed, they deal with passion, love, hate, and other strong emotions. There's some lyrics shared between songs, which is one of the best things about them.

Unfortunately, that's the best thing about the songs because there's not much else going on in them. Because there's so much singing on each track and not many instrumental breaks, they all feel interchangeable. Most of the music goes for atmosphere more than anything else, but without an interesting use, the atmosphere gets old pretty quickly. There's about 3 minutes of exciting composition in the two songs over 10 minutes, but the rest of the music in those two is just stretching time, and they don't offer any reasons to be longer than the other songs.

The previous statements, however, do not apply to the final song, Your Black Heart. The song opens with a beautiful flurry of flute, acoustic guitar, and piano. This is only the second or third use of piano, and it makes you wonder where it has been the whole album, because the final song is so much stronger than the previous six because of it. The song closes with one of the saddest and most anguished guitar solos I've ever heard, and is a very fitting end. Your Black Heart is such an oddity on the album, and the wonderful six minutes aren't enough to save the previous, stale 50.

It's really more disappointing that the closing track is so good, because it shows what the rest of the album could have been. However, what we have is one amazing song, and six that range from mediocre to poor. As it stands Passion isn't an album worth your time, unless you're a devoted Pendragon fan that must have every one of their releases. For the rest of us though, make sure you listen to the final song, but don't feel bad if you skip the rest.

Review by progrules
3 stars In my review of Pure I uttered my frustration about the change of course by Barrett/Pendragon. So what is one to do with the next release ? Stay behind and turn one's back one the band that has been so important to me for such a long time ? Or try to evolve with them or at least keep following their career ? I decided to do the last thing but whether that means that I am able to evolve along with the guys, hmmm....

I'm afraid is too much asked from someone who loved them so much as I did back in the nineties. So I will try to judge them as a sort of new band who made a new album. Probably that's the best thing in my personal state. And then this is actually not a bad album at all I have to admit. There are two things that are in the advantage to this latest one and those are being unpredictable (compared to the past) and their undisputed musicianship. Because if you dare to call these guys poor musicians there is something wrong with your musical understanding I believe.

Their being unpredictable last few years is shown all through Passion without any doubt. I mean, they are doing all sorts of things in the various tracks (In this green and pleasant Land !) one would never have thought they were even capable of let alone one would think they would ever compose. Whatever you feel of a song like I just mentioned it's for sure 100% prog and it's also highly original (I mean: yodel ?? c'mon people :).

So in the end there are things to be said in the benefit of the album but are there also downsides ? Well, one could say at the same time it's all a bit over the top where the originality is concerned but then it becomes a complex story to judge whether it's a good or bad thing. If you are conservative (and in fact I am to be honest) you could call this over the top indeed. But if you are truly progressive and can't get enough of evolution and a high grade of originality this one is certainly for you. And personally I'm left behind with a headache for the ultimate rating. It's another very tough call between 3 and 4 stars once more. I feel Pure was a better album and was already rounded up in my case to 4 stars. So for the moment I give three but I leave open the possibility to go to four in course of time. Because I heard from several sources this is supposed to be a grower ... (to be continued ?). 3,5 stars for now rounded down. But I wouldn't want to call it non-essential though

Review by Conor Fynes
5 stars 'Passion' - Pendragon (9/10)

Call it atmospheric rock, modern prog, or even neo-prog, there's no doubts that Pendragon are one of the more established names in the modern progressive rock scene. Much like many of my favourite bands, Pendragon is an act that may have been running for a long time, but their more recent material has been no pushover. Instead of merely trying to appease (or offend) their existing fanbase, Pendragon is a band that keeps the train chugging along, and with their last album 'Pure', they may have received their most positive acclaim to date. 'Passion' is very much a continuation of the momentum that they found with 'Pure' in 2008, and while it may have been a slow year thus far for progressive music, 'Passion' has really struck a chord with me. Although it is a fairly far cry from the music they originally made in the 80's and early 90's, Pendragon's makes the suave decision of modernizing their sound and as the excellent music on this new album indicates, the risk they have been taking with the past few albums has been paying off.

