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ST. ELMO'S FIRE

Heavy Prog • United States


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St. Elmo's Fire biography
Band founded in 1979 by Paul Kollar & Erich Feldman. Gigged a lot for 18 months. Released "Live At The Cleveland Agora" album in 1980. Attempted world domination. Got tired, took a nap. Woke up 17 years later. Released "Splitting Ions In The Ether" CD in 1998. This CD contains the tracks from the original album plus 30 minutes of previously unreleased material. Sold many, many copies world wide. Most reviewers mention KING CRIMSON's "Larks Tongues In Aspic" and "Red" albums when making comparisons. Generally reguarded as a long lost treasure and an album that fans of heavy symphonic prog should not be without.

In 2001 they released the "Artifacts Of Passion" CD. The first new recordings from the band in 20 years. A very diverse album that really shows just how versatile these guys can be. Sold many more copies world wide. Had many favorable reviews. In 2004 a collection of rare demos and draft versions of unreleased tunes was released, titled "Antiquities".

Highly recommended!

: : : Paul Kollar, USA : : :

St. Elmo's Fire official website

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ST. ELMO'S FIRE discography


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

ST. ELMO'S FIRE top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.59 | 10 ratings
Artifacts of Passion
2001

ST. ELMO'S FIRE Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
Live At The Cleveland Agora
1980
3.76 | 8 ratings
Splitting Ions In The Ether
1998

ST. ELMO'S FIRE Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

ST. ELMO'S FIRE Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
Antiquities
2004

ST. ELMO'S FIRE Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

ST. ELMO'S FIRE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Splitting Ions In The Ether by ST. ELMO'S FIRE album cover Live, 1998
3.76 | 8 ratings

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Splitting Ions In The Ether
St. Elmo's Fire Heavy Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars St. Elmo's Fire could have lived up the hype if formed around mid-70's, but the attack of New Wave, Disco and Punk reduced their chances to success and apparently led to instability within the group.After line-up changes and a few more demo recordings the Cleveland-based quintet disbanded in May 1981.Paul Kollar, who by the 90's had moved to Raleigh, North Carolina, sat down with Mark Helm to work on new and old pieces of the band.The thirst for a reunion led to the establishment of the Sprawling Productions label, on which they released the CD ''Splitting ions in the ether'' in 1998, a good chance for anyone not owning the band's rare 1980 vinyl to listen to St. Elmo's Fire's innovative sound.

But the whole story about this release was the bonus material placed next to the four tracks of the vintage vinyl record of the band.''Searching for food'' is a surprising intro to say the least, a spacious Electronic ambience with a cinematic, almost cosmic atmosphere with grandiose synths and sound effects, leading to the powerful ''Gone to ground in the Khyber pass''.Some 8 minutes of complex Progressive Rock with a tremendous opener, led by a symphonic atmosphere similar to ELOY and based on the majestic sound of Mellotron, before getting in the mood of a Heavy Prog vessel with complicated guitar moves and a steady rhythm section, revisiting the orchestral lines of the opening minutes towards the end.''The balrog'', ''Parasites and bureaucrats'' and ''Aspen flambe'' were all included in ''Live At The Cleveland Agora'', but the 11-min. follower ''The Reluctant bride'' is yet another great piece and fine example of the band's versatility.This could be propably placed next to the early KING CRIMSON offerings, but here the intricate guitar lines and sinister textures are combined with a big symphonic sound, propelled by the mighty Mellotron of Stephen John Stavnicky, some rural passages with interesting flute work and the always atmospheric use of synthesizers.Complex, typical US-styled Prog Rock, similar to PENTWATER and YEZDA URFA.Then comes ''Fantasy come reality'', another piece included in ''Live At The Cleveland Agora'', before the band revisits the principles of ''Red''-period KING CRIMSON with the guitar manifest of ''The abduction'' with its haunting rhythms, complex twists and heavy overtones.The 9-min. farewell ''The Nuremberg Waltz'' is more of the same, dense and excessive guitar-oriented instrumental music with tons of breaks and a slight RUSH nuance next to the powerful and complicated KING CRIMSON experiments along with another short dash of Mellotron majesty.

Complex US Prog with King Crimson as a guiding light, surrounded by influences from Rush, Yes and Yezda Urfa.Interesting and pretty intricate material for fans of captivating, mostly instrumental Prog Rock.Recommended...3.5 stars.

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 Artifacts of Passion by ST. ELMO'S FIRE album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.59 | 10 ratings

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Artifacts of Passion
St. Elmo's Fire Heavy Prog

Review by progaeopteryx
Prog Reviewer

3 stars St. Elmo's Fire, a Cleveland-based band existed for about three years from 1979 to 1981, disbanded for 17 years, and then came back into the limelight with their 1998 release "Splitting Ions in the Ether," a live album of a concert recorded in 1980. In 2001, they released their first "studio" album, Artifacts of Passion, which came about through long-distance collaboration of the members of the group.

