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Zaragon No Return album cover
3.35 | 38 ratings | 7 reviews | 18% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1984

Songs / Tracks Listing

Side 1
1. Stretched out Hands (7:54)
2. Thoughts (11:43)
Side 2
3. Lightrace (5:20)
4. No Return (12:46)
5. Exit (2:24)
Bonus Track on Ad Perpetuam
6. Fear to Fight (5:33)

Total Time: 45:40

Line-up / Musicians

- Ralph Hoel / keyboards
- Martin Nielsen / vocals
- Finn Jansen / guitars, backing vocals
- Bjřrn Hoel / drums
- Jim Andersen / bass

Releases information

Lp-PMP Records-1984 / CD-Ad Perpetuam Memoriam-APM 9405/Symphilis 1 (1994)
Zaragon was formed in 1979 under the name of "Thin Ice". In the beginning a trio (bass, drums and keyboard) but after a short time two members joined. A guitarist (Finn Jansen) and a singer (Martin Nielsen).
On bonus track "Fear To Fight" (APM cd release), show Martin his talent as leadguitar- and bassplayer.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to progaeopteryx for the last updates
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ZARAGON No Return ratings distribution

(38 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(18%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(32%)
Good, but non-essential (39%)
Collectors/fans only (8%)
Poor. Only for completionists (3%)

ZARAGON No Return reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by progaeopteryx
4 stars What a surprise! I picked up this unknown gem a few years back basically because I had nothing in my collection that started with the letter "Z" or anything from Denmark. When I first played it, I wasn't really expecting much as the only description it was given was "symphonic prog" from the online store I bought it from. The fact that it was originally released in 1984 suggested neo prog as well. After giving it a listen, I thought... yep, this is symph prog... yep, it's also neo prog in places. But wow, it was really good! Much, much better than the neo prog releases during that same time period. Zaragon has strong influences from Camel and Genesis, and also has similarities to Druid, Eloy, Novalis, and maybe even Solaris. The guitarist, Finn Jansen, shows strong Latimer/Gilmour influences, but musically it is dominated by lush keyboards. The vocals of Martin Nielsen are clear, well done, in English with a slight trace of an accent, and sort of like a mix of Dane Stevens (Druid), Bret Douglas (Cairo) and maybe a hint of Steve Walsh (Kansas).

No Return doesn't necessarily start off on the right foot. Stretched Out Hands, a song about life's struggles, sounds disjointed because it moves quickly through what feel like unconnected sections. Musically, there is no overall theme and it has awkward transitions. It's an average symph prog song leaning towards neo prog. The recording is well done, but nothing to get excited about. The second track, Thoughts, is an epic about East and West and the atomic bomb, a typical piece for the time period. The song is a beautiful gem, full of melodic and symphonic keys in a very Camelesque style. The third track, Lightrace, is another good song, featuring sci fi/environmental lyrics and great guitar work. The title song is the fourth track and appears to be about the struggle of finding paradise or ending up in Hell (not religious, but more like utopian lyrics). It's a beautiful epic featuring great guitar work with some wonderful Gilmouresque guitar solos and some really stunning organ playing. The best song on the album. No Return ends with a short piece called Exit with practically meaningless lyrics, a nice guitar solo, and then ends abruptly. I think this song would've been better if it had some meaning to the lyrics and faded out with one of Jansen's wonderful guitar solos for another minute or two.

The sixth track on this album, Fear to Fight, is a bonus track recorded in 1993, nine years after the original album was released. The song is about various issues in life and is a message about not giving up hope. It has a very different sound than the material from 1984, which makes it feel out of place with the rest of the album. It sounds a lot like Saga (maybe with some Genesis or IQ thrown in), partly pop-prog and nothing you'd want to write home about.

With or without the bonus track, this little known gem deserves four stars. If the first song was more fluid and the last song had a much stronger ending, it would've been an easy five stars. Still, it is a shining star in the dark era of prog in the 1980's. One of the best releases of that decade and one of the best progressive rock albums to come out of Denmark. Highly recommended to fans of the aforementioned groups and symph prog fans.

Review by Rivertree
3 stars Is this the Danish Dynamite?

BURNIN' RED IVANHOE was the only known prog act for me from Denmark before I heard from this band for the first time. So ZARAGON is another surprising discovery from the neighbourhood of Germany. They perform an excellent mixture of Neo and Symphonic Prog ingredients.

The music is comparable to the sound of FINAL CONFLICT, CLEPSYDRA, CAMEL and some german bands like AMENOPHIS. The rhythm section plays a solid role. The songs have nice melodies and are dominated by synthie keys/organ and a guitar playing which seems to be deeply inspired by Andy Latimer.

Stretched out hands and Fear to fight have a more Neo Prog touch with improved vocals and successfully arranged in my opinion. Additionally the long tracks Thoughts and No Return are containing wonderful melancholic meandering minutes.

I recommend to listen to this music. Unfortunately there is only existing a one-time effort from this band.