Although 'Passion' is this reviewer's first earnest experience with the music of Pendragon, I was always aware of the influence that they had in the neo-progressive revival during the 1990's, when prog finally started lifting back up off of the ground. As far as 'Passion' goes though, the quickest draw for me was its closeness in sound to Porcupine Tree. While being layered with beautiful atmosphere and some moderate vintage prog sounds that weave their way into the songwriting, there is a melodic pop sensibility to each of the tracks here, even the ones that climb over the ten minute wall. Even vocalist Nick Barrett's British enunciation reminds me often of Steven Wilson, though I would never so far as to say that Pendragon gave up their old sound to emulate another's. The music here is quite dark, but its done with a tongue-in-cheek nature, keeping the powerful emotional resonance in check while still not taking itself too seriously.

As for the lyrics... I have a feeling that Pendragon were either intoxicated, or incredibly angry when they wrote the words to this album. Barrett barks about a range of seemingly random things as slamming ones hands on a table 'like a monkey', or even 'dropping one's balls'. While these may either be surrealism for surrealism's sake, or a charming coming-of-age allusion as illustrated by the latter example may be up for debate for some, but for where I'm coming from listening to the album, it feels as if Pendragon has had plenty of emotions bottled up, and they are letting the so-called 'Passion' out in the most straightforward way they can; a raw display of equal parts anger, sadness, and wonder. Each of the songs keeps a fairly dark tone to it, but it is always melodic, and the band performs this music brilliantly. Of course, there is no room in the music for Pendragon to showcase their abilities, but instead the talent is proven through the subtlety and emotion they are able to put into the music here. With a particular applause going towards the beautifully rendered guitar solos here, 'Passion' is an album played with, well, vigour, let's say?

Review by Ivan_Melgar_M
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars It's normal for any almost band to reach a peak and then start to go downhill, some reach this apotheosis too early in their careers and have a shorter life, while others have more resistance, but the feared decline always catches them. In the world of Neo Prog two bands mark that difference, MARILLION, was amazing from the start, but after Fish left, the slow but unstoppable decadence begun, until they turned into a mainstream band with nothing special to place them over the rest (In my opinion of course).

On the other hand PENDRAGON seems immortal, because they keep going for 26 years and even when some albums are better than others, they go on an on and on as the Energizer bunny. I honestly thought that they would always live at the shadow of "The Masquerade Overture", but four years later they surprised with the excellent "Not of this World"

Then, the new century advanced and when everything pointed towards their disappearance, they gave us "Believe" and "Pure" that reinvented the sound of the band and allowed a rebirth. It's clear that PENDRAGON are able to survive, because they evolved without betraying their style or selling out in the search of a new audience.

Now in 2011 they release "Passion", and even when not as revolutionary as "Pure" (Well, there's no need to make dramatic changes after each album), they keep the healthy habit of marking the difference with the previous release but reinforcing the changes they made before.

"Pure" was a giant leap, but still they kept some of the pastoral sound that made the band famous, with "Passion" they have embraced a darker facet of Neo Prog, playing sometimes the border that separates the sub-genre from Heavy Prog.

Something very important is that they have left behind almost every reference from the four men GENESIS to create a new, more modern and vibrant sound adequate for the new century, leaving the keyboards in a secondary (but still important) role in order to give priority to the aggressive guitars and percussion.

It's hard to choose favorite tracks, because "Passion" must be heard as a unity, being that no song can be seen as a single, every song is an integral part of the album. But if I have to select one, I would go with the dramatic "Empathy" where the beautiful piano and Mellotron reminds me a bit of their roots, but on other passages they show this aggressiveness and violence that is best expressed with the spoken vocals (Just in case, this is not Rap, because rappers didn't invented spoken songs). An excellent track that combines the classical sound with a contemporary and harder approach.

As I said before, not as transcendental as "Pure", but I have to give "Passion" the same four stars I gave to it's predecessor, being that the level and quality of both releases is pretty similar.