It has been said in numerous reviews that "Splitting Ions in the Ether" was chiefly inspired by King Crimson (Lizard through Red era). However, Artifacts in Passion shows only slight King Crimson influences and showcases a diverse arrangement of instruments. In addition to the usual electric guitars, bass, drums, and keys, one finds things like a shofar (an ancient horn instrument), violins, djembe, tabla, etc. Artifacts of Passion is made up of both songs the group first developed in the late 1970's to brand new ideas conceived of in the late 1990's.

The album starts off with "The Dead Sea Scrolls," a nice instrumental that has a strong Middle Eastern feel and some really nice Mellotron. This is followed by "North-West Territory," which is average fare, but has some nice electric guitars and violin (although I think the violin should be higher in the mix). "Contortions of the Balrog," inspired by the Tolkien character, is a really nice piece of music with some interesting guitar work reminding me of a mix of Rush and Anekdoten.

The fourth track, "Esmerelda," is nice and has a Middle Eastern/Gypsy kind of feeling to it, mostly from the acoustic guitar and violin. This song loses its attraction after a little bit for me because it goes on for too long and is too repetitive. "The Nemo Syndrome" is the only song on this album with vocals. It's okay and the male vocals are quite good, but I find the female vocals to be very poor. The song is good in places. Otherwise, it seems to lack cohesion and drags on for too long.

"Erin & the Green Man" has a Celtic feel focused on acoustic guitar and violin. Again, this is okay, but I don't find it interesting at all (again, probably too long). "The Abduction of the Adolescents" is basically a long-winded improvisation and would have been better if it was half as long. "Lake Effect" is nice, features bagpipes, but seems too repetitive. Finally, the last track, "Dog-Eared Page," is a nice folk dance instrumental, but twisted with Mellotron backdrops in places. An interesting piece.

Overall, some nice stuff, but tracks four through eight seem to drag on too much and I find I often lose interest during this part of the album. Musically, it is performed quite well. It would have been more interesting if many of the pieces could keep my attention. Good, but not in the least essential, thus three stars.

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 Artifacts of Passion by ST. ELMO'S FIRE album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.59 | 10 ratings

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Artifacts of Passion
St. Elmo's Fire Heavy Prog

Review by pirkka

2 stars This record starts interestingly. The distant islamic singing and echoing sounds let you assume that you are in front of an great musical experiment. A journey to mystical atmospheres and creative progressive music. BUT. The music doesn't progress to anywhere. The longer you get the pices turn out more and more mediocre. Even dull. I find it hard to listen to the record to the end. It is boring. There are moments of great music but they are rare. No wonder all music guide doesn't recognise this band at all.

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 Artifacts of Passion by ST. ELMO'S FIRE album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.59 | 10 ratings

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Artifacts of Passion
St. Elmo's Fire Heavy Prog

Review by erik neuteboom
Prog Reviewer

4 stars I received this CD as a reviewer for the Dutch progrock paper Background Magazine. A letter from the USA record company was included, it told that they had seen my reviews on Prog Archives and now they were hoping for my support. So from the USA to Holland and back to Canada, what an amazing progrock journey! But it's worth, what an interesting progrock album this is.

St. Elmo's Fire is an USA six-piece band including a wide range of instruments, from guitars (12-string, electric), violins and Mellotron to tabla, djembe and gongs. The first composition starts with a mellow synthesizer sound and Arabian prayers, then a slow rhythm featuring Moog Taurus bass pedals and wonderful Chamberlain (pre-Mellotron) waves with a Morish undertone, GOOSE BUMPS! The second tracks has an up-tempo beat, fiery electric guitar and violin-Mellotron, it all sounds cheerful. Then a piece with twanging acoustic guitars, repetetive guitarwork (echoes from "Discipline"-era Fripp) and weird sounds. The ominous atmosphere gradually becomes more bombastic with a biting electric guitar solo and a dynamic rhythm-section. Most of the other tracks are new recordings (1999) and deliver a folky climate featuring cittern, violin, bagpipe and banjo. At some moments the folky climates are blended with King Crimson inspired prog (biting electric guitar and vilon-Mellotron), very compelling. This is a captivating album with a lot of good musical ideas.

RECOMMENDED!



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 Artifacts of Passion by ST. ELMO'S FIRE album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.59 | 10 ratings

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Artifacts of Passion
St. Elmo's Fire Heavy Prog

