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Hackberry Hackberry album cover
4.39 | 32 ratings | 4 reviews | 44% 5 stars

Essential: a masterpiece of
progressive rock music

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Studio Album, released in 2018

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Ophidian Strike (17:38)
2. Miraggio (5:43)
3. Aboard (8:20)
4. Desert Orchid (13:06)

Total Time 44:07

Line-up / Musicians

- Francesco Bonardi / guitar
- Marijn DE Boer / guitar
- Tim Hidskes / keyboards
- Simon Venema / bass
- Chris Bechtum / drums

Releases information

Digital album (2018)

Thanks to rdtprog for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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Buy HACKBERRY Hackberry Music

HACKBERRY Hackberry ratings distribution

(32 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(44%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(44%)
Good, but non-essential (12%)
Collectors/fans only (0%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

HACKBERRY Hackberry reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by rdtprog
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Heavy, RPI, Symph, JR/F Canterbury Teams
4 stars Sometimes you can be blown away by an instrumental prog rock album from a band that you don't hear a lot. This one has only four songs with 2 big epics. It starts with a song that has a solid melody in the vein of the more progressive side of Dream Theater. The song is played at just the right tempo to enjoy the melody. It's mostly drum/guitar and bass oriented but the keyboards have their space later on. There is some cool bass break in the middle of the first song with some spacey passage that brings things down. "Miraggio" brings another atmosphere with a short piano intro before the heaviness comes back in a pure Opeth style and some powerful guitar riffs. The band enjoys to stretch out their song in a kind of control jamming style keeping at times a frenetic pace with some smooth break and a quieter guitar to gives us a breather after some intense passages. I can't say anything wrong with this album that has solid melodies that keep you engaged throughout the 45 minutes. There's not a minute wasted for fans of Heavy Prog, Prog Metal and beyond...
Review by tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars I received another top-secret intelligence report from my trusted UK source, agent Steve Lazenby, code org name Lazland who once, long ago, had a namesake named George somewhat briefly related to 007. The For Your Ears Only file was a rather in-depth analysis of a clandestine cell operating out of the Netherlands that had found a way to infiltrate a once famed smartphone company, hence the operational code name Hackberry. Once decrypted and thoroughly investigated, I realized that the latest dispatch Breathing Space, was not yet cleared censors, so I took the liberty of perusing their initial self-titled dispatch. No disinformation here, the subversive quintet is a covert group of expert instrumentalists, who have mastered their tools of the trade to an elite level, licensed to kill and showing little mercy. The shadowy duo of Francesco Bonardi and Marijn De Boer wield the Q sponsored lethal guitars, with reptilian bassist Simon Venema equally adept at garrotting strings, while the electronic keyboards manned by Tim Hidskes add camouflage, sabotage, and the odd disguise. The getaway drum kits are driven by Chris Bechtum, the propulsive force behind the commando hit squad. Their cloak and dagger mission never seems impossible throughout their infiltration.

The onslaught detonates with a 17 minute + tectonic epic (that is my definition of confidence and courage) where the interaction between the musicians is presented with brute precision and vibrant determination, and once the initial tempo is in motion, the interwoven axes conspire mightily as riffs and licks combine to set the stage for a curling cobra bass line to lead the rhythm into overdrive. First overt observation: these guys can play along the very best out there, where inspiration meets method, with complete mastery of mood, drive, and atmosphere. The technical fans will admire the chops and the passionate ones slain by the killer manipulation of the melodies. The moody mid-section even dares to venture into silent lucidity, surely a decoy snare to entrap the unsuspecting listener, coercing them into submission with another powerful sound rampage that takes musical adventure to another level, aided by loads of detailed electronic musings from Hidskes. Very striking sonic penetration.

The mercifully shorter "Miraggio" takes one initially to the other extreme, an elegant and solitary piano solo that exudes classicist tendencies that soothe the senses, before it plummets into a provisional flourishing guitar assault, decelerating into a fleeting lead guitar flurry and then, booting up to a turbo-charged fury. Just like a Saharan mirage, is the blurry image real or imagined? Water, water. The agony of hope for salvation is expressed by colossal choir mellotron dunes. The segue onto "Aboard" is like a last second impromptu caravan of deliverance, a sweltering journey under torrid conditions, sandstorm guitar stings prickling the skin like a million needles. Swirling eddies of dynamic sound urges the dramatic venture forward, reaching nearly hysteria and pandemonium.

The finale is their classic initial piece "Desert Orchid", a 13-minute master stroke of mood and effect, as an arid guitar interplay sets the oppressive tone, then ramping up the intensity with effortless glide, swerving straight into the wilderness of where zero vegetation can grow. The quest for that lonely floral exception is the exhilarating ride the band takes us on, ferried by a masterful synthesized e-piano in the background, recalling Zep's No Quarter. Bonardi's guitar crisses, as De Boer's crosses, the two gunslingers in perfect harmony with each other and devoted to accomplishing the mission at all costs. Hetfield/Hammett (Metallica) move over, Powell/Wisefield (Wishbone Ash) sit down. These two are top notch aces. I as a rule, am not always fond of endless shredding because it can be so darn predictable at times but I found the opposite here, as its always perfectly dosed and mathematically diverse. The finale, as they eventually find the lone blossom in the barren expanse, is one of unrestricted jubilation.