Review by friso
4 stars If you take a leap from the light-hearted 'Not of This World' (2001) album and listen to 'Passion' for the first time, its actually quite astonishing. Whereas the first is a recognizable early Marillion-inspired melodic neo-prog album, the latter is much darker - filled with dissonance and harsh & personal vocals. Passion means a "strong and barely controllable emotion" (says google anyway) and this describes the feel of this album pretty well. Pendragon has always sounded like a band formed around guitarist & vocalist Nick Barrett, but here his presence is all over the place. I personally don't mind, most of my favorite records have a stand-out performer. I usually listen to the Madfish 2LP edition (which has great artwork by the way!) in the living room, but I must say this album sounds way more psychedelic and confronting with headphones on. Nick Barrett is however not a natural 'Peter Hammill' type performer and some of his vocals might come of as a bit bold and overdone. Yet, he at least tries something different, which is very welcome. The band has also embraces the (then) modern production techniques, which also sets it apart from its nineties records.

The opener 'Passion' sets the tone for the this darker Pendragon universe. 'Empathy' is however a stronger track in which the band really builds up to some climactic moments. The opening of the song (in which the mix/mastering has done little tribute to the low end) has this great dissonant shrieking guitar riff you'd never have expected from Pendragon. Later in the song Nick Barrett's rapping (like in hip-hop yes) really works well. His anger about political issues is genuine, whereas some bands sound like they just don't know what to write about (Galahad comes to mind). To bad the song ends with a Super Nintendo style symphonic part, which totally brings us back to the clumsy opening of 'The Masquerade Overture'. On side two 'Feeding Frenzy' is an up-tempo song that perhaps sounds a bit like the up-tempo songs of Arena. Of course the bands share keyboard player Clive Nolan. 'This Green and Pleasant Land' will undoubtedly satisfy Pendragon fans that love a song like 'Man of Normadic Traits'. It's the least dark song on the album and is therefore fully able to shine with its indeed pleasant symphonic layering and poppy/catchy refrains. On side three 'It's a Matter of Not Getting Caught' is a nice surprise with its gloomy sounds and strong atmospheres. 'Skara Brae' expands on the overall atmosphere of the album without standing out, whereas the final song 'Your Black Heart' impresses with its dark and spiteful performances. Not every-ones cup of tea I guess.

Conclusion. Perhaps not Pendragon's most celebrated album, but it does have its own feel with its rather dark & brooding succession of tracks. I'd rate it 3.5 stars and time will tell how that will translate to a PA rating. Because of the great packaging and the guts to change direction with such a neo-prog institution I'll rate it four stars for now.

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I like the heavier way Pendragon re-invented themselves in the Naughties--and it continues here only with far more catchy melodies. Great sound production and engineering creativity. And I love Nick Barrett's mastery of the electric guitar solo (though there is far less of it on display here than what is typical for a Pendragon album).

1. "Passion" (5:27) industrial-style rhythmic foundation over which Nick delivers an awesome vocal. Wow! What a start! If the rest of the album lives up to this high it will be amazing! The heavy PT/metal influences are showing. (9/10)

2. "Empathy" (11:20) (17.5/20)

3. "Feeding Frenzy" (5:47) nice multi-faceted song. (8.5/10)

4. "This Green And Pleasant Land" (13:13) INCREDIBLE lyrics; pretty song. (22.5/25)

5. "It's Just A Matter Of Not Getting Caught" (4:41) (8.75/10)

6. "Skara Brae" (7:31) heavy but lushly "orchestrated" and vocalized with plenty of melodic lines and dynamic shifts. Lots of signs of mature song construction and confident performance skills. (13/15)

7. "Your Black Heart" (6:46) harkens back to Gabriel-era GENESIS with its sensitive picked acoustic guitar start and vocal. The dominant chords (basically, two) over the entire song give it a ?And Then There Were Three... or TONY PATTERSON feel--very much like a FLOWER KINGS song passage. Almost a reprise of "This Green And Pleasant Land." (12.75/15)

Total Time: 54:45

After starting off with such a bang, the album started to peter out and soften noticeably as one approached the end.

B+/4.5 stars; a near-masterpiece of progressive rock music and a shining example of mastery of a cross-sampling of styles though still well within the Neo Prog umbrella.