Review by gabbel ratchett

4 stars I find it hard to believe that this album has been given such short shrift here at Progarchives. Only one short review as of this writing. With all the major fans of King Crimson and early Genesis in attendence at these pages this wonderfull work seems to have slipped under the radar. Granted, I only discovered this band in the last year, but this album has been out for 4 years now and the band has been around since the late '70's. "Artifacts Of Passion" builds on the foundation laid by" Splitting Ions In The Ether" by taking all the strong points of that album up several levels, the Mellotron is bigger, the dynamic range is much wider, the diversity of compositions has been expanded, the instrumentation has become much more eclectic. Probably the biggest difference between this album and Splitting Ions is in the sound quality. This is a well crafted studio project and it shows. Two of the tracks are studio versions of tracks that appeared on Splitting Ions (Balrog & Abduction) and are far superior to the live versions. These two numbers along with the CD opener "The Dead Sea Scrolls" have the band flexing their Krimson muscles very nicely (the Tron in "Dead Sea" is to die for!). "The Nemo Syndrome" is the only track with vocals on the disc and it has a mini epic type of feel to it. The female background vocal gives the tune a really good feeling of space against all the guitars and male vocal. "Esmerelda" and "Erin & The Green Man" find the band in an acoustic mode that is a very refreshing change from the electric-symphonic mode that they usually operate in. "Esmerelda" has a 12th century eastern feel with lots of violin, reed drones, strings & hand drums. Bring on the belly dancers! "Erin" takes on the guise of a celtic pub tune with the violin leading the way.Pass me another pint please. "Lake Effect" is a very big symphonic number with the unusual choice of bagpipes to lead the Tron, bass pedals, guitars and drums. It washes over you like a major snowfall, duh. "North-West Territory" would probably be the track that radio stations would play,if radio stations played this stuff, its kinda short, very bouncy with violin and guitar trading the melody and very likely to get stuck in your head once you hear it a few times. That leaves "Dog Eared Page", the last track. This is really hard to describe. Acoustic guitars, Mellotron, banjo, bass & drums. If you like Led Zeppelin when they get acoustic and creepy you'll like this one. In short, if you like "Larks Toungues In Aspic", "A Trick Of The Tail", "Houses Of The Holy", "Azigza", & "Below The Salt" you'll probably like this album a lot.

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 Splitting Ions In The Ether by ST. ELMO'S FIRE album cover Live, 1998
3.76 | 8 ratings

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Splitting Ions In The Ether
St. Elmo's Fire Heavy Prog

Review by gabbel ratchett

4 stars What a wonderfull surprise this album has turned out to be. I got an inexpensive copy on ebay a few weeks ago, I've had a hard time not playing it everyday since. I didn't really have high expectations for it, but now I want to hear more. The disc starts out with some very spacey synth work layered with wolf howls, reminds me of Klaus Schultz around Blackdance or Tangerine Dream from the Phaedra period. Track 2 has some really nice guitar work , interlocking patterns a la King Crimson ( I'm pretty sure that this was recorded before the Discipline album came out) but with a different tone than KC. BIG sounding Mellotron too. Track 3, The Balrog , opens with more interesting guitar figures and more wolves, lots of percussion and gongs, at about 2 minutes into this track the full band really kicks in with some great bass and drum work and then the hard turns start comming, very cool. The first time I played this I didn't know what was going to happen next. Track 3 is a rather heavy number with some hints of Gentle Giant in the way they use stops and overlaping riffs. The drummer lets loose on this track with some nice fills and interaction with the percussionist. Track 4, Aspen Flambe' is very different from all the other tracks on this disc. It is the shortist one, has vocals and is much simpler than all the rest. Not really a prog track, sounding more like some early metal or old fashioned hard rock than anything else. Track 6 is wonderfull, and the longest track on the album at just over 11 minutes. Lots of interesting parts going on, flute, more gongs, bass pedals, and that blessed Mellotron. There are hints of Genesis in this track but nothing overt. Track 7 starts out with more vocals over a really nice guitar figure, works perfectly! Then the full band kicks in and takes this number into the realm of Genesis at their best, it almost sounds like an unused track from Foxtrot or Selling England By The Pound. At the end of this track you finally realize that this a live album, up untill this point you really think that you are hearing a studio recording. Track 8, The Abduction. Now I'm really confused, I had begun to think that the St. Elmo's Fire sound was more of a Genesis type symphonic thing, but they go into a perfect Bruford/Wetton period King Crimson crazy improv/jam thing, the only problem with this track is that it is just not long enough. Track 9, another melodic begining, a la Genesis circa Foxtrot, but this becomes a heavy exercise with a cool spacey section sandwiched in the middle that finally closes with a classical type of ending that Bach might have written. All in all, for a 25 year old live album that was recorded to a 2 track tape machine, this is a mighty fine piece of work. Any lover of quality prog would find lots to enjoy here. And while I have used famous bands as a comparison, these guys don't really sound like anybody else, and that in it's self is something to admire.

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 Artifacts of Passion by ST. ELMO'S FIRE album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.59 | 10 ratings

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Artifacts of Passion
St. Elmo's Fire Heavy Prog

Review by gracehopper7

5 stars This album shows the divercity and technical abilities of the same great musicians that came together 20 yr's before. This CD really shows the experiences and growing musicianship of the core group of ST. Elmo. I definitely recommend this cd to those who remember the late 70's and to those who weren't even born yet.

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 Splitting Ions In The Ether by ST. ELMO'S FIRE album cover Live, 1998
3.76 | 8 ratings

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Splitting Ions In The Ether
St. Elmo's Fire Heavy Prog

Review by gracehopper7

5 stars If you like King Crimson, Kick ass drums, Thundering Bass, and melodic yet hard guitar, this is the band for you. The music of this band is timeless. It still kicks as much ass today as it did in the late 70's. Spliting Ions in the Either-incredible recovery of the live stuff and how great is it to get 30 min of un-released tunes. If you don't have a copy of Artifacts of Passion then this is the one CD that is missing from your collection.

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