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ALBION

Neo-Prog • Poland


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Albion picture
Albion biography
Founded in Krakow, Poland in 1992

Neo Prog band from Poland with female vocals. Very beautiful and melodic compositions in a nice atmosphere. "Albion" mixes short and long compositions, and sometimes the influence of bands like MARILLION become very clear. Close to the powerful neo Progressive rock, ALBION reminds of MARILLION, IQ and JADIS, with a Steve HACKETT style of guitar sound and subtle keyboard parts.

ALBION came into existence in 1992 when members of two dissolving bands from Cracow decided to start a new band. At the beginning the band consisted of the following four members: Jerzy ANTCZAK (guitars), Krzysztof Malec (keyboards), Paweł Konieczny (drums) and Tomasz Kaczmarczyk (bass guitar).

After a short period of time joined Anna Batko taking the role of the vocalist.
This lineup started to work on the material which was to appear on ALBION's first release. It was issued in 1994 under the title "Survival Games" by Art-Rock but only on a cassette (it was reissued next year on CD without the permission of the band by an italian label Mellow Records). During the recording process the bass guitarist Tomasz Kaczmarczyk left the band and his part was played by Paweł Konieczny who at this moment took the bassist's role leaving the drums to Grzegorz Olszowski.

After the release of the cassette the band got a new manager Aleksander Krl who, along with Sick Records Europe, decided to issue the band's new material on a cassette and CD. The selftitled album was issued in 1995. After this release ALBION took part in many festivals and concerts in Poland.

When composing pieces for the next album another changes in the lineup took place - Grzegorz Olszowski was replaced by Rafał Paszcz behind the drums and the vocalist's role passed to Katarzyna Sobkowicz. The album "Wabiąc cienie" appeared only after 10 years in 2005 issued by Lynx Music...

.:: thanks to Bartłomiej Ślązak (aka Tuzvihar) ::.

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ALBION discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

ALBION top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.93 | 35 ratings
Survival Games
1994
3.73 | 51 ratings
Albion
1995
3.90 | 67 ratings
Wabiąc Cienie
2005
3.59 | 64 ratings
Broken Hopes
2007
3.60 | 61 ratings
The Indefinite State Of Matter
2012
3.86 | 57 ratings
You'll Be Mine
2018

ALBION Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

ALBION Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

ALBION Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.93 | 22 ratings
Remake
2006
4.42 | 12 ratings
Unsongs
2015

ALBION Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

ALBION Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Remake by ALBION album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2006
3.93 | 22 ratings

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Remake
Albion Neo-Prog

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

4 stars This double CD repackages ALBION's first two disks in all their repetitive glory, with more duplicate versions than the re are versions of "Tubular Bells" even now. The early history of the group explains this anomaly, but this two-fer is probably still a superior option to the originals, mostly because of the 5 bonus tracks, 4 of which date to the period immediately following the self titled release and all of which are sung in Polish. The 5th dates from 2006, close to the time they issued their only fully Polish language album. It's all enjoyable, with "Sarajevo" and "Collapse" respectively reflecting the influence of COLLAGE and paradoxically presaging the COLLAGE successor SATELLITE, while the mammoth "Golgotha" seems to be a one-off (two-off?) stylistically, attaining levels of complexity that the band would only rarely attempt in future offerings while admittedly as brooding as ever. These more than compensate for the pop sheen of "You" and the developmentally challenged "Scarecrow".

The aforementioned bonuses reveal a band setting out in 40 directions at once, from the country ish "Nie Wiem" to the more rock but hook oriented "Wszystko jedno" to the folk influenced "Deszcz" and "Zanurzona", which hint at their future tendency to close albums with a nod to roots not otherwise evident, though here the delights are far more acoustically oriented, if no less rewarding. In short, the bonus cuts do not appreciably reflect their predominant style and approach once they finally laid down tracks for posterity a decade later, or the decade after that for that matter.