Review by Warthur
3 stars Kicking off the opening title track of this album with a sampled drum loop before Nick Barrett's lead guitar kicks in, Pendragon signal to the listener immediately that Passion, as with Pure, is going to be another wild ride into territory outside of that which we'd come to associate with the band, especially on the strength of their output from The World to Not Of This World.

Repeated motifs and lyrical phrases suggest that there's a concept going on here, but largely the album seems to be a moment of therapy for Nick Barrett, a venting of frustrations which you get the impression had been a long time coming. Now, it's the nature of such venting to include things that aren't so reasonable (come on, Nick, don't buy into the tabloid TV idea of a "war on Christmas", you're smarter than that), but maybe this is part of the point: passion, after all, is exuberant and wild and difficult to control and not exactly rational.

In interviews Nick Barrett's been pretty open about how his divorce, which occurred in between The Masquerade Overture and Not Of This World, was something of a major shakeup in his life and prompted him to re-evaluate a lot of things, and in retrospect it's easy to see how the run of albums after Masquerade Overture reflect that. Not Of This World, whilst still in the style the band had been performing since The World, included a melancholic edge to proceedings suggesting that the joyful optimism and innocence that had characterised preceding albums had been shaken; Believe and Pure found the band exploring increasingly dark material, expanding their emotional repertoire in order to give expression to correspondingly dark feelings.

Passion, then, would seem to be the culmination of that process, a cry from the heart that Nick and the band had been developing the musical and lyrical toolkit to unleash on the world, and as a result it feels like one of the most genuine, honest, and raw albums in the neo-prog landscape, expressing an honesty which at its best is comparable to Fish in his finest moments as a lyricist, but at its worst is alienating and bitter.

Perhaps you don't have to agree with everything Nick is saying here to find value in this album - again, this is Passion, not Reason: one way or another, this is what's in Nick's heart, and now it's out of his heart and on the record you get the impression that a real weight has been lifted from him. Towards the end of the album things get a bit more gentle - with catharsis attained, a new beginning can be planned, and a touch of that old optimism can come back. At the same time, the axe-grinding can get somewhat wearing, with the number of right-wing dogwhistles packed into This Green and Pleasant Land bordering on the obnoxious, and the musical backing ultimately finding Pendragon once again starting to repeat themselves, after Pure had done such a good job of shifting them into a new approach.

Review by VianaProghead
4 stars Review N 731

"Passion" is the ninth studio album of Pendragon and that was released in 2011. It was released as a special edition on Madfish, a division label of Snapper Music and in a regular form on Toff Records, the band's own label. Two packaging formats of the Madfish album exist, a digi-book and a super jewel case, which is my version, both with a DVD featuring behind the scenes footage documentary titled "Progumentary", filmed by the band during the recordings of the album.

With "Passion", Pendragon proves that they're still an innovative force to be reckoned with in 2011 and that they're still a band able to create music with a great passion. Even thirty three years after the formation of Pendragon, "Passion" shows the famed neo-prog quartet with their heaviest, darkest, and possibly most unique album to that moment, really.

The line up on the album is the same of their eighth previous studio album "Pure", released in 2008. So, the line up on "Passion" is Nick Barrett (vocals, guitars, keyboards and keyboard programming), Clive Nolan (keyboards and backing vocals), Peter Gee (bass guitar) and Scott Hingham (drums and backing vocals).

