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Asgard Arkana album cover
3.90 | 74 ratings | 11 reviews | 30% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1992

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. A Gathering of Fairies (6:57)
2. Wulfstan (6:42)
3. Olaf Stonehand (13:15)
4. The Mirror of the King (16:58)
5. The Queen of Ice (7:52)
6. The Squirrel (3:30)
7. The Breath of a Veiled Goddess (6:13)
8. The Lords of the Mountain (12:18)

Total Time 73:45

Line-up / Musicians

- Kikko Grosso / vocals
- Max Michieletto / guitars
- Alberto Ambrosi / keyboards
- Chris Bianchi D'Espinosa / bass
- Marco Ferrero / drums

Releases information

CD: Music Is Intelligence WMMS-018

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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ASGARD Arkana ratings distribution

(74 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(30%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(31%)
Good, but non-essential (28%)
Collectors/fans only (11%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

ASGARD Arkana reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by loserboy
5 stars For those who know me well, then you are aware of my love and devotion to this top notch progressive rock act. In my opinion ASGARD have released four of the best prog CD I have heard in years and remain to this day on my top play list. "Arkana" is a great example of their incredible musical talent delivering many varied mood and tempo swings. The remarkable thing about ASGARD is their similarity to both early GENESIS and FISH-era MARILLION without ever sounding contrived or borrowed. Their music is fresh and invigorating with many challenging musical passages to simply amaze the listener. This is the classic ASGARD line up with some of the greatest progressive rock I have ever heard. ASGARD are tremendous musicians and all you need to do is listen to hear their talents. Alberto Ambrosi is a dear friend of mine and also one of the great prog keyboardists around. Vocals are effortlessly handled by Kikko Grosso who has one of the all time great rock-opera vocals... simply put his talents extend beyond words...
Review by Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars 'Arkana' is Asgard's third effort, and IMHO; their best work up to date. Here they continued to explore their own Genesis/Marillion-based neoprog sound with strong Gothic flavours and a hard rocking twist; only this time the instrumental ensemble feels more cohesive than ever before, and the compositions are more complex and ambitious. The level of inspiration in the performances (including Grosso's emotional singing) keeps an all-time high status. The role of Ambrosi on keyboards proves crucial, since they create all the pompous orchestrations and sombre textures you find everywhere. The guitar solos are strong and powerful; on the other hand, the acoustic guitar duets and Ambrosi's occasional flute passages bring us back to the times of 'Trespass' and the first PFM albums. "A gathering of Fairies" kicks off the album with a genuine sense of eerie magic, like a journey into a parallel universe inhabited by archaic unearthly creatures. "Wolfstan" and "Olaf Stonehand" set a more incendiary pace, creating an ambience of oppressive disturbance in the stronger passages and an air of chilling mystery in the softer ones. The former follows the rockier trend of modern symphonic prog: teh guitar textures that go emerging everywhere and the amazing synth solo in the middle are among the best things I've ever got to listen regarding neo-prog music. The latter is more epic, which is not odd at all given its length: the ability of the instrumentalists and the vocalist to move from the electrifying energy to the mysterious calm is tekane to a particularly dramatic level. "The Mirror of the King" and "The Squirrel" are more predominantly acoustic: the former sets an overwhelming nostalgic aura, while the latter creates a pastoral playful spirit. "The Queen of Ice" is the most obviously marillionesque track, while "The Breath of a veilde Goddess" is a dark nocturne with the grand piano taking an abundantly featured role - it includes a very solemn hymnal interlude, which adds an air of weird dranatism. Finally, the closing number "Lords of the Mountain" is the hardest rocking one in the album, even bordering on prog metal at times, as if anticipating the trend of their following albums. But the presence of some flute soloing flourishes keeps things momentarily rooted in the pastoral realms, in this way reinciding in the contrast between the rockier and the calmer sides - a consistent trend in this album's repertoire. Asgard is one of my absolute fave Italian 90s prog bands, 'Arkana' being their crowning masterpiece, and generally speaking, a gem of contemporary symph prog.
Review by Sean Trane
3 stars You can add another half star as this is easily their better album , but the fact is that this group is quite irrelevant nowadays (proof is that only two others bothered reviewing it before me ) and this was a reference in the early 90's. At this point , Asgard was at the top of their art and I must say I did enjoy it for quite a while - that is until the Swedish storm would take over. And the first victims will be themselves as they will commit Hara-Kiri with their next but over-ambitious album.
Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars ASGARD take their name from Nordic mythology which is also the subject of their music. And you can tell from the titles of the songs on this album that it's all about folklore. Unless the first song "A Gathering Of Fairies" is about something else (haha). Their sound is similar to MARILLION's although I was reminded more of GENESIS, especially the synth sounds. There is also a gothic element to their sound as heard at the beginning of both "A Gathering Of Fairies" and "Olaf Stonehand".