While early demos and tentative recordings are sometimes best left to archivists or the committed, in the case of ALBION, this remake adduces an already evolving band in a form that can be appreciated as much as their more polished later works.

 You'll Be Mine by ALBION album cover Studio Album, 2018
3.86 | 57 ratings

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You'll Be Mine
Albion Neo-Prog

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

4 stars At some point during the year gap that followed the lovably slapdash "The Indefinite State of Matter", during which guitarist/multi-instrumentalist Jerzy Antczak recorded two "solo" works, two long time members departed and two early contributors were welcomed back. Original vocalist Anna Batko's sultry sway hasn't diminished in 2 decades, not to take anything away from Katarzyna Sobkowicz-Malec who conducted herself mightily during that period. While both have buttressed the ALBION canon, the vision of the group has always been far more panoramic than "prog band with a female singer", and here it's Jerzy who delivers in the clutch. While his expressive and melodic guitars predominate, he proves no slouch on the keys, which subsidize the textures we have long come to anticipate from ALBION.

From the first bars of "Call it a Sin", reminiscent of fellow Poles BELIEVE, and its amorphous transition to the sweetly strummed and appropriately named "Lullaby", my attention was seized for the duration. This is a dark and at times doleful record in all the best ways but with luminescent moments that seem to bubble up from the spirit of its participants, such as on the paradoxically upbeat "Lady Death". It revels in transitions from near metal riffs to hypnotic passages in which keys and Rafał Paszcz's devotional percussion induce a sense that even "Hell" affords its own redemption. I'd like to think that the title's meaning is more metaphysical than physical, and more listener than individual focused, because, if so, I can attest that "You''ll be Mine" is a direct hit.

 The Indefinite State Of Matter by ALBION album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.60 | 61 ratings

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The Indefinite State Of Matter
Albion Neo-Prog

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

4 stars After the relative beehive of industry around Polish neo prog group ALBION between 2005 and 2007, the band then entered a more somnolent phase at least from the perspective of recorded output. When they did emerge it was with a somewhat atypical presentation in the form of "The Indefinite State of Being", a relatively short release that was bracketed by two lengthy instrumentals "Particle Of Soul" and "Fear". Both are one part ALBION by the numbers pieces and two parts keyboardist Krzysztof Malec twisting rusty levers in his man cave. While that's not why we generally visit ALBION, maybe it should be. A host of theories could explain this shift: right now my go to canard is that the band was on the verge of imploding, which they did indeed do at some point between 2013 and 2018, and Malec and vocalist (wife?) Katarzyna were en route to an eventual split. Without enough band material, Malec rustled together session workouts sporting the usual blazing guitar of Jurek Antczak - including a section in "Fear" that borrows the NIGHTWISH toolkit - with his own somewhat derivative but still fascinating synth doodling to culminate in this offering. This would also explain why, even by ALBION's standards, they present like weird and wonderful cut and paste jobs.

Luckily, the middle 4 vocal tracks present the band in more comfortable settings. Incorporating the expansive and atmospheric qualities of DAVE GILMOUR, I also hear hints of fellow Poles BELIEVE in "When I see the Light". While Krzysztof Wyrwa is demoted to the role of guest on bass, his work on this track seems 110% vested. "Airborne" is the closest to the familiar style and certainly the highlight, returning to their well of fascination with space travel and Katarzyna's skill at hypnotic phrasings repeated with emphasis, culminating in a crescendo led by Antczak upon Grzegorz Bauer's jagged base.

While the state of ALBION might have been indefinite in 2013, the band proved that they could still toss together a collection that matters.

 Broken Hopes by ALBION album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.59 | 64 ratings

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Broken Hopes
Albion Neo-Prog

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

4 stars For Polish neo prog group ALBION, the years between 2005 and 2007 whelped an explosion of activity after a decade of somnolence. First up was a superb Polish language release with a new vocalist, followed by a remastering of their first 2 albums from the 1990s in one package, and finally back to English lyrics with "Broken Hopes".