"Passion" has seven tracks. All tracks were written by Nick Barrett. The first track is the title track "Passion". It opens the album with a very strange way, with some electronic rhythm sound. However, when Barrett says "Drop My Balls", the song displays with the new and modern powerful sound that Pendragon have created recently. This is a very powerful song with great lyrics and with a memorable melody line that shows clearly what will be the general mood of the all album. The second track "Empathy" is a song that starts with a very powerful and heavy rhythm that reminds me a little bit "Indigo", the opening song of their previous studio album "Pure". Lyrically, we can say this is a continuation of the previous first song. Musically, it also develops the theme from the opening track and is a song full of constant musical changes. It's a very complete song with a gentle vocal work, a nice guitar solo and a nice piano performance that ends with a magnificent orchestral sound. The third track "Feeding Frenzy" is, probably, the heaviest and most intense and compact song the band ever made on their albums. This is a very frantic song with an astonishing guitar rhythm and the bass and drumming works are absolutely stunning. This is another song with great lyrics and where, musically, this is a song with no space for solos, as compact, powerful and aggressive as it is. The fourth track "This Green And Pleasant Land" is the longest and the epic song on the album. This is a very beautiful song more in the taste of the old fashion Pendragon's fans. It's a track when we can see Barrett again providing those dreamy beautiful guitar musical passages. This is a very emotional and intelligent song about Barrett's telling his story about his homeland. In reality, there's nothing more to say about it. It's as great and beautiful as you need to hear. You know what I'm saying. Probably, by itself, it's worth getting the album. The fifth track "It's Just A Matter Of Not Getting Caught" shows a very long and strange title for a song. This is a very atmospheric and mellow song with a strange darkness. Compared with the other songs this is a simple song where the band are developing and manipulating some very effective electronic and metallic sounds. At the end the song closes with the same sound effect as the opener. The sixth track "Skara Brae" is another very powerful song with the distinctive and typical guitar sound of Nick Barrett. It's a song with a heavy melody, featuring a repeating guitar tone which is used throughout in different keyboard parts. The grunge rhythm guitar gives to the song a strong and raw sound. The centre part of the song is nice and clean and is recognizable as Pendragon. The work of all band's members is astonishing. The seventh and last track "Your Black Heart" represents a very mellow closing track for this album. This is a song very close to the earlier day's sound of the band with the typical influences of David Gilmour. It's a very beautiful song carried along by Barrett's voice and Nolan's stunning piano and keyboard work. The whole piece is brought to a great climax by a duet of emotional keyboards and guitar interactions.

Conclusion: With "Passion", Pendragon continues the path of change their music to a more heavy style, putting the band more close to heavy metal. With this album and "Pure", the band established their new sound, a heavier sound but without losing the typical roots of their music. They did the same that other neo-prog bands also have done such as Arena and Galahad. Probably, it isn't a coincidence the presence of Clive Nolan, the keyboardist of Arena and the presence of Karl Groom, the guitarist of Threshold, as a producer. "Passion" is, in my humble opinion, the next logical step after "Pure". It's true that "Passion" isn't "Pure" but it's also true that it's certainly very close to it in terms of style and quality. So, "Passion" is, in reality, a great album from a great band. As also with "Pure", the album has a beautiful artwork and the production is one more time, simply and superb. The last thing I still want to say is that I hope the band continue with the same passion for music and that can keep Pendragon at the top of progressive music for many years.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

Latest members reviews

4 stars Pendragon-Passion 'Passion' is the ninth studio album by British progressive rock/metal band Pendragon. After the expanding of a prog metal style on the previous release, Pendragon comes back with my favorite of their albums. I takes everything that was great about 'Pure' and expands upon it, ... (read more)

Report this review (#1358606) | Posted by Pastmaster | Saturday, January 31, 2015 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Pendragon's passion for Passion seems a little overheated and burned out after having some excellent hits in the past, the most notable of which was Pure a few years prior. Not to say that all the spirit isn't gone, but instead of creating a more creative and original facet for themselves Pendragon ... (read more)

Report this review (#1353972) | Posted by aglasshouse | Monday, January 26, 2015 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Continuing the neo-prog/metal direction of Pure, Passion adds even more eclecticism to the mix (I imagine how people would react if Pendragon started the album with the furious riffing of Empathy, thankfully, they placed it second). Rapping, screaming, throat singing, yodeling, electronic effect ... (read more)

Report this review (#1325151) | Posted by Progrussia | Tuesday, December 16, 2014 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I find a good guide to how successful an album is, is if it takes me somewhere. I like Pendragon, I have found that they produce likeable almost naive music up until a more mature slightly darker sound after Believe. This album really drives at you initially with quite pulsating rhythms and it ... (read more)