The silence at the conclusion is deafening. What a sensational debut album! This tape will self destruct in 5 seconds. Good luck Jim! The Breathing Space file is being cleared by M, should be arriving soon. The secretary will disavow any knowledge of your actions.

5 Crypto currants

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Great instrumental Heavy Prog from The Netherlands. These guys draw from many influences old and more recent to present some interesting and eclectic songs--two of epic length and construction.

1. "Ophidian Strike" (17:38) RUSH-like power chords with some very RUSH-like other instrumental tracks are here woven together to open this song to display the band's RUSH-like discipline. In the third minute the band shows some DEATH-like chops before stepping back to give us a more laid back Mellotron-backed weave. At 4:15 the guitarists begin what seems like a slow trek back into Akerfeldt-Gildenlöw territory but then back off and slow down a bit. The sixth and seventh minutes show some slide guitar work giving the music a kind of Allman/Clapton feel but then everything slows down, empties out for a 30 second passage of slowly picked arpeggios on a solo electric guitar. At 7:45 the organ ushers us back into the RUSH-like motif of the opening section. At 8:26 there is a slight shift before another return to Rush territory (despite the Hammond mirroring the guitar's chordal and melodic journey). The end of the tenth minute shows some syncopation with drum fills before everything switches to a space/psychedelic palette with plenty of floaty synths and echoed guitar note play. This reminds me of QUANTUM FANTAY--even when the melodic structure coopts a bit of YES riffing. Nice solid bass and drum throughout this section. Lead guitars return in the twelfth minute, taking the front attention from the spacey keys but even doubling the QUANTUM FANTAY feel and sound. At 13:08 a series of guitar power chords and Hammond arpeggi provide a bridge to a nice 'tron-supported section in which the twin lead guitars establish a very catchy melodic riff to hook us in. But then, in the fifteenth minute, we fall back into a succession of OPETH-like motifs (with the twin guitars both playing the harmonized lead and playing off of each other). Pretty cool. I miss these kind of 1970s twin guitar performances--something that I've heard in recent years from very few bands--most notably (and impressively) from Tennessee's TREE TOPS. Very solid, polished song. (31.75/35)

2. "Miraggio" (5:43) a mock classical piano piece? Reminds me of Gleb Kolyadin only it feels a bit Gallic tongue-in- cheeky. But then, after 90 seconds of this the bass and guitars take over in a kind of TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA/PAIN OF SALVATION way. At 2:40 we switch into something that sounds like it could come from Polish rockers RIVERSIDE circa 2006. A brief calm before the crescendo of the closing movements beginning at 4:40 and then at 5:20. Very interesting! (8.875/10)

3. "Aboard" (8:20) bursts out of the starting gate at full-power! The guitarists, both rhythm and lead, are wailing away as bass and drums also carry forward the melody and steady pace. Nice, if simple, chord and melody structure established and maintained. I can see the comparisons to "La Villa Strangiato" though this feels more of a study in the rudimentaries of the Rush song. At the three-minute mark there is a cools shift as muted flanged rhythm guitar allows the organ, 'tron, and lead guitar tracks to come forward more. As we return to the original dynamic, the guitarists take turns wailing away while the bass, guitar, keys, and rhythm guitar keep the base rock solid. Even the reset/interlude in the second half of the sixth minute somehow carries forward the plodding bass-led pace with no loss of momentum. The song is quite admirable for its consistent display of unabated power though I would have loved to hear something a little more daring from the rhythm section (especially the drums). (18/20)

4. "Desert Orchid" (13:06) a 120-second BLUE ÖYSTER CULT-like atmospheric intro turns rather SABBATH-like as it picks up speed, mass, and momentum in the third minute. This is the absolute essence of all that made Heavy Metal music win over so many fans and artists in the 1970s. By 2:30 they're all clicking on all cylinders, a full-fledged classic metal weave. At 3:55 everything comes to a halt--as if the juggernaut has been waylaid at a weigh station. The soft weave that follows slowly builds as one of the guitarists starts hitting on some power chords and then wailing away in a nice solo section (from 6:30 to 7:00 he's very impressive). Another stop and start in which another more jagged motif. In the end the song plays out more like a djenty thrash metal song from the late 90s or early Naughties. It's good--much better than the simplistic predecessor--but nothing very groundbreaking. (22.25/25)

Total Time 44:07

This album makes me finally realize what it is about RUSH albums that fail to make me like them: poor production, not enough low end, and vocals. Hackberry provide a Rush-like music with a deep, thick low end coupled with a lush Mellotron and organ fullness that helps ground me (and the music) in the glory of much that is great about progressive rock music. The guitar-hero twin guitars remind me of so many great 70s bands, including THIN LIZZY, THE OUTLAWS, LYNYRD SKYNYRD, and even THE EAGLES and THE ALLMAN BROTHERS, but also of the OPETH guitarists, the Glldenlöw brothers and, at times, a bit of the RIVERSIDE sound.

B+/4.5 stars; a near-masterpiece of well-composed, well-performed progressive rock. Were there vocals or more innovative ideas and structures this might even have been better.

Latest members reviews

5 stars Ever since their EP ´Desert Orchid´ I followed this band. After hearing the renewed album version of this song I knew that this album was going to be good. The sound is very open and the playing very tight. I especially enjoy the 17+ minute openingtrack ´Ophidian Strike´, which has a very nice i ... (read more)

Report this review (#2137599) | Posted by prsguitarman | Monday, February 18, 2019 | Review Permanlink

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