Review by kenethlevine
2 stars With plenty of fine moments, a rich keyboard sound reminiscent of Eloy, and Camel-like guitars, Zaragon's debut effort sounds like a winner on paper, but the group fails to create enough compelling compositions and melodies to rise much above mediocrity. The only tracks that work well in their entirety are "Thoughts" and "Lightrace", where layered keyboards and some versatile vocals dominate the flow. Plenty of imaginative changes help to maintain interest. The title cut provides some tasty morsels but not a meal in itself in its 12:46. Some albums are growers but Zaragon does not really provide the returns from repeat listens that would qualify it as a 3 star affair. 2.5 stars rounded down.
Review by progaardvark
COLLABORATOR Crossover/Symphonic Teams
4 stars I stumbled upon this one-time effort by Zaragon during a time period when I attempted to acquire at least one prog rock recording from every European country. When it came time to find something from Denmark, there wasn't a whole lot to pick from (this has since changed), and so Zaragon's No Return found it's way to me in the postal mail.

I wasn't expecting much. The limited amount of information at the time described them as being influenced by Genesis and being somewhat similar to Amenophis and Novalis. When I popped it into my CD player, I was delightfully surprised. It was much better than I had anticipated, but I thought their influences were more towards Camel and Eloy. I love lush synthesizers and Zaragon had much to offer in that regard. Guitarist Finn Jansen was clearly from the Latimer and Gilmour schools of guitar wizardry. I was expecting something similar to 1980s neo-prog, but what I ended up with was some very skilled, though not quite mature, symphonic prog rock akin to the greats of the same subgenre from the 1970s. The concepts seem to involve Utopianism, science fiction, and environmental issues.

Unfortunately this was the only release ever made by Zaragon, from a country not really known for its prog, in the dead era of prog rock. The timing of this release was the worst possible. Fortunately someone remembered them enough to re-release their album on CD. Enough so that the group reunited in 1993 to record again, but only resulting in the lone bonus track called Fear to Fight. This track does sound like neo prog (kind of like Saga). Apparently it was not impressive enough for the band to continue. If Zaragon could have weathered the 1980s, maybe the path they would have taken would have led them down the route of a fallen prog band making singles (like IQ and Saga during the same time period). Maybe they would have stuck to their prog routes. No one will ever know and too bad they were never really given the chance.

Still, a very enjoyable listen, much better than most one-release prog bands. Clearly one of the best releases from the 1980s, but not in the same league as a Script for a Jester's Tear or Marsbéli Krónikák. I like this enough to give it a firm four stars.

Review by b_olariu
4 stars Great neo-symphonic band from Denmark, who has only one album in thier pocket named No return from 1984. The album sounds very solid with nice melodies dominated by synthie keys/organ and a guitar. The voice of Martin Nielsen is very pleasent and fits very well in this kind of music. No much to add just if you want something good from the '80's don't hesitate to listen to Zaragon - a great band, and is released in a decade when prog was going nowhere and specialy symphonic prog. The best tracks - all with a plus on Thoughts. So if you listen to bands like Cirkel, Foundation this is the answer. 4 stars and excellent addition to any prog music collection
Review by ZowieZiggy
3 stars This album was recorded when neo-prog was in its infancy and it was quite remarkable for a band coming out of Denmark to perform such music.

And neo-prog almost sits at every corner of this album. But the whole is nicely presented, well played and holds some fine and symphonic passages as well (although not too many IMHHO).

The music played by "Zaragon" is highly accessible and melodic but there are not really one giant song which made the whole shining. Even a song as "Thoughts" holds all the classic elements of the neo-prog style.

It is true to say that there are some fine guitar work in here, but I wouldn't compare it with Latimer. He was so much more passionate than Finn Janssen even if, I repeat, some fine guitar IS featured.

In all this is a good album that will mostly enjoy neo-prog fans. Three stars to encourage these guys who were rather isolated in their home country. An easy listening music but enjoyable.

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars .and they never did (return!)

Danish band Zaragon had been around for about 5 years in various forms before releasing this their sole album in 1984. With English language vocals the music is a sort of melting pot of Kansas, IQ and Camel with nuances of Yes and Genesis. Synth and lead guitar dominate the extended breaks between the vocals, the tracks being well developed affairs usually running to 7-12 minutes.

The Kansas influences are the most commercial aspect of the songs, the vocal melodies being strong and well defined. It is though the Wakeman like synth runs, such as that which introduces "Thoughts", which are the most pleasing aspect of the music. In what appears to be an over indulgence in democracy, we usually find that each synth break is followed by a similar length of lead guitar break and vice versa. The resulting sounds are highly pleasing but sometimes a bit predictable. The aforementioned "Thoughts" though is a highlight of the album, and a fine example of symphonic prog.

The longest track is the title song, which runs to almost 13 minutes. This superbly put together number may pre-date band such as Pendragon and IQ by a number of years, but it points the way for the type of music they would develop and adopt as their own. Here, the emphasis is on the lead guitar for most of the first half of the track, then keyboards for the latter part. There are some nice bass lines too, the song displaying a willingness on the part of the band to let the music take its own unhurried course.

There are two shorter tracks on the album. The 5 minute "Lightrace" is a Styx like piece of melodic rock, while the 2+ minute "Exit" formed a suitable coda for the original album. The CD re-release saw the band get back together to record one additional song for inclusion on it. "Fear to fight" is very much in the same vein as the rest of the album, featuring a fine instrumental introduction to a melodic and highly accessible vocal.

Quite why Zaragon did not enjoy the success their album warranted, or indeed why they only ever recorded one album, seems to be something of a mystery. Perhaps their timing, during nadir of prog, was to say the least unfortunate. Whatever the reasons, all the indications here are that the band could have gone on to become a major force in prog had they recorded a few more albums.

The entire album can currently be heard in steaming form (courtesy of the band) on our website.

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