Report this review (#563651) | Posted by Whatlarks | Monday, November 7, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Passion is a very decent album that's fairly dark and serious compared to Not of This World (the only other Pendragon album I've listened to.) It's also very modern sounding. The album flows nicely, with all the songs being equally good; none of them really standing out from the rest. The sound that ... (read more)

Report this review (#515965) | Posted by Quirky Turkey | Monday, September 5, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Passion is an utterly fantastic achievement in prog music. This album finds Pendragon reaching for greatness....and finding it for sure! I have read a lot of reviews and posts about how people do not like the "new direction" Pendragon have taken with Pure and especially Passion. But fra ... (read more)

Report this review (#444912) | Posted by RGF | Monday, May 9, 2011 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Each Pendragon release has gotten progressively better. With Pure taking the Pendragon sound into unchartered territories I was really looking forward to their next release and eagerly counted down the days once the release date was announced. Sadly after multiple listens I can sum Passion up ... (read more)

Report this review (#443505) | Posted by Ramma | Friday, May 6, 2011 | Review Permanlink

2 stars I strongly disagree with the score that takes into ProgArchives to be a disk of Pendragon. I applied here at a 2 star but they say it's a nearly 5. The reason is this: if this had been an solo album of Nick Barrett, based only on his voice and his guitar, accompanied by other musicians, you may ha ... (read more)

Report this review (#439842) | Posted by M3g52 | Wednesday, April 27, 2011 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Passion is a conclusion of a new direction set up by Pure. Let me write about some of my complaints, as I can only see a lot of praising about it. My perspective is a bit different. First of all, robotic heavy rhythms changing substantially the band's sound. Drummer Scott Higham is apparently ... (read more)

Report this review (#435605) | Posted by stewe | Tuesday, April 19, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This album is an absolute TRIUMPH! Passion? Hell - YEAH! Let's be honest here; the rumours and suggestions of changes to the Pendragon template did not fill me with joy in the months leading up to the release of 'Passion'. That said, I would always, always, ALWAYS buy ANY Pendragon release beca ... (read more)

Report this review (#434121) | Posted by Baggiesfaninuk | Friday, April 15, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Passion really is one of those slow burners. After several listens it really starts to eat away in your brain. As someone who yearns to recapture the feeling experienced with the classic albums of the 1970's, this delivers in spades. For a five year cancer survivor, that is something worth re-living ... (read more)

Report this review (#431807) | Posted by pmcg | Tuesday, April 12, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Having just got this CD in the post on monday, was very anxious to pull the packaging apart with my teeth and eager to put cd into player... First impressions not too bad, but needed plenty more listens like any good prog fan should do, before writing a brief review.... Well this is my fi ... (read more)

Report this review (#428789) | Posted by noni | Thursday, April 7, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Good album but a disappointment after the brilliant "Pure". The sound is the same, the use of guitar as a rythmic instrument rather than a melodic one is pushed a bit further on this album. Unfortunately I would say. And inspiration is also lacking here. You can use a guitar riff for a while but ... (read more)

Report this review (#428714) | Posted by lgoffine | Thursday, April 7, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Having come off the back of their most ambitious album to date, 'Pure', the big question was always about where Pendragon would go next. Would Nick Barrett keep faith with the more contemporary sound he explored on 'Believe' and honed brilliantly on 'Pure'? Or would it be a case of reverting to ... (read more)

Report this review (#428690) | Posted by Daz23 | Thursday, April 7, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Well. Pendragon is such a prolific band . And is not easy to be prolific and get out a good work. But Pendragon did it again. This is a very good album ,better than the last one. The last one was a little strange for Pendragon but nevertheless a very good act. In this one I feel ... (read more)

Report this review (#428671) | Posted by robbob | Thursday, April 7, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Passion. The long awaited new album from Pendragon. With the success of Pure (2008) this new release had a lot to live up to. Has Nick Barrett succeded? Is the pope catholic! - of course he has succeded!. This is an awesome epic with trademark soaring guitar solos, as well as heavy riffs, and ... (read more)

Report this review (#425725) | Posted by pealo | Thursday, March 31, 2011 | Review Permanlink

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