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Colosseum II

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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Colosseum II War Dance album cover
3.68 | 108 ratings | 15 reviews | 12% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1977

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Wardance (6:09)
2. Major Keys (5:18)
3. Put It This Way (3:42)
4. Castles (5:50)
5. Fighting Back (5:54)
6. The Inquisition (5:50)
7. Star Maiden / Mysterioso / Quasar (6:24)
8. Last Exit (3:30)

Total Time: 42:37

Line-up / Musicians

- Gary Moore / electric & acoustic guitars, vocals (4)
- Don Airey / Fender Rhodes, Steinway grand piano, ARP Odyssey, ARP Solina, Mini-Moog, Hammond organ, clavinet, tubular bells
- John Mole / bass
- Jon Hiseman / drums, percussion, gong, timpani, co-producer

Releases information

Artwork: Geoff Halpin

LP MCA Records ‎- MCF 2817 (1977, UK)

CD MCA Records ‎- 18P2-2757 (1989, Japan)
CD One Way Records ‎- MCAD-22082 (1993, US)
CD Geffen Records ‎- UICY-93052 (2006, Japan) 24-bit remaster by Hitoshi Takiguchi

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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COLOSSEUM II War Dance ratings distribution

(108 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(12%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(56%)
Good, but non-essential (29%)
Collectors/fans only (3%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

COLOSSEUM II War Dance reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
4 stars Third and last album from Col II (and yet hardly the weakest) with an unchanged line-up compared with ES, released the same year on the same label and a strange goofy house-cleaning glove dance artwork, Wardance closes Hiseman's forays into rock territory, as he will concentrate on jazz in the future.

Unleashing the beast inside the Colosseum, it enters a frenzy Wardance that's intricate and complex enough to Return To forever and buy the Brand X. Moore and Airey combine lead lines that could be slightly reminiscent of the Eleventh House or Isotope as well. The aptly-titled Major Keys plays with all kinds of them in a ultra funky mode, somewhere between Yes and GG. The following amusing wink to ES' Put It This Way now tells you otherwise, but the two tracks are fairly close to each other. One of the saddest things to see is that the group still resorted to having sung tracks, this time the awful Castles, and furthermore atrociously sung by Gary Moore (ES' Rivers was much better, partly because it was less cheesy, but Gary wasn't laughable there)

On the flipside, Fighting Talk is another typical hard-fusion track that were becoming Colosseum II's specialty and the two frontmen engage in a war of note exchanges and solos abound, while Hiseman keeps them hot and ready with his intense drumming. Actually his drumming is so tense, that it becomes a little too much for the music and certainly more so to unaccustomed ears and even if it fits the Spanish dramatic track called The Inquisition, one can't help but thinking that we're close to useless show of virtuosity: As Miles once said: "Why play so many notes?..... Just play the good ones". This is not to say that there are bad notes in Col II's music, but a lot of them are effectively probably not necessary, but nevertheless they're not wasted either. The spacey trilogy of Star Maiden/Quasar is definitely another Intergalactic Slut, but it's got its charms as do most (but not all) sluts. The three chapters are divided by space winds, and most likely written in the Mole/Moore/Airey order. Obviously the group sort of knew this was their last album and decided to go out on a BANG, with the aptly titled Last Exit, starting out slowly on Mole's bass growls over Hiseman's last triumphant tom bangings, but soon growing increasingly tense with dramatic Moore guitar solos and Airey synth underrlines and the endless crescendo finally stopped by... A fade-out.. if you can believe it!!!!!

At least as good as Electric Savage, Wardance probably sticks too close to the blueprint of its predecessor for its own good, but then again I prefer this one slightly despite the atrocious Castles.