The vocals are very solemn to open the first song "A Gathering Of Fairies" as acoustic guitar and piano melodies come in.The vocals change as we are treated to some GENESIS sounding synths that pulse as the drums build. Before it's over we get some sad sounding keys and spoken vocals. "Wulfstan" is a good song that opens with pounding drums and guitar melodies.The vocals sound like Gabriel and the synths again sound like GENESIS. Yes it all sounds beautiful.Things speed up as the melody starts to sound more like SAGA. "Olaf Stonehand" opens with solemn vocals again and the atmosphere is dark. The sound builds as the drums and synths come in and the vocals return to normal. Yes it sounds like GENESIS again until 10 minutes in when first reminder of MARILLION has come.The song reverts back to the sound of the intro to end the song.

"The Mirror Of The King" is slow paced with acoustic guitar and reserved vocals. We hear flute for the first time and after 6 minutes the tempo picks up as the MARILLION sound comes back. 9 minutes in we get some scorching guitar solos and crisp drumming. Nice.The song closes with piano melodies. "The Queen Of Ice" reminds me of Hogarth era MARILLION and there is a good bass solo along with an uplifting vocal melody. "The Squirrel" is a fast paced acoustic guitar instrumental, while the next song "The Breath Of A Veiled Goddess" is a piano instrumental with a vocal melody part way through.The final song "The Lords Of The Mountain" opens with synths shooting off then vocals, followed by flute. Then we get some machine gun drumming with keys before it gets dreamy 4 minutes in with relaxed vocals,synths and light drums. Then back to the heavier melody.

"Wulfstan" and "The Queen Of Ice" are the highlights for me although there are many highlights throughout this record. This was worth the search and it was quite the search to find what most people feel is ASGARD's best record. I found rating this quite difficult for a number of reasons but settled on 4 stars, although I feel it's not quite a 4 star record.

Review by progrules
3 stars This Italian neo band is a pretty strange bunch of guys. I remember I witnessed them live over here on a Dutch prog festival in the nineties. I recall a gloomy sounding performance but what struck me most was the short conversation between the band members right in the middle of the gig and this didn't last for a couple of seconds but for over a minute ! They obviously couldn't make up their mind about the song they were going to play. Funny experience but it also proves this band wasn't in the highest rankings of professionalism at that time. I wasn't really impressed about their overall performance either so I never really dug into them.

One day though I noticed a very high average rating for this particular album and decided to go for it. After many listening experiences by now I'm not quite surprised about my ultimate feeling regarding the band and this album. I detect what I already witnessed on the live performance, gloomy and expanded songs and almost depressing sounding music is what I find on this near masterpiece according to several people.

I'm afraid I don't agree with the majority but that's also a matter of taste obviously. I do hear quality of compositions but I also hear wining vocals and to be honest I'm only occasionally impressed with instrumental bits and pieces. Asgard has some similarity with their fellow countrymen Tale Cue and Dutch neoband Cliffhanger. Both these bands also like to write sinister music and create depressing moods with their listeners. If you are intrigued by this you should certainly go for this album. It's a lengthy one lasting almost 5 quarters of an hour but if you're not bothered by that I'd say: give it a try ! 3 stars is my personal verdict.

Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars As already mentioned on ''Esoteric poem'', Asgard were trully on fire in early-90's and had already prepared what was going to become the band's second full-length album.Unfortunately Marco Michieletto had quit his position (he would later team up again with Asgard's members on Ines) and the album was recorded with new drummer Marco Ferrero.''Arkana'' was released just a few month after ''Esoteric poem'', again on Music Is Intelligence.

This was another mysterious, difficult yet masterful album by Asgard.They combined the MARILLION-esque Neo prog with Medieval Folk and Symphonic Rock and the result was again outstanding as well as original Progressive Rock.The main influence appears to be very early MARILLION, not only in the vocals and the great melodic keyboard and guitar lines, but also in the dark, lyrical and extremely poetic atmosphere.Sometimes I think they can get even darker and more poetic than FISH could ever imagine.''Arkana'' is filled with mini-epics and long theatrical suites, constantly with a sinister climate over the sky, based on Grosso's sensational voice, the powerful rhythm section and the performances on both analog and modern keyboards.Guitar work is often very angular with heavier overtones, synth passages range from symphonic grandieur to fiery solos and the arrangements are more than interesting with bombastic executions, melodious soundscapes and lovely but haunting Medieval-styled acoustic underlines.There are certain inspirations from the music of GENESIS, YES and E.L.P., however the band achieves a very personal style with the impressive display of symphonic and Gothic images throughout.Excellent music.

Among the top albums of the year and an amazing offering among 90's Neo Prog albums.If you search for atmospheric, dark Progressive Rock, this is the place you got to stop.Highly recommended.

Review by Warthur
3 stars Asgard had improved substantially since their debut, and by this album had developed a distinct style of their own; the bedrock of their sound is still Genesis-influenced neo-prog, but Asgard distinguished themselves from the many bands working in the same vein by placing a greater emphasis on the folky, acoustic side of the Genesis sound, as well as introducing a few traditional folk sounds from around Europe which Genesis had not incorporated into their own music. I still wouldn't rank them amongst the upper ranks of the neo-prog scene, but I'd say this album is a decent listen for anyone who thinks "acoustic folk pagan Genesis" sounds like a good concept for a band.
Review by b_olariu
3 stars Asgard is one of the forgotten neo prog bands coming from Italy from early 90s. Their third album from 1992 and second from same year named Arkana is a good example of how must be played this kind of music. Issued at German label WMMS, Asgard was at their peak of their shor career. I guess I'm in the minority here but I don't think this album is their best, I find the next one Imago Mundi to be the most acomplished work they ever done. So regarded to this album the neo prog is rooted very much in Marillion early albums, but also they developed their own aproach. The first 3 pieces are the best from here for sure, specially Olaf Stonehand, a very nice complex neo tune that is very well performed and composed. The rest of the album even is ok, good, there is to much mellow parts interfear between more up tempo ones, cuting the piece when was more intresting. Anyway I like this album, nothing particular excellent but good towards great in places. In some parts they are similar with neo prog bands like Chandelier, Tsunami or High Wheel. 3 stars maybe rounded up to 3.5 because of the first 3 tracks.

Latest members reviews

5 stars Wonderful surprise from Italian band! Album very rare, very touchful and full of emotions. I fall in love after first listening. Maybe somethink about whole music, surely influences of Genesis, dark side of Marillion music(She Chameleon, Incubus, Bitter Suite), almost gothic sounds in few momen ... (read more)

Report this review (#185468) | Posted by BartoszKrzyzaniak | Monday, October 13, 2008 | Review Permanlink

5 stars It is a pitty this album is unknown for so many prog listeners. Otherwise, I am sure there would be lots of reviews granting the rating it deserves, it means 5 stars. Definitively, this album is a masterpiece of metal related prog rock. Asgard in this album has reached an excellent combinati ... (read more)

Report this review (#97748) | Posted by Alexanco | Thursday, November 9, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This album is Asgards masterpiece. It was the first one I heard, and was a revelation. It was one of the first prog albums from the 90's I heard (along with Spock's Beard "Beware Of Darkness") and I liked it immediately. It has many moods, from very heavy to light and airy, and the vocals are ... (read more)

Report this review (#64245) | Posted by | Wednesday, January 11, 2006 | Review Permanlink

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