This is another brilliantly arranged and played offering, with more of a focus on the searingly melodic lead guitar of Jurek Antczak, but with chunky dollops of spacey keyboards, mostly synths. I'd say, while it's of consistent high caliber, it lacks the couple of killer cuts present on its predecessor. Continental influences include SATELLITE and CLEPSYDRA. The theme, enunciated through injected, at times, irritating voice clips of 20th century leaders in the two epic tracks, seems to be how are lives are manipulated by those leaders for good and evil. But honestly the lyrics might as well be in Polish because I endure long stretches without making out a single word let alone a sentence. Katarzyna's voice is just fine as instrument though, particularly on the hard rock moments in "Angel" and "I am", but in the dreamier numbers we often don't realize she has been singing until the incendiary solos begin. "near the End" is actually at the end and it marks the second album in a row that is serenaded off with a lighter almost folkie number. Yessssssss!

"Broken Hopes" is a another sweet sounding effort by ALBION which is unlikely to disappoint fans of this style.

 Wabiąc Cienie by ALBION album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.90 | 67 ratings

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Wabiąc Cienie
Albion Neo-Prog

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

4 stars After the initial furry in the mid 1990s, Polish neo proggers ALBION lost momentum, unable to secure a more stable recording contract. Finally, Lynx music came to the rescue! In the interim they had lost expressive lead singer Anna Batko, but she was replaced by Katarzyna Sobkowicz-Malec, who was equally talented albeit in a more conventional sense. Even comparing this to the "Remake" remastering of the first two albums that Lynx issued in 2006, the production values here are in another league. The sound is less diffuse and more expansive, the keyboards are more dominant, and the influence of 1980s music on the band can be discerned at times. The result may not be plotzing with originality but the compositions, arrangements, exuberance and execution more than compensate.

The opening notes of "Motyl" call to mind the French group ECLAT from the mid 1990s, with succinct plucked guitars eventually heralding the ensemble. As much as early neo prog and COLLAGE may have helped shape ALBION, I hear as much integration of the continental and new age sounds on the sole instrumental piece, the sweeping synth heavy "Bieg po tęczy", romantic pop in the boombox friendly rhythms of "Szary" and the earworm chorus of "Inny" , Finnish symphonic prog in the addictive riffs of my favorite piece "Yuppie", and good ol folk rock in the sunny closer "Cienie",

"Wabiac Cenie" ranks up there with the best from countrymen BELIEVE, SATELLITE, COLLAGE and MILLENIUM. It is the only ALBION release to be sung in native tongue, which is just another reason to rescue this exquisite triumph from the shadows.

 Albion by ALBION album cover Studio Album, 1995
3.73 | 51 ratings

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Albion
Albion Neo-Prog

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

4 stars On the strength of a precocious debut cassette or perhaps an unauthorized CD reissue which followed, a proper release was bankrolled by Sick Records. This eponymous "debut" mostly comprises reworkings from the demo, with a few previously unreleased pieces replacing some of the original tracks. The bad news is that the relatively weak "Scarecrow" and "You" survived the cut while the superior "Collapse" and "Shout" were victims. The good news is that the replacement numbers are uniformly excellent!

As I said before, "Scarecrow" plays like a mediocre BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST, with a decent sound but no development. "You" is most notable for representing the blueprint for the early success of OF MONSTERS AND MEN a decade and a half later, whether that Icelandic collective had ever heard this or not! In other words, it's clever pop with a few ambient tendencies, but a tad lightweight in this setting. The sound quality is cleaned up on the remakes, but not much else really changed: it's still lush, dreamy and melancholic with soaring guitar leads a la COLLAGE's "Moonshine" from a couple of years earlier, the heir apparent to the sound that COLLAGE couldn't grow before they imploded. Insert Anna Batko in lieu of Robert Amirian, clean em up and set em free! Well, except for "Golgotha", which is even spacier and suggests where DAVID SYLVIAN may have gone after his mid 1980s albums. It sports a rather fluid Spanish acoustic guitar style technique. I've yet to listen to more recent ALBION but this seems like this wouldn't be a bad template, unpredictable yet cohesive.