Review by erik neuteboom
4 stars In the late Seventies I was on a 'vintage-keyboard-quest', scrutinizing all the covers of the albums in my favourite record-shops on pictures of musicians playing Moog synthesizer, Hammond organ, Fender Rhodes piano, Hohner clavinet or Mellotron. I got excited when I noticed a certain Don Airey using the famous Minimoog, it was on the album "Electric Savage" by COLOSSEUM II. The line-up was sensational featuring Jon Hiseman on drums and Gary Moore on guitar (along John Mole on bass). I was delighted about "Electric Savage" but their next LP "Wardance" (1977) is my favourite one, it sounds more mature than the other two records. The rhythm-section is amazing, what a dynamic and propulsive sound. Don Airey plays lots of great solos (Minimoog, Fender Rhodes, Hammond organ) and Gary Moore delivers his best work, his guitar play is more varied and subtle than during his blues - and heavy metal days (a blistering, wah-wah drenched solo in "Star Maiden/Mysterioso/Quasar and a mind blowing guitar-overdub duet with Spanish guitar and fiery electric guitar). But the most thrilling element on this album is the interplay between Don Airey's spectacular Minimoog flights and Gary Moore's biting electric guitar. The crappy "Castles" (boring vocals and boring climate) keeps this album from a 'five-star- award', the other seven instrumental tracks are splendid symphonic jazz rock!
Review by Tony R
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars This supergroup must be one of the best kept secrets of Prog/Jazz Rock.Featuring the sticksman extraordinaire Hiseman(Colosseum,Tempest) on drums and percussion,Guitar God Gary Moore(Thin Lizzy,Midnight Blues Band) on guitar and Keyboard Wizard Don Airey (Rainbow,Whitesnake,Black Sabbath,Jethro Tull etc) plus John Mole on bass guitar,this band can really play.

The album is virtually all instrumental apart from the dreadful "Castles" (hence the 3 star rating and not 4).An exciting feature of Colosseum II is the duelling between the keyboards and guitar which can be seen to best effect on "Fighting Talk" where Airey knocks out some really terrific Minimoog leads and Moore growls back on his Gibson,and on "Inquisition" which features stunning guitar flights on electric and flamenco answering Airey's spacey keyboards.

Other standouts include "Star Maiden/Mysterioso/Quasar" which features some nice bass by John Mole before zipping off into more guitar and keyboard mayhem,the funky "Major Keys" and the dazzling title track:"War Dance".

Hardcore lovers of Fusion may find this album too rocky,but I love this album which but for "Castles" and the fact that it is more rock than Prog would be a 4 star nominee by me. Definitely a 3 1/2 star effort though.

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Altogether with Electric Savage, "War Dance" had received little attention for me personally by the time it was released for relatively simplistic reason: it has no vocalist and not really rock. It's totally wrong assumption as I finally found that prog does not necessarily mean having vocals. I only enjoyed this album in great details about four years later when I first identified that the musicians involved in this album were really talented. In fact after I knew and could fully enjoy this album, I chased the albums where the musicians involved in this band at their future activities.

The opening part of title track "Wardance" (6:09) reminds me to Chinese Kung Fu movie which I used to watch during my childhood - that is the part where keyboard is floating with increasing tone accompanied with high speed drumming.This part is repeated in the middle of the track. This opening track is beautifully composed using combination of fast tempo guitar and keyboard work accompanied with machine-gun drumming by one of the best prog drummers the world has ever had: Jon Hiseman. Yes, he is a terrific drummer! "The Inquisition" (5:50) was a track that attracted me at first listen as it contains a blend of complicated guitar work and keyboard performed in fast tempo style - strengthen with the inventive drum work by Jon Hiseman. I always repeat this track whenever I listen to this album. Very uplifting and it's excellently composed. Gary Moore plays two types of guitar skillfully: electric and acoustic. The acoustic guitar insertion in this track is truly an excellent part. "Star Maiden / Mysterioso / Quasar" (6:24) is the track, as the title tells as a medley track, that brings the listener with a variety of styles through three major tempo changes. It first start slow under the first part and it increases gradually in the second part and provides a bit complex stuff at the ending part (Quasar). "Last Exit" (3:30) is a slow track that gives a chance to Jon Mole to perform his Fender- Hayman bass guitar as rhythm as well as soloist. The other instruments play as main rhythm section. But at the end part all other instruments led by guitar enter the music.

This album is at the same quality musically with Electric Savage and I highly recommend you to purchase the album; especially if you love or can appreciate jazz rock fusion music with no lead vocals. Keep on proggin' .!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Review by Atavachron
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Third and final release from Jon Hiseman's fusion powerhouse of Moore (guitar), Mole (bass) and Airey (keys), and a consistently good follow up to the white-hot second album 'Electric Savage'. The title warms things up with plenty of bravado and anticipation, the heavy jazz themes exercised on 'Savage' further explored, and melodic 'Put it That Way' - the sister track to 'Put it This Way' from the second record - has just the sort of death-defying acrobatics one expects from a 70s fusion monster. 'Castles' is unfortunate love drool but 'Fighting Talk' hits back with some bump and grind, good riffing from Gary Moore and Don Airey's rocketship keyboard harmonies. Compositional centerpiece 'Inquisition' exudes a taste for metal, dungeon doom and Arabian Nights when Yngwie was still a guitar nerd practicing in his room. Moore really shines here, leading hand-in-hand with Hiseman and showing the utmost confidence, never again to sound quite as raw, powerful and graceful. Great jam 'Star Maiden' is followed by the slightly commercial 'Last Exit' and is good heavy progressive fusion. Colosseum ll, with much flair but a casual hard-rock demeanor, made Brand X and Return To Forever seem a bit precious and overblown. After the dazzling second album, this one comes close to that smoldering firepit of jazz-rock and sent this great band out on a high note.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
2 stars I have mixed feelings when it comes to the three Colosseum II albums. While all three of them have great moments, none of them are consistently great. There are some moments on all of them that make your jaw drop, but there are also many moments when you just feel that it is more of the same. Or to put it differently, most individual tracks are very good when judged on their own merits, but a whole album full of them becomes rather tedious. Every time I play these albums I am always quite impressed when the first couple of tracks are playing and say to myself "why have I underestimated these albums before", but after a couple of more tracks I change my mind towards them being rather bland.

The first album, Strange New Flesh was more varied with several vocal numbers so that deserves more credit on that account. But deciding between Electric Savage and War Dance is impossible for me, they are both very similar and none of them stand above the other. If you like one of them you will like the other. The only conclusion to draw is that it will be two stars for the both of them. Maybe if they had put the very best material from these two albums on one album, they could have made a very good one? After all they were both made the same year. I'm not sure, but as they stand they don't quite reach up to the three star rating.

But don't let my low rating deter you from getting this if you like high quality typical Jazz-Rock with amazing musicianship. These albums are not bad at all, just unoriginal and somewhat bland, albeit with some great passages.

I realize how utterly unoriginal it is to post basically the same review for two different albums, but I really feel that this is just what these albums deserve given that they are so similar in style.

I can recommend these albums only if Jazz-Rock/Fusion is your favourite genre and/or you are a dedicated follower of Hiseman, Moore and/or Airey. Personally I think that these musicians are great, but they have made far better music elsewhere.

Review by snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Final Colosseum II album is a bit of mixed bag for me. I like some separate moments of it, especially some jazzy perfect musicianship in a moments. But to be a really strong album, there are too many weak points.

First of all, this album's roots are coming openly from hard rock. Even if musicianship are at much more complex level, I feel their music more as proto metal fusion, than jazz fusion. And it isn't strange - all band's musicians are rock players, are known in past or future.

Main music is coming from interplay between Gary Moore guitar and Don Airey keys, both musicians are much more associated with hard rock world ( Thin Lizzy and long solo pop- rock and blues-rock career for Moore and Rainbow, Whitesnake, Black Sabbath,etc. for Airey). Many symphonic prog elements are used in album's music as well.

Another problem is all songs are quite faceless, even if musicianship is great. The only song with vocal "Castles" is below critics.

Overall, I think this album is important looking historically as one of early proto metal fusion examples. Not too much enjoying listening for jazz fusion fans, it could be more attractive to instrumental hard rock lovers.

Review by Kazuhiro
3 stars The existence of Tempest will have been a result of having tried to catch as one of the elements that developed the creation and the idea of the music character further for Jon Hiseman. In the activity that Jon Hiseman had certainly done in the field of Jazz Rock of Britain, the degree of the contribution was a large very part. And, the music character of Tempest and the quality might be maintained in a high part and be expressed. There might certainly have been a part where it had appeared one after another the talents such as Allan Holdsworth and Ollie Halsall for a fact, too. However, the part expressed as opening the music character that Jon Hiseman digested would have been dyspepsia a little if it considered it if it thought about the music character of Tempest and directionality.

The time that would hang by the time the flow that reached in Colosseum developed in this Colosseum 2 required a little long period. And, development and the directionality of the music character that Jon Hiseman thinks about might have strengthened further in Tempest. Jon Hiseman that thought about the reorganization of Colosseum splendidly projected the character and the reflection to this band again.

There might exactly have been a revolution and a lot of demands in the market of music at time when this album was announced. However, the part of the character and relations that carried out the music character had the result of the further projection to the music character of Colosseum 2.

The theme carried out for the reorganization of Colosseum was an oneness of ensemble and the band. The expression by the musician who had been summoned to make the part an embodiment will have been a moment when the speculation of Jon Hiseman had come true. The part of Jazz Rock that the quality in which it listened by "Starange New Fresh" is high had succeeded. The music character and the character always continued in continuing "Electric Savage" though the Bass player had alternated to John Mole. It is said that "Electric Savage" was recorded at the period of about one week. The zeal that had been poured into the production of this "War Dance" in a short term at this time will have been a wonderful event. The zeal of the band that made high-quality music though it is a short term will be transmitted to the listener.

After announcing the album, having begun a little to collapse is also true. act about ColosseumThe flow of work with Thin Lizzy by the event and Gary Moore where Jon Hiseman had begun to have relations with Dave Greenslade presented the flow to which this band naturally collapsed as a result. This original band might strengthen and the element of aimed ensemble strengthened further compared with the current work. The song of Gary Moore that appears according to the situation is reflected well for the album.

"War Dance" shifts from the composition of the repetition of the keyboard and the drum that has been almost approved as Solo to the fanfare of the solemnity. The melody of the guitar pulls the tension. The theme that the rhythm of five uses has the overwhelming might. Space sound that keyboard creates. Part developed attended with tension and excitement. A transposition and a piano sound also contribute to the tune. Ensemble of the band might be complete.

"Major Keys" makes the composition with splendid exactly bright theme of the keyboard and cutting of the guitar. The compatibility of Don Airey and Gary Moore is preeminent. Part of guitar to make good use of control of Volume. Solo that E-Piano is good. The composition of the tune that flows in the space might have a good element.

"Put It That Way" produces a good dash feeling at the beginning of the tune. The processing of the unison and the harmony of the guitar and the keyboard is perfect. The dash feeling and the tension continue. The flow that shifts from the theme intermittently repeated to Solo of the guitar is expressed well, too. And, the flow that shifts to Solo of the keyboard is also natural. The guitar and the keyboard completely pull the tune.

"Castles" produces the flow with good song of Gary Moore. The melody that Gary Moore sings might have originality. And, the character that this band originally had is projected to the tune. The element of the ballade done by making good use of the sound with diversity might be music for them. The feature is to progress Chord with expression of feelings.

"Fighting Talk" The dash feeling with good rhythm by the shuffle is produced. The band has good ensemble. The melody with diversity while adding a few elements of Blues Rock and the atmosphere of the session twines. The sound of the keyboard always continues to be good. And, the guitar also contributes to the tune. The negotiation on the guitar and the keyboard might be splendid.

"The Inquisition" is a tune where an intense part and the tension of this band are expressed well. The top is continued attended with heavy Riff and the tension. The part of ensemble of the band might go out strongly. Part of acoustic guitar and part where element of music of the Middle East is reminiscent. And, it is partial of Chord and the melody that develops one after another. The idea is expressed by the technology of the performance.

"Star Maiden/Mysterioso/Quasar" starts from the line of gentle Bass. The tempo that flows slowly produces a good space. The sound of the bell is faced and the tune faces complex development in the signal. The rhythm and the melody that multiuses the rhythm of 8/10 and 8/11 listen to an overwhelming technology. The sound of the bell is shifted in the signal and the tune shifts to the following part again. A bright melody and the dash feeling produce a progressive part of the tune. The creation that the band develops in union is exactly complete.

As for "Last Exit", the processing of complete Chord is given to the sound of the shining keyboard. The composition of the tune that gives priority to the element of the style might be splendid. Solo of guitar that produces complete expression of feelings. And, the band creates one space with the keyboard.

Colosseum 2 was a band with which the zeal of Jon Hiseman was exactly blocked. And, the work of the member who did to make the music character an embodiment will be still a part of the legend in the item of Jazz Rock of Britain.

Review by b_olariu
4 stars War dance released in same year with previous album Electric savage 1977 is another worthy album in jazz rock realm with progressive elements added in the mix. This is their final album untill they disbanded in 1978. Well, this offer is very much in same vein with Electric savage. Everybody knew the hudge potential had Moore and Airey onto Colosseum II sound and overall compositions, but really I didn,t knew I will be so impressed by Jon Hiseman on drums and John Mole on bass, they are fantastic musicians aswell like their band friends, Hiseman has some fabulous chops , specially all 4 musicians shine on fast instrumental passages like on The inquisition or title track, only one track Castle is with vocals coming from Moore voice, a so so afair not bad not something special either. So, definetly 4 stars for this one, for me Colosseum II is one of the most under rated bands from their fild. Very solid, well played, tight compositions.
Review by richardh
4 stars This was the last of a trio of albums by the line up of Jon Hiseman (drums) , Don Airey (keys) , Gary Moore( guitars and vocals) and John Mole (bass). This was 1977 and punk was in full flight so the kind of music this band were making was almost as far removed from 'trendy' as you could possibly get. But of course we don't care about that! The music is complex but always concise with never a moment wasted. Jazz rock fusion played with tons of energy and invention. The previous album Electric Savage had the great tracks Intergalactic Strut and The Scorch but overall lacked a cohesiveness to make it a truly satisfying listen. This on the other hand feels a like a step forward and a more complete work. Best track for me is The Inquistion. Moore demonstrates some ability on Spanish guitar playing at a hundred mile an hour. It has a mean hook that will bury itself in your brain and never leave. Perhaps the other stand out track is Castles which is the only vocal track on the album. Gary Moore shows what a great vocalist he was developing into and this was to stand him in great stead for his future blues albums.

Overall this is an excellent album and its a shame they didn't stay together much longer except to help a certain Andrew Lloyd Webber for his prog adventure (check it out!).

Latest members reviews

4 stars Another great album by Colosseum II, similar to the previous album, focus is on instruments and soloing and only one sung and romantic song. The keyboardist shows a vast array of influences including usual synths, Hammond and Moog but also electric piano. Excellent tasty prog-rock soloing o ... (read more)

Report this review (#2526491) | Posted by sgtpepper | Friday, March 19, 2021 | Review Permanlink

4 stars An album of pure virtuosos and some of the most impressive demonstration what 4 aces can do to prove that music has no limits in terms of creativity and imaginationa!This is the third and final album of an unique fusion rock band- COLOSSEUM II!!!Jon Hiseman,the instigator of this project,and ... (read more)

Report this review (#258121) | Posted by Ovidiu | Sunday, December 27, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This is an excellent album of instrumental hard jazzrock with Gary Moore like a leader of the group,but with the excellent contribution of energetic Jon Hiseman,a really underrrated drummer,after (BUT CLOSE)in importance are the agressive and good keyboards of Don Ayrey,and the effective bass ... (read more)

Report this review (#108252) | Posted by markosherrera | Sunday, January 21, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The 3rd and (sadly) final album from this remarkable ensemble came shortly after their watershed moment, "Electric Savage". While the production is slightly ahead on this release, compositionally, it is a step behind. The short time between releases didn't allow for full realization of all the ... (read more)

Report this review (#65736) | Posted by Toka | Friday, January 20, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Here they really play some of the very best jazz-fusion things ever. "Inquisition" - simply outstanding. Totally sweeping everything away like an armoured train. I can't believe that's MOORE who's playing those solos!!!!! Basically, second half of the whole work is actually the best Colloseum's perf ... (read more)

Report this review (#26345) | Posted by myas0 | Monday, January 19, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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