Among the newcomers, "Sarajevo" grafts a foreboding atmosphere to more uptempo sections reminiscent of STEVE HACKETT. "Shadow" is more mellow but just as haunting, anchored by plucked acoustic or low amp electric guitar and synths played like piercing winds. The band must have sensed the autonomic accompaniment and closed the album with an instrumental version. One Polish language mini epic is included, also gentle and acoustically driven, smoldering to an ensemble climax. The vocals do not dominate, and as such Albion avoids some of the most flagrant weaknesses of many practitioners of this style past and present. Spoiled again by Polish neo prog!

 Survival Games by ALBION album cover Studio Album, 1994
3.93 | 35 ratings

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Survival Games
Albion Neo-Prog

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

4 stars In true Northern European fashion, Polish group ALBION's eponymous album was actually their second, the first being this demo cassette "Survival Games". To add to the confusion, the intersection set of the two albums is larger than the symmetric difference, for those who took set theory while less than a quarter century ago or have a very good memory for their age. So while "Albion" was essentially meant to replace "Survival Games", it's still useful to look back to where it all began. My review is based on the remastered version of the songs released in 2006 as "Remake". It turns out that ALBION is well worth the possible confusion all of this may cause.

While influenced by STEVE HACKETT's solo works as well as HACKETT-era GENESIS and early neo prog, ALBION, like contemporaries COLLAGE and ANNALIST, succeed in crafting their own identity through an equitable alchemy of soaring synthesizers, lead guitars, and a transparent focus on melody. Vocalist Anna Batko, in her STEVIE NICKS meets TRACEY HITCHINGS persona, is as integral to their artistry as the instrumentalists, but yet they are not so much a female-fronted band as a band that happens to comprise a female singer. This subtle distinction is part of what makes them so effortlessly authentic.

While the chicken or egg argument could apply vis a vis comparisons with COLLAGE and Jerzy Antczak with Mirek Gil, it does appear that ALBION influenced COLLAGE successor SATELLITE, nebulously via that group's second album title "Evening Games" but even more by the dark atmosphere that permeates many of the pieces, and the brooding introduction to the wonderful "Collapse" seems like a blueprint for the dark apprehension of that later work. The title cut and "Mad Look" are also thrilling. In fact, other the poppy "You" and the static "Scarecrow" - which sounds like an early BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST outtake from around the time they could no longer work with an orchestra and hadn't figured out how to work without an orchestra - this is remarkably consistent. It's not quite a master class though; I don't think the compositions quite ascend to that level. The most progressive and intricate number here is the closer "Gogoltha" in which Paweł Konieczny wrests the mike when needed and acoustic guitar, bass and percussion nudge a most deserving inaugural release to its climax.

While only collectors may be motivated to seek out this historic demo given the closing of the loop that has been assured by subsequent releases, "Survival Games" exudes a brio lacking even in veteran bands. ALBION has taken this philosophy to heart for 25 years.

 Albion by ALBION album cover Studio Album, 1995
3.73 | 51 ratings

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Albion
Albion Neo-Prog

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Although listed on PA as their second album, Albion (1995) is really their first "real" one: Survival Games (1994) is more a collection of demos, hence the almost identical track list, albeit in different running order. I had this record for a long time and I must confess that I did not give it the proper time to listen more carefully at the time. Well, this is no Wabiac Cienie nor Broken Hopes, and the fact that I never liked the opener Scarecrow did not help matters. Which is really a pity, for the band showed that they were very good and unique from the very start. Ok, the first three tracks of the CD are not particularly convincing for anyone who is familiar with their latter output: nice stuff, good melodies for sure, but not quite outstanding. However, by then things go uphill and the second half reveals that this polish band was already working their songwriting skills, arrangements and performances to another level entirely.

Songs like Sarajevo, Jeszcze śmierć chowam w kieszeń and Golgotha show that Albion had their personal sound well developed, specially on the hands of guitarist Jerzy Antczak, who is clearly the star here, along with Anna Batko emotional vocal deliverance. The keyboards parts of Krzysztof Malec are not as greatly explored as he later would, but they are just as elegant and tasteful. the rhythm section is tight and the production is quite good for the time. Its interesting to realise they would take a whole decade to come up with a follow up, but , as it happened, it would be worth the wait.

I am really happy that I gave this CD a second chance after all these years. It is far better than I initially thought and Im glad to know that this band was special from the get go. And Jerzy Antczak is one of the most underrated guitarists of prog: his fluid, powerful and beautiful licks and solos are a joy to hear: personal and creative but clearly coming from the school of masters like Gilmour, Akkermann and Latimer. If you like that kind of sound you should check this record. A nice find!

Rating: something between 3,5 and four stars. Maybe not up to the next two follow ups but nearly as good.

 You'll Be Mine by ALBION album cover Studio Album, 2018
3.86 | 57 ratings

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You'll Be Mine
Albion Neo-Prog

Review by CeeJayGee

4 stars I've listened to a few of Albion's previous releases and for me their latest You'll Be Mine seems like their strongest. This is a delightful album from this Polish neo prog band. There are seven tracks totalling just under forty-four minutes and the whole album is most enjoyable. What impressed me most was the strength of the melodies. I found myself listening several times to the whole album on repeat. All tracks follow the same structure. The melody is introduced by their fine female vocalist and the second half of each song then develops the melodic theme further giving opportunities for some fine guitar solos.
 You'll Be Mine by ALBION album cover Studio Album, 2018
3.86 | 57 ratings

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You'll Be Mine
Albion Neo-Prog

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Six years after The Indefinite State Of Matter (2012) polish prog rocker Albion is back. This time with a totally different line up. Founder member Krzysztof Malec (keyboards) is gone and so is the superb singer Katarzyna Sobkowicz-Malec. Thus making guitarist Jurek Antczak the only member to play on all Albions records so far. But instead of a whole new personnel, Antczak decided to recall several ex members to reform the group: so original singer Anna Batko is back to the fold (she sang on their first two releases). Another original member, bassist Paweł Konieczny also joined in and once official drummer Rafał Paszcz (who played on 2005´s Wabiac and 2007´s Broken Hopes) completes the "new" Albion. Guitarist Antczak handles all the keyboards duties here.

So, what about the album? The gathering of old members may suggest to some as a kind of nostalgia trip, but Youll be Mine is nothing like that. The sound is different for sure, made it even clearer without Krzystof Malecs majestic symphonic keys, but that does not mean a lack of quality, much on the contrary. What we have is a guitar-led progressive record of the highest calibre, as the new songs are simply brilliant, with not even a single weak track in the whole CD. Anna Batko is in great form and her vocals have a mysterious and haunting quality that is perfect for the recent material. But the dominant figure here is Jurek Antczak: his guitar playing is absolutely brilliant throughout the entire CDs. He goes from delicate acoustic finger picking to beautiful Gilmour-like electric solos to crunchy, blistering riffs, all without losing any of the melodic flair, creativity and tasteful deliver he has always done with this band. If, for sometime, he looked like one of modern prog music´s most underrated guitarist, here he has room to fully show off his talent and versatility like he never did before. But he does that without ever overplaying.

With a good production and a strong rhythm section, this is one of the best prog records of the year so far. Songs like the emotional Does Everybody Count, the melodic Lady Death and the 9 minute epic closer Hell are fine examples of the new style, where inspiration, freshness and powerful performances were found on every tune. It may take a little time to fully get the new music - it was my case anyway - but once you get it you are hooked. As usual with Albion the album is not long, it has only 40 minutes of running time, but those are of the highest quality.

A real nice surprise and one of the best prog records of 2018. Highly recommended, specially if you like guitar led prog